Meeting Jihae, the Korean stranger, in the street corner

If you’ve been following sutiben on twitter the past days, you’d know suti been meeting lots of people. 1 Nearly all old acquaintances.

Except today though.

After posting a message online earlier in the week, a Korean stranger contacted suti asking to meet.

Why suti’s post of all messages? Wonder if suti’s playfulness was the push? (*^^*)

Anyway, the deal was made: if sutiben helps the stranger with their English, stranger do the same but with Korean. And so we agreed to get together Sunday at 10am.

Meeting an unknown person, your curiosity & the worries all at once

Not wanting to get there late and go through another bad experience, sutiben wakes up a lil’ early and rushes to the arranged street corner. Even took an old watch to check time along the way.

The clock then hits 9:50 AM and sutiben finally reaches the meeting place. Looking around, sutiben can’t see the stranger nor lots of people on the streets. Guess too early for a weekend.

*wipes forehead* (^∇^) Yatta! Either way, no lateness for suti! What a good start.

Waiting for someone makes you talk with yourself?

While waiting, all sorts of thoughts bubble up.

  • Is this Korean a boy or girl? No can tell by the name Jihae. Thought hard over the week but no could figure out-.

    Some part wish boy but—suti no lie—other half wishes the opposite. Good thing sutiben no get to decide and ’tis all up to fate.

  • Hope s/he is lots of fun. If gonna spend time with others, wanna play a lot.
  • What if person doesn’t appear? Or, what if it’s a dangerous character? Maybe meeting strangers isn’t such a smart thing? No worry, sutiben know how to throw a shoe hard. (^_^) hehe
  • Wonder if stranger can really teach. Was told they took a course to teach Korean back in Seoul. If works out, suti gonna have a teacher! ^^)/
  • What if stranger falls in love? ㅑ! No giggling.
  • Does suti know English well? Uh oh. Always did bad in English classes…

Suddenly sutiben remembered a bet made earlier: if Jihae had a hard time finding suti, s/he could kick sutiben in the knee when we did finally meet. Eeeeh. Luckily, sutiben had a sure fire way to catch any Korean’s attention.

Taking out a notebook and a black marker, sutiben draws a word covering the whole page.

Incorrect Hangul characters for here in Korean drawn on a notebook with a black marker

If you’re Korean, how could you miss it? Hehe no kicks for suti!

The thing is sutiben kept waiting but no one came.

By 10:24 am, panic sets in. What if this was all a trick? Earlier, sutiben did spot a guy with a smirk as he passed by.

Standing in the corner alone doesn’t help either. Any passerby might think suti a drug dealer. An old man inside a parked car kept staring… ^^;

Only ten more minutes.

If no one comes, calling this a disaster and leaving.

The Korean arrival: Connecting with the mysterious partner

Crossing the street, sutiben hopes to change things up and become more visible. But also to remove the boredom, sutiben slowly walks in circles continuously on the same spot. He does this for about a minute.

Then, as sutiben turns around for another twirl—whoooosh—out of nowhere appears a girl in a hurry.

( ・・).。o( 여자? That can’t be Jihae, can it? )

Before can think any further, she immediately apologizes for being late, sounding almost out of breath as she speaks. She was elsewhere believing that that was the right intersection.

(^o^) Her face looked so worried. hehe Little does she know suti no care she was late. Just so happy meeting wasn’t a prank.

What causes you to look away from a girl

And at that moment, a bad thing happens of all times. A strong gust of wind blows past us and, in doing so, causes her blouse’s neck line to swerve and slightly open.

*as quickly as possible, suti looks away* 2

(^^;;

*shakes head to remove thought*

The one who talks too much, doesn’t care much for the other

Eventually, they decide to enter Central Park. There were a few silent moments in the beginning but they got over that as sutiben took control of the situation. What better story to tell than when suti arrived late to a meeting not too long ago?

One problem though: it never occurred to sutiben that he was talking too much.

(^_^)a Uhm… guess shy person went on vacation?

Together they moved in big circles. She led the walk and sutiben the conversation.

(*^_^*) hehe suti just followed her. Had no idea where we were going. And almost lost sense of direction too!

Fortunately, sutiben receives the nudge to be quiet. Nicely, of course. Good thing too. By giving her the chance to speak, sutiben learned more about her such as:

  • She came to the US to find a job.
  • Majors in fashion design. 3
  • Lives in Queens.
  • Takes the 7 train. (Eww, ugly train)
  • Has an ex-boss called Paige?

English: What a traveling Korean in the US seeks

By now though, they must’ve talked for a while since Jihae points out she wants to sit down in order to ask some questions.

A funny thing though: While both search for a place to sit, sutiben notices she keeps closing her jacket. f^_^;) Does she…

Luckily, benches aren’t hard to find in this area.

Drawing of a Korean woman sitting on a bench

Upon sitting down, she pulls out a yellow notebook.

♡o。.(✿ฺ。 ✿ฺ) Woooaah, ‘tis so cute! And that’s not taking into account her small but delicately pretty handwriting. *looks at the floor* She even writes better than suti…

Since Jihae interacts with New Yorkers and watches many English shows like The Big Bang Theory, 4 she encounters strange words and phrases that need explanations and so she jots them down. For the next few minutes, sutiben becomes an uncertified English teacher.

