When they say ‘Last call,’ they really mean it

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When they say ‘Last call,’ they really mean it

Whenever people ask me what the biggest difference is between Korea and Canada, I say it’s the night life.
Of course there are lots of other differences, too. When I first went to Canada to study, everything was a shock. The environment is so well protected that Canada seemed like a huge nature preserve where humans and animals live side by side. I really enjoyed living in such a pristine environment. Compared to Korea, with its traffic jams and stifling pollution, it almost seemed like paradise.
Initially, Friday and Saturday nights were a tough adjustment for me. I was accustomed to hanging out all night with my friends in Korea, going out to clubs and bars, having a good time until the wee hours. But in Canada, once the clock struck 2 a.m. everybody headed home. If you hadn’t finished your drink, the waitress would take it away from you.
Canadians tend to be homebodies. Most of them seem to enjoy planning activities with their families, watching TV at home or just hanging out with friends at home. Few Koreans really enjoy spending their time like that. Especially on a weekend. Most Koreans see the weekend as a chance to get out and enjoy life with their friends. In Seoul, if you get the urge to buy a pair of shoes at 3 a.m., just head to Dongdaemun market. Want to grab a bite to eat at 4 a.m.? Just walk out your front door ― there’s probably a restaurant or bar still open.
But not in Canada. One Friday night, some friends and I were out bar hopping when last call rolled around. We gulped down our drinks and left the bar, but we really didn’t feel like going home. We wanted to keep having a good time. Desperate for some late-night fun, we roamed around looking for something to do. It seemed our only options were doughnut shops (and we didn’t want to hang out with the cops) and 24-hour convenience stores.
So, we headed to a 7-Eleven to see what was going on. When we walked in, the only people there were the clerk, a guy in his mid-40s with oily brown hair and a funny-looking mustache, and some pimple-faced high school kids drinking Mountain Dew and playing an outdated video game. My friends and I stood in the doorway trying to decide what to do. Just then, the clerk looked up from his portable television and said, “In or out fellas? You’re lettin’ the cold in.”
After a brief pause I said, “Out. Definitely, out.”


by Song Han-seung

Mr. Han is a sophomore at Carlton University in Ottawa and an intern at the JoongAng Daily.
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