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My best friend’s replacement pulled an infamous “midnight run” last weekend.
Her escape wasn’t discovered until, presumably, she was on a plane bound for her home in Australia. Our only indication of this, a presumably-hastily-written email to her recruiter. A “mea culpa” of sorts. Oops.
If we were to write an obituary for her Korean death, it could read: You were only 23, with so much left to see, so much left to do. Or: what was your name again?
She was here such a short time that perhaps only one photo, taken during my friend’s goodbye dinner, is the only evidence this girl ever set foot in this country. Well, that and her suitcase, which she left in the apartment, as well as some ramyeon wrappers and empty soda bottles.
The story could easily end there. Some kid who never worked a day in her life takes a chance teaching in a foreign country, freaks out and bails before she even teaches her first class. But I experienced a similar story almost 10 years ago.
It was hearing about the abandoned suitcase and food debris that did it for me. They tell a very sad story, one of someone feeling impossibly hopeless and impossibly alone.
Between Nov. 15 and Dec. 24, 2005, my debris were hundreds of smoked cigarettes. Dunhills, mostly, snubbed out in overflowing ashtrays, in cups, on plates. There were no food wrappers since I barely ate, spending most of my time with expensive collect calls to a girl I broke up with to come here (this is pre-Skype and Facebook, after all). Hopelessness does wonders to one’s physique.
Instead of attending a dinner for the outgoing teacher, then trudging up a very uncomfortable hill toward a very unflattering apartment on the Green line in Busan, my outgoing teacher collected me from a bus depot in Jinju, then brought me back to a significantly nicer place. It didn’t matter if the place was nice. Within an hour, I asked her if she would consider changing her mind.
There is nothing anyone can say when you’ve lost all hope that will change your mind. I thought then I was making excuses. I know now that wasn’t true.
The anxiety may seem unnecessary when viewed from outside. Sticking it out might seem a better option. But as expensive as it is, for her and for the company she just fucked over, going home was the only thing she could do. It is a conclusion one can only justify, I think, if you have gone through that hell on earth yourself.
And, believe me, it is hell on earth. It’s your mother dropping dead in the audience for your high school school play. It’s being told you have stage four cancer and only a couple months to live. It’s being forced to admit, after living with a certain set of beliefs for the entirety of your life, it all was a lie. It’s moving your life to another country, only to realize once you’ve arrived that you just can’t hack it.
But, there is growth to be gained living Winston Churchill’s quotation about going through hell: Keep going. In 2005, I at least went far enough to find a replacement before I gave my school back its airfare, bought another ticket and touched down at Newark Airport just in time for Christmas. I took two suitcases home but a third stayed behind. Maybe she did that, too. I still miss that pea-coat.
Sticking it out just a little might have put enough of a flavor for this country in my mouth and in my mind that time could only marinate to a point I’d eventually try again. In 2005 I did not know about dweji gukbap or jjimjillbangs but I did know about gimbap and K-Pop. There isn’t much one can learn about a country and a culture in just a few days consumed with thoughts about getting the hell out of there.
Even so, in time she might consider trying this again, too. If the empathy I feel for what she must have gone through is accurate, I can take the next leap and contemplate her thoughts about this unfinished business, a monster that can weigh on the brain even heavier than a monster hiding under the bed, in the closet, behind the door or in a classroom full of curious Korean children. It brought me back three times.
Recently, a friend I made during that first 40 days in Jinju almost a decade ago contacted me to ask if I knew of any job openings in Korea for next year. I asked him if he was serious. In the time since we’ve seen each other on this side of the world, he has had a fairly successful career in New Zealand as both a voice and television actor. He’s married, with several children. Yet, he said he also still thought from time to time about the “unfinished business” he left in Korea in December 2005. No one likes to admit they’re still scared of the boogeyman.
JPDdoesROK is a former news editor/writer in New Jersey, USA, who served a one-year tour of duty in Dadaepo/Jangnim, Saha-gu, Busan from February 2013 to February 2014. He is now a teacher in Gimhae.
