The Looking Glass

Monday February 9, 2009

On the first night of my fourth month in Korea I happened round an unlikely corner and found that there are girls behind glass just steps from my subway station. There were about three, in two purpose-built rooms. As soon as I realized what I was seeing despite not being in Amsterdam, I scurried by too quickly to be sure.

Girl was the label on their display, but they were brown bear, ageless adults, shaggy on gray concrete behind thin bars. They did not know their natural habitat; they may have been bred in captivity. They sat or leaned with lethargic once-upon-a-time majesty.

They dared me not to question everything.

I scurried on and up to my gym on the thirteenth floor of a building across the street from a giant wedding hall. From the treadmills you can look down on its façade and see Atlas cast four times, four times supporting nothing on his shrugged shoulders.

I didn't exercise. I was upset. I forgot my iPod at work. It's still there now, charging.

I went to McDonald's. In America, McDonald's prints everything with "I'm lovin' it" in languages from around the world. In Korea, my Bacon Tomato Deluxe was wrapped only in English. This is a difference between the United States and Korea.

Here are services I trade money for every month:

₩    50,000 gym membership
₩   100,000 bboy classes with Born
₩   100,000 bboy classes with Physicx
₩   370,000 Korean language classes
₩ 2,500,000 English language classes

Today I thought I saw Cinderella on a student's phone, but it was Alice. Students laughed when I said Alice in Wonderland. The name of her domain is different in Korean. Wonderland is an amusement park in Korea.

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