Today I had quite the interesting experience on my way back from lunch.
I was casually walking down the street back towards my dormitory, when all of a sudden from my right I heard a “안녕하세요” directed at me. This took me aback because 1) I had no idea who the guy jogging across the street towards me was, and 2) Koreans generally don’t say hello to random strangers on the street. After I mumbled out a “안녕하세요” back, probably with a lovely deer-in-the-headlights expression on my face, I figured out that he was a salesperson of some sort.
He pointed to the phone in my hand and asked me what kind of phone it was (all in Korean, of course). After I responded that yes, it was an iPhone 6, he launched into a monologue of some sort that I didn’t hear most of — not because I didn’t understand, but because I was slightly distracted by the fact that he took my phone from me, grabbed my wrist, and then started pulling me across the street!! I wasn’t really “dragged”, but he definitely had a good grip on me. Not that I was about to go anywhere else while he had my phone.
He led me past a bunch of other identically-dressed sales dudes (who all looked highly amused by the fact that he just dragged a very bewildered me across a rather busy street) into the store where he worked. The small bit of his monologue that I was able to process mentioned something about having a sale for foreign students. Bottom line — the dude was trying to sell me a new phone or data plan.
He got out a fancy wipe, and while he meticulously cleaned the screen of my phone for me we had quite a pleasant conversation. He asked how old I was (“what? only 20??”), made me guess how old he was (he was 26), asked if I studied at Korea University, when I got to Korea, and when I was leaving. He also asked me several questions about my phone and my data plan, which were both difficult to understand and difficult to answer — I don’t quite have those words in my vocabulary arsenal, and I wouldn’t even know the answer in English, since I’m a part of my parents’ phone plan.
I think once he found out I was leaving in August, he realized that I wasn’t going to be buying a data plan from him. He was still super nice, though, and blamed my inability to understand him well on his Busan accent rather than on my inability to speak Korean (which is mostly false).
Overall, I found myself smiling as I walked back to my dorm with my freshly-cleaned phone. It was a fun, interesting experience, and I was able to carry on a somewhat decent conversation about a topic that I was totally clueless about.
I couldn’t help but think that if he tried doing that to a random college student in America, he would probably get told off. Maybe he was just taking advantage of an oblivious foreigner, who knows? All that matters to me is that he didn’t charge me for the screen-cleaning and that I was able to practice my listening/speaking skills. 🙂