May 2006

Note: This whole post has been patched together in an attempt to present the material in a timeline, pretty hard to do with so much material and coming from three different sources.

I never really realised how lonely it can be eating on your own. I remember when Mum was first in the Nursing Home, Dad used to say, “Come round, but make sure you arrive at meal time. The food’s not much, but it’s great to be able to share it and have someone to talk to while you eat.” Equally as true today as it was then.

In Dunkie News (from Seattle): He still is not crawling, although, he can get himself up on his knees now, and he rocks back and forth. He is getting better with his walking (when you help him) and he is also getting better at standing by himself. He is still lazy and doesn’t want to hold his own bottle, but we are still working on that! GRRRR….Stubborn headed little poop, wonder where he gets it from….wink wink!!!! He can say ma ma, ba ba, Ahma (for gramma Kay), anny (for Gramma Cook), Na na (for you), Daddy, so we are slowly getting there…..Oh the other day, he rolled from the front door across the room to the TV and back again. I guess if he is not going to crawl he will roll his way around! 🙂

Poor soldier type person over in Korea is desperately homesick. I think for the first time in her life, she REALLY misses her navigator. Yeah, you guessed it, she got lost.

Well. Other people have panic attacks, I have sadness attacks. Comes from nowhere. really tough to work through or let it flow. Solved by taking one’s self out to dinner.

From Seattle:
Hi There:
My mother’s day was wonderful. Sam, Dunkie and Mikey took me to the Waterfront in Seattle, and Pike’s Place Market. (Sam’s mom was out of state) They were having the Annual Cheese Festival there! It was great, I got to taste all kinds of cheese….hehehe!! EVEN GOUDA!!!!

Dunkie was so awed by so many people there, his little head was spinning left and right I thought it was going to fall off! 🙂 We had lunch at The Crab Pot. We ended up having something called the Western Sea: it has King Crab legs, muscles, clams, sausage, baby red potatoes, and shrimp that you had to De-shell yourself. It was really good and expensive!
We were there all day, and the sun was shining. We went into the YE Old Curiousity Shop. Did you know that they now have TWO (2) (yes I said 2) stores!!! Its was amazing!! And they are doing renovation to the Seattle Aquarium, so we did not do that. We were going to take the Argosy Cruise around the Harbor, but that was a little pricy, so we will do that another day. Dunkie and I rode on the Carosel! It was great! And got a picture of Duncan on the Ivar’s Statue. And then on the way home we went and saw the Troll under the Fremont Bridge. I could not believe how big it was. What a masterpiece!!!!! YES PICTURES ARE ATTACHED

Monday 15th, May
Good Afternoon, I have to share!!

I went home for lunch today, and we were sitting in the front yard. (Grammy, me and Dunk) Well the Fedex guy came with Duncan’s Ticket, and after he left I put it in the grass next to me. Well Dunkie was on his stomach in the grass, pushed himself up on his knees, and started to CRAWL. YES HE CRAWLED!!!!! GOOD BOY!!!!! Then he fell, and did not like it anymore, But I got so excited I just had to share!

I had an exceptional week at work last week. First, some background. The Kaz Group took over the area I work in about 6 months ago and since then I have been a Boeing bum in a Kaz seat (one of two). Kaz finally got approval from Boeing to approach us to see if we were open to an offer from them. We were and it went from there, resulting in me accepting their offer. Same money and similar conditions, just means I don’t have to up tracks and move. I transfer after we get back from Korea. But that wasn’t the exceptional stuff. I’ve been working through the database and re-drawing all of the Cisco devices to look like what they really do look like on the shelf. I had been refreshing the objects in each chassis at the next level down in the diagram, one by one. Then it occurred to me that with a bit of tweaking of the script I was using, I could key up all of the chassis objects and then refresh the next level down for all of them in one hit. That eventually worked and saved me a couple of hours each day. Then I decided to take it one more step and make up a file straight from the database and use that to do the keying at the upper level. So I lay out the chassis objects carefully according to the model number, let it rip and sit back and watch it happen. Saved another couple of hours each day. Needless to say, the boss is happy.

When Julie asked for the previous paragraph “in English”, my reply was, “The boss is happy”. Since then I’ve had my last day working for Boeing – I’m on leave now and start with Kaz on Monday week when I return. Now in-flight to Seoul and the plane is only about one third full, which means I have a whole 3 seats to myself. Yay! I left Canberra at 2:30 this morning and drove a hire car to Sydney, so I’m going to be tired later on. The plan is to get out of the airport and catch a local bus straight to the hotel – the one I plan to take has the Marriott as its first stop.

I’d never realised just how noisy these airliners are. I’ve been re-viewing episodes of “Lost” and the earphones I’ve been using, which are perfectly adequate at home, have been drowned out by the background noise.

This bit comes to you from Yongsan Army Base, while we wait for the queue to get my US Military ID renewed. Got into Seoul OK last night, found my way to the local bus, got off at the first stop and the Marriott was nowhere in sight. I knew I was in the right area, but …. Consulted the map in my PocketPC, but that didn’t help because I couldn’t read which street I was in. Finally hailed a taxi and had to point to the name on screen to tell him where I wanted to go. Turns out it was about half a mile further on.  When I saw the huge great hotel standing out among the lower buildings, as expected, I showed him. He explained that the “tt” on the end of the name is pronounced as a “che” sound, so Marriott becomes Marriche.

This morning we called for an AAFES taxi – that’s the one that is authorised to get onto the base. It was going to take 20-30 minutes to even get to the hotel, so we took a local taxi, and proceeded to weave elegantly through the traffic. Julie was walking at her “normal” pace after that and was seriously outpacing me. She’s put on some weight, but it’s gotta be muscle. We trekked around the base for most of the morning (it only took 2 hours of waiting to get my ID pass updated) and by mid afternoon, I was completely stuffed.

