Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Andong!

Last weekend was quite busy: Halloween on Friday, then a trip down to Andong with a few other families for an overnight stay in a Hanok and a tour of the area.

I'd carved up a couple of pumpkins quick for the kids' Halloween party on Friday; as usual, we had the party at one of the many indoor playgrounds that are so common today. I decided on a lark to bring the pumpkins with me to Andong the next day; they actually seemed to fit well the ambiance of the hanok. The jack o lantern is an old folk tradition from Ireland and other parts of Europe; they would serve to guide the kind spirits to the Halloween festivities, while scaring off the malevolent ones. I explained to the girls this is why at Halloween you dressed up and used the pumpkins, since at the party you'd never really know who was a human and who wasn't. In a country like Korea with a strong folk religion and shamanic traditions, it seems odd that such a practice didn't really take root here, but then pumpkins and squash are a fairly recent introduction to this finest of peninsulas.

The pumpkin was a huge hit, with one of the other families vowing to do the same next Halloween. I showed them several pictures from the internet of awesome carved pumpkins, so now it seems we'll be having a contest next year. I am so going to win.

The night at the hanok was pretty nice. In the morning we went to visit Dosan Seowon, the school that Toegye built (the dude on the 1000 Won bill).  I was most impressed with the museum showcasing artifacts from Toegye's life: I got to see his one and only spittoon and more importantly, his broom.  The youngest was acting up so I threatened to smack her bottom a couple of times with Toegye's broom, promising to buy the replica that would no doubt be offered for sale in the souvenir shops outside.  Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that none of the shops had a replica of this most hallowed of brooms; in fact, most of the shop owners looked at me like I had three heads when I asked them where I could find one.  I mean, come on!  If you're going to show me Toegye's one and only broom as a highlight of a display on artifacts from his life, why aren't there replicas for sale??  Preposterous!

 Anyway, a great weekend was had by all.  Time to get some work done.  Listening to the latest Godspeed You! Black Emperor album makes it go faster:


Moving!

Several months ago I came out of my apartment to find that my car had been vandalized; it wasn't the first time such a thing had happened, and at the time I pretty much chalked it up to just a bunch of kids screwing around. However, I've had to reconsider this position: not just my van, but June's car has since then been repeatedly vandalized. Someone has been putting out cigarettes on the cars, dumping coffee and other garbage, smearing unknown goop on the doors and windows. It finally came to a head a couple weeks back when someone took to ripping up our mail, leaving the pieces strewn about around the mailboxes.

Why someone would do this is pure conjecture, although if I were to hazard a guess I'd say it's because someone is envious of my beautiful wife and children; they must have a shrew of a wife and fat porky disrespectful kids, so when they see me and mine they just naturally get bent out of shape. I understand them.

While I can empathize with what may be their rationale for messing with my shit, it's obvious that we can no longer stay in this area. It kind of sucks anyway, being rather shabby and old, with few decent green places for the kids to play; also, it is rather far from June's business and the girls' school. That June hates the area because there are too many fortune tellers and shamans around doesn't add much to the idea of staying, nor does her saying that she will die if we continue to stay here. So move it is!

I am looking forward to the change of scene, although I have no idea how the hell I'm going to pay for it. The van died a while back as well, so I also need new transportation; where the hell is all this milk and honey I'm supposed to be receiving for living as a waeg on this finest of peninsulas?? All I see is a rapidly diminishing bank account and fewer years ahead to fill it up so I don't have to eat only kimchi rice and seaweed when I'm old.

Ah well, at least in the short term it will be a positive change for all of us. The new digs are pretty new and in a nice part of town, lots of green spaces. And the move is a great chance to toss out piles of old junk, although having a yard sale would be fun. Sadly, Koreans just aren't into that kinda thing.

Time for coffee.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Hitchhiker

Some weird shit. . .sick beat though.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Credit in the Straight World!

Waeg!  how are you?? been so long, thanks for accepting my friend request!

He had felt some trepidation at accepting the request.  But as Waeg these days is more interested in earning credit in the straight world, he clicked yes. Besides, he was curious.

He remembered her from years past.  Obviously intelligent, but lacking the will and focus that would give her the 0.2 points more necessary to earn a top spot for admission to SNU.  When asked by her mom years back, Weag had not sugar coated the pill: she'd never be that top student getting into that top school. She was smart, but needed a more hands on engagement with life.  Her parents responded somewhat uncharacteristically: they didn't send her overseas, or pay for a ringer at a top hogwon to pave her way through math and English into a top position.  Instead, they seemed to take Waeg's advice to heart: they bought her a harp.

Waeg remembers it vividly: this monster of a musical instrument showing up, and the expensive lessons that followed.  Soon, she no longer had time to take his lessons. 

