Sunday, February 20, 2011

Remember Me? (26 January)

I have five days of vacation starting today.  Thanks to a administrative mix up, I had three months worth of pension payments deducted from my December salary so I’m not able to go to Japan for my vacation as I’d hoped.  Instead, I’m staying in Gunsan until 1 February when I’ll go to Seoul for a ski trip.  Until then, I’m just going to use the time to catch up on blog entries and relax.  To kickstart this vacation, I have an acupuncture appointment.

As I arrive at Gunsan Medical Centre, I can’t help wondering if the cute doctor will remember me after nearly a month.  I corner the translator before we get to the Oriental Medicine Department and ask her if she remembers that I made the cute doctor blush in December; she immediately starts laughing and comments on how amusing it was so I ask her if I offended him at all.  I’m pretty sure that I didn’t offend him – only embarrassed him – but I want to make sure that this is not an issue in Korea where hierarchy, respect and saving face are all highly valued.  She assures me that there’s nothing to worry about and tells me that he blushed because he’d said I was beautiful and kind.  Such a Korean answer!

Uh Oh...

When we arrive at the department, he doesn’t look very happy to see me and I again start to wonder if I inadvertently offended him in addition to embarrassing him.  The nurse, however, is as friendly as always.  I’m rather quiet as Dr Kim tries to work out the best approach for today’s treatment and I understand a few words of the ongoing conversation between him and the translator.  Soon, we’re joking around and I start to relax as I realise that he’s probably just very shy and not comfortable speaking English.  He doesn’t seem in a hurry to leave either despite there being numerous patients at the time.  Instead, he and the translator seem to be discussing something (me) at great length and I’m starting to get very curious about what’s being said. 

I Don't Understand (Again!)

Eventually, the translator turns to me with a serious expression and I can see she’s thinking very carefully of how to phrase something.  She proceeds to tell me that he didn’t have much reason to speak English until now so he and I should spend a lot of time together.  As she’s speaking to me, I notice Dr Kim watching me very carefully from the furthest corner where he is fidgeting with various things.  He’s seems slightly embarrassed when she finishes conveying everything and tells me, “just joking” with an embarrassed smile.  I’m confused.  Is he asking for English lessons or does he want to be friends?

This doesn’t dissuade him from spending a lot more time with me in this appointment than is perhaps necessary.  The nurse comes in several times to relay information to him in Korean and he sounds fairly dismissive with each “Ne, Ne”.  Each time it happens, the nurse looks at me and laughs and I’m even more confused as to what is happening.  He’s seems overly attentive in this appointment and I get the impression he definitely remembers me from my last appointments at the end of December.  He’s also telling me that I need to come back the next day.  I ask if I can rather return on Friday since I don’t really want to have a doctor’s appointment on my birthday even if it is the cute doctor. 

Trying To Work It Out

I leave the Medical Centre even more confused than I was in December and meet Catfish at Angel-in-us where we spend several hours discussing the events of the last 24 hours under the pretext of working on our respective blogs in the coffee shop.  Naturally, there leads to dinner at the Galbi restaurant where, once again, we’re treated to very attentive servers who seem to dote on as we continue, unsuccessfully, to try to puzzle out Korean men. 

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