m a r k a n d e y a

Archive for June, 2004

The Most Beautifullest Thing in the World

Posted by Brian on June 14, 2004

Our business venture has officially turned into a total disaster for my girlfriend and I. Every real estate agent we’ve talked to about it is telling us it will be very, very difficult for us to sell our place. The problem isn’t just the location of our building, which does suck, but also that there is an overall slump in the real estate market in Hongdae. We’re told there are units in much better locations with comparable rent that have been empty for months. Meanwhile, several other game cafes have been trying to sell their places for months now with no luck either.

The consequences of this unfortunate turn of events are huge… and expensive. We payed for our entire entrior ourselves assuming that we would be able to sell the place off should we be forced to quit. My girlfriend and I dumped about 40 million won into the interior work, so unless we can find someone willing to move in and take the place over, we’re looking at loosing all of that cash. All of it…

And that’s why I’m forced into doing something I vowed I would never do again: teach English here in Korea. Working my ass off for a year will allow us to cut that loss in half, making it much more bearable.

The idea of teaching doesn’t worry me too much… my concern is going back to working split-shifts. I’m not the young stud I used to be… I need a good night’s sleep to function properly, and going back to sleeping 5 hours a night and the mandatory afternoon nap is not appealing to me whatsoever. On top of that, my weekends will be spent here at our cafe running things.

Besides the money, the benefit of going back to work is that it will be a good opportunity to make some more contacts and hopefully drum up some business.

So it’s been a tough few days… we’ve talked, we’ve cried, but we see the writing on the wall. It’s time to give up on our dream and, unless we’re very lucky, it’s quite likely we’ll be eating that 40 mill loss.

But despite all of our best-laid plans crashing down around us, my girlfriend stay upbeat. I was sitting down at our cafe reading Eric Alterman’s What Liberal Media and I looked across the room to see my girlfriend chatting with her niece. She had this joyful smile on her face (at which point Keith Murray’s album title came to mind), as if she didn’t have a single trouble in the world. And I just sat there, watching her every move… every smile… every laugh… thinking just how incredible she is. This entire fucked up scheme was my idea.. I led her down this path. Does she hold a grudge? No. Does she blame me? No. Can she still smile and laugh despite looking at losing 20 million won? Yes, she can.

Eun-jeong, if you read this, thank you. You’ve helped me make dreams come true, and you’ve helped make nightmares go away. I owe you so, so much. Too much, in fact, because I doubt I can ever come close to paying you back for what you’ve done for me. You really are the best, baby. I love you.

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No, not “his” country

Posted by Brian on June 2, 2004

The Joongang has a new editorial on the release of convicted spy Robert Kim. LEet’s take a look:

Robert Kim is finally living at home. Mr. Kim served seven years in prison in the United States on espionage charges after being convicted of passing classified U.S. defense information on a North Korean submarine that had infiltrated South Korean waters in 1996. It is fortunate that Mr. Kim can live in the comfort of his own home, instead of in a prison cell, under house arrest untill his prison term ends on July 27. But we still feel sorry for him because he is not yet entirely free.

The price that he paid for loving his country was huge, yet the country of his love did nothing for him. The moment Robert Kim was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Korean government turned its back and pretended that he didn’t exist. As the court battle went on and the money that his family had raised by selling their house was exhausted, Robert Kim studied the law by himself in an attempt to reduce his sentence. His wife barely made a living by working at churches run by Korean-Americans. Yet, our government did nothing.

The government can’t excuse itself by saying that it did nothing for Mr. Kim because he was an American citizen. If that is so, was it just a one-sided love affair of Robert Kim, who said that despite going to prison, he did not regret what he had done? His case is very different from that of an American Jew who passed more than 1,000 classified documents to Israel and received a life sentence in prison. The Israeli government is still trying hard to have him released from prison. If a country turns its back on someone who has sacrificed himself for his country, that country has already failed in its sacred duty. No wonder Mr. Kim described himself as a person his fatherland abandoned. The press that failed to support him continuously should be ashamed as well.

For the next three years Mr. Kim will be on probation. As he has declared bankruptcy, he will have difficulty in getting by in his daily life. The government needs to give Mr. Kim support. That his supporters will soon start to raise money is encouraging. The people should chip in to support him. If he wants to spend the rest of his life in Korea, to help him to do so would be a small gesture by the country he loves for the sacrifices he has made.

I’ve already commented on the Kim case at length here, so I won’t go into to my details now. I just want to reiterate one basic point in hopes that somehow, somewhere in Korea, one journalist just might take a step back and question whether or not editorials like this deserve to be penned.

Here goes…. really slowly:

ROBERT… KIM… IS… AN… AMERICAN… CITIZEN…

“HIS COUNTRY…” IS…¬†¬†AMERICA…

I know, I know… Koreans think differently about such things… it’s all blood and Minjok to them. But still, in 2004, you’d think Korean journalists would have a more nuanced understanding on the issue of citizenship in a global village. See, some people leave the country of their birth and take up citizenship elsewhere. Shocking, I know, but it’s known to happen. Robert Holley here in Korea is a good example. Robert Kim is another example.

Of course, Robert Holley seems to be taking his oath of citizenship seriously while Robert Kim must have been drunk on soju when he made his.

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