In the Long Run, or: She Cried "Go!" or: Morning Redness in the East

You've probably noticed that the title and picture of this post has no tangible connection to Crispin Hellion Glover. That is because today's post is a special guest post by one the Right Reverend Booker T. Kilimanjaro, formerly Gent Nicely. Throughout it's illustrious past, whenever Forty Minutes of Hell has needed someone to give their perspective on the world(s) of middle and long distance running, we have turned to the Reverend K.* At other times, he e-mails someone out of the blue demanding that we post this or that nigh - incomprehensible rant. This is one of those times.

Oh hello. Didn't see you there, how've you been? Good, good. Good to hear, glad you're taking up a hobby. You're only young once right? What's that you say? My weekend? Funny you should ask.

"*sob* I need a hug!"
"Get the fucking shoes off, get 'em off!"
"Thank you sir, and a race well run to you as well. No I would not like to massage your legs. No I would not like you to massage mine."
"My number? 4-0-7-gimmememyfugginbagalready!"
"Please don't come near me Bigclowns. Please Please Please. Don't make me deal with you."

The following are things I either said or muttered under my breath just after finishing the Dong-a Marathon in Seoul, over twice as long as the longest race I've ever run, and I'm struck by how it was almost exactly like, if not a little better than, getting date-raped. Indulge me whilst I explain.

One day the Marathon's in town, you've never run one, you've just heard things that make it sound mysterious, exciting, maybe a little... dangerous? Intrigued, you give it a shot, and it starts out as a blast, all this pomp and fanfare, (just for you!) and before you know it you've run further than you ever have, and feel like you're soaring on the wings of the Titanic, with Leonardo DiCaprio holding your waist. But then, at about the midpoint, the Marathon goes too far. "This isn't cool anymore," you think to yourself "I want to go home now." But it's too late, too much has happened, and it's buy the ticket, take the ride.

You begin to panic. Meanwhile androgynous Asians in powder blue cowboy outfits shout "Fighting!" at you. As it progresses you find yourself retreating into yourself, trying to deny what's happening to you, block it out, make it be over, but it just keeps getting worse. Also women in tiger costumes throw frozen treats at your head. Eventually it's over, and the only thing you can think is how much you need a hug, a shower and a good cry.

So you limp away, sore, sticky, confused and so full of self loathing that when strange old men offer to massage your legs without so much as buying you a drink, you actually have to think hard for a reason why not. But it doesn't end there, oh no. A short while later, along comes a hateful little souvenir, a little forget-me-not from your friend the marathon, that perhaps, with time and patience, you can learn to love. There was no handwriting or speaking involved in my registration by the way. Signed up on the 'net. Koreans raise misspelling to an art form.

And that was my weekend. How was yours?

This is for certain friends of mine, and you know who you are. Only the second two titles are references. The first one is all Byrne, so you can give wikipedia a break.

* - This has never happened.

Editor's Note: I have neglected to edit any of this, minus the fact that it was originally one long paragraph.

You Get Your Damn Hands Off Her: Things in Korea that Will Kill You

Or is it "keep your damn hands?" I can't be bothered to look it up. As you may have guessed, I'm going to try and keep the Crispin Glover-centric headlines going for as long as I can. And if you didn't guess, go ahead and read that last sentence a second time. Try to keep up from now on.
I was planning on making this a much-beloved recurring series, but as those who can scroll back through the annals of this site will attest, I tend to lose willpower and focus rather quickly and just unceremoniously drop them (see: Timecube/MLS preview). Instead, I'm going to try to write one handy field guide to not staying alive in the southern half of this peninsula. If you cross that 38th parallel, you're on your own, chief. I can't be held responsible for that shit. Anyways, at risk of me writing so many lists I start getting paychecks from, here, in no particular order, are Things in Korea that Will Kill You:

