Seoul Survivor


by Brian Heuvel

Cable TV

It was with a sigh of relief that I welcomed the cable guy into my house. For about two and a half weeks I had been making appointments and waiting around my home all day, only to be disappointed when the cable man didn't show. Most of my friends (Korean and Western) just laughed when I told them of the frustration I was feeling at being continually stood up.


After all, I was wasting valuable time (and my time is oh, so valuable) sitting around here all day for nothing. Besides basketball season was fast approaching and without cable I knew I would be feeling decidedly un-Fan-tastic (see NBA promos).

Finally, a former student of mine took pity on me and made an angry phone call to the cable company; threatening to go down there and file his complaint in person.

"That's the only way to deal with the cable companies in Korea." he said with an air of satisfaction.

"Umm..." I replied gruffly and nodded in agreement.

Well, I guess he was right because here they were. In a matter of minutes they had the box and cables installed and just like that I was connected!

* * * * *

That was about a week ago and since then I've busy channel surfing; eager to enjoy all the delights cable has to offer. Everything from Star Sports to EBS. The channel I watch the most has to be NHK. They show lots of NBA games, which is what I wanted cable for in the first place. I find I actually enjoy the game more listening to the Japanese announcers (...blah, blah, blah Pippen! blah, blah, blah...) rather than the American ones. I find the commentary on the games to be just as insightful.

AFKN is, well, AFKN. They carry all the "best" programs from the States, which in my opinion, isn't saying much. Still, it's nice to get a little taste of home every now and then. Plus, you get all those clever little history lessons (with a slightly pro-US bias), geography segments, and "talk tips" thrown in for free. What a deal!!

Lately, I find myself tuning into Arirang to watch Korean dramas with English subtitles. Every time I turn it on there's a scene with a family at home and some unwelcome person dropping by unexpectedly. The problem is that I usually come in part way through the show and I can never figure out why the person is unwelcome. The dialog is generally cryptic and unhelpful in this regard. It goes something like:

"What are you doing here?"
"I must talk to Soon Hee."
"You must leave before she sees you!"
"I want to ask her forgiveness."
(Enter Soon Hee) "What are you doing here?"
"I must talk to you"...

At this point I get frustrated and reach for the remote.

Finally, there's CNN. I turn this on to find out about the latest air disaster, terrorist attack, or murder trial. These guys add a new meaning to the term "going overboard". They call it "in-depth coverage" - I call it absurdity. My favorite is when they go to the reporter on the scene who has nothing new to report and so regurgitates the same news we've been hearing for the last 8 hours. All the while talking in an important tone
which almost makes us believe we're hearing something new. Truly amazing!!


Other columns by Brian Heuvel

foreign friends

a day in the life . . .

dining with kids

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