Fast forward ten years.  She had gotten into one of the best music high schools, and then acceptance into an SNU music program.  Waeg was not surprised, as her parents were loaded, and her mom only cared about grooming her to be the brood mare for a scion from another well to do family.  That's the way things rolled pretty much everywhere when concerns for family are paramount.  In her case, buy an instrument that is ridiculously expensive that no one else plays. Who the fuck plays the harp?  Make the right amount of donations to the right people, and rejoice at being 'selected'.

But as he looked at her photos now, he wondered: why, despite the plastic surgery on an already attractive woman with impeccable social standing and background, did she look so. . . unsatisfied?  Incomplete?  Sad?  Waeg writes despite knowing the answer to be obvious: she was always astute enough to know that following what adults told you in elementary and middle school is what is. . . but when faced with lessons on how to make valid decisions based in self understanding, elicited by top hogwon teachers to add verisimilitude to a good college essay, and realizing that the vague details represented have no substance and only serve to ghost an essay for admission . . . and during the process you see things you'd never seen about yourself, yet being told that engaging this train of thought should inspire anathema, since you must win, and you will, but still, it nags, since the persona the hogwon bunnies create is such a total fiction, and who exactly are you anyway? You've never gone out and lived and know only what has been prescribed since grade six, so really, you have no idea. .  .  the look in her eyes spoke that same old story in those photos.

Waeg laughs, as he knows she will lose the existential angst sooner rather than later.  It's a moment that is usually quickly overcome, since family and friends will encourage her to revel in her success, in her plastic surgery, in the attention she'll receive from appropriate suitors.  She had made it after all, so live the life that this entails.  Yet from experience, Waeg knows it won't be enough. Later in life she'll either meet him or his ilk in some random dating app, and while it won't be good for either one of them, she actually may entertain for just a moment why she should raise her kids in the same manner.  She'll tell her story which has been told many times before, blame society, blame her parents, blame the penicillin she takes to clear out that nasty infection she picked up from random Joe Kim taxi driver.  She'll never know why she can't get over it, why she even thought it in the first place, but her daughter will marry someone higher on the social ladder, since well, that's how things are, and what they are meant to be.  To think otherwise is foolish and blind.  Till then, she'll keep herself safe and true, yet not knowing that she's exempt from earning:


Friday, August 29, 2014

Regular Programming will return shortly


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Returned!



We got home around 1 AM local time. The only one who could sleep was the SO, so I've been working on this duty free single malt while catching up on emails, Facebook, watching X-Men Days of Future Past with the girls, Judge Dredd by myself, and generally wondering what I'm to do next.





I find myself back in the land of the morning calm, where I've rarely experienced the kind of calm I did visiting friends and family.  Sure I may be romanticizing the shit out of it, but here, example:















There is much to say.  But this is the F5Waeg speaking, so let's start it off with this vid featuring a sex deprived Asian American dude who brings the party.  I love all the ugly people. Hello summer of 2014!



There.  I couldn't stop laughing after watching it.  Not to belittle the Asian American male angst and frustration at not getting laid enough, since well, dude, been there!  Still, it was amusing to think of while I played croquet with the girls.  The set cost me 24.99 at Toys R Us.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Interlude!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

No Soju!

The only New Year's Resolution that I made in complete earnestness: 2014 would be a no soju year.

I know what you're thinking: you expected a post on how I had run out of soju and was about to share another first world problem, since the nearest convenience store is like, more than a kilometer away.

But listen: hittin the soju everyday is an easy way to a tomb on sugar candy mountain.  The seasoned waeg is well aware of this, but it doesn't stop many of those who finally learn they really have nothing left to lose.

I mention this now despite how I'd promised myself I would not talk about it until I had successfully achieved; thus far in 2014, I have not touched a drop of the devil water.  Yet here I find myself facing the first real challenge to my will: a trip back home.

Every time I go back, I always bring numerous green plastic bottles of South Korea's number one consumer product.  It's cheap, dirty, slightly exotic, and serves nicely as a conversation starter.  As I am about to head back to visit my family in the next couple of weeks, I know I must once again bring about 20 plastic bottles of the soju goodness.

Save: who wants to drink something that the purveyor won't stomach?  You're appealing to the few intrepid and those who don't give a fuck.  It becomes more difficult when you know that liquor back home isn't cheap.  I've already spent more than ten grand on tickets and a rental car.  There will be many expenses, and being able to shave a few hundred by drinking the soj would aid in the procurement of other goods.

We'll have to see how it plays out.  In anticipation, I offer: Please forgive me, great world spirit!  I am not weak, but needs must needs meet!

Time for some more rice wine.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Interlude!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Becoming Adjusshi!

On my way into work this morning I mused over how I should keep more of the balls that get kicked into my yard. As you get old, and see youth being wasted on the young, it's a common response. Being a cantankerous old fuck is always an easy response to ijits who think they know what they can't even begin to perceive. But I digress, and could be labeled arrogant.

