South Korea has an almost indescribable knack of drawing you right back in after it pushes you to the very edge. Take yesterday for example, I went to school as usual and got settled at my desk and half an hour later the heating broke, I got stung with a substantial, unexpected tax bill and got the first of five angry phone calls from my landlord asking about a payment I’d already made. I wasn’t too happy by the end of the day and there was no resolution in sight for any of those three problems.
As I walked home, muttering furiously to myself about how foreigners never get told anything, how unfair life is and other melodramatic things that I’m too embarrassed to repeat, I got an instant pick-me-up. A much older man stopped me in the street to ask for directions to the bus station, I replied, he thanked me for the directions and proceeded to give me all the compliments under the sun and could not thank me enough for visiting his country. As he walked away, my runaway thoughts changed their tune and I walked the rest of the way home debating whether I was being stupid to even consider leaving a country full of people who are so welcoming and sincere. And, just like that I’d done a complete U-turn and was head over heels again for a country that only an hour earlier had seemed impossible. It happens time and time again and the turn always comes when you least expect it. The Korea Effect is a powerful thing.
(Did I mention that my whole conversation with the man on his way to the bus station was in Korean? It was so satisfying. It’s moments like that when you feel that you should be living here in Korea and it all makes perfect sense).