Eunheungsa Two: 8 November 2011


Eunheungsa Two: 8 November 2011

This ancient
temple village gives
refuge to
city dwellers as
two monks do fall chores.

Five buildings
are reconstructed
already, but this place once
had thirty. Armies
stayed and burned.

Fifteen years
of dedication
yields modern
comforts, new paint, an
enlarged plan to show.

She sweeps leaves
with a branch found near
riverbed, clearing a way
through yellow to fruit
so healthy.

chicken clucks echo off walls
as the day’s
mating dance starts on
the yard. Two roosters

thrust necks at
each other, then chase five hens.
A chopper
disrupts natural
flow, soon disappears.

Copyright, Doug Stuber, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Canary Row Hoe Ho

Canary Row Hoe Ho

There’s a hippy girl in my class who wears Mao’s cap, dates
a long-haired boy and wrote a kick-ass environmental piece.
You’d like to poke through every long-leafed elephant-ear on
campus, stroking nature, this beautiful sub-plot, with hoe, adze,
al or clipper: chopping down in order to raise back up, involved
with earth as is intended. Some say a new time has come, White
Buffalo and all. Consequences outnumber rewards at a twenty to
one clip, as Mongolians suffer from bad air and China’s expanding
desert, even though they’ve done their part to live in a preservationist
way. But global means brutal these days: global trade = wage slave,
global warming = no food, global war = death for the multitudes,
profit for the stinking rich few. Love abounds in campus towns,
while “repo-men” reap millions, and songbirds still find seeds around
as legs spread out the leaves. Our new man is African, and that’s
so fine with me, and babies laugh, and mothers smile, here in the
land of the free. So what that free means money, instead of love
and food. When no one has a dime to spare, friendship will lift
our mood. Or will there be the occasional hijacked truck or plane?
Who cares as long as we can load up the kids, drive south to live
in a genuine, warm, Steinbeck-decorated pipe that used to be a drain.

Copyright, Doug Stuber, 2007. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Cedar Pass

Cedar Pass

Here, where absurd harp arpeggios plucked on
baby poplars scare younger dear, and winter
exposes nests, catching squirrels mid nut-crunch,
the last brave blue chrysalis wings on frozen wind.

Contrasting grays, poo-pooed by teenage purists,
offset sturdy dark brown leaves that hang on as
December chills bones, ground, clouds, equally.
Turkey buzzards pick at road kill, while mallards

float flute melodies on ponds overfull from fall’s
monsoon. Reynard twitches as his son-in-law
scrapes pebbles back onto Cedar Pass, a dirt road
older than its name, path to beavers, opossum, raccoons:

all cold today, until, somehow, the Schwa Stradivarius,
seventeen fourteen, ambles up, played by Itzhak Perlman,
carried Asian-style by four willing Rabbis, to this place
of peace, in time for one last concert surrounded by nature.

Copyright, Doug Stuber, 2006. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Ancient Tombs of Banan (finally a new one)

Ancient Tombs of Banan

Four very light pebbles attached
to flung-sprung rubber band found
between new laid bricks, retrieved
by mound-viewing haze-gazer reminds
him of the day he gave up that for this.

Tall seeded grasses wave as a group
passes and a small bee buzzes with
interest. The man with no plan sees rice
on the land, chattel by cart, its grain
raked onto black plastic on the road.

Some is still standing, Van Gogh’s yellow
landing between green and smoldering
fields. Ggachis fly by, bales are stacked
high, a rooster lets loose surrounded by
mountains’ shapes feathered in as if Ross

took his two-incher and stroked Payne’s
gray in a jagged horizontal line between
white grading to blue atop, and the
harvester’s fog below. Set free again, he
sits looking at ancient burial homes

so rounded and soft, kept mown, who
knows how, in pairs that excite the
dream of the lonely tractor driver
who precisely gathers the rows. He
leaves tracks for spring’s women to sew.

Here comes a guard atop Folk Museum
to punch his post. He doesn’t look hard
or he’d see the forbidden beer that
mimics the color of one more field’s
cloud that floats by but still notices tears.

