The recent trend of no communication for a while followed by a brief update continues, and will most likely not abate until mid-March when I’m settled in Korea, stop travelling and go back to making unoriginal observations on the news and the things happening around me. Until then, my commiserations on a less-than-awe-inspiring read.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, little of note happened during my last few weeks in Yongin. Both Amy and I were on holiday, and had no major projects to keep us distracted – if we hadn’t had books, games and wireless internet we may well have gone insane. We joined a small volunteer group to go clean up the oil spill on Padori Beach, but were beaten back by heavy snow and ended up drinking soju in a meat restaurant somewhere in Icheon. On New Year’s Eve we trooped out to Hongdae with Anne and Dan, had a lot of buffet salad food and ended up being given free champagne in a cosy lounge bar. I got an e-mail on New Year’s Day to tell my that I’d got the job I was going for, and so much of my remaining time was spent thinking about how best to organise myself for the coming year.
2008 was only just underway when we received an invitation from a fellow forgotten place enthusiast to go and have a look round an abandoned university in the centre of Seoul. The university closed down a few years ago and moved to a different campus, but the site is only being cleared and renovated for re-use now (and extremely slowly at that). We wandered up to the main gates and quietly ducked into the science faculty, treading broken flasks and chalk underfoot. It wasn’t as eerie as the theme park at Okpo, but the corridors and general neglect lent it more of a computer game atmosphere – almost as if we should have been heavily armed and on the lookout for zombies or aliens. After a quick exploration, we walked up a neighbouring hill and down (past a relocated grave site) into the music, drama and art departments. The art department was a little disturbing in places due to graffiti and murals of schoolchildren, but we didn’t have any major freak-outs. Workmen started clearing out the main building just as we were leaving, so the site might not be there for much longer.
A week or so into January, I came back to the UK for the first time in over eighteen months and marvelled anew at the unique and beautiful landscape. Incessant rain has kept me indoors for much of my time here so far, but that gives me time to sort through my various possessions and decide what will be required in Seoul. I’m essentially sitting on my hands regarding a work visa, as my employer will simply e-mail me when it’s ready and I then have to scramble to the nearest Korean embassy (possibly in Canada, as I’m heading over there at the end of the month). I also have to design an entire curriculum for my students, and will most likely raid Huddersfield University for relevant texts.
Having been out to Sheffield to see some friends, my current plans are to go up to Scotland this weekend, and to hit Birmingham on my way back to London at the end of the month. I’ll than have just under three weeks to make my way across Canada, and after that it’s back to the world of work (until my first holiday, at least).