bookmark_borderPost-418: Hiroshima Day

Back in the early days here, I mentioned “Hiroshima Day,” August 6, when the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

I visited both Hiroshima and Nagasaki in March 2015. Living in Korea at the time, I was in the process of transferring visas, which at the time meant one needed to physically leave Korea to get a fresh 90-day visa, which as far as I know can be done by all the rich-country passport holders, certainly the US, Canada, EU, and Australia. So anytime a visa status would change people would have to leave. Realizing I had one coming up, I planned a two-week trip to Japan to take full advantage of it.

Hiroshima has a large park near the atomic blast site which they call the Hiroshima Peace Park. Nagasaki has something similar but smaller.

I wasn’t thinking about it at the time but I was there in the seventieth anniversary year (1945–>2015). Now the eightieth anniversary year is in sight (2025). What is the legacy of the atomic bombings now?

For one thing, there is a direct line between the bomb’s explosion and the geopolitical picture of today’s East Asia. The Emperor of Japan announced by radio (at noon Tokyo time, August 15, 1945) the surrender and the immediate release of most of the overseas territories Japan had acquired over the past fifty years, including the long-held possession of the island of Taiwan, all the possessions on the mainland of China, the entirety of the Korean peninsula whose fate was to be cast to an open geopolitical open sea, and many of the islands of the Pacific transferred to US administration as spoils of war, and of course the evacuation of all conquests since the expansion of the was in December 1941.

The entire justification for the atomic bombings, and to a lesser extent to the policy of firebombing cities in Germany, German-aligned Europe, and Japan proper, was to induce a non-negotiated peace, full surrender and full-occupation, a radical aim in any war. The Hiroshima atomic bombing’s defenders say it was necessary to ensure a swift and full surrender, allowing for a total occupation and reestablishment of Japan on neutralist and US-friendly terms, to be a weak power in military terms and a jumping-off point for US power in the West Pacific.

In retrospect, the way 1945 geopolitically played out was a net negative. Too much changed, too wildly, too fast, in directions too unpredictable. Several of these problems with us trace indirectly to the atomic bombing and the policy of full-occupation, immediate dispossession of all Japan’s territories, and a rapid carve-up of all its overseas holdings. Those arguing for giving some of these places something like protectorate status for a period were shouted down in the excitement of the time.

As I think over the vast sweep of US foreign policy in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the West Pacific since the 1940s, this full-occupation-and-puppetization-of-Japan decision was the bedrock on which everything since rests, and the atomic-bombing was simply the application of the full-occupation policy. I don’t know how it could have gone better.

A lot of memorials of Hiroshima are pacifist in nature, of course, with the message being that violence is bad, bombing of civilians is very bad, and atomic bombing is very very bad. But dropping a bomb under orders is just an act, one of millions, billions, trillions of acts, in war. Less often have I seen any critique of the policy behind the act. Not the decision to drop the bomb or not, but the decision for full-occupation that made the atomic bombing a logical tactic.

In the mid- and late-2010s I started to drift into the “policy” world in graduate school and then at a job and in general in “policy adjacent” circles. Earlier I had been an interested observer but in getting close to the action you realize what an enormous establishment the “security state” is, but how largely incurious the whole of it is. For twenty years there were hardly any voices against leaving Afghanistan, one of the least important places in the world for US interests and a well-known graveyard of empires. A lot of these ossified attitudes in Washington foreign-policy circles are simply coasting on a path-dependency and inertia that dates to 1945.

bookmark_borderPost-412: Reflections on Smartphone life, 2014-2021

A recent trip to the repair shop got me thinking about my relationship to the smartphone and the digitization of most aspects of life which it represents/induces/necessitates. I’ll try to approach this indirectly through a small handful of memories.

I distinctly remember once, in Seoul, in spring 2014, being teased by a then-acquaintance from Europe, both privately and publicly, for writing out a map on a piece of paper. I didn’t mind the teasing nor his attempts later that day to show others my hand-drawn map. It got the job done, and who can argue with results? The mockery had nothing to do with results but of form: It was analog! Get with the digital age, was the message.

The reason I remember this little incident is I was surprised with the confidence with which he mocked me, as if in 2014 I were telling him I’d send him something by fax or give him a movie on VHS, something just laughably obsolete such that he couldn’t even imagine doing it. That was the tone. Obviously he did still use pen and paper in some cases, but for navigation in a city from A to B? Who would do that?

I had created this little hand-drawn map to navigate to the Seoul city wall, with the plan to hike the half length from West Gate to East Gate along the northern arc, which only this intrepid acquaintance was interested in doing on a Saturday morning. Finding access to the path from a certain meeting point was not easy. It involved twists and turns through alleys, and I planned it out at home and traced out the route on paper, making a sketch map. I had a hard copy of it.

I had a Smartphone at the time and “data,” but the data was on a pay-as-you-go plan, which meant when it ran out I had to pay to recharge, which was an annoying process; in any case, I didn’t want to use data when not needed. I also wanted to plan out the route to make sure I knew what I was doing. But something in me in spring 2014 was still profoundly uncomfortable with navigating by “phone” (as we end up calling such devices, which are used as telephones about 0.1% of the time for many people).

The sketch-map served its purpose wonderfully and we didn’t get lost.

I remember how amused he was by this map. He called it something like “the cutest thing I’ve seen all year.” Later that day he told others about it and insisted I show it to them. He was making fun of me, but I don’t remember taking offense, because I was in my own heart making fun of anyone who would be stunned at a pen-and-paper sketch-map.

I remember this even seven years later because it was in the transition period between when making sketch-maps like that was reasonably normal in the 2000s, and when it was laughable, given the always-on interactive map in your pocket (i.e., your “phone”), certainly so by late-2010s and in leading circles already becoming laughable in the mid-2010s. To have made an used a map like that by the late-2010s, it would have to extraordinary circumstances or maybe somewhere far outside a city where phone signals were unreliable.


I have always had an ambiguous attitude about devices.

For whatever reason, I also didn’t get a basic cellphone until rather late, I think in the last half of my last year of high school. I never used SMS “text messaging” until 2007 and that especially because of one particular person, M. K.; as for Facebook, I registered an account in late 2007 but was seldom active, and very much actively avoid it now. Although I use the Messenger app to communicate with people I otherwise have no way to contact, I avoid actually signing in — the last I did was some time in 2019.

This is all related to another sometime internal discussion I have. When does the Internet Age begin?

There are a lot of landmarks one an point to but these generally amount to trivia. If you must choose a ‘0’ year or a ‘5’ year, which is the best to attach to the concept of “Start of the Internet Era”? Note this is really a social question and not a technical one. I know there was technically some predecessor to email even as early as the 1980s, and there was an active early Internet scene in the 1990s. But these do not do. I think it has to be 2010, by which time the infrastructure we understand as the Internet was really in place. The Smartphone wave in the years that followed rapidly gave us our world as we knew it for the rest of the 2010s and now into the 2020s (1.5 years down, not a good decade so far for me).

Mobile digital computing devices connected to the Internet had made rapid gains and by 2014, the idea of someone making and using a paper sketch map to navigate a tricky path to a destination was something to laugh at, for some. Five years earlier, it wouldn’t have been so.

As for my own relationship with the Smartphone. I had none at all until the very end of December 2013, when one was given to me as a gift. In the last days of that year, I was sick with flu and living in a tiny room in a goshiwon in Seoul (in what some Koreans have been known to call the worst part of Seoul due to the presence of Chinese and Korean-Chinese). It was in my windowless room in that place that I entered the Smartphone Age after recovering from the flu on or soon after New Year’s Day 2014. The “pen-and-paper map” incident followed a few months later.

This timeline, I should add, means that my entire cross-country (South Korea) hike attempt in September and October 2013 was done Smartphone-less. In fact, it was basically done without any phone. I had a non-smart phone I kept off about 99.9% of the time. It had a good dictionary (an “offline” one, which in the Smartphone Age became a rare commodity). In the 2020s, it seems hard to imagine someone similar to 2013-Me attempting the hike without Smartphone access, perhaps even trying t o navigate by Smartphone, which is probably not a good idea, but the point is I just imagine people would do so by default.

People aging into social consciousness in the past few years, and in the years to come, and my own children God-willing I have any, may think that smartphones were common much earlier than they were, and that the Internet Era was much earlier than it really was. Even into 2011, the Smartphone was still considered fairly unusual, even something for eccentrics. The attitude was already changing by then. The spring 2011 Arab protests were hailed by our media for being led by organizers with smartphones communicating on the run (an attitude towards political-dissidents’ use of technology which they turned against sharply by the late-2010s).

By the mid-2010s, the Smartphone was rapidly becoming the standard.

I remember a case of a birthday party in 2012 or 2013. A Korean male about my age and I were among the many invitees, at the notoriously difficult-to-navigate Bupyeong Underground. In recent years they’ve invested huge amounts of money in making it more navigable, but you’ll still get lost there. I somehow linked up with him on the way. The venue was Outback. We both got totally lost and spent about fifteen minutes going this way and that through the maze-like underground before finding the right way. One thing I think I remember is neither he nor I had an easy way to communicate with the party’s kakao groupchat because we did not have smartphones. In any case I am sure he didn’t have one, which surprised me for a Korean male in his twenties at the time, but so it was.

I distinctly remember being surprised in early-mid 2014 when A. L., a Singaporean classmate in my first-ever Korean class, told me she used Google Maps for absolutely everything in getting anywhere, for all navigation. This stunned me, and made me think the less of her, I think. Did it mean she couldn’t navigate on her own, but just followed the arrows on the screen? It seemed so, and that seemed ridiculous. I think she said as much, said she would be hopeless without Google Maps.

I remember wondering how much data A. L. was using, for in those days data was often bought and paid for in fixed amounts, and when it ran out, you were out for the month unless you bought more. I remember thinking it extravagantly wasteful when A. L. revealed she rented an unlimited-Internet emitter, at some high cost per day at the time, for all her time in Korea. This amounted to around two months at longest, and shorter trips at other times. I remember thinking this was technically possible but seemed inadvisable, an excessive expense, and probably bad for the soul.

By the end of the 2010s, it was increasingly the norm to outsource all navigation or geographical-anything to Google Maps or the local equivalent, but in 2014 was still within the transition period. She had been an early-mover in the general direction.

A. L. (the Singaporean totally reliant on Google Maps, same age as me), J., the male co-hiker from Northern Europe who made fun of my hand-drawn paper map, several years younger), and I were all classmates in what was for me my first Korean class, the start of several years struggling to learn Korean, off and on.

These two I mention had both mentally and socially transitioned to something like a full-digital life and worldview by early 2014 when I met them, to the point they could not conceive of analog-life in certain important ways, which means it had probably not been a recent thing (i.e., was earlier than 2013) for them. In these years of 2014 to 2016, my own lifestyle changed much as theirs had some years before that. I thought then, and I think now, that I was lucky to hold out as long as I did.

The Smartphone has changed my lifestyle, and from the perspective of 2014-Me, probably for the worse. Still I have made a point to make at least one several-day hiking trip per year. For it I prepare paper maps beforehand. This kind of travel is always more rewarding. As forday-to-day movements and places I know well, there is no need necessarily for any use of a map. (Except that I am so often looking at the bikeshare map for my hobby of bike rebalancing.)

I visited China in December 2019 and was surprised by how much stricter their Internet policy was than my previous visit in 2010. Basically I could not use the Internet at all in China in 2019 except in my hotel room, which I think was arranged by the hotel and connected to my passport. There was no such thing as a free public wifi. This meant absolutely no navigation-on-the-fly staring at one’s phone screen. To go places I needed a good paper map, or an offline digital map, or to navigate by feel and landmark. I used all three methods.

For all my talk of still hanging onto the pre-Smartphone spirit into the late 2010s, I must admit the experience of being forcibly offline in China was quite disorienting.

