Little Things in Uljin

September 11, 2010

I cancelled my weekend trip to Pohang (포항) due to inclement weather. Probably for the best, as I should save money for my Japan trip. Why would I buy bottled green tea at Home Plus for 2000 Won when I can get it straight from the source in ten days? There’s something to be said for Suntory. I like Ito En’s “Oi Ocha” just as well, but it’s the most commonly exported. To at last drink something only the Japanese have access to… that is something special.

I met a well-built 23-year-old Korean man on the bus at Juk-byeon (줔변). Ordinarily I shy away from conversations with over-eager English-speaking locals, but, as we were the only two on the bus and he seems friendly enough, I passed along my email. Helped me with a few pronunciations, and kept saying “young boy, young boy.” Ummm… he’s 23. I still don’t get that.

Finally tried one of the Japanese restaurants in Uljin this evening. Unfortunately for me, the menu was all in Hangul. Perfectly understandable in Korea, but I just wish there had been an inkling of Hanja… then I would have been able to order without sounding like an idiot. When the owner/waiter/cook saw my confusion, he offered a suggestion: miso ramen. Why not?


Cold tofu appetizer, a fried egg, and ramen with noodles and corn. Not too bad, but the major Japanese food Koreans seem to stock in restaurants is noodles. Maybe I just need to eat in a bigger city. 8000 Won for this delicacy, and the owner had to run across the street for change.

Next, I had about twenty minutes before the bus left, so I availed myself of the opportunity to find a cheap map of Korea. Funny story. I did locate the posters in the office supply store easily enough, but noticed they only had a world map and a Gyeongsanbukdo (경산붘도) regional map. Both were rolled up, but I recognized the characters for the region and from the differences in scale (1/200,000 v. 1/46,000,000), concluded the other had to be of the world, not just the Republic of Korea. Aren’t I smart?

Now the fun began. I took the map to the lady at the counter, who began softly muttering to herself as she read the type of map. As if making a decision, she took out her hand phone and spoke to someone for about a minute. I couldn’t make much of anything out, but based on what happened next, I have a feeling this is how the conversation unfolded:

“I’ve got a foreigner here who wants to buy a map.”

“So? Let him buy it.”

“Yes, but he was looking at the maps for quite some time, and he’s chosen the one for Gyeongsanbukdo.”

“Gyeongsanbukdo? Really?”

“Yes, Gyeongsanbukdo. It must be a mistake – he must just want a map of Korea.”

“So just ask him.”

“I don’t think he speaks Korean [interesting, since I hadn’t spoken to her yet, but I did say ‘annyong haseyo’]. Can you do it?”

“Fine. Let me speak to him.”

I had no idea what was actually said, but she handed me the phone and looked confused when I hesitated to take it (why would I? I was just buying a map!). Bewildered, I took it.

“Do you want map Republic of Korea?”

“No, I want Gyeongsanbukdo.”

“This is Gyeongsanbukdo. Do you want map Republic of Korea?”

“No, I want Gyeongsanbukdo.”


At which point I handed her back the phone and paid 11,000 Won for my map. I was a little annoyed; I mean, if there was any confusion as to what kind of map it was, didn’t she think I would have asked? It reminded me of when I took the second to last bus towards Uljin, and the couple running Bugu bus terminal assumed I must have been ignorant as to the finishing times and tried to warn me I couldn’t come back that night. I knew I couldn’t come back, just like I knew about the map. But they’re all just looking out for me, I suppose. I can respect that.

Map accomplished. I still had a few minutes left, so I walked around the back streets on the north side of town and came across a rather unusually-named store:


My first thought, as I’m sure is yours, was that this was an underwear store; there are certainly shops that feature nothing but men’s and women’s undergarments. There were even two appropriately dressed mannequins in the left window. I was just going to bypass the the whole display, when something red caught my eye: a Heinz ketchup bottle… yes, you heard me… In addition to being an underwear store, Buttocks carries some pretty random imported items: Japanese cosmetics, American condiments, and plenty of gift boxes. So, when you think imports, remember, buy imports straight from your Buttocks.

One Response to Little Things in Uljin

  1. Kristian on September 11, 2010 at 7:34 am

    that is hardly the best picture of the butt bra

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to OAT

Created by Webfish.

Need Advice on Living Abroad?

Thinking of teaching English in Japan? Volunteering in Thailand? Backpacking around New Zealand? If you're looking for some insider tips on the places to go and the people to meet, check out my consulting services. If you just have a few questions, no worries: email me.