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Okay, now for the long overdue post on how Marty was found (Side Note: He’s sleeping next to me now with his head on my shoulder, making it a challenge to type). To recap, Marty went missing the day after St. Patrick’s Day. I was reunited with him about a month later on April 14. He had apparently wandered over to Kyunghee University, which is just around the corner from where he had disappeared BUT is also across a highway. I’m still not sure how he crossed that highway, if he really did at all. When my students asked me why he was at the University, I told them he wanted to go to school and get smarter.

So here’s how I was reunited with him. In addition to spending basically all of March putting up missing flyers to find Marty, and then putting them into the millions of mailboxes in Yeongtong after it became apparent that people were taking down my flyers (I was not happy to discover this.), I also gave color ones to Yeongtong vets. One day, April14th to be exact, I got a text during class (but like a good teacher I did not check it until after class was up at 10pm). It was from the local vet that was across the street from work and basically said they think they had Marty.

I was pretty excited to get this text, especially since my hope in finding my dog was really starting to wane. I figured that a vet would definitely be able to recognize him. Even though he’s a yorkie, he’s pretty unique with his one eye, floppy ears and lighter than average coloring. But I was still doubtful because I had already been notified from other sources about other yorkies that were definitely not Marty.

I asked one of the Korean counselors to call the vet and ask if the dog only had one eye. For some reason, she called by the CDI phone and not her cellphone, which will be important later. When I asked if it was Marty, she only nodded which made me suspicious. Was she nodding just so I would go to the vet and check or was she nodding because it was actually Marty?

Anyway, I went to the vet and she was very happy to see me. She assured me it was definitely Marty and gave me the cell phone number of the woman who found him since she had gone home. So I went back to work and asked the counselor to call again and again she called from a CDI phone. The woman wanted to meet me at a Nong Hyup bank near the Kyunghee entrance. I was pretty much a mess of nerves the whole 15 minute walk there. What if it wasn’t Marty? I was so nervous, I didn’t even have my iPod on, which I basically live by.

So I got there and the woman is waiting with a friend inside the bank’s entrance. I can’t fully tell if it’s Marty. But once I got in and held him, I knew it was my dog. He had kind of a funny hair cut and smelled slightly medicinal so I’m thinking that grooming was why the woman had brought him into the vet in the first place. I was so overwhelmed that I only vaguely remember thanking the woman and leaving. The walk back to my apartment was kind of stressful. Marty was shaking the whole way and clearly didn’t like being on the street. However, once he was back in the apartment he was his happy, carefree self and gladly socialized with Han and explored how the apartment had changed in the month he was missing.

So the next day, one of the CDI administrators comes up to me slightly annoyed and asks why I didn’t thank the woman for finding my dog. Now, what happened after I got Marty may have been shrouded in vagueness, but I know I thanked her several times. Apparently the woman had called CDI (she had it’s number because the counselor called her from a CDI phone) and said she felt that I wasn’t grateful enough that she had returned my dog. And my boss felt that it reflected badly on the school so they wanted me to meet again with her.

I was perfectly happy to meet with her because I did want to know more about how she had found my dog and when she had found him since it seemed like she had had him for a little while. But I was pretty annoyed about all the offense people were taking about this. First of all, it did not seem like the woman spoke much English, so it’s not like I could have really thanked her properly when I met with her. Second of all, while I do understand she had bought things for Marty and had probably bonded with him, he had a harness on when he went missing and was clearly someone’s pet. Why did she try to keep him instead of trying to find his owner? And if his harness was missing and she thought he was a stray, why did she not take him to a vet to get at the very least his creepy missing eye looked at? ( I love Marty, but his eye is creepy.)

But that meeting never came to pass. She kept calling the school but postponing the meeting because she had health problems and has to be at the hospital a lot. So I’ll never really know what happened to Marty in that month he was missing. Occasionally I’ll notice he’s a little timid in situations that he wasn’t timid in before but overall there don’t seem to be any lasting effects of being missing. And actually one good thing has come from this. Marty was a little stubborn before he disappeared but  now he’s pretty much 100% obedient to me (However I wouldn’t recommend loosing your dog as a method of obedience training…).

Now, this post isn’t going to be nearly as informed as my last post. I really haven’t interacted too much with severe sickness here in Korean. I guess this post will be divided into three parts: contagious diseases, mental illness and other.

Contagious Diseases:

Like many high-population Asian countries, people in Korea wear masks when they are sick. Which is fairly considerate. When they cough or sneeze they don’t spread germs that will infect others. But I wonder if it helps fuel a germophobic culture. When I was training, fear of swine flu was “all the rage”. I was originally supposed to arrive in Korea in the summer but was pushed back until December because 1) The international job market was weak so people were choosing to stay in their positions and 2) There was such a major fear of swine flu that whole schools were closed down for weeks because none of the students were coming. That said… many students do not cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze.

Mental Illness:

I haven’t seen too much of this in Korea, although I did see a young man with a clear mental illness on the subway and Koreans basically ignored him. Several of the lessons in CDI have mental illness related topics and I expected my students to have some preconceived notions about mental illnesses (not because they’re Korean, but because most people do). And they did but they were also pretty willing to talk about the topic and very open-minded about it. They really seemed to understand that mental illness is just like any disease, but it just affects the mind.

