The Hardest Part

It is safe to say I spent the better part of my first six months in Seoul alone. Yes, there were co-workers, there were several dozens of nine-to-thirteen year olds, there was a German visitor, and there was Wayne. It wasn’t until a fateful summer evening when I attended my first Flickr in Seoul gathering that I met some of the people who would become my closest friends in Korea. It all started with alternate Sundays out shooting together and eventually led to spending Fridays, Saturdays, holidays, vacations and happy hours together. These people have made my life in Seoul what it is.

The Token Englishman.

Mel is our cheerleader and uniter. He loves music, running, railroads, art and his friends. He’s also brought Hyunyo into our tribe, who is a beneficial addition to Charades competitions. We’ve had good fun, we have.

The Swing Dancer.

Bill has a great love of Japan, robots, godzilla, toy cameras, lindy hops and punk rock. Thankfully, I don’t have to say goodbye to him yet as I will be spending Thanksgiving with him in Japan.

The Mexican.

Billy is the instigator and prognosticator. He enjoys red wine, cheese, Stepbrothers, old records and Family Mart. We have shared many tears but many more laughs and many glasses of wine. In the end, it’s all love between us.

The Reporter.

Ashley brings the Y’all to the table. She has flown in helicopters, survived a tour of Iraq, loves to travel and loves to dance. She is the hardest working journalist I know and has been a most gracious host during this in-between time.

The Dad.

Erik excels at Dad jokes. In fact, he excels at Dad jokes so much that he can silence a whole room or make young women blush. Here he is doing one of his best Asian Poses, and I’m quite certain there will be hell to pay for posting this. I’m probably going to get grounded or sent to my room without my dinner. Erik and I worked together in a big, tall office building, and he has humbled me constantly with his unwavering friendship.

The Glue.

Betsy does not Flickr. In fact, she does not Internet. But she is the glue that has held our collection of people together. She has hosted every holiday and opened her home to all of us for regular gatherings, feasts and games. She is also one of the most amazing people I’ve been lucky to know. Thankfully, she just moved to Okinawa this summer and has a room waiting for me, so I’ll be seeing plenty of her in just a few days.

The Artist.

Youngdoo. I don’t know if I have the words to express what my friendship with Youngdoo has meant during these last four years. She feels and sees and thinks and hears more deeply than most people I know, and so much of my time in Seoul has been written by my time spent with Youngdoo. She is an artist in the truest sense, and I will spend my days trying to make her move closer to where I am.


Wayne, Laura, Joon, Tauri, Monika, Jinna, JeeAe, Corey, Derek, Glenn, Susan, Carol, Leanne, Eunice, Kristin, two Daniel’s and too many Daves and Davids. And there are many more. They have all made the last four years an amazing journey, an amazing ride.

Seoul has been wonderful to me, but I think it goes without saying that it’s not the place, it’s the people.

16 Responses to “The Hardest Part”

  1. sarah says:

    I don’t even know these people and reading about them is making me teary. It could be that I went to a midnight showing of Harry Potter and I’m functioning on two hours of sleep, but I think it has more to do with the fact that I’ve left people behind (in a geographical sense, I mean) before. No matter how exciting it is to venture out into the new and different, it sucks to leave one’s tribe.

  2. hannah says:

    you are good people too. and i’m proud to have you as one of my people. xoxo my dear friend.

  3. emdot says:

    i love these posts. and these people. who i do not know but wish i did. you are blessed with people.

  4. rustyboy says:

    This here post, she’s a beauty!

  5. mom says:

    that’s our beautiful daughter!

  6. Betsy says:

    Funny that I see this post since I don’t flickr/internet. It of course hit a special place in my heart and jabbed me with an unauthorized hideous photo…I guess you probably had few to choose from..which is my own fault. Thanks for the kind words and I am excited for your arrival!

  7. Mel says:

    Friends and ledges, memories will stay forever

  8. carolyn says:

    awwwww.
    such a great photo of youngdoo with leaves behind her ears. ;)

  9. carolyn says:

    p.s. i had the same reaction as sarah. why am i getting all teared up!?! i don’t even know these people! :)

  10. Erik says:

    I will, of course, give you a pass on the photo… this time. But only because your heading off to an exotic land of beaches, palm trees, sushi and awesome new opportunities. Can’t wait to come check it out in person.

  11. Debjani says:

    Friends are the one thing you don’t leave behind when you move.

  12. You hit the nail on the head with “It’s not the place, it’s the people.” If I could bottle up even a fraction of all of these wonderful people and carry them with me wherever I went I would be guaranteed to always be in good company. I miss you all!!

  13. THe LedGe says:

    REally sweeT, StePh… seE yoU sooN.

  14. claire says:

    oh man, i’m am only just now considering how hard it is going to be. you’re a good thing, steph. x

  15. kitchu says:

    i’ve only just found your site. what a wonderful collection of friends and i can’t imagine what it is like to go out with a group shooting. a good photographer friend of mine that lives in Minneapolis said i should try and find one in my town. i don’t know. i just feel intimidated by it all~! but i see it comes with so many rewards :)

  16. Yoo-Young Kim says:

    hi Stephanie!
    Haha its me who had the Dos Tacos napkin at starbucks yesterday.
    I just visited your website and I think I wanna come visit and look some of the pics and writings more closely again.
    So much insight amd full of real, fun and truthful stories as a foreigner lived in my home country !
    It was really a pleasure meeting you!

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