I got a tattoo a couple months ago, from a shop in Georgetown. It hurt
a lot a little bit.
It’s a Korean exclamation, assah (pronounced “ah-sah”), and used when something really good or exciting happens. Like “yes!” or “hooray!” or “yay!” You hear it a lot at soccer matches.
Why? I love South Korea. I loved living there, and I miss it terribly. I miss the packed subway cars, the gorgeous cheap clothing, the vendors selling meat on sticks and spiky french-fry wrapped, deep fried corndogs; I miss sitting at a table in a Korean bar with friends, surrounded on all sides by older Korean gentlemen who were putting us to shame with their Soju drinking skills. I miss the food: fabulous, aromatic and full of spice and flavor. I miss the friends I made there, the close bonds we formed, being away from our homes and cultures and everything familiar. This tattoo, this word, epitomizes everything I love about Korea, how I felt living there, and it reminds me to be brave, and adventurous, and to not only relish new experiences, but to seek them out.
Maybe I’ll regret getting the tattoo one day, when I’m old and wrinkly and the exclamation point looks like a twisty stick. But right now, I’m 29 and (mostly) wrinkle-free, and the exclamation point looks just right. assah!