Yesterday, a pollution sign in Seoul implied that breathing-in too much was not in your best interest:
Japan defeated Russia in a war in 1904-1905. Educated Westerners, it seems to me, think of it along these lines: "Japan sucker-punched an increasingly-backwards Russian Empire. Japan fought solely to assert itself and challenge the European powers for the first time". In fact, I've learned that the war was primarily about the fate of Korea. By the early 1900s, either Russia or Japan was going to end up taking Korea. Japan got it.
The famous American adventure writer, Jack London, visited Korea during the war, I just learned. He was there immediately after the early fighting ended in spring 1904. Jack London is, of course, most famous for The Call of the Wild and White Fang, both also written in the early 1900s. He was 28 at the time of his sojourn through Korea. He died at age 40, the same year that my grandfather was born.
London produced an essay about his time in Northeast Asia. His observations and thoughts about Japan, Korea, China, and Manchuria are in an essay semi-ironically entitled "Yellow Peril". I came to read this essay recently:
One of the Norwegian students in my Korean language class introduced me to "GeoGuessr". (I have to say "one of" because there are, incredibly, two Norwegians in it, of twelve total students.)
Geoguessr is a game. It drops you at a random spot on the planet Earth along a roadway (using Google Street View). You have a certain amount of time to make your best guess about where you are, based on whatever clues you can gather around you in "Street View" mode. You can move along the roads a little, looking at signs, scenery, buildings, plant types, whatever. The closer your guess is to the actual location you were "dropped", the more points you get.
Here is the result of my first attempt:
I am currently in the middle of my intensive Korean course, and I'm very pleased with it.
At the risk of embarrassment at my relatively low skill, I will publish a recent assignment I did. "Imagine you are on a trip, and write a postcard to your friend". Here is the text of my postcard (after a handful of teacher's corrections):
Now here is an amazing story. The amazing part is down below. The first part, above the divider, isn't so amazing.
I was sick for about ten days, straddling New Year's Day 2014. I mentioned this in post-176. The sickness was unpleasant at best. At worst, thoughts of Death began to creep into my disoriented, pain-addled mind.
It will pass. It didn't. It got worse. Swallowing became an intense, body-jolting experience. Breathing got more difficult, and that's scary. An endless headache, concentrated in one spot (also scary); sleeping all day, either shivering under the blankets, or waking up with everything drenched in sweat. On January 2nd, I finally went to the doctor, in Seoul's Guro district, where I am staying during my month of intensive Korean studying. I was diagnosed with tonsillitis. I got a bag full of pills to take. The pills helped. My friend J.A. gave me called "propolis" and it also helped.
Now here is the amazing part:
Back around Christmas 2013, I had a meal with my new Korean friend, H.
We ate Dong-Ji Porridge [동지죽]. Dongi-Ji is the Korean word for "Winter Solstice". Here it was:
The taste of the porridge was as thick as it looks. Kimchi and fresh beef are side dishes, with some kind of sweet juice....
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