A couple weeks ago I went to an overnight beach party with a group of friends and a couple hundred other people somewhere along the east coast, an hour or two from Daegu. It rained the whole day. Monsoon-style fat drops, with only a few drizzle breaks. My umbrella went missing. We drank too much beer. And then, at sunset, it stopped.
I was with Johnathan, my beautiful friend from South Africa. He cooks curry and smokes skinny Korean cigarettes and in Busan invites people to his one-room apartment close to the Oncheonjang stream, where we sit in a circle on the floor with the windows open, bottles of Makgeolli and maybe a Korean chardonnay chilling in the door of the fridge; we talk about politics and Johnathan tells us that in South Africa giraffes aren’t that impressive, that it’s the lions you must see. He says it that way, says must and points his finger into the air with conviction so you believe him whether its lions or politics–mostly it’s South African politics we talk about because I want to learn and the country, he says, is changing so quickly. In South Africa he is a lawyer but here he teaches public school, and one day this kind man will lecture in a university somewhere, speaking to a room with a hundred pairs of ears but I can listen now, and learn. He speaks perfect courteous English, says it is a pleasure, when we say goodbye, it is always such a pleasure.