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Korean in Taiwan

I usually write about my experiences with Korean orphans, but I’ve just spent a week in Taipei, so I decided to switch things up a little bit…

Of course, the language of Taiwan in Chinese, but a lot of Koreans travel there, and my Korean came in handy at least once. I was entirely unprepared for the Chinese… I should have spent some time with before the trip. Alas, I was hopelessly lost, except for the precious few Hanja I understand and recognize.

In Taipei, there is a section of town called Snake Alley. It must have been much more exciting in it’s hey day, but now is just another street market. The name comes from store fronts where the guy will pull out a large (2m) long snake and bash it’s head to stun it, hang it by the “neck” and then slice open the main artery to drain all the blood. I guess they serve the meat as well – but I didn’t try. We also weren’t allowed to take pictures…which is where my Korean came in handy. I was standing in front of one such snake butcher, and recognized some Korean tourists. After living in Seoul for a while, Koreans can be pretty easy to identify. But they were also speaking Korean. I stepped over to one woman and said:

“혹시요..뱀고기를 목고 싶어요? ” (Excuse me.. do you want to eat snake meat?)

She responded by shaking her hand and head, and saying in English “”No.” She ran back to her friends, who must have said something like “I think he just spoke Korean to you!” She came back, and we proceeded to have a pretty standard conversation about how well I supposedly know Korean, where I live, what I do for a job, etc. Then she wanted to take a picture of the snake gutting. But the man behind the counter said “No Picture!” I guess these Koreans don’t speak English, because she kept right on clicking. So I stepped in:

“사진 찍지 마세요” (Don’t take pictures)

-“왜요?” (Why?)

“저 남자가 찍지마래요” (That man said not to take any)

So, you never know when your Korean will come in handy! Have any of you had some great experiences with Korean outside of Korea?