I realized I had never seen so many soldiers in one place when I found myself staring in awe out the window at the thin park of green grass and green trees operating as a sort of isthmus between two rivers of roaring—peaceably roaring!—Korean cars. There were about a dozen of these soldiers in two rows in this isthmian park, each was camouflaged, helmeted, and burdened with a heavy backpack, and all of them were walking under the trees and through the shadows as if doing so was perfectly normal. The citizenry on promenade certainly thought so. Elders in pink out on their afternoon constitutionals scarcely gave them a glance and the dumb assholes who drive offroad on their scooters only slowed down a little as they passed the soldiers by; nonetheless I could not take my eyes off of them. There was nothing normal about this at all. The presence of even a small group of friendly soldiers on some kind of peaceful training mission at a distance of several hundred meters was still incredibly disquieting and uncomfortable. I stood still and watched them until they vanished.
Frustration and my own inherent racism sees me, at times, thinking of Korea as essentially teeming with barbarians, peasants, materialists, superficialists, and any number of generally narrow-minded entities, as the behavior of some coworkers provides plenty of fodder for these suppositions, but the fact that soldiers still exist anywhere at all proves that despite the presence of many fancy gadgets human beings are essentially just as savage and infantile as we were before we could even be called human.