Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Ulleungdo: a crater island...

Nari Basin
(Image Borrowed From Tour 2 Korea)

... as we experienced it yesterday.

We had planned to take our children swimming in a little town on the other side of the island from our Turtle Rock bay hotel, but we arrived to discover that the owners of the pool had drained it dry for cleaning, which left us free to do something far more interesting ... for adults, anyway (though that turned out too interesting, in little En-Uk's opinion).

We hired a van driver to convey us up to the island's crater ... actually, to one of the two craters. I don't think we went to Nari Basin but to the other crater, which has a nature park, or so my wife said. We saw a couple of traditional Ulleungdo houses constructed of straw and still standing despite the big bad wolf. Here's what Tour 2 Korea says about the image above:
A crater has been formed in the center of this island by a volcanic eruption. The Nari Basin was the first of two naturally formed craters on the island. Standing at the summit of Seonginbong Peak, overlooking the basin, the second crater is visible just next to Albong Peak The Nari Basin is said to be the only crater in the world with a small village on it.

Since I don't recall seeing an actual village (just a few houses), I'm guessing that we were in the second crater, but I could be wrong. Whichever the crater, the place was surrounded by a rim of beautiful, rugged peaks -- unfortunately not shown in the image above.

At any rate, we started down a broad path from that crater and soon heard the crashing roar of falling water. A narrow, somewhat treacherous path led steeply down from our broad one, and we decided to chance it. En-Uk reluctantly started down, holding firmly to my hand but within three steps off the broad path, he panicked, started sobbing into my shirt, and begged to go back.

I said, "En-Uk, look into my eyes."

He looked up, and I swear that I've never seen a boy so terrified ... except for a photo that I saw once in the German newspaper Blick while I was living in Tuebingen. That picture showed the terrified face of a boy who had somehow fallen into the polar bear pit at an East German zoo and was being bitten by one of the bears. That's how terrified En-Uk looked.

Why? I'm not sure why. Perhaps he fell into his terrified state from a combination of factors -- the unfamiliar place, the steep, narrow path, a dark forest, the roaring water hidden somewhere below. We decided not to risk a trip down with a terrified little boy and returned to our main path instead.

As I told my wife, I now need to work with En-Uk to help him overcome his fear of ... of whatever it was that so frightened him.

UPDATE: the crater was Nari Basin, as my wife confirmed, so I was wrong.



At 7:12 AM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

You're a good dad. Keep us posted.

At 1:42 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I try to be, but I'm never the one that I promised myself to be.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps by now you've had a chance to talk with him. Did he articulate what it was that so terrified him?

Regarding that last comment, I am sure that you are much too hard on yourself.

At 12:42 AM, Blogger Jessica said...

Fear of the sublime?

Please tell me the German kid was rescued.

At 11:18 PM, Blogger jj mollo said...

Fear is an opportunity. It tells us something. Learning to understand what it tells us teaches us introspection. Introspection teaches us empathy. Empathy teaches us everything.

It's an opportunity for you, as well. Whatever wisdom you have accumulated can illuminate a formative moment of a human life. You get to be Jor-El, if only for a while.

I suspect you are a good father. None of us can quite live up to our own standards. If we could, they really wouldn't be standards.

At 8:11 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Nathan, when I later talked to En-Uk, he said that the hill was too steep, but when prompted, he also agreed that the noise, darkness, and strangeness of the place had frightened him.

He seems willing to try again sometime, but we'll have to find a different hillside closer to home.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:17 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Jessica, fear of the sublime would be an interesting possibility -- like the fear before the mysterium tremendum.

About the German kid, I don't know what happened. I was buying copies of the International Herald Tribune and the Guardian, so I only glimpsed the photo and the caption in Blick.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:20 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JJ Mollo, you're right about fear and opportunity. As for the quality of my fatherhood ... well, the years that have brought me the insights to be a better father have also robbed me of the energy to consistently follow through.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:42 AM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

For what it's worth: it can take years for certain fears to fall away, but you can rest assured that many of those fears will disappear.

My own fear of roller coasters wasn't conquered until about three or four years ago, when I decided, during a trip back to the States, to hit Busch Gardens near Williamsburg, Virginia.

My two little brothers, David and Sean, are both roller coaster lovers, and they've known about my fear since forever. They were fiendishly delighted that I would risk screaming like a freshly-snipped castrato in front of them.

We rode the four biggest roller coasters in the park, and I survived just fine. The secret, as it turned out, was indeed to scream bloody murder down the first major hill. After that, the rides were easy, and I was even able to eat a large and overpriced lunch afterward. The only negative was a slightly hurting neck from all the whiplashing.

I have no idea why it took me so long to face that particular fear, only to discover there really was nothing to fear. But with the years came a measure of both maturity and curiosity: I was curious to put myself to the test, to see whether my fear would control me or I would control it.

When I was a college student in 1988, I got into a car accident on Christmas Eve. It was my fault, and the family car sustained a lot of damage. The person who hit me (I'd pulled out in front of her without looking properly) was a pregnant lawyer, and she was MAD. Luckily, no harm was done to her, but I was feeling sick with guilt about what had happened. My Dad's Christmas Day response?

"Kevin, we're visiting the Kim family for Christmas dinner, and you're driving us in the other car."

That's always been my dad's maxim: When you fall down, get up.

Sometimes it takes a day to accept the truth of that maxim; sometimes it takes years. I'm sure your son will face the crater again someday and laugh at the darkness and the noise.

And let me join the other commenters in saying that you're doing a fine job of dadding.


At 6:26 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Kevin, thanks for the anecdotes and the kind words.

Jeffery Hodges

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