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9 May 2004
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Korea Life Blog - Weekend



Julie and I went to Nak Won Sang Ga again this weekend. I did a post on it awhile back here. You can't tell by looking at it, but this is the biggest place in Korea to buy musical intruments and equipment, though guitars are the most popular instruments to be had here. To get here go to Jonggak station exit 3. Walk to the main intersection (passing a Subway sandwich shop) and turn left towards Insa-dong. It's right there. It's easy to see because of the huge movie advertisements for the Hollywood Theater which is up top.

I started playing guitar when I was 13. My friend Jim could already play a lot of Iron Maiden songs and I wanted to be just like him. Eventually he taught me everything he knew. We played for hours un-end. I loved playing so much that it became an obsession that lasted pretty much until I went to college. I still remember sitting in the back of the my high school classes and writing out scales and riffs to try out when I got home. I had a huge binder full. The guitar was my best friend, really, at a time when my family life was not so great and I had difficulty fitting in with my friends who were mostly from well off homes.

I had the most in common with Jim, his family life was also in the rough, but soon he would fall in love with some Asian girl and we'd ended up losing touch for a long time. Also, at that time I wanted to play moody, Pink Floyd-ish meets metal kind of music, a result of the way I felt inside. My other friends who played instruments were into heavier thrash metal. I put an ad up in the local guitar shop and I did have a band, albeit briefly. The drummer wanted to play funk, the bass player blues, and the singer sounded like he worshipped satan. We had a couple of decent songs (minus the singing) but we just didn't click. I quit. Well, those guys went on to form the group known as Nirvana. Right, but imagine if that really happened...

When I went to college I played less and less and studied more and more and unfortunately computer games became my new hobby. MUDs, (text RPG games over telnet) for anyone who can remember those. I pretty much haven't played the guitar since I've been in Korea.

When I went to Japan last weekend, my friend took me to a guitar shop there. I sat down and played a Fender Strat. I was surprised. My fingers were little rusty, but I could still play fairly well. I could remember scales, arpeggios, all the chords, and a handful of songs, mostly the ones I wrote, and even a bunch of Maiden riffs. I couldn't put the thing down and I almost bought it. I should have. It was only 600,000 won and it was a Japanese made Fender Strat, a large step up from Mexican built, a very short step down from the much more expensive American Strat. I just didn't want to by it on impulse and than regret it, or perhaps find something wrong with it once back in Korea and then unable to return it. I thought perhaps I could find the same model in Korea. But I soon discovered they only carry the crappy Mexican versions or the really expensive American ones.

Maybe it's the fact I just turned 30 and I'm facing an I-Just-Turned-30 Crisis. However, I haven't been able to stop thinking about playing again since that time in Japan. So after not finding something I want in Korea, I searched online and I've decided I want this guitar from the states:



Here it is, the Fender American Telecaster HH. It's pretty much perfect, and it's only $830. I'm not sure how I will get it to Korea though and how much shipping will be. Probably quite a bit because of the size/weight. I'm also not sure about paying import tax on it. It's a shame I can't just get this model here. They seem to only carry really cheap basic models, or the high end expensive one. This model is just right, exactly in between. Perhaps if anyone is about to come to Korea from the states, they could pick one of these up and then I'd compensate you for your trouble when you arrive.

Anyway, once I finally get it, I'll be able to use the guitar software I "found" on the net which means I'll be able to record my music and add it to the net for all my readers. I know you can hardly contain your enthusiasm!

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