One of the things I love about Korea, maybe my favorite thing, is that even after living here for more than 4 years, I can still find amazing places and new adventures in my own backyard. Korean people are very active, and unlike most Americans, they go out almost every weekend to explore their own country. I think this is awesome, and it makes me wish I did more exploring of my own back in the US! There’s still time for that though.
Last time I was in the US, I had to go alone. While I was gone, Evan did a lot of exploring with his new camera, looking for good places to take night pictures of Busan. After some reading online in photography groups, he drove to Hwangnyeongsan (황령산), near Geumyeonsan station in Busan. We’re not avid hikers, so it’s always nice when we find mountains we can drive up to for great views!
Evan sent me excited messsages while I was away, claiming that he found this place with the best night views of Busan he’s ever seen. He sent me a picture of Gwanganli’s Diamond bridge from the top of the mountain, and I was in awe. We went back together soon after I returned to Korea, and again recently with our friends Meagan and Dave from the blog Life Outside of Texas. The amazing thing about the views from Hwangnyeongsan is that because it’s in the heart of Busan, you can see almost all of the major neighborhoods from the top. On this particular trip we arrived in time to catch the sunset, and I can honestly say it was the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen!
I don’t think a lot of people know about this hidden gem, so I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Busan. There are a few places to stop on the way up, with great views of Diamond Bridge, and the summit is relatively flat with a nice park. There were quite a few couples having romantic picnics the last time we were there, and it’s the perfect spot for it!
I’m so glad Evan found this place and that we were able to share it with friends. Now I hope you all go check it out, and if you’re not in Korea, go explore a new area wherever you are in the world! Then leave us a comment about your adventures!
How to get there:
There are lots of ways to get to the mountain, but I would suggest catching a taxi from Geumyeonsan station Line 2. If you walk, it should take a couple hours to get to the top. There are cafes, a few restaurants, and food trucks on the way.
Get more info. and view a map on the Visit Korea site!
The post Amazing Sunset View in Busan – Hwangnyeong Mountain appeared first on Evan and Rachel in Korea.
By Erica Sweett
A few months ago the ISC met in Seoul to learn about reunification. We met with reunification activist and former political prisoner, Kwon Nak Gi. At the age of 26, he was imprisoned for breaking the National Security Law in Korea. He spent 18 years of his life in jail, from 1972 to 1989. Trying to relate to a man whose world differed so much from my own was difficult. It raised important questions and forced me to reflect on how I have been living my life thus far.
I have always been interested in social issues. This led me to pursue a degree in political science at university. While I liked the idea of social justice, my understanding of politics at the time didn’t go much past the pages of the classroom textbooks. Yet the past two years I’ve spent in Korea have made me increasingly aware of the role politics plays in the life of everyday people. As I have become more familiar with the Korean social movement, activists and politicians, I have realized that awareness and change stem not from inconsistent ideals but from the lives of dedicated individuals. All of the people we have met have had at least one thing in common: they are all distinctly aware of their purpose. They have sacrificed comfortable, stable jobs and are devoting their lives to improving their community. The big question is, how? How did they discover and find the strength to live each day with purpose?
Kwon Nak Gi’s experiences in prison left him with nothing but his purpose. They took away his clothes, possessions, his home, family, country, and physical freedom. In the eyes of his oppressors, they had successfully dehumanized him. Solitary confinement was supposed to dissolve his beliefs, but it only strengthened them. After hearing his story, it was evident that the thing that makes us human is not superficial, but something that lies deep within us.
Kwon Nak Gi told us that he found strength in three basic ways; everyday resistance to his conditions, studying, and through comradery with his fellow prisoners. It was these basic intentions, along with his unwavering commitment and internal strength, that helped him endure life in prison. A simple confession could have given him the freedom to return to his family. Yet he firmly believed that a life without meaning would be much worse than a life behind bars. While most people reading this will hopefully never have to face what he did, his story is an important lesson on how to live an honest and meaningful life in spite of your conditions.
