Early Days On The World’s Far Side

In the early days of my apprenticeship in the field of Namsanjeongics I photographed the triumph of the modern Korean republic over the autocracy of the postwar decades.

Maybe I shouldn’t even tell the story of how I found my first apartment in Korea, a pale boxy sort of room scarcely large enough for a single bed, but packed regardless with sink, electric burner, fridge, washing machine, table, two chairs, and bathroom—a space so small you could not raise your arms up over your head if you walked in with your hands by your sides—complete with a stunning view of another building’s cement wall—ah no, I shouldn’t tell the story of how dreary and rainy the dark city was when I first climbed the hill of tar that leads to my castle, and nearly slipped and broke my neck on the smooth wet gray granite slabs that the city of Busan uses almost everywhere, on its streets, stairs, subway stations, department stores, restaurants, everywhere, simply everywhere—no indeed, the tale of mistakenly leaving my laptop and my leather coat with the Williamsburger inhabiting the place, and his subsequent mad dash from all things Korean that night, and then the resultant terror of not knowing if he had stolen my treasure, can be related another time—ditto with my first moments alone in this cluttered jumble of concrete jungles, when I ventured outside among the roaring motorcycles and droning fruit trucks and bought a large pizza, and, with my decidedly Gogolian gullet, destroyed it in front of my apartment building, to the ire of everyone walking by, and then conversed with an impossibly skinny mother—she spotted me, gasped, and approached me out of the metropolitan chaos with the apparent desire to marry me to her teenage daughter, who thankfully was not present—but this woman sat so uncomfortably close to me and so uncomfortably downwind that, in the sultry winds of a monsoon day, a mucus-like thread of melted cheese dripped away from my maw and the stretched chunk of pizza I had detached from the whole and flew away like a baby spider on a thread of silk buoyed into the sky by a breath of wind and spattered the woman’s cheek, a viscous glob of god knows what. No. I will leave these anecdotes for later, and pray that I haven’t told them before.

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