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a side trip…

July 28, 2009

it’s bee a while since my last blah blah blah… well, it’s been an interesting summer, not seasonal one at that… guess things have been a bit off… like the stars were not lined up properly for me… i think it’s hard time for many people for some obvious reasons and some not so obvious ones… the obvious one being the financial strain which i don’t need to go into any details since we, pretty much all of us, are experiencing it…
the less obvious ones, rather more personal reasons are more related to my identity… well, kind of sick of “i” and “my” but still…
guess it all started with the death of former korean president, roh moo-hyun at the end of may… i was already thinking that there had been lots of death of well known people in the world… starting with heath ledger’s death from last year… i read the news of the suicide of that korean president and couldn’t help being drawn to the incident… considering that i hadn’t paid all that much attention to what was happening in korea for almost 16 years that was interesting… it started with me reading every single articles about him i could find on the internet both in korean and english learning a lot about him in such a short time period… then after discovering many korean tv programs on youtube i totally found myself deeply immersed in those clips for days and nights… i think the most intriguing thing about his death was just like with any other suicides was how much personal pain that he must have gone through… and especially it involved a president, once the most powerful, whatever that means, person in one country who also carried so much responsibility on his back… more and more i read about him i realized how different he was with all other presidents i grew up with who were mostly dictators and typical politicians who would lie about anything and everything in order to obtain the power… obviously this former president roh had succumbed into the cycle of corruption but the scale was so much smaller compared to the other presidents ever in korea… not saying that should excuse him from it but just letting you know that still he was not like the others.. also the fact his political history began way back in the ’80s helping labor unions and students movements, it made him a totally different kind of politician… yes, all the politicians do play the game and some of them are really convincing to make you think they are really there for you… for some reason i trusted this guy was really there for the people by just listening to his election speeches… like how many of us here in the states felt listening to obama speaks… and as we all know, that’s already a lot…
also while watching all those tv programs talking about his background, i began to remember all that student movements i witnessed while in middle school… i lived in this area called shin-chon where 4 universities were located close to each other during the peak of student movements in late ’80s… walking in the street filled with broken bottles, air filled with tear gas, surrounded by riot police in their armor is not an experience you can forget that easily… especially if that happened practically everyday for a long while… i was not living with my parents then because i was attending this arts school in seoul… so i didn’t really have that many adults to talk to… i wanted to know what the hell was going on with all this but no one explained it to me… other than brushing it off as some crazy students wasting their time and energy… i tried to read news papers but there were just so many references i didn’t know…
then it happened one morning… around 5 in the morning i was woken up to a guy shouting something running up and down the allies outside… it was very vague at the beginning and couldn’t make anything out of it… then his voice got closer to outside my window and finally heard that he was announcing a death of a student who had been injured by police… his voice was coarse from shouting and filled with certain sadness… and even i still didn’t understand what they were fighting for yet i knew that there was something seriously wrong that someone had to die from it… and the cause must be something important…
that’s one of the memories i’ll always have about korea… along with its beautiful mountains and rivers and food…

while deeply immersed in this sentiment, a friend of mine from korea who i’ve never met in person but only through music and emails, sent me an entire book of cartoon… which finally closed that circle that i had been carrying deep inside me… as i said the memories i have about those student movements were still not complete since i never got the explanation… and after reading this cartoon, i finally filled that gap… why those people had to throw themselves like that in order to have the truth revealed… and how awful the truth was and how i, along with many other people, was kept from it for a long long time… it was about gwnag-joo protest in 1980 where horrible incident took place just like chica’s tiananmen square protest in 1989… thousands of innocent people including women and children were killed by the dictator and his army because they were asking for true personal freedom and democracy… later the korean government covered it up as necessary killings since those people were the “reds” and it remained that way until years later when the university students finally stood up… it just never got enough coverage from the west when it happened because it just didn’t have appeal to others’ benefit… it sounds cynical but how true that is with so many other hideous crimes being committed all over the world… that was what i was living through almost 20 years ago…
it was like an electric shock to me to have that missing part finally revealed… i suppose if i stayed in korea i might have learned it a lot earlier but as i said after i moved here i was just not there both physically and mentally…

then more personal revelation came afterward when i started to poke around and finding all this youtube clips of korean singers, most of them dead, ha, and i couldn’t stop listening to those songs… as if i was back in my high school period… re-listening to the melodies and lyrics and realized how much of those songs had influenced me as a musician and a person… maybe i never really grow up from then… then moved on to reading all this internet based cartoons, in korea they are called web-toons, why not and found one author whose cartoons made me cry for hours… ha ha ha…

now i stopped reading korean news papers obsessively and feel like i’m more back to the “reality” i belong to… however that little side trip i took down on the memory lane was definitely something rewarding and in a way complete certain part of me as a korean person… and finally i know what really had happened… i just hope people will never stop fighting for the truth and democracy in korea and all other placed in the world…

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2 Comments
  1. 흥미롭게 잘 읽었습니다. 제가 다 부끄럽게 느껴지네요. 그당시 제가 그 상황을 이해하기에는 너무 어려서 그런지 몰라도 뉴스나 매체에서 본 그 모든 비극들이 그저 가상세계에서나 존재하는 전쟁게임 처럼만 느껴졌었죠… 지금은 또 나 스스로에 대한 불신이나 현실에서 오는 내 주변의 셀수없는 갈등때문에 그런것들을 애써 외면하고 있다는 생각이 들었습니다. 읽어보신 만화가 혹시 강풀 작가님의 작품인듯 하네요. 언제한번 서점에서 우연히 집어들었다 그냥 지나쳤던 기억이 어렴풋이 나네요. 저도 꼭 읽어보고 싶은 생각이 드네요.아… 그리고 대략 2달전쯤 브루클린에서 연주하시는걸 봤는데 정말 인상깊었어요. 무대에 오르시기전에 잠깐 인사 나누었었는데 기억하실지 모르겠네요. 정말 대단하다고 생각해요

  2. hi, hi… think i met you at issue project room…? if you want, send me your email address so i could forward you that book…

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