Your Korando Awaits (Korea Can Do)

모슬포 (Moseulpo), South Korea. 1997.

I was not a little bit relieved to be rid of the Church van driver. Standing now by myself in the middle of 모슬포 nowhere, I looked down at the scrap of paper in my hand. Mr. Kim’s name and local phone number stared back at me. It called to me. I put my phone card in a pay phone and dialed the number. An older woman answered, I focused on using my clearest Korean and asked for Mr. Kim by his full name as it was written. She was rather terse with me and said he was not home and she didn’t know when he would return. I hung up.

I walked around the heart of town thinking about what to do next. The center was not much larger than a single intersection and I didn’t see much that would set this place apart from any other small town in this country. Plus I had enough exploring for one day.

It was starting to get dark and I decided I better see to some food and accommodations. But first I gave Mr. Kim another dial. This time a much younger sounding voice answered. She told me he was not home. That was enough to make me give up on seeing this so called “Traditional Korean Museum” today. I paused a moment debating what, if anything, to say next. Then I just blurted out that I was the foreigner that Mr. Kim met on the ferry from Wando. She gave a slight gasp, perhaps realizing that the person at the other end of the line was speaking Korean and she never considered I was not Korean.

I had no idea who she was. I didn’t know if she was also on the ferry and had seen me talking to Mr. Kim, or if he had told her about me, or anything. She told me to call back in 15 minutes. I told her I was going to find a cheap motel for the night and would call back in the morning. She was getting more excited and told me she didn’t think I needed to do that; I should call back in 15 minutes. We agreed on that and I rang off.

Tired and hungry, but with piqued curiosity, I roamed the streets to kill another 15 minutes. I dilly-dallied and waited a full 30 minutes before I dialed back. This time my call was answered immediately on the first ring. It was a man’s voice so I asked if it was Mr. Kim. He said it was and asked if I was the foreigner from the ferry. I confirmed. He asked me where I was. I told him I was standing in front of the 모슬포 Post Office. He told me not to move and he would come pick me up in 10 minutes. I hung up and waited.

Fifteen minutes later a Korando pulled up in front of me. The driver was not Mr. Kim, but he was dressed in the same old school style, and had a long pony tail pulled tight in the back. He yelled out the window that Mr. Kim sent him and I should get in.

I got in…