October the tenth of the year two-thousand and fifteen: Quite possibly the best day of my life..
I was going to make this blog post about more cultural differences between South Korea and the United States and I was going to wait a couple more weeks until I published it… But then… October tenth happened.
October tenth was perhaps the most awesome day I’ve had in my entire life. So instead of a post detailing about cultural differences, I’m going to recount to you a day that I am still questioning as to whether or not actually happened. This day reminded me about the importance of friendship and that the unexpected can and will happen to you!!
The morning of October tenth started out like any other Saturday morning. I slept in, did some studying while listening to some Korean pop music and then got ready to go out shopping with my friends at the Express Bus Terminal Go To Underground Shopping Mall.
As soon as I stepped out of the door, good things started happening to me.
First. Sweater weather. For the first time since I’ve stepped foot in Korea on August 24th, the weather was cool enough to wear a sweater. In the span of two days, the weather went from being an exhausting 80 degrees, to a beautiful 65 degrees.
As my friends and I stepped onto the subway headed towards Gangnam, we were confronted with an extremely crowded car. We had to stand in the middle of the car without any supports and rock that “power stance” so as to not fall over. One of my friends suddenly said, “Oh my gosh! Something is on my butt, something alive is on my butt” only to turn around and utter back, “It’s a small child, a small child is on my butt.” After laughing at the cramped situation and the awkward bumps we were getting, we arrived at the mall.
Second. My friends and I bought our families some awesome gifts at the underground mall. We had an awesome time gawking over beautiful shoes and clothes, and ended up buying some things for our friends and families at home! At one shop, one guy when up to one of my friends, said “Hi” and gave her a handshake. After he left, my friends and I were so confused and starting laughing. The shopkeeper looked at us, gave a laugh, and shook her head alongside us. Situations like this remind you that language barriers can be broken through.
The call for food suddenly became so real that my friends and I had a consensus to go to the nearby “Central City” Mall’s Johnny Rockets for some yummy American cheeseburgers. When we walked into the plaza area nearby Johnny Rockets, we saw a huge crowd of people. Naturally we thought, “What’s going on?” And then I heard it. “Ji Chang Wook.”
Third. As we were traversing through the crowd of people to get to Johnny Rockets, I heard someone say “Ji Chang Wook???” My heart dropped. I turned to the center of the crowds’ attention and lo and behold, there was a huge poster of, JI CHANG WOOK. It’s almost as if I suddenly went into shock. Nothing from that point on seemed real for the entire day. My friends kept walking towards Johnny Rockets and I followed suit. After placing our orders, my friends were like, “I wonder who’s out there?” And I was like “Gahhh, it’s Ji Chang Wook!!” One of my friends was like, “Ah, I know him, I wish I had a picture to show you guys (my other friends who didn’t know him) what he looks like!” I was like “Oh, I have some… in my camera roll… no shame.” And that’s how my friends came to find out that Ji Chang Wook is co-king on my “bias list.” (Meaning, he shares the spot with one other person for my all time favorite actor, so he’s a big deal…). As we were waiting for our burgers, one of my friends and I tried to get a vantage point on a staircase to see if we could see Ji Chang Wook. As I was attempting to catch a glimpse, a very dapper looking security guard lightly tapped me on the shoulder and told me very kindly that I shouldn’t stand there. I was in a daze and shuffled away. After failing to gain a vantage point, we went to eat our delicious cheeseburgers. After having stuffed our faces with amazingly tasty burgers, we braved the crowd once more. And. I. Finally. Saw. Him. I know this may sound really cheesy, but my legs started to get weak and I didn’t care how derpy of a smile was plastered on my face as I stood there gawking and thinking “HOW IS HE EVEN REAL?” (I realize this post has made me out to be a die hard fan-girl.. haha)
Fourth. Though everything after “meeting bae” didn’t seem real, the rest of my day only got better. We went to a Bandi and Luni’s Bookstore, and stumbled upon a famous author holding a book talk. We also saw a person in a cat mascot greeting people. After such an eventful day in the mall, we decided to head back to Konkuk University. I was in such shock, that the pair of shoes I was searching for in the mall didn’t even matter anymore.
Fifth. After getting back to Konkuk University, my friends and I hit up the local café located in the dorm plaza, Café Cucina. I got a cup of Earl Grey tea and we shared a honey bread. It was amazing. And as we ate, my favorite Kpop band came on the café’s radio, Winner. It’s almost like somebody just knew to play their music for me.
Sixth. After spending a great deal of time in the café bonding over our favorite Kpop groups and trying to rationalize how we got to see Ji Chang Wook, we headed to the cafeteria only to be disappointed in the option. We made yet another group consensus, burritos, Korean style! Korean burritos are amazing, they have bulgogi (grilled mariented beef) instead of ground beef and cabbage instead of lettuce! We headed to Dos Mas, a “Mexican” restaurant near campus. We took our burritos to the empty second floor and sat a table near the open balcony windows. We continued our talk about our Korean pop music love and had an awesome time! The chef brought us free onion rings and we ended up “creeping” on people from the balcony windows! Long story. The creeping essentially started with a photobomb I did in Buyeo. I jumped into a photo and did what is now referred to as “the goblin pose.” As we were eating, one of my friends said something funny and I ended up turning towards the window and making the “goblin face.” As I did so, I coincidentally made eye contact with two Korean guys who were walking by the restaurant. I turned away in laughter shielding my face, afraid that I just scarred the two boys for life. From then on, as people walked by we tried to see if they initiated eye contact with us.
October the tenth was an awesome day! I was reminded that unexpected things can and do happen to you. And I was also reminded of how great it is to have an awesome group of friends. We’ve been through so much together and have become a great support system for one another despite only knowing each other for a short amount of time. After everything that happened, I’m still in shock. My friends and I have a joke: “Korea’s not real. None of this is real…” I remember preparing to go to Korea, but I’m not sure I ever got there, because where I am right now is more like heaven!
I realize I’ve mentioned Korean pop music and dramas in my posts before but that I’ve never really explained what Korean pop culture is like! So in my next blog post I’ll continue to describe the cultural differences between the United States and Korea beginning with pop culture! And now I leave you with this awesome video of Ji Chang Wook singing for the musical The Days: