As always after traveling, I have a lot to say and don't even know where to begin. So for now, I'll just keep it simple, claim I'll come back to it later, but I won't. I'll say this much: this is what happened in month seven....
I took it really, truly to heart. Something got inside in that kind of inevitable way. I started to lay tracks. I saw what Korea looks like naked and in the dark. I became Eemo to Jinwoo and Kyeongmin. I spent four days with a Korean family, and then decided to spend one more. I stayed a night at a mushroom farm, met a one month old baby calf, went to an oyster festival, a bamboo festival, a barley festival. I learned more Korean than I could ever have hoped to otherwise. I learned how to play Go Stop. I rode in the back of a truck down a dark farm road while four senior citizens sang Trot at the top of their lungs. I was the first foreigner some people had ever seen. I drank plum tea. I learned about Gwangju, and what happened there in May of 1980. I started to understand. I spent Buddha's Birthday at a temple -- a real temple, not the kind you visit with a camera. I sat through the services, ate the meal, learned to like ddeok. I drank wine from the province brought out for me especially and poured for me by a monk, in his private quarters. I was confronted again and again by how amazingly kind and open people can be to you, in their own reserved way, when they don't even speak your language.
I made a plan for the future, and decided that future will be here. I decided that it would be worth it to sacrifice an August vacation to take an intensive (and expensive) course in Korean, spend months adding the equivalent of a part time job to my schedule, so that I can be a part of this place in real way. So that Jinwoo and Kyeongmin can talk to me without translation the next time I see them. So that I can talk to my students. So that, eventually, I can move out of Incheon and go find out what it's like out there -- go and spend time with the people who are the equivalent of my brother, my mother, my grandparents.
Just a few for now.
Edit: see the rest here.