Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Korea video--Galbi with Mr. Ha

Here's the first of the Korea videos. I've decided I'm going to post Korean stuff on Tuesdays (for 한국 화요일).

While Doug and I were teaching English in Cheonan (in '96-'97, right after we got married) Doug took a kumdo class. Kumdo is what's called kendo in Japan--the fencing with bundled-bamboo practice swords. I went along at first to help translate (and came down with a case of kumdo elbow after doing the quick head strike 500 times). After we started actually hitting each other I stopped going.

In the class was Mr. Ha, a forty-ish restaurant owner with two kids. His full name is 하종률, which I think he romanizes as Ha Jong Yul. (Or something like that. Though the last syllable is really more like "nyool.") He spoke absolutely no English at all, but he and Doug managed to communicate well enough in their classes, and he would give Doug a ride home afterward.

Mr. Ha fed us at his restaurant a few times. On New Year's Day we went over to the restaurant and ate, and then went with him and his family over to his brother's house and ate more. We spent the evening eating, playing yut nori, eating, singing (we still have the song book they gave us), and eating. We had a wonderful time and went home completely stuffed at 1:00 in the morning.

In the weeks before we left Korea, we were able to go back to Mr. Ha's restaurant with a borrowed video camera, and record the experience for posterity.

(If you watch it at youtube the picture is bigger.) You only see Mr. Ha for a couple of seconds. I wish we had gotten more of him. It was also pretty noisy, so you may not be able to catch everything. (I could add subtitles... should I do that?)

Mr. Ha was unusual among our acquaintances, being not someone we knew from church or someone who wanted to practice English, but just a regular, nice guy. We kept in touch after we went to Newfoundland, exchanging letters a few times. In one letter he mentioned that he had sold the meat restaurant and started another place. The whole economy at the time was not doing very well, and it sounded like they might be having some trouble.

I sent Mr. Ha one of the cards that I made for the lunar new year, and it came back. I had no idea how I might find him, since he's not LDS and I couldn't use the same channels that I used to track some other friends down. Then Sister O'Bryan, whose blog I've been following, got transferred to Cheonan. I thought, "Hmmm, maybe she'd be able to find him somehow." So I sent her an email, giving her the information that I had. And then I thought, "Hmmm, I should try googling again." (I had tried this before, inconclusively.) So I googled 하종률 천안 and up popped this site. It's a restaurant in Cheonan. With owner Ha Jong Yul. And a phone number. I thought, "How many restaurateurs named Ha Jong Yul in Cheonan could there be?" (And I totally had to look up how to spell "restaurateur.")

It was way too early to try calling. I had to wait till evening, when it was about 9:00 am in Korea. Then I called the number on the site, and it was Mr. Ha! He was so surprised. Just completely gobsmacked. It was so awesome. I got his email, and we exchanged further news. He sent some recent family pictures. His kids are 20 and 22 now. The new restaurant is actually a fugu place. (Ooh, fancy!) He said he's also studying hotel management. Maybe he'll start a hotel and then we can go visit. Wheeee!


scrapper al said...

You are the queen of connections! Amazing how the google and other technologies bring people together (I remember when long distance calls in the same country were a luxury).

Becky said...

It makes me wish I had taken more video during our stay in Korea. I'm definitely going to be recording more during our visit there next month. Too cool!