I spent the first three months of my time in Korea wondering just where the hell I was. Now, 13 months later and sitting at the free interent booth at Incheon airport, I’m starting to wonder just where the hell I’ve been. Perhaps we should start with the facts. I lived in a town called Seosan, which sits in the Cheongchungnam-do Province on the West coast of Korea. It has a population of about 200,000 people. It’s main industries are agriculture and petrolchemical processing (which are two industires that probably shouldn’t be so close together. But it is more than that.
Seosan is a place of crooked streets, of buildings and buisnesess haphazardly crammed together, and where apartment blocks compete for space with rice paddies. It is a place of unintentionally hilarious mispellings, of broken English, of convience stores placed on nearly every corner. It is a place where old women are bent at the hip from years and years of back-breaking work, and where old men drag carts of scavagend goods to junk yards. But it is more than that too.
Seosan is a place of kindness, where strangers smile and bow polietly, and where children stop to say hello to the funny looking “waigooken.” For me it was a place of hand-gestures and body language. It was a place where everyone called me teacher, even though I am certain that I was student. It was a place where I went to teach people to speak my language, but also where I learned once and for all that actions speak louder than words. It was a place where I made friends for life. But it was more than too. For 13 months, it was the place I called home.
So now I am saying goodbye. This chapter has come to an end and a new one will soon begin. I’d like to thank everyone who followed along as shared my stories and my discoveries, but most importantly I’d like to the thank the amazing people of Korea for making the last year such an incredible experience. So until we meet again, “Anyeong-he-kay-sayo.”
Related Viewing: “Closing Time” – Semisonic