Saturday, July 23, 2005

my clothing = salt mine

The amount of sweat I generate causes murmurs in the winter. During the summer, I inspire a mixture of awe and revulsion. My air conditioner has been churning since about 11AM today, and I've enjoyed its balm. Now, alas, I have to leave the premises, get a haircut, buy a CD, and grab some of those damn fashion magazines I've been dreading. Then it's back to the dorm to pick up my books and notes, and I'm off to Smoo to sit in the office and while away the hours as I generate more lesson plans and get ready for midterm week. The forecast for today calls for sweat, sweat, and more sweat.

I remain tired as hell, snowed under with work. Part of the blame lies in my not having hit Namsan more than once over the past two weeks. It's starting to show, too: my face is once again beginning to look like bread in mid-bake. But it's hot, dammit. Hot and humid: my two least favorite conditions. Mustering up the desire to hike (not to mention the time!) is increasingly difficult.

One of my students yesterday wanted me to come along with her to the funeral of Yi Gu, the last member of the Chosun (Yi) Dynasty, who was found dead in a Tokyo hotel a few days ago, and whose remains have been transported back to Seoul's Changdeok Palace. As the papers have noted, Yi would have been king if Korea had kept the royal system of government. Yi Gu's semi-exile in Japan (he spoke little to no Korean, but was able to conduct interviews in English: he'd lived in America and studied architecture at an Ivy League school in the States) was in large measure a function of South Korean dictators who had no desire to see the reestablishment of monarchy.

When he was alive, Yi would come back to Korea for ceremonial occasions, but I suppose his lack of Korean ability made it difficult for him to connect with the masses. My impression is that he lived a quiet life of relative obscurity in Japan.

During an interview, Yi did, however, firmly state his conviction that he saw himself as Korean, and he will be buried with his parents. His funeral is on Sunday at 10AM. While I'm curious about the funeral, I'm wavering about showing up because the crowds are going to be crazy, and the weather's likely to be hot as hell. My student, however, will be there with or without me because she's a big fan of Korean history.

Good luck enduring the heat, Sparky.


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