Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Tag: Damaged Goods

Through the Viewfinder — Hoengseong, South Korea

There was a time, many, many years ago when I once dreamed of becoming the next Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, or Martin Scorcese before I started to study film at Southern Illinois University and “Bubbles, the Nudie Dancer” (Damaged Goods) shattered that dream.

Working on this Korean War documentary in Hoengseong this past weekend, reminded me a little of that dream, especially when it came to setting up a shot and blocking the scene and then having to run through a particular shot a few times.

It was a thrill looking through the viewfinder and watching and hearing me talk about the Battle of Hoengseong.

Interview in Big Al’s Books and Pals

I’m honored and humbled to have been interviewed for Big Al’s Books and Pals’ Author Series. Without question, Big Al’s is the online place to be for book reviews and interviews. How exclusive and important is it? I had to wait for almost a year for my book to be reviewed–the waiting list is that long!

Big Al does a great job promoting authors.

Check out the site when you have the chance.

Around Daejeon — April 3, 2012

Out and about with my camera, looking to document the life I see every day when I am walking to and from school. These toy capsule machines are located outside a small mom and pop shop not far from Daejeon Train Station. The shop has been closed for some time. Doesn’t look like these machines have been used for some time, either.

1968: The USS Pueblo Incident

USS Pueblo

I have always been interested in history ever since I was a young boy reading books at the public library in Oglesby, Illinois.

I would go on to minor in history at Eureka College (1985-1987) and later, when I came to Korea I really got to experience history covering Korean War Commemoration events as well as writing about other events like the 25th anniversary of the 1976 Panmunjom Ax Murder Incident. 

Looking back, I would have to say that it was 1968 when I really became aware of history and what was happening around the world. There’s no doubt about, 1968 was a historical watershed year from the war in Vietnam, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy to the Democratic Convention in Chicago and Apollo 8’s flyby of the moon on Christmas Eve. 

And then there was the USS Pueblo Incident. 

It was forty years ago today that the USS Pueblo was captured by North Korea after she had allegedly strayed into North Korean territorial waters. For the next eleven months the crew would be held captive until being released on December 23. 

I vaguely remember hearing about this on the news back in January of 1968; then again with the Vietnam War and the Tet Offensive in the early part of the year, it might have been hard for a ten-year-old to fully grasp what was happening in another Asian country halfway around the world.  

However, it would be a few more years before I knew more about the incident. Thanks to a made-for-TV movie of the incident staring Hal Holbrook as Cmdr. Lloyd Boucher many people also learned of the incident and the “Hawaiian Good Luck Sign” the crew members flashed whenever propaganda photos were taken of them in captivity. 

What I have always found interesting about the Pueblo incident was that right before she was captured, North Korean commandos attacked the Blue House in Seoul in an attempt to assassinate South Korean President Park Chung-hee. Additionally, the ship which is a tourist attraction in Pyongyang is still listed as a commissioned ship by the U.S. Navy. 

My own personal connection with the incident, albeit a journalism one, occurred in the summer of 2000 when I wrote an article about the Joint Security Area (JSA) and the Bridge of No Return where Korean War POW’s were repatriated across as well as members of the USS Pueblo (both of which were mentioned in that article and another one I would write two years later). 

And a few years later, my interest in the incident was renewed when I reviewed The Pueblo Incident: A Spy Ship and the Failure of American Foreign Policy by Mitchell Lerner for my weekly book review for the Korea Times. I thought the book was okay in that the author wanted to explore the Soviet Union connection with the Pueblo incident. 

Perhaps one day the USS Pueblo will be allowed to return home again.

Jimmy Wong — Thailand’s Tattoo Legend

Without question, Southeast Asia’s most famous tattoo artist who has been leaving behind a legacy of tattoo stylings (and inflicting a little pain along the way) for over 36 years. Even if you haven’t been fortunate enough to get inked by Jimmy, you have most likely have heard about him if you are a tattoo enthusiast—either from someone who has gotten inked by him, or someone who visited his cramped studio on Sukhumvit Soi 5 in Bangkok.

I am not surprised by the number of hits my blog gets every day from people doing a Google search for Jimmy Wong. Nor does the number of people who write to me personally after visiting my blog wanting more information about Jimmy and how to contact him surprise me. After all, if you’re going to be travelling in Thailand and you’re thinking about getting inked, it is definitely worth your while to make a special effort while you are there to get that tattoo from Jimmy.

It’s been a little over three years since I first came across his studio one Sunday morning and noticed him through the plate glass window of his dark studio hunched over his desk—illuminated by a small lamp—working on what appeared to be a tattoo design. Later that night I went back to his studio and met Jimmy for the first time. I was in the mood for a tattoo (which is all the time these days) and Jimmy said he would work up some “Asian design” for me. The next night I was back at his studio and as soon as I saw the design he had drawn, I was in the chair getting my first tattoo from Jimmy

Looking back now, that first tattoo from Jimmy changed my life forever. It was not only the beginning of our friendship, but it also brought me in contact with many people from around the world who also have the same passion for tattoos and who have heard of Jimmy. Aside from someone stopping in to get inked by Jimmy, many times it was a tattoo artist traveling in Thailand who had to stop in and pay Jimmy a courtesy call. Other times, it was just someone who had heard of Jimmy and his work, like the one guy from France who had to stop in and meet the man who had inked Johnny Thunders for the last time.

Then there was Jimmy Wong’s First World Tattoo Arts Festival and Exhibition in February 2006. Again, if I hadn’t stopped in at Jimmy’s shop that March night in 2004, I would have never flown to Bangkok for the weekend to attend the Tattoo Festival, would have never gotten my first Japanese-style tattoo and win a tattoo contest and would have never met Kenny Shangrila who is now my best friend.

And to take it one step further—and keeping with the “theme” of this blog—if I hadn’t met Kenny, I would have never gone to Japan last November and would have never met Horisei and Yuuki.

Yeah, “One Night in Bangkok” changed everything.

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