Animals, Korea
Comments 193

A Korean Flashback #1: Where the Kitties Get No Pity

Lately a few fellow early birds I run into as I make my rounds between seaside sunrise and coffee shop have asked how the morning’s snapping went and then hit me with “So, what do you with the pictures?” And I always mumble something about the blog, and personal satisfaction, and more tangible options along the line when I have some money — but mostly what I do with them is edit. Delete and edit. Pretty sad, I know. But they give me a reason to walk, I guess…

A plus side of all this downtime is the progress I’ve made with a ton of shots from my two years in Korea, which was when and where I really buckled down and tried to improve as a photographer, largely as an attempt at therapy, self-medication and diversion. And it would be a shame if I didn’t share some of them, so I’m going to do periodic Korean Flashbacks built around a certain theme — and this inaugural episode is about cats.

Cats are on my mind of late, and Kate’s as well, as her 17-year-old, Dr Heinrich P. Mosenberg (or simply Moe if you’ve been introduced)…

Moe in June this year. Yes, I agree: perfection in a pet.

Moe in June this year. I think you’ll agree: purrrrr-fection in a moggie.

..whom I’m delusional enough to think of as “mine” as well, is showing his age and the inevitably terminal effects of chronic kidney failure.

We’ve got him comfortable and reasonably content for now, which doesn’t come cheap (I wouldn’t pay U.S. $2 per can of prescription-only food for many humans I know) but it’s worth it. Hopefully he’ll hang in there till I get Stateside again, but meanwhile, in his honour, here’s a little tribute to cats — specifically those of Korea I encountered on my walks, most of which were strays or almost-strays. I suppose they had it better than dogs overall, but I still think that country is no place to be born either feline or canine…


It was a rare cat I saw in Korea that seemed well cared for, but this one at Jagalchi’s seafood markets in Busan seemed contented enough. The pungent smells there, which I found intolerable in prolonged doses, no doubt were feline olfactory heaven.


A heavily pregnant temple cat takes refuge from the crowds in the only available space: on the rocks at the water’s edge. The evening of the Buddha’s Birthday celebrations at Haedong Yonggung Temple, on the northern edge of Busan.


A fresh batch of strays — perhaps the ones in the temple vicinity are at least fed on occasion — is on the way to supplement an already bountiful supply.


A wary stray and her kitten in a vegetable garden near my main school in Jangyu. Does the fact that there was only one kitten suggests that it’s the sole survivor?


A skittery stray regards me cautiously from the scrappy vegetable garden adjoining my apartment block.


What’s with the eyes? They seem to have briefly deterred this wharf stray from checking out the enticing bait. This and the next three shots were taken on the docks at Sokcho, not far south