Koreans as Seen (by Me) on TV and Reality

As you can watch the video above, there were three Koreans talking with each other. I stealthily recorded them. There was one girl. She looked a bit chubby but ok, she’s Korean, what can I do? She looked just enchanting to me though. The other two males seemed to be her brother and father. Could NOT care less about them.

But then I decided to show off a bit. Just a bit. I collected pieces of my basic Korean scattered somewhere in the brain. A moment later, I interrupted in English, “Hi people, are you Koreans?” My opening remark didn’t work well. The father answered , not in English, but in a stattered Indonesian. Using English turned out useless in this very case. None of them spoke English. And then I broke the silence with this line: “Je ireumeun Akhlis imnida”. I was so nervous I forgot how to pronounce “Annyeong haseyo” correctly before that. But I liked it when the girl and the father (the brother didn’t even speak a word or look at me at all, which was acceptable and normal) showed surprise in their face. “Ah bisa bahasa Korea,” the girl, who speaks Indonesian best, responded. I might be blushing at that moment.

Another Korean I meet on daily basis is Mr. Ahn Bak-hyun. We live in the same rented house. This middle-aged man leads too modest a life for Korean standard of living, as far as I know. He lives in a rented room with so small size and no air conditioner in it. Even to me, his room is much too humid and smoldering hot (only having an exhaust fan and a huge standing fan). The room he’s sleeping in has no window.

Not all portrayed in Korean dramas you watch is true. Some Koreans are not as lucky as Coffee House drama's protagonist Lee Jin-soo (Kang Ji-hwan) who gains fame and fortune at the very same time. Millions of them are struggling against unemployment and poverty, TOO.

So the other day he happened to see me working on my netbook. He approached me, shirtless. Yeah, that was one hot afternoon in Jakarta.  Being topless is forgivable, of course. He asked me about my password the days before and I knew he’d ask the same question that time. My hunch was right. He came back with his 14′ Samsung laptop. The laptop looked so old. No battery was attached to it. Completely understandable as there’s no battery on earth can survive 7 years of usage. The operation system is Windows XP. When he started Skype-ing with his daughter, he had to attach the external web cam (which he’d bought after he borrowed my web-cam-embedded netbook) to chat online. With the upcoming Windows 8, XP is close to its end and I expect this laptop is about to be  kept as an artefact of the Samsung museum in a few decades ahead.

Mr. Ahn works, as he said to some of us, in mining industry. He admitted he has roamed several corners of Indonesia which I myself as Indonesian have not visited. Interesting and pitiful at the same time I felt. I mean, what brought him here? Is Korean too overwhelmed with job scarcity that they set Indonesia as their workplace?

Comparing those three Koreans and Mr. Ahn’s lives to what is served on Korean dramas I get addicted to is slightly painful.  The first time I had contact with Korean culture is through its Korean Waves stars and dramas. I got to know a native Korean too in 2006. Kang Song-hoon, my Korean tutor, taught me basics of  Korean. And when I thought every Korean used Anycall fancy clamshell cell phones, I saw with my own eyes that Mr. Kang got that Sony Ericsson candy bar phone with him. Disappointing, I know. My horizon of expectation was somewhat unmet. There’s a huge gap between the fact and expectation.

Besides, I used to believe that Koreans use high-end gadgets. But what I saw in reality is sometimes quite the opposite. Mr. Ahn proved my assumption wrong. As explained before, his laptop is old if I cannot say it antique. And his phone? It’s only a cheap EDGE qwerty cell phone. Not a glossy pricey slim Android LTE smartphone with a 4-inch screen and glaring vivid colors.

Lesson to learn? Never expect too much, you’ll be let down upon learning the harsh cold facts. LOL!


P. S.: It doesn’t mean I officially quit my addiction to watching K-dramas.

P. P. S. : I plan to arrange a short trip to South Korea to learn the society and culture and entrepreneurship thriving there (For God’s sake, it’s the land where Samsung and LG were born) so it has got to be fun! Look forward to having sponsors though!

About akhlis

Writer & yogi
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