1. Soju - Everyone say hello to the national drink of Korea. It may look innocuous, but like a tiger hiding behind a giant picture of Tony the Tiger, it wants to follow you home and eat your family. Unlike other traditional forms of alcohol, which are distilled, brewed, fermented or created in some other way that God intended, soju is simply watered-down ethanol. Did I mention they add sugar for flavor? No, I didn't, because added sugar is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic thirty years after it sank.
A brief history: Soju didn't use to be a tool of the monkey god Hanuman designed to destroy humanity; it used to more like sake. Then, a rice shortage following the Korean war forced the government to make people stop turning all their rice into to liquor, as eating is somewhat more important. Hence, the near-gasoline that we all enjoy today. Oh, it also runs you roughly $1 a bottle.

Unoccupied Taxi Cabs - It's a common stereotype that people outside the United States and Western Europe drive like fucking maniacs. This is because, of course, that all stereotypes are true. But Korean taxi drivers take it to a new level. There is no more dangerous person on the road (in a country where a four-hour driving course earns you a driver's license) than a taxi driver with no fare. I have no real explanation for this; all I have are the numerous close calls I've had on foot and on bike with these reckless fuckers. They seem to become rational once more once they pick up a fare, and this probably has something to do with the law that states you owe the taxi driver no money if he gets in an accident. This isn't to say riding in a taxi isn't occasionally hair-raising. One of my first experiences was barreling down a two-lane country road at over seventy mph as the driver sat, turned around, laughing at me. Why was he laughing? Because my seatbelt was broken and wouldn't latch.

Holy Shit, the Yellow Dust - Around this time of year, Korea is treated to a fantastic "Howdy, neighbor!" from those ever-gregarious gents, the Chinese. It comes in the form of stifling, allergy-inducing and lung-destroying "yellow dust" (also commonly known as "Seriously, What the Fuck!!!??!?"). In years past, it was a mass of dust blown in off the Gobi Desert, but nowadays packs that extra punch of good old-fashioned Chinese air pollution. There's really not much I can say, I mean, just look at that goddamn picture.

Strong Dick! - This entry has as much to do with killing you as it does with that picture. I hope you respect the man with the cojones to type in "strong dick" to google image search, because that was a harrowing half a second where I was trying to decide whether or not to click. But I digress. There is a legend in Seoul of a taxi driver who goes by the name "Strong Dick." He has simple business cards that say his name and his phone number; nothing else. When you call Strong Dick (or, even better, accidentally hail him) he will take you to the shadiest red light districts that ever red lit. Stories abound of him trying to pimp his daughters, taking people who have lived in Seoul for years to places they couldn't locate the next morning and going by the name fucking Strong Dick. Along with eating dog, this man is at the top of my list of things to do in this country. And no, I'm not going to reword that.

Well, it's getting late here and I still have two lesson plans to write for tomorrow, so it looks like I'm going to have to continue this at a later date. I'm headed up to Seoul for St. Paddy's as well as to watch a certain man die in a marathon. So I'm sure I'll have something non-list related to write about by then. Will it be my favorite coked-out bartender? Or will it be the saga of me buying jeans OUTSIDE OF A STORE? Only time will tell...


Due to my no-editing and no-proofreading mandate, I'm forced to make the next few links an entirely separate post. Enjoy...

This has been getting me through the day the last week or so, via Deadspin.

"Lies" by Big Bang, the second-biggest K-Pop song since I've been here. The shopping cart alone makes the video.

"Tell Me" by Wondergirls, easily the biggest K-Pop smash that other uber-contrived girl group released that soul-crushing single a few somethings back. Fun games to play while watching: a) Find the fifteen-year old singer b) be creeped out once you find the fifteen-year old singer c) gouge out your ears with a rusty grapefruit spoon, hearing no more forever. But seriously, go ahead and watch this. Then play it on loop, twenty-four hours a day for the next six months or so. Then you'll know what it's like to live in Korea. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Seriously though, watch it. I have to go see an Indian man about a phone card.

