The funniest thing about Seoul, says Noah Cicero, is what goes on on a normal summer’s night. He finds himself amidst a collage of people: drunk men fighting, cute girls giggling, hard-working folks making a living; a woman stops to point out his blue eyes, while across the street a middle-aged man sleeps peacefully on the sidewalk. He is in a nice suit and covered in vomit. “It just seemed so perfect at times,” he says of life in Korea.
When Chun Yoon-mi was in middle school, she was “absolutely sure” she wanted to kill herself. She narrowed it down to two choices: she would either jump off the building she shared with her grandparents, or overdose on pills. Bullies at her school had urged her to commit suicide, telling her she was the reason her parents divorced. The date was set.
Lawmaker Jasmine Lee is in the thick of Korea’s multicultural transformation. Lee is leading the charge on multiple fronts, although she is quick to point out that taking things one step at a time is necessary to maintain support from a majority of the people and to prevent attracting too much negativity.
One month ago, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un brought the planet to the brink of nuclear war. At least, that’s what many leading news organizations led us to believe. The truth is that we were no closer to nuclear war in April than we were in March. The sensationalist and, at times, incorrect reporting posed a far greater danger to peace in East Asia than the possibility of a preemptive nuclear strike from North Korea ever did.
Josh Foreman, a married man, has been teaching English in Korea for six years. Because he is a foreign teacher, he has been required to submit HIV/AIDS test results since 2007. That requirement only falls on E-2 visa holders. He describes himself as a “normal guy” who doesn’t use drugs, doesn’t have any sexually transmitted diseases, is without a criminal record and doesn’t frequent Korea’s prostitution neighborhoods. He feels that mandatory HIV/AIDS testing for Western teachers is not only discriminatory, but it’s detrimental to public health.
Following is Groove Korea's editorial for the April 2013 issue. — Ed.
It was an autumn dawn, and the spirits of deceased soldiers filled every corner of monk Mukgyegeosa’s mountainside temple grounds. Some among them were crying, demanding and angry. Some had their heads blown off. Others sat with severed limbs. All wore battered North Korean and Chinese military uniforms. The young men were bloodied and destroyed by war. They talked to each other and even engaged Mukgyegeosa. Some complained of the cold, he said, while others complained of hunger. One simply wanted to go home. Another man told Mukgyegeosa he missed his mother.
Kim Chang-dae started the Seoul Hiking Club 13 years ago with one intention: to share the beauty of Korea's mountains around with foreigners. What surprised Kim was the lifelong friendships he has made with people from around the world.
One of the most important friendships of his life was made through the club. Kim now counts Danish-Korean Christian Rhee as one of his closest friends. The two often have dinner together and Kim helped Rhee start his own business in Seoul.
Rising competition among low-cost air carriers means one thing for you, the intrepid traveler — lower prices and more destinations to choose from.
It wasn’t long ago that a flight to and from Korea would set you back 1 million won. But with the arrival of several international and Korean budget airlines, there are more places around Asia that are accessible for less than $500. And the list is growing.
When Tony MacGregor and his group of pilgrims embarked on a trek across Korea, a question they sought to answer was how to find one’s true nature. Through a kind of walking vipassana (meditation), they examined their emotions and feelings. And in the process of that inward search, they inadvertently discovered the “real Korea.”