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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.