Saturday, July 14, 2012

Love & War & Peace

It seems entirely appropriate to be listening to 2ne1 right now as I write this, the last Korea entry. The last one for the foreseeable future anyway. Because let's be real, you never know if you'll end up coming back. It's funny sometimes, living abroad. You find yourself surrounded by things that are new and exciting, and sometimes terrifying. You take these things and adopt them as your own. Sure, not everything. But some things, like Kpop and kimbop. Basically, the catchy things and the delicious things.

You also meet a lot of truly fantastic people living abroad. It takes a certain sort of person to be able to do this job, especially the ones who stick it out for a few years. I've never met so many people that I felt instantly connected to. Maybe it's because this lifestyle draws in similar personalities, or maybe it's because we're so far from home that we need to share our experiences together. These new friends from all over the world. They're interests vary from international politics to playing soccer to scuba diving. But one thing everyone can agree on is grabbing a couple (or, like, a lot of) beers on a Saturday night, even the ones who "don't really drink."

These people speak French and Spanish and Korean and Afrikaans and all sorts of other languages. We share stories about holidays in Thailand and commiserate over missed weddings of old friends. Almost invariably, someone brings up the topic of "pop" versus "soda" or the pronunciation of "aluminum" or what South Africans mean when they tell you to turn left at the "robot." (Answer: they mean "stoplight." No, that's not a joke.) We have makeshift Thanksgivings, Christmases and 4th of July's - trying the best we can to recreate the holidays of our childhoods. We forge traditions of out of memories our friends back home take for granted. We piece together out own little world from the scraps of the ones we left behind. Hang on to your hats, kids, it's an adventure.

Two fucking years. It's taken me two fucking years to actually make it to Namsan Tower. Is it nearby? Yes. Is it easily accessibly? Absolutely. Do you see it anytime you go to any of the major areas in the city? Totally. Is it one of the big tourist attractions? That it is, pal, that it is. "So why then, dear Analynn, has it taken the entire time you've been in Korea to visit it?" you might ask. I honestly do not have a good answer for that question.

 These locks cover the entire railings surrounding the tower. There must be thousands. Some must have been there for years. It makes you wonder what happens to all these couples. I bet some are married and have two beautiful children. Others probably had dramatic, painful breakups, screaming at each other over the phone. And still others just kind of grew apart. That happens sometimes.

Finally made it to the DMZ.  It was pretty intense. Hopefully you can see in this picture the little North Korean guy watching us through binoculars on the top of the steps on the other side. Lemme tell ya, there is no one in this general vicinity even thinking about fucking around.  

Pyongyang is 205km in that direction, folks.
 The weekend before Buddha's birthday, there's a really rad lantern parade. Easily one of the coolest things I've seen in Korea.
 If I could tell everyone in the world about one aspect of Korea culture, it would certainly be the Farmers' Dance. Youtube it. These dudes play these weird-sounding  instruments all the while twirling the ribbon on their hats by swishing their heads. It's like avant garde jazz meets rhythmic gymnastics. Seriously, I didn't even know what to think the first time I saw this.

There was so much energy during the whole parade. Everyone was encouraged to participate. The floats were beautiful, the lanterns generously given out to onlookers. I've never seen so many genuinely happy Koreans all in one place. Usually, that would require massive amounts of soju.

And of course it wouldn't be a parade without a dragon.

But hey, would you look at the clock? It seems to be time for a change of scenery. Remember, my lovely readers, it's a big world out there. 안녕히계세요 대한민국.

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