Monday, August 13, 2012

Brief Vacation: One Night, Two Days East of Seoul

Sa-Rah excepted, for she preferred sighting Seoul sites, our family took our own 1 Night 2 Days (cf. 1박 2일) vacation last week east of Seoul, in and around Cheongpyeong, where we were greeted by the locals in a friendly, smiling manner.

En-Uk stood undaunted in the face of such fierce friendliness, and returned the smile.

We took a walk along that road where we'd received such a lively greeting.

After a change of clothes, a walk along along a more distant road, intent on hiking up a small mountain.

We took the 'broken bridge' crossing to the mountain side of the stream.

Halfway up the mountain, we stopped, looked down upon the reservoir formed by Cheongpyeong Dam, which supplies drinking water for Seoul but is currently threatened by green algae due to a paucity of rain.

One day and another change of clothes later, we drove around on Nami Island, which has playfully declared itself independent of Korea and called itself the "Republic of Nami," but I didn't see a national assembly, so it doesn't appear to be a democracy. Indeed, I saw no evidence of government, so the place is perhaps an anarchist state . . . if that's not an oxymoron.

Although the Republic of Nami lacks a government, it does have a national religion, for its people worship the Truly Great Big Mother.

She's nourishing her two children and seems unconcerned that the one standing is also relieving himself on her feet!

Here, you see their size, compared to En-Uk and me. En-Uk, impervious to the fear and trembling that otherwise accompanies encounters with "The Holy," thinks this is all very amusing and takes liberties with the idolatry, but I expected no less from a boy undaunted by a stone-strong tiger!

And that was this simmering summer's short vacation, with photos by my wife, who's camera-shy only in front of a camera . . .

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At 12:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A two-day trip is good, but might not be enough to revitalize for a living in a busy city and hard working person. That might be one of the reasons you feel old, sir, as I remember you once mentioned in one of your previous posts.

I don't wanna be rude, but I think you need to get out of Korea to truly experience a genuine smile. After years in this disconsolate country people start to confuse a mere mouth motion with a smile. Try to smile to a stranger on any Seoul street and all you get is "what the heck?" facial expression. Do this on the subway and you'll be labeled 미친 or 변태. I conducted this silly "experiment" this past Saturday, to prove my wife that Koreans are among the gloomiest people on earth. She had to agree. Even children don't smile back, poisoned by their parents and the culture. Sometimes some parents do try to encourage their kids with "say hi" (but only after a loud "hi!" and hand-waving clear signal), only because they are too bashful themselves to talk to strangers. Well, children learn by example. Do smile however to people in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Fiji... and you get a big smile back, frequently along with the lovely "hello, sir", "hello, mister" genuinely friendly greetings in comparison to the Korean "What's your name? Jack? Hi, Jack, call me Mr. Kim." sort of neocolonial approach. There are for instance hordes of Korean tourists in Cambodia. You'll have no problem whatsoever to spot them, even among somewhat similar Chinese, as their faces give away their true feelings - sorrow and desperation.


At 12:52 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Oddly enough, I meet a lot of friendly Koreans . . . or friendlier than I am, anyway.

As you've perhaps noticed, I'm a bit reserved. On the subway, I usually bury my head in the 'noose-paper' (enough bad news to make you want to hang yourself), and ignore people.

I think I fit in rather nicely . . . if that's the right word.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree. I've met many benevolent Koreans myself (and as in your case many way friendlier than me), but all too often they too, poisoned by the cultural imperatives aren't able to go beyond their own programed behavior and beliefs and all too often in conversations have to bring up something odd, something weird. As the guy living in the adjacent building - educated musician, soft in tone, amicable, genuinely happy to see me, but recently asked me if Polish parents are as great as Koreans and if they would do everything for their children. This is this disguised passive-agrressive approach. They won't say, your old folks are lousy, they just say Korean parents are of exceptional quality. But all in all it's the same. There's this generous, charming elderly business lady (76 y.o!), who unfortunately keeps telling me why her country is the greatest and with this loving, innocent St. Bernard dog's look in her face expects me to agree. Her arguments for that are illogical, unreasonable and appeal to emotions but uttered in such sweet voice that Michael Shermer himself, the editor-in-Chief of the Skeptic Magazine would fall for it.

The question is were you like that before settling in Korea, or is this something you inherited here?


At 3:29 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I've always been friendly behind my stoical mask, and like Koreans, I think my own country the best . . . or I used to think so.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Up to a certain point some of those kinds of beliefs might be true (although not very modest), especially in America, but a healthy person never uses them as a psychological crutch, and in Korea they long ago fell into a category of being delusional and megalomaniac.


At 9:33 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I guess that explains how the Liancourt Rocks became the Solitary Island.

Everything Korean gets upgraded . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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