When I moved to South Korea in 1988, the country was recovering from the dictatorships of Park Chung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan. In a week it would host its great coming-out party, the Seoul Olympics, which despite being well organized would be temporarily mired in controversy, with the national inferiority complex exposed.
My first impression of Seoul was that it was as militaristic, as nationalistic, as drab and as prudish as post-revolutionary China could be. and far more misogynistic. Pro-democracy student demonstrators battled with riot police, although it was clear from their own organizations that they didn’t know what democracy meant. … Read More
I arrived in the Philippines on July 7, 2007 with bags and two cats. A half shipping container full of stuff would arrive from South Korea three weeks later. The idea was that Mary, her husband Walter and I would retire together in a large bungalow in a rather posh subdivision. They had already moved in.
Korea had spoiled me when it came to healthcare—inexpensive, efficient and effective. As part of my employment package at the Buddhist university in Seoul, I had Korean National Health insurance, which automatically paid half of any medical bill and drug cost. I’d gotten semi-annual … Read More
Five years ago, Steve and I had an interview about his early days in the Peace Corps, starting in 1973, and his then current gig at Yeungnam University near Daegu, where he taught from 2012-2017. We called it “Korea Forty Years Later (Link)
In this recent interview he talks about this past year he and his wife Marsha spent teaching in Hungary, which he sees as a possibility for other teachers after they leave Korea.
How was it teaching English in Hungary? When did you go and what was your experience?
My wife and I arrived … Read More
When I arrived in Asia in 1984, everything was so new that my mind simply would not take in what it saw. I wandered around bug-eyed, marveling at everything but feeling content. I thought, “Isn’t it wonderful that I’m not experiencing any culture shock.” Two things I was ignoring were the fact that the actual shock was not due until later—when it did come—and the fact that my nightly retreats into British murder mysteries certainly qualified as trying to escape from my environment.
Few seasoned travelers to the East would consider referring to it as “mystic”; the realities are … Read More
Recently, Dr. Sandra Fahy and I had three interviews about her second book, Dying for Rights: Putting North Korea’s Human Rights Abuses on the Record. Our first interview deals with four categories of human rights abuses (Link), our second with the history of the development of the DPRK police state (Link), and this final one with the international dimensions of rights violations: overseas workers, treatment of foreign nationals and state representatives and rhetoric. Her first book was based on her interviews with North Korean famine refugees. (Link)
We spoke over Skype when Sandra … Read More