Back at the hotel, from our room on the 20th floor, I watched a traffic jam just get worse. It was already backed up from right to left, and the Wallies turning left into it just kept blocking the traffic coming in from the top of the photo. Just amazing. Now I know why we don’t enter a blocked intersection!!

 

Wow, what a day. I don’t think I’ve ever been bowed to so many times in my lifetime. Apparently, the Koreans respect their elders and with my whitening beard these days …

Let’s go back to last night. I found a major shopping centre just out the back of the hotel and a little further on down the tunnel, a local market. A pair of cotton pants for me for $10. Shirts for $5-15. Flowering cactuses. And then today, the Electronics Market was just hog heaven. And of course all of the bras were 2 sizes and 3 cup sizes too small! The price was right, but there’s uplifting and then there’s downright obscene.

We have decided to stay at the Marriott instead of moving back to the Dragon Hill Lodge (on the base) on Monday and today breakfast at the Dragon Hill just confirmed it. Being surrounded by dignified Koreans instead of brash Americans is a bit of a no-brainer. But being a 5-star hotel, we’ve learned that we need to watch the prices of drinks and incidentals! I heartily endorse any comments Julie has made about Korean drivers, especially taxi drivers. I think she prayed continuously for 10 minutes this morning. And remember her telling us about the world’s oldest profession, where if the lady is visible, then she’s available? We found some today and at first thought it was a row of hairdressing salons. In fact the young lady was still straightening her long skirt down over her undies as we walked past. The photo shows that it still wasn’t straight while she adjusted her make-up. Then a guy just drove up in a black car, stopped at the adjacent shop to check the price (I guess) and then just hopped out of his car and went inside. Right then, Julie gets a phone call from her Major, asking us to dinner tomorrow night. The Major then asked where we were and Julie stumbled badly on her reply, as these establishments are off limits to military personnel. The second photo shows another young lady actively touting for business, much to the amusement of the young kids walking past.

 

 

The other highlight of the day was catching the subway back to the hotel, where I appear to be the most casually dressed male in the whole place.

 

At one of the restaurants, there is a glass topped table at the entrance, with a series of  serviette (napkin) holders, each made from a cow bone and individually name plated. One of the staff explained to me that they are for the regulars – when they make a reservation, using their personal holders is part of the table preparation. And there are several cupboards with individually locked shelves, with expensive grog in each one. Likewise, when someone buys a bottle of 12 year old Chivas, for example, he doesn’t really want to drink it all in one go, so they store it for him.

Today is Sunday. Those who aren’t working or keeping shop, put on their Sunday best and go “out”. After seeing several local women in their formal gear at a wedding at the hotel, we decided that Julie’s next ball gown would be a han-bo, the traditional women’s outfit, so today we went in search of one. The staff at the concierge desk do some online research, then write out the address and any other information on a card that you can hand to a taxi driver. We headed off to Kwangjang market, where he got out and checked with a local shopkeeper, then headed off again to Gwangjang market. All in all, quite a nice scenic tour! Julie is DEFINITELY going to a contender for Belle of the Ball next month at the Organ Donors Ball. And the place just happened to be right next to a river that I had read about earlier. This from a tourist website:

Continue walking south of Chongno and you’ll stumble across Cheonggyecheon, a river running through the heart of downtown Seoul. Previously paved over to make way for busy Seoul traffic, Cheonggyecheon has since been dug up and transformed to a lovely green space. Flowers and trees line the river and quaint pathways follow along for a leisurely stroll. It’s a wonderful place to take a break form the hustle and bustle. Cheonggyecheon runs all the way from City Hall to Dongdaemun market (running west to east), so the adventurous may want to walk the whole distance.Continue walking south of Chongno and you’ll stumble across Cheonggyecheon, a river running through the heart of downtown Seoul. Previously paved over to make way for busy Seoul traffic, Cheonggyecheon has since been dug up and transformed to a lovely green space. Flowers and trees line the river and quaint pathways follow along for a leisurely stroll. It’s a wonderful place to take a break form the hustle and bustle. Cheonggyecheon runs all the way from City Hall to Tongdaemun market (running west to east), so the adventurous may want to walk the whole distance.

Then it was more walking (!!!!) to find the nearest subway station and make our way back to the hotel.

Tonight’s activity is dinner at Maj Horne’s place with her family. It went over really well. Buzz spent many of his Air Force years in England, so he understood almost all of what I said immediately. We had a ball, fixing a small problem on Deb’s laptop and copying all of our “Lost” episodes onto his home network. He has a T3 connection to the Internet, so it flies!

Monday was a utility day. Some shopping for presents in Itaewon, a very touristy area near the base, then on to the barracks to sort the presents for postage to various destinations in the US and then lug all the remaining “stuff” back to the hotel for processing – mostly to figure out whether we can get it all into our luggage weight allowance or have to post some to Australia.

Funny. I’ve developed a cross between a formal bow and a nod of the head, kinda like a long slow nod, which enables me to acknowledge all kinds of gestures of “respect” with a measure of dignity without going into the whole formal bow thing.

Today’s activity was a USO bus tour to Kanghwa Island, including the Kwangsongbo Fortress, the Cheongdong Temple, and the ginseng and bamboo markets. Quite amazing to see the razor wire fortifications along much of the Han River, both sides apparently, to foil commando attacks from North Korea. Not to mention submarine barriers in the river itself. The fortress is one of many dotted along the coast of the island, kinda like a mini Great Wall, and has seen lots of battles over the centuries, notably against the French and Americans. Just below, there was a guy walking through his rice paddy, fertilising it – caught a picture of him later showing his thigh high boots on his scooter.

 

The bloody walk up to the temple was in places a 45 degree slope (or that’s what it felt like). One of the group was a 5 months pregnant black American woman, who was doing much better than her US Army husband. Muggins and his missus were the last ones to make it up the hill! But it was worth it – got to sit in on a chant by a monk. The naturally flowing mineral water was pretty good too. On the way down, we wanted to go down the road instead of the steps and steep path, but were told in no uncertain terms that it was much further. Lunch back down at the bottom of the hill was traditional Korean – interesting watching some of the Yanks trying to get a handle on the food. In accordance with our own pact, made way back in Las Vegas, that we would try anything once, we did try the quail eggs, which turned out to taste just like regular eggs.

 

After that, the ginseng and bamboo markets were a useful opportunity to shop for something different. Julie has always said that she has a champagne taste on a beer budget and the placemats she picked up were $100 each, only available in a set of 5. We also tried some of their ginseng juice, which tasted pretty feral, but kep me going for the rest of the day. The driver then took a detour (to avoid the traffic) through the northern most town in South Korea; at an ROK (Republic Of Korea) Marine base nearby, you can shout across the river to the North Koreans and they’ll echo back to you.

Coming back into town, apparently I was showing so much interest in the scenery and where we were, that the driver decided to peel off into the the 63 Building, 63 floors high, that is actually built sloping inwards at the base, but when you’re standing there, it looks like it’s about to fall on you.

Finally, we checked out Seoul Station (and bought bus tickets), for the trip to the airport on Friday, and once again caught the subway back to the hotel.

Today, Julie went back to work and I went out and got even more photos and finally caught up with processing yesterday’s backlog. Reminds me of the Honiara Project!

 

I reckon I came close to getting arrested taking this picture! The guard told me in no uncertain terms by his body language alone, that it was a “no photo zone”.

Julie writes:

Dated 8 May.

Family and Friends:

This one won’t be so much in diary form as a lot happened but not every day.

I’ll start off with the Army side of the house. As I think I stated before, the new uniforms are out for the Army. They are a sandy camouflage with Velcro to stick your rank, badges, US flag, etc. on it. The soldiers have told me that they are way easier to take care of then the “old” green “tree” cammies. No more dry cleaning and starching. Don’t even have to press them. Much more comfortable to wear also. The boots don’t have to be polished to a mirror shine and are tan coloured. Over all a great improvement. I understand the Air Force will be going to this type of uniform also, but in blue camouflage. As a matter of fact – one of the pictures I took of the Honour Guard show a blue BDU (Battle Dress Uniform). The Army still does training every Thursday morning – so everything is pretty much closed down then, unless civilians or other services are working there. The military is also allowing black backpacks to be used which is very handy here as only E-6’s and above are allowed to drive – so everything is carried in these that is needed for the day. I’m not using one as my purse holds a lot and I don’t have to do PT – which my hips are very thankful for. Yes, I’m feeling the pain as I’m doing a lot more walking and climbing then I’m used too. Thank God for Advil!!!!!! Most of the tours here are for 1 year (called short tours) unless you elect to bring your dependents here. Also they have an additional incentive (not sure what it is called right now) that if you elect to extend your tour for another year or two then you get an additional $300-$400 a month (tax free I think). Lots of people do this and one of the reasons if that it will keep them out of Iraq!!!!!!

One of this things that happened this week was a riot where the new post is supposed to be by Osan AFB. When you read the attached – start from the bottom and work your way up. The gist of it is (or how it was explained to me) is that the Seoul Govt decided that they wanted their land back but don’t want us to leave (Hmmmmmm). So the US Govt bought land down by Osan AFB. Now after the land was bought – “squatters” moved in. There is a “small” law here that if the rice grows to a certain size, then the land belongs to the squatters, the Korean military went in and forcibly moved the people out before the rice got to that certain size. This area is off-limits to our military and dependents. The US doesn’t really want any of our faces showing up in the news because the Koreans down there are very unhappy with us – so we are letting the Korean Govt take care of it. In other words – A Big F*****ng Mess!!!!!!!!

The weather here is so Seattle!!!!!! with “yellow stuff”. [Dust and pollution from the Gobi Desert] My allergies have never been so bad. This is the forecast that came down from the military as a warning:

“Destructive Weather May 5-7 – The current weather forecast indicates an impending rainfall of over 4″ within a 24-hour period, with maximum accumulations as high as 7″, during the period of 5-7 May 06. Localized thunderstorms or flash flooding may occur and disrupt operations and endanger life and property.”

I forgot to bring my “duck feet”. I was suppose to go with my Sponsor and his Korean wife on a tour today and also to see a Korean play called “Jump”, but not sure if that will happen. It is 1230 now and I still haven’t heard from them, so I’ll see!!!! Really is too wet to go out. Tomorrow, Sunday 7th, I’m going with Capt Rees (my Supervisor) to Osan AFB. It is quite a bit bigger then Yongsan. I’m planning on doing all my Christmas shopping here as I want to get unique gifts and also I can mail for free to the US from here. That means that everyone will get their gifts early, but have told them to just put them away until Dec. Hope they don’t forget. There is a mail service here called MP (no don’t know what it stands for) but one can mail free – on a stand-by basis and it takes a little longer, but that’s okay as these are Christmas gifts. :>)

Well I got a surprise this week. We have a 4-day weekend May 26-29. Rodney wasn’t going to tell me, but am glad he did. He is coming on the 25th and staying till I leave on Jun 2nd. He got a really good plane rate. We will stay in the Marriott off-post (the Dragon Hill is full that weekend) till Monday and then move to the Dragon Hill for the rest of the week. The military will pay for the Thursday and Friday night, we will pay for Sat-Sun and then at the Dragon Hill, the military will pay for the rest of the week. I have arranged that we will take a Han River Dinner Cruise on Friday night. It is supposed to be beautiful. Rodney really wanted to see the DMZ (so do I) but the only day that we (together) can go is the day we leave which worked out fine. We will catch the bus at 0730 and be back here by 1600, then catch the bus to Incheon Airport for our 2000 flight. I also have a tour (if it isn’t cancelled) next Sunday for the Korean Folk Village. Maj Horne (another co-worker) has told me that next Sat or the following week she will take me to the commissary (clear across post-would need to take a taxi) so that I can buy some goodies to ship home for myself and my American friend Anna. I will try not to go hog wild and just get little stuff, but……….

