from the Korean Army to being published

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

Random #33: An Elegy for BK

with 2 comments

I’ve finished moving out of the building in which I’ve spent the greater part of the last four years and there’s no going back. The first time I lived in BK was after my first semester of grad school. I was young(er) and stupid and had spent the previous three months in a drunken binge after a break-up that left me depressed and without work (I quit all my jobs), living on 2,000 won a day and off the magnanimity of my alcoholic friends at night. Things at the place I had been sleeping off my hangovers, a spare bedroom barely larger than a bed, had gone from bad to extraordinarily worse, to a point where I thought the owner of the place, a former classmate, was going to slit my throat in my sleep. I don’t blame him. Anybody else would have had the good sense to take care of business and dump my mangy body in the alley in an oversized, district-approved garbage bag.

When I began to fear for my life, I packed up what little material belongings I had at the time—a half-empty bottle of Johnnie Walker, some cigarettes, a pile of clothes, and my guitar—and snuck out when my roommate wasn’t around. I took up residence on a foldable bed in the government-subsidized apartment of my friend, one of the aforementioned drinking buddies and probably the only person in Seoul who was messier and a more silent drunk than me. Those were good times, waking up in the middle of the night and finding a can of beer in my hand and friends drinking nearby, having Sang’s rich and benevolent aunt come and clean for us and feed us and give us pocket money, and meeting up with a wild and repressed lady friend for mutual benefits. Sang never gave me shit about anything except on the few occasions I felt bad that my stay had been so extended and attempted to clean.

Five or six months later, a room opened up and I moved up to the “penthouse,” having the last of our raucous grad school parties and slowly watching my friends move away or out of the country. Soon I was the last one left, Davy Crockett holding down the Alamo. People would ask, “Where are you living now?” I’d reply and they’d say, “Still?” I lived in my place for two years, was kicked out, briefly lived in a bigger shithole in Shillim, and found a way back in for one more year, a year that ended on Friday.

Things change. Those glory days of graduate school are long gone and almost everyone has moved on. People getting married, having kids, getting real jobs, moving into nicer places, drinking less, making more, quitting smoking, settling down. Meeting up with grad school friends has become a bit sad because of the vast difference between people living in the present and a person living in the past. Santa Ana’s army is knocking down the doors and nothing is more pathetic than someone still wearing a coonskin cap.

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Written by Young

May 11, 2011 at 10:23 pm

2 Responses

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  1. “Things change,” indeed. And with that as my lame segue, I have to ask: HAVE YOU READ THIS?

    Link

    The article starts off rather shakily, but it becomes quite compelling once you get past that nonsense about “read the stats from this source that may or may not be dubious.”

    My point in sending this to you — and it applies to me as well, as I’m thinking about rounding up some more of my writing for publish-on-demand — is that you might just want to say “Fuck the agents” and lone-wolf this ms of yours. The middle men, the gatekeepers, have been effectively cut out of the picture. It’s basically just you and the e-distributors now, if you’re willing to take the e-pub route. I’d seriously consider this if I were you. But since I’m me, I AM seriously considering this. No conditional tense here.

    bighominid

    May 13, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    • Thanks for always keeping an eye out for me. I’ve been a bit busy and so I’ve only skimmed the article, but what I’ve read makes sense. I definitely don’t want to get screwed or indentured to an agent or publishing house (I’ve had enough of both for this lifetime). I’m still apprehensive about the idea, though, because I’m not much of a go-getter and this blog has yet to garner much readership. First things first, I need to finish this manuscript. The writing is going at a snail’s pace.

      holdenbeck

      May 16, 2011 at 9:59 pm


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