He started by telling us about how he was always actively struggling, whether he was physically resisting torture or internally resisting confession. Each time he was tortured, his reasons for resisting were reinforced. Each time he refused to denounce his beliefs, he further solidified his commitment to them. Struggle doesn’t always come in the form of organized protests and clear agendas. People make the struggle a part of their everyday lives. While in prison, Kwon and the other prisoners never forgot their reason for fighting.
Education and learning proved to be another important tool for resistance. Prisoners had limited resources and were not allowed to have books. Books were seen as a pleasurable distraction and were thus banned. Within the limits of their prison cells the prisoners, made up of political thinkers, students and professors, worked together to share their knowledge. Kwon told us this as he tapped his finger on the table. He explained that the prisoners transcribed books to one another using morose code. “If you didn’t do the studying and keep the spirit inside, you couldn’t last the whole prison term,” he reflected. Opening the mind and broadening one’s perspective is crucial. Learning and teaching in any form gives substance to life and in this case, made life in prison more tolerable. It gave space for the growth and change needed to continue participating in their struggle while imprisoned.
The third way that Kwon Nak Gi found strength was through comradeship with his fellow prisoners. Because of the bond between prisoners, he was never fighting alone. He told us that “animals can’t resist oppression, but human beings can fight oppression together, so in prison we struggled together.” The prisoners would find ways to help one another, however small, such as making sure to take care of the elderly and sick prisoners. The weight and power of oppression is too much for a single person to carry on their own, but with the help of a strong community, solidarity quickly forms.
Kwon Nak Gi has taught me that to fight for your beliefs is not enough. You have to become them, living each moment with intention. In unsettling times, when everything could be taken from you in an instant, the only thing that you have is not outside of yourself – it is within. Kwon Nak Gi was tortured for 25 years yet, he sat in front of us smiling as he recounted the years of his life spent he spent in prison. He was always free because from behind the bars of his cell he was committed to living each day with a purpose, moving forward and resisting. His time was never wasted because he utilized what he had – the struggle, his mind, and his compassion for his fellow prisoners – to separate himself from the oppression and fight against it.
On the surface, his story may evoke feelings of pity. He sacrificed years of his life struggling for the reunification of a country that remains divided. But after listening to him speaks, I instead felt hopeful. If a single man can endure so much loss and sacrifice for 18 years of his life while still firmly holding on to his beliefs, then just imagine the implications that has for a nation.
Kwon Nak Gi’s words and experiences contain an important message. On a personal level, he helped me understand that it is not about finding your purpose. Rather, it is about striving to constantly remain aware of and live by your purpose, especially in the moments when it feels like there is nothing left for which to fight. As he poignantly stated near the end of our meeting, “people need to never forget their reason to exist.”
By Eli Toast
A while back I watched a man get murdered on the internet.
This one, referred to as “3 Guys 1 Hammer,” came out of the Ukraine and was shot well before the country erupted into civil war. It was a well known case involving three teenage boys who went on a murder spree that only gas-huffing, Eastern European death metal fans seem capable of. The boys are known as the Dnepropetrovsk Maniacs: picture three Slavic teens with cold, pink faces, and translucent post pubescent facial hair in knock-off Adidas jumpers, getting drunk, smoking cigarettes and nailing live cats to pine trees. They slaughter vulnerable people who wait on stone benches; they stalk and kill pregnant women who walk home at dusk next to frozen ditches in the blank evening shade of abandoned buildings. Or, maybe you’d rather not picture that.
The guy they murdered (who I learned had recently survived a bout with throat cancer), was dressed in the clothes that I imagine a lot of humble and avuncular Ukrainians wear: grey slacks, a cotton, green collared shirt, pastoral work boots. Older guy, maybe 50, mustache, riding his Soviet era bicycle into town on his way to buy a loaf of bread, or, help his Aunt’s grandson move a stove. The things a lower middle class Ukrainian gentleman does on a Tuesday afternoon.
