21. SCAM

Following breakfast the “schedule of the day” began, starting off with a photoshoot session…! Our hostess ordered us around in all kinds of poses, and her husband as well, and we even drove down to their snow covered and frozen fields (with me sitting awkwardly partly on Niamh’s and partly on our hostess’ lap in the tiny front of their pickup truck)  to take pictures with PROPS and pretend that we were gardening. Below you can see for yourself what we had to go through and Niamh cringing in almost all the pictures.

My very optimistic first impression of our host changed 180 degrees. We were ready to move on when we left Yangpyeong and so I was pleased at first to find her so very different from our first hosts. But now it is clear to see that she is a self-absorbed control-freak who seem to work so hard to keep up her image that she can barely function. The first thing she asked when we came back from our day trip yesterday was “did you have a good day?” and then didn’t even wait for an answer before asking “did you take any pictures?” and proceeding to taking my phone out of my hands to look at the photos and asking us to send them to her. When we had just arrived here she immediately showed us all the pictures she had taken of her previous WWOOFers and telling us about how nice it all is and I bet that when the next WWOOFers arrive she’ll show them our pictures and lay it on thick. It makes you wonder if there is any incentives for WWOOF hosts in South Korea?

We then went with the husband to deliver a truck load of sweet potatoes to a market somewhere between Joam and Suwon and during the entire drive there he kept on going on and on about his vague studies of nature and ambitions to answer all the “big questions”. At a certain point after he had repeated himself for the hundredth time about wanting to study “total nature”, “the sun, the moon, the oceans, everything” and that “IS and Africa doesn’t matter, nature” a suspicious thought entered my mind that this is all some big scam created by our hostess – a spiel of absolute bullshit she may have asked him to give to keep up appearances of this simple farmer life with simple romantic philosophies around leading a natural life to these naive foreigners who want to experience the authentic South Korea.

It was a huge and very busy market with every vegetable and marine thing you could imagine but we only got to see a little corner of it before he takes us to this one stand. He quickly introduces us to the man who keeps it and hands us a burning hot potato (and mine was like half rotten, no kidding) for a snack before leaving us there as a couple of children who need minding – and this frustrating feeling is not new to us in this country. After the market the next point on the days schedule is Suwon, a big city with a lot of historic attractions an hour away from Joam. He keeps telling us about this castle and a bus stop we need to find to get back and it’s all very confusing, but then he just drop us of at some random bus stop.

All in all, it has probably been the most confusing and strange day in South Korea so far (which says a lot because the language barrier turns everyday into a confusing mess), however we did end up having a good time in Suwon and we spend an interesting evening by accompanying our hostess in the local church where the young priest gave a very animated late night sermon and ended it with a lovely song.

We definitely won’t be lacking in iodine… That whole tin is full of seaweed. Awesome lunch!
We stocked up on all kinds of Korean cookies