Islands are an addiction. Wherever you stand, whether on an archipelago, an extinct volcano, or a continent masquerading as something self-contained, there will always be a smaller island. This weekend I found myself on Chuja Island, a tiny dot of land alone in the waters off of the Korean peninsula. Thirty miles from both Jeju […]
Jeju Island has real-life mermaids. They do not look like what you might expect. Instead of smooth porcelain skin, their faces are mapped with wrinkles. In place of long, flowing hair, they flaunt ear-length perms. Their backs bend permanently at the waist. Most are missing teeth. But underwater they move gently in their wetsuits and […]
Once upon a time, there was the ocean. That ocean boiled out a volcano, and that volcano slurped out an island. People came, left footprints on the shore, and trapped the island in names: Jeju Island. Halla Mountain. Jeju Island and Halla Mountain are one and the same. This week brought a four-day weekend and […]
We all shape our perceptions around our place. Within that place, people connect. Stories unfold, and stories are retold. The state of someone’s hair qualifies their opinion. We try not to admit that part. The internet is such a place. It took moving to Korea to show me how much of my world is shaped […]
Wednesday was a pretty normal day. I woke up, had breakfast in the hammock I brought back from the Philippines, and elbowed my way onto the bus for a day of teaching at my Korean elementary school. The school lunch featured barbecue, which I folded into little lettuce wraps. After school I met a friend at […]
Whenever people heard I was about to leave the states to teach in Korea, they would ask me one of three questions: “North Korea or South?,” “Do you know any Korean?,” and, “Why Korea?”. While the answers to the first two questions were easy (a polite laugh for the first, a confiding “noooo” for the […]
Every morning the sun rises, and every evening the sun sets. Such is the basic assumption of human life on this planet. But today, I left that surety in LAX along with all my other assumptions. Today, I boarded an airplane and followed the sun to South Korea.