Tuesday, November 11, 2003

As the red hued autumn has drawn to a close in Korea and with the bitter winter right around the corner, I spent some more time this week reflecting on the year that has passed. As we were driving down to Pusan last weekend, past the acres of barren rice fields, I realized that we have been here now long enough to witness the entire crop cycle.

I can still remember those early spring days and the brilliant green fields of fresh seedlings set into the flooded paddies. Then came summer and the billowing golden carpets of the maturing plants and finally, this past autumn, the browned stacked sheaves of harvested rice.

We’re into our second contract now and I go into it with a strange sense of deja view, like I’ve done this all before. But, I also know what to expect and it doesn’t feel as intimidating this time around. My grasp of the Korean language has gotten better over the year, and I’m close to mastering just about all the swear words and insults.

So with the arrival of the cold winds, it’s time to pack away the summer shorts and unpack the down jacket, toques and scarves. While I’m sad to say goodbye to summer, I am also looking forward to winter, especially to more snowboarding at the local resorts and the endless days of sunshine that is winter in Korea.

On that farewell note, we recently held ‘Goodbye to Summer’ Fall Ultimate Frisbee Invitational tournament in Ulsan. Hosted by the USLUTs (the Ulsan Saucer Launching Ultimate Team) we drew teams from Seoul and Pusan and we had a great day in the sun playing round robin games of ultimate.

Unfortunately, I was stuck on the sidelines as I had recently re-injured my knee. While recovering from blowing it out in a hapkido class, I got a little aggressive on one of my days off and decided to climb Mt. Gaji (1,240m) solo. I blew it out again near the peak and had to hobble down on it for nearly four hours to get back to my scooter. With only a few days rest, I had a hapkido belt test later that week and succeeded in blowing it for a third time during the test. Three times in a month was enough to persuade me to go easy on it for a while - which accounted for my being sidelined for the ultimate tourney.

Though, I’m happy to say that I passed my belt test and am now a brown belt – only two away from black, now the fun begins! Or, as soon as I can get back on my knee…

Anyway, the Ultimate tournament was a great success and we all convened later in the evening for a banquet, drinks and award ceremony at one of the local bars. We had scooped up some decent swag as prizes (courtesy of my friends at Hyundai Heavy Industries, the big shipyard here in town) and for those who had committed the worst blunders of the day there was bundaegi. Bundaegi is a Korean delicacy; boiled silkworm larvae that smell uncomfortably close to soiled diapers.

So aside from the changing weather and flying Frisbees, the only other news of note is my sister Julianne will be joining Amy and I in Ulsan at the end of this week. It will be nice to have her here and with Joanna’s imminent return next year to Seoul that will make 3 out of 4 Burslems in Korea. Soon, we’ll have to change our name to Kim or Park.


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