Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lonley Hearts and Weariness

The monsoon is in full force. I remember what the sun was like from the before time. The days of sunshine and clear blue skies yellowed by the haze of dust that fell from China. Now, in this post before time world, the skies are overcast and constantly threatening rain. Only the hardiest or most foolish leave a building without an umbrella. In the convince stores there are stacks of three dollar umbrellas that sell for seven dollars. We do not argue. It is that time of year.

I walk about after a day spent working from home. I feel tired and weary as is common when you spend an entire day working from home. Both more and less difficult. All day plotting numbers and pages and hours, and my brain feels boiled and ready to explode. I decide what I need is tequila.

The streets are uncrowded but still busy. The couples steal a chance between flashes of rain to sit under the trees in make out lane in the park. They smile and whisper about me as I walk past. It's nighttime in Korea and I'm the strangest thing in it. I find myself reciting over and over again "I'll be there soon". Sometimes it's not soon enough to end the stares.

I walk down into the dark belly of the Lonely Hearts club and find Hyun manning the bar alone. Everyone else has gone. It's just me and Hyun and nothing but quiet time. Perfect. Nothing makes me happier on a Sunday night than a quiet bar, a drink, and a good friend.

I buy Hyun a beer and he pours out some Jose and we commence to talk about the protests. This is the latest greatest news around these parts so we talk about it.

"The problem is you can't talk about politics with these young guys coming in," he says to me.

"Why's that?"

"They all take it personally, you know. But it's not personal. I don't understand."

"They don't either. It's not America, it's Korea."

Some of the Americans here are starting to get upset about the constant anti-American sentiment being expressed in candlelight vigils by hundreds of thousands of Koreans. What most fail to realize is that the vigils are not really about American beef. It's a protest about the policies of an administration that seems to be preoccupied with coddling foriegn interests at a loss to Korea. Koreans are protesting about Korea. That is where the issue gets confused.

"It can't be easy, with Korea's political history." I say.

Hyun who is in his late forties is not old enough to have lived during the war but he is old enough to have grown up in Korea shortly after. He lived through the military dictatorships and watched as hundreds of Koreans were killed in a battle for democracy and self governance. When he first opened commune there were still restrictions on running an establishment after midnight. It's only been in the last fifteen years that the government has really stabilized.

"I go to this gym, you know." He begins. "I knew when I joined it was like a high class gym. Everyone really wealthy, but it's close to my house, so I go there. And I go everyday. I knew people would be conservative, but I go to work out, you know. And the old guys they sit there and they talk about these communists bastards who are just trying to bring down the government. And I'm like, what the fuck?"

"The communists are the protesters?"

"Yeah, right. But then the, what do you say, police general guy? Anyway he says that if the protests continue maybe they will make a rule so no one can go out, we called it gi-young...and these old guys were saying, 'yeah, they should do that. It would be good.' But I can't believe it."

"And these were the same people who were in the same protests when they were younger, right?"

"Yeah, it's just, these guys are just so stupid, they just don't understand."

I can imagine that living through history again and again could have that effect. Outside the clouds shift overhead on their seasonal journey to wash everything clean; we shift in our seats and the discussion goes quiet under the wash of Bob Dylan in the empty bar.

1 comment:

GeologyJoe said...

Just yesterday did i see the first news about those protests.

is gi-young a curfew or a martial law?