My Korean Birthday

I just ended my birthday weekend in Korea. This is the second birthday I’ve spent over seas. The first was during my study abroad in college, while living in Denmark. The Korean birthday was quite different for several reasons. I’m a lot older now, and being away from home doesn’t bother me as much as it did back then. Also, I don’t know that many people here in Korea. Even though the last few years at home have resulted in smaller and smaller celebrations, it’s always possible to rock a burly birthday bash if that’s what your heart desires. In Denmark, I knew a ton of people, and we had a big bash for all of us that had September birthdays. Here, I couldn’t pull off something big if I tried, which suits me just fine because I typically am not looking for a lot of attention. Lastly, I can’t remember the last time I was in a relationship on my birthday, which also made it a lot easier to be away from the friends and family back at home that you would normally be spending time with.

On Saturday our group of 4 went to the KIA vs. Doosan baseball game at Jamsil Stadium. We were not in a huge hurry to get to stadium because we thought it was an LG game. Taking our time, we stopped at Express Bus Terminal to purchase our tickets to Seoraksan national park for Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving. Hopping in the cab bound for Jamsil Stadium, our driver didn’t seem to understand where we were trying to go. You’d think saying Jamsil Stadium, Sports Complex Station, or simply baseball would work, but it’s not always as easy to communicate as you would like it to be. So, in what’s become a fairly normal practice, one of us ends up calling a Korean friend to speak to the driver on our behalf. This typically gets a good chuckle out of the driver.

We arrive as the game is starting to find it slammed. This is no LG game, it’s Doosan… which means it’s also sold out. Determined to get our game in, we scalp tickets from a sketchy dude who was equally sketched out to be dealing with 4 foreigners with limited Korean language skills who were skeptical of what he was selling them. He got frustrated with us taking our time, mostly because he’s doing something illegal, and he starts saying “Police, police”. Basically, take it or leave foreigners, I’m gonna get busted here. So we got a 8,000 ticket for 10,000, not a horrible deal.

It was impossible to find somewhere to seat all 4 of us, so we stood in the center field walkway, on the railing for the entire game. We ate Burger King and KFC, drank Hite and Soju, made friends with our neighbors, and enjoyed the best baseball game I’ve seen so far in Korea. In the end Doosan won 10-9.

Korea 6 Summer 2009 264

Korea 6 Summer 2009 265

I’ve written about Korean baseball before but it’s worth noting again how unique these games are. The shock value has worn off, but it’s still a lot of fun. The chanting, singing, thunder sticks, cheerleaders, whistle blowing, belligerent fans … it’s a very Korean experience.

After the game, our cabbie tried killing our friend on the way to Tomatillo. We piled in the car bound for Jonggak Station, and before she can completely climb in dude takes off. He’s talking on the phone and not paying attention, and still doesn’t stop as we’re yelling, “Stop! Hajima!” But being the trooper that she is, she hung on, hopped down the street, and didn’t even spill her beer.

We got coffee on the way to delicious Mexican food, only to find the restaurant closed at 10pm, like 5 minutes before we got there. Damn financial districts and their lack of night life. So we entered a shady alley looking for sustenance, ending up in an Oktoberfest style German influenced establishment. One look at the menu and we bounce, with handfuls of the salty seaweed crunchy things that were on the table. Thank God we did, because we ended up in Sinchon and had an amazing Korean meal. Some kind of beef stir fry goodness, with onions, peppers, mushrooms, all kinds of stuff.


It was Friendship Games rivalry weekend in Sinchon which made it interesting to walk around. Groups of blue dressed Yonsei University and red dressed Korea University students were all over the neighborhood, waving giant flags, chanting and clapping, and filling the bars and restaurants.

We finished the night at a pretty cool dive bar called The Bar. My buddy and I sat at the bar swilling Korean beer while the girls joined the dance party. After getting hit on by the local transvestite, having to get in the face of a drunk Korean that not only bought my girl a shot right in front of me but was kicking my chair in a forceful and disrespectful manner, and watching my buddy get in the face of the dj who refused to play his requested song… we decided it was time to call it a night.

And… it wouldn’t be a proper overseas experience without an FU to someone. Love you KRO!


Next up, my girl’s birthday celebration in Hongdae this weekend.

Learn Korean with

~ by ripcitytoseoul on September 14, 2009.

One Response to “My Korean Birthday”

  1. Happy b-day

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