Speaking of leaving, and living…
I have a great university job in Gyeongju, which is probably the best place in the country for me to live, but still, until yesterday, I was desperate to get out of here, to go anywhere else. I’ve been stuck in the country for about seven months without a break, and until my friend Jarrod visited me over the weekend the thought that I would never escape was really getting to me. For two and a half years, in fact, my life has been all about staving off the boredom and misery of living in a country that I despise.
Jarrod and I walked and talked through Gyeongju and Busan for two days. He had never been to Korea, but he knew a lot about it from talking to me and quickly vindicated a lot of my complaints: it really isn’t just you, this place is difficult. His best quote: Busan in particular is a place with all the problems of a modern city and almost none of the benefits. The people are obviously obsessed with slaving away for their entire lives. At the same time, it really is impossible for you to come home for the time being, so instead of getting so worked up about it, you should do the right thing, the Nietzschean thing—that is my addition, for readers of Ecce Homo—and accept your fate. You’re going to be here for a few more years.
I’ve decided that he’s right. I’m on the far side of the world, and I’ve been fed up about it for too long. I know that things will suck if I go back, because I left several months after the economy collapsed, things sucked then, and nothing has changed. With a degree like mine I would have a hard time getting a job in 1950s America as well—although I don’t regret devoting myself to useful uselessness in the slightest, and I probably would have failed out of college if I had focused on something practical.
I want to leave Korea, no question. But without some kind of golden opportunity (like leveling up to a skill that is actually valued), it’s not going to happen, so for the mean time, I’m going to make the best of things here, and stop looking at Korea as something that I just have to get over with as soon as possible. I need to make this place into my own America: I have to stop letting the little things enrage me, because America has all kinds of daily issues too, but the difference is that when the shit hits the fan in America I don’t start whining about how I want to go live in France or whatever. I stick it out, things work themselves out, and life goes on. I need to transfer that bias, that pair of red-white-and-blue glasses, to Korea.