d-Wizz in Korea 2010

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2010-09-22: Um, yeah... what have I done so far... it's hard to remember three weeks ago, but I'll try. Actually, it got too big to put on Facebook or in an e-mail. This is common with me... things always end up bigger than I initially expect. So... I decided to make it into a webpage and send a link to everybody. This way, it will be more accessible and I can share it more easily too. Now, I only did this very quickly, so there are lots of gaps, but I hope you’ll get the general idea of what I've been up to. Here we go...

0040: Odai Megumi church

0043: Keith & Tsuyako's apartment building - the tallest building in Odai!

0058: A deer burger

0083: Conveyer belt in the sushi restaurant

I got on the plane at Gold Coast Airport. Liftoff 1032hrs, touchdown 9 hours 5 minutes later at Kansai, Osaka. My brother and his wife took me to their apartment in Odai, a three hour drive. We arrived at 2250hrs. The heat was stifling, and I was exhausted, so we all crashed.


After lunch, Tsyuako took me to look around a bit and we visited some church members.


Tsuyako and I had a deer burger for lunch. Deer are pests in these parts, and one way to reduce numbers is to eat them. We also visited some members of the church. After Keith came home from work, we went to a sushi restaurant for dinner. 100yen ($1.25) per plate. Interesting conveyer system for food service. We finished 23 plates between the three of us.


Keith managed to get the day off work because he finished a software project early. He was able to drive me back to Osaka to catch the ferry, thus avoiding the need for me to catch a complicated series of trains. We left Odai around 0930hrs. Arrived at Osaka just after noon and had lunch near the ferry terminal. No problems getting checked in and boarding. I had a whole cabin to myself.

0148: d-Wizz with Jeong Su Jin (Busan)

0150: Lim Chang Guk with his new Hyundai Genesis coupe

0153: Lim Hyun Jun plays a drum kit for the first time in his life

0172: Han Chang Soo preaching at Emmaus church, Chilgok

0174: Han Aram plays the drums at Emmaus church

0178: Kim Young Sam and Jo Kwang Il at Jijae church

0181: Jo Kwang Il and d-Wizz in po-ong (hug) position for prayer.

0186: Han Chang Soo and his family. L-R: Han Ayoung, Cho Myung Suk, Han Aram, Han Chang Soo

Ferry arrives at Busan and Korean customs interrogate me about my luggage. There's a G20 meeting in Seoul in late October, so foreigners are being scrutinised a lot more in the lead-up to this. The customs officers perform some kind of scientific test on a Tim Tam to determine if it is safe to bring in to Korea. After dozens of questions, they let me through. Chang Guk was waiting for me and we first go to his house to leave most of my luggage there. I had my hair cut and we went to a sauna together. After this, we met a mutual friend for dinner. A lot of other stuff happened in Busan which I might talk about later.

Chang Guk took me to Busan Station on his way to work. I took a train to Gumi and met Lim Hyun Jun. We met online in March 2010, and this was our first meeting in person. Hyun Jun had told me previously that he wanted to learn the drums, and I said if he found a place for me to teach him, we could do that. He had indeed found somewhere, so we went inside and made a lot of noise for about an hour. Then we went to buy a new pair of shoes for me because I only had one pair and they needed cleaning. I stayed in Hyun Jun's apartment overnight.

In the morning, I started working on a MIDI file for Hyun Jun. It was not easy and I gave up when I could not figure out the chords in the original song. I wish I could play guitar for times like these! At about 1400, Hyun Jun received a phone call which changed everything. Koreans are prone to make sudden 270° changes of mind, and this was one of those times. "I have to go to Seoul. Right now. You cannot stay here any more, so pack up your stuff and get out." The mood immediately turned very cold. 90 minutes later I was on a train to Daegu, having asked my friend there if I could arrive one day earlier than I originally planned. He agreed to let me stay with him, so I was on my way. Han Chang Soo is a pastor of a small church in Chilgok, on the northern outskirts of Daegu. He is married with two high-school children, both of whom play music at the church. His son Aram is in his final year of school, and is very very busy. He plays the drums at church. Aram’s sister, Ayoung, plays piano.

After breakfast, we all go to the church together. There are two services, one at 0930 and another at 1130. Following the second service is a community lunch.

After this, I took a bus to Jijeo, to visit a church where I have some more friends. Their youth service starts at 1500 and I am only a few minutes late. One of my friends is up the front playing guitar, but my drummer friend is not there. Immediately after the last song, Kim Young Sam puts down his guitar and comes straight to me. We are very happy to see each other after a very long time. He shows me to an empty room downstairs and we talk for a while. I ask about Jo Kwang Il who usually plays drums, and Young Sam says he is studying intensely for a major exam in two weeks' time. In fact, this is why there are significantly less young people at the service than usual. After the youth service is finished, Young Sam and I went back upstairs to have a jam together. We played a few CCM songs and I asked if I could meet Kwang Il, because his house is very close to the church. Young Sam made a phone call and said that Kwang Il would come to the church soon, so we kept on jamming. Young Sam also showed me that he too is a good drummer. When Kwang Il came in we made a video with three drummers. After this we had a group prayer and then we all went back to Kwang Il's house. Young Sam escorted me back to the bus stop and I returned to Chilgok on a high. I had dinner with Chang Soo and his family.

