Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Life & Death

Day 135 - 06 July 2011

A Wednesday…

Today I witnessed the immediate aftermath of a young Korean boy getting hit and driven over by a hagwon van. I finished my teaching and started the walk down the alley towards the main street. I heard the screech of the wheels and the screaming of some older women. I looked up, and only 20 feet away from my afterschool center, was a stopped yellow van, sitting crookedly at the in-block intersection and the head and arm of little boy outstretched from the rest of his body which was under the front right wheel. Judging by his size and the kids that usually play around my work area, he was probably a early elementary school student.

I apologize if this is too graphic. I don't intend to insult readers, or the young boy and his family. But I started this blog to talk about my Korea adventure, my feelings and how I change; this definitely was a life changing moment. There wasn't much blood, but he wasn't moving and nobody was attempting to pull him out from underneath the car. I wanted to rush to him and do it myself, but I do remember in first aid class that should he be alive, moving the body is not a wise decision. What was more sad to me, than seeing his body, was seeing his mom rush to the seen and fall to the ground screaming and crying at the top of her lungs. I will pray for her and her loss. I can't stop picture the boy and his mom's outstretched arms and kicking legs.

The intersection itself is located in a local home-y block. There's no lights, just like the blocks within most suburban neighborhoods in America. You're just supposed to drive slow and assume every intersection has a stop sign, even if it doesn't. The local middle school, park, some family owned Walgreens-like shops, smaller and older apartments, and of course my teaching center all surround this main intersection. Every time I walk through it, there's little kids all over the place. They play, buy toys from the local toy/stationary shop, and eat ice cream. I should also note, there are no sidewalks, just like most of the inner-blocks of Seoul, so the roads are used to play in, walk, bike, and for cars to drive through. It's pretty chaotic, but at the same time the system never seemed to fail, until now.

I stayed on scene for a while, keeping back my students and ushering them back to the afterschool center. Most of them saw what I saw, but I don't think they processed it the same. They kept on about their day with happy smiles on their faces, and asked what all the commotion was about. For the time we decided not to tell them, and keep them from going home and passing the scene. When the EMTs arrived they consoled the mother and talked to the people in the van (who at that point had not exited the vehicle). They didn't rush to the body, but eventually pulled the boy out, laid him on a cot, and covered him with a blanket.

Ironically, this happens the day after I watched Knowing. For those who haven't seen it, it's a Nicholas Cage movie in which he has a list of dates and coordinates of every major catastrophe that had and will happen within a 50 year period. It was a pretty dark film, and I woke up in a strange mood, thinking about fate, life and the sequence of events that affect it. For 1 whole hour of free time, I sat at a desk in the center, telling myself I should have my time sheet signed by the head social worker right then, which would allow me to leave promptly at 4:30pm. But I decided to be lazy and sit there. At 4:30 I packed my stuff and had my sheet signed on the way out. Had I just saved those few seconds of getting my sheet signed earlier, I may have well been there when the van was passing. Being a taller and more visible body, perhaps the van would have slowed down. I don't want to be a proud savior, or some hero in the newspaper, it's just crazy to know had I just done one thing differently, I may have been there for things to happen in a different sequence.

I guess what I really want to get out of writing this, is to stress that life is precious. I know that now. Seeing sad events in movies can't compare to real life. You really don't realize how much of an impact death has until something like this happens. I also hope that people read this and drive more carefully! I've had my moments of reckless driving and I snuck by and never hurt anybody, but it didn’t work out that way today. Everybody be safe! No more unnecessary death.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kung-Fu Panda 2

Monday - 30 May 2011

Day 98

I just saw Kung-Fu Panda 2 for the second time, and 2 things made this movie awesome.

First, I have to pay tribute to the amazingly delicious CGV popcorn. The half caramel-half cheese mix was a little reminiscent of Chicago style caramel corn. I felt like I was back on Michigan Ave, eating popcorn and watching tourist swarm the Bean (miss you Ken!).

Second, I really enjoyed the message about adoption in the film. If you've read my previous posts, I've talked about how Meet Joe Dirt is one of my favorite adoption-related movies; this film was similar. [Spoiler Alert] Distraught by the realization of his adoption, even though his dad is clearly a goose, Po wanders off to save the day and confront all his deep lying identity, adoption, and relinquishment issues. Just like hick-David Spade in Joe Dirt, he realizes that his true family were the people that were there in his life the whole time. There's a pretty moving scene where he has a sequence of flashbacks of all the experiences he had with his father and friends. I hope one day right before I go save the world, I get to have a flashback of all the past wonderful years with my family.