I was in China for some of the last days of the 2010s, December 2019, and was thinking a lot about the closing decade and what it meant for the world and for me. Had I used my time well? How had I changed? Those kinds of questions. But also observations on China, especially given my previous visit in 2010, the opening of the decade. One thing that certainly changed was the digitization of life, the smartphone in one’s pocket.


What were the 2010s?

The decade seems defined as the age of digitization of lifestyles more than anything else. A lot of the social and political movements of the 2010s were tied fairly directly to the march of digitization, mobile Internet, and the Smartphone. The memory-anecdotes I’ve recorded here are little signposts in the sand from one person’s little corner of experience. I’m sure similar things happened all over.

It’s occurred to me that the Flu Virus Panic of 2020-21 occurred very specifically because of this digitization, and that therefore we have a very important meta-lesson to learn which has nothing to do with masks, lockdown orders (a tragic entry into Global English, which I’d retroactively nominate for worst new word of 2020), PCR tests, “social distancing,” or any of the other jargon of the Panic.

The meta-lesson is that digitization turns out to have been a risk to our health in ways few appreciated, for without it we could have avoided an artificial Great Depression-style economic contraction and major social disruptions hitting hard the young or anyone in transition, and the ripple effects will be with us for years.

Since so many still want to cling to the Panic and its various doctrines, I don’t expect this will be announced from on high anytime soon, but this is the bigger lesson than even my complaints about the insane virus restrictions and the weird Virus Cult that emerged. It was digitization that did this, and the same mechanism has done much else. Something about the smartphone seems to create moral-panics which end up doing damage and causing deadweight losses to society. We haven’t grappled with how do deal with this, nor d we even see the problem.

People have come up with cute renderings of this, something like “the real contagion spread via social media.”

People have also said the 2009-10 Swine Flu Panic never quite got off the ground, even though there were so many similarities to the events of ten years later, and a common explanation for the big reaction gap is: “The 2009 Swine Flu was not as bad.” I say: No one knew exactly how bad or not bad it was. People made the decision to panic — and push panic, hard, in March 2020, and to hell with the consequences — without full information. Panic had its own logic not tie-able to some specific magnitude of threat.

This leaves us asking what the big differences were between 2009-10 and 2020-21 in the nature of our society. It’s obvious to me that the biggest difference is the always-on, hyper-connectivity. Nothing like that existed in spring 2009 when the Swine Flu Panic peeked its head over the abyss. The soon-forgotten Swine Flu Panic looked frankly quite a lot like the early stages of the Corona Flu Panic of 2020.

I was on my way to Korea for the very first time. In Tokyo our plane was boarded by a team of doctors in some kind of hazmat-esque gear to check passengers for flu symptoms. They did this on board. We all remained seated. It all seemed ridiculous to us. I remember specifically someone laughing that they sent on hazmat-suited people. We were aware they were talking about Swine Flu on the news but really no one cared.

As I force my mind back to that day (it being my first time in Asia, I was a little dazed in general, and would drop into the deep water all alone at the hagwon by the next day), I also come up with this:

The Japanese medial quarantine team offered surgical masks to each passenger. There was some half-hearted announcement that we were encouraged to wear them. This was an American plane, possibly United, and I am confident in my memory that virtually no one wore the masks, ignoring the request. To wear surigcal masks seemed unsettling, even like something from dystopian fiction.

My memory tells me I pocketed mine and never put it on. It must have eventually ended its life in a garbage bin, possibly on Korean soil, possibly even in my new inherited apartment somewhere near Lake Park, Ilsan.

In any case and in short, no one cared about Swine Flu, even with this public health theater performance staged by Japan. (The Korean side was much more relaxed and simply handed out cards which effectively asked: “Are you Sick? Yes [ ] No [ ]. Check one. Thx. Bye.”)

The raw-material for a Flu Panic was there, but it never took off. The gap in experiences makes the time gap of eleven years (spring 2009 vs. spring 2020) feel more like fifty, or more. How can culture have drifted that far in eleven years, from casual mockery of an incipient Flu Virus Panic (2009) to an uncritical, semi-fanatical, monomaniacal embrace of the same (2020)? What happened to us?

