I did not have much time last week to update you on recent goings-on here in Seoul, so I thought I would backtrack a bit and talk about what has happened since last Thursday. Last Thursday was Children’s Day, a national holiday in Korea. (I’m fortunate to have time off during most Korean holidays.) Many American parents would exclaim, "What, why do children need a holiday? Their special day is everyday!" To that I answer, "Why not?" After all, we are all children. Children are a joy and are worth celebrating, even grown-up children. Of course, many children receive special treatment on an ongoing basis as long as they’re under the care of loving parents. However, if your child is absent from you like mine was until last week, you too might look favorably on Children’s Day. I spent most of the day Thursday with my friends, helping them with the 100-day celebration and then joining them in the evening for dinner. I probably spent too much time at their home while I was a pseudo-bachelor. They don’t mind at all. I don’t live far away, and I definitely don’t mind the food, fun, and fellowship.
On Friday I went back to work. I spent the morning trying to resolve two difficult issues, and in the afternoon I went to Yeouido, Seoul’s financial district, to serve as a judge for the International Youth Fellowship‘s 5th Annual English Speech Contest. The contest pits some of the best and brightest English-speaking Korean students against one another in a very competitive speech contest. I was one of several judges. I enjoyed serving as a dignitary for the competition as well as reaching out to the local community. The speeches were excellent, although of course some were better than others. Unfortunately, I had to leave early for another pre-arranged engagement and departed before the awards banquet began. In the future, I’ll make sure my schedule is clear before agreeing to another outreach event. The speech contest was a welcome departure from my normal duties. On Friday evening, I met up with a group of friends and colleagues for dinner and noraebang. It was fun, but I felt bad because I arrived late even though I left the speech contest early. I was the one who originally arranged this get together, and yet I arrived very late. Again, in hindsight I should have postponed the get together to focus on the speech contest. As it turned out, I left the speech contest 1.5 hours later than expected. If it had concluded on time, I would have arrived for the next event on time. Apologies from me were heard by all.
On Saturday morning I spent the morning straightening up the house before my family came home. I went to buy Mother’s Day flowers for my wife as a way to thank her for all she’s done for our son and to welcome her home. After that, I drove to Incheon to pick up my family. The trip to Incheon International Airport did not take long, but the return trip was horrendous. It took us almost three hours to drive home once we approached Seoul. It’s some of the worst traffic I’ve ever seen. I know that traffic can be really bad in other cities such as Bangkok and Cairo, but Seoul has to rank as one of the world’s most congested cities. It’s legendary. Someone once told me it took them 11 hours to drive back from Seorak Mountain in eastern Korea to Seoul. It take 3.5-4 hours on a good day to drive to Seorak Mountain.
We spent Sunday, Mother’s Day, at church with our friends and joined another family for some delicious Chinese food. It would have been nice to listen to the pastor’s message, but we were much too preoccupied with our son. He is so active that I had to take him out of church and let him wander around the alleyways of Seoul. He is not at all interested in joining other children in the small children’s play area. He’s an explorer like his parents. It’s eerie sometimes to see how much he takes after his parents. It’s like seeing a miniature version of yourself. You can look at this little person and ask yourself, "So, that’s what I’m like? Do I like myself?" Most of the time you end up deciding that you do, unless your child is throwing a temper tantrum like my son did tonight.
Note to BJJ: I found out that a good friend of mine at work was given the coveted, highly-visible job I mentioned in an earlier entry. I am very happy for him. It was not the outcome I expected, and I was overjoyed. I will move into his current job soon, much sooner than I expected. I did not anticipate that the move would happen so fast, but the job I will do is a major coup. I am very happy with the outcome. I was wrong in my prediction. Thanks for the kind words and positive outlook.