Korea Arrives – Friday 16th October 2000 (Korean Accounts 2000-2001)
This is an edited version of my Korean Accounts of 2000-2001. The original diary, as diaries usually are, was quite intimate and personal and I have removed such material. I don’t like too much exposure! There are few photos and my writing is in a different style and tone but it highlights a Korea though only a decade away, considerably different to the Korea of 2012. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of any diary or blog pre 2005 (or thereabouts) was the fact you were internetless and there was nothing on Korea on the internet anyway – it took me years to find a recipe for Kimchi and makgeolli and the multitude of blogs relating to Korea which give you information on every aspect of Korean life, were still waiting to be born. In the sense, My Korean Accounts often exposes my naivety and ignorance as it was so difficult, if not impossible, to corroborate and research information. Coming to terms with Korea in 2000 was a physical rather than cyber experience. How do you come to terms with Korean culture without the internet and the multitude of tools it provides us. Today, every blogger loves to insert Korean script into their texts but in 2000 a UK computer couldn’t even write in Hangeul without a special program and there were no translation utilities or online language programs. As for Hanja? Nothing! That’s pretty much still the case but it’s improving. Most westerners I knew, even ones who’d been here a long time, couldn’t even read Korean. How quickly the world has changed!
Korean Accounts Part 1. 2000-2001
So much has happened since I last wrote my diary. I applied for a job in South Korea and within days I’d been sent a contract. I saw the advert in the Times Educational and responded to it but I had no reply from the recruiters. Several weeks later I was tidying my bedroom and was about to throw out the advert clipping when I decided to phone them. Suddenly it was full steam ahead. I was running up to London and booking appointments at solicitors to get my certificates notarised and to make a will. Now, ten days later and I’m sitting here in my room after having spent all my savings getting the house ready for my departure, which is on Wednesday. My room is empty and a woman called Donna is moving into it. I’ve done over a hundred jobs around the house and over seventy-five jobs to do with bureaucracy.
Suddenly, I’m about to leave. There are new people in my life that I’ve yet to meet, Yangjin, the recruiter, Kim and Liam from Korea, Mr Young Won Lee, my new boss and Mr Kim the travel agent. I have become familiar with the Korean alphabet from a teach-yourself book I bought, and have a whole new wardrobe of clothes. However, tonight I am sad because I don’t know if I really want to leave the security of Wivenhoe but this is an opportunity I can’t turn down. I feel compelled to go. Looking back over my diary, it seems that my desire to travel was somehow linked to other problems but maybe that’s just coincidence as I would have jumped at the chance in any state of mind.
So much has happened in less than two weeks: Luis’s mum has been and gone, Lea is house-sitting and summer has suddenly been blown away and a cold, wet autumn has set in. I’m going to miss my sister and the cosy evenings with Lea and the generosity of Luis. As for my closest friends, there is a strong bond between us and though we don’t always share a lot together we are intensely comfortable and familiar with each other.
I don’t want to leave but I’m on the verge of an adventure that will provide a unique experience and I’m going to take as much from it as I can.