In the video (taken in some leafy nook of the Ukrainian countryside where I imagine the drone of cicadas mid-summer would be deafening) one of the boys knocks the man off his bike and drags him into the woods. Then he films his friend as he smashes the man’s face in with a hand held sledge hammer. They covered the hammer in an yellow plastic shopping bag like a sort of forensic weapon’s condom. After the assailant thoroughly flattens the guys face with three or four practiced and swift blows, he goes on with exquisite depravity to put a screwdriver into each of the man’s eye sockets; like the way you would plunge a dipstick into a car engine, holding it between his thumb and forefinger, delicately, but with obvious sociopathic intent. Then he uses the same screw driver to stab the victim in the stomach and root around in his guts, eliciting giggles and naughty approval from the filmers. The victim moans the wilting moan of blunt trauma–a nearly unconscious, beauty melting death-moan into his near surroundings–his obstructed and emergent breath wetly percolating out of the newly broken fractures in his horribly battered face.
It is easily the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Mostly because it lacked any sort of causal back story. No ameliorating intent to blunt the edge of this trauma. This was not a mob killing, or, jilted drug dealers exacting revenge; it even lacked the cushioning glamour of stylized American psycho-murder. It was just straight-up ugly and imprudent murder at the hands of some seriously fucked-up adolescents. It was as sharp as tragedy gets.
I’m not sure why I watched it, and am still unsure of the repercussions. Perhaps I’ve become a detached latter-day-neo-post-modern-mass-media zombie in need of a full-on violent and bleak punch-to-the-liver-reality to jolt me out my indifferent stupor and remind me that life is precious. As if poking a dead guy on the internet is some kind of weak, misdirected reaction to neo-liberalism and the devouring maw of corporate profiteering, the commodification of human existence, the misappropriation of all of life’s cool iconography ejaculated back into our faces as bland advertorial goo.
Bottom line: everyone loves a train wreck (some obviously more than others); and I’m not trying to beat you over the head with post-grad gobbledygook…Anyway,somehow, someway, watching murders on the internet actually didn’t fuck me up that bad.
I reckon the majority of moderate to heavy internet users have seen some kind of murder by now. Whether it be through the emotionally refracted lens of night vision as some war machine strafes armed militants, or, the grainy footage of a predator drone missile exploding a wedding party thousands of miles away, or, perhaps a more intimate beheading that’s popular these days. Those are our drones, by the way, bought and paid for with our tax dollars (if you’re American, I suppose) and commissioned by our elected leaders. The sites that host these kinds of films usually present a sort of portentous and expository devotion to the absurdity and cruelty of the modern condition. A–this is real life, get used to it– kind of justification. There also seems to be an implicit assertion that a modern adult consumer who participates, however abstractly, in the diminishment of life elsewhere should see the imagery they’ve been complicit in manufacturing. And to me, that has some merit.
When I was younger I used to pour concrete out in the American West. There was this old truck driver (forgot his name by now) who drove one of those trucks with the slowly spinning barrels of concrete on back. One day he was telling us about elk hunting with horses. He told me how horses hate the smell of blood, how it freaks them out. So if you have a dead elk you want to pack it out on your horse, the horse needs to be calm. So when the horse is young you collect a puddle of elk blood in the palm of your hand and smash it into the horse’s nose. The idea being that you inoculate the horse to the smell of blood. I tell myself that Internet chaos is a sort of blood-nosing for humanity, immunizing us against the potentially paralyzing array of mutilated corpses we’ll be packing out.
