My mom and brother (Med Bot) visit Korea for some sightseeing, food, people, and general good times. This is my diary of the momentous occasion.

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Day 3 (cont'd): Saturday Night

Med Bot and I drop Mom off and then head out to Itaewon (the crazy foreigner district) to meet a mutual friend, Brewer.

Brewer is hammered, and with a bunch of friends who are hammered. This wouldn't be a problem, but Med Bot quit drinking and in support of him, I did too. It's not that we need to drink, it's that these dudes need to stop drinking. I don't give a shit about their livers or mental health, but I do give a shit that they're the only people who don't realize we're in a gay bar. Now, gay bars have their places. But it's Saturday night and I want my brother to see some hot chicks, not dudes dressed up as chicks.

Med Bot and I cross paths with a white girl. I say "hi" and she doesn't say anything back. Many white folks here don't acknowledge your existence. I don't know why.So we move to the next place, which again, is an awful bar. It's full of absolutely nobody except two Korean ladies my mom's age. Nobody gets the point that we'd like to see real girls. There are some talks, but eventually we part ways and cab it home.

Awesome aside: Those stupid crane games you see in American arcades, Dave & Buster's, and carnivals are all over the place in Korea. I used to think they were stupid, and they still are. However, there's a different version where you knock something off with a pole—in this case, imitation Zippo lighters. And at the moment, I've won seven different Zippos: Angry Birds, one with skulls, Hello Kitty, Spider-Man, Moshi Maru (some Japanese character), and another Hello Kitty. Each try costs 1,000 won, or about a dollar. I'm batting 8 for 10. In case you were wondering, yes, this proves my awesomeness to the world.

Angry Birds Zippo lighter

Day 4: Sunday

I can't find Butterfinger Pancakes. I promised my family a delicious breakfast at Butterfingers, but we circle and sweep all over the place looking for this American-esque diner spot to no avail. I'm just about to ask when I see Quizno's, which is sort of close. So we walk, and get lost, then find the right spot.

Butterfingers is a home away from home for people who like breakfast foods. Koreans don't really distinguish between breakfast, lunch or dinner. They usually just eat the same stuff: rice, kimchi, and some sort of weird thing. My mom is sort of impressed with Butterfingers, which is understandable since her breakfasts are amazing. However, I've been away from her delicious breakfasts for a year, and this is as close as I'll get for another few months until my vacation kicks in.

Once refueled with eggs, sausages, and pancakes, we make our way to Seonjeongneung, the royal tombs of King Seonjeong. The price of admission is pretty steep, 1,000 won a piece. That's about a dollar. The tombs are situated in a forest, which is really beautiful. Each tomb is quite a hike. My mom gives up, but Med Bot and I check out the queen's tomb. You can't get very close, but on the other hand, you can walk right up to the king's tomb, which is cool. There are soldier statues, horses, an altar, and a giant mound for the tomb. Koreans constructed the tomb in about 1450, before Columbus was even born, which puts American history into perspective.

South Korean soldier statue at King Seonjeong royal tombs

Med Bot and I cross paths with a white girl. I say "hi" and she doesn't say anything back. This is a weird thing about Korea. Many of the white folks you meet don't acknowledge your existence. I don't know why this is. I say "hello" to anybody who understands me. I'm sorry other folks are too cool for simple greetings. But this white girl was cornered by an old tour guide who started explaining things about the king's tomb, and then every other tomb in Korea ad nauseum, so I find this is just punishment for being her being rude to us.

Kevin Freeman with a short Korean tour guide in front of a burial mound

We met up with our mom and took a taxi to Coex, the gigantic underground mall. We saw some boy and girl bands posing on the stage and a bajillion different stores. Nobody bought anything so we returned home, ate some kimbap (sort of like sushi but with scrambled eggs and Spam), and slept.

Day 5: Monday

I took off some time from work, but not my morning kindergarten job. I stressed all night wondering if this would be the right decision. Would the Korean children kick my bro in his nuts or try to get my mom with a "ddongchim?" (Ddongchim is a game Korean kids play in which is basically sticking fingers up butts.) Would my family beat some manners into these kids? Who knows.

We arrived, and everybody was really amazed. In general, children are confused that their teachers have lives, shop for groceries, have families, and occasionally go to the bathroom. So needless to say, my mom and brother became instant celebrities. My mom's hair is completely white, which fascinated the kids, and nobody believed my brother was younger than me because of his full beard.

Right now, I'm teaching kids their lines in an upcoming play. It's supercute. Then we sang songs, gave out stickers, and sang more kiddy songs. Koreans really appreciate teachers and families, so they treated us to lunch, some photos, and lots and lots of high fives. Korean kids love stickers and high fives more than just about anything. They even called my brother "Kevin Teacher," which I think he liked.

After lunch, we continued our fruitless search for jade jewelry. My head is about to explode from looking at all these stupid gems and rings and necklaces and designers and knockoffs and everything else. With my pidgin Korean, I talked a lady down to $250 from $380, but my mom decided she didn't want it. My bro, on the other hand, found all his souvenirs for friends in about five minutes, which makes me feel like I at least accomplished something.

I say to the family, "You know, I like you and all, but wow, keeping you entertained, sheltered, and fed is a lot of work." My mom coolly replies, "Get over yourself, KC Baby. Do it for 30 years and then talk to me." She may not have the master's degree, but my Mom is still infinitely smarter than me.

Later, we ate Japanese udon and some rice balls. I ordered something spicy, which was above my pain tolerance. Then my brother took a bunch of old tshirts I didn't really want and headed back to the hotel. I went home to write the last four days of their trip and made an impromptu booty call, which should be here any minute. Hooray!

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