Saturday, October 20, 2012

I hope you're still reading, because I'm still writing.

Five years ago,  I was getting ready to move to Bundang, South Korea. I was nervous-excited and excited-nervous. What would I think of the food? What would I think of the people? How much would I miss my family and my friends? I was twenty-two years old, fresh out of college. I thought by traveling so far away from home, I was showing that I was a man, but looking back, I see a boy in the entries I wrote on this blog in October 2007-October 2008. I was growing up, sure, but I was also living in a fantasy world where my biggest concern was whether to eat jayookdopbop or dakgalbi for dinner.

Oh, Lord, how I miss dakgalbi. And the friends I'd made. And dakgalbi.

Today, I live seven thousand and twenty-nine miles away from Bundang, South Korea.

However, don't cry for me, Argentina. Knoxville, TN has two Korean restaurants, one of which is stellar.

Anyway, if you've enjoyed reading my blog entries, I hope you'll follow me as I continue writing for various places on the web. Here are my two most recent publications.

Jewish Law Student Seeks Blonde, Southern Belle at

The Chase at

Thanks for stopping by,

PS I know some of the pictures and links are broken on my old entries. Please forgive me. One day I will try to repair those sad red Xs and make them happy again.


Wood said...

Hi Alex,
Reading your blog has certainly brought back some fond memories (which were always there, just below the surface really) of my time in Korea and Japan. I too spent time in Korea shortly after graduating. I returned to the UK and again felt itchy feet (despite having secured a good job in IT and having embarked on a PhD part time). I worked again in Korea and came back to finish my studies, before again doing a couple of trips to Japan to work at a university. But I have always reflected back on my time in Korea. Especially Korea. The food; the twilight underbelly, the hugely advanced technological aspects of the country and the human inconsistencies and social misnomers. I was young and it was an adventure. Things now in the UK are a mess and my PhD has not opened the doors I thought it would. I often discuss things here and there with my friends about our experiences in Japan and Korea.

Can I ask you, four years ago when you were there why do you feel you were living in a fantasy word, as you put it? I think for a lot of people, the experience of working in Japan and Korea (Korea particularly) was an immense experience, truly so, especially as a young man. As a 35 year old now I merely reflect!

Alex Pollack said...

Hi Wood,

Right on with the "itchy feet." As for the fantasy world, I guess in the sense I meant that, in Korea, I felt like I had very few adult obligations: I had no rent to pay, no car insurance, no law school loans to worry about. My only expenses were food and travel. In some ways life was easy...but of course, I missed my family. Being all those miles away, I not only felt the distance- I could practically taste it.

That being said, I can still give myself a buzz if I feel the pulse along my wrist and say, "Samgyeopsal." I know it's a strange gesture, but dammit, it brings up a well of memories and sensations. Samgyeopsal. The word itself sounds delicious.

Thanks for sharing your reflection, and maybe, one day, we'll toast with soju!

nInJaSlEeK said...

Hi Alex,

This is Rebeca, not ninjasleek... I am so regretting that screen name I made years ago...

Anyway,I just finished reading all 60 blog posts of your adventures in Korea. Your talent for visual writing and recounting the crazy quests during your stay in a foreign country kept me reading past my lunch break time. Please forgive the thousand questions in one of your earlier posts, but after your anecdote of a stranger 'offering' food to your friend when you guys hiked that mountain and the reading more about the food, I did get a bit intimidated.

Please bear with me, as I hope to avoid writing out a whole megilah. Firstly, I would like to thank you for writing this detailed blog about teaching in Korea. As mentioned, your writing style is superb and I wish you the best for your future.

Secondly, I would like to admit that I am looking into going to teach English in Korea, and the advice in your blog has made me stop and think if this is truly the right choice - which is a good thing. For your sake I will not repeat the reasons I posted earlier - but I will simply say because I am a practicing/observant Jew (not OU, but I don't eat blatantly non-kosher food). And I am tired of my job. I work in an office with no windows sitting down for 8 hours a day slowly deteriorating into a blob (I've only been here 4 months) and so I have resigned. My last day of work will be Dec. 28 and I am looking for purpose in life, and I thought teaching in Korea was a wonderful opportunity. I guess I just wanted to see if you had any advice for a Jewish girl looking at Korea with starry eyes.

I look forward to your future posts!


Alex Pollack said...

Hi Rebecca,

I would send you a personal email, but I didn't see how to contact you through your ninja screen name, so I hope you'll find this message. :)

Anyway, forgive me if you've already found these links, but and may address some of your concerns.

I didn't have any friends who kept kosher in Korea, but I do know it's possible, given that the Jewish community in Korea continues to grow. Since I wrote the article about my experience at Shabbat dinner at the military base in Seoul in 2008, a Chabad has opened up: They have a Contact page. Again, this Chabad opened after I left so I don't have experience interacting with the folks there, but I'm guessing they'll be receptive to questions.

Good luck, and let me know if there are any other questions I might be able to answer. Thanks for the kind words about my writing, too!


Michael said...

Wow... a "teaching in Korea" blog that's survived five years!!!! A true rarity. Most don't last five months. Nice to see that you're still at.

The Korean (aka Michael)
Ask The Korean

Lisa said...

Hi Alex,

It is crazy how life happens. In little more than a month I will be on my own flight headed for Korea. My story started out much like your own. Distraught about how life was turning out in the US. Then out of the blue a friend messages me on Facebook with an offer. It came down to the question of “why not?”
I appreciate your blog. As I skimmed through some of the titles I began to feel confident that I can do it. I am excited for what might come with my year in Korea.

Alex Pollack said...

Hi Lisa,

Good to hear you enjoyed the blog, and even better to hear that you're set for your own adventure in Korea. I'm jealous but excited for the stories you will live and one day tell. :)