A while back Louis C.K. went on Conan, and in a fit of hysterics, claimed his i-phone was distracting him from an overwhelming sadness; and the next day my Facebook page was plastered with joyous encomiums lauding how “spot on” he was. And he’s right. But I’ve grown wary of internet-sadness-hysteria. I’ve grown tired of people bitching about the mind numbing ubiquity of technology… this hip and emasculating notion of sadness that maintains that we are at the behest of our gadgetry. I’ve grown wary of the ultra-predictable pro and con wars that always erupt around celebrity upheavals i.e. deaths, surgeries, feuds, etc. The gross wholesale distraction from the grist of reality. I’ve grown tired that everyone has grown tired of being tired of being tired of everything. Staring at the internet almost completely caged in some kind of self-reflective feedback loop.
But, I’m torn. If my phone keeps me from bawling my eyes at the bus stop because the oceans are turning into acid, so what?
We’re often reminded by the sages that despair and loneliness, free from technological intrusions, are mandatory if we are to experience the exaltation and transcendence of beauty. I ain’t buying it, and, I can’t help noticing some kind of vaguely religious and imperial edge to these kind of yin and yang homilies. The reality is that life is a cake-walk for a few, and, a nightmare for others and the amount of suffering and ugliness one experiences is not necessarily commensurate with the amount of beauty and love they experience. I imagine some billionaire blithely doling out this sort of zen bullshit to his subjects while chilling his champagne with frozen diamonds, feeding his pet tiger a filet mignon, while his servants dine on hot dogs and Mountain Dew.
The internet. It lets you take measure of it all. If you want to stare into the void? It’s there. Those are real people who you saw covered in beige war-dust, dying in the uneven shadow of a demolished hospital. They woke up that morning and died that day. They never made it to their nephew’s house to help him move the stove, never made it to the bakery, and you know this because you saw them killed on the internet and it made you sad. But, at least you didn’t bawl your eyes out.
This city tour is available every day, and the appointed as well as the tour duration is different for each one, however the price is not much different. The ticket price is same; 15000KRW.
They will bring you around to see many famous attraction in Busan with open deck double decker bus, not bad at all right?
Inside the bus not only they offered guide with english as the speaking language and 3 other language guide service, but also they offered kind of headphones with explanation which contain more than 10 Language, you name it maybe they have it.
Of course Haeundae is one if the tourist attraction and included in Haeundae tourist loop, you can find the bus stop around 5 mins walking away from our guest house.
Beside Haeudae tour they have Taejongdae tour as another loop tour offered.
Themed tour also offered here, from history and culture tour, Skyline tour which you can see some of Busan's famous mountain, Eco tour to see some most beautiful natural ecology places, as well as night tour which you can enjoy the famous Busan's beach scenery and Busan's night view, for this tour since you can take it at night you can take it at your reserved hotel if it's along the way of the tour, pretty convenient right?
Well if you have any question you can ask the personal information manager directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
you can ask us as well should you need something.
See you in our next post~~
yay! After 12 years together we are finally married! Sorry I can not do a proper blog post on it yet, but I will as soon as we return from our Korean wedding and I get settled, I also plan to mesh up my other blog into this one to just make them all one thing I think, I miss blogging but running 3 is too many haha! It was such a busy year with adjusting to life in LA and restarting my business which ended up doing a lot better than I had expected PLUS wedding stuff, so I had no time to blog here and share all the photos I am always hoarding for everyone T_T what a busy year! 2015 I will start back up again though! We have our Korean wedding November 15th so I am looking forward to that one, but for more photos as things happen please to creep around on my instagram (misskika) since I will be snapping a bunch of things while I am in Korea and Japan for sure Miss everyone on here! xoxox
Queer Links from the Week: Protestant Church Member Faces Libel for Hate Speech, Lee Ji-hoon Visits a Transgender Bar and More
In pop culture, there was an article on Lee Ji-hoon Visiting a Transgender Bar for his role in La Cages Aux Folles (which opens December 9th btw).