Copyright, Doug Stuber, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Micro-Dust Soccer

Micro-Dust Soccer

infiltrates small lungs
on hot summer days,
as she kicks
a ball, not knowing

any details, just
run, play, cough, run, laugh, kick.
Grandmother’s hula
dance amuses the playground.
Ribbed interior

keeps her fit,
and she wears a mask
having climbed city
mountain, she
knows how bad it is.

Sand pebbles, dislodged
as the game continues;
it’s the closest they
come to nature, but fear
this: overpowered

does not mean
outmatched, Gaia’s reaction
is to come
visit unannounced,
forcefully. A field

trip in their
living rooms. Shattered windows
soaked carpets,
and if lucky a
chance to play again.

Chilly Day

Chilly Day

Here you are, and here they are: in camouflage on a weekend
furlough, scoping out the wide variety of female talent. From
rank amateur to well-played skeptic, the ladies walk by until the
rest of the local unit falls in to form a posse of seven. Is it a
typical Sinae-day? No. The coffee/pastry shop, usually packed
on Saturday is down to two of us. No one, I mean none of the shop
walkers buys anything. Today’s parade is bagless, an early sign,
like snow-poking crocus, of a springtime of heartbreak. Human
desire keeps us on the same course, even if stripped of buying.
We want to mingle, so here come the expats, some lonely, others
paired up. Another sleepless year is a sure bet. Productivity only
matters if you are producing food. Bunned hair atop mega-hottie
stands, pink rose in hand, waiting a while then moving west,
searching for the idiot who caused her boredom. The brown dog
held by the crazy man, gets away, pees on an astro-turf carpet,
enrages the shop manager, is swept up and flees with its homeless
master. Twitching, greasy-haired, dark-skinned landmark is on the
run again. Maybe he finds a warm place to sleep. Someone did up
his hair in corn rows so it doesn’t get scraggly. Walkers veer away,
he’s seen it for years. They could learn survival from him, but don’t.


(Sinae means downtown in Korean.)


Copyright, Doug Stuber, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Sewol, by Joan Barasovska

The Sewol

There are 206 bones in the adult human skeleton, also in the teenage human skeleton.
Thousands of them rest thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface where chunks of a ferry float, where cranes prospect when the sea is calm.
The children’s lost bones must be buried in dry ground; their parents are frantic to bury what is already buried.
Photos in the paper of mothers and fathers, heads bent, hands covering their faces, and we hear the short cell phone calls from the children: I love you, goodbye.
In the paper, the suicide note of the principal, who survived, offering his ashes to the sea:
“Perhaps I should be a teacher for those children in the other world.”
The orders were to stay, to keep to your room, to your bed, to obey.
They obeyed.
The grownups fled in lifeboats, the children stayed and stayed.
Their ghost teacher may reach them in a year or a century.
They can only wait.


Copyright, Joan Barasovska, 2014.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

12 Koreans Murdered in Philippines

“Philippines Unsafe For Koreans” was a recent headline in the Korean
Times. The story went on to point out that 12 Koreans have been
murdered in the Philippines this year. It said the Koreans love to go
to the Philipppines to retire, to go to “school,” although one wonders
which subject is favored most among Korean high schol and university
students ostensibly learning English and other academic areas, to pay for “romance,” and to meet, for the first time, a new wife purchased on the internet.

Isn’t it reasonable to guess that Koreans in the Philippines also 1)
find “romance” of the non-paid variety in Manila, or Cebu or Bohol, and having found such
romance, also father children? Isn’t it possbile that some visitors
actually pay for romance? Isn’t it possbile that the local reaction
to this wave of love is not so positive?

It’s also an unproven rumor that rival Korean gangs hire Filipinos to create crimes and that the implication that some of these deaths may be deaths-by-hired-hands is another one of those hidden rumors that rarely come out, but there they were in the Korean Times.  If this is true then the true story behind the murders may have nothing to do with one culture not liking another. It may simply be another case of one culture hiring another.  In general the place that has the more money hires people form the countries that have less for the simple reason of saving money.  (See Globalization and Free Trade Blogs, right here, and elsewhere).

