Anonymous of Holland            -A Dutchman in Korea-

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How to Go to the Dentist in Korea (+ Rolling Hall)

The day before the Lunar Newyear, one of my front teeth suddenly started hurting like crazy. And I mean like motherfucking living-in-a-mental-hospital-and-eating-own-skin crazy, not Richard-is-overreacting-as-always crazy. Anything hurt, drinking, eating, even touching it slightly with my tongue. For 2 days I survived by downing a buttload of painkillers every day, mixing Korean ones and Dutch ones in the hopes that I’d discover which one of them could actually help me hurt less. Unfortunately, it was useless, the pain was so strong that I couldn’t even eat on the third day. Then I still had to wait a day to see the dentist though, because everything was closed because of the Lunar Newyear.

Going to the dentist in Korea is pretty much the same as going to one in Europe, with some small differences.
The first thing to note is that most doctors and dentists in Seoul (and even Dr. Kim in Wando, so I suppose this is also true in the countryside) speak at least rudimentary English. So it wasn’t really necessary for me to drag someone along every time something was wrong with me, but it made me feel a lot safer nonetheless.
Unlike Korean doctors, the dentists pretty much employ the same methods as in the Netherlands. Korean doctors tend to rely solely on (large amounts of) pills, whatever problem you have. Sore throat? Cough syrup is for little children, take these 6 pills three times a day for three days and feel better. Infection? Salves are for fags, take these 8 pills three times a day for three days and feel better. Rash? Well, you get the idea.
Anyway, the dentists luckily keep with the same horrible sounding drills and other implements, although I did notice they’re not very heavy on the saliva suction, which kind of sucks (no paradox intended).
A second point is that the dentist assistants are FUCKING HOT. No exceptions. I don’t know if they hire these girls solely based on looks, but goddayum.
Thirdly, treatment rooms are not separated. That’s right, you can enjoy the horrifying gurgling of the patient next to you who’s getting a tooth pulled while you’re waiting for the dentist to get to you. To be honest, it’s not THAT bad, but it certainly isn’t very comforting.
Oh, also, unlike Dutch dentists, there’s basically no waiting to go to a Korean dentist. Same with the doctors. Just walk in whenever you’re in the neighborhood and they will find the time to help you. Which is pretty amazing, really, when you think about it.
One last interesting thing about dentistry in Korea (a sentence I certainly never thought I would ever write) is that Koreans do not have regular checkups. Like…at all. They only go to see the dentist when they have a problem (or to get their teeth bleached), which makes their dentists very problem-orientated, which in turn has made them work extremely efficiently, which is nice.
Ohyeah, and compared to the Netherlands THAT SHIT BE CHEAP, BRO!

So yeah, overall, the experience really wasn’t all that bad. The dentist explained most things in English, and apart from the fact that he didn’t know the word for root canal ( that’s fucking right ;_; ) I was never confused about what was going on. During the procedure he would let me know what he was doing, and asked several times if I was feeling okay. But yeah, I was feeling okay because I was numbed to all hell.
When I heard I needed root canal surgery because my Dutch dentist fucked up and placed a filling up against my tooth’s nerve, I was pretty scared. You keep hearing about how fucking horrible root canal treatment is, and that it’s the most painful procedure there is.
Well, I can tell you it was probably the least painful dentist visit I’ve ever had. Even filling a tooth hurt more than this, especially compared to the pain I was having before the surgery. The only bad thing is that the dentist only told me my tooth would die, become brittle and turn fucking brown AFTER she performed the operation. That was not very cool, especially considering I asked her like 4 times before she started. Then again, I think she didn’t quite understand my meaning, and those things might have been lost in translation when the dentist explained the procedure.
Now it’s 2 days after the main surgery, and I can hardly feel my tooth anymore. I’m not confident enough yet to eat normally with it, but the pain is pretty much gone. Tomorrow I go back for the last treatment which is filling the hole in my gums through which the nerve was pulled and fixing up my tooth.
Total cost: ₩185,000 (€125,-)

The day I had the main surgery was a bit confusing to me.
As I said, I had only heard on that day that my tooth would die and turn to shit, and I was pretty devastated about that. Mostly I was feeling angry that I had lost my tooth and also because this happened while I was in Korea.
On the other hand, we had a pretty awesome night planned. We were going to see 10cm and three other great Korean bands perform at my first concert in Korea and my first concert in…what…maybe 8 months?

