by Shelt Garner
Many moons ago, when dinosaurs ruled the earth, I was a lowly hawgan teacher in Incheon. It was my first year in South Korea, so it had to be at some point between late 2004 and late 2005. Anyway, I learned that the World Association of Newspapers was having a conference in Seoul.
Arthur Sulzberger Jr
So, I did what every failed journalists who doesn’t realize his career is over does — I engaged in a bit of light fraud and, using some credentials faked via my membership in the Society of Professional Journalists, got myself into the event.
This is where I mention that, in general, I’ve had fairly good interactions with New York Times people to date, those few times I’ve actually interacted with them. But I don’t know how much of that graciousness was simply humoring a drunk loser and how much of it was genuine.
I will note that Jennifer 8. Lee was superficially gracious to me when I met her in Seoul, but I fear that to this day she may mention what a freaky loser I was to her high end cocktail party friends — to this day, occasionally someone will show up in my Webstats wanting to read my account of meeting Lee and her friend Tomoko in Seoul. (I presume to gawk at what a fucking loser I am.)
So the day of the event, I traveled all the way from Incheon to the center of Seoul and went to the WAN event. It was all a bit overwhelming. I think it was at this point that I saw the President of Korea. I would be a lot more calm and collected now if I went to such an event, but then, about 20 years ago, I was a ball of nervous energy.
Anyway, I went to one event and kept staring straight at Arthur Sulzberger Jr and, to his credit, rather than having the guards escort me out for being weird, after the event was over he made a beeline to me. That was a very memorable event for me.
I was supposed to spend, like, an hour with him and a small group of people talking about Very Important Things, but I had to go back to work in Incheon. I think that was probably for the best. I kind of dodged a bullet on that one, I think. That could have been very, very ackward.
Anyway, no harm no foul. It was a one of the more surreal experiences of my time in South Korea.