But before we suggest anything without digging to find the facts,
let’s look at how Pinoy workers and wives fare in Korea. Here I know
a lot of facts, as the cultural similarities between the Philippines
and the USA are closer than Korea and the USA after working hours, and I’ve made a lot of friends here that are fun-loving Pinoy.

No names of course, but each and every one of these stories, except
the imported wife that is dead, came from the people themselves.
These stories are ALL about Filipinos’ experiences in Korea. First, why won’t Korean women marry men of lessser means, even if they come from lesser means? How many Korean women must, thusly, end up unmarried due to pickiness?
Story 1) a woman is stabbed to death 60+ times. Her baby receives 30
stab wounds and also dies. This was in Daecheon. The police never
suspected the Korean husband but blamed the murders on a “passing
drug addict.” The problem with this story, for me, is that there are
not many transcient drug addicts in Korea, no less Daecheon, and that
drug addicts need what? MONEY. So, there is a chance that if they
can’t rob or steal money from a potential victim, they will move on
and steal money from someone else. There is also a chance a drug
addict could kill someone for money. But 90 stab wounds? Even an
amateur detective might make a case that only someone ENRAGED at the
victims could stab them that many times.

Sheer speculation: but what if the Pinay wife had a hard time
learning Korean? What if she was talking to the child in Takalog all
the time? Or if she had a hard time with her husband’s mother?

The myth is that wives from China, Vietnam or the Philipines, who are
in Korea mostly to make a better life for their children, marry
farmers. I personally know a lady from China married to an artist, a PInay
lady married to a banker (ok he’s older) and a factory working mom who
married a 40+ year-old who had never worked a day in his life.

Story 2) A labor leader among Pinay factory working men in
Joellanamdo made everyone aware of a new rule effecting factory
workers form overseas. Previously the governments of the Philippines
and Korea had an agreement that a worker’s contribution into the pension system could be taken as a lump sum once the workers time (often limited to five years) was up in Korea. This can be an awful lot of money in Philippine terms, and helped workers start profitable businesses once they returned home. But this was taken away, and the money earned by workers now gets sent to the famously coirruipt Philippine government and they “promise” to pay to the workers when they turn 65. This small change hurt those who work theDDD jobs that Koreans don’t want to do. Many were counting on that
money. Many have been injured or killed working such jobs…but that
doesn’t always make the news in Korea.

So we have two stories about how Filipinos are treated in Korea. But
we should have more to get a better picture. I mean maybe the stories
from Korea have skewed Filipino’s opinions about Koreans. Koreans, in
my six year experience have been welcoming, non-judgmental, fun-loving
and hard working. But I am a professor, so maybe this has some
advantage the wives and workers from outside Korea who are not
educators don’t have.

Story 3) A Pinay wife has two children with a man who lives at home,
and due to a disease, does not work. He has found work since, perhaps
inspired by his wife. But before she was allowed to work outside the
house (it took years for the husband’s family to relaize her
university degree meant she could work at a Hagwan) she was not
allowed to leave the house even one step into fresh air except to go
grocery shopping with her mother in law. She was geographically
enslaved, worked hard at the family’s business, and raised two
children fully in Korean, as expected. She was also yelled at, had
furniture broken over her head and back, had a husband addicted to PC Games, and inattentive to his own children, and, and, and… she finally ended up in 60-70 hour factory work, on top of 100% of the work at home, while the
husband, who has had jobs on and off, remains aloof.

Story 4) A Pinay woman has three children with her Korean husband and
is beaten nearly to death. She never explained why, but the
photographs from the hospital were so freightening that her husband
never showed up in court for the divorce proceedings. But he was
never imprisoned either.

Story 5)  A very young Pinay lady marries a man twice her age, but close to three times her age.  They have two children.  He is rich, and living in Seoul.  Well, kind of living in Seoul.  After a few years he disappears, and visits his own house about one or two days a month.  Otherwise the mom has an allowance, and has her children, and, well, that’s one of the BEST stories of multi-cultural arranged, or purchased marriages I can find, when the wives are purchased from overseas.

