August 13, 2010

It's already half over ... or has it only begun halfway through?

I’ve been here for six months and that thought is CRAZY. I can’t quite put it into words, so instead I’ll relate it to a story (I like stories, if you don’t…umm… then why would you be reading my posts?). STORY!! Yesterday morning I was walking out of Gusan subway station there was a man at the top of the stairs, there is very little special about that fact alone. Except that this man was dressed in full green army combat fatigues complete with green and brown face paint. I was a little thrown back; Seoul has very few trees so green camo isn’t a great choice. Then I realized he was looking at me, and holding a fucking assault rifle.

The first thought to run through my head was “I’m not North Korean, I don’t look like any Korean; I really hope this guy realizes I’m not North Korean.” That led me to realize perhaps this could be a good moment to look back; perhaps to see if there was a North Korean platoon using me as a human shield (they could probably hide behind me, they are tiny tiny people). I also realized I probably didn’t want that question answered, what would I do if they were? really? I’d probably be so scared my knee would dislocate itself. I decided to walk past the soldier, my problem is that it takes me a while to walk up stairs. After infinity and beyond, I passed the soldier. I took a quick look back to reassure myself that the North Koreans weren’t hiding behind me. Turns out there was just an aujima, she was probably having the same thoughts run through her head.

Although it was a dramatic story, I feel that it is representative to where I stand. No not literally looking at a soldier with a gun, or with the North Korean Army behind me. But at a crossroads, do I look back already and celebrate what I’ve done in the past six months, or do I motor on forward and look back at some point in the future.

After a little bit of a debate I think that it would be best to stumble on. Although I’ve done a lot of great things in this country, I’ve got a lot of things I’d still like to accomplish. The biggest one that springs to mind is to learn and master Hangeul, the Korean alphabet and writing system. I feel if I can read Korean then I will at least be able to understand what’s going on around me a little more. I’ll be like a 5 year old again! I used to read store signs to my mother when I first learned to read. I think I annoyed her, but I loved know what was going on, even if it was only ‘Tim Hortons’ every 500 feet.

I also feel that going forward is the most optimistic thing to do. Why should I gaze back at this point, what would I do if I ever saw the North Koreans hiding back there? I’d like to think of the rest of the trip with a glass half full state of mind, even though the glass is only exactly half full today.

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