Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

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

Thursday, January 27, 2011


This morning there was an email waiting for me.  This is what the sender had to say:

"Why is it that so many of you f-visa guys are such big apologists for Korea?  I read your blog and the fact that you constantly talk up Korea is a little over the top.  You try to present a picture of balance, but you gloss over too much of the garbage for it to be believable.  Just say it as it is, and cut out the idiotic ginseng and "I'm hanging out with Koreans to improve my life and because foreigners aren't cool" posts.  You talk in your Mr. Happy post how you don't like to be characterized as a loser, well guess what?  Most Koreans do that and will keep doing that for as long as you are here!  Why debase yourself that way?  And why put your children in a position where they will have to deal with that?

I pretty much can guess how you will respond to this, so you can just call me jaded.  I lived in Korea for three years, tried to make a life, but went home when I realized that I would become a socially isolated reject who would always be stuck doing work which would never allow me to make use of all my skills.

Just be real." 

First off, I'd like to say thanks for your email, jaded.  If you have a comment or question feel free to drop me a note.  I won't publish your email address and I may respond if you don't have a serious case of potty mouth.

As for how to respond?

I'm sorry to hear that you felt you had to leave.  I know how that goes.  I've fought with the desire to leave a couple of times myself, when things were really bad due to a large number of factors that would take up too much space to discuss here.  The constant bad mouthing and belittling in the press and from on the street experiences is a big one.  If I wasn't married with kids, I would have left.  A person can only take so much of that before they start to think ill of the people who say it.

What stopped me was the will to not give up and chuck in the towel.  Some may say that I'm a masochist.  But running is the easy way.

One day I will go back, primarily for my children.  I want them to know and understand everything that makes them who they are, and to find a way to be right with themselves, to reconcile the good with the bad.  They won't be able to do that if we leave and never come back.  They won't be able to do that if I trash talk their mother's country and the people in it.  Right now I work on teaching them how to sort out the good from the idiotic.  It is actually a fairly easy thing to do, there being so many clear examples of both.  But then that is part of what makes Korea so interesting, the polarization with things like that.

As for trying to be balanced, I just tell it as it is.  Some days are good, some aren't.  I have some good experiences and some bad.  Just like anywhere, and I guess this is part of my thing: no matter where you are, you're going to deal with good and bad.  Its mostly your attitude that will determine your quality of life in many cases.  The important thing for me is to not become blinded and to keep my perspective open.

I haven't dealt with everything your wrote, jaded, but hopefully this little blurb will help.

1 comment:

Roarchild said...

Felt a bit like jaded was saying "why aren't you miserable"..... I can only talk for myself but the small stuff doesn't bother me so much.

Perhaps jaded doesn't have a family because for me that was a good lesson in priorities.

Once you have had to clean someone elses poop while they laugh at you ...well comeone staring at you on the subway doesn't seem worth losing sleep over.

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