Friday, May 18, 2007

The Mask

In the supermarket the other day I spied a large soju bottle slowly working its way towards me, and I wasn't even drunk. Normally the people dressed this way can be found in the busiest areas of the city in the evening, luring those who probably need no encouragement into the various nearby bars. Finding one in my local Top-Mart though, was a bit of a surprise.

I've always wanted to get a photo of one, but holding up the Korean wave behind me while I turn around and snap something that's just dashed by has never led to good results. Finally I had the opportunity to take that elusive shot - and I lost my nerve; I was having one of those Invasion of the Body Snatchers days where I'd reached my quota of people perceived to be staring at me and I knew if I took my camera out I might as well have a big Korean neon sign above my head saying 'please disturb me'. But my attempts to remain my usual different colour of incognito predictably failed as the soju was magnetically attracted towards me. In a last desperate act, I employed the trusty wisdom of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, turned my back towards it, and hoped it would become somebody else's problem. A playful tap on the shoulder ended that fantasy.

It is a fact that wearing any kind of novelty costume automatically turns the wearer into a five-year-old, something I can only assume is related to the associated oxygen deprivation, so having captured my attention the soju bottle proceeded to wave at me manically. I mirrored the gesture, even though I knew the intended irony would go over his screw-top. And if they just think I'm playing along so be it - maybe they'll eventually let me go.

Fortunately, as my Korean language ability didn't extend to telling him there's nothing sadder than spending your life in a bottle the wave was as far as the communication went, but I was handed a free gift in lieu of monetary compensation for distress - a small packet with a picture of a soju bottle on it. Well that figures.

Korea has some odd ideas about packaging but as we endured the various gauntlets of supermarket staff shouting their wares at us it did vaguely bother me that the packet was too thin to have any significant quantity of soju, and on further investigation back home it was... drum roll please... a face mask, as in the kind you desperately wear at night when you get to the age where your face stops cleaning itself. It crossed my mind that perhaps this was a deliciously subversive move on the part of the sponsoring company - drink our soju and then stick this on your face afterwards because you'll certainly need it. But sadly not. It transpires that Korean companies often distribute free gifts which have no connection to their product whatsoever - it's merely an exercise in creating goodwill - taps on the shoulder from six-foot soju bottles notwithstanding.


1 comment:

Mike said...

Thanks for posting that - it's the best Soju bottle picture I've seen so far.

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