Tom, Kushibo, and Seoul Guy what’s across the street from McDonald’s in Itaewon? of course you don’t know. None of you actually lives in Korea.
-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-Dear Dreamboat Annie,
It's funny you should ask that, because almost at exactly the moment you left this comment at ROK Drop, I was actually in the McDonald's in Itaewon, munching on an Egg McMuffin set (Egg McMuffins are better in Korea than Hawaii for some reason).
But off the top of my head, I couldn't recall what was across the street from Mickey D's, except for some nice eatery a little bit up the hill, so I had to go back and snap a picture. It turns out there's a beauty shop that does Brazilian waxes and "manscaping" and has a bear baring a bare bear crotch to drive that point home. Is that what you were looking for? The number's on the photo I snapped (above).
|My finger has a special message for you.|
In fact, this may have been just a dig from Annie, who has joined that bandwagon of people thinking I don't have any business posting so prolifically on Korea because I don't live in Korea. And indeed, although I am now in Seoul (well, Pundang, actually) and my actual home is here and I think in some way that constitutes living here, it has been three years since I was last in Korea. (She also thinks I'm paid to blog, but that misperception may be my fault.)
This is the longest I've been away since I was a teenager. This was not by design, since I had been coming back every six months or so and spending about two months a year in the Seoul area working (even in Hawaii I work for a Korean corporation), doing doctoral research, hanging out with friends and relatives, etc., etc., but some important personal matters that have been first and foremost (since right after I got to Hawaii in 2006) simply did not allow it in 2010 and 2011.
And indeed, it has been an eye-opening experience being away for this long. I've often said that, in terms of change, five years in Korea is like twenty years in the United States, and this "decade" being away has been eye-opening. The traffic patterns have changed, already ubiquitous coffee shops have spread like cockroaches, there's an obvious effort by city governments to create green open space, things seem more orderly and sophisticated, etc., etc. Things that are the same are the constantly-under-construction nature of Seoul.
Perpetual reinvention is the thing that is the same and makes everything different at the same time.
But even while I'm away, my own academic work keeps me up-to-date on what's going on "back home." And even if it did not, I have professional, social, familial, legal, and financial ties to Korea that keep the bond strong. (Three years of being away has left me with a bunch of fires to put out — from getting my finances reordered to paying three years of property tax to getting my vehicle working again to giving face time with my employers.)
That my point-of-view in my blog is so often against the grain of other English-language blogs has more to do with my personal and experiential background than with having been abroad for three years. Back in 2005 and 2006, before I went to Hawaii, I was just as "contrarian."
When I write things in support of, say, HIV testing for all English teachers (as well as all F-series visa holders and all ROK citizens) and criminal background checks for long-term (i.e., over 90 days) residents, more than a few English teachers tend to think I'm against them (especially when they forget things like this), and some choose to make it personal. The "You don't even live here!" meme is a popular one.
Of course, I'm not the only blogger who gets flak from the English-teaching crowd. The Marmot's name is being dragged through the mud because he had the audacity to agree that some of the bad reputation of English teachers as of late (I remember when English teachers were treated as honorable professionals) has been brought on themselves, at least as a group. And that's why he's being called a moron.
Of course, Marmot has long had his detractors, especially Gerry Bevers, who seems particularly bothered by The Marmot's mockery of Gerry's relentless effort to defend Imperial Japan. From his latest blog aimed at demonstrating that the Japanese are good people because Koreans are bad:
So, is the neutrality of The Marmot's Hole really debatable, especially when the man behind the blog wanders Korea wearing the traditional Korean clothing hanbok and brags about his eating of dogmeat?
|Not the Marmot.|
Some other guy
On the plus side, it can be fun and occasionally memorable. After a heated exchange (when is an exchange involving Gerry over Japan with anyone not heated?), Gerry asked if was going to respond to him or "have you already posted your one-comment limit for the day?"
To which I replied:
Sorry, Bevers, unlike you, I receive neither masturbatory joy nor subsidies from right-wing sources for flooding the Internet with a one-sided, historically skewed, Imperial-apologist view every time someone utters the word "Tokto," so I will try to limit my writing to just this one comment.I soon thought better of what I'd written and issued a unilateral apology:
The last paragraph of my post up there was over-the-top. I apologize to Gerry and anyone else who may have been offended by that.With a glimmer of humor (and no small amount of admission), Gerry replied:
No problem, Kushibo. Like Japan, I was taunting you.But I had the last laugh:
Good, then. Like Japan, my apology may be meaningless. ;)Ah, good times.
A less pleasant exchange was when Gerry, as he is wont to do, accused me of taking the Korean side on the Tokto issue (and Comfort Women issue, etc.) because of fear of my "Korean handlers." To which I replied:
[Gerry] Open your eyes, Kushibo, and stop kissing up to your Korean handlers. You have been in Korea long enough to know what is going on. You do have to be afraid. It is possible to live among Koreans without having to kiss their butt.I concur with all who think Gerry is an asshat (and possibly a paid shill like Christine Ahn seems to be for Pyongyang). Even though I actually called his school to defend him and protest his firing when he supposedly got kicked out over his Tokto views (which turns out not to have been true, according to them: they canned a whole bunch of people from that school because of restructuring, including his fellow English teacher, and Gerry was allowed to re-apply).
Fu¢k off, Gerry. Just because I don't believe that "Korea was Japan's greatest ally" and that it's all a big Korea-generalted lie that Korea was butt-fucked by imperial Japan doesn't mean I'm ass-kissing anyone.
I have been critical of Roh for his diplomatic war almost since I started my blog. i have written things that are harshly critical of some of the nationalist sentiments that bubble up in Korea. You, on the other hand, are unable to see anything that would suggest even the slightest bit of culpability on the part of Japan, either past or present.
The Black Dragon Society is sure as hell getting their money's worth from you.
Anyway, I'm really in Korea, Dreamboat Annie. Send me an email through my Blogger profile page and we'll meet up and have a beer. If your userid is gender-appropriate and accurately descriptive, a few more beers.