Wednesday | May 16th, 2012


Ten years ago, I landed at Incheon, made my way through customs and the gate mayhem to the buses, decided I needed more “personal space” and took a deluxe taxi (the black one with the yellow light) to Gimpo International Airport. In those days, domestic flights were solely a Gimpo affair. It was on this ride that I snapped my first picture in South Korea. I spent my first afternoon, evening, and finally night in Korea. I didn’t have any expectations or causes, I just arrived. I was lost and broken and empty.

Before, when I knew I would be coming here, I set up a blog to maintain links to my family and the few friends I was leaving behind. Somewhere I still have the mock layout for this blog which included placeholder content like “The Daily Kimchi Report”. It was weird to feel so much hope for a place so unknown.

I had with me very few possessions, but two things stick out notably, even now: my green Angel Ivan Fluevogs and my Olympus digital camera. With these two things I walked all over Daegu in the first two days of being in the country.

I did not bring a computer with me, but kept a journal until I did have access to one to write about what I was experiencing. As I worked a path deeper into this new place, my body, mindset, and ideas about the world all changed—most of them forever. And I lost a lot of weight in the first few months, losing about 20 kilos (Right).

That fat picture (Left) is me at Gimpo Airport waiting half a day for the 30 minute flight that would take me to Daegu. I was greeted at the Daegu airport by Sue the director of my hagwon and Mr. Kim, the bus driver. It was nighttime and dark out and I hadn’t slept in more than 20 hours. This ride is a blur mostly. Lots of lights and disorientations.

We arrived at my new home for a year, a place called Samik New Town and knocked on the door. I could hear a tv and then there was an exchange that I now know as a typical one: suspicious foreign teacher versus hagwon personnel. After some time, a fat dodgy Canadian opened the door … my new roommate. The joy.

I had the first few days off to explore and adjust. Many explorers don’t get this. I was really lucky to be able to decompress and absorb some Korea before being thrust into a process I had known all my prior life a “talking” (which now became “teaching”).

I later discovered the neighborhood PC Bang (internet cafe) where I would sit for hours loading my images from their SmartMedia memory cards through a floppy drive adaptor called Flashpath. This method of marrying my images and writing was so painstakingly slow that my PC Bang experiences where usually about twelve hours a stint.

By the time I was in the swing, buying clothes that fit, learning how to drink beer, making friends, and working out how to be a better teacher, I noticed the Kyobo Life Insurance building slogan (Above). “Best Life Partner” as I read that, I remember thinking that I wasn’t going back to America.

Daily Report

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This Old Hanok

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