So when his phone rang on Saturday morning and he hit play on the music, ran to the bedroom and closed the door to take the call, I tried not to make too much of it. B's not good at not behaving suspiciously, but the things he blatantly behaves suspiciously about always wind up being completely asinine, so I usually just save myself the trouble of trying to figure it out. If I wait long enough, he'll come around hinting about how he had been acting suspicious, huh? Do I want to know why? Huh? Aren't I curious?
This was the case on Saturday morning. As usual.
He came out of the bedroom, looking smug. "I rejected."
"응. You know, he was so sorry. He begged me. He said we can't find another person like you."
I was at the kitchen sink making coffee, and when he didn't get more of a response than that, he came across the room. "Don't you want to hear about it? About why he can't find another person like me?"
"I have a feeling I'm going to whether I want to or not."
"아, 진짜! 리즈!"
A bit embarrassed, he wandered off to the bathroom to wash his face and brush his teeth. When he came back out, I put down two coffee cups on the table in front of us and we sat.
"Anyway, I said no to that job. I told him, my conscience won't let me." He closed his eyes and patted his chest, over his heart, to emphasize his sincerity on this point.
".... I said, 'I'm sorry, but I can't take this job. My conscience says no.'"
"Don't you want to hear why my conscience said no?"
"If I say no, are you going to wander off for a few minutes and then just come back and tell me anyway?"
"야!" He swatted at me, and laughed. "Yes. So I'll just tell you anyway. Do you know what 스포츠 토토 is?"
B then explained to me that, essentially, he had been offered an illegal-as-fuck job maintaining a website for some gangster fuck who makes money off of fixing bets on sports matches. A lot of money. B had been offered 10 million a month for this job. And for whatever reason, had actually discussed this bullshit with this shady fuck, as if he were considering it.
"Are you out of your damn mind? I did not come to Korea to get a steady job and wind up mixed up with some shady ass criminal shit. No."
"But I could buy a big house!"
"No you fucking could not. You could live some bullshit high life until these fucking people sell you, who are a dime a dozen, out because you would be the one who is traceable as fuck in this whole situation, and just as fucking disposable. And then my ass gets yanked out of that big house and deported, if not thrown in jail for some kind of association bullshit. No."
"You would come visit me in jail, right?"
"No I fucking would not."
"What?! How could you say that to your boyfriend?"
"You land your own ass in jail for being greedy as fuck when you already have a good paying job, a college education and a viable skill set, and that is your fucking problem -- not mine."
"I'm not playing."
"Anyway, I turned it down."
"Fucking right you did."
"Lots of people do! It's not crazy! But I turned it down because--" Hand over his chest again. "My conscience."
"Do you know why my conscience?"
"Because it's illegal as fuck? And by the way, is that what you meant when you said you'd have the chance to 'travel abroad'? That you'd wind up fucking exiled to China or something?"
"... Maybe. Anyway. My conscience! You know. A lot of people do suicide because of that kind of thing. When they lose their money. So I thought, I'll be indirectly killing people. So I thought, I'd better not."
"Well, thank God for that."
Later that night, we had a few friends round for dinner, and sitting in the big room after dinner drinking and talking, he recounted the tale again for everyone. And it suddenly occurred to me to ask where the employee he'd be replacing had gone.
"To the army."
"... To the army? How old was he? Was it some university kid who was doing it before?"
"No. Just a programmer."
"How old is he?"
"Thirty one and he's left now because he's gone away to the army?"
I looked around the room at everyone else listening in, all of whom were cracking smiles and stifling laughter.
"[B], how many men do you know who go to the army when they're 31?"
"Sometimes they do."
"And you don't find that at all suspicious?"
A long, silent pause, as he looked around the room at everyone's faces.
"... He went to jail, didn't he?"
Then suddenly, MJ, the tiny 25 year old female web designer in the room, piped up: "That's really good money. I want to do it..."
He showed us the website, which is quite innovative, with a fake front page and all. And then, he logged into the management server -- the part where the bookers control "the game". I didn't catch all of the details (a primarily Korean room meant primarily Korean conversation), but basically what I got was that if someone's winning too much or too often, the owner tweaks the system to shut them down.
The moral of the story? Don't bet on games in Korea. And pay attention when your boyfriend goes to the other room and closes the door to take a phone call.
Freelance writer and editor. American in Seoul. I write about Korean food. I blog about all food. Last year I wrote a monthly column about traveling to different places around the country to explore Korean ingredients and cuisine. This ignited my interest in local foods and cooking, which I blog about regularly now. I also blog restaurant and cafe recommendations, recipes and some background and history about Korean food.