Last night Good Man and I headed to the local Korean bookstore to browse. I ended up getting a bilingual Korean cookbook and a children’s book. When we went to the register to check out, the woman asked (in Korean), “Do you speak Korean?”
I had greeted her in Korean, but I thought she was talking to me, so I said, “Not well.”
Good Man answered, “Yes, and she does, too.”
Turns out the woman was asking him if he spoke Korean. Then she said she was relieved because she doesn’t like to speak English. Then she went into a spiel about a yearly $5 membership getting you 15% off of books printed in Korea. We got the membership.
We went to the local gimbap place for dinner. I ordered in Korean and when we got the food, it came without kimchi. I yelled, “아줌마!” Ajumma! The three women who worked there looked at me, very surprised, and I wondered if I wasn’t supposed to yell in an American gimbap joint. “김치 있어요?” Do you have kimchi?
“네! 잠깐만요.” Yes, just a moment.
She brought over the kimchi and said, “아, 한국말 잘하네요.” Oh, you speak Korean well.
I shook my head to disagree. When she’d left, Good Man laughed and said, “See, this is Korea. It’s the same!”
For the record, even the gimbap is bigger in America.
(As a side note, I’m not sure that anyone’s ever addressed me with the 하게체 form like she did (하네요). I didn’t even realize she’d addressed me unusually until Good Man and I talked about it today. I’m curious about this form, but Good Man says it’s fairly old-fashioned and I don’t need to worry about it.)