I’m leaving soon. I depart on January 31 and don’t know if I will be back. As I wrote on Facebook (names removed),
“My work these past three years -and also at Kwandong before that, has been great but I am returning to Canada next year. I can’t say for how long.
The Little Guy’s English is barely sufficient for day to day conversations with me and falling far behind his Canadian cohort so we (TLG and I; my wife will remain in Korea) are moving to my mother’s home in Penetang for at least one year. TLG will attend school and I will look for some kind of work. If I find useful and valuable work, my wife will emigrate and join us. If not, we will return to Korea to work I love and have shown an aptitude for but with the real concern about what high school will be for TLG- and any Korean child.”
I am not ready to talk about Canada, but that will come.
I am ready to talk about my long stay here and how connected I feel to Korea, even if only as a foreigner. Case in point, my views on the Four Rivers Project. I started blogging only a year before Presidential candidate Lee Myungbak proposed a crazy project, then withdrew it in favor of the Four Rivers Restoration Project. I was here during his transition and throughout the Four Rivers work. I also learned about flooding (one thing his project was designed to reduce) caused by North Korea. Although I am not at all satisfied with the result of the project, I feel a strange satisfaction in my deep understanding of it. I’ve been here long enough, and been aware long enough, to have real opinions on the subject. I remain impressed with the bike trails built along the rivers and experience a thrill when I see the “Andong, 380km” sign near my home at the mouth of the Nakdong River.
For the record, I still have no opinion on who owns Dokdo. I don’t know how long I would have to stay in the country for that to happen (Hans Island is, however, clearly Canadian).
I feel so connected to farming in Korea. Even though I am unable to plan or schedule when or what crops should be planted, I have been involved in that work for several years. I don’t love rice like my wife does, but I know it grows. I don’t know how hot my in-laws’ peppers are but I know how productive the plants are and hot to recognize a pepper from a leaf at a metres’ distance.
I even sorta understand why Korean lifeguards are so cautious about letting people swim here. Full understanding is beyond me, but I have seen so many non-swimmers launch themselves in tubes into deep water that I would be equally draconian in running a beach. I now only grimace when I see a two-metre deep pool only filled to 1.4 metres so non-swimmers are safe.
Maybe I am leaving just in time. Everytime I see a car or truck running a red light, I plot about bringing a realistic doll to the intersection and tossing it in front of a red-light-running vehicle. I have held back because I can imagine the result of a car swerving wildly to avoid the ‘baby’ and because I don’t have such a doll handy. I’ll leave it to you to guess which influence is greater.
I don’t know if I will write a ‘_-things I love in Korea” or a “__ things I hate in Korea”. With my current blogging regimen it will be July before they finish. Still, I should take some time to review my time here and my future plans at such an obvious demarkation point. What better place to put my private thoughts then on a public blog?