Sunday, April 7, 2013


One of many paths in scenic Wolmyeong Park
I had just finished lunch: all-you-can-eat galbitang, kimchi, rice, pa-jeon and eel in a tasty spicy sauce, all for three dollars. I walked out into the courtyard. My students were going nuts, saying hi, giving me 5, dancing, screeching and singing as birds flew gracefully in the sky, the sweet spring breeze encircling me. I thought about what I would do this evening. Maybe I would go and see some foreign friends in a downtown restaurant or cafe. There are some excellent gourmet coffee houses in town, some in the city, and some on the beautiful lake behind my apartment block. Or maybe I would just walk through the hills that frame this city. They are peppered with awe-inspiring Buddhist temples decorated with giant stone statues and humble, antique dwellings. In the hills there is a lovely lake surrounded by swinging log chairs and wooden beds. According to rural lore, lying on these beds and breathing in the sweet smell of silver birch sap is therapeutic. I might even ride my bike through the golden-green rice fields if I'm feeling particularly ambitious. The weather is just right.

A house/storefront in old Gunsan.
Not all of Gunsan looks like this.
Usually these kinds of homes are hidden.
Someone told me that we live in a poor area. This is the wealthiest place I've ever lived, but I define wealth differently than some. The experiences I mention in this blog are what I consider true wealth: good friends, good family, community, adventure, and a simple, natural way of life. No matter how much money is in my pocket, I can't imagine feeling wealthier than I do right now.

An outdoor market. There are many of these here. I love them.
Coming to Korea was never meant to be permanent, but I never thought I'd fall in love with this amazing land and these amazing people. Canada, I really wish you had the high quality of life I enjoy out here. I wish you had more community, more natural walking places, more outdoor produce markets, more caring, and more regard for nutritious diets. Still I talk with Koreans who wish they had more individuality, more roads for their Kia K5s, more malls, more middle class single-family stucco subdivisions and more junk food.

If you see me wearing a blue dress and a blonde wig, chasing rabbits and talking to caterpillars, don't worry, I haven't lost it. I just want to enjoy this wonderland as much as I can before going back into exile.


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