Sutiben struggles to make things understandable at times but this is what suti comes up with:

*clears throat to enter serious mode*

Expressions Jihae struggles with

Once and for all

The expression means finally.

If you do something once and for all, you finish doing it so that it does not have to be dealt with again

One way to think about this is with an example.

“If we continue fighting we’ll be here all night — let’s just end this battle once and for all.”

You can rewrite this as:

“If we continue fighting we’ll be here all night — let’s just finally end this battle.”

If only

Jihae tells of a short dialogue on TV she didn’t understand.

Person 1: “Is he on something?”

Person 2: “If only.

‘Is he on something?’ can be loosely translated as ‘is he consuming something special?’ Typically, the question refers to drugs but it can be anything like a special type of food or whatever. Usually the asker is trying to figure out if the person has done anything different that would explain the recent strange behavior.

The whole dialogue can be loosely translated as (it’s implied, btw)

Person 1: “Is he taking drugs or eating something weird I’m not aware of that might explain why he is acting crazy? Normal people don’t act like that.”

Person 2: “If he was taking drugs, that at least would explain his behavior. Unfortunately, he is not. If only he was using drugs, then we could at least blame the drug and not him. But he always behaves like that. That’s how he is.”

Knit

Here Jihae asks for help on her pronunciation of the word. From the start, sutiben assumes she is referring to the verb, which is what you do to create cloth. Hehe suti was way off. What she was really talking about was the noun, a type of fabric, which suti didn’t know about before. ^^; She is a fashion designer…

Although sutiben didn’t know ’knit’, we assumed both meanings were spoken similarly. We actually spent some time on this since Jihae really struggled to say it correctly.

Sutiben could understand her a lil’ bit though. The Korean alphabet doesn’t really have the sound for knit, at least from what understand.

Don’t want to get into it now but sutiben stuck to it and helped her get the pronunciation down pat. You should’ve seen Jihae. She was so happy! She was like “Oh”. Made suti smile too. (^_^) 5

Misreading a girl because you’re thinking about something else

During all this, sutiben’s partner kept closing the front of her jacket and commenting on the cool weather every now and then but sutiben didn’t pick up on this at all.

(;^^) suti a lil’ slow. Didn’t really get it until she spelled it out. ’Twas not what suti thought this whole time.

Sutiben had a warm coat so didn’t feel much but Jihae was cold this whole time and wanted to go elsewhere.

Moving out, the Korean girl suggests a coffee shop she saw along the way yet they find no such thing. Ultimately, they settle on a nearby museum in the lobby section. Both strangers eventually find an open seat inside and get together once more.

Help first & then become more than a nobody to a Korean

Now let’s do you, she says in such a way that made it seem like she wanted to repay a debt. Guess must’ve helped her lots. Either that or she just trying to be fair.

(^_^) Suti totally forgot about sutiben’s turn. Thought we would continue the English lessons.

Because she offered, sutiben did not hold back and became like a kid, asking question after question. 6 Looking back now, they all revolved around Hangul. If you wanna know how Jihae improved sutiben’s Korean, suti covering that in another post in more details.

At one point, the girl compliments sutiben’s writing. Hehe. Guess suti writes better in Korean than English.

In the heat of the moment, sutiben became more comfortable. Even made her laugh a bit when sutiben questions her on a character sound asking, “Are you sure?” It took a while before she understood and reacted, “Of course, I’m sure!”, smiling at the same time.

hehe. Cute.

However all things come to an end. Jihae then reminds sutiben of her need to leave soon.

Awwww T_T

No longer strangers, both partners head for the exit at around 12:12pm. She asks if sutiben will join her to the subway station. However, sutiben declines. 7 Even still… she seemed glad to have met suti. At least, what suti felt. We’ll know for sure if she wants to get together again. Will keep you posted.


  1. (>_<) But ’tis hard. Maybe others no realize but suti still a lil’ shy and no used to talking. Eh… if suti feels shy around old friends, how much more ppl don’t know. ↩︎

  2. Actually for rest of meeting, sutiben tried not looking at her directly when could. (^^; Always to the side.

    Because of that, can’t picture how she looked like exactly right now. She did have reddish hair. Was she cute? *nods & whispers* Suti no need long time to figure that out. Since the moment saw her from far away. ↩︎

  3. Ah, no wonder she dress so nice. Her brownish jacket looked pretty. *looks at floor* Hope suti bad dressing not a big issue… ↩︎

  4. Turns out we have no similar interests in TV. Jihae watches only popular American shows. Suti? Mostly Korean dramas. ↩︎

  5. Woaaaah, maybe suti no such a bad teacher (^_^) *chest fills with air* ↩︎

  6. ‘Tis what happens when suti let loose and not have to worry about anything. ^^ Sometimes can’t help it. ↩︎

  7. Suti already had plans to play in the park. Mr. sun was high in sky. Nice day too. That and needed a chance to write this experience down while fresh in the head; uh… what you are reading now. ↩︎

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