Sorry, the name’s not Bond

Once upon a time, many years ago, I worked for a company that did business with South Korea. In my job, I spent a lot of time on the phone to the Korean office in Seoul. I spoke daily to the office manager and his two secretaries and got to know them quite well. Then one day I got the chance to fly out to Seoul for two weeks on a sales visit. I was very excited, and it seemed that I wasn’t the only one.

The office manager met me at the airport and drove me to my hotel. ‘The girls in the office are really looking forward to meeting you, Steve,’ he told me in the car, giving me a sly wink.

‘Really?’ I said.

‘Yes,’ he assured me. ‘In fact, do you mind if we stop by the office on the way so I can introduce you?’

‘OK,’ I said. After all, it would be nice to meet Miss Kim and Miss Lee, who existed for me only as disembodied voices on the end of the phone line.

‘It’s your accent, you see,’ the manager continued. ‘They think you sound exactly like James Bond.’

‘Oh, um, OK.’

He drove me across town to the office and introduced me to Miss Kim and Miss Lee, two young, pretty Korean women. I said hello and shook their hands politely. They giggled.

‘What do you think?’ the manager asked them.

They giggled again.

‘He doesn’t look like James Bond,’ said Miss Kim at last, in a disappointed voice. Or was it Miss Lee? By then, I no longer cared. A young man’s confidence had been cruelly shattered.

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26 responses to “Sorry, the name’s not Bond

  1. Aw!! Poor you, how silly. Just one of those ridiculous things that can happen though, to be filed away under ‘daft memories’. 🙂

  2. Those ladies sound obnoxious. Well, at least you sound like Bond. Personally, I’d be happy to just have the gadgets.

  3. ROFL! Yeah,… that would be soul-crushing! 😮

    Still,… you have to admit… “Morris,… Steve Morris!” doesn’t have quite the same ring.

  4. Now you know: quit while you’re ahead.

  5. Somehow most of the villains in Hollywood movies have either a British accent or an Eastern European one. I wonder why. In any case, it means there’s still hope for you, Steve 🙂

    • I think I am going to start training to become a supervillain. Do you want to be my evil henchperson?

      • By that do you mean the person (usually a token lady) who is supposed to accompany the supervillain everywhere and make him look good? :/

        • Ideally, you would be a highly sadistic psychopath, and have some kind of special ability, like a metal arm, or imperviousness to physical pain. If you own any dangerous pets like a crocodile or piranha fish, that would be a distinct advantage. I am an equal opportunities employer, so no worries on that score. 🙂

  6. That’s okay. A girl told me I don’t look like James Bond either, which seemed like a pretty random thing to say to someone when you just met.

  7. YOU DON”T LOOK LIKE JAMES BOND??? I am so disappointed. You can still like like Batman if you want. Are Halloween masks all the rage this time of year on your side of the pond?

  8. I think I can explain this. It’s the lack of filters. I have half a filter, being only half Korean, but sometimes it’s just not enough. I get myself into trouble all the time.

    My mother (full Korean) once said to the neighbor across the street, “Oh you’re so-and-so? Sorry, I didn’t recognize you. You used to look so pretty and thin that I thought you were a teenager, but now you look fat and old.”

    And while I wasn’t quite shocked, I had to pretend to be. I think I said, “Oh my god, mom, what the hell?…you’re not supposed to say things like that.” Then I turned to the neighbor and asked her if she would mind if I crawled under the car to hide for a little while. (Which was my half-filter doing its not-very-diplomatic thing.)

    Here’s what it’s like living amongst Korean family members: you’re fat, you should run around the block a few times, your hair looks ugly, you should cut it, do you brush your hair? You need to wear makeup, you dress like a homeless person, your feet stink, your purse is old-fashioned and no one carries that kind of purse anymore, and yeah you made a 99% on your math test, but why did you miss one? Did you even study? (The purse thing came from my then forty-something brother, believe it or not.)

    I hope this makes not looking like James Bond feel a little better. At least you sound like him. And you know they weren’t lying about that!

    • I had no idea you were half-Korean! I spent about a month in Korea in total, and found Korean people to be generally very polite, if a bit formal. After I got to know some of them better, they opened up, but were hardly ever rude. But I watched some Korean TV, and although I didn’t understand a word, I could tell that people were being very frank with each other!

      • Yeah, there’s a weird dichotomy. There’s the formality and hierarchies, but then there’s the brutal honesty. The truth is, it’s a good thing if they tell you these things to your face (because they are just as likely to say it behind your back.) I think the honesty is meant to be a thing you do for people you care about…which has its merits in a way. I sometimes want to tell certain seriously overweight friends that they should start exercising and eating right because I worry about them, but that’s a big no-no in our culture. On the other hand, I think I could do that without saying, “You’re fat. You should run around the block.”

        I’ve never been to Korea, believe it or not. I hear they’re very fashion-consious, which would explain why my brother would even notice my purse and would worry that I’m carrying around something that’s old-fashioned.

        From my limited experience, the Chinese seem even more brutally honest, but in a different way that I can’t quite put my finger on. I’ve always gotten on better with them for some reason. They’re very outgoing in a way Koreans aren’t.

        Korean TV is hilarious. I remember watching some show in which the whole premise was this: a woman is secretly living with a man. They’re roommates. They aren’t sleeping together, they’re really just friends, but if anyone found out all hell would break loose.

        • I watched a Korean show that I couldn’t understand at all, but it was still quite entertaining, because of all the shouting and over-acting! It was a bit like opera, but without any singing.

          Koreans seem to be halfway between Chinese and Japanese – they have the hierarchies and polite formality, plus the frankness and openness. I quite like it. In Britain we are rather reserved, which makes it difficult to have interesting conversations with strangers. Even with friends, there are many taboo subjects. That’s probably true of any culture though.

        • That’s a good way of putting it…halfway between Chinese and Japanese.

          Yeah, I know you guys are reserved. But not so much when the booze comes out! 😉

  9. If it makes you feel better, I don’t even sound like James Bond, much less look like him – you’re already much closer than many of us!

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