I think I just got punched in the gut by Korea. No, literally. I was walking on the street at approximately 8:30 pm after purchasing some ttakboekki and illegal DVD's when an old Korean man walking toward me reached out his hand and punched me in the gut. And kept on walking. Being bumped into is a daily, nay hourly occurance in these parts and I don't even think twice about it anymore (watch out America) but this was definitely a straight up, no bones about it, PUNCH.
I've been reading a book called "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert which is a memoir of her travels through Italy, India and Indonesia. I'm only at the beginning of the book, but I've read enough to already be sick of her incessant gushing about her undying love for Italy...the seemingly day to day beauty and non-stop glamour that infuses itself into the core of her life, such that even paying the electric bill is a priviledge in dear, darling ITALY. I'm at the edge of my seat to see what going to the bathroom in Italy will ellicit.
Yes, I'm being sarcastic. And yes it is with good reason. This book that hovers near travelogue pornography is making it very very apparent to me that I do NOT feel the same way about Korea. My sarcasm is simply a mask for my true feelings of confusion and jealousy. Why don't I love Korea that way? Why am I not having an orgasmic experience every time I walk down the street and see old women hacking open pig heads and selling them to me? Lest you think I'm being flippant, I will reveal to you my secret concern: I am using Korea. For the money. For the experience. For the dot on my facebook "Where have I been?" map. I don't love you, Korea. Not yet anyway.
And other people DO love Korea in that all consumming way, so it must be possible. Lumina is leaving in 6 months and she's desperately trying to figure out how to do it without breaking her heart. Other foreigners I've met leave and come back, transfixed by this place like a co-dependent lover. Perhaps I will get there and I just haven't found my touchstone yet? I've done everything I know how to do to make it happen and there ARE signs of it's eventuality. I have found many amazing Korean friends who teach me everything about the culture. I have immersed myself in the food and find that I CRAVE gochujong. In fact, it feels a bit unnatural to use a fork when perfectly good chopsticks are available.
But don't you see? That's what makes what happened tonight so maddening and bizarre. I'm trying. I'm here. I'm learning your language. Yes, I stand inches above everyone on the bus. And yes, you can't miss my "yellow" hair that screams, FOREIGNER!!!! like a suburban kid at a concert in the early 80's. But I'm working on falling in love here; you could at least wait to punch me after we've had a true falling out.