Tim Cook's coming out was a pretty big deal in Korean newspapers (and hopefully my boyfriend's parents are talking about it and how it is possible to be a successful gay man in the computer science field). The Chosun Ilbo's article Tim Cook Coming Out: The Scientific Community's Point of View caught my eye with one statistic saying that identical twins had about a 50% chance of having coinciding homosexuality while Christian Today's obligatory article on homosexuality, on the other hand, focuses on Busan University Professor Kim Won-pyeong's lecture on how Coinciding homosexuality among identical twins is only about 10%. (Korean) Another critical piece on homosexuality could be found in the Gyeong-sang Ilbo with an opinion article by the head of the Father Research Center Kim Hye-jun: Respecting Homosexuals is Different than the Legalization of Gay Marriage or Adoption (Korean). His line of argument is one of those 'a child needs a father and a mother because they play such different roles'. Finally, Pastor Song Chun-gil is at it again speaking about how legalization of same-sex marriage will be dangerous for the church If a Same Sex Couple Asks a Pastor to Officiate Their Wedding (Korean).
|Pastor Song Chun-gil|
Opened four years ago by clothing designer Evan Seo and named after his brotherly relationship with the burger, Two Broz is situated on the main strip of Itaewon, just a few minutes' walk from the station. The restaurant, reminiscent of a 1950s diner, is unassuming to passersby and quite small for Itaewon standards, but manages to continuously stay filled with expats and locals alike. This is no doubt the result of its consistently tasty, fresh and affordable fare.
Craving a taste of my homeland, I stopped by for an early dinner recently, in hopes to avoid the dinner rush. (I will get back on that healthy eating thing next week...) My friend and I placed our order at the counter and ordered the Bacon Egg (₩9,800) and the Mushroom Cheese (₩9,300) burgers, two of the most popular items on Two Broz's menu. We opted to make our meals sets, which includes fries and a soft drink or beer for an additional ₩4,500. To top off our order, we got a side of chili to share.
Two Broz runs on a self-service concept, so customers pick up their orders when completed. The restaurant also boasts a convenient self-service corner which has all the condiments and cutlery you might need. Oh, and there's a soda fountain where diners can get free refills. Yes, free refills! Didn't realize this existed in Korea outside buffets and select fast food joints. Despite this, we still received friendly service with a smile.
The sizzle of the grill had us getting hungrier by the minute. While we waited, we learned that Two Broz is now using a new, healthier charcoal to cut down on harmful gases and chemicals in the food. We were also told that all of their ingredients are fresh and local, with the exception of the beef, which is imported from Australia. The buns, we were excited to learn, are made at the famous Baker's Table in Gyeongnidan, my go-to for pastries and breads.
Our meal was out in a record-breaking ten minutes and we wasted no time in digging in. I went first for the fries and was instantly obsessed. Fantastically seasoned, they were of the perfect thickness, slightly bigger than your average shoestring fry. They were also great for dipping in the chili, which was not really spicy, as we had been told it would be. Rather sweet, it was a nice balance of ground beef, beans, onions, shredded cheese and spices.
I'm a big fan of mushrooms and the ones on the Mushroom Cheese burger were tender, sauteed perfectly, and stuck to the gooey (REAL) cheese. The Egg Bacon was also good, albeit a bit messy, as a well-made burger should be. Both burgers were medium sized, filling for us, and were grilled to perfection and had that charcoaly, smoky flavor that I adore and associate with backyard barbecues at home in the States. The buns sealed the deal, buttery and dense and topped with sesame seeds.
Considering the high quality of the food, I was a bit surprised at the relatively inexpensive prices, considering Two Broz's location and the average cost for a burger at neighboring restaurants. Overall, Two Broz's menu and atmosphere may not be as creative as some of its "artisanal" competitors but the value of their food can't be beat in terms of quality, taste, consistency and convenience.
More Information: Two Broz
Address: 736-8 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul / 용산구 한남동736-8
Facebook: Click Here
Get There: From exit 3 of Itaewon Station (Seoul Subway Line 6), walk straight for about 5 minutes. Two Broz will be on your right.
Map: Click Here
Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.