Three years after having started working for my current company, I have finally managed to build enough corporate seniority that affords me enough vacation time to visit my relatives overseas since last seeing them in 2010. As the product of a Korean father and a Taiwanese mother, however, trips back home mean having to procure a multi-city ticket so you can visit everyone. My father is joining me on my leg to Korea this time around, and thankfully so, as my Korean is limited to one phrase: “Sorry, I do not speak Korean.”
To ensure that none of my precious time abroad is wasted, my dad has been working to make plans for our time together in Korea, and has been busy making sure I’m more occupied than a preteen at summer camp.
Me: Will I be seeing [my cousin] Ji Yong? I haven’t seen him in a zillion years.
My dad: Ji Yong will take you to the bar the night you arrive.
So no joke about hitting the ground running as soon as I touch down, since the first thing I’ll be doing is partaking in the national Korean hobby of soju appreciation. He gave me a brief rundown of the schedule he had designed already –
“Wednesday night: drinking. Thursday: the market, lunch, and dinner. Friday: spend time with Grandma, lunch, and go to Seoul.”
As I started to look forward to hanging out with my cousin, a sudden wave of panic swept over me as I realized that we could potentially have major language barrier issues. Ji Yong didn’t speak much English, and I spoke even less Korean.
Me: Oh shit. Are you going to go with me on Wednesday!? Remember, I don’t understand a lot of what he says and vice versa!
My dad: Alcohol will bridge you two together. Hahaha!