This Govt Credit Card is a pain in the ass. I haven’t been paid yet, but Bank of America wants their money up front by May 16th for the first week I was here and had to stay in the Dragon Hill for 3 days plus food. The Dragon Hill is $206 a night plus took out $100 for food. I ended up going into my personal loan account at BECU and transferring money to the checking account so Rodney can pay the bill. If you are late making a payment – all “hell” breaks loose or so I’m told. Sure don’t want to find out!!!! We, of course (I hope) will get all our money back, but I really feel for the individuals that don’t have a money back-up. I haven’t seen the plane tickets on the bill yet – thank God cuz there is no way we could pay that right now. I really liked the old way better when everything was taken care of at the end of the tour!!!! Yes more paperwork, but still…….

Not much more to say right now. Will finish this tomorrow night and will tell about the Korean play (if I go) and about Osan AFB.

Later……

Good Evening:

It’s Sunday and I had a wonderful day. Didn’t go to the Korean Play as the individuals I was going with never called (said had wrong cell #) and then they showed up at 6 pm. By then I was too tired and it was too wet out. Got up early and met a friend to go to Osan AFB with. It was great and I picked up some great Christmas presents. She took me back to her apartment and the view is wonderful of the Han River – big but very dirty!!!!!. The sun was out and it was actually warm. The pictures of buildings going up are in preparation for when the military moves in two years to Pyeongtaek. Korea wants to make Osan a mini-Seoul!!!! Well not much more to say except it was a great day and am very relaxed. Have to go and pick up my uniform now from the cleaners and get ready for work tomorrow.

Stay tuned…….

USFK Force Protection Advisory

USFK anticipate large scale civil gatherings will occur vicinity Camps Humphreys , Eagle and Long. Demonstrations are in protest of recent government actions to acquire land for US forces.

Unless conducting official business, all USFK Service Members are advised to stay away from Camps Humphreys, Eagle and Long on 14 and 15 May 06. SOFA status dependents, DOD civilians, and DOD-invited contractors are encouraged to abide by warnings and off limit areas.

Expect warnings and restrictions from Areas III and IV to include off limit areas.

PROTECT THE FORCE!!!

USFK Force Protection Advisory

USFK anticipates a large scale civil gathering will occur at Gwangu Air Base, Gwangu on 14 May from 0900 to 1500hours to express anti-US sentiments. Several groups have attempted to link the 1980 Gwangu incident to recent actions at Camp Humphreys . The Gwangu incident occurred in 1980 four months after a coup and elevation of military rule. Korean citizens began protesting which turned violent resulting in numerous protestors/demonstrators injuries ranging from a few hundred to thousands. Conflicting signals by US officials at the time led Korean citizens to believe the US conspired in the coup.

Last year, at the end of the gathering, 100 riot policemen were slightly injured by thrown rocks; five National Police Agency (NPA) vehicles were damaged and thirty riot police companies were deployed to Gwangu AB main gate.

All USFK personnel are reminded to avoid all large scale civil gatherings and be vigilant during this weekend as protests are anticipated in Gwangu at Gwangu Air Base’s main gate. SOFA status dependents, DOD civilians, and DOD-invited contractors are encouraged to abide by this Force Protection Advisory.

Monday

Maj Horne got a ticket for making a u-turn on a green light. You can only do that on a Red light. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm $65,000 won or about $67. Ouch!!!!!

For Mother’s Day April sent me pictures of Duncan giving me Lilacs, which are my favorite flower. That was the best present she could have given me and that she remembered the flowers.

She and Kay (Michael’s Grandma) have been teasing me about this for a couple of years now. When I moved from Arizona, my Mom gave me a small Christmas cactus. It only bloomed once in the 9 years I had it – though it did grow big. I admit that I have a brown/black thumb!!!! Anyway, when I was getting ready to move to OZ, I gave the plant to April. Within a month the stupid plant started to bloom!!!!! It loved the corner of the kitchen that they put it in. So to make a long story short – they just sent me a picture last week and the stupid thing is blooming again!!! Humpf!!!!!!

Well they certainly do things differently here. For the Memorial Day weekend, instead of having Friday-Monday off, I’ll have Saturday-Tuesday off. That works out really well for me as Rodney will be here on that Thursday night (next week – Yeah me!) and offices will be open on Friday so I can get him an ID card and some other things that he needs as my dependent. I’ve had to explain to him though, that as my dependent – he is under the same restrictions as I am, i.e., no rental car – he will have to walk everywhere, take a taxi or the subway. I haven’t tried the subway yet due to the fact that I’m directionally challenged and with my luck I’d end up in North Korea!!!! He will also have to abide by the curfew, rationing, etc. As he has never been in the military or “gone” with anyone military – this will be a new experience for him. See – I’m teaching him all sorts of things in his 50’s!!!!!! I did get permission for him to stay in the barracks with me but we have opted to stay in the JW Marriott. The military will pay for two nights and we’ll have to pay for the weekend. We move to the Dragon Hill on that Monday. It would have saved us money for him to stay with me, (and he could have woken up to the wonderful Army music of people “singing” as they did their PT run in the mornings!!!!) but in the evenings there wouldn’t have been much to do, can’t hook up computers to the internet, etc. Also I would have felt uncomfortable with him there. The room mates and I tolerate each other. I think it is because I am an older, white SrA and they are “young” things. Whatever – only have to deal with them for 1-1/2 weeks. :>)

Well the wireless in my ‘puter isn’t working correctly. It connects but keeps falling off which is extremely frustrating – so Rodney is checking my e-mails on the weekends and we are keeping in touch at work and on the phone. Maybe he can fix it when he arrives. We are also thinking of buying me a new one cuz the old one is 5 years old. Also there is no sales tax at the BX. I love this old one though, but there is a little part of me that wants a new one too with all the “goodies”. We’ll discuss it when he gets here.

Tuesday

It is raining again today. This weather is really weird. Sunny and humid one day, then rainy and humid the next. Luckily I only have to decide what to wear on the weekends. The rest of the week I look like a tree!!!!

The Chaplain came into the office today and was telling us about North Korea. His friend, who is a Dr, is allowed to go back and forth there. I don’t know if he is a civilian Dr. or a military one. Anyway – to take baths, they fill a big wooden round tub with a little cold water and then just heat one bucket full of warm water – mix together and several people use it. Something like taking baths in the “Old West” in the US. Where most people save children from starvation – they let the old people die first, and then the adults, then the kids so there are hundreds of orphans there. (The above sentence didn’t make sense to me, but I didn’t know how to explain it better. I guess what I’m saying is that kids usually are the first to go, then older people, then adults) Lots of sickness – especially TB. It is absolutely filthy and there are very few trees – they’ve all been cut down. Not much heating and electricity very poor. I don’t know if it is like this all over North Korea but in the area the Dr. goes, it is. But from what I’ve seen here in South Korea – it is healthier but the streets are filthy with trash, dirt and some things I don’t want to even think about. I was very surprised at the waste. How to put this tactfully – Like an area where you own a nice car, lots of techy stuff, but live in an icky house and dirty yard. Everything here is meshed together – worse than San Francisco’s closeness of buildings and there is a lot of expansion going on here.

We will be going to the DMZ on the day we leave. Our plane doesn’t leave until 2000 and we will return by 1600. We have decided that even if we have to pay $60 for a taxi, it will be worth it as how often do you get to see something like this? The town around the DMZ is a propaganda town – so the shots that Rodney takes, will not be the real deal.

Wednesday-Thursday

Not much happened except working, eating and sleeping. Weather hazy and river really stinks!!!

Friday

Last Friday, May 5th was Children’s Day and today is Parent’s Day. Children’s Day is special. Actually, it’s something essential here. Fathers, and increasingly mothers, work a lot. Children spend their days at school and their afternoons and nights at learning institutes. They don’t get much sleep or play time and very little time outside. It’s kind of sad really. So last Friday was the day for kids….most families spend time outside or going somewhere the kids would liked.

Today is Parent’s Day. It’s not a national holiday where you would have the day off unless you want to take leave? It’s tradition to give red carnations. Military are encouraged to celebrate with their Korean families.

Saturday

Today I went to the Chosun Gift Shop on Post to finish my Xmas shopping. The Chosun Gift Shop is the main fundraiser for AFSC. Run by volunteers, the Chosun offers a wide variety of items from throughout the Far East such as jewelry, linens, furniture, and rugs. The profits raised from the Chosun are donated to both Korean and American projects. I was able to find something for almost everyone at a very reasonable price and they are the “Real McCoy” also. Love shopping for others.

Sunday

I took the USO tour today (very nice bus) to the Korean Folk Village which is about 40 k’s from here. Below will tell you a little about it . This town is a real town and the “inhabitants” really live like they did years ago. Children included. I’ve sent pictures to Rodney with explanations under them for the website. The most interesting one to me was the spinning of silk from live, then cooked silkworm cocoons. Please take a look again at our website in a few days, and then I’m sure he’ll have them up.

The purpose of establishment and history
The Korean Folk Village , which was opened on the 3rd October, 1974, as an open-air folk museum and international tourist attraction for both Korean and foreign visitors. It is the home of the true Korean heritage where many features of the Korean culture have been collected and preserved for succeeding generations to see and learn about.

A traditional marketplace offers the exotic flavors of Korean cuisine from various regions. Shops stock a variety of traditional handicrafts and souvenirs. ¡°Farmers¡¯ Music and Dance¡± and ¡°Acrobatics on a Tightrope¡± are performed in the performing arena twice a day. In spring, autumn and on big holidays, traditional holiday customs and ceremonies of coming-of-age, marriage, funeral and ancestor memorial are recreated.

Present situation and Value

Set in a natural environment occupying approximately 243 acres, visitors can experience the authentic atmosphere with over 260 traditional houses reminiscent of the late Joseon Dynasty including various household goods from the different regions. All these features have been relocated and restored to provide visitors with a general view of Korean food, clothing, and housing style of a past era.

In about twenty workshops, various handicrafts such as pottery, baskets, winnows, bamboo wares, wooden wares, paper, brass wares, knots, fans, musical instruments, iron wares and embroidery are practiced. In the KoreanFolk Village , where the customs and lifestyles of past generations of Korean have been faithfully maintained without impairment, various lifestyles prevalent during the Joseon Dynasty can be experienced.

You can visit the Folk Museum and Art Museum (scheduled to open) to see and learn about the essence of Korean culture and folk customs which are not suitable for display and re-creating in the open-air setting.

Below will be some more info that I found:  We got to see an actual Korean Wedding.  We didn’t get to stay for the whole thing but pictures are on our website.  Sorry if this gets too long but there is SO much to share with you.

Costume of Korean
For many years, human beings wear clothes for the purpose of protection from cold weather, convenience for working and artistic expressions of one’s thought. People were using leaves or skins of animals to cover their important parts or show their social rank until the weaving skill was prevailed. Korean people started to live in settlement with the introduction of agriculture. Ka-rak-ba-quy, which was designed to cut the thread, was excavated in one of the remains of the Neolithic age. This is the clear evidence that Korean people wore clothes made of hemp, cotton and woolen cloth since the Neolithic age though they were primitive.Due to the clear four seasons and temperature difference, Korean wore warm clothes like woolen cloth and silk fabrics in the cold winter, hemp and ramie in the hot and sultry summer.

Since the period of the Three States men wore pants with wide trouser and jacket down to hip line. Women wore wide long skirt down to ankle and jacket as well. Men in the period of he Three states wore a plume in the head, head-cover and a coronet. Women did their hair up in a chignon. Unmarried singles were wearing their hair in braids. In Goryeo dynasty, men wore hempen hood and singles were also wearing their hair in braids.