We have to look closely at just how similar these cases are to
slavery. Let’s face it, then men PAID for these baby-producing wives,
and as such, might easily see them as property. And when property is
not living up to expectatoins, property could be mistrteated (note the
movie of the year “12 Years a Slave” for more examples).

Of course, I am repulsed by the agencies that display women on the
internet that can be bought as wives. But this is a result of a world
economy so out-of-kilter that extreme wealth and poverty rarely live
side-by-side anymore. A world in which, in Europe the rich are
downtown and the poor in the suburbs, and in the USA, the poor are
downtown and the rich are in the suburbs, and in Asia, the
mega-rich build towering condo buildings heading out Airport Road in
Beijing, while the poor huddle in Hwa Wei and sell antiques, but still
have midnight dances on the streets. I mean waltzes and all ages.

The financially disadvantaged DO KNOW HOW TO HAVE FUN, because they’ve
earned it, but when the rich take advantage of the poor, not just in
factories, but as wives…not just with farm subsidies that make it
impossible for South America or Africa to compete with agricultural
products, not just by having the IMF sink their economies to make the
world safe for American industrialists (by creating 50 to 70%
unemployment, and then moving factories in, and then passing free
trade agreements so the products are not taxed as they flow to
countries that can afford them, even with their 5000% mark-ups from
cost — see Nike sneakers built in Indonesia, please go see that in
process Michael Jordan as you promised you would for years). Yes go
Michael “$40 million a year in advertising endorsements” Jordan, or
not, just play golf and smile.

So I’m not blaming ANYONE for trying to make a better life for their
children, but when Koreans get murdered in the Pihlippines, we should
know what might be motivating such attacks, not just report about the
attacks to warn Koreans. Heck, many will retire, vacation and “find
romance” in the Philipines, due to how far the Won goes there, or Thailand and anywhere else in the world where impoverished victims of globalization turn to selling themselves. Oh it happens everywhere. Not to pick on Asia, the USA and Europe are replete with drug addicts, many of whom started in on drugs when no one would hire them.

My hometown, Gwangju, is literally chock full of romance come spring
time. Most is the normal boy-meets girl, they fall in love, they start
a relationship, and after graduating and starting careers, they get

The city is preparing for the Univisiade in which many university
students will come to Gwangju to participate in sports. It’s going to
be great. These visitors are not at all having to submit to harsh
jobs or harsh treatment to experience a great time in Gwangju.

But before we welcome them (are there enough rooms in town for all of
them to stay?) we should stop and welcome the many foreigners who are
already here. More opportunities for Koreans to befriend
Internaotinal residents should be set up. Once a year, in October,
there is an “International Day” but not enough Koreans build
friendships off of that day.

Since, reportedly, about 20% of all marriages in Korea in 2013 were
multi-cultural, it is high time more Koreans actually spend their free
time having fun and socializing with international residents. Since
Korea is becoming more and more muilti-cultural, it makes sense that
if Koreans are friends with their foreign neighbors, the society will
function better, and with less crime. If a Pinay or Vietnamese or
Chinese wife and her husband have a lot of Korean friends, then the
chances for abuse go down. Proof is in The Netherlands, which has a significant Morrocan populaiotn that has nevcer been assimilated. ANd has been causing problems, like the murder of Van Gogh’s Grand nephew, for decades now.

The Gwangju International Center offers all types of events, including
a Saturday talk at 3pm, a book Club, a Vietnamese class, Korean
language classes, and art gallery, a library and many chances for
Koreans to get to know how nice their ex-patriot neighbors are. Hope
to see you there soon. Saturday at 3pm is the best time for sure.

Many multicultural marriages happen when foreign educators marry Korean wives or husbands.  These are wholly different, far less often end in divorce, and rarely have any abuse involved.  This might be a foreign lady and Korean man (15%-20%) or a foreign man and a Korean lady.  At least two of these around Gwangju found the couple moving to the westerners home country.  In other cases, the westerner is able to enjoy the good life i Gwangju due to excellent pay and low rent.  These couples may live in Gwangju the rest of their lives, and have famously formed an “F-1 Visa Club” that helps folks find extra work, has picnics and enjoys free time as “extended family time.”