It's our first contest! Make a story about a 'first' for you. A first time trying something, a first date, kiss... whatever! Winners will be chosen by the one who left the biggest impression.
Created by my PVpal @muzikgurl in Asian Fan Fictions!
Note: So honored! This entry won first place. (another first!)
Okay, I know it's a Fanfic group but just this once, I'm telling a true story – with many “firsts” in a short time. Not many people in my life know about this because 1) it happened in Korea while I was on my own, 2) my family and friends are not even exactly sure where Korea is and 3) I have been shy to let my daring side show! I want to write about it now cause it fits & I think my Kpop / Kdrama Poly-friends might be interested.
I was living in Japan about two years, in Osaka, and had my heart broken by my boyfriend. I had to leave. I left in late summer and went to Tokyo, though I didn’t know anyone there. Finally I found a job and a place to live (the foreign community is really nice that way; once I met Japanese Tokyoites, they were kind too).
The rule is, to change your visa status so that you can work in Japan, you must book a trip, leave the country, and come back - then they issue you a work visa. It is a very common thing for working people in to do this - many have done it at least once.
The cheapest and fastest flight is to Seoul, Korea. My new company paid for the flight and a simple hotel room for two days. Great, my first company-sponsored mini-vacation. I picked up my ticket at the office, packed a small bag and passport, and flew out of Japan by myself. To Seoul. For the first time. Did not know one person there. Did not speak the language. I was nervous. To calm myself I wore my favorite classy hat. It was the wool felt type many British girls wear. It gave me confidence.
When I got off the plane at Incheon Int'l Airport, I noticed something right away. You will probably never read this in Lonely Planet or some other guide book, but it is unmistakable. Walking though the airport, I breathed in and out. Wait, there was something in the air. KIMCHI. Everywhere. I have never known a country to have its own signature scent! This was a first! I don’t mean it in a negative way. In fact it made me laugh and think wow, I am definitely in a different country, a completely new place.
I got in line with other travelers at Immigration, where they stamp your passport, ask you questions and tell you Welcome to Korea. Still wearing my smart hat, I walked up to Immigration and came face to face with… a cute young guy?? Not the usual older gruff man with no sense of humor? Oh, another first. Usually these people are like the police. They don’t smile, are all business. This guy wasn't exactly smiling either, but he did look at me differently. With curiosity maybe. I think he wanted to smile at me but was not allowed to since superiors were watching.
So in those few moments he found out I was from America, lived in Japan, and had good taste in hats.
He took out his pen and wrote something while still talking to me (in good English, by the way), then pushed my passport across the counter to me along with something else…a note. Was I in trouble?
I looked at it. A phone number. “Call me if you’re free tonight,” he said simply, not smiling. I nodded and left, my eyes opening wide as I walked toward Customs. Did an Immigration official just ask me out on a date??? Can they do that? Definitely a first!
A taxi took me to the small business hotel somewhere in downtown Seoul. I kept thinking. Should I call this guy? No. Maybe. No. Well, what will I do by myself? I decided to walk and think. It was getting chilly. I walked along boulevards and used underground walkways to cross wide busy streets. I noticed Lotte Department Store - The Lotte name is also big in Japan. I noticed another thing. People in downtown Seoul dressed Beautifully. (Tokyo is like that too) The gorgeous clothes worn by attractive guys and girls made my head turn. Many looked like models. Nice looking people!! I mumbled to myself.
I called the number. “Let’s meet in front of Lotte Department Store at 6pm” Sang Ho said. (his real name) “OK” I replied. My heart started to race. Did I just agree to go on a blind date with a serial killer? Well, he’s with Immigration, that’s a government job with big responsibility. It should be okay.
Sang Ho picked me up at 6pm exactly. He looked fine - he put on a suit and tie! With my dress, heels, coat and classy hat, we fit right in walking along the brightly lit city streets. Are you hungry? I’d like to take you to dinner. I smiled and nodded. Is traditional Korean food okay?: he asked. “Sure!” I said. We went to a pleasant small restaurant with a cozy atmosphere. The food was hot and spicy, and tasted good.
He said the names of the dishes in Korean, then in English. I smiled. I had no idea what the meal was.
“Later I want to take you to Namsan Tower, where we will see a beautiful view of the city at night, he told me. “But do you mind if we go meet my friend first? He lives near here. I want to introduce him to you. Otherwise he will never believe me when I tell him about this.” “All right!” I laughed. His friend was very nice; they were very funny together, friends since childhood, they told me. We went to karaoke and sang some popular songs. His friend left and we were alone again.
Sang Ho escorted me up to Namsan Tower. We rode the cable car down and saw the night time city lights. It was exciting! Another first. Sang Ho walked me back to my hotel room and came upstairs. I started to get nervous that he was following me back to my room. I opened the door, he came in too. Huh? He sat down on the far edge of the bed like it was a sofa, still wearing his coat. I sat down too. Kind of next to him but not close. We sat like that and talked for two more hours. I liked him and thought he might lean over to kiss me.
Didn't happen. Finally he stood up, hugged me, said good night and left. Wow. What a gentleman! Or shy maybe? He never made any “moves” or made me feel uncomfortable. Nice manners, nice smile, and he was gone. With my address. We never saw each other again, but he did write me a sweet letter. And I wrote back. But that was all.
Wherever you are, thanks, Sang Ho from Buchen City, for a wonderful introduction to Seoul, Korea! I will always remember it. PS I still have his letter. And I still have that hat.