As many of you already know, I live in Paju. I’ve been in this area for the last two and a half years so I know anyone there is to know around here. It’s just the way it is. The foreigners here are a tight group. Tight meaning everyone knows everyone. Last year we lost many foreigners to the lack of funding in public schools so our numbers diminished. However, recently we’ve gotten the funding so the foreigners are back! But that in itself means that there are days when one of us is walking along the street and a new foreigner is spotted. Then, it’s a case of calling everyone to see if anyone knows who they are. If nobody does and they are spotted again, what do you do? Everyone in Geumchon Crew has a different approach, so I thought I’d share them with you. Here we go.
1. The walk up approach; This is pretty straight forward but surprisingly only a few of us actually use this one. So you see a foreigner you don’t know and you walk straight up to them and introduce yourself. Simple as that. Doesn’t matter what you’re wearing or that you may be coming from the gym or whatever, just walk up to them. Sometimes the person is only too delighted to meet you and other times they cannot wait to stop talking to you and get away.
2. Stalker approach; Ok, so this one is potentially borderline illegal. So you see the foreigner and you have a little time so you think “hey I’ll see where they are going”. Then you proceed to follow them at a safe distance for a while. I’m not going to mention any names here but I had a Geumchonite tell us that once, she noticed a strange foreigner following her. So she walked into a shop and pretended to be buying something. She quickly peeked up to see if he was gone and he caught her eye, so she ran behind a shelf. He waited outside the door shouting “I can see you” at her. So now you see why this approach is maybe not the approach to take.
3. The “accidentally run in” to approach; I’m a little partial to this one myself. So you’re walking along minding your own business and your spidey senses go crazy alerting you to a new foreigner. You see the new foreigner walking perhaps to the right. So you cross the road and use a few alleys/shortcuts to get ahead of this person. Then, simply backtrack, smile on your face and look shocked that you happened to run in to them. What a coincidence!
4. The “Avoid all eye contact and pretend you’re actually Korean” approach; So I’ve had to pull this one out on a few occasions. This one is for foreigners you spot, who may be new to you but have actually been living in the area for years and don’t want you to disturb them under any circumstances. This one only really works on trains or buses. You see them and they see you. They give you the “if you talk to me I’ll eat your soul” look. They also look sad (perhaps because they’re living like a hermit?) So if you get this look you must just pretend that it’s you that doesn’t want to talk and sit there, blasse, pretending you’re Korean.
5. The “run like hell and pretend you never saw them” approach; Some people get scared off by other foreigners, especially ones they’ve never met. They’ll see a newbie, walk the other direction and then casually mention it like a month later (imagine the stalking that could have been done in that time) Disgraceful, that’s what it is. Definitely my least favourite. Who does this?
So that’s it my friends, that’s all I got. I myself prefer type 1 or 3. Also this doesn’t really apply to people who live in Seoul or any big area full of foreigners. But, if it does apply to you don’t pretend that you haven’t, on at least one occasion used one of these approaches to “run in to” a foreigner. And if you have any other approaches don’t keep them to yourself, leave a comment so I can try it next time!