Monday, March 15, 2010

Paro Haseiyo


"Hyeong!" I saw my producer seated halfway across the hall in the cafeteria. He's with someone else, I noticed, as I rushed over to him. I politely introduced myself to him, and turned to my producer.

"I need to get on with the production," I started. "We need to do the telecine as fast as we can. But," I emphasised, "Tony suggested that perhaps if we skip the keycode telecine, and jump straight to HD, we might be able to save a lot of time, even if we spend a bit more money." Doing the keycode telecine means that we'd preserve as much of the original quality as possible, it would take a much longer time to process. Keycode telecine, edit, make a cut list, do the negative cutting, 2K scan, colour correction, done. HD telecine, one the other hand, is something as follows: HD telecine, colour correction, done. Or something like that.

"No, no, I don't think so," came the quick reply.

"How much does HD telecine cost?" It is my money, after all.

"No, it's too expensive."

"How about a ballpark figure? Per minute?"

"No, it's too expensive."

I pushed for a bit more, then gave up. He's my producer, he'll know what to do. He produced 'The Duellist' and 'Typhoon', after all; he'll know best. Got to get used to people handling my (and my government's) money.

****

"You should get a new pair of glasses," she said.

It was something that has been on my mind for a while. I considered putting it off, because a pair might be cheaper to get in Malaysia, but then again, it would be interesting to get a Korean-style pair of glasses. I considered how I might look like with them. Of course, there are many different styles available here, and many of them are also available back home. If you take a closer look at a lot of Koreans, however, there is a particular style favoured by the majority of Korean men: thick, black rimmed frames.

"I've been thinking about it, actually," I answered. "How much do they cost?"

No answer. We were waiting by the side of the road for a taxi, after all, so I suppose her eyes and mind were pre-occupied with getting an available cab. I wasn't really about to be deterred, however. "How much would they cost? 50,000 won?"

Still no answer. "50,000? 100,000 won?" Of course, it depends on the kind of frame and lenses I get, but I still would think that she (who have had a number of pairs since I first met her) would have a ballpark figure.

"I'll take you to Namdaemun. It's not expensive there," was the main reply. Then the taxi came.

****

I waited in turn for my haircut. The old lady was trimming an elderly gentleman's hair, and she was just about done. After he went off to shampoo his own hair, I plonked myself in the seat. "I want to cut my hair short."

No answer. Instead, a blank stare, a glazy look in her eyes, almost. Perhaps she didn't understand.

"Hair, short," I said, in Korean. It was the same thing I have said every time I get my haircut, and it usually does the business. In fact, I've been here before, the haircut before last. I grabbed a big of my hair, stretched it out clearly (it was rather long, so it definitely was clear enough), and demonstrated how much she should remove. "Remove this much, cut this part."

Still...nothing. Then, "I don't understand what you want."

"I want a haircut. Just a short haircut."

"What kind of style do you want?"

It's getting frustrating. "I just want you to cut my hair short. Nothing more. Cut short." 짧게, 짧게, I resorted to using merely words, instead of complete sentences. Perhaps my pronunciation was off; surely she can't go wrong with merely words.

"What kind of style do you want?"

Exasperated, I whipped out my phone, and called my friend. "Tell her I want to cut my hair short. That's it." I passed the phone to the old lady, and what I thought would have taken a short few sentences turned into a not-so-heated conversation between the two. After a while, she passed the phone back to me.

"What did she say?" "Well..." my friend started, "I told her that you want to cut it short, but she wanted to know what style you want. I said, maybe like a Mohican..."

"A Mohican?!" I raised my voice. Why is it so difficult to get a haircut? Hair. Cut. End of story. "I don't want a bloody Mohican, I want a freaking hair cut! Why is it so difficult? Just get the scissors and cut!" I've never been one to be too bothered with my hairstyles; at times, I have had to be metaphorically dragged kicking and screaming to the barber's. Haircuts means money (however big or small), and it also, in a way, means having to fit in with other people's expectations. Others might say that such tendencies reflects our personalities. Our fashion, our clothes, and what not. Mine does exactly that: I don't give a shit. I cut for comfort, not for style. I can make my own style, provided the cut is just a normal enough, decent enough cut.

"Well, she wants to be able to cut to your satisfaction, she said."

"My satisfaction would have been to have my hair cut short!" I'm not an image-conscious Korean bastard, I just want a bloody haircut. Frustrated, bitter, angry, I hung up and got up from the chair.

"Come again with your friend," she had the temerity to say. "I don't understand what you want."

"Fuck you, I'm not coming back here again." That, I definitely know how to say in Korean, with the perfect speech impediments and all that. I bet she understood that.

It was a long, thoughtful walk back home about my position within Korean society. So difficult to get simple answers to simple questions. So difficult to make people understand simple instructions. I need to rent a P2, how much does it cost? Do you know where to get a boom mic? Is this book available in English? Can you please just cut my fucking hair short? Hair. Cut. Short.

Just for good measure, it rained as well.

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