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29 March 2004
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Korea Life Blog - A Walk in the Country

Saturday afternoon the spring weather was perfect. Julie and I decided to take a walk through the countryside behind my home. We started by walking up behind the small university and came to the top of the hill overlooking a wide valley. Julie commented about how "messy" Korea is. Down in the valley: miscellaneous factories with bright blue roofs, a couple of old apartment buildings here and there, a restaurant, a small farm, a school. It seems they just pick a spot and build whatever at random without no thought of organization or aesthetics.

For some reason there was a fence around the university preventing people from walking down into the valley. However we found a way over it and headed down the hills through the woods.

We came across this secluded graveyard. A nice place to spend eternity, I guess...if you don't mind the ceaseless rumblings of the many factories down to the left. I wondered how they carry the bodies up here. There's no real path either way and the one that is there comes out into someone's backyard which you have to jump down a bit to get to. The other way leads back to the fenced university or down steeply into a heavily wooded valley. It's hard to imagine a funeral procession anyway you look at it.

While not sure, Julie, smart as she is, surmised this graveyard to be of a wealthy family with each generation buried further down the hill. At the top would be the great, great grandparents, then their children on the next level, etc. I wondered, as smart as I am, if these were all the victims of the hwasung city murders. Let's get out of here! Looking back, maybe we should have just read the tombstones and found out...

We continued down until we came to the road, the only choice we had. We spent the rest of the walk trying not to get hit by cars, breathing in dirt, and looking at endless garbage lining the side of the road.

At first I was excited to see these deer. I hadn't seen one since back in New York. Then the site broke my heart. These deer are being used for their antlers which are ground up and used in some kind of traditional medicine. It's hard to see in the picture but every deer's antlers have been sawed down to small stumps. I imagine the deer just sit here year after year having their antlers removed and making babies. I wanted to run down and cut open the fence. Oh well, I sighed. Such is the cruelty of man. At least they have a little room to run around and enough to eat. They probably wouldn't survive in the countryside around here anyway.

This has to be the most pathetic "supermarket" I have ever seen. Julie and I couldn't stop laughing. I'm not sure if it's open for business but judging from the mop there, someone has been cleaning up recently. Maybe that someone lives here too. What a life!

Later we came to a small lake. I didn't take a picture because it was depressing. It was literally full of garbage. The shore was cluttered with every kind of bottle, can and packaging you can imagine. I reflected on what modernization is doing to our world and how sad it is. We can send high-tech vehicles to Mars, yet we can't make biodegradable containers? Julie said that if she were the earth, she would think humans were cancer and want to kill them all. I agreed the world has too many people, even out here in the country side there were people and cars and garbage everywhere. Everything is dirty wherever you go. I remember sitting on one the beaches in Geoje-do and feeling so sad looking at the mounds of garbage washed in all over the shore.

Why don't we teach kids things like don't litter rather than x-y=28371? Looking around, I got the idea there should be declared "national clean-up day" in Korea in which all classes are cancelled and every student is required to pick up at least one bag worth of garbage from the environment. Of course everyone else would be encouraged as well. I'd love to participate in such an event, wouldn't you?

Eventually we made it to the dubu place we took a taxi to before. Just click on the link; we had exactly the same delicious meal again.


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