Feb 19, 2012
Years ago my wife took me to Korea for the first time. She took me right to the Namdaemun market, probably because she wanted to shop. I was instantly drawn to the food stalls. My wife yelled at me and said to NEVER eat street food there. She usually tells me this in every country but of course, I don't listen. The first chance I got I made a beeline back to eat the street food. There are a lot of Blade Runner type outdoor stalls. They are all wrapped in big sheets of clear plastic. There are little space heaters and cookers that sort of keep the inside warm. I found one I wanted to draw, then sat down and ordered food. As the drawing took shape, people started to take notice. My back was to the clear plastic and the tiny street behind is only wide enough for a single person to pass. Suddenly I could feel lots of people directly behind behind me pushing in on the plastic to get a look. It started to get a little hairy. People inside the tent started to take my other drawings off the table and pass them around to everyone. At some point, A guy came into the tent and picked up one of my paintings. He didn't speak any English at all, so he just gestured that he was taking my painting. Off he went without a word. He strolled out of the tent and disappeared into the crowds. Ordinarily one might panic but not in Korea. The people are so trustworthy, that I didn't even blink. Sure enough, 5 minutes later he showed up. He placed the painting on my table, smiled and left. Then I went back to my painting and enjoying my street food, doing exactly what my wife told me not to do.