Asia | Korea, Republic of – Life resumes
I have been back in Seoul about a month now. It’s good to be back, although there’s a gaping hole where the bubbly, adorable, sunny presence of my fiance used to be. It’s weird being back in the city I shared with her now that she’s so far away, and will remain so until December. The good news is that next month I’m going to Canada to visit her for five days. It can’t come soon enough.
I’ve been blessed with an easy transition back into working life after my month off. This month I work a grand total of 3 hours and 20 minutes a day, and I’m done by 1pm. Ample time then to enjoy the delights of the Korean summer, assuming of course that you define endless humidity, frequent downpours and mosquitoes by the bucket load as ‘delights’. On the positive side, the skies are full of dragonflies, busily doing whatever it is that dragonflies do, the evenings are long and balmy, and the days and nights resound with the ever present chorus of a plethora of bugs – most notably the ‘memmies’, large, black, baleful looking things that loiter in the trees emitting a sound not unlike that of a hippopotamus crossed with a guffawing old gentleman on his 5th glass of brandy.
Rather less positively, I returned to a workplace rife with animosities and personality clashes of the most severe nature. The present cocktail of teachers is rather more Molotov than Long Island Iced Tea. I try not to get involved.
A few evenings ago I took a stroll down to Jongmyo Park, the gathering place of what usually appears to be the entire over 60 population of Seoul. It’s easy to get accustomed to a place when you’ve been there a long time. Easy to forget that you are (albeit rather sedentarily) travelling. Jongmyo Park always succeeds in refreshing my perception of where I am. It has an uniquely Korean atmosphere. The entire gamut of elderly leisure pursuits are there to be observed; exquisite calligraphy, Korean draughts, Chinese chess, heated discourses, and most frequently, dancing around in an inebriated manner to the strains of old 1950s Korean crooners. Having said that,’staring at the young long-haired foreigner’ also seems to be a popular diversion. I quite enjoy it be honest. Indeed the same can be said of most aspects of my life here. I’ve come to rather regard Korea as home. I certainly feel more affinity with it than I do with England on the occasions when I go back there. I’m not saying Korea’s perfect – far from it, but at least it’s largely free of the mindless thuggery, petty crime, and other negativities that serve to put me on edge whenever I’m back in the UK. It also found me the love of my life, and I’ve got to be grateful for that…on which cheery note I’ll leave you in order to go and wring out this shirt and take a long, much needed shower. Ahh…summer.