October 20, 2012


I arrived by train to Mokpo, the nearest large city to the Formula One host town Yeongam, around noon on Saturday. As I exited the station I was welcomed by clever children from a local English language institute, who provided me with some pamphlets about the F1 race and a small souvenir . They pointed me to the stop for the free shuttle bus to the Korean International Circuit. I told them I would go there on Sunday to see the actual race, and asked if there were any events in Mokpo on Saturday. "No, unless you want to see old people dancing." said one child portentously.

I walked towards Mokpo's most famous landmark, Yudalsan, primarily because it was visible from the train station. I stopped for a quick bite at Lotteria, my favourite Korean fast food chain, before starting the ascent. As I was overtaking a couple, they spoke to me in clear English. Most Koreans are completely unable or afraid to speak English, especially to scary looking foreigners. Those that do are usually drunken old men or overzealous Christian missionaries.

This couple was neither of the above. They had just returned from America. The husband had just completed his masters in Philadelphia, and had returned with his now pregnant wife to Korea. She would stay at her parent's place nearby as the birth of their child approached, while the husband would visit her every weekend from his hometown.

They only made it partially up the mountain due to her present state, stopping near the statue of the legendary Korean Admiral Yi Sunsin. Although his troops were vastly outnumbered, the admiral had repelled a Japanese invasion here through guile by making it appear as if he had many more soldiers by using a strategy akin to what farmers do with scarecrows. I bid the couple farewell and good luck, before continuing onwards.


“The soldier who fights to death never dies, but the soldier who fights for existence never truly exists.” ~ Admiral Yi Sunsin