Eleven Years…

By the way, it’s been eleven years since I landed in Korea. Okay, really, I arrived on 30 December. It’s still 30 December in a lot of the world, so I’ll just ignore the fact I’m a few hours late on Korean time.

Yeah, it’s been eleven years since I flew across the Pacific Ocean for the first time, arrived in Incheon International Airport, and took a bus down to Jeonju Iksan, to be met by someone I’d never met–but whom I’d heard about through my friend Joleen.

Eleven years is a long, long time, considering that when I first came to Korea, it was supposed to be for a year or two. Hell, I just realized a few days ago that I’ve been working at the same job for seven years–somehow, it’d been six years in my head, until I stopped and thought about it. So much has happened over the last eleven years that my mind rebels, right now, at the thought of even summarizing it. That is, however, what people seem to do, even if this blog, in some sense, can serve as a summary of it. But it’s a summary you can get only by reading between the lines: where I’m bitching about something, what’s hidden is a lesson in appreciating something else about someplace else; when I’m ranting about some night gone wrong, or fighting with someone in the comments section, the real lesson is about figuring out who your friends really are. There’s a lot of those hidden lessons and insights buried throughout the archives of this site… which, by the way, are now accessible.

(They’re a mess, those archives, and were inaccessible for a long time on purpose: I felt this site was about the now, not about what I wrote five years ago… but I figured that was no reason to make things completely inaccessible…)

Anyway… back to the main point of this post:

During my time here, I accomplished a lot of things I wanted to do, learned a lot, and also accomplished things I’d not expected to do. What’s been clear to all of my friends is that I’m long past the point where it was time to leave Korea. A host of reasons kept me here until now, but a few days ago, I handed in my resignation… like, officially. My department head made a valiant effort to try to get me not to go, but when it’s time, it’s time. She had very nice things to say afterward.  And now I have some very weird paperwork to get done, and have to return all my library books (and, apparently, my little paper health care certificate card thing, which I haven’t seen in years to be honest) as soon as possible.

I expect over the next few months–both before we leave, and after–I’ll be trying to work through some of that, processing things and discussing them here. It’ll get me posting again, which is good–I’ve been pretty lax in the past year or so. I’ll probably still write about Korea from time to time, but it’s obviously going to take a back seat, even if it’s hard: my Korea-related posts get twice as much attention as anything I write about SF or Ezra Pound or the other things I’m into. In any case, for the next few months, I’ll be occasionally reminiscing, probably linking to old posts, and teasing out things I’ve come to terms with, telling backstories, and so on. It should be fun, I think; maybe even useful to some of you out there.

As for our departure: I still don’t know when exactly we’ll leave, but it looks like it’ll be sometime between mid-February and mid-March, depending on a couple of things. (How long it’ll take for various different payouts to come through, and how rapidly the cost of plane fare will dwindle down after the tourist season dies off.) We’re talking about Berlin, but that’s not totally nailed down, though Miss Jiwaku is eager to try get into the Working Holiday Visa program there.  As for me, I’ll be taking six months off from teaching at least; I may do some freelance work of some kind but intend mainly to spend my time on writing a novel, catching up on my reading, getting into better shape, and enjoying the occasional German beer. Somewhere in there, I’ll also get my UK passport, finally, which will make things easier in terms of living in the E.U., in case we decide we’d like to do so.

Before then, though, we have a million things going on: Miss Jiwaku and I are getting married in January, and we’ll be packing some of our stuff for the move, while selling/junking/donating/putting into storage the majority of it. I have a film script to write, she has two films to edit into shape… it’s going to be a busy couple of months, and I don’t even know where we’ll be staying after mid-February, when I’m pretty sure the Housing Office Fascists will be kicking us off campus.

Lots to do, and some of it before I sleep tonight, so I’d best get on with it…


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  1. Kevin Kim
    Kevin Kim December 31, 2012 at 1:43 am . Reply

    Congrats on getting married! I know you’ve been doing your best to live your life since your father passed away, and if I may presume to invoke him, I think he’d be proud of where you are now. Follow that bliss! Good luck with all your future endeavors.

  2. jon
    jon December 31, 2012 at 3:43 pm . Reply

    As someone who’s about to clock up a decade of living in Japan (with no exit point in clear sight) I’ll be watching your story as it continues. To be honest, every time I sit down to seriously contemplate the notion of leaving I always end up with two questions: (1) What exactly would I do if I left? and (2) Does that mean I’m actually stuck here, as in, I don’t really have a choice? Then I either smile or scream, depending on the prevailing mood of the moment.

    Will be interested to see the effect this has on your writing, too.

  3. Joe Mondello
    Joe Mondello December 31, 2012 at 9:33 pm . Reply

    Eleven years is a long time. I remember how hard it was for me to leave Korea after eight (which I’m coming up on the two year anniversary of this week, making it ten years since I moved to Korea in the first place). All I can say is, you’ll never regret making the move. You may even find yourself wondering what took you so long.

  4. wongoon
    wongoon January 1, 2013 at 3:39 am . Reply

    Well I’m glad that you’re going to write a novel! “Bernoulli War” is amazing.

  5. wongoon
    wongoon January 1, 2013 at 5:59 am . Reply

    Well I’m certainly looking forward to reading your novel!

  6. Junsok Yang
    Junsok Yang January 1, 2013 at 4:44 pm . Reply

    Congratulations on your marriage. I am not sure if I should congratulate you on leaving the job (since I am still going to stay here…) :) but I wish you the best. I wish we had more time to talk while you were here, but it’s still been fun having you around. I also think that the university not publicizing you when you were a nominee for the Campbell Award was a big mistake and a missed opportunity on the University’s part, but then it’s not the University’s first missed opportunity by a long shot.

    Anyhow, congratulations, and I’ll be looking for your bylines in the newstands and Amazon.

    Junsok Yang

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