While we were walking to the venue, we passed the GAP store, which had just opened that day. As an Opening Event, there was a lucky draw where you scratched a card and if your number matched a number on a list, you could get free clothes. I ended up winning a ₩50,000 sweater. When we walked out, my friend said “Wow, you’re so lucky!”
Yeah…so lucky…I’d rather have a tooth than a free sweater, hotel in a place where I will never visit and a ₩30,000 card…
That’s what I was thinking at that moment, but by now I’ve gotten drunk as fuck the past 3 days and I’m feeling much more at ease about it. Sure, it sucks hard, but at least the pain is gone and people live with this kind of shit all the time, right?
Now I just hope I can get some money to get a crown before this tooth starts turning creepy…

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Anyway, as I said we went to a concert that evening, at the Rolling Hall near Sangsu (Hongdae area).
The bands performing were 구남과여라이딩스텔라 (Goonamguayeoridingstella), 눈뜨고코베인 (Nuntteugo Cobain), 10cm and 허클베리핀 (Huckleberry Finn). Of all of those, I only knew 10cm who gained a lot of popularity after releasing their hit song “아메리카노” (Americano) which appears to be an ode to the coffee drink. The other bands I checked out on youtube before buying the tickets, and they sounded really good, so I decided to go for it. I wasn’t disappointed at all; all the bands performed extremely well and there really wasn’t even one that I disliked.
One thing that was less than awesome was the venue though. Space is the number one commodity in a city as crowded as Seoul, so the hall was quite small. You even had to get your ticket at a tent positioned on the street outside, and the wardrobe was a closet full of trash bags in which you put your clothes.

We ended up arriving just in time for the first act. I had expected I’d be able to pretty much walk to the front of the stage, considering my height and experience at metal concerts (which are a lot more..physical..than indie concerts) but damn do those Koreans know how to pack a room tight. I’ve never been one to rudely push past people unless there’s at least SOME room on the other side, so we ended up somewhere halfway the room, which wasn’t all that bad really since the place was so small. Plus, the biggest pro about going to a concert in Korea is that pretty much everyone is shorter than you. Fuck yeah.

The first act was a dude on a guitar who wasn’t on the billing, BUT EVEN HE WAS AWESOME.
He played a kind of mushy romantic acoustic music which was really good to start the evening with.
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Second was 구남과여라이딩스텔라, an indie rock band. Their songs were extremely interesting and kind of…avant garde?
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After that it was the turn for my favorite band of the evening, 눈뜨고코베인, which means something like “Get your nose cut with your eyes open”, which I’m told is a Korean saying regarding unsafe areas or something..like, even when you have your eyes open you will still GET CUT UP HOMIE. Anyway, they were totally awesome. Not only does the band feature a hot chick on keyboard, they also have an extremely charismatic front man who looks Japanese. Plus their songs are really lively. Check it out~
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Then it was time for the main event, 10cm. For some reason, a lot of people had decided to ONLY show up for 10cm, so after Cobain finished a giant rush suddenly ensued, nearly crushing small GaHui. The hall, which had been half empty for the past 3 acts, was suddenly packed full of people and cameras pushing and shoving. 10cm was definitely good. They knew how to make the audience laugh (and scream like crazy fangirls) and their voices sounded great live. It also helped that I knew most of the songs they played, so I could sing along a little. I wasn’t really blown away, but it was definitely very enjoyable. On top of that, they also gave away a signed guitar to one lucky member of the audience because it was Rolling Hall’s 17th anniversary!
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After all the 10cm fans stormed back out into the street, 허클베리핀 closed the evening with a really energetic performance that completely made up for their somewhat plain repertoire.
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The night was still young though, and we decided to have a drink at a Jazz café I ran into while aimlessly wandering around the streets one day. Lucky for us, there was a band playing the moment we came in and I felt like a total boss sitting in the classy looking sitting area drinking my Dutch beer.
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So in the end, I couldn’t help but go home happily. Even though some bad shit happened, I saw some great bands and had some beers with a great girl, and I’m still in one of the greatest countries in the world.

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This entry was posted on 29 January 2012 by in Korea, Travel and tagged , , , , , .

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