06 August 2007

i'm a dwenjang (됀장) boy

guilty pleasures and reminders of home

my limited language proficiency means that i'm reduced to tarzan talk. as such, i'm eager to prove to the locals that i'm not an imbecile. sure, i can't make 2 coherent korean sentences in a row, but i'm competent, if not clever, in my mother tongue, i swear. most koreans don't care or believe me, so i depend heavily on friends and family to yield little morsels of insider lingo to impress the locals.

the crowd favorite has been my use of "dwenjang girl," a derisive term for girls of modest means who flaunt faux couture and carry empty starbucks cups like blinggy clutches to suggest a luxurious lifestyle, something very important in image-obsessed korea. when i slip mention of these hussies into conversation it brings great joy to koreans and it's as if several months' worth of relationship building has occured.

as i understand it, the arch-nemesis of the dwenjang girl is the "gochujang boy." he holds great disdain for these wannabe girls who dream of flaunting $600 glorified t-shirts from chungdamdong boutiques or the apgujeong galleria. he's a little rough around the edges, jocum resentful that he doesn't own a car, but, also pretty sexy, in my opinion.

as is usually the case, i'm both and neither. on the one hand, i'm embarrassed to admit that i buy $6 coffee/tea almost daily. but i can't afford it and that it's mostly because i'm psychologically attached to how it reminds me of home. on the other hand, i do indeed carry around empty starbucks cups for weeks, but it's only so i can exchange them for my 50 won (nickel) deposit. 120 returned cups = 1 "free" chai tea latté!

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