In the late Goryeo dynasty, Mun Ik-jeom brought cotton bud from Won in China . In southern part of Korea , cotton farming was prevailed. This mass production of cotton brought radical change of people’s costume style. They could wear cotton padding clothes in the cold winter. In the late Goryeo period, men were wearing ‘Hek-rip’ and ‘Bang-gat’ when they went out. In Joseon period adult men usually tied topknot of their hair and wore headband made of horsehair and wore the traditional cylindrical Korean hat (Gat) on top. It was sometime after the 19 century when Korean women did their hair up in a chignon commonly. It seems that there had been not much of a change on women’s hair styling since Goryeo period until the enlightenment period of late Joseon.

Traditionally, the commoners wore hemp and cotton in the summer, cotton in the spring and fall, padded cotton clothes in the cold winter. On the other hand, wealthy people could afford to wear hemp and ramie cloth in the summer, padded silk clothes with cotton or fur stuffed in the winter. Nobleman wore bootees even in the summer and wore hemp-cord sandals or leather shoes. Commoners wore straw sandals in bare feet. They covered the top with rain-gear and wore sabots.

In the late period of Joseon, men used to wear jackets and women did wear vests when they were in their rooms. As going out, men wore fur hood and women wore ‘Jo-ba-wui’or ‘A-yam’. When noblemen went out, they accoutered with ‘Do-po’ and ‘Hek-rip’. Women wore ‘Jang-ot’ to cover their faces when they went our and tried to avoid eye contact when they encountered men.

The procedure to wear men’s clothes properly is, wear pants first and belt, then wear bootees and wrap his legs with putties. Wear jacket, vest and outer coat over it. They wore Korean overcoat (Duru-magi) when the went out and wore full dress attire when they attend formal ceremonies. Usually tied topknot of their hair and wore headband made of horsehair and wore the traditional cylindrical Korean hat (Gat) on top. Commoners wore straw sandals and nobleman wore leather shoes or hemp-cord sandals.

Women clothing procedure is wrap their bosom with bands then wear petticoat and underskirt on top and wear skirt with jacket. They wore trinkets on the coat string and wore vest or coat. When they went out, wore long hood. Commoners wore straw sandals and noblemen wore hemp-cord sandals or leather shoes with some ornaments.

Bridegroom wore an official outfit, a leather belt, Samo, leather shoes and hop band on the wrists on the day of wedding. Bride wore flower bootees and ornamented leather shoes and wore royal court dress. Bride also wore all sorts of beautiful ornaments on her hair and wore make up with red spots in the forehead and cheeks.

Their food is extremely spicy and it is not unusual to be talking to a Korean and they smell heavily of garlic!!!!  You just get used to it.

Korean Food
There are some evidence that people cooked their food using fire from long time ago as far as the Paleolitic stone age and the Neolitic age. The cauldron in the Neolitic age was made of clay which had downside that tast and smell of clay was carried by cooked food within. Therefore it is presumed that they didn’t boiled food in that clay pot but steamed their food with an earthenware steamer. In the prehistoric time, seafood and meat were staples, but as agricultural life is settled, rice and other grains supplanted meat and fish. Vegetables, fish and meats became side dish.Rice cooking methods like today began from the Bronze age and an iron cauldron was introduced in the Iron age. The slightly burned rice in the bottom of the cauldron is called ‘Noorung-ji’ and boiled ‘noorung-ju’ with water is ‘Sung-nyung’. Korean table setting’s distinctive feature is all dishes are to be set all together at once. When they eat meal, using spoon and chopsticks. In some special days they ate rice but normally mixed rice with barley was common because rice was relatively expensive.

Traditionally, rice bowl on the left, and soup bowl on the right with side dishes in front of them. Normally used only right hand to eat their food with spoon and chopsticks. There is no fixed sequence of eating meal, but in general they eat food which placed close first. One thing to remember about table manner is pick up your spoon or chopsticks only after elderly person start eating. Normally ‘Sung-nyung’ comes last at meal. Women prepared foods in the kitchen and carried the table to the room. This was possible because the table is just big enough to carry. After the meal, the one who prepared the foods carried the table back to the kitchen. After elders finished eating, juniors and women ate with what’s left over.

Korean foods differed from season to season, the economic status and housewife’s cooking skill. Traditionally, Korean ate hot soup, pot stew, grilled foods and Kim chi in winter. Cold soup, hard-boiled food and lettuce wrapped rice in summer. As agricultural life began to settling and Buddhism prevailed in the Three States period, fish and meat consumption declined gradually, but started increased from the late Joseon. These days, Korean usually eat soup, stew, boild dish, grilled and fried dish of beef, pork, chicken, seafood and many kinds of Kimchi and others.

Korean people enjoy drinking grain wine and distilled liquor called ‘So-ju’ especially in the summer. For some special occasions, ‘Cheongju’ was used. Commoners usually had ‘Makgeolli’, which is raw rice wine. Nobleman drank ‘So-ju’ and ‘Yak-ju’. Traditional Korean drinks are ‘Sikhye’, ‘Sujeonggwa’ and ‘Hwa-che’. Tea was enjoyed mostly by nobleman, clergy and the royal family. Wealthy people ate snacks such as ‘Gangjeong’, ‘Yakgwa’, ‘Yoo Kwa’and wheat-gluten candy etc. in winter and fruits during the spring and fall.

Normally people ate three meals a day with some exceptions of hard labor workers such as farmers. Labor workers ate three regular meals and three eating between meals. The ‘Saecham’ in the past were mostly traditional foods such as ‘Sikhye’, ‘Sujeonggwa’ and ‘Hwa-che’, potato, sweet potato, noodles and ‘Bibim-bab’, but these days, Korean eat soft drinks, milk, bread, instant noodles and rice roll etc.

Korean Housing
From long time ago, human being lived in a shelter lie natural cave or on a hill to protect themselves from cold weather or enemy’s attack. Primitive man lived by hunting and collecting, but since the Neolithic age, agriculture allowed people to settle down and live in a dugout hut. They make ‘Dugout hut by digging up the ground and a live charcoal pot was in the middle of it and finished the floor with mud.The early style of the dugout house was in depth of 2~3 feet, but from the bronze age, the depth of the hut became shallow and Korean started living in ‘Han-ok’ from the Three States period.

