A Vision List

When I met Geri in Seoul in 2006, she struck me as being always cheerful and positive, but also definitely intelligent. After I left Korea in 2007 we kept in touch via Facebook and sometimes saw each other when I made my annual trip to Seoul. This interview took place over Skype, when Geri was in Seoul and I was in Manila. Thanks to Geri for the wonderful photographs.  

Geri’s story

I was raised in Idaho around Mormons and Methodist farmers—good, hardworking, solid German stock. Before me no one in the family had gone to college or traveled, except for … Read More

International Kids, Part 2

Andrew Dougherty and Crystal Dougherty are 13 and 15; they attend Yongsan International School of Seoul, an American-based private school which is both Christian and broad-minded. I was particularly interested in their stories because when I was a child my family spent a year in Europe every five years, first in Luxembourg then Germany, where I attended public schools and university; it turned out there were some similarities.

Crystal’s story

I’ve lived in Korea for almost half of my entire life. I was born here then I was raised in Seguin,  Texas in Las Brisas. It was a pretty good … Read More

International Kids, Part 1

Andrew and Crystal are thirteen and fifteen. They attend Yongsan International School of Seoul, an American-based private school which is both Christian and broad-minded. I was particularly interested in their stories because when I was a child and young adult my family spent a year in Europe every five years, first in Luxembourg and then in Germany, where I attended public schools and university. It turned out there were some similarities. We spoke in their home in Seoul.

Andrew’s story

Before I moved here to my international school in Seoul, I went to Navarro Elementary School in Seguin Township, Texas. … Read More

Moving On, Part 6

This section deals with my indecision about what to do after teaching in Asia for two decades, retirement in the Philippines and work on a novel manuscript.

One day in the spring of 2007 I was sat in the Hard Rock Café in Fukuoka, eating a large salad and waiting to collect my tourist visa from the Korean Consulate. I remembered when my friend Françoise and I were in Hong Kong and she discovered that someone had unzipped her bag and taken her wallet, which held all her money and identification. She kept exclaiming, “I have no identity!” She seemed … Read More

In the Bathhouse (Mogyoktang or 목욕탕)

In 1988, I interviewed a petite, pretty, blond and blue-eyed Englishwoman in her early twenties about her experiences in a Korean bathhouse. Later, from my own experience, I discovered that little had changed since then except for the prices. Around 2005, in a basement-level neighborhood bathhouse, I was still able to get all the services Jane describes here—except for the massage—for about 10,000 won or about ten dollars. At a window I bought a ticket, went below ground to rooms with concrete walls. I put my clothes in a wooden locker, took the little hand towel I was given and Read More