Korea, Random Rambles
Comments 20

An Unexpected Visitor

Well, I didn’t see that coming.

After that little taste of Winter up on Bulmo-San last weekend, I’d assumed I wouldn’t be seeing any more snow locally until I climbed some more peaks later in the season. Last Winter here in the balmy south (late January or February) the hills nearby got just one light dusting and a few lonesome flakes kissed the school playground one day before a quick death and a return to sweet nothingness.

But all the signs were there that Old Man Winter might be dropping by a little earlier and a lot more spectacularly this time around. The weather app on my phone said it was 2C in Busan when I hurried home, freezing, last night — word of a cold front on the BBC weather. And this morning make that a minus 2C. I busted out the goatskin snowboard mitts for the 45-minute walk to my second school today. The coffee and donuts that make the walk tolerable were doubly justified.

And then not long before lunch some commotion broke out — I mean more commotion than usual — and there was a stampede to the windows. The first wave of flakes, coming down with the snowflake version of purpose. Big flakes too. I went back to the Fortress of Solitude for my camera; here’s the view from my window:


These kids aren’t used to this, and neither am I. The lesson was pretty much ruined, but none of us cared.


The lunch bell signalled a frenzied exodus to the rapidly transforming grounds. Food was forgotten — and these kids live for that cafeteria lunch the way I don’t. I delayed my standard stroll to the local bakery, cafe or Lotteria (my three options, and boy, am I sick of them) and joined the cheerful mayhem on and around the sports field (Is that the word? We’d say “oval” back home, not that I’ve ever been on one.)




I had no umbrella and had to shelter my camera with one of those mitts. This is one reason the aching-fingers problem is so acute with me: always removing the gloves to work the camera, and the lens itself is icy to the touch. Luckily it wasn’t windy today.

I went up to the shops. I really wanted to play — you know how everything looks new and fresh and interesting under snow? — but had to be back for another lesson. I had a bit of fun, though, on the way to the bakery…




..which is over there opposite that Lotteria…


..and back via the standard shortcut through an apartment complex, to school.


For some of the locals, the cold snap was just to much to…er, bear:


Another game filled lesson 5 — these are third years, their exams are finished, and they’re even less interested in learning anything than usual — and then, well, more games, for me anyway, and a sizeable group of students who had their priorities right.


It was like they didn’t know when their next snowball-making opportunity might present itself, so they’d better make the most of it. They gave some consideration to my suggestion that they take their prize up and deposit it on the principal’s desk, but finally decided to just roll it round the yard. No initiative.


All in all, one of my better days at N2. The whole mood of the place seemed to get a lift, along with the landscaping. Even when I was hit from behind by two snowballs, I elected not to have the culprits expelled. The mellowness was infectious.


A last view: Independence Mountain (as I christened it) from the fortress window, like I’ve never seen it. walked home the long way tonight, round the back of that little peak, just to see the river banks and rice paddies under their brand-new blankets.


I’m hoping we get a it more of this over Winter — last time I found the bare trees and drab hills down here in Gyeongnam rather oppressive without the mitigating glory of some winter white. But just in case we don’t, I’m going to do a walk tomorrow and enjoy it while I can.

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote



  1. Cool series! Heh heh get it? “Cool” series. Uh boy, I’ve had too much coffee. 😛 😀
    Anyway, no snow here, it’s going to be in the 70s F this weekend.

    • Thanks, Phil. Yes, close to 40C in my home town of Brisbane lately. I wouldn’t mind a taste of that — just for an hour or two.

      Coffee: yes. Soon, very soon.

  2. Alice says

    Winter white is transforming and much better than the brown days. Love seeing the sandals and socks in the snow. That’s how I travel right now.

    • Went for a nice little hike yesterday, Alice. Still an inch or two of white on the ground in the hills, it was very refreshing in more ways than one.

      The sandals/slippers are for wearing indoors at school — teachers too. However, one thing I don’t get is that it’s apparently okay to wear them outside at lunch time etc. Huh? But doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of leaving your street shoes at the door?

  3. Alice says

    P.s. hust read this poem and though of you walks and not quite lostness–sorry to clutter the comments, but it is a worthwhile read: “Lost”

    Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
    Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
    And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
    Must ask permission to know it and be known.
    The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
    I have made this place around you,
    If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
    No two trees are the same to Raven.
    No two branches are the same to Wren.
    If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
    You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
    Where you are. You must let it find you.

    ~ David Wagoner ~

    • Good to have you back, SW. yes, it was one of my better — perhaps the best — days at that school. It was really sweet to see the joy in the kids, and not just because it was lunch time! Also good to see them actually go outside and interact with the real world!

  4. A nice post, but the bear joke was a tough one to pull off! That almost sounds like something I’d think up! Nice to see you were pushing the kids to a bit of high jinks with that huge snowball! Best them though, as I’d put my back out trying to lift that monster.

    How’s the winter walking plans going? Soldier on somehow? There’s no real way of avoiding that freezing weather on a walk now is it? More importantly though, is your heated floor still working?!

    • Just got back form a nighttime walk to the “local” (15 mins) convenience store for a Twix. Phone app tells me it’s 1C out and there is minus 3 in store with a snowflake icon! But yes, soldier on! I was quite cozy with my several layers including down; only my face was freezing but I’m holding off on the balaclava for now. People stare enough as it is.

  5. If you’re that fond of snow you’re welcome to some of what we’ve got here! But yes, it does somehow transform not only the landscape but the people in it too. Magical – in a chilly sort of way!

    • I’m not that keen on snow that hangs around or in which I have to spend prolonged periods walking etc, but as nice respite from winter drabness down here where it seldom snows, I’ll take it!

  6. Your photos are beautiful. It looks lovely when it first falls…like you say, nice respite from winter drabness. 🙂

    • Cheers, Frank. Yes, we could use some more of that white stuff down here. It buries the trash and pretties everything up for a while, and then disappears before it turns to grimy sludge.

  7. I am glad you got some bikes in the shot ;). I wonder, does everything grind to a halt, service-wise, over there when a few flakes of snow fall? Or is that just us? 😉

    • No, not just you — the trains in Brisbane can be slowed down or cancelled when there’s a bit of rain. Over here it seems to be business as usual! Sometimes the kids (and ideally the teachers) get the day off, though!

  8. NOMADICLES says

    I love these pictures! Reminds me of my last winter in Korea as a kid. Winter of 79/80. It was silent and warm with endless big soft snow.

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