A letter for you
Merry Christmas to my friends in Korea and to my friends and family in the other side of the world. Being in Korea during this time of the year is always the hardest. Since Halloween actually you start noticing the separation between here and America far more than before. This holiday seems to be made for couples here. Not really a family holiday, and so during this time I find myself recalling moments with family and friends back home. Life abroad doesn’t seem as dazzling without the loved ones. So thank you to you that have reached out to me and reminded me of home. I love you and thank you for these moments.
To the friends here in Korea, thank you for making this time as special as possible. Us expats have to stick together haha. So thank you for the convos, the homemade cookies, the homemade mac and cheese, the salsa dancing, and the little trees we stuff into our small apartments to remind us of home .
Even though I am far, I think of you all often. I wish you health and happiness this new year, and a bit more hope. We all need it right? In a world where it is easy to get lost with the every day, I hope that we take a moment to stop and take a deep breath and appreciate what we have and what we can give. There’s no day but today.
All teachers in Korea should be chowing down on some Ppat-juk (팥죽) today, a red bean soup in celebration of Dong-ji Day! It is the day with the shortest daytime hours and longest night hours. For more info on the holiday, read my previous post on it.
I wasn’t prepared to mull over my lunch while listening to the unusually loud chatter of my teachers as the news broke out. Finally one teacher translated for me, “Did you hear?! Kim Jong-il died!” And so it began, the great speculation of what will happen next. I myself was surprised how slow it was to read about it all in the English-speaking newspapers and sources, whereas it was quick to be broadcasted in the Korean newspapers. And as I am trying to decipher the quick chatter, the older teacher behind me turns and says, “Alexa! I am afraid ..of war!”
That is always the initial fear isn’t it? But friends, it was worse when a few months ago North Korea bombed Yeonpyeon Island back in November. We had a drill and there was more fear.
What has surprised many and shocked some of my friends is seeing the people mourn in North Korea. We watched the disturbing video of people sobbing in public places and statues, screaming for Kim jong-il to return to them.
But NPR’s Louisa Lim offers an explanation:
When Kim Jong Il’s father, Kim Il-sung, died in 1994, the party actually conducted surveys to see who displayed the most grief. And those people who stayed dry-eyed and just got on with their jobs as normal and didn’t cry, they were actually punished. So that kind of thing looks like it’s happening again.
So we all wait for what’s next. I know, I know…it must freak all you friends and family back home seeing me here and how I am in all this mess. But it’s not like that. Watch CNN and you think I am ready to evacuate at the drop of a hat. But again, remember that the news exacerbates reality. The US embassy in Seoul has not sent any warning…so for now I think we are just watching for what is next and seeing how history writes itself. I’m ok mom, please don’t worry. We are still upbeat and waiting to celebrate the holidays. It is about miracles anyways right? So for Christmas, I am just praying for peace .. for so many reasons and for so many people.
PS – this is what most foreigners in Korea are fearing:
The sharp difference between the two currencies due to the death of Kim Jong-il
The Daegu Theatre Troupe’s sister group, Daegu Musical Revue, put on its first show this past November. It was a mixture of solos, duets and choral performances from various classic and contemporary shows.
Aaaahh! I almost died doing this show. I was massively sick and thus my voice was shot. I got stage fright…yep I was freaking out about doing this solo. Thankfully one of the main guys doing the show was just amazing and kept encouraging me to do it even though I came into every practice ready to quit.
Ironically, the song I sang was “Climbing Uphill” from The Last Five Years – about an actress who’s mediocre acting career is making her dreams seem impossible and out of reach. Ha, so the acting was not really acting. It was me being me and dying on stage haha.
Anywho, enjoy….sorry the video quality sucks, they were from my friend’s iPhone and I couldn’t get most of them.