Bear with me as I tell the tale of how I braved the dangers outside my barracks door in Camp Humphreys, South Korea and went to the ville to get my cell phone fixed.

I went with my roommate, Phillips, down to the place that I bought my phone 8 months ago (8? wow!) and walked in. Neither of us speak more than 10 korean words. A nice korean girl in a little phone selling uniform greeted me. She probably spoke as much english as we did korean.

"Anyonghaseyo," I said, "Can you help me with my phone?", flashing my phone and gesturing for her to take it.

She smiled and nodded. So I dialed the only number I know, namely the number on the back of my international calling card (080-800-7878, if you were curious). I handed her the phone so she could decipher the message I've been getting when I try to dial out. We've come to know it as the "Ko-gee-gee" message. ("Ko gee gee blah blah blah camhapsamnida.") She gets a look on her face as if to say Oh, I know exactly what is wrong.

That's good, I think, at least she knows how to fix it.

So she asks me my phone number (first time for everything, i guess) and I give it to her (016-9214-4270; go ahead, try to figure out how to call it).

She runs over to a little terminal and types away for a few seconds, then comes back.

"Here," handing me my phone.

"Thanks," I said, as I start for the door. Then thinking better of letting things be I ask, "What was wrong?"

"Oh," she says, "System stoppy."

Phillips looks at me, mirroring my puzzled look as we walk out the door. "Um...what did she say was wrong?"

So I told him. "System stoppy".