In the first class back, I started off my second grade classes with a brief game of hangman to warm up. The phrase I gave them was something that happened to me during break.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ !
They typically started out with “a”.
_ _ a _ _ _ _ _ !
Then it was usually “I”.
I _ a _ _ _ _ _ !
Surprisingly most classes guessed the letters almost exactly in order.
I _ a s _ _ _ _ !
I w a s _ _ _ _ !
I w a s o _ _ _ !
I w a s o n _ _ !
At this point, some classes got it, while others were completely baffled. Have you figured it out yet?
I w a s o n T V !
“Aww, TV?” Some classes exclaimed, feeling like it had been a trick and not yet realizing or remembering that this statement was about me. I emphasized, “Really, I was on TV!” It still only clicked for everyone when I told them the name of the program I was on: 생생정보. “Oooh! Really? Really?? Why?”
Pretty good hook for class right?
This wasn’t my first time on Korean TV. During the Fulbright Korea orientation, a film crew visited my Korean language and Taekwondo classes. I could point out the side of my head in one or two scenes. This year I made a slightly longer cameo in an advertisement for the Hwacheon Ice Fishing Festival, clearly waving and displaying my catch. But this time I got serious. I think someone is finally recognizing my talent. If all goes well, I’ll be kissing teaching goodbye and become a foreign star in Korea. But I can’t take credit alone; I was filmed with Arria and her friend visiting from the US. I’m not sure they have the extensive TV experience I do, though.
The program we were on is, literally translated, something like “New New Information” or “New Interesting Information.” I can’t identify any clear thread that connects everything in the show, but it seems to just feature interesting places or people around Korea. I’ve seen segments on anything from super cheap restaurants to a halmoni (grandmother) who dances around in street markets wearing bright, often sequined clothing. That one was interesting, although I didn’t quite understand what was going on.
The segment in which we were featured was about a guesthouse in Gamcheon Cultural Village. The host is a photographer and studied design in Australia. Arria and I were both surprised to find a guest house in the middle of this village, but all three of us genuinely agreed that it’d be a cool place to stay. Of course, for the program, we were expected to rave about how great the house and the host seemed. It felt very awkward.
So why and how were we scouted to have our beautiful faces on television? Pure luck? Looking too obviously foreign? We may never know. But on to the backstory!
Right as we had decided to leave the village to get lunch, three people popped up, one of them holding a small camera. Nothing too fancy-looking. They exclaimed in short bursts of English that they were filming, something about a house, and when we looked at each other uncertainly, they promised it would only take 10 minutes. Putting on an attitude you often need to wear in a foreign country, we decided, why not?
In addition to a tour of the quaint guesthouse – since the host had studied design, he’d renovated much of the house himself – we tried on hanboks, traditional Korean dresses, for an impromptu photo shoot! Okay, in actuality, it was a staged photoshoot for the TV program, but we got a few real photos out of it too! It was my first time wearing a hanbok.
After finding out when our segment would air (March 2nd) and making sure we got the name of the program right, they said their thanks and we all said our awkward goodbyes.
To get to the guesthouse, you’ll have to take the main entrance into the cultural village, where there are lots of food stands and souvenir stands clustered together. Walk a little ways in and you’ll eventually come across this shop on your left.
Take the alley in this picture, going down the stairs and turning right. In a few minutes you should see a white house with a sign like this:
I don’t have any contact information or have any idea how to reserve the house, but that’s where it is!
That host sure got a lot of advertising out of this.