For our last weekend trip in Korea, my friends and I went to Gangneung. While we were there, we went to Jumunjin Beach, the BTS Wings Bus Stop, and a film site for a K-drama called “Goblin” (도깨비). Although the beach and the sites were amazing to see in-person, one of the most memorable parts of this trip was the hospitality from the residents!
The residents in Gangneung are super kind!! My friends and I were only there for the weekend, but the amount of kindness from strangers that we came across was unbelievable. I will never forget the convenience store 할머니/grandma next to our hotel who was always so excited to see us and had such fun energy; despite our limited knowledge of Korean, she asked about where we were from, how old we were, and then told us we were pretty!! Another time, I asked if she could refill my T-money (transportation) card, which she had never done before, but she was so excited when she figured it out!! She had the sweetest smile and radiated the most wholesome and bright energy ever in existence. Convenience store 할머니 will forever live in my heart. I always left that 7/11 with a smile on my face, especially due to her kindness and because I found it cute that she is so expressive and was always vibing to music in her store. I hope I am as happy with life when I’m older too.
Another thing I’ll never forget is when we went into one of the local restaurants and encountered such selfless individuals. When the waitress noticed that we didn’t understand Korean much, she tried her best to explain the menu as best as she could despite the language barrier. She used few English vocabulary and some gestures, and I could really tell how genuine and eager she was to help us be comfortable in an environment that could seem daunting to foreigners.
Another kind stranger, who was eating at the table beside us, took out his phone and used Google Translate to translate one of the words on the menu for us. After seeing us contemplate for a second, he immediately decided to translate the menu for us from on a piece of paper and gave it to us!! I was so astonished by his kindness towards us, especially since he went out of his way, mid-meal, to write all of this down for us so we could know what to order.
Even after ordering, the waitress explained how to eat some of the side menus that she put on the table for us! As we were finishing up our meal, we suddenly heard, “The total is 60,000 won,” in English in a robot voice across the restaurant, where we realized that she was preparing an English translation for us, in advance, on her phone for whenever we were ready to pay. Before leaving, my friend, who’s learning Korean, told the waitress, “음식은 맛있어요,” which means “the food is delicious!” After the waitress worked so hard to make us feel comfortable in a language that we could understand, I felt happy that we could relay this message to her in a language that she could understand; I could still remember how happy she looked when she heard my friend speak to her in Korean!!
Image #1: BTS Bus Stop!!!
Image #2: Unfortunately, I didn’t get to take a photo of the translations that the kind gentleman wrote on a piece of paper for us, so here’s a picture of the Korean menu that he was referring to when translating. :,)