This was my first morning in Korea, December 8, 1990.
My apartment, which was located in Chamsil 2-Danji (in the background you can see 5-Danji), would be home for the next two years.
On assignment for the Korea Times in 2002, I decided to write a story about Christmas shopping at Namdaemun Market, Seoul’s oldest, traditional market where you can find practically everything including Kimchi Chocolate.
And the taste?
Never tried it.
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Went out with a group of my mentees for dinner at the Solpine Restaurant on the Woosong Campus. It was a nice way to end the semester as well as, on a personal level, to celebrate my 22nd year in Korea. It had been snowing on and off all day, and as we were having dinner, the snow started coming down again. From the 13th floor of the restaurant, you get a very good view of the area.
In years to come, I will be most assuredly wax nostalgic about this night.
One of my favorite places in Korea, bar none is Soraksan National Park. The first time I visited there was during Sollal in 1991 and again in 1992 shortly before I left Korea to return to the States to get a new visa.
You can read all about it and Korea’s rugged beauty in Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm.
And I’ve been waking up here ever since.
What’s it been like all these years?
Find out here.
Of all the apartments I’ve lived in Korea (eight) the one I am in now ranks near the bottom. Despite one of the more “modern” ones in terms of the interior (though having an electrical outlet next to the shower still begs the question, what was the architect doing in the class the teacher talked about where not to put an electrical outlet?) the outside leaves a lot to be desired. Especially when you get a a good view of a junkyard.
Fortunately, there isn’t a junkyard dog yapping all night.
Will there be a December surprise from North Korea?
I’m surprised that North Korea has been unusually silent the past few weeks. Even after President Obama was re-elected there was nothing out of Pyongyang. Not since the incident with the pro-South Korea leaflets being released along the DMZ has the North made any announcements.
Last week, November 23rd was the second anniversary of the Yeongpyeong Island shelling. Although South Korean military and civilian leaders gathered on the island to remember the event, there was not a word from Pyongyang.
With Mr. Ahn bowing out of the presidential race in the South making it a two-way race between Ms. Park and Mr. Moon, I wonder what the North has up their sleeve? Will there be a December surprise of some sort to influence the election?
In 2000, when I was a feature writer for the Korea Times, I covered the ceremony as part of the newspaper’s coverage of Korean War commemorative events.
On that day, a typhoon was battering the peninsula and the ceremony had to be moved indoors. Braving the elements, myself and a photographer from the newspaper took the subway to Inchon and got to the ceremony just in time. I wasn’t on any media list, so after some fast talking on my part (I was the only non-military American there) I was permitted to enter. I had the chance to interview a few veterans and then, had to get back to the newspaper quickly to file the story before the 2:00pm deadline.
In fact, I was the ONLY foreign reporter to cover the event for the English-language dailies in Korea.
That article as well as the back story is just one of the many essays and stories in Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm.
I also refer to the landing in War Remains when I described General Douglas MacArthur trying to get the Navy to support his amphibious landing:
I can almost hear the ticking of the second hand of destiny. We shall land at Inchon and I shall crush them.