August 1, 2011

Because my friend and first guest-poster, John, is leaving soon, there have been a few farewell parties over the past couple of months. Inevitibly, John and I end up in a half-joking conversation about writing a book, and which of our coworkers would “take up a whole chapter”. Over time, “He’s a chapter in my book”, became a perfect, summative, polite way of saying that Korea attracts some very unusual people.

If I wrote literal interpretations of some of the people I’ve met here, they would probably be dismissed as too far-fetched to be believable. They are caricatures if written in words, yet underneath the otherworldly exteriors they are deeply human and vulnerable. Korea is a haven for those who don’t fit in elsewhere. Here, just being foreign makes you a freak and becomes a bigger cloak under which all your personal eccentricities are hidden.

At the end of any night at the Wa Bar near the university where I work, after sharing gossip and Grolsch with my coworkers, I eventually find myself alone on the subway home, the lone white person in the car, and I make the transition from judge to judged. I am the one that doesn’t belong. Always, underneath the bright subway lights, two questions fill my head:

Does Korea attract weirdos or does Korea itself make people weird?

Am I a chapter in somebody’s book?

One comment

  1. Oh Shelley, you are more than a chapter. You are most of my book.

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