Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

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

Saturday, March 17, 2012


After a pretty intense 4 days in Singapore, during which I nicely balanced work with pleasure, I find myself back in my dear beloved ROK. 

While there are many very cool things to admire about Singapore, such as the balance between natural and urban environment, the cleanliness, the generally congeniality of the population, the fantastic hospitality, seeing multiculturalism done better than many other places, the happy cool vibe you get as you walk down the street, the real smiles and come hither looks from local lasses who are not only looking at you as a cash debit machine, and the general efficiency of the place, it never is good to be gone too long from the crucible that is the land of the morning calm, as the longer you stay away the more your Korean super powers begin to wane. 

I wouldn't want to risk sounding like a negative Nancy on this most holy of holies, St. Patrick's Day.  I'm gazing admiringly at the liter bottle of Jameson's I grabbed at the duty free; I've got a couple of beers into me as a foundation, and soon enough I'm going to crack that puppy wide open before I leave the confines of this little room and wander out into the night.

But there is something to be said about having the ability to ignore spitting and puking in the streets, enduring the not uncommon cold surly scowls of young and old alike who know that all waegs are only here to despoil and rob the peace loving Korean people of their virtue and purity, and having the inner strength to not smack the 5000th idiot to ask if you like Kimchi or Korean girl or mention that you use chopsticks well despite them knowing you've been here for years.  Being able to work at least semi effectively within an environment where the game plan changes at the last minute six times a day allows you to truly develop fortitude, patience, a measured response, and to think on the fly.  All indications point to how you can also get away with being more of a freak or a hardass in Korea, although I did see a punk on the Singapore MRT who was very obviously chewing gum while exuding utter disdain for all around him.

One of the more common things I heard from folks in Singapore is that they are too soft and need to harden the fuck up.  Not sure if a hardened Singapore would be such a good thing, as it seems pretty hard in a lot of ways already, but that's what some of the Singaporeans I interacted with had to say.  One of the more interesting conversations was with an IT designer who had lived in Canada for a number of years, who wished his kids would at least get into a fight every now and again.  I offered to go push them around a bit, but this was met with only a nervous laugh.  Go figure.

Still, the smiles and warmth were a nice thing, and from the business end of things a complete success.

Time for some Jameson's.

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