My life is now full of people gaping openly at me as I walk down the street, turning and giggling with their friends, until the "brave" one steps forward, waves, and shouts "Hello!" I used to respond, "Hello," but I have taken to answering "Annyeong Haseyo" instead. This often results in more looks of shock, but sometimes, as in last night, a bizarre conversation in broken Korean.
Four 20-something Koreans were standing outside a norae bang (singing room--like karaoke), obviously a little tipsy and enjoying themselves. They noticed me and I had they typical "waegukin" encounter. When I answered with the Korean greeting, one of the girls started speaking at me quickly, in Korean. (Translations below are approximate--and only the things she said that I actually understood. She said other things that I don't know what they meant).
"Oh you speak Korean!"
"Korean..." I hold up my fingers with a small space between the pointer and thumb to indicate.
"A little? Ok. Are you a student?"
"No. English Teacher. Oedae Hakwon."
"Your face is very beautiful."
"Are you American?"
"Yes I am American."
"Where is your house? (she had been telling me where her house was before this... but I only understood like 2 words--house and left)"
I wave my arm in the direction of my apartment. "There. Banyawol."
She then proceeded to make each of her friends come up and say hello, nice to meet you, and shake my hand (the hand shaking thing is a story for another day--since it is not a customary greeting in Korea and most don't have a clue how to do it, but like to try with foreigners).
This story may not impress you, but it is the first semi-successful conversation I've had in Korean with a total stranger from whom I was not purchasing something. My listening, if not my speaking, is improving quickly.
Sa Beom Nim had me break boards today in class. He has these plastic bricks for practicing this skill. I broke 5 and then 8. It didn't hurt (I thought it might), but I was using a fist, not a chop. He then showed off a little and broke the whole stack and then showed me some of the granite bricks he broke. Scary.
I did my first pomsae very well today the last time I tried it (like remembered all the transitions and stuff). I'm starting to feel like when I get my yellow belt, I really will have earned it (definitely wasn't feeling that way last week). This is a good thing.