Tuesday, June 5, 2007

When Rain comes around

Posted in Foreign Service Life, Korea at 10:19 pm by graceandpoise

Today things were a little crazy in the petition-based visas section of the embassy. We had a rough morning, and then when the afternoon crowd came in, we realized it was going to be a rough day all around. You see, we don’t always know in advance who will be coming in for interviews, so sometimes we get surprised.

Like today, when the biggest star in all of Korea (and, say many Koreans, in all of Asia) came in for a visa interview. The name: Rain (I have to say, the guy’s got good taste in stage names, even if it is pronounced somewhere between “bee” and “pee” in the original Korean). He’s a big deal in Korea. A very, very big deal. And he’s beginning to be a big deal in the U.S. as well, even warranting extended mention on the Colbert Report.

One thing you learn pretty quickly when you’re in a rather homogeneous society like this one is that when something (or someone) is hot, they’re hot. Imagine, if you will, that it’s sometime around 1986, and pre-scandal Michael Jackson comes into a crowded room full of the general public and has to spend about an hour there. But imagine at the same time that the Michael Jackson in question not only has the superstar power, but is also the male version of Halle Berry (Brad Pitt?) – thought by everyone regardless of personal preference to be in the top 0.01 percent of the most completely gorgeous individuals ever to exist. Now imagine on top of all that that everyone agrees that he’s fabulous, and even the old folks love him because they think he’s a sweet boy. Got that image in your head? Got a firm idea of the noise and the din and the nervous energy and the twittering of excited young women?

With all that going on – on both sides of the interview windows – we’re trying to interview seventy-some people, plus all of Rain’s entourage (more than 40 of them). It was absolute madness. At one point, the din and twittering had gotten so bad that I literally had to leave the window in the middle of an interview and ask people to calm down. And if it was maddening to me, I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the star himself.

The moral of the story? If you really want a cushy and fun life, go for the “rich and not famous” angle instead of the “rich and famous” route that is usually so lauded. Because living in a constant state such as what I witnessed today couldn’t possibly be all that much fun.

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