Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

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

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beginning of a Letter to An Old Hand!

Found here
Last week I received a rather interesting email from an old hand that works at the company.

I've been thinking about how to respond to him, as I see a bit of myself in him, and the potential to become something like he is now.

This guy worked hard to assimilate.  He learned the language, knows Chinese fairly well, has worked to find a place in Korean society.  He even went so far as to not teach his children English when they were growing up.

To a certain extent, I can understand what could be his rationale for that: even today, there are still elements that see learning English as a form of pollution, a necessary evil that should see its incorporation into the broader society limited.  Of course, as the years have passed, those who think this way have become marginalized, but every now and then you can pick it up as an undercurrent.

The Old Hand is highly educated, a smart capable man.  He espouses the virtue of love in all his dealings.  When faced with some of the idiocy in daily life as an expat, I can understand this as a survival mechanism.  This is primarily what intrigues me about him, just how he has worked to build these mechanisms, and how he works to remain positive.

I see it as a recurring battle that doesn't need to be fought everyday, but certainly keeps coming up.  Any long term expat will tell you that one of the more difficult aspects of living in Korea is not allowing yourself to get mired in brooding over the sundry idiots that cross your path.  They can be found in even the unlikeliest places.  But the alternative is not really an option, as carrying around hate all the time is tiring and detracts from readily improving yourself. 

I'd really like to hear more of his experiences during the twenty plus years he's been here.  Every now and then he'll share a tidbit, and even rarer you get a glimpse of some of what he really thinks when he slips from blowing sunshine up every one's ass.  He does carry some bitterness as options that should be open to someone of his learning have always been closed since he is a waeg.

Doesn't help that he's Jewish and wears a yarmulke.  That kind of thing sorta draws attention to one self.

I'm still not quite ready to talk about it in this way with him as there have been other issues between us, mostly having to do with how he has said that I scare him.

I suppose I could tell him that sometimes I scare myself, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I wonder if he would see it that way.

Time for some vapid Hollywood.

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