Now, I'm not sure why, but the ending did make me a little upset. After all the hilarious Jack Black mannerisms, and the kick-splosive (from my Kung-fu Panda t-shirt) action, Po finds his inner peace with all the adoption stuff and returns home. Right before the film cuts to credits, you find out his birth-father is still alive, setting up the third film. I was so happy that he had found his inner peace, that I'm really worried/agitated/sad and a whole other array of emotions, that he'll have to meet his birth-father. I suspect the film will go into loyalty issues between the fathers, and he'll have to make a decision on where he belongs, and all the other complicated stuff that really needs to be done tactfully. Perhaps it's my own adoption story subliminally affecting my judgment of this children's movie, but for whatever reason I kind of wish his birth parents were dead and out of the story.

Guess we'll just have to wait for Kung-Fu Panda 3.

Also, just wanted to site this blog from the Guardian.

Can't say I agree with a lot of what this guy says, although he poses his thoughts as questions, therefore not "officially" making a stance. Lame. Perhaps just another rash statement by Chris Graywolf, but I really don't like these non-adoptees writing about stuff like this. It reminds me of the profane, yet very educational episode of South Park regarding the n-word. Non-blacks shouldn't pretend like they know how it feels to be called that word.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Athletic Nationalism

Sunday - 08 May 2011

Day 76

I love soccer. All my life. I love American football too, but nothing compared to the greatness of soccer.

Ever since I began following the international game, all the different leagues around the world, along with the major international tournaments, I have always been jealous of Brasil. I guess you could add the big European powerhouses of Germany, Italy, Spain, and England…but still nothing close to Brasil. They are worldclass, and people fear them on the field. I'm sure fellow futebol fans will argue with me on this one, but I still think (over the course of all soccer's history) that Brasil is the best national team, and has produced the best exported players.

I was always sad that America didn't have anything like that when it came to the sports I followed. But after following some of the East Asian professional sports, I have seen American athletes in that same "Brasilian" light. Just walking around Seoul day to day, I see so many Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, and Indians hats, jackets and shirts. There is more Yankees clothing here than Manchester United or any other European soccer club. When you watch Korean-League baseball or basketball, it is the few exported American players that are feared and respected. Just like the Brasilians of soccer, we have the aura of being top players.

There's not much more to say about this phenomenon, except that witnessing people's love and respect for American athletes has definitely made me more proud (and perhaps cocky) in being American. We still maybe be on the lower ranking when it comes to soccer, but at least we have basketball and baseball down (I don't count the sports that most of the world doesn't play).

America! F' YEAH!

Sorry for the long wait.

My apologies for the posting hiatus. I haven't posted in about a month, but I have been continuing to write. It'll all people up shortly.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Day 69 - Sunday - 01 May 2011

I have been in Korea for a little over 2 months now, and I can confidently say that I have fully adjusted to being a Seoul citizen. Although I haven't been keeping up with my studies, my ability to read, write, listen, and most importantly, speak Korean has improved greatly. All it took was dismissing any thought of embarrassment or nervousness, and simply giving it ago. Once you don't care that you might look or sound stupid, attempting to communicate as a foreigner isn't a big deal. Most people understand. I have also mastered the subway system, most of the main streets in my borough, riding/communicating in a taxi, and a little bit of the bus system. Life here isn't too bad, and I think after stay here in Seoul, I could survive living in NYC if I wanted to. But I don't. New York sucks.

I have talked with my family, friends, and employers and have decided to extend my 3 month contract to 5.5 months total. I will be here for an additional 3 months, which I am very excited about, but at the same time, I can't wait to get back to good ole US of A. I'm really happy about this feeling. In my earlier days here, I was worried that I would love/hate Korea too much, or miss/not appreciate American anymore. Loving my life here, and also missing home is a good situation to be in. I can enjoy the rest of my time here, and then peacefully return back to the States.