I Can Blog! I Can Blog with my Hands!

Lo! I have returned to the blogging depths, anew, like a Phoenix, rising from the ashes of Arizona! Brief update: since my last post, I've moved to a small city in South Korea and not posted one single time. Since I have neither the inclination nor the inclination to start up a new blog, I will instead simply cannibalize Forty Minutes and use it for my own dastardly means. I will blog about Korea.
This blog will contain many things: humorous anecdotes about the life of a weyguk in Korea, rage-filled anecdotes about the life of a weyguk in Korea, and the occasional lazily-researched insight into the culture of the Land of the Morning Calm. Also, it will include many, many typos because I will be fucked if I'm going to proofread any of this. Also, there will be cake.*
Some quick hits on Iksan, South Korea:

1. A city of 100,000 or so two hours south of Seoul by bullet train, or according to my recruiter, a city of 300,000 one hour south of Seoul. Potato, poTAto.

2. Most famous for being blown to fuck-all when a security guard fell asleep while smoking a cigarette. He was guarding a trainload of explosives. It blew up a third of the city, but hey, we got a shiny new train station out of it! Dae Han Min Guk!

3. Is home to roughly 50 weyguks (foreigners).

4. Has an ancient temple complex right outside town named Mireuksaji. Note: This is not impressive.

I'll stop there because I have grown bored of the list format. I guess now is a good time to tell you there will be a serious lack of pictures on this blog, as I didn't buy a camera until I had been here about four months. Then, I left it at a friend's apartment in Daegu. Now, it currently resides in the possession of someone from Chaing Mai, Thailand (or someone who happened to be in Chaing Mai at the same time as me). To help shed some light on this mysterious catastrofuck, I will relate the few events that I actually recall from that fateful night, in the much-dreaded list form:

1. I was leaving a dance club because I felt uncomfortable. Why, do you ask? Hold your goddamn horses, I answer. Besides Byrne and a Thai waitress who, I must emphasize for reasons that will not be discussed, was most certainly not a hooker, I was surrounded by Thai prostitutes, sex-pats and the occasional scary-looking pimp/bouncer.

2. I helped organize a protest against a man who was trying to bring an elephant into a bar. He won.

3. I yelled "I'm a doctor of journalism!" at an angry madame, who did nothing to help my confusion at how the the Western Union that I had changed money at that afternoon was now a brothel. I realized later the Western Union was about two blocks away. My mistake.

4. I took a piss in an alleyway, and no, I'm not proud of it. Or am I? Fuck off, it was like four in the morning.

That's it. In the morning, no camera. Anyways, since apparantly list-day here at 40 minutes (actually, it's closer to fifty due to the strength of the Korean bun against the American minute), I'll rattle off a few of my favorite quotes I've heard since I've been here, absolutely context-free. Fun game: try to guess which ones are from Koreans and which ones from foreigners:

"All I remember is riding my bike with one hand because I was trying to hold the blood in."

"Only a whore smokes in public."

"Come, I want you to meet my first mistress."

"If it wasn't for us, all of you would be speaking Japanese!" (actually much, much worse in context)

"You are Texas to me!"

"If we're going to go that far, you're going to have to put on a helmet."

"I think I'm going to do heroin in when I get there."

That's enough, off the top of my head. Can you tell that I'm typing this because I'm avoiding something else? On that note, it's probably time for me to start winding down. I can't promise all the entries won't be this long, although I can promise they'll be more cohesive and less lazy. I plan on updating this at least once a week, as I get off work on Wednesdays a little after noon, so if I don't do something productive then I'll lose my last remaining shred of dignity. If anyone bugs me, like they did to Byrne, about not posting often enough then this blog may very well go the way of his blog or 40 minutes of hell, the sports blog. So don't. Keep that shit to yourself.

Annyongi kaseyo.

*(There will be no cake.)



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