A good immigrant works hard to understand the place they've chosen to call home. It's always a hard go, since calling shit for what shit is is far too easy and essentially forbidden.  A true immigrant is busy trying to make their way while hoping their kids don't lose focus of where their folks came from while hoping they don't get so angry they get too much liberal victimhood complex or shrapnel bombs tied all over them.  This is the bane of the perpetual outsider.

Your goal is to to impress upon the locals that you are more than a hogwan teacher or contractor, and it's a steep slope.  You would think that your go is made much easier by stories of all the Asian trash in your country (prostitutes, bear gall bladder hunters, spree killers, etc.), but sadly as you are educated and know better, this is obviously not the case.

So what should you do?  This is the hardest question faced by the long term waeg in this finest of peninsulas.

Gettin all angry and shitting on everything is an obvious response.  It can be highly entertaining and very cathartic.  The plethora of blogs on this subject is testament.

But truly, the best way is to fully assimilate.   As an older male, my goal should henceforth be: become adjusshit.

Only then can you really embrace who you are and what you can fully contribute, since you made the effort to be full on, but were thankfully in the case of the Waeg told to be lacking.

The first step is to embrace and emulate all the worst qualities of what it means to really be an older Korean male.  Go to south east Asia and fuck a bunch of underage whores while on a 'golf'; trip.  Divorce your wife when your kids hit university and marry some Chinese or Fillipina 20 year old.  Demand coffee and benefits from your secretaries, and when they spurn you, fire them.  Put a picture of yourself on the wall of your abode that your family must look at everyday, salut, and ensure they think of you as the center of the universe.  If they refuse, drink soju excessively, frequent room salons, double pole barber shops, and completely ignore your family.  If you've got enough scrilla saved, abandon them and head off to warmer climes.  In other words, become the stereotype ascribed to white men that really is the epitome of the adjusshit as perceived in southern Asia. . .forget whatever ethical upbringing you were given, since it is about full on integration.  This has the double effect of living up to the chestnut of white men and their dating habits in Korea from the 50s to the present day.

This is a mugs game for the waeg of course, since you'll never really get any of the full on adjusshit benefits in Korea as a waeg, which is total bullshit. . . I can never really do as the Romans do, since well, I can't even get serviced at the busiest whore paradise in Pyeongtaek, unless I'm willing to pay a near triple premium due to my 'big' size.  This is fine however, since it will make reconnecting with your roots easier.

For the waeg, it is good to remember that you are intrinsically racist, inferior, and didn't do your military service, so shut the fuck up.  You must atone for all the women your brethren and undoubtedly you have fucked and stolen from us.  If you say anything about how most marriages to waegs in Korea these days are Korean dudes buying wives abroad, you've obviously got a bad attitude.  Atone for the sins of your fathers! And whatever you do, don't post links to porn websites that feature black dudes and white women, which basically strive to feed on the same insecurities in white dudes that the typical Asian lame ass beta / gamma males and females are attempting to negotiate when they go on about said white guys, since this will again serve as evidence that you have a bad attitude and are not fully committed.

The Japanese know this is bullshit, since in Asia if you admit fully to any wrongdoing you'll be constantly riding it for the next 5000 years. . . Koreans like to talk about how the Germans stepped up to acknowledge their history, but the fact is no government agency in Europe is going to harp on about how the Germans never did enough to atone, since well, Europeans understand far more about redemption and forgiveness.  A common complaint from many a waeg is that Koreans have issues with personal responsibility, as they so rarely acknowledge mistakes or wrongdoing, yet are quite happy to bring up the mistakes of others over and over again despite apologies and compensation being offered.  But then, again I digress. 

The main point is that you should let none of this interfere in your pursuit of becoming the best approximation of adjusshit your conscience will allow, all while losing the conscience bit of the equation.  Only then can you fully embrace what it is you really are, and could never be.  We all have to sell out at some point, right?  Best do it in the pursuit of cross cultural understanding.  For me, it's all good, since it's just another example of appreciating what you are when you have no agency, since this position gives you license for a sort of freedom, and at times you can gleefully not give a shit. I expect most of the more intrepid weags on this greatest of peninsulas know this all too well, couched in terms of 'developing perspective'.  Still, still.  It seems most waegs are caught up in the expats' version of second wave feminism, blaming and pointing fingers, while not making serious attempt to be full on in their attempts to truly understand the special situation.  To really do, I encourage all those who are fence sitters to strive to become full on adjusshit or adjucunt, the latter of which will be discussed in a later post.

ugh.  I'm feeling a bit off.  It happens when I get called up by this particular old adjusshi 'friend' to go out and drink. Usually I ignore his calls but as most of my contacts were lost when I drowned my old iPhone, I blithely answered his call.  He's always about getting together, drinking too much whiskey, bitching about his wife, then going to greasy old room salons.  Tonight was no exception.  Best to think about it in the morning I guess.

Time for sleep.