People Actually Waited in Line for a Dude Who Eats Nipples
by Eli Hodapp
I actually managed to sleep reasonably well through the night, making this potentially a new record for adjusting to a local time. I went to bed around 10:00 and woke up around 7:00, which seems pretty normal. Well, normal aside from some idiot calling me at 3:30 AM Korea time to pester me about some exclusive screenshots. I really need to put some effort towards removing my phone number from as many of those PR databases as I can. That’s eternally somewhere low on the to do list though, so, maybe some day.
I popped in the shower, headed down to the same awesome breakfast buffet, and once again pigged out on all forms of meats and cheeses. I made a poor choice in getting coffee instead of tea initially, as I’m not sure what the deal with Korean coffee is but none that I’ve had so far has been good. Not even french pressed fancy hotel coffee. But, whatever, they have a crazy assortment of loose leaf teas and I was thinking this morning that I could basically just sit there all day trying all of them. I also discovered this strange kind of prosciutto which I tried pretty hard to find someone who spoke enough English to tell me about it. No dice. It tasted incredibly floral, and I’m not sure if I like it or not, but it’s so strange that I really want to find out what it is.
After breakfast I practiced my presentation a few more times, and headed off to the speakers’ lounge to meet up with the KGC organizers. I feel so bad about my interactions with them, as it seems like it’s been non-stop communication issues and I’m really not sure how much of that is my fault. There’s definitely a significant language, cultural, and spam mail filtering barrier. When it was time for my talk I headed down to the auditorium where the guy running all the AV stuff hadn’t received my PowertPoint files and my translator hadn’t gotten my notes. Add it to the list of weird things that have gone wrong with this.
Oh, and I should mention the line of people waiting to get in to the auditorium snaked around the entire lobby. Craziness. It was a full house with people sitting in the aisles even.
In the end, the whole thing went off without a hitch and people seemed to really enjoy my talk. I covered community building and some examples of games that have gained a lot of traction on TouchArcade and it was pretty validating to have so many people come up afterwards to thank me for it. I put a ton of work into the whole thing, so I’m glad folks got something out of it.
The realtime translation didn’t seem to be an issue until I opened things up for questions, at which point it pretty much broke my brain. Having the translation thing in your ear giving someone eye contact and hearing them talk in a foreign language and having someone translate it to you in real time with a delay of less than a few seconds feels like magic. Some of my answers to questions were probably pretty stupid just because of how mind boggling the whole process was to me.
Afterwards, I got interviewed for the The Kyunghyang Shinmun, the largest newspaper in South Korea. It was a surprisingly in-depth interview covering tons of stuff about TouchArcade, my feelings and our plans for Android, and a bunch of other stuff. I also had tons of photographers taking pictures of me, so who knows where those will show up. Hopefully somewhere cool.
Oh, and the woman who did my translating for me had an absolutely impeccable American accent. It was crazy how well she spoke. I guess you sort of have to be pretty skilled with language to do what she was able to do, but still. A lot of people can sort of speak English here, but they all have these crazy accents with strange intonation that sounds almost robotic in a way. She spoke clearer and with better annunciation than most native English speakers I know, myself included.
Afterwards I got invited to all sorts of things taking place later in the evening ranging from fancy restaurants to Pojangmacha which I learned is the real name of the street food that I saw yesterday. I wanted to hit up a real Korean barbecue place while I’m here though, and everyone else seemed to be fine with that. I had a few hours to kill before dinner though, so I figured I’d explore whatever shopping area there is under the convention center.
Calling this area a “mall” is the understatement of the century. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a shopping complex this elaborate. The COEX Mall is so big that it has a mall inside of the mall and this mall even has its own food court. The amount of stuff available in this mall is absolutely insane. Name a designer, brand, product, food, whatever. They’ve got it. They even have Nudie jeans, and tons of them.
Another hilarious thing about this mall is that they were playing all sorts of entirely uncensored English music. I didn’t really notice it until the chorus of Dirty Mind. This just… blaring on the mall stereo as Korean families are sauntering about buying their Louis Vuitton luggage. It was just as hilariously out of place as Marvin’s Room at swanky restaurants in Barcelona.
After getting lost several times over I met up with all my Korean friends to head to a nearby Korean barbecue place that roughly translated to English is called The House of the Black Pig. The entire gimmick of this restaurant is the only serve Jeju black pig. There’s a crazy story behind them, apparently they only come from this one island in South Korea and up until recently the entire reason these pigs existed was to eat human excrement. No joke. They’re traditionally fed now, and people actually argue that this has negatively impacted the flavor of the pork.
Regardless of what they eat, it was among the best pork I’ve had in my entire life, and delightfully rustic. The meat is ultra rough cut, and even still has hair on it which burns off over the barbecue coals. They continually bring it to you, along with all sorts of actual pig skin. The first few loads of skin were normal, then we started getting nipples.
So, we cooked ’em up. You get scissors to cut up your meat when it’s on the grill, and no one seemed to be interested in eating the piece with the nipple. So, naturally…
…Now I can add Jeju black pig nipple to the list of strange things I’ve eaten.
We all hung out for what felt like hours, until I finally retreated back to the hotel to start the American business day. The worst news of the day is that I’m not going to be able to go to the DMZ while I’m here, as apparently tours are extremely limited and require lots of planning ahead. Oh well. They seem really happy with my presence here and have already more or less invited me back for next year so I’ll definitely hit it up then.