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Gina is my favourite colleague. (Funnily enough, while all the teachers have English names just like the students, Gina’s Korean name is Ji-na; the ‘j’ sound isn’t quite the same as it is in Enlgish – it’s a softer sound, almost like ‘dz’.)

When I was sick earlier this year, she came to my apartment with fruit and took me Homeplus to do some shopping. She’s also the only Korean teacher at our school who’s come out drinking on a Friday night with all the oeguks.

When I’d recovered I asked her to see if she could get me a private lesson. She said she’d see what she can do, but that was the last I heard about it. And I kind of resent that. Or I did anyway (which reminds me of a famous quotation).

Recently she’s been telling me about her love-life: about the married American guy who she thinks wants to have an affair with her, about the guys who invite her out and then don’t talk to her, about the bloke she had a blind date with (and which was set up by her aunt) who she likes but doesn’t fancy.

I don’t mind listening to all this, but I think I’m the last person anyone would turn to for relationship advice. I’m sure she’s not expecting any advice anyway, but I start teasing with things like ‘Why don’t you just have sex with him and see what happens?’

Today, with the reduced classes on top of the normally slack Tuesday and Thursday schedule, there weren’t many teachers in the teachers’ room, so I got into a bit of banter with her. This basically consists of me making facetious comments and her complaining about me doing so. I also asked her a couple of things about Hangungmal (Korean): for instance, while I’ve known for a long while that ‘kabang’ means ‘bag’, it’s been clear from shopping that there’s a different word for carrier bag; I found out today that it’s ‘pongji’. I also explained what the British expression for this item is.

Gina’s recently had me checking the answers in an English textbook for her brother. Said brother has apparently promised to pay her for her services, some of which she will then pass on to me, or she’ll buy me dinner. I prefer the second option.

I’m not sure that Gina is a romantic possibility for me. For once, this isn’t a problem of not knowing whether the other party is attracted to me – I don’t think I’m all that attracted to her. Naturally, I also have no idea whether she is or would be interested in that kind of relationship, but I can’t help thinking (because I’m a love-starved fool) that if she is then I wouldn’t let my own ambivalence hold me back from giving it a go … although I’d probably let my innate cowardice perform that function.

The other thing to mention is that she has given me a small pile of CDs containing three films. A while ago she gave me a DVD of a German film probably called My Love – the (Romanised) Hangulised title was Mai Reobeu. I had it for several weeks before I gave it back to her a few days ago unwatched. I suppose she thinks I need some entertainment.

I can imagine keeping up some level of correspondence with her after I move on, which is something you can’t say of most people I’ve met in Ansan.

Categories: Life
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