Just back from a great spontaneous weekend trip to the old capital of Gyeongju, my second visit and one of my favourite walks in Korea so far. I really needed a good weekend after the last two were ruined by less-than-satisfactory hikes with other people. I’ve learned my lesson now and I walk alone once more.
No time for a detailed post tonight, so here’s a picture I took a little while ago, to tide you over:
If you’re like me, then (a) my deepest sympathies and (b) you probably imagined that school in this part of the world was a place of Discipline and Diligence, where Confucian respect for authority ruled and Learning was paramount. You might have imagined, as I had, a typical North Asian classroom to be a bleakly antiquated scene, with a terrifying autocrat ruling from the blackboard while 30 or 40 poor wretches cowered at their desks, obediently scribbling notes in oppressive silence.
By God, that sounds like heaven.
I work in two schools, my main one Monday to Wednesday and another a 45-minute walk from home. I took this shot slumping towards this second school a couple of weeks ago. I was sizing up this discarded picture (which I really regret not lugging under one arm to work and then back here to adorn Club Mountaingoat!) when this kid ambled into frame. He may well have been heading to my main school.
Few people in recorded history have ever enjoyed going to school or work, and the kid’s blank face, and the way that bottom tiger’s eyes seemed to be sizing up the approaching prey — well, the image seemed to capture the gloom just perfectly, as we approached our respective niches in the blackboard jungle.
I’ll have a lot more to say about the Killing Fields of the Korean classroom in an upcoming post — assuming I survive another week. See you soon…
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote