Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

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

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Deep End!

I was soundly asleep when the youngest woke me: daddy, can you get me some water?

Usually she just gets that for herself.  She's competent and capable.  I knew she wanted attention.

Sure darlin'.  Be right back.

She drank deep and feel back asleep instantly.  This waeg however, could not.

So I hit the youtube.  I've got literally thousands of vids saved, so I went through the list.  After a few predictable boring choices, I clicked one I hadn't heard in a while:



Which brought me to an older version:



While listening, I thought: angry black people will rant that this is what happens when you put too much stock in white people.  You make the original all gospel to sell records, and feel dirty about it, maybe, since you know it is apart of you, but still a part, yet far from what you could have been if you had had the same tools, and didn't have to scrape; then 75 years later some white guy who lived through his moment of angst 45 years prior remixes it for some flick and makes more than you did that entire year, inflation adjusted. Then some Asian girl makes it her own as a means to deal with her own personal demons.  You might still feel good about how it still lives, and makes people sing, but if you're angry you won't entertain that until you've gone and gotten yourself dirty in some similar way.

Sign me up.  Oh wait, I already am?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tomato!

Any long term waeg worth their salt will have at some point drunkenly ranted on about the ridiculous regional festivals found throughout this greatest of peninsulas. 

What these waegs don't get is that their excessive whinging and hand wringing is beginning to corrupt the purity of ancient Korean traditions dating back to the late 1990s.  These types of festivals aren't supposed to be just about throwing yourself off a mock cliff while holding the effigy of a Japanese officer, (as the logo at the top of the link states, "Be Inspired!") in Jinju, or contracting a skin disease at the mud festival in Boryeong; it's about drawing in as many tourist won as possible while engaging the locals in chest thumping celebrations of local pride to help reduce one of the world's highest suicide rates.

Sadly, this reality has been dismissed and undermined by judgmental waegs and led to the neutering of these most necessary traditions, all in the effort to appear more in tune with global sensitivities.  This was evidenced in the recently held Dunnae tomato festival.

Curious when I saw the poster, I called the number to find out more: no, there would be no tomato crushing. No, there would be no tomato hurling. And no, you could not eat your tomato with salt at the event: sugar was mandatory. Yes, you could eat them with salt after making your purchase once in the confines of your home, but everyone knows tomato is best with sugar!  So please buy many many 3000 won glasses of freshly made sweetened tomato juice!

I asked the nice lady on the other end how the festival was to serve as an outlet for the pent up frustration of living in Dunnae if people weren't given the opportunity to hit their annoying neighbor with that damn dog that never shuts up squarely in the face with a half rotten tomato.  I questioned the vision of Dunnae's town elders who decided to host a tomato festival which didn't involve some form of barely controlled chaos.  She suggested I avail myself of the opportunity to visit the exhibit on specially created Dunnae tomato, and instead purchase many many kilograms of world unique under-ripe tomatoes from farmers at above market value.  Dunnae tomatoes are number one world best, and can cure cancer and hantavirus!

At this point I called her a globalization shill and suggested they hire me as the festival organizer for next year if they were truly intent on profiting from excessive tomato crops while reducing incidences of farmers drinking pesticides.  This was when she hung up.  I figure I'll wait a few weeks and call again; someone has to do it, and if the Dunnae city council is too scared of misinformed waeg blogs mocking these most necessary forms of social release, I will act in their stead.  The potential for big fun is too great, and if you've ever been to Dunnae, you know it needs a real festival more than many a place on this fine peninsula.  My first step will be to head over to Dave's ESL Cafe and other hotbeds of waeg sedition to attack those who would dare befoul the honest and carefree nature of all people native to the fine, fine Korean peninsula.

Don't wish me luck: I am fire incarnate, ready and willing to act, and have no need of fairy tale ideas of fortune.  While some may see it as a burden, I know I act most righteous and pure, an ideal I learned from my most generous Korean hosts that is too near extinction. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

So many kinds of wrong

Some of these are past their due date, but what the hey

Watching the first and the second at the same time makes the lols exponential.

So many kinds of wrong











Something lighter and nice to end:



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Big Smoke!


Greetings all, waeg here reporting from the streets of Itaewon.

After a 5 day camping extravaganza, I find myself in the big smoke being stoopid.

I have a hugely important meeting tomorrow, and I have to hit the Costco before heading back to the Wonj.

Luckily, some peeps stood up and represented and ensured I didn't get lost. As such, I'm not squirelled away in some trashy nightclub blowing my cash on some trashy whore.

Tired now. Time for sleep.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Independance!


Greetings reader, F5Waeg here reporting from the wilds of gangwon province!

As today is one of the many official Korean holidays recognizing the replacement of the Japanese colonial yolk for a whiter variety, I dragged the fam out to the wilds of gangwon province to enjoy some quality time getting wet and grilling obscene amounts of butchered flesh.

While I could be somewhat irked that I did not butcher the flesh myself, I was quite pleased by the results of my grilling adventure: a couple of nice slabs of pork, beef, and thickly sliced potatoes being the main draw. For better or worse, I'm not into the Korean habit of eating everything that can be thrown into a pot, as evidenced by the amply equipped 'fisherman' stationed in front of my tent, who is excessively excited for having caught two minnows, but I digress.

Really nothing more to say save I'm about 2 bottles of whiskey in. June was positively flirtatious today, but that's just her trying to get me back in her orbit. It always happens when she senses I'm getting too far away and other females are paying too much attention.

Time for some more whiskey.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dog!

dog soupDuring my long sojourn on this fine peninsula, I've always avoided eating one food: dog.

This was partly due to my western sensibility of seeing dogs as being far from food; dogs have been great human companions for millennia, and eating one just seemed wrong.

I had another reason for not eating them, a traumatic experience during my first year in the sunshine ROK: I had been invited to hang out with a bunch of adjusshis at a remote camp in the deep wilds of Gangwon province, to drink and generally have a good time bonding. One guy had brought along a dog in a cage, which I didn't think too much of until early the second day. Fido seemed fairly pleasant and excited despite being in a rough metal cage, and I suggested we let him out to run around and get some exercise. At the time, everyone laughed at me; as I didn't understand what was being said, all I could do was smile along. When two of the guys dragged him out to a remote part of the camp, I understood why they had laughed.

The two guys tied the hind legs and hung him from what I thought was a chin up bar. When he was tightly secured, they used what resembled small baseball bats to work the dog over. I knew then that I was truly in another place, far from Kansas, where the normal rules did not apply. The howls and yelps only seemed to spur the guys on. When they took a blowtorch to burn the hair off I asked the guy who had invited me if I could be brought to the nearest bus stop; the dog may still have been alive at that point, or it may simply have been the involuntary twitching of the muscles, but I'd had enough.

In the car, he asked if it had bothered me; when I didn't respond his voice got an edge I'd never heard before: he said he thought I'd be alright with the whole thing, since I liked to talk about hunting, gutting animals and the like. He thought I was a real man who could stomach it. All I could say there is a difference between killing an animal on the hunt and purposefully beating one slowly to death. We didn't really hang out after that.

Twelve years later, I find myself in a dog restaurant. The atmosphere is light and congenial, the conversation witty and sanguine. One of the party needles the old lady in the restaurant until she brings us the delicacy, a huge steamed dog phallus. Everyone tucks in, one of the party joking about how it is his second time to eat dog soup that day, and how it is a shame his wife is so far away.

I find the meat too soft, the phallus sponge like. Still, I eat heartily, and the free flow of wine and beer make the whole experience jovial.  I dry the bone from the phallus and hide it in my pocket, something to remind me later of just how people can change given time and circumstance.  Whatever.  The best thing is I didn't feel even a little bit dirty.  We are far from Kansas after all.  Step up or go home, right?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Beach!

Today I decided that it would be a fantastic idea to reschedule my one meeting, bundle the fam into the van, and head for the beach.

We spent the day in Gangneung, getting cooked in the sun and replenishing the sand in the van.  This was overdue, as we haven't been to the beach in some time. Luckily, I recently cleaned the van, so now we can enjoy the beach again and again whenever we see the silica crystals scattered throughout the interior of our main mode of transportation.

Highlights today included several nice bikini girls (no photos allowed for waegs!), watching three guys get rescued by speedboat when their parasail rental proved a bit more unwieldy than anticipated, and a gaggle of old guys setting up next to us who slogged back the soju while swimming in bathing suits that were essential see through when wet.  This last was particularly amusing as we'd initially chosen a side beach since it was supposedly more kid friendly.  Don't know about the girls, but I know I've been scarred.

Just finished our obligatory raw fish dinner.  We had red snapper.  It was delicious.

At a trendy cafe now.  Had a Guatemalan and a Kenyan. Suppose I should collect the fam and head back to the Wonj.  Several ice cold cans of Max await.

                             *                               *                             *

Back.

The drive to the Wonj was fine, some rain.  As we were leaving, many smoking hot 20 somethings kept emerging from hotel rooms wearing slinky tight numbers.  From past experience, Gyeongpo beach can get pretty hot in summer, with every hotel having a back patio party.  Hopping from party to party, room to room was a great time years back, when a crew including dirty bird, the architect, the hand actor and I spent 3 inglorious days rutting out all kinds of fine ladies.  Good times, good times.

Decided to go with the rice wine before the Max.  There is work to be done tomorrow, but as long as I stick to a single bottle all should be well.

Cheers.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Horse!

The three night camping extravaganza was a blast: swimming, barbeque insanity, even a taste of rain, with Thursday night being a pretty drunk albeit largely quiet one.  Most of the time I don't dig camping in such close quarters, since I know I'm constantly being watched.  I'd much rather have my closest neighbor a good 2-300 meters away, thank you very much, just so I can truly get into the camping vibe and not always overhear  conversations or work at not getting annoyed by crying babies parked less than ten meters from me on either side.  Call me crazy, but I'd like to swim, talk to my kids, go for walks and drink some beer without so much distraction.  Sadly, as a waeg, when in such close quarters one is expected to act above reproach, as you represent your entire species, so I get a bit uptight.  I try to find a nice balance, only occasionally having a nice big fire with loud laughter and music, but I digress.

The highlight of the day was when another old Wonju hand and I saved a woman's life.

We'd decided to get away from the kids and man talk, and were on our way to explore a quieter side road that led higher into the mountain.  We walked along and talked: he about how much he'd like to fuck my wife, I about the two falling outs we'd had over the 12 years we'd known each other.  In the distance, some guy decked out in full Korean hiking gear (walking stick and expensive polymer clothing essential), gesticulating wildly.  He was talking on his phone darting this way and that, to the stream, bringing water, looking towards us, up the trail.  What is that guy doing?  Is he out of it?  As we got closer, we saw the woman on the ground.

She'd been stung by a bee.  Her neck was slightly swollen, her body cold, flushed face, shallow breathing.  No hives or bubbles though, which was a good sign.  Dude was on the phone with the ambulance, trying to tell them where he was.  He intended on staying where he was until they showed.  Wat?

We went into action.  I didn't feel comfortable ripping her pants down to see if there was still a stinger, waegs generally being seen as sex crazed perverts.  Instead, my buddy ran ahead to warn the people we were coming, and I made to carry her on my back.  Dude, like a man, jumped in and said no, I'll do it.  Good on you.  I grabbed their stuff and trucked along behind, as it looked like he may drop her at any time.  He was an older guy, pretty small and frail; luckily, his wife was also a wisp of a thing.  Still, he'd made it about half way when it was obvious he wasn't going any further.  I tried to take her on my back, but for some reason dude couldn't wrap his head around how he should help her get into a piggy back position, and instead only passed her to me front side.  I'm like aight not a big problem, and pushed her up as if I was carrying a kid and trucked along.  Buddy met me and immediately positioned himself correctly to receive, onto his back, onto the cleared deck.  Dude runs to get his car, and takes about 5 minutes to figure out how to get it in properly.   We load her in the car and they're off.  Apparently they met the ambulance about half way down the valley and they whisked her off to a hospital.  No idea how things ended, but by the time we had gotten her to the little store with the deck, it did seem that she had improved over when we first saw her.

The fams didn't seem that impressed about our heroic life saving deed, but maybe it was just in the telling.  Some things just can't be told in a way that does them justice.

Later that day, the wives and kids went home, and the guys took their time tearing down the site.  The fams were to come back later in the evening for more barbeque, so we got to it and grilled up most of the food we had left.  In the process, we decided to be friendly with our neighbors by parting out corn, sausages, and roast pig; buddy did an oops by dropping a bunch of meat than giving away too much of the good stuff, causing the ladies understandable irritation when they arrived.  To be fair, we didn't know if the fams had eaten as they wouldn't answer the phone; but still, best to hold off on the philanthropy until we know.  I sensed it was gonna happen, and luckily had brought sweet potatoes, which did lighten things somewhat once they were baked in foil.

Home now.  Thinking of what to do.  Would like to avoid any major spots with tons of people, but June keeps pushing for uber crowded places.  It's a constant row, her logic being all the best places are where all the people are, I how that fact doesn't make those places awesome at all.   Probably best just to stay home and take the girls out for a nice long walk.

But first, time for coffee.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Camping 3.9!

Sorry to those who care that I haven't been posting all my camping stories; been going out fairly steady since January, with a break in March.

This week we're out at what has become a pretty popular spot in Umdun-ri, in beautiful Yeongwol county. It's been threatening to rain, but so far the weather has been fine. We're sticking around until Saturday, two families with several day visitors to join.

The worst part is that like most Korean camping spots, the sites are placed much too close together. This usually isn't a big problem as we come on the off season. Since it is the busiest summer vacation week, we are pretty much packed in like sardines.

At least the water is nice and the beer is cold. We've constructed a flotilla of inflatable tires and a boat, and send the kids down a small waterfall much to their delight.

The kids have been after me for the last 30 minutes to go back into the water. Suppose it is time to get wet again.

But first, maybe another quick Max.