0183: Jo Kwang Il and his mother, outside their home, Jijae, Daegu

0184: Kim Young Sam


I left in a taxi at 0600hrs, took a train from Daegu Station at 0645 to Busan and arrived at the designated location at 0930, where I waited for Chang Guk. I saw him drive past without stopping, so I walked up the hill to his house. You could have cut the silence with a knife on the 6 hour drive to Incheon. Around 1530, I was dumped at a remote subway station somewhere in the northern part of Incheon city. On the subway, I called some friends to find out where I could stay that night. When I found somewhere to stay, I headed to a PC room near my friend's house and I waited there. It was very late when he finished work and picked me up, but it was good to see him again. We had a small meal at his house and went to bed.

0188: View of Seoul from the summit of Gwanaksan

0205: d-Wizz at Gwanaksan

I went with my friend when he left for work. He dropped me off where my sister used to live. I decided to have a look around, so I put my luggage in a locker at the station. Then I got an idea, so I used my map and started walking... I climbed Gwanaksan all by myself. It was a perfect seeing day. I stayed up there for at least 6 hours. 600+ metres above sea level (3 times Mt. Coot-tha) means you can see all of Seoul, and probably into North Korea as well (it's only about 50km from the DMZ). I eventually came down and visited the second-hand bookshop near the station. I bought too much stuff (as usual), then I went to my sister's house. A small snag when I could not get the locker at the station to open. So I went to meet my sister without the luggage and she escorted me back there and we were able to get it out. We decided to have dinner there rather than go back with all the luggage.

I went shopping to feed my vice of second hand CDs. Surprisingly little on offer here. Tens of thousands of LPs but not much else. I already did the LP thing last time, so I deliberately avoided looking... but I know I won't be able to stay away from it for 9 weeks.

A stay at home day at my sister's place in Seoul.

0227: Seon Sung Rae at Byeongjeom

0243: Kim Sung Kwan (R) and his wife at Yongin

0245: Koo Dae Lim at Hwaseong

0259: Jung Kyu Min at Wonju

0260: Jung Kyu Min in recording mode

Stayed at home most of the day. I went to Beongjeom to meet Seon Sung Rae for dinner. I know this area pretty well, as it is between Suwon and Osan, where I have spent a lot of time on previous visits. I didn't expect to stay the night with Sung Rae, but it was a welcome offer. The last subway is at midnight, so it would have been a short visit.

Sung Rae didn't wake up until 1100hrs! We went shopping for some new clothes. Sung Rae helped me select two outfits which look great. I bought some socks and a new bag, which I discovered is way too small, but could still be useful. I was also able to replace the wallet I lost in June, so no more plastic zip-up bags for cards and money. We went to Suwon, where Sung Rae met another friend and we had dinner together. After this, I went back to Seoul.

I tried to call lots of people to find a church to visit, but most of them did not answer. I was able to get in touch with Kim Sung Kwang, who was a youth leader last time I saw him. In February, 2010, he got married, so he is no longer youth leader; in fact, his involvement at church has reduced significantly. I arrived about 5 minutes after the service began, and the highlight of this was that the mayor of Gyeonggi-do was there and gave a short speech after the message. Lunch was a Korean spaghetti dish which was quite tasty. I returned to Seoul, but not long afterwards, I was back on the subway for a new adventure...

My first contact with Koo Dae Lim was on the phone in 2006. There had been no further contact until last year when he finally appeared online and we were able to have some quick chats. We had never met in person, but we were both eager to do so. He said he was unable to meet me because he lived in a dormitory at his company. It is common for Koreans to live at work, especially in the first two years of a new job. I asked if it was possible for me to come out to visit him for dinner and he was excited about that, but because he lived in "the countryside", he was very worried that I might get lost trying to find him. I was confident of my ability to read Korean maps, so I said I would give it a go. He gave me the bus number to catch and I left. I took the subway to Suwon, and found the bus #1004 without any problems. I sent Dae Lim a text to say I was on the bus. He called me back to explain something called a "P-turn". I was supposed to get off this bus immediately after the second "P-turn". I told him I understood, but it turned out that I was thinking of something else. One of the buses at Osan has a section of its route where it turns in to somewhere and then turns around and comes out again. I imagined this was a "P-turn", but in fact, it is something we do not have in Australia because we drive on the left. A "P-turn" is an exit off a freeway in the shape of a "P", where you turn clockwise 270° and go under the road you were just on. It clicked when we did this the second time that this is what a "P-turn" really was, so I got off at the next stop. I was one stop too late, but it was actually a good thing, because I was right in the centre of Hwaseong where all the restaurants were, so Dae Lim told me to wait there and he got the next bus. I stayed with Dae Lim overnight in his dormitory. No bed, no hot water and no light in the bathroom.

