I killed the voices

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We live in probably the biggest apartment complex in Sokcho, which we sometimes refer to affectionately as "the projects." Buyoung Apt ("ah-paht" in Konglish) was built 10-20 years ago, depending on who you ask. The complex stretches about a mile, parallel to, but about one block off, the main road through Sokcho. It's divided into smaller areas by various streets which are scattered with restaurants and other businesses. Some small businesses, like daycares, are housed within apartments. The buildings are each about 15 stories high and our floor (which is about average) has 8 apartments. In some ways, it's almost like a little city within itself.

Our apartment isn't fancy, but it's comfortable and fairly spacious. All the buildings (at least in our section) were repainted inside (interior hallways) and out this summer, which makes them look much snazzier than when we moved in this spring. There are lots of playgrounds, which are gradually being updated. We have easy access to a large grocery store, a dry cleaner, a stationary/craft store, restaurants, etc. The only drawback is the voices.

On the wall in our main room (kitchen/dining/living) is a phone, which we never use. We assume it would connect us to an ajashi (doorman), who probably can't speak English anyway. Above that is a small speaker. The size is deceiving, considering the volume of the announcements that come from that speaker. There is no volume control. On average, once per day, anytime from 8am to 9pm, random announcements are made, by various people, through this speaker, always book-ended by a series of dings, somewhat similar to our doorbell.

Of course, if we understand a few words from the rapid spiel, we're doing well. Sometimes, we can deduce the content of the announcement from events that follow, such as the time our water was shut off shortly after an announcement, or another time when we lost power for a few hours. Overall, these announcements do us no good. The last three evenings, after Liam was already in bed, the same man's voice made lengthy announcements which included the word "piano." Piano is Konglish (a recent addition to the Korean language taken from English). Not being able to understand the majority of the message, I can't be sure, but I'm very suspicious that he is advertising (among other things) a piano school.

My first attempt was to muffle the voices. I used thumb tacks to affix a terry cloth dish towel over the speaker. It was completely unsuccessful, but did draw questions from several guests, both Koreans and foreigners. Last night, I finally had enough. I removed the cover and then the actual speaker unit from the wall. Matthew disconnected some wires and replaced the rest of the unit. Now we wait. Hopefully, I will never hear the voices again.

Update: IT WORKED! During Liam's nap today there was an announcement. I know that because I could hear our neighbors' speaker. That's how loud it is! It wasn't loud enough to disturb Liam, though. Hallelujah!


6 Responses to “I killed the voices”
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By "disconnect" you mean "cut" right?

We also have the speaker in our Gangneung apartment and it irritates me to no end. The messages are generally about things like utility shut-offs or mobile libraries coming around for older residents but there is the odd advert for a fishmonger doing his rounds in the neighbourhood. "Ten mackerel for 5,000 Won!"
The reference to 'piano' you heard was probably a request that people not practise after a certain hour. They also ask that children not run around late at night because it bothers other residents. I would like to cut the wires in my speaker but I don't feel that brave yet. And the missus won't let me. :)

I love that you did it. I don't think I would have had the nerve.

If I had that in my home (and I live in Korea) I would think it was Big Brother like in 1984. I wonder if Korean residents find it amusing, boring or helpful.

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