A Korean Expression. Used to describe frustration, annoyances, tiredness..etc. Comparable to “oh my” of english. It is a slang but not a bad word. Can be heard from all ages but generally associated with old age
It’s used ad nauseum by old people here. One movie I saw a dialogue with 3 old people, and they must have said it 20 times in the course of a couple minutes. I’ve heard puns around the word, but of course I can’t remember them due to my early onset Altzheimers.
Today is my day to use aigo. I’ll spare you the gorey details, but let’s just say that I didn’t cry because I already cried Friday and instead just chose to be a bitch instead.
I know it’s just culture shock (still) but it makes you question everything and I just find myself asking how it is even humanly possible to be so damned uncomfortable in the place where you live after a year and a half? I mean, things just don’t make sense.
Like the time I was trying to buy a dress to wear to Jane’s wedding and nobody would let me try on a damn dress. Excuse me, but if I’m going to spend 40 to 60 bucks on a dress, then I want to try it on, right? And if the woman insists it’s free size and the front is just a sling, then that’s even MORE reason to want to try it on, right? And you look over at the wall and there are dressing rooms and you point to them and ask, well WAE? Wae do you have try on rooms? Sorry. NO. Finally I made an ultimatum. Well, if you want me to buy it then I must try it on. To which the saleslady said, “bye-bye!” in the nastiest, most smart-alec tone imaginable while waving me off…
Turns out a long-time Seoul resident adoptee tells me it’s because women’s make-up ruins all the clothes, so you have to learn to tell them you don’t wear make-up. Of course. The adoptee who obviously doesn’t wear makeup should know that and stop making a scene. There’s logic, but no one can explain it to you and these things aren’t in any travel guides and it isn’t taught with survival Korean and I’m just supposed to know these things. Because I’m Korean.
Anyway, a similar thing happened today. About four times. And I called the translation service and the volunteer wasn’t patient and had horrible listening skills and I had to fire him. I kept apologizing, because they’re volunteers and it’s just sick and wrong to make a volunteer feel like crap, but I had to tell him we just couldn’t communicate.
And then there was the phone bill…A major thing was made about this phone bill and it ended up the bill was for 60 CENTS. But I digress, I will still leave out all the horrible details (that’s just the tip of the iceberg).
And then there’s the air-conditioner which only operates with a remote which was never included and which I’ve inquired about from Dongja to help me procure for the past THREE MONTHS and she keeps forgetting and now she’s stopped helping me altogether because I brought it up in irritation because she kept asking me if I’ve found the remote yet when I keep telling her I never lost it because I never had it…
Or there’s the principal commenting to my co-teacher in Korean that it’s too bad I can’t speak Korean like Wayne could. Never mind that Wayne had a Korean wife and I can’t possibly measure up to being that white or being able to speak as good as someone married to a Korean.
I ask myself: Is it me? Is it because I’m a failure at learning Korean? Is it because I work too much volunteering with TRACK? Is it because I’ve never worked with any other foreigners or ex-pats and have always been the only foreigner in sight? Is it because I don’t look like a foreigner? But I’m annoying like a foreigner? Is it because I’m older and won’t tolerate being pushed around because I know better? Is it because I live alone? Is being totally without human company just making me crabby? Is it because I’m in the country without resources? Is it because people expect more out of me? Is it because my independence is seen as self-sufficiency? Is it because my poor people skills are universal? Or IS IT KOREA???
I never had these problems in Thailand. I think I got a taste of what it is to be a white person in Korea when I was in Thailand. Everyone there knew instantly I wasn’t Thai. Everyone there went out of their way to be hospitable. People were kind and smiling there. I’ve never had these problems anywhere I’ve traveled, and I’ve always been alone…
Here. Every. Single. Day. It’s one extreme or another. All. In. The. Same. Day.
This morning I was all happy in some nice new clothes that look fantastic and the weather was comfortable and the mountains are so beautiful and then the needle scratches across the vinyl and it’s back to untenable again.