Prettyful Eyes – Strangest Experience in South Korea
It’s relatively easy for an expat to meet up with other expats if you have access to Facebook. Lucky for me during my first week in Korea, there was an expat meet up for a wine bar buffet in Pyeongtaek. So I invited myself to tag along with my fellow Anjung-eup expats. Arriving in Pyeongtaek, I fell a bit in love with the city. It has just the right amount of city life without being too overwhelming, like Seoul. With the wine bar over at 11pm, a group of us decided to go to a nearby pool hall/bar.
About 20 minutes after arriving at the bar, a beautiful young Korean woman beckoned to me drunkenly, “Yahhh!!!” (“yah”, is the equivalent of “hey you”). She was at a table with her boyfriend and another Korean couple. I sat on the couch near her and said “Hello.” In broken English she states that I have “prettyful eyes.” Gee, how nice of her. My new friend’s name is Eun Ah. She’s a 27 year old dance instructor and tonight was her boyfriend’s birthday. Through a mix of Korean, English, dicey translations from Eun Ah’s boyfriend and hand gestures, we begin to converse.
It started off with the usual questions: “Where are you from? What’s DC like? Where do you live now? Are you an English teacher? Do you have a boyfriend?” Then the dynamics of the conversation took a right turn towards awkward town. Eun Ah kept kindly offering Jaegermeister and pouting her lips at me. Hmm. Maybe that’s just a drunken thing that Korean women do? I pay no mind. She sits next to me and pats my knee. How kind of her to make me more comfortable. Eun Ah’s boyfriend then mentions that she really likes me and wants to be friends. Fabulous, I want to make friends. Eun Ah starts repeatedly pointing to herself, then her boyfriend and then me, finishing it off with a wink.
Ah ha. Because I’ve had this happen to me in the US and overseas, being propositioned by men, women and couples alike, I begin to wonder if this newfound friendship has taken the fateful route of sexual proposition. The pats on the knee have become leg caresses. The winks have become more pronounced. The pouting has become air kisses. Staring at me with dreamy eyes, she asks for my phone number and what am I doing after I leave the bar. The situation is borderline, and could be interpreted as sexual or just over-friendliness with a mix of drunkenness.
Bonafide sketch territory indeed. I give her my email address and remain cautious. Sure enough she points at herself, her boyfriend and me, then seductively points to the bathroom. It becomes apparent that she wants a new English speaking friend but would settle for a good ol’ menage should the opportunity arise. A blatant expat mistake has come into play – unintentionally flirting with a Korean woman and leading her on. It happens to the best of us.
Don’t get me wrong, Eun Ah is gorgeous but I’m a strictly hetero woman. I nervously keep chatting away, avoiding eye contact and Eun Ah’s tugs at my hand to get up and head towards the bathroom. Soon after, Eun Ah’s boyfriend gets sleepy and leaves the bar without her. Eun Ah doesn’t want to leave me. We say good bye repeatedly for about 25 minutes. She gets extremely distraught that we’ll be parting ways. I feel guilty, like I’ve just pushed a deaf girl off of a swing (meh, I’ve done it before). Eun Ah just wants a friend and a part-time lover, and I’m breaking her heart. I say that she’ll always have my email and to contact me anytime, letting her down easy. We embrace in a hug that lingers a little too long for my taste. She says a final goodbye and I kid you not, a tear trickles out of her right eye.
Once she leaves the bar, I let out an exhale of relief. That was intense. We managed to go through the major motions of a relationship, friendship, infatuation, irreconciliable differences, teary goodbye, and heartbreak, in under 2 hours. “People always told me, be careful what you do, don’t go around breaking girls hearts.” – Michael Jackson, truer words were never spoken.
Lesson learned: my unintentional feminine charm and “prettyful eyes” attract women in the U.S. and internationally alike, and transcends language barriers.
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