The biggest difference, I propose, is the smartphone and the Internet, as we’ve come to know it. No one on that plane that day in 2009 had a smartphone. No one anywhere did (with possible/arguable exceptions of a handful of journalist- or CEO-types who, for several years, often carried a device known as a Blackberry; even in the late 2000s I wasn’t quite sure what a Blackberry was). That’s what happened to us.

Blogging as a medium, especially in the way I do it, is not really an activity of the Smartphone era, which is why I feel better about doing it. Of course, the same kinds of critics such as he who mocked my pen-and-paper map in 2014 have for years mocked the blog as a medium. What if the cool guys are wrong? What if diving into full-on digitization wasn’t as good as was thought?

bookmark_borderPost-401: Seoul mayoral races, 2011 to 2021, reminiscences and thoughts

The sitting Mayor of Seoul committed suicide in July 2020.

Park Won-soon (elected mayor of Seoul, Oct. 2011; reelected, June 2014 and June 2018)’s suicide triggered an early mayoral election, now set for April 7, 2021. The early phase of the campaign is underway.

The leading candidates in the Seoul mayoral special election are:

  • Ahn Chul-Soo (also spelled Ahn Cheol-soo),
  • Park Young-Sun, and
  • Na Kyung-won.

The first of these, Ahn, is a former software developer, PhD, and professor who spent the 2010s bouncing around politics, and who by now qualifies as a “perennial political candidate,” popping up in races all over. I have a surprisingly long tradition on these pages of writing about him, and he appears as an important feature in Post-66, Post-71, Post-340, Post-342. This post will have the biggest treatment of Ahn Chul-soo yet, and I am writing today with a much more mature understanding (althought still lacking) understanding of Korean politics.

A recent political cartoon of Ahn’s late-December 2020 announcement that he was running for Seoul mayor has him as the champion of the “anti-Moon federation,” trying to see which way the winds are blowing:

(Political cartoon of Ahn Chul-soo, late Dec. 2020, KoreaHotNews.)

Ahn’s competitors are both women: Park Young-sun is of the Establishment-Left (Moon’s) party; Na Kyung-won is of the Establishment-Right party.


This post started as a brief mention of the upcoming 2021 election but has since grown into something more meaningful, correspondingly longer, and more personal. I also meant to write about the 2018 election at the time but never got around to it; it’s good I’m finally getting it done now.

Recorded are thoughts, experiences, and other material on the 2011, 2014, 2018 and 2021 Seoul mayoral elections, during all of which I happen to have been in Korea. There is a mix of personal reminiscence and political analysis/commentary through personal reminiscence, especially on 2018, having dug through old photos, I am posting many of them here. (I’ve come to view the recording of personal reminiscence and thoughts as the purpose of my writing on these digital pages, and those who wish to take the time will find as much below.)

(Original, Jan. 4: 1600 words.)
(Updated: Jan. 5 and Jan. 6; expanded significantly to 7700 words with many pictures and one video taken by me at the time.)


I start with the immediate past (2018), then circle back to the present (2021), jump back to memories of the more-distant past (2011 and 2014), and finish with thoughts on the future (2022, the next presidential election, of which this special Seoul mayoral election is an important stepping stone).


The Seoul Mayoral Campaign of 2018

I was in Korea at the time, in June 2018. In the peak-campaign period I was mainly in Seoul itself, and did soomething of an on-the-ground investigation, the results of which I had not compiled and published in disciplined written, until now.

Continue reading “Post-401: Seoul mayoral races, 2011 to 2021, reminiscences and thoughts”

bookmark_borderPost-388: Virus Panics; the COVID19 panic vs. the June 2015 MERS panic in S.Korea, as I remember it

The COVID19 virus is all over the news. Though it began in the Chinese interior in Dec. 2019, South Korea is again in the news for an outbreak, as if on cue re-earning its sometime-nickname of the Land of Extremes. S.Korea has racked up more confirmed COVID19 virus infections (called in Korea “Corona19,” 코로나19), by a considerable margin, than anywhere outside the epicenter around Wuhan.

