Strange Encounters: Yeongwol
When you open the front door of our apartment, it creates a loud sucking sound as the air rushes in from the open windows in the bedroom. The noise can catch you off guard when you’re not expecting it.
And at 10:30 pm on a Tuesday night, I definitely wasn’t expecting it.
Jared and I were nearly asleep when there was a loud *BANG* at the door. The bedroom windows vibrated angrily, and we both sat bolt upright.
“It’s him,” I said. “It’s got to be the same guy.”
A few months ago, a really drunk dude decided that our apartment was actually his apartment, and spent a good five minutes trying to gain entry with his key. There are fifteen identical floors in the building, so we assume he pressed the wrong button in the lift and, in a haze of soju, headed to the right apartment on the wrong floor.
And now he was back for more.
Jared pulled on a t-shirt and sighed. “Ajosshi,” he said. “Waegook saram jib-ae issoyo.” This is a foreigner’s house.
The man grunted a few times and rattled the doorknob.
Jared slid open the window in the computer room, which looks out into the hallway. He calmly and respectfully told the man that this was not his house, and could he please go home.
The man stared at Jared through the screen, and understanding flashed in his eyes.
“Jwaesonghamnida,” he muttered. I’m sorry. The sound of his shuffling feet got quieter and the door to the staircase creaked open.
“I’m not convinced,” Jared said. We stood in the living room, arms crossed, listening tensely.
He was back, kicking the wall and slamming his hand against the door. He shouted some unintelligible nonsense, presumably exhorting his wife to hurry the hell up and let him in.
“Jesus,” I said. “I’m calling the security guard.”
There’s an ancient little uniformed man who holds court in a hut in the parking lot for our building. We’ve got a phone in the apartment that connects to him at the push of a button. (It’s also a video phone for when the doorbell rings, which still feels like space-age technology to me.)
The phone rang. The door continued to shake as the drunk man fiddled with his key in our lock. I hoped that one of our neighbors would happen to walk by and rescue us. The phone kept ringing.
“What kind of security is this?” I seethed. We didn’t want to open the door in case he forced his way in, but we couldn’t make him understand that this wasn’t his house.
“Ajosshi,” I bellowed. “Balli KA!” Hurry up and GO, said as you would to a child.
Jared slid open the window again, and the same flash of understanding flickered across the stranger’s face.
He stumbled away, this time for good.
Korea’s a safe place, but you better believe we lock the door every single night.