Generally in Korea, foreigners come and go, and any Koreans who are smart enough tend to move away too. So farewells are a fact of life, and they tend to bunch up. Just earlier this year I said farewell to three close exploring friends all in one weekend, plus a fourth non-exploring friend.
1. Back in January, I met this dude, let's call him Steed Jr. Our first time meeting we went to this abandoned neighbourhood. You can see model airplanes hanging from the ceiling of that abandoned apartment.
2. Then one day Steed Jr. called me up, saying he was in Seoul just doing whatever, wandering around shooting street and visiting film camera shops. I needed to get my record player fixed, and he was near the market I needed to go to do that. So we met up and he followed along. We entered a megastructure that is in the LDB
as parts have been demolished and more might be, and found in the seedy old market a shop dedicated to fixing old record players. While we were sitting there, one elderly man inside looked at me, looked at him, looked at me again and asked "Is he your son?"
True, he looks sort of like me, in that we both have glasses and are both white. Anyway, the running joke stuck. And yes, that is a corn dog coated in french fries.
3. So more recently, he received orders he'd be transferred back to the US. As of me writing this he's left Korea, flown through Seattle and connected with another former exploring partner there, and is probably down in Texas now.
4. His redeployment orders were sudden, as he'd expected to get extended here and didn't want to leave. So we only had a couple weeks to put together a farewell venture.
It was decided we'd reunite at the same abandoned neighbourhood we'd met at almost a year ago. It was a little snowy, and here are two more of my companions trying to follow me up the icy road.
5. Steed Jr. ended up being like 45 minutes late, so I told him to just fucking find us in the abandoned neighbourhood. Here he is finally completing that mission.
6. Coming up to get us.
7. Our friend Badass Bomi used to have a tattoo parlour right on the edge of the renewal zone, but she apparently moved out a couple weeks ago. My son can't pose in a photo with a girl for more than 10 seconds without getting slapped.
8. This is how this neighbourhood looks these days.
9. Thirteen months earlier, this is how the exact same view appeared. Down among there, within this framed area, were three buildings that housed friends of mine (well more than three people spread across the three places).
10. That church as of two days ago is still active.
11. After a couple hours, we had enough and went out for Korean food.
12. Then wandering around we ran into the Makgeolli Man, a local legend who sells rice-fermented alcohol from his pushcart but whose life story is suspiciously obscured. Some rumours are he's a former famous actor who escapes into this role to escape his depression, or is a super-rich property owner in disguise.
13. We ended up at Club SHARP, one of Korea's current top two DIY live music venues. There's my son on the right, and the guy on the left was also having a farewell this same night.
14. America, this is what your future academia looks like. And this is what it sounds like
15. The show ended with half of my UE crew piling on top of the singer of Food for Worms.
17. The next morning, we met up around 4pm. Shut up, that is morning for a Sunday if you are in Korea and not a Christian.
18. As a farewell gift, I gave my son his second ever tattoo of the logo of my punk zine.