I have a few things I’d like to say related in some way to this latest big virus panic and/or to Korea’s place in it, in descending order of how long ago:

(1) My observations on what’s going on around me now with regard to the virus panic;
(2) China’s soft-power problem; COVID19 as a potential serious a blow to China’s image/prestige;
(3) S.Korea and the negative influence of the Shinchonji group [신천지] (my experiences with this group, which is definitely a cult by popular understanding of the term, date to 2014; second-hand as early as 2012; the experiences were through no fault of my own, as they use front groups and all manner of deceptions to get in contact with people, effectively like an intelligence agency);
(4) My memory of the MERS virus panic of June 2015 that hit South Korea.

I’ll do these in succession in separate posts, starting with the last and most distant, the MERS virus panic of 2015 (2015년6월의 메르스 바이러스-감염병 위기).

I remember “MERS” well. What’s strange to me is how few others seem to, or their memory of it as something minor. I doubt it made the news much at all in the US.

Here we go with this MERS memory post.

The MERS crisis as I remember it:

Continue reading “Post-388: Virus Panics; the COVID19 panic vs. the June 2015 MERS panic in S.Korea, as I remember it”

bookmark_borderPost-385: Yahoo Mail deletion and Internet Ephemerality

This was a surprise.

When I created this blog in 2013, I created a new Yahoo email account specifically for the blog so as to maintain some degree of separation from my main email. I logged into it today. I was surprised and somewhat dismayed by what I found, which was Nothing. That is to say, everything was gone. Every single email sent and email received, gone; the drafts folder, empty; spam, trash, everything was deleted.

Right when I logged on, a brief message said something ridiculous like “Emails in accounts subject to inactivity will be deleted.” I think I last logged in in September 2019…

Continue reading “Post-385: Yahoo Mail deletion and Internet Ephemerality”

bookmark_borderPost-376: On “electoral tipping points”: 1618 (the trigger for the Thirty Years War) and the present

New Year’s Day 2020.

For reasons I don’t know, I began to re-read the classic history of the Thirty Years War by C. V. Wedgwood. In it I was reminded of a political point about that war I had forgotten, and one similar to one the US may be, today, at the cusp of.

The crisis began in 1618 because of an electoral tipping point.

There are fairly direct parallels between the Thirty Years War origin and the US institutions of the electoral college system and the nine-member Supreme Court system (see below) and fears about the ‘flipping’ thereof.

The Holy Roman Empire, a nominal political arrangement encompassing most of central Europe for most of the second millennium AD and ruled (in theory if not practice) by an emperor of the Hapsburg Dynasty for much of that time, had seven “electors” (Kurfürsten). These were seven seats which held the right to cast one vote for emperor when the need arose.

Continue reading “Post-376: On “electoral tipping points”: 1618 (the trigger for the Thirty Years War) and the present”

bookmark_borderPost-372: Five (Six) Years and Counting

[Originally written: March 31, 2018. Remained in Draft form, unpublished, until amended and posted September 9 2019.]

The five-year anniversary of Yuletide (a.k.a. Yule Tide) blog came and went in March 2018. (As did the six-year, March 2019.)

The first post was in late March 2013. I recall still today that was an unusually cold March.

A brief retrospection:

Continue reading “Post-372: Five (Six) Years and Counting”

bookmark_borderPost-347: “Self-Portrait” by Yun Dong-Ju [Korean Poem, Translated]

I had the pleasure of learning the name Yun Dong-Ju (윤동주) last week. A movie is now out about him and I had the good fortune to see it (the less fortunate part was how little I understood). Yun Dong-Ju is, it seems, one of the most beloved Korean poets of the 20th century. He also has a romantic and “political” (one might say) cachet to the present-day Korean mind because of his early death in a Japanese prison in February 1945 at age 27.

I have decided to translate one of Yun Dong-Ju’s poems called Self-Portrait, though I might prefer to translate the title also as Portrait of the Artist. It was written in 1939 and was included by the author in a collection he published with limited circulation in 1941. The collection was republished in 1948 following the author’s death and the deceased Yun Dong-Ju became a kind of poet folk hero, it seems.

