from the Korean Army to being published

the blog of an "ex-patriot" writer in Korea

Random #12: This Hermit’s Kingdom

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During the Joseon Dynasty, Korea, tired of external problems, closed its borders, earning it the nickname “the Hermit Kingdom.” Then Korea was invaded by the forces of the bizarre and capitalism (thereby being introduced to PR) and is now entertaining wacky slogans like “Dynamic Korea” and “Korea, Sparkling.” The previous legacy, however, lives on in me. I rarely leave the general vicinity of my home. I liken myself to Atlas: the further I am taken from my neighborhood, the more powerless I become.

My workplace is a seven-minute walk away, my gym is fifteen as is the coffee shop in which I spend my days writing and the jazz bar in which I spend my nights drinking. My friends try to call me out to the more populated, bustling areas and it makes me sad. As a result, although I hate lying, I’ve taken to promoting my neighborhood as “the next Cheongdam,” one of the most affluent and fashionable neighborhoods in Seoul. The result is that my friends don’t call me to come out much anymore.

In July, my co-workers became absorbed in an idea for a short film, Escape from BK. The premise was to lure me out of my apartment and kidnap me for a night of shenanigans. Ideas included rappelling from the roof of my building and bursting through my open veranda sliding door or leaving a trail of Taco Bell foodstuffs leading from my door to where they wait in the shadows.

Unlike a good movie, however, there is no legitimate reason for my hermit life pattern. There was no awful break-up or traumatic experience which caused it. I often blame age and my aching joints, but the aspiring filmmakers are all older than I am. What it really boils down to is laziness. Surprise, surprise.

In that sense, Seoul (also the capital of the Joseon Dynasty) is an ideal place for me to live. The city is so damn crowded that most necessities (bars and cheap restaurants) are available within walking distance, and public transportation is so damn crowded I never want to take it. Many grocery stores and most restaurants, including McDonald’s, will deliver to your doorstep. If I didn’t have to work, I would never have to leave my apartment. No more showers, no more shaving, no more wearing clothes. That really is the only hitch—finding a source of income that doesn’t require me to leave my apartment. Yet another reason why I write.

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Written by Young

August 22, 2010 at 6:49 pm

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