Thursday, January 04, 2007

Gypsy Scholar Makes New Friends...

Statue of Timur in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
A well-known person who didn't show up last night...
(Image from Wikipedia)

I've gotten home late twice in the past week. "Late" -- in the Gypsy's book -- means after 10 p.m., for as readers know, the Gypsy gets up at 3 a.m.

I have two very good reasons for rising so early: Sa-Rah Ahyoga and En-Uk Sequoya.

I can work uninterruptedly only when they are sleeping, for much of my life during their waking hours revolves solely around them and their mother as my center, which makes my stay-at-home activities a revolutionary experience.

Emma Goldman reportedly said, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution," so we dance a lot at home, but revolutions are not all fun and games. They require sacrifice and duty.

My revolutionary duties include homeschooling my children in English, which takes me about two hours every evening.

My revolutionary sacrifice means giving up on almost any nightlife, for between homeschooling and turning in early, I have no time for friendly gatherings.

In the past week, however, I've gone out twice and have met some very interesting people.

Last Friday, I was invited out to drinks at the Foreign Correspondents' Club by Jacco Zwetsloot (of R Global Net Inc.), who introduced me to a number of individuals whom I previously knew only online (and mostly only knew of), including Korea experts Brian Myers and Andrei Lankov and Korea-based journalist Andrew Salmon.

Last night, I was invited by Jacco's friend Stephen Epstein to drinks and dinner at Samarkand, a Central Asian restaurant located not far from Exit 5 of the Seoul Subway's Dongdaemun Stadium Station. In addition to Stephen -- a professor and expert in things Korean -- Jacco and Andre were again present, but I also met a Mr. Gupta from India who works in North Korea for UNICEF, as well as Peter Beck, who works as Director of the North East Asia Project (for International Crisis Group) and -- in a cameo appearance -- the famous Marmot aka Robert Koehler (The Marmot's Hole, Seoul Selection).

I'm a little overwhelmed.

I also don't have time to report much on the meetings because I have to leave in half an hour to meet with a Korean professor to discuss the editing work that I've recently done on a journal put out by The Korean Association for Feminist Studies in English Literature.

But I'll leave you with this. One of those present yesterday, an American (and I'm leaving him unidentified since I'm not sure if he'd want to be identified), told an anecdote about his near visit to North Korea. He was on a raft that was being poled on the Tuman River by two Chinese Koreans. The three of them waved to a North Korean border guard, who waved back. So ... they poled closer. The guard asked for money, so the American tossed some. The guard asked for more. The American said, "I'll give you more if you'll let me shake your hand." The guard considered this, but then shook his head no. So, the American asked, "Could I step on shore, then? I've always wanted to visit North Korea." Again, the guard considered but declined. The Chinese Koreans then poled away, back toward China, and they told him that the South Koreans who go rafting with them toss far more money and make no conditions.

The American telling the story then smiled and remarked to us that this neatly captures the difference between the respective policies of the United States and South Korea toward the North.

I think that it also suggests a significant loosening of discipline in the North Korean military, but that's another issue.

And I now have to leave for this morning's meeting...


At 8:42 AM, Blogger Snerd Gronk said...

Did you mention to any of these folks that you alsoknew me, Snerd Gronk?


At 9:06 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Nah ... I didn't want to drop names.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:59 PM, Blogger Dram Man said...

Oi! No love for the Dram_man?

At 5:34 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Uh ... I feel like Paddy the Irishman asking about the party, but ... "Was I there?"

And were you?

I don't recall being introduced to "The Dram Man" ... though I do recall a few wee drams (and you surely weren't one of those).

But I hope to meet other expats sometime, your fine self included.

Jeffery Hodges

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