The below is my own translation. I increasingly find Korean poetry beautiful for its disciplined use of language and layers of implied meanings, but this also makes it a real challenge to translate smoothly.

Self Portrait has an air of mystery to it. Two characters. Thick symbolism. In reading it, many questions come up. This is a self-portrait, is it? Which character is the author? Both? I suppose that is up to us to decide…


Yun Dongju [1917-1945] / Poet
[Translated by Me, April 2016]

On my solitary way down from a rocky outcropping,
I seek out a secluded well for a little peek inside.

Inside the well: A bright moon, drifting clouds,
a spread-out sky. A blue breeze blows. It is autumn.

There is also this strapping young lad.
For reasons unclear to me, I feel that I hate this lad.
I turn away to leave and proceed on my way.
Presently, I begin to take pity on the lad.
I go back for another look.
There he is again, still there, just as before.
Again I feel that I hate this lad, and again I take my leave.
Walking away, I come to realize something. I yearn for the lad.

Inside the well: A bright moon, drifting clouds,
a spread-out sky. A blue breeze blows. It is autumn.
As from the recesses of fond memory, there is, also, this lad.

Original Korean:

윤동주 [1917-1945] / 시인

산모퉁이를 돌아 논가 외딴 우물을
홀로 찾아가선 가만히 들여다봅니다.

우물 속에는 달이 밝고 구름이 흐르고
하늘이 펼치고 파아란 바람이 불고
가을이 있습니다.

그리고 한 사나이가 있습니다.
어쩐지 그 사나이가 미워져 돌아갑니다.
돌아가다 생각하니 그 사나이가 가엾어집니다.
도로 가 들여다보니 사나이는 그대로 있습니다.

다시 그 사나이가 미워져 돌아갑니다.
돌아가다 생각하니 그 사나이가 그리워집니다.

우물 속에는 달이 밝고 구름이 흐르고
하늘이 펼치고 파아란 바람이 불고
가을이 있고 추억처럼 사나이가 있습니다.


Poster for “Dong-Ju” (2016). Yun Dong-Ju is on the left, without glasses. The actor bears a strong resemblance to the real person.

bookmark_borderPost-316: Warning. Live Fire Drills (Incheon)

A pleasant, sunny Saturday in May 2015. We took a few wrong turns and ended up here:

Sign seen near Gyeyang Mountain [계양산], Incheon, South Korea

We were four — Myself, two Canadians from Ontario (Robbie and Heather) and an American from Massachusetts (Sav. C.). The wrong turns were taken near Gyeyang Mountain in Incheon, South Korea.

These others were all new to Korea, such that I was leading them around. I translated the sign:


등산객 여러분의 안전을 위해 우회도로를 이용해 주시기 바랍니다
Shooting in Progress

Hikers are requested to use the bypass road for their own safety.
Commanding Officer, Unit 9100

I proposed a brief reconnaissance in the arrow’s direction, but was vetoed by the two female members of our group.

We’d come down from summit on the right-hand-side path. At the time, I assumed that this side path would lead to a shooting range which would be blocked off by barbed wire or something. I was sure we wouldn’t just walk into a place which had live bullets whizzing around.

Only one time have I heard gunfire in Korea. It was while hiking north of Ilsan in Paju County, which is adjacent to the DMZ. Paju’s hiking trails are full of elaborate and well made but unoccupied defensive positions on hilltops, some small and some big enough for artillery, as well as networks of trenches, covered tunnels, dug-out hiding places big enough for vehicles or tanks, and other such things. Continue reading “Post-316: Warning. Live Fire Drills (Incheon)”

bookmark_borderPost-208: Pyeongchang Olympics 2018

Who’d ever heard of “Pyeongchang” (평창) before the news came out that it would host the Winter Olypmics? Nobody, I think. Not me. It’s a small mountain place somewhere out there.

Here is a billboard I saw about a year ago, while visiting Gapyeong (가평) (see post-15), near Chuncheon (춘천):


Billboard for 2018 Olympics / Spring 2013 / Chuncheon, South Korea

Continue reading “Post-208: Pyeongchang Olympics 2018”