"Is your son half-Korean?"
"Have you been to Korea before?"
These questions I've been asked one too many times before. My ears have actually gotten used to it. I usually get asked by new acquaintances, distant relatives whom I've reconnected with through Facebook, or even strangers that we meet at the mall, the fastfood chain, or at the doctor's clinic.
Perhaps its his alabaster skin, doe eyes, Hallyu hairstyle, or his ability to speak a bit of Hangul that makes people think Yue is Korean, or has a Korean dad. I find it funny, at times flattering, whenever people refuse to believe that my husband is a Filipino, or that Yue is a full-blood Pinoy. I get the most interesting reactions from people each time I tell them they have it wrong.
My most interesting encounter, by far, happened just recently while at the supermarket. Out of habit, Yue and I would always swing by the imported goods section and check out the Korean food items on the shelves. (I was hoping I'd come across some instant jjajangmyun or instant bibimbap.) As the little man exclaimed at the sight of a Pororo milk drink, a very Korean-looking ahjumma (elder woman) came from behind and began speaking to me. In Hangul.
|Happy penguin Pororo!|
Sure, I understood what she said, and can carry out a decent conversation in Hangul. But of course, my knowledge of the Korean language is limited to the basics - most of which I've learned by watching Kdramas and the Arirang channel.
"Annyong haseyo! Chonun... pilipin... esseo wasseyo," (Hello! I'm from the Philippines.) I greeted back with a smile. At the back of my mind I was summoning the image of Lee Jun Ki in his Let's Learn Korean instructional video.
"De?" she asked. (Huh?) I was worried that I might have said the wrong word, or my pronunciation sounds funny.
"Uh... Yogi... Chonun... Pilipin-saram," (Uh... here... I'm a Filipino.) 'Jeez, my banmal is a mess!' I thought.
The ahjumma gave me a bright smile. "Oh! Kure, kure! Arasso, arasso!" (Oh, right! I understand.)
"Mianheyo, Hanguk-mal jogeum..." I said sheepishly. (Sorry, I speak little Korean.)
"Kokchongma, Hanguk-mal choa!" (Don't worry, it's good.) She glanced at Yue and said, "Adeun minami!" (Your son is handsome.)
"Omo, kansahmnida!" (Oh, thank you!) I bowed my head a little and was thinking if I should do it ninety-degrees ala Super Junior.
And then an ahjussi (elder man), standing at the end of the aisle, shouted "Yobo!" (wife). He was waving his arm, signalling for his wife to come over. I was relieved. I might run out of Hangul if she presses on for a full-blown conversation, haha.
"Kabwa! Kumapta!" (I'm going. Thank you!) And with that smile that never left her face, she sauntered off towards the ahjussi.
I was a bit dazed from what just happened. "Anak, anyare?" (Son, what happened?) I asked Yue. The little man, who was so engrossed with Pororo the entire time, answered, "Sabi nung ahjumma annyeong daw." And then he began singing "Annyeong ne sarang, annyeong ne sarang" - the theme song of Smile You.
|Pororo and my little kkonminam.|
Oh this association with all things Korean! Miccyeoseo miccyeoseo! (Crazy crazy!)
Note: Joseon is what Korea used to be called in the ancient times. This refers to South and North as a whole.
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