When I return to the US, I will be starting law school at the University of Oregon. Go Ducks! I know there are a million and one differing views on the existence/method/lack of fate and destiny in one's life, but whatever it is, I feel that everything that has conspired in my life for the last 7 years has happened for a reason. My switch in focus of my undergraduate studies from biology to "East Asian stuff" led to my involvement with Holt Camp and Holt Adoption Services, which led to my work with the Law Offices of Michelle M. Hughes & Bridge Communications, Inc. (I owe you Carmen!), which led to my interest in adoption law and attending law school, which finally built up to my yearning to come to Korea and see the Korean side of adoption and life. I feel that everything adoption related all started with Holt Adoptee Summer Camp, and it's comforting to know, and also curious when I think about the way things worked out, that the University of Oregon is in the same town as Holt HQ. It's where international adoption, as we know it today, started. Out of the 30 law schools I applied to, over the span of 2 years, some of which I was accepted, rejected, waitlisted, and given full rides to, Oregon fit perfectly with what was going on in my life.

With the worry about what I'll be doing when I return to America out of the way, I have found Zen. I can enjoy my last couple months here without any worries, except what color of bedsheets I want to buy for my dorm room. Blue of course!

To all those reading this: Cliché as always, but everything happens for a reason. All the good and bad sh*t that I have endured over the last 2 years, all the confusion of where my life was leading all led up to this point of happiness and peace. Life will always work itself out.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mike L

I love Michael "Lohnzie" L. He's the coolest. He's easily in my top 5 male-friends. Ladies, please date him.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Day 57 - 19 April 2011 - Tuesday

This was supposed to be the first post, which I intended to write 57 days ago, but I got lazy and there was so much other crazier stuff to write about. I would never say I'm a good writer, but I do take pride in saying I always could come up with good ideas. In fact I wish that could be my job, just coming up with the premises of movies. I'll be the think tank, then real writers can fill in the other 99% of the story.

By the time I reached early high school, I had already scribbled down a crap ton of ideas and short vignettes all revolving around soccer, adoption, and racism. And of course, I was typically the main character. Sadly, and to my regret that I didn't get rich, 2 of my best ideas have been taken. They were stolen, but I guess Hollywood was bound to think of the same ideas eventually. Regardless, I still feel like sharing them.

In middle school I wrote a story about a man on a plane (me). He was headed back to Korea for the first time since being adopted. He decided to do a crossword puzzle, and each question he answered and filled in, coincidentally correlated with a important and meaningful adoption/race related moment of his childhood. As he wrote each letter into the boxes, which would be closely zoomed-in on, flashbacks of his past would slowly being to overlap the screen. I thought that would look so cool. This idea ended up becoming Slumdog Millionaire. I'm sure I wasn't the first person to think of this idea either, but somewhere lost deep in my basement is a journal with this short story, written years before Slumdog, in my crappy handwriting.

The second story, was embodied in the final season of LOST. For those who are not familiar with this awesome television show, the directors utilized flashbacks, flashforwards, and flashsideways. Now in most of my stories, and just talking about adoption or anybody's life for that matter, you're going to find flashbacks and maybe flashforwards. The unique thing about this story was the flashsideways. In LOST, (SPOILER ALERT) flashsideways were used to show the period between the afterlife and life. All the characters were intertwined and had to re-meet one another to passover to the other side together. My story was going to be a little bit tweaked. I think there is a hypothetical, spiritual life for all adoptees. It doesn't exist, but maybe in thought it does...and that means it does exist. All adoptees have that "what if" life in their heads. What if I was not adopted? What if I was still in Korea? The main character (me of course) would be living his life in America, but when he looked into mirrors, we (the viewers) were transferred to flashsideways of the life that could have been in Korea. There would be moments when he would look up into the mirror and it would show a "Koreanized" version of him, and Korea behind him. The camera would do a 180 rotation from seeing through American-Chris's eyes to Korean-Chris's eyes. The two lives would mirror in some ways, and differ in others. You'd swtiched back and forth from the 2 lives and see what was and what could have been. And to make things a little sci-fi, unrealistic, spiritual, sometimes they would share deja-vu of each other's experiences and memories.

So Slumdog and LOST beat me to the punch, but I always intended to use these cool little cinematic setups in my writing, especially with this blog. So expect more flashbacks, flashforwards, and flashsideways all regarding my past experiences, my expectations and hopes for the future, and my thoughts on the life that could have been in Korea.