Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bizarre spam messages

Last September, after finally obtaining a decent visa status, I discarded my old pre-paid phone and got a real cell phone. The prepaid phone was KT (Korea Telecom); my new phone is with their competitor SKT, because the KT guy (erroneously, it turned out) told me that as a foreigner I couldn't qualify for their discounted cell phone plan.

Ever since I got the SKT phone, I've been plagued with bizarre text messages and wrong numbers. Apparently whoever had my phone number before me either had a truly impressive number of girlfriends, or was a big fan of various adult phone services. I frequently get texts like this:
Text reads: "Oppa! When are you coming over? I miss you."
Text reads: "Hey you. What are you thinking of?"
Text reads: "Oppa, let's do it like this today."
Text reads: "Oppa, one more time? Hee hee."
Basically, if a message has hearts in it and starts with "Oppa," I immediately register it as spam and delete it. But they just keep on coming. At first I completely ignored them, but more recently I've come to enjoy trying to figure out what's going on in the x-rated emoticon drawings. I've learned a lot of good slang vocabulary as well.

Aside from naughty texts, the next most common form of spam comes from sketchy financial institutions trying to sell bonds and the like. Sometimes I'll get a call from one of these people, always late afternoon on a work day. I have developed an ingenious way of getting rid of them: I simply say, "I'm sorry, you'll have to speak more slowly, I'm a foreigner and I can't understand Korean very well." They always hang up immediately. No goodbye, no sorry for the inconvenience, just a click and then silence.

*Oppa means, literally, "elder brother" (only used by women; men have a different word). This word is also a universal term of endearment used by young women to address their boyfriends. A more complete description of the cultural implications of the term can be found here.

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