Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

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

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Letter from an Avid Reader!

Still not gayer than Twilight
This evening I received the following missive:


I've been following your blog for few months now. I find it interesting because, well, it's mundane sometimes and it seems to be less shrouded in shit than others.  A little bit of humor, honesty, maybe even some bitterness, but I can see you also care for the people you write about and have to interact with.  In part I see some of my own personality in it.  

I don't live in Korea, but I have had to interact with Koreans a lot the last 4 or 5 years.  I dated one for 2 years, spent time with others and had plenty crash in my house after drinking together on the weekends.  Long winded intro, sorry. I guess my question, or thought, comes about because of my situation.  Being in the states most of the Koreans I have hung out with are from ESL pipeline at my former college (I am 28, graduated Dec. 08) where I first met Koreans, and by way of family members or their friends, have met new ones as they have came over and gone back to the county.  I feel like I have invested a lot of time in being a part time friend almost.  Koreans, for how loyal they seem to be towards former classmates in korea, don't seem to share the same ferocity when it comes to their Migook "friends".  

I have been thinking about coming to Korea to teach, to escape my bullshit job (tax collector) and bullshit life.  But do I really want to trade the few things I have left in America (outside of family) that don't really seem to provide any them for a group I will never be accepted by and possibly end living long term in? (I'm a sucker for pretty girls who fawn over me, so who knows what could happen.  I've had enough experience to know it wouldn't be hard.)  

Yes, this, is a weird email of course.  I leave posts on the site sometimes.  But today, I dunno, I just feel a little shit on by the country and wanted to rant to someone who might understand and seems to be like minded in some senses.  


Hi ******** thanks for writing.  I like receiving mail, so feel free to write.  The email is in profile. 

You do have a point that Koreans can be extremely loyal.  I think it may have been Michael Breen who wrote that if you ever find yourself in a 'about to die' situation stuck on top of Mount Everest with only one person, being with a Korean would be awesome as they'd not only share their last smoke with you but would be sure to stay alive until the end.  At least I think he wrote something like that somewhere.  I'm a little tired and don't have the energy to dig up the specific quote, but I'm sure it was close to that.

That said, it is also true that many Koreans will hold blood over all other things.  The irony is that often Koreans will say their worst enemy is . . . another Korean.  Tight knit families can be like that.

But this all avoids the meat of your missive.  You're tired of the routine.  There is a pretty big world out there; imagine waking up when you're 40, 50, doing the same shit you're doing now, or more likely telling the 13th peon below you that's held that job since you were promoted how to do that shit according to the new regs, which of course you are well versed in since you are the person with the gold star next to their name.  Shoot me now.  Escaping from that hell can be very appealing, especially when you're still full of vim and vigor.  

But that's the main gist of it now, isn't it?  Change.  Life seems boring, the routine is soul crushing.  You need something new, and Korea seems a good place to go: far, far, away, free to be something you aren't right now.  But, but.

Be free, or be safe.  It's a hard equation. 

Let's say you come, and you end up staying.  You know you are simply trading one form of monotony for another, so why not stay in a place where you can wander down to the local pub and everyone knows your name?  You can commiserate over the emptiness and injustice of life with someone who really gets what you're saying, man, while bemoaning the stats of the local team and how much of an asshole your boss is.  All without some wanker taking it as an insult against his entire nation and people.  You try to tell him that ultimately you're just like him, just letting out some steam, dude, why are your panties in a knot about this?  But before you know it the cops show up, you're being asked to come down to the station, and why can't you understand our special situation?  

Getting out of your normal routine and taking risks isn't easy for most folks.  Coming to Korea isn't for most people.  But then you do only have one go at it, so decide what it is you want with your time in.  You're smart enough to know that coming here will sometimes be cool, sometimes will not.  But so will being anywhere. Make your decision and throw the dice.

Knowing this, disabuse yourself of the idea that beautiful people are going to fawn over you as soon as you get off the plane.  That Charisma Man thing is so 1990s.  Can you hook up with people here?  Sure.  As easily as you can hook up anywhere.  Depends on what you want and what you bring to the table.  If you just want random hookups, it's easier if you've got game, and without Korean language skills, you're at a disadvantage.  While you may have some exotic thing going for you to some extent, that becomes moot.  I've talked a bit about that here. If it's just about trying to get laid, get your head on straight where you are and work the skill set that will sort you out now.  You don't need to travel half way across the world to get your head into a place where you can challenge yourself.  Just sell all your shit and move to a city you like the name of that's at least 500 miles away.

Yeah, I came to Korea.  I'd rather not be that guy holding up the end of the bar with the witty comment and the pathetic life.   I'd rather have the constant challenge of figuring out just who the hell I am and what I'm doing.  Constantly being on the move, putting yourself in a new situation, has worked for me so far.  Sometimes it is a question of what the hell am I doing here, but I've also got more reminders that I'm supposed to be constantly sorting all of that out.  Convoluted, I know.  Sorry I can't be more specific.  I guess it's more about really knowing you are that outsider, and using it to your advantage by constantly asking yourself the hard questions.  It isn't easy, but that's what makes it more a life worth living.  

Sure, you can do all that back home as well, if you've got the right attitude.  But there is something to be said about the local lasses now, isn't there?

Ha! I jest. Sort of.  

Somewhat sanctimonious, I know, but I just got back from a hwaesik company dinner, and I'm somewhat in my cups and feeling maudlin.  The rain is coming, and I have lived in Korea for a long time after all.

But you want a definite answer?  Screw all that shit above: you should totally come, marry a local, have lots of kids, and help shake things up.





Anonymous said...

Haha, I didn't expect to see my email on here. I was having a bit of a bad day when I sent. I appreciate the advice and have thought of the same thing, just moving to New Orleans or Seattle or somewhere that is not here. Small town local girls, yeah few and far between are great. I feel like I sound like an ass now over the "pretty girls fawning over me" part. Random hook up is not my style and would not be my goal at all. I just want to clarify that for anyone who might think that is what I meant. I am by no means a whore, nor do I intend to be. I am too OCD to hook up with random strangers and too old to put in time for a relationship with someone based on looks alone. I am pretty conservative and selective with that part of my life...ugh, that quote makes me look like a douche. I promise I am not THAT guy. All I really meant was I experienced the attention before, and who doesn't mind that kind of attention?

F5Waeg said...

attention is nice, and everyone has their bad days. The smart ones will figure it out. Who cares what the myopic think.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I got ya. My frustration steemed from two situations in the same group, where some were jealous of the attention others were getting (same as I treated them when I first met them) and a problem at the school where I became the whipping boy for trying to help solve said problem. That and a few of my past friends just stopped replying to emails without any rhyme or reason. So I was a bit pissed when I wrote the email.

I look forward to coming to Korea, I have been there before for a few weeks and enjoyed my time. There are a lot of things the country has that I really enjoy (the traditional music, martial arts, food etc.) and have considering trying to make some type of academic career based around those things.

Thanks for the lengthy reply, I always enjoy your posts and if I make it over, I'll owe you a beer some time, or some rice wine.

Roarchild said...

I think it's all been pretty good advice so far.

I married a Korean back home and once Junior arrived she got really home sick. That is the number one reason I am here.

I was also bored of my old job and had been there 5 years with no escape in sight. I kind of enjoy teaching English more as it's still a challenge but a lot of the time it is very hard to fight the feeling "this job is just bull&#&t" with no long term future.

I guess very few jobs are as safe as they seemed 20-30 years ago though but there is a danger you change one monotony for another. F5Waeg already mentioned that but it would be the biggest concern for me.

I would say come to Korea though, just in case you end up in my neck of the woods. Never hurts to have new people that sound allright to hang out with :)

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