I'm not one of those foreigners who can find in their heart to bitch and moan about random kids saying hello, and in fact, most of the kids in my neck of the woods are usually too shy to just come out with it, but they will eyeball me as we're coming down the sidewalk toward each other and give the most adorable smiles. Usually, with a little prompting smile in return, they will end up coming out with it. In which case, I usually squat down and have a little chat with them -- in English if they want, and in Korean if they freak out. Crucify me for it -- I think kids are cute and they usually have more interesting things to say than adults.
Teenage boys, of course, are a different ballgame. They'll coming running full force toward your face (with enough peer encouragement) shouting "HIHIHIHIHIHILOVEYOUHIHIHIHIHIHI!" Which is not really that cute. But I tolerate it, because more than likely they'll eventually end up in my class, and then I (having an incredible knack for remembering faces) will pay them back by making them the constant target of, "Liz Teacher needs a volunteer! Seongjoon likes to talk! Let's make Seongjoon talk in front of the class! Yay! Everybody clap for Seongjoon! Seongjoon loves attention!" And it's all good.
Today, on my walk home, three boys were coming toward me through the back alley shortcut my students taught me. They were eyeballing, but the older of the three nudged one just as he was about to start in, and they walked past without incident. We got about three strides apart when the same little one suddenly shouted, "외국인!" in a manner, given the lack of "there is" or "it's a", and given that they'd already all three acknowledged my presence to each other, which was meant to attract my attention.
I turned around with a smile plastered on. The older boy had already began smacking the culprit in the back of the skull. And then what? Well my students are good little teachers themselves, as I've said many times.
"야.... 진짜 똑똑한 남자야!"
Giggles all around. The older boy gave me a thumbs up. I speak Korean very well. Byeeee! Shee you again!
No harm, no foul. It's the life.
Not so harmless was the gigantic "RUSSIA!" shouted in my face by a random ajeosshi shoveling snow outside my building. I stopped walking.
"저기요. 전 미국사람이에요."
And just walking away. You can't win them all.