Dae Lim woke up, washed his face and got dressed and took me to the bus stop where we said goodbye. I went back to Seoul. Chatting on NateOn after lunch, I was invited to visit Wonju. I quickly packed up and left. I arrived at Wonju at 1650, and my friend Jung Kyu Min was there with his mother's car. I asked him about a mountain nearby and was it possible to see it. He drove there and we had a look around, but unfortunately we could not drive to the top, so there was not much to see really. We went back into town and had dinner and then to Kyu Min's apartment. Kyu Min is a guitarist in his church, and a good one too. He played songs he had not seen before very well on the first go. I had my MIDI stuff on the computer so we had a bit of a play with that and recorded some guitar and Korean vocal for some CCM songs. I was hoping Kyu Min would keep going with the recording so we could make a CD out of it, but he was not happy with his vocal performance, so we left it. Kyu Min is going to Cebu, Philippines for 4 years to study at Bible college. He's leaving on September 28, so I probably will not be seeing him again for a long time.

0261: Lee Soo Hun at KFC, Yangjae

0270: Lee Keon Woong (L) and Jung Yun Ho (R) at samgapsal restaurant, Gwangju

0278: Jung Yun Ho, cool English teacher!

0287: L-R Choi Woo Il, d-Wizz, Jung Yun Ho, Lim

0301: Lee Ji Hyeok (drummer) and Seong Jin Yeong (vocalist), students at Sangmu High School, Gwangju

I left Wonju very early and had to wait in the Seoul bus terminal for 2 hours. At 1130 I left and went to meet Lee Soo Hun, another friend I had never before met in person. We met for a one-hour lunch appointment at a KFC just 3 stations from the bus terminal. After lunch, I went back to the bus terminal and took a bus to Gwangju. Lee Keon Woong met me and we went to find Jung Yun Ho, who had just finished work at Sangmu High School, where he is an English teacher (Keon Woong is also an English teacher, but in a different capacity). We went to enjoy samgapsal together. Then we went to Yun Ho's house and went to sleep.

I left most of my luggage at Yun Ho's house. I needed to find something to keep myself occupied for the 9 hours Yun ho would be at work, so I had loaded my computer up with some audio work for time like these. I got about 12Gb of stuff sorted out. After work, Yun Ho introduced me to three other English teachers at his school and we all had dinner together.

Again, I did stuff on my computer while Yun Ho was at school. Dinner was with (teacher) Choi Woo Il and Yun Ho.

Found a computer with Internet, so I moved onto that to catch up on some stuff and keep working. Yun-ho introduced me to another teacher, Lim, who did not speak much English, but we were able to communicate effectively. The night ended at 0100hrs when Lim and Choi went to a nightclub while Yun Ho and I took a taxi home.

I went with Yun Ho to the school and waited in the staff room. Yun Ho had helped me prepare something for a small lesson and when he was ready, he came in and asked me to come into the classroom. We did a game of Hangman, 20 Questions and "Who Am I" for about 15 minutes.
I left on a bus to Seoul at 1940. Arrived at 2315 and took 3 subways back to my sister's house.

Went to English church with my sister. Less people than usual because of the upcoming Chuseok holidays. we went

My sister went with me to look at some bookstores. After lunch I helped her catch the airport express bus. She will be in Brisbane for 10 days.

It rained all day, so I stayed at home. I went out around 1930 to find something to eat, but I could not find what I was looking for, so I settled for a dongas (pork cutlet). After all the rain and with it being the night before Chuseok, central Seoul looked like a ghost town. Very, very strange.

Today is the actual Chuseok day. Yesterday and tomorrow are also national public holidays to give people time to travel. 75% of the population is on the move at Chuseok... it's very busy on the roads. I quickly typed up this rough diary of sorts. Then I decided to make it a webpage.

0307: Choi Woo Il and his car

Future plans:
2010-09-23 Song Rae will go back to Beongjeom so I'll go and meet him again.
2010-09-25/26 in Asan with Choi Chang Seok. First official Korean friend. I've been to his church several times before, but not when there's a service... this will be it.
2010-09-27 possibly visit Koo Dae Lim in Hwaseong again.
2010-09-29 Caroline arrives at Incheon 1900hrs.

There are still a LOT of people I have not contacted or visited yet... so the next 6 weeks are not going to be slow.
I'm not planning too far ahead... just taking it as it comes.

2010-11-05 My flight back to Australia leaves Osaka at 2030hrs.

My Korean phone number: 0 1 0 - 5 8 4 4 - 9 0 5 1

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