Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hello Mr. Monkey!

I first arrived in Korea in 2000 and on the occasions I travelled out of Seoul I would often be stared at by wide-eyed children who were amazed by my large and relatively hirsute appearance. For the most part the little tykes were genuinely curious and well behaved, excited at meeting a foreigner for the first time. They would mostly shout out simple greetings or comment on my beard, however one time (in Cheonju as far as I remember) one child shouted out to me "Hello Mr. Monkey!"

A curious thing to shout at a stranger; if I had to compare myself to any mammal it would probably be a bear or a wooly mammoth. If I restricted myself to primate comparisons, then I suppose a gorilla or orangutan would do, but to be honest, monkey is not an adequate mammalian comparison to make. I was bemused, confused, befuddled and amused by this tot's taunt, I asked my friends why a child would say that to me and they told me a story of a German pop group called Arabesque and their success with a certain song in the early 1980s. I finally found that song on youtube this week and now all the pieces of the puzzle are complete, the cultural reference is understood, even though the kid was twenty years too late....

So for your viewing pleasure, straight from the Song Festival in Korea 1981:

Skip the adverts and start at 2.20 if you just want to hear the song.

For the record, I am still so fast and funky and am regularly paid to be a clown. Damn, that little kid was right.....

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