We had a celebration dinner this week, a couple people leaving to go assignments in Saudi and a young lady in our department announced her engagement this week. It was Korean BBQ, but pig neck was the specialty of this restaurant. A little fatty but crisp it up enough on the BBQ, drown in salt and sauce and wrap it lettuce and it is great. During the dinner I was asked if I liked the Cass beer…I said the Americas call it “Ass” for a reason. So something was said in Korean and a new hire was dispatched somewhere. Apparently the instruction was get Mr Jarrett some suitable American beverage. He returned with bottles of Jack Daniels. In the Korean tradition, everyone slide their drink glass to the end of the table (we had about 10 people) and each of the 6 oz glasses was filled full. I intervened and said that is not the way you drink Jack Daniels…we ordered coke and made some pretty strong Jack and Cokes….but i wasn’t clear and someone yelled “gombae” which means empty glass and down they all went. Afterwards I explained you don’t slam it, you just drink it with the meal. That didn’t hold a lot of appeal so I have to revert to the old school “slammer”. A shot glass 50/50 mix and a drivers license to cover the shot glass on the slam. This was much more appealing to the group. But in accordance with policy, 9pm we wrapped it up.
Stress is a big part of Korean life, I was having a discussion with a co-worker who had twin 3 year olds. She was stressing because she couldn’t decide on which pre-pre-K English prep. school to send her child – phonics or reading/grammar. Because to get into the right elementary school with both English and Korean classes, when they are 5 years old they have to pass an English test. It is the goal of every Korean to have their kids speaking fluent English so that they are prepared for a global economy. Of course, she was double-stressed that both kids made it to the same elementary school. She isn’t a tiger mom, but just dealing with the reality of how competitive Asia is coming.
Over the weekend, went to the Asian Games….Olympic sports for Asian countries and billed as the seconded largest gathering of athletes after the summer Olympics. Track and field Saturday night with about 10 people in our group and off to beach volleyball Sunday. Basketball and soccer were sold out by the time we were organized. Except for going to the wrong stadium for track and field initially, it worked out pretty good.