Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I am in Korea. I'm too tired to write an authentic blog post, but I will gladly regurgitate the mass e-mail I sent out to everyone.

Daegu is a soul-crushing monstrosity swarming with small men in grey suits. The city has a pervasive stench that smells like a combination of garbage, fire, body odor, and kimchi. (Kimchi, for the record, smells like a combination of garbage, fire, and body odor.) From what I can tell, 98% of Daegu's inhabitants live in the horrifying 36-story filing cabinets that line the brownish river that drools through the middle of town. I would describe these apartment megaplexes in detail, but they don't really have any details to describe. You must believe me when I say they are horrifying.

I'm still like a skittish kitten around here - as opposed to a Scottish kitten, which anyone with good sense would name Seamus McManx - and I am constantly shocked and a little nauseated when I turn to find myself staring at a wall in my own apartment that I have never seen in my life. Everywhere here is unfamiliar. I woke up this morning and had no idea where I was. That much isn't unusual, but in any case, I'm not used to being woken up by a turnip vendor screaming into my window through a megaphone.

Everyone stares at me as I walk down the street. I do not expect this to cease when my 'fro grows back. Or when I grow out my beard. Or when I start walking around with my fly down and my gargantuan caucasian penis dangling out. But I'm not too bothered by it. The staring, I mean. They aren't doing it to be rude. The Koreans stare at me the way you might stare if you saw a flaming kangaroo hopping down the street with Buzz Aldrin sitting in its pouch playing "Mister Bojangles" on the mandolin. In short, I have caused more moped fatalities than I am worth.

Little kids point at me and yell "Chogi! Chogi!" (Over there! Over there!) in horrified voices. I wave at them and they run away screaming. Now I know how Bigfoot must have felt. No. Nobody knows how Bigfoot felt.

Hardly anyone here speaks English, but everyone wears Engrish. Let's face it: regardless of what our language is actually saying, it looks damned good when it's printed on a t-shirt in comic sans font. A few of my favorites:

(as worn by a dumpy 40-something year-old man) "MAKE A NEW KIND OF LOVE"
(picture of Snoopy smelling a heart) "UMM, TASTE OF LOVE"
(as worn by a teenaged fellow, in sparkly letters) "WORLD WITHOUT STRANGERS"
... and (as worn by a ten year-old Korean girl) "PUREFUCKING CANADIAN"

I finished my second day of classes today. Some of the students are bashful, quiet, absolute angels. Others are punk pubescents who are more interested in the woodgrain of their desks than the English language. I've got to learn to not give a shit, to take it all in stride, to not get hurt by indifference, hostility, or cruelty. That is the only way to survive school, the hagwon.

Tonight, I came home after a long day of classes and I drank a few rotten Cass beers. Then, I held a solitary dance party to The Beatles. When I got tired, I just sat around thinking about how fucking wonderful they are. That was today. Tomorrow might be better or worse or the same. I hope it's better.

No comments: