There are times when being heavily, heavily visible in a foreign country can suck. You’re a target for, well, everything. Stares and invective and anger and nationalistic tides of xenophobic distaste. At the same time, because you’re so visible, you’re also an easy target for pleasantness and the great weirdities of life. Being some of the only foreigners to attend the local Sorae Port Festival, we were stopped at different times in the day to: be interviewed for television and/or promotional subway materials, join a large group of middle-aged Koreans to share in their soju and fresh fish, do some handicrafts typically meant only for kids, receive free calligraphy scrolls, and be adopted by a man who claimed to be a local fishboss (I have decided this is a word). We were invited to do these things because we were weird lookin’ and the people around us felt in a sharing mood, and we stick out as being share-with-able. Being impossible to miss has its perks. Enjoy the glory of the Sorae Festival, in photoglut form.
For the record, this television interview actually occurred within the first five minutes of entering the festival. We bluffed, and claimed it to be awesome. Lucky for us, it turns out we weren’t lying.
I stopped briefly to ask some nice ajosshis if I could photograph them grilling a fish they had recently caught. As I stooped to take a photo, someone clasped my wrist and brightly suggested, “Soju?!” Suddenly we were in the party, being give freshly grilled shrimp and makgeolli. One guy tried very hard to speak to me, but did not quite really ever get that I needed him to speak about 90% slower than he was. Still, generous!
We tried looking for these paper visors all day. I was rewarded with the one we found in the garbage because I had to stand in line for food the longest. (It was for pajeon, and thus worth it.)