“How did you end up in Korea?” is a question that most people have asked when they learn that I have lived and worked in South Korea. “I turned left at Japan,” I’ve often replied, tweaking a famous line from The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night when John Lennon was asked, “How did you find America?” upon which he replied, “Turned left at Greenland.”
Since 1990, Jeffrey Miller, who originally came to South Korea to teach English, has survived nuclear crises, met former U.S. Presidents, Yoko Ono, interviewed the current President of Korea, flown into Panmunjom with CNN and pushed 8G’s in an F-16 in the skies over Korea.
When the author arrived in Korea at the end of 1990, the country was still reeling from hosting the successful 1988 Olympics. It was an exciting time to be here; one could feel the energy and sense that the nation was poised to become a major player on the world stage. People have often talked about this “Miracle of the Han” when Korea’s economy started to take off in the 70s, but by the time Miller arrived here, it was no longer a miracle; instead it had become a celebration.
The Korea that Miller knew back in December 1990 was different and removed from the Korea of today. In the time that he has been here, he has seen a lot of changes and became witness to many historical events, which have affected not only the peninsula and the region, but also the world.
There are many stories to be told and shared; these are some of them.
Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm is now available through the publisher Lulu.