by Shelt Garner
The older I get, the more I reflect on my time in South Korea as an English teacher. The whole hagwan system in South Korea is so fucked up that I worry that some of my former students who are now adults might have some very vivid memories of how weird a teacher I was.
Just the fact that a number of my students from that period in my life would be old enough to be curious about what I’m up to now is enough to rattle my cage. I say this in the context of continuing to see pings to this Website from people in South Korea.
Now, to be clear, I was so totally over the top and whacked out at times during my time in South Korea that there are many, many different types of people who might be interested enough in me to look me up.
It could be some old, long-term expat interested me just as much as it might be a former student. In fact, that was something that used to bother me with a lot of my fellow expats when I was in South Korea — they acted like the Koreans they interacted were, like robots, like they weren’t, like real.
I was always very aware that the Koreans were just a human as the expats and, as such, there was a very logical explanation for why they acted the way they did. That knowledge now leads me to be weary of why I keep getting pings from South Korea in my Webstats.
The good olde days with the late Annie Shapiro.
It is difficult to articulate how…unique…I was during my time in South Korea. I was so fucked up that I ended up in a self-published book about crazy expats. That was tough, let me tell you.
Anyway, I do find myself contemplating at least one last return to Asia before I drop dead. The problem is of course, that it’s been so long since I was in South Korea that things will be dramatically different to the point that it will be very jarring relative to my extremely romanized memory of that period in my life.
It’s over. Despite my best hopes and dreams, I’m just too old to ever return to Seoul and fix all the things I did wrong when I was there as a far younger man. Everyone has moved on.
It was a long time ago, and nobody cares anymore.