Korean used ‘On-dol’ as a heating system to heat the floor for the cold winter and ‘wooden floor to cool off the hot and sultry summer. Naturally, On-dol technology was well developed in the cold northern Korea and the wooden floor was developed in southern Korea . These two are the most distinguished features of ‘Han-ok’ The building materials to build ‘Han-ok’ were easy to acquire from natural surroundings such as wood, clay and stone etc. They used wood for the frame and roof. They plastered wall and floor with clay and peddle stone mixed materials and the floor was finished with clay and thick paper on top. Most furniture was made of wood. Bedding was mattress and quilt that could be folded.

The housing site was normally chosen where hill at the back side of the house and near water. This was to block the cold wind from the north and easy to cultivate the lands. Korean preferred the house facing south and placed main entrance in the east or south side of the house. The border with neighbors were shallow walls and planted fruits trees in and out of the house.

Korean usually lived in the cold winter with heating through ‘Agungi’ and they enjoyed the wooden floor in the hot summer.

With the exception of the main gate, all doors open outwards from the inside. The enter the room, step up the terrace stones and through the wooden floor. Guests were normally escorted to the detached room called ‘Sarang-bang’. Host sits on ‘Araetmok’ and guests sits on ‘Wit-mok’ in general. For Korean people lived agrarian life for long time, wealthy farm houses have main wing, detached wing, jar stand, well, stable, pigsty, chicken cage and kennel etc. toilet was in the remote corner of the yard.

When you walk in the house through the main gate, you can see ‘main wing’ and ‘detached wing’ normally ‘main wing’ is placed higher place than detached wing. Commoners’ house normally had straw roof and there was no separate wing for man and woman. They lived under the same roof instead. On the contrary, wealthy people’s house had tiled roof and main wing and detached wing were separated for man and woman and they also had a shrine.

The main living room of they wealthy people’s house had wardrobe, drawers and chest of drawers. In the ‘Sarang-bang’, there were wardrobe, drawers for clothes, cedar chest for valuables and drug chest. In the ‘Sarang-bang’ of a scholar’s house had book shelves and a writing table and in the ‘Sarang-bang’ of an illustrious official’s house had squared table and stationery chest. In the ‘Maru’ there were ‘Dwiju’ and wooden box for valuables and documents. ‘Dwiju’ , a safe and granary were in the store room. All kinds of cooking utensils, bowls, pantry, water basket and firewood are in the kitchen.

Traditional Korean society has the notion that distinction between the sexes. Because of this, when men and women encountered they tried to avoid facing each other. In the nobleman’s house, even husband and wife were using separate room unless they were doing sexual activity for reproduction. Traditionally, women dominated the kitchen because men hardly cooked or washed the dishes. However, in the commoner’s house, the tradition of distinction between man and woman was not as strict as that of noblemen’s.

Livelihood of Korean
The beginning of agriculture in Korean peninsula is from the neolethic age. In those days, people live by the river and live their lives by hunting and collecting. They cultivate and collect wild grains. This was the start of the agriculture in the northern part of Korean peninsula at the latest in 6th~7th century. In the early stage of primitive agricultural life, they grew barnyard millet, barley, bean and Indian millet, but in the iron age, they started cultivate rice, millet, barnyard millet, barley and bean. The frame of agricultural country was founded in the Three states period and reservoir system and using cow in plowing. Korean thought that ‘farming is the most fundamental thing in the world’ and they lived accordingly. This is the physiocracy principle.As irrigation system developed, rice farming became the center of the farming instead of dry land farming. In the 15th century, the rice planting method made it possible to do semiannual crops of rice and barley. Established agricultural age of the moon allowed people could cultivate their land as the change of weather and change of solar terms. Distribution of proper breed made it possible to have 27 different rice varieties in the late 15th century. The physiocracy principle made the science of agriculture and agriculture technology to improve in the late Joseon dynasty.

Due to the Joseon’s feudal system, the transmission by heredity of the social status made the invariable social class system. The royal, scholars, farmers, craftsman, merchants and the low-class people had no choice but to live their inherited lives. Most commoners did farming for their living and there were other people such as learned bureaucrats, noblemen, scholars as high class and medicine man, interpreter, astronomer, painter as middle class and craftsman, merchants, butcher, clown, executioner, slaves as lower class people.

Majority of Korean people were farmers who worked from very early in the morning till the dusk. In the very busy farming season, farmers worked together with the people in the same village. Rice farming was mainly men’s duty and women did most dry field farming. Little boys took care of cattle or collected fire sticks and girls mostly helped household and got water from a well.

Farmers did their farming as the 24 solar terms. They forecasted the rich or poor harvest of that year and wished the abundant harvest. They plowed the fields in early spring, sowed the seeds, weeded with weeding hoe as grains grew, fertilized the crops with manure. They harvested the ear of grain with a sickle when the crops were fully ripened and dried them in the sun. They hoed up the soil for the harvest of root plants. Harvested crops were dried on a straw mat and put grains in straw sacks and put them in a storage.

Because of the wives should be submissive notion, women helped whatever the man of the house did and always stood by their men. Household was the main duty of housewives and other activities were men’s duty. On marriage, set up a branch family near the parents’ house except the eldest son. Married daughter was no longer considered as family member, so it was neither acceptable nor allowed to put her nose into the business of parent’s house. This tradition brought about the custom to bring the articles essential to a marriage ?’Hon-Su’. The most essential thing they brought was sewing kit. This sewing kit was sometimes enabled women to support the family.

Social class hierarchy of Korea
Joseon¡¯s dynasty had clear social class and people lived their lives accordingly. People of high birth worked as government officials and farmers worked in the field, craftsmen made crafts-work, merchants did trade and so on. The hierarchy of Korean society was as follow:The royal blood, illustrious officials, noblemen, middle class, farmers, merchants or craftsman and low class. Medicine man, translator, astronomer, painter were all middle class people. Butcher, clown, executioner, slave were the low class people.

Illustrious officials were the highest class out of noblemen. They were in the high rank of bureaucrats through the government exams or families or relatives of the royal blood. Nobleman came from a family that produced high rank government officials. Some noblemen did framing too. Many scholars came from nobleman class. Craftsmen class had more than 70 different kinds such as blacksmith, shoemaker, cabinet maker, bowl maker etc.

Getting all of that in there – now THAT was a challenge!

Monday 5/15

I forgot last week to tell you all that I was happily surprised to hear from Simon and Lisa (oldest son) and Paul and Lisa (youngest son) on Mother’s Day. It really made my heart sing – cool I must be doing something right!!!!

This week will be less of a newsletter and more of a diary due to things slowing down here. One of the things that I haven’t mentioned is the above ground sewage drain that runs right in front of where I work. It comes from Seoul and the smell is…………………Ewwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!

The below info if more of the move from here to the new Post in two years.

Action Plan for Return of Land

YONGSAN GARRISON, Seoul, Republic of Korea — United States Forces Korea announced today an action plan for the return of facilities and areas to the Republic of Korea which have been vacated by the United States Forces in South Korea.

The announcement culminates months of intensive consultations and reflects the enduring commitment of the United States to environmental stewardship around the world.

According to General B. B. Bell, Commander of United States Forces Korea, “We have worked very hard with Korean and U.S. experts to establish an action plan that protects the environment and expeditiously returns use of this very valuable land to the Korean people. The measures we are taking as part of this plan are more extensive than USFK has taken in previous returns of facilities and areas in Korea.”

The plan includes a number of measures designed to address issues identified in joint ROK-US environmental surveys. For example, the plan calls for the United States to remedy known, imminent, and substantial endangerments to human health and safety. The United States will also remove underground fuel storage tanks located in each of the camps to preclude future leaks.
In addition, the United States will initiate an advanced technology process for skimming fuel from the ground water at the few locations where this contamination was found.

In resolving this important issue, all the closed facilities and areas will be returned to the Korean government quickly, as the actions are completed, upon formal notification to the ROK government.

This new action plan will accelerate the relocation of USFK from Yongsan and other locations into two enduring hubs of installations, and reflects the strength and unity of the ROK-US alliance and the strong bond between our two nations.

Tuesday

Tonight was really interesting cuz when I left work at 1700 to go back to the barracks, a concert was playing, either in Itaewon or on Post somewhere. The music wasn’t too bad, just extremely loud and you could hear it everywhere.. It finally quieted down about 2200. Never did figure out where it was. By the way – I’ve remember how much I hate staying in the barracks (especially Army ones). No real privacy. My shower takes up to 5 min to get warm water!!!! Chow hall food is getting “old” too. Pretty much the same “crap” each week. Yes I know – beggars shouldn’t be choosey and it’s free!

Wednesday

I have signed Rodney and me up for another USO tour to go to Kangwha Island, Chundeung Temple and the Ginseng/Bamboo Market in two weeks. Their prices are so reasonable too. The bus is actually comfortable. I’m hoping the weather will be good. That will make 3 tours that we can go on while he is here. Remember I have the 27-30 May off for Memorial Day.

Thursday

For the next 48 hours there is a Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO) going on. This is a test for all the civilians and their families on how to get out of here in case of war/disaster. This is strictly for non-military people, but some military have to go to the evacuation centre if people in their families don’t speak any or good English. Try to imagine the hundreds of family members doing this. It also includes any pets you have etc. It was right down from my barracks and looked like a zoo, though Maj Scofield said it really was organized. He had to take his Korean wife. Sometimes, they actually do evacuate them to Japan (volunteers) for two days. Not this time though.

Friday

We had Commander’s Call today for the AF. This is when the Commander (two-star General) gets all his troops together in the theatre and brings them up-to-day on happenings. I don’t ever recall the Army doing this. He also spoke about the new uniforms that will be available to buy in 2007 and will be mandatory by 2011. Below is a description. Wish they had been available sooner. I hate the “tree” uniforms. These BDU’s will be in blue, silver, etc. colours. The Army’s are already out and are a sandy colour.

Also there is a discussion for new “Ornamental” uniforms for us. This is a uniform between Class A’s (dress) and BDU’s.

There was another concert tonight also – Music not as good. The weather here this week has been hazy, humid and warm.

Saturday

Had a good day. Got up and went to the commissary and picked up a bunch of stuff to send for a “care-package”. It was fun going up each row and seeing the new stuff that is out. I didn’t dare look at the items that I couldn’t send home, i.e., cheese, bologna, etc. Maj Horne picked me up as she has a van so I could get it to the PO. Unfortunately mailing the stuff home was more expensive then the stuff. So lesson well learned and won’t do that again. I told Rodney and was surprised he didn’t get irritated with me. But he also knows that I WON’T do it again. I then went to The Chosun Gift Shop again as I had forgotten a few Xmas presents. Damn their prices are great and the stuff is real!!!!! Plus they were having a ticket raffle and if your number was called you got an additional 10% off – Yeah me. So some of the stuff I bought was 25% off and then the additional 10%. I’m waiting till Rodney gets here next Thursday so I can show him what I found and then we’ll mail them off to the folks in the USA. Hee, hee, they can’t open them till Dec though as it is cheaper to send from the Post then from Australia. I may have to send one more box to Australia though (things for us from here) as we are only allotted 44 lbs (20 Kg) on the flight.

Sunday

Didn’t do much. Worked on a computer project for SFC Harris which he will pay me for. It took all day though. Just really tired so to bed early.

Monday – today

Weather is overcast and windy. Maj Scofield says he thinks a bad storm is coming. I have the window open though as the office is stuffy. The breeze feels great.

Take care until next week which is the last one – then homeward to the land of downunder.

Julie