Gehörte ursprünglich zu diesem Buchprojekt 2006/2007:
Galbibbook, Expats über Korea
Die Photos müssen noch eingefügt werden:
In 1996 a North Korean submarine was stranded on the shore in South Korea. Most of the crew members did suicide or were killed by their commander but a few managed to escape. They fled into the mountains and a 49 day long manhunt by the ROK-Army began. The media covered this as a headline hourly every day. This incident seemed pretty serious as such North Korean spy infiltration had almost stopped in the 80s.
While the South Korean military was tracking down the surviving North Koreans, we were spending our vacation on the Songjeong beach near Busan with my parents who flew in two weeks later than we. The tension between North and South was already mounting and people were told, the situation was near to war. But it has been always like that.
Despite all, we were enjoying the gorgeous and crispy September sunny day at the Songjeong beach. It was off season, so empty and quite. Songjeong beach was than reserved area only for the military then. On that day some military unit was drilling because of the incident (this is what I learned from the officer on the photo later on. My wife noticed that one officer had been watching our direction for a while. So I thought he's going to kick us out any time, because it could be dangerous staying there because they were also shooting some kind of drilling ammunition with a tiny parachute attached to it toward the sea.
He finally came to our direction and approached us with shy smile. My wife acted as if she weren't Korean all along. He could speak English a little. We chatted a little asking each other the usual where-do-you-come-from sort of questions. We tried to keep the conversation going on. He was searching for something to talk about. Then he told me he has black belt in Taekwondo and asked me whether I wanted to see it. Before I answer to him he pushed his riffle in my hand and showed me his Taekwondo skills. Until that very moment I had never had a weapon in my hand before.
Ten years later we went to the same beach again in August. The military was still there but not to drill instead to spend their summer day off. The beach is more or less open to the civilians now. New roads had been paved direct to the beach front. As a result the beach was as jammed pack with people as Haeundae in Busan.
The coast is not guarded permantly anymore, times has changed.
Near Pohang the soldiers were allowed to have some drinks spending their sparetime. It's a beach where army members with family can join. They enjoyed their one day off.
And another scene from Songjeong beach 2006
Small factory 1993
My 42-year-old brother-in-law ran a factory in Busan with about a dozen employees which produced handles for pots and pans. Business was done by telephone only. No computer,no fax. He always had cash problems like many other small business owners because he was seldom paid by cash for his products by the pot makers. Even in the 90s it was still a practice to make a payment by so-called "promisary note", a sheet of paper which promises cash payment in 3 to 6 months whereby the parts suppliers had to buy the raw material with cash. Sometimes the pot makers couldn't pay him on time so he got pots and pans as a payment. So my 72-year-old mother-in-law sometimes sold them to the neighbors by word-of-mouth. She even once opened a shop to sell them because there were just too many of them.
My mother-in-law opens the shop with a ceremony.
She threw some salt towards the door after the first customer did not buy anything. It was to keep the bad ghosts away.
And the factory in Seoul
Even today these small manufacturer can be found everywhere, Busan, Yong-do
History and TV drama 1996
Koreans living far away from their home country sooth their homesickness by watching TV dramas. Copied dramas are circulated among expat Koreans in US, Germany etc. When they get a whole set of new mini drama, they most probably watch them throughout the night until they eyes ach. It's mostly about triangle love stories with delicate family-and-friends relationships. But the other popular TV dramas are about the history: from Koguryo to Chosun and the Japanese occupation to present. It seems that the popularity of the history dramas didn't subdue ever since I got to know the country. Germany has a difficult history too but it is focused only on last century. A drama about the killing of the Emporess Min was being filmed when I visited the one of the palaces in Seoul. This image shows japanese military assaulting the palace one hundred years ago.
Mid 90s the old Japanese colonial government building on the Gyungbok palace ground which housed the national museum then was a thorn in the eyes of the Koreans. The last sign of the Japanese occupation was being tearing down five decades after the independence. A similar development happens in Berlin where they are dismantling the People's Palace of the GDR in the center of the city right now.
We were hitch hiking through South Korea in 1994. Visiting some ancient ruins. Here a stronghold of the Paekche period. It was a ruin and we felt sorrow that history would vanish this way. We got to know recently that this site has been rebuild and changed for better.
A restaurant 1996-2006
This restaurant has survived the Asian crisis of the last decade. Always it has offered rawfish as main dish. Often they get fresh sea food from the coast near Busan. Therefor some divers are taking a small boat early in the morning. If the restaurant is packed with guests they try to serve as fast as possible. When they are too exhausted later they go to sleep at the same place after midnight.
The most exposed place for having dinner or lunch in Busan
Sense for improvisation
The first surprise in Korea was to see how they are doing things like connecting a new phone number to the net. In one day. In Germany we had to wait for weeks after moving in a new home. The man from the telephone company just climbed up the telegraph-pole, one foot on a huge nail or something alike. 1993
It can't be in Europe 1993
There are Buddhists and recently new Christians statues too, spreading throughout the cities
If you are staying far away from Korea occasionally bad news reach you through media. Some accidents, a collapse of a shopping mall. This time a taifun which caused a terrible impact on the ships in all Busan bays. Some people did not survive the incident.
On my first stay we bumped into a demonstration in Busan during night. The change toward democracy was done already but people were not sure if a set back could happen. Just too close to the recent past. The athmosphere was tensed but nothing happened.
Beeing a miguksaram: Some like the attention they get as foreigner in Korea, some not. This girl did not know that the kindergarten children were looking at her. Or was it the popcorn? In a park in Seoul 1993
No food but this guy chared his rice on Chiri-san, South Korea, early in the morning.June 1994.
We were reaching Chirisan peak awaiting a hostel with food to buy. All wrong. We ended up in a big hall during night, left side men, right side women. We had no sleepingbags. So she was allowed to sleep between us at the man side to get some heat from the bodies. It was damn cold. When all people left the place for catching the sunrise, we three stayed at the place having breakfast. The soldier, who had his one week vacation of the year shared his food with us. The home of his family down in the valley below.
To spend time on a hobby is a new experience in Korea. It's obvious that there are not many sailing boats along the coast. Here are some beginners trying to master a recently unknown sport.1996
Learning for school is much harder for Koreans than German students. During evening they are coming home. They enter the subway and busses in a certain rhythm. First the younger ones and before midnight 16, 17 years old students. But it seems they like their school even during summer holidays. The children were playing with the equipment of the kindergarten which is in the same building. 2006
Sports, summer and daytime
Siesta in Spain, it is because of the heat, no activity during lunchtime. In Korea the summer has temperatures as high as in Southern Europe but often plus the unbearable humidity. The photo was taken around 1pm on a mountain peak above Gimhae. 34-36°C.
In Europe they often say Korea would have no tradition in soccer. This was 10 years ago, a playground in an apartment complex.
Nowadays the enthusiasm for the national soccer team is even greater than in Europe. The Korean fans are louder, more creative and more enduring than the boys from England.
Two Koreans in Germany preparing for a worldcup match in Hanover 2006.
To be a fan of the national team, 'Be the Reds'
Be prepared, no action without food
Be there, not alone
Get a flag
Follow his instructions
Do not forget to sing, here is a list of songs
At the end you are waiting impatiently for the final whistle. Cause you have lost your voice from cheering and shouting, you are close to dehydration. And at the end the south korean team won her first worldcup game outside the homeland. Great.
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