Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

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

Sunday, January 19, 2014


As I've taken the last three and a half days off work, I'm somewhat of a non entity at work.  This happens to all those who go missing for a few days from the regular routine in the ROK.

During that time, one of my colleagues in the logistics department asked an intern what they thought of me.

Waeg?  He's very famous for his irreverence and anarchism.

When he relayed this message, I was out cutting dead trees for firewood for when the fam showed up at the campsite.  I have amassed a nice collection of logs that I'd split at work when they decided to landscape last summer, borrowing the chainsaw from the maintenance crew, and buying an axe.  Most of what I've stacked are good acacia trees.  However, I'd only stashed 6 good logs in the van, along with three bags of standard Korean firewood (8-10 thousand Won per 10 kg), which is basically a step up from kindling.  I burned through the lot my first night.

I could have gone back to work, signed in at the gate, and picked up more, but I was a good 2 hours away, and I had decided that letting the fam sleep through what I had that first night wouldn't be the best approach to having them decide to harden the fuck up on their own.  It was damn cold: yes, my sleeping bag in the morning was covered with a thick layer of frost, thanks to the moisture from my breath.  This isn't unusual when camping in winter. But my main goal was to provide a more controlled environment for their first real taste of cold and a lesson in logistical planning.  That and not give fodder to June to bitch me out for it over the next few years.

I'd spent the evening before sleep ducking under the noxious cloud from the fire pit, learning quick that despite the openings in the canvas, the lack of a flue left most of the smoke inside, chocking you once you stood up.  Cooking and eating would be impossible.  I knew well this would give June much opportunity to bitch about my planning abilities a good long while, which would not serve my girls: they should not learn that the best approach to life is to criticize the mistakes of others when you've done nothing to contribute, but more that you can't contribute due to a lack of experience; what is necessary is to think more about what exactly you've signed yourself up for, and what that entails.  Chris Rock says 'keep your daughters off the pole'; I say keep em from asking dumbass questions about living in Korea on Dave's ESL cafe and, and learning how to not only sort out the best way to skin a rabbit and cut carrots, but take advantage of the biggest encyclopedia known to humans: internet!  By god, I'll have them translate that basic outlook into how to work an axe before the liver cancer gets me!  Which is why all of this is a massive digression, but in for a penny, in for a pound I've heard said. 

As the place I'd chosen also had cabins available for rent, the opportunity for the girls to see how easy it is to become too dependent on bitching others out for a lack of preparation and vision as opposed to figuring things out for themselves was somewhat mitigated, as June wouldn't be able to talk smack about my inability to consider the welfare of my dependents if I squirreled them away in a heated cabin with electricity and the internet.  Still, I figured let's collect some wood for the girls to have a campfire and roast some marshmallows!  When June confirmed they were on their way, I went out and bought a space heater that looks straight out of the 80s; it did nothing to meaningfully warm up the shelter, so renting the cabin from the grandmother was a must.  She was very kind and decent, and turned everything on for it to be hospitable for when my brood arrived. 

June seemed to find lack with the grandmother pretty much as soon as she arrived, as she quickly realized that I'd covered all the bases.  One thing seemed to draw her focus: the grandmother asked us not to use the bathroom in the cottage, as the pipes had yet to be attached to a septic tank, but as the nice new washroom for the campsite was less than a hundred meters away, and had hot water on demand, this to me did not seem an issue, as the cabin was nicely heated and had internet.  June persisted and asked if the trick I'd shown her of dumping a huge pail of water down the toilet would work at flushing the one in the cabin out.  The grandmother repeated that no, it would not, as the pipes were not attached to a septic tank.  Oddly, June was afflicted with explosive diarrhea about an hour later, and asked me to drive her the 100 meters to the bathroom.  Are you OK, what is the problem??  She was fine she said, but 15 minutes later suddenly felt forced to use the toilet in the cabin.  Anarchy in the ROK!  FUCK THE SYSTEM!  I'LL SHIT WHERE I FUCKING WANT!! 

June found she was unable to clean it out after, leaving a present for the grandmother when she would go to clean out the cabin.  Even more oddly was the call I received at 2.30 AM Friday night from the grandmother, which I wisely did not answer, but all of this is a massive digression from: am I an anarchist?

So, my colleague's Kakao message: an anarchist.  I doubt the interns really know what the term means, as it is an ideal social structure for small communities consisting of enlightened members.  I remembered my younger days, how the term was often equated with a more virulent form of social destruction; if you were an anarchist, you were only interested in destroying the social order, were a communist, a punk, a fascist, all the negative -ists and -isms you could imagine.  We need to bring down the social structure man!!! to create a pure order of freedom!!!!  Fuck yeah!!  Fuck you I won't do what you fucking tell me!!!  I'll SHIT WHERE I FUCKING WANT bECAUSE YOU DON't oWN me MAN!!!

Tired by the vitriol and lack of substance, I spent considerable time studying what all those terms mean, for shits and giggles, when I should have been compiling results and data from experiments, all long before Wikipedia made it so easy to gain a cursory understanding.  So as an official statement in the here and know: I have come to know anarchism to be largely irrelevant to most when thinking how to organize larger groups of people.  It really is about individuals who are willing and able to contribute to a community while developing themselves fully; glory, self aggrandizement, leadership, are all traps that distract from full self development and the development of the whole.

Sadly, most seek self worth and self affirmation, sometimes through power or wealth, sometimes through being a gadfly.  For the majority, it is about seeking some response, a clear and obvious statement of how awesome or shitaculur they are, or the trappings of power in terms of how it makes their individual life easier.  Anarchism does exist in the context of the global village: the small communities that form based on interest and will.  Let's all meet at Comic Con 22 dressed as Pokemon Furries!!!! Fuck yeah!!! But these induhviduals often lack impetus when asked to confront the larger biases of self identity, as most are unwilling to ask the hard questions they know will remove them from their comfort zone.

Am I an anarchist?  No.  Most people are not enlightened enough to make that kind of
system work.  Even many of the enlightened have no idea what to do if really confronted with a situation where people will work at making a community prosper without letting their individual egos get the best of them, nor are most willing to sacrifice to ensure that everyone is even capable of understanding it in basic terms.  There is a reason why we talk about people like Gandhi or Socrates after all; they are so rare.  It is more fun to lord it above them all, as opposed to seriously engaging those they interact with, as the latter is too tiresome and not immediately rewarding.

Most political ideologies do not encourage the level of self reflection required to make such a system work for obvious reasons, as someone needs to shovel the shit.  We don't really care if you are happy or not, just on whether you will continue to shovel that shit; I don't want to do it, so I will encourage you to think that you should, and how much you should like it. We are living in a Brave New World, and there is no shame in wanting to be a bus driver or date entry clerk, especially when you've been encouraged all your life to think that this is your fulfillment in life based on background and life choices.  Don't let me get in your way, or live my life as an example of what you could achieve!  What with all the doge memes to make, and cat pictures to look at, life is full and contentment is easily achievable, so shut up, turn on the TV, and have another glass of wine.


Anonymous said...


F5Waeg said...

yes, yes I am. No shame in that

Anonymous said...

you are talking communism when you try to bring it to a larger scale. Marx was a Jew who tried to make the cabal work on a larger scale. These ideas are far from dead, and often form the basis for Israeli colonial communities today.

F5Waeg said...

I'd disagree that these types of communities represent the essence of what a cabal originally meant, nor what is anarchy. . . the foundation of those types of community you mention is based on a very firm and political sense of self identity. Self identity in pure anarchy is in some ways meaningless, at least more fluid and subject to change based on learning and development. . . you know that subjecting and adhering to one singular viewpoint in terms of state and ethnicity diminishes what you can achieve, since you impose boundaries on your own self development and ability to perceive and understand. . .yes the sense of contributing to a community need always be consistent, but it is how you define community that is more fluid and exactly why anarchy can't work for larger groups. People aren't uniform, sometimes it takes years to grasp ideas that for some take minutes. . . to compensate for a slower rate of development, some choose a more expedient means to gain a sense of self worth and value.

Baek In-je said...

Of all the places that I have visited, I find Korea to be the system most resembling true anarchy. Defiant lawlessness, most seen in the driving behaviors of the Koreans, with their willful disregard for each and every rule, is displayed by the vast majority of drivers. From the top of the society down, these people disregard the laws and customs. You cant hardly find a bathroom to shit in without some guy smoking in there. They throw their garbage everywhere. Including in front of their children. I told a man with two elementary school children not to litter, then I said he wasn't a good father. Did I go too far? Did I teach him a lesson? Did his kids feel ashamed? You cant really feel shame when your mother holds your penis to pee in the street until you're 8.

F5Waeg said...

please understand the special situation

Post a Comment