Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day"

Flag of the United Nations
(Image from UN Website)

Not every day does one meet Lee Myung-Hoon (이명훈) -- Secretary General of the United Nations (UN사무총장), President of the Korean Peninsula, Professor of Management Somewhere, and Important Guy Wearing a Woolen Cap -- but I met him yesterday on Bus 273 as I was heading for Kyung Hee University to teach my British and American Culture course.

Secretary General Lee of the UN is also running for an office of some sort (차기경선후보), despite what must be an already busy schedule, given the four important jobs that he already holds. In spite his busy responsibilities, Secretary Lee invited me for a coffee on his coin, which turned out to be my coin, perhaps because he hadn't "always a shilling to spare" after all.

In our wide-ranging conversation, Secretary Lee spoke nearly flawless English and expressed his opinion on an impressive variety of topics.

According to Secretary Lee, Satan differs from demons because Satan only attempts to twist life into an evil direction, whereas the demons try to destroy life.

"Take Jesus, for example," Secretary Lee offered. "Satan tempted him in the field . . . uh, wilderness, because he wanted to twist Jesus toward evil, but he didn't try to kill him."

"I thought that Christians believed that Satan arranged to have Jesus killed," I pointed out.

"No," retorted the Secretary, "God did that."

"Okay," I acknowledged, "that was the soteriological plan, but according to the Bible, Satan played the effective role in bringing about Jesus's death."

"Jesus didn't die," the Secretary informed me.

"Well, yes," I insisted, "he did die."

"No, he survived," the Secretary insisted.

"He survived?" I inquired.

"I mean..." the Secretary groped for the right word, "he was resuscitated."

"Okay," I said, "but it would still seem that he died."

Perhaps sensing that he wasn't going to get far in convincing me of the UN's policy statement on the difference between Satan and demons, the Secretary turned to political positions.

"Bush knew about 9/11 in advance," the Secretary whispered, looking askance toward the door.

"In advance," I murmured -- my tone not questioning, but skeptical.

"Yes," the Secretary confirmed, "in advance. On September 10th, I was outside the U.S. embassy, and two officers came out to talk with me. They had a camera, took several pictures, and asked me a lot of questions. Also, a Jewish Master Sergeant gave a talk and said some very curious things. The Jews are a very curious people, always wanting to understand everything. And then, the photos of the World Trade Center exploding -- they were too perfect. The cameras had been arranged in advance to catch the best possible images."

Unsure which dangling strand of this complex fabric to pull on first, I finally just observed that with thousands of New Yorkers and tourists wandering around the WTC on the morning of 9/11, somebody with a camera was bound to take the perfect shot at precisely the right moment.

Secretary Lee, however, was unmoved. "I sent a letter to George Bush," he revealed, "and I called him 'Bullsh*tter' in my letter."

The Secretary then showed me his literary cleverness, printing "Bu(ll)sh(itter)" on the newspaper that he was carrying.

"This is how I wrote it," he boasted. "It made Bush very angry."

The Secretary writes a lot of letters. He has written President Vladimir Putin, President Bill Clinton, and even Mr. Lee Myung-bak (이명박), the former mayor of Seoul.

"Lee Myung-bak's name is very similar to my own," Secretary Lee Myung-Hoon proudly noted, adding that the former mayor would be running for president of South Korea in the upcoming national elections. Lee Myung-bak's candidacy will be supported by Lee Myung-Hoon, but whether in the latter's official position as Secretary General of the United Nations or as President of the Korean Peninsula, I don't know. Perhaps Lee Myung-Hoon is offering merely private support in his role as Professor of Management Somewhere or as Important Guy Wearing a Woolen Cap.

At this point in our fascinating conversation, I had to break off and head for my teaching duties. The Secretary asked for my email address. I didn't want to seem discourteous by refusing, so I wrote it down for him ... correctly, too, though I was tempted to write a false one (but I don't like to deceive people).

The Secretary then copied my email into his address book, but he made the same, usually annoying error that countless people make, misspelling my "jefferyhodges" as "jeffreyhodges." This time, however, my heart leapt up in joy -- the one time in my life that I've been thankful for the unconventional spelling that my parents gave to my middle name.

Smiling, I rose from our table, thanked him for the pleasant conversation, told him to enjoy his coffee, and exited the cafe without once glancing back at the quixotic Lee Myung-Hoon, Secretary General of the United Nations and President of the Korean Peninsula...



At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently I need to get out more.

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Now that I'm good buddies with the President of the Korean Peninsula and Secretary General of the United Nations, the Honorable Lee Myung-Hoon, I can introduce you.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:59 PM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

Why do all the crazies speak English?

I had my own encounter with a nutjob a while back. It happened in a local bakery, near Smoo campus, and that dude was also convinced he was king or prince or something. He told me to ignore the shooing motions of the lady behind the counter; she wasn't in her right mind.


At 9:53 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, the Korean language is so strict and hierarchical that it doesn't allow one to be crazy. Even the insane conform in Korea.

The English language, however, offers freedom, freedom to be insane! Crazy freedom!

America! Land of the free! Home of the crazed!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:07 PM, Blogger jj mollo said...

Good Lord! You had an opportunity to rub elbows with the movers and shakers, but you muffed it. I imagine he was on the bus for the explicit purpose of meeting you. You know these people don't usually ride the bus. He must have heard about you from the Pope, as a result, perhaps, of your helpful translation efforts. And now, he'll never be able to contact you when he needs your sage advice.

I must say, though, that his diplomatic skills leave something to be desired. He managed to insult you twice during a single cup of coffee, first taking you as an exponent of gnosticism, and then assuming that you were unaware of Israeli involvement in the World Trade Center implosion. Perhaps he misinterpreted your post on Lee Won-bok.

By the way, the Sapir -Whorf hypothesis, that language drives thought, has been largely discredited and is generally denigrated by modern linguists. This is not to say that there are no national behavior patterns, it's just that linguistic determinism is not the cause of these patterns.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JJ, among the many reasonable things that you say, you also say this unreasonable thing:

"By the way, the Sapir -Whorf hypothesis, that language drives thought, has been largely discredited and is generally denigrated by modern linguists. This is not to say that there are no national behavior patterns, it's just that linguistic determinism is not the cause of these patterns."

Your response simply confirms my hypothesis. The English language has elicited your insanity. I stand firmly upon my conviction.

Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
Ph.D. and Master of the Universe

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At 4:04 AM, Blogger jj mollo said...

LOL. I stand corrected. Who am I to argue with a Ph.D.

At 5:42 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

And Master of the Universe.

Jeffery Hodges

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