Category Archives: life in south korea

Man Sells Rotisserie Chicken

Since the onset of fall, which is really winter here in Korea, a man has been selling rotisserie chicken on the corner of the next block from my officetel (an efficiency apartment, the name from office and hotel). He sells a whole chicken for 6,000 won (about 5.25 USD), and two for 10,000 won. About a month ago, I bought one, went home, and attempted to make a chicken sandwich, but it was so good I devoured most of the chicken before I could make the sandwich. But this is not really why I’m writing.

After buying that one chicken, I’ve since said hello to him, in Korean, which is by no means difficult, as well as giving an appropriately slight bow, which I no longer find strange, every time I pass by him and his small truck. It crossed my mind tonight that it would be nice to have a conversation with him, however brief it might end up being.

I imagine it would first be necessary to give a simple introduction of myself. Then I could ask how he got into the business of selling rotisserie chickens on the street. Then I would end up going home with another chicken, which really wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

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Forming

I am waiting for the subway to Anjirang Station. I am waiting at the Chilsung Market Station. An old woman is walking down the stairs backwards, her body hunched over, one hand on the railing, her head curled into her chest, watching every step. Old women like this work in the markets, selling fruits, vegetables, and fish. They walk with their backs in a horizontal line, the only generous comparison: the sun setting over the horizon of an ocean. The colors blending, finding their way into the deep wrinkles on the faces of these women as they stand in the sand the sun setting over them. When the sun goes under, everything goes dark. The woman is waiting for the subway going toward Ansim Station. She is waiting at the Chilsung Market Station. I stand upright. I lean against the wall. She stands with herself parallel to the ground. A light shines from the tunnel, and the train screeches past us and comes to a stop. The woman and I are on opposite ends. I can only imagine her as I am imagining her now. The doors slide open. People come out or they don’t. The woman and I walk into the subway car. She will get a seat in the elderly passenger area, and if she doesn’t someone will give up his or her seat for her. This is the most likely thing to happen. And I believe this is out of respect rather than out of pity. She may take the seat, or she may refuse it and tell the person to sit back down. In that case, probably no one will take it. The subway arrives in Anjirang. I’ve lost track of the woman. I get off, walk forwards up the stairs, scan my subway card and exit. An hour or so passes. I have done what I came to do. I am back on the subway. I am back at the Chilsung Market Station. I exit the subway like everyone else does: The doors open, people get off, walk forwards up the stairs, or take the escalator (I have never seen anyone walk backwards on an escalator), swipe subway cards, pass through the gate, find your exit and exit up the stairs onto the street. On the street, I see bright words and lights and a cross against the dark sky. Everything has gone dark, except the people and this quiet city. I am walking home. The market is closed, but people are still out, eating and drinking outside. Meat barbequing in the middle of tables. Pork and garlic and onions wrapped in lettuce. Green soju bottles. The bright lights of this side of Daegu. I am walking home.

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Split in two

I have been in South Korea for 8 months and 6 days exactly. I am at my school now, waiting for my first class of the day to start. It’s 9:36 on a Monday morning. It’s a relatively nice day: sunny, a little chilly, but not too cold or too hot — neither extreme, as the weather here tends to be. I teach 5th and 6th grade today, although usually, on Mondays, I only teach 5th. Last week, though, 4 of my 6th grade classes were canceled due to some kind of Science Festival. The students’ homeroom teachers thought their students would be too wound up to teach, and so with absolutely zero notice the classes were canceled and pushed into this week. The kids were too wound up, probably from all the cotton candy they ate, some of which I gave them, and came into my after school class with ungodly amounts of energy, nearly impossible to teach. It was, to say the least, a disaster. Some days I play the role of teacher better than others.

I haven’t the slightest idea what happened to those 8 months, or what I’ve been doing, aside from loses pieces of myself and trying to pick up and attach others. I hope I haven’t lost anything essential. I don’t think so, but sometimes it’s hard to say. I certainly don’t feel the same. I’ve been reading Haruki Murakami a lot. One thing I really love about reading authors who write both novels and short stories is, as you read the short stories you really come to see what the writer is interested in. Then when you read the novels, you get to see how he developed those ideas. Murakami is interested in, among other things, how people get pulled apart, split in two, and begin existing in separate realities (or in the same reality, just in different places) at the same time. Characters feel they’ve become different people, or are not the same as they were before. One character is on top of a Ferris wheel, looking into her apartment, when she somehow sees herself with a strange man.

I have been feeling this way, as though maybe somehow when I talk to my family on Skype, I’m also lying in my bed in Elkhart, Indiana. I have thought before that I’ll come out of the room and appear in front of the computer and have a conversation with myself. It hasn’t happened yet, but I feel things are moving in that direction.

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Daegu Flash Mob: Memento

The people who work at Daegu Pockets edited together this video of the flash mob event. Makes for a nice memento of my time here. Enjoy.

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MTV Korea: Daegu Flash Mob

A few weekends ago my friends and I particapted in a flash mob event in downtown Daegu. We did so to promote Daegu Pockets, an international magazine for Koreans and foreigners in the area.

And we all ended up on MTV Korea. Watch the video here. Go to the 16:30 minute mark, and enjoy! You can also watch a shorter clip of it below.

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Eric in Korea

eric-in-korea-smallIt’s been about two weeks since I’ve gotten back from my vacation, and I’m only four days away from being in South Korea for six months. It’s been nothing but a whirlwind so far. A lot of my friends here, both old and new, are leaving soon. For some, their contracts are up, and it’s time to go. For others, their hearts are simply leading them elsewhere. Despite my having a hard time readjusting to life here, I feel lucky to still have six more months left. I don’t know what I’m going to do after that time is gone, but I have a feeling I’ll have figured it out by then.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about why I want to travel. I’ve been trying to understand the effects travel can have on a person. I’m not sure I have any kind of firm grasp on this yet; I haven’t traveled all that much. A little in the United States, mostly in the Midwest and on the East coast, and of course, South Korea and the Philippines. I always experience an elation upon arriving in a new place for the first time, whether that place was a different state or country. It’s a high, a lot like the feeling of love. I hate to think this feeling goes away, but, of course, it does. After that initial high, you begin to see things more clearly. I think this is where I am with South Korea right now, and I think it’s a great place, maybe the only place, to begin to cultivate something meaningful and real.

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The photo was taken on Valentine’s Day. A friend asked me to be her date to a fancy dinner an international women’s organization hosted. Her date had cancelled on her at the last minute. It was a great evening: a good dinner, professional dancers, who danced the waltz, tango, and foxtrot, for entertainment, and then some unprofessional dancing of our own. Afterward, I met other friends at a noraebang, and before we left I of course had to sing a song. I’ve never been much for karaoke, but that night I rocked out an energetic version of Hey, Jude. Later, as you can see, I meet up with my real date, Winnie the Pooh.

This is me in Korea, and though I see things here a bit differently now, I think that’s how they were supposed to be seen all along. Here’s to making my time here the best it can be. Cheers.

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