Thursday, March 18, 2010

Victory Party

I have to tell you about what may be the most bizarre thing I've ever seen in my military career. When the exercise is over it is tradition for US and ROK officers to get together for a victory dinner where there is an excessive amount of drinking. The drink of choice is soju, a sweet vodka type stuff. The dinner was kimche and smoked duck and a variety of dipping sauces. The drinking started early with three shots of soju accompanied by toasts to the Marines and the Commandant and et cetera. Then more eating and drinking. Then more drinking. When the Korea 3-star General got up and made a final toast by downing an entire 500ml bottle of soju I realized that these Koreans are professional drinkers.

Next we get up from the table and head downstairs, I'm thinking to a bar of some sort. No, we end up in a 15x30 foot room with a curved couch and table in one half and an open area in the other. Its a private karaoke den.

Oh dear.

You've never seen weird until you've watched a drunk Korean 3-star General swaying about and waving his hand in the air while singing "Dancing Queen." The situation was surreal, with all the American officers sitting around the table drinking beer and the Korean Colonels and Generals out on the floor displaying a varying degree of English skills. I'm sitting back and singing along with everyone else (it's amazing how the lyrics of "Take Me Home, Country Road" just come back to you all of a sudden) but there's no way I'm getting up there. We go through "Surfin' USA" and "Enter Sandman" and really stumble our way through "Back in Black" because no one could sing it fast enough. I find it harder and harder to turn down the general who keeps pointing at me to take a turn. Finally I relent and choose "Born in the USA" by Springsteen. (The astute of you will know how that could be a problem.)

I got up and then I realized that the only way to sing this song is to scream it. So I did. Of course, two or three verses in I get to the part about killing the yellow man. Yikes. We get through the verse and the Koreans all keep singing and everything ends well. They even keep coming up to me afterward and patting me on the back and saying "Born in the USA!" So the night ended well and there was no international incident.

Now it's time to go home.

No comments: