When I began telling people back home that I was moving to Korea, there seemed to be an inevitable and predictable thought process for the listener: confusion (“wait, where?”); shock (“but, umm, why?!”); fear (“but isn’t North Korea trying to bomb them or something?”); and excitement (“oh it sounds like such an adventure!”). Then came the stories of how their cousin or their neighbor’s best friend had moved abroad and met the love of their life and lived happily ever after, and how I was surely destined to do the same.
Despite the fiercely independent part of me that wanted to decry these exclamations in the name of feminism and explain to everyone that I was doing this for me and that I didn’t need to find a man, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that a small part of me hoped they were right. Maybe I would find that special person along the way.
After all, there would be thousands of other foreigners just like me who came to Korea seeking a similar adventure; I was bound to meet a healthy dose of smart, brave, funny, ambitious, mature, attractive men seeking a relationship with another expat, right? I would probably have trouble juggling my dating schedule what with all the meaningful conversations about life and romantic adventures I’d be having.
In retrospect, I’d say I was exceedingly… optimistic.
For a variety of reasons I’ll explain another day, along with the simple statistics of women outnumbering men expats, dating in this country has not quite been the fairy tale I imagined.
So after 9 months of little luck on the dating front, I had a few glasses of wine and did that thing that we all do but never like to admit (ahem): online dating.
After sifting through a barrage of messages that included opening lines like, “I’m so talented person, I make coffee and I swam across the Han River” and “I want you to sit on my face”, I began chatting with someone who didn’t seem like a potential serial killer and agreed to meet him in Busan for a date.
We hiked along some beautiful cliffs and ate a picnic lunch with a lovely view. All was going well and I was amazed that I hadn’t embarrassed myself because, as my friends can assure you, I have an uncanny knack for both injuring myself and finding myself in bizarre situations. But the day was not over yet.
At the bottom of a hill was a collection of seafood shacks, though they seemed closed indefinitely due to a heavy amount of construction in the area. As we started walking up the road a semi truck stopped and blocked our path. The only way to bypass it appeared to be by going through the side patio of a seafood shack and hopping over a retaining wall back onto the road.
Not paying much attention to what I was doing, I climbed up on a ledge about three feet high to help me reach the top of the wall. I stepped onto a piece of plywood laying across the ledge but as I reached up to climb over the wall, I experienced the curious sensation of falling. All at once I realized my foot had fallen straight through the rotting wood and into a giant hole. I screamed as both of my legs collapsed through the crumbling board and my date looked on in horror, confusion, and perhaps a glimmer of embarrassment at my predicament.
You see, it was not just a hole: I had just fallen into an extremely large, abandoned fish tank.
He pulled me out before any of the consternated onlookers could yell at me and I hobbled away from the scene as quickly as possible, shaking and absolutely mortified. Although he was a great sport and took it all in stride, it’s safe to say we’re not exactly planning our wedding. Maybe dating just isn’t my forte in life… but at least I can forever tell the pun-tastic joke of the time I fell in
love a fish tank on a first date.
This article first appeared in Platform, Daegu’s newest magazine aimed at reconnecting the city’s residents with the everyday highlights Daegu has to offer. Read the January/February issue HERE