Other:

So I thought this story was interesting. It happened to one of my co-workers while he was in a subway station in Seoul. I’ll post what he wrote in his own (not censored) words:

“I heard a girl scream for help and when I ran over saw a crowd of people watching an old man having a seizure foaming from the mouth and twitching and stuff.. there was like 50 people just watching it was sad cuz some people were laughing, anyways by the time I got there his face started turning real purple cuz he couldnt breathe, so I ran in there and turned him to his side to get his tongue and spit out of his mouth.. then one dude was like wtf you doing you should just leave him alone but I told him to fuck off.. after putting to his side I could see he split open his head in the back from falling, but it was not too serious he got all the crap in his mouth out and he was able to breathe through his nose cuz but he had lock jaw.. but after he was able to breathe his face came to normal color.. finally the subway workers and the police came like 20 mins later… but shit was nutz I just remembered those things they taught you in elementary.. never thought I would puti it to use…”

What a crazy thing to see waiting for the subway. This isn’t so much Korean culture as just bystander culture as I’m sure people in other countries would have reacted similarly. But I do think it’s interesting a country so cautious about contagious diseases doesn’t (at least appear) to push for more education on other diseases and physical ailments. Also, random thought I just had: Suwon has a ton of exercise equipment in their parks that I often see people using. While it’s great to get people outside doing stuff, many people have pointed out that the exercises they have you doing probably don’t exercise much since the machines don’t offer a lot of resistance to make you work hard. I think they’re just “feel good” exercise machines.

This weekend was one of firsts for me. I went, along with several other Yeongtong and Dongtan teachers and a handful of other English-speaking foreigners here in Korea, to Inje. There, at an “Xtreme Sports Resort”,  I:

  1. Got shot in the head
  2. Drove into a hill
  3. Crossed a river in the air
  4. Was thrown off a boat
  5. Plunged 63 feet to certain death
  6. Was flung unexpectedly into the air
  7. Celebrated the Fourth of July, foreigner-style in a soccer field, which was all the more appropriate considering it was sandwiched between watching Germany CRUSH Argentina and move on to the Semi-Finals in the World Cup.

What I first! I got shot in the head (front and back), and multiple times in the leg and a few times in the arm! But I also shot back, and hit quite a few. Of course, we were shooting paint balls. But still!

Following paint ball, some of us went to ride ATVs through a watery (because we’re in the rainy season) track. I had… some issues, shall we say, with the breaks. Hence my driving into a hill. And Rayna (a Dongtan teacher). Multiple times… But it was a lot of fun. Great entertainment if you’re a speed freak.

After paint ball we did a little ziplining, including one of my co-workers who is afraid of heights. Good for him! Facing his fears! Ziplining was pretty fun. Towards the end, we actually zip across a semi-wide river which we later…

Rafted down! Which I wasn’t really planning on doing, but everyone else was doing it so I gave into pier pressure (hahaha, oh puns). Our guide was a little sadistic though. He pushed all of us out of the boat at one point or another and kept baptizing the people who sat in the back of the raft. The trip was nice, but the water was low (despite all the rain) so all the rafts kept getting stuck on rocks.

Then we rested. Sort of. Dinner started around 8 and bled into partying which eventually ended (for me) in letting of fireworks in the soccerfield by the (I think) youth hostel (What was that building?!) we were staying in. I wish I could figure out how to post videos on there because I managed to get some cool ones of the fire works. As one teacher pointed out, it looked like we were in a scene from Harry Potter.

Then, after watching the Germany versus Argentina soccer game (which I’ll go into in another post), of course, I hit the sack, because the 4th of July brought one other thing…

Bungee Jumping! Glorious bungee jumping. Which, despite not really wanting to do it, I had to do. And I was going to do it properly, which meant using the ankle harness and not that whimpy full-body harness. I ended up jumping sixth, which was a good number because even though I had to watch a bunch of other people jumping I didn’t have enough time to really dwell on what I was seeing.

Once I got up to the top platform (63 feet in the air- the highest bungee jumping point in South Korea!), I started to feel the weight of what I was doing. But I only had a few second to think about it and take in the view (which was lovely) before I JUMPED OFF! Or, as I later found out from the video taken, fell off… I really thought I jumped off but… jumping from 63 feet in the air with only a tether keeping you safe can skew your perception of things.

Bungee jumping was definitely an experience but I don’t think it’s something that I’ll do again. It happens so fast and although you do enjoy the initial descent (or at least appreciate it for the odd sensation you get), the recoils just mess with your mind. Or at least they messed up my mind. After I recoiled the first time, I couldn’t tell what was going on, if I was going up or down. I started getting tunnel vision to. It was bizarre.

After bungee jumping, I calmed my nerves by going on the slingshot, which is basically a ball you sit in with a partner. Then that ball is flung into the air as sort of an anti-bungee. But they don’t tell you when it’s going to be launched so there’s a lot of nerve-shattering anticipation. That was a lot of fun (although it made me motion sick). I did not, however, like watching it. Waiting for it to launch when I was sitting in it wasn’t that bad but it was a little upsetting having it surprise me like a jack-in-the-box while I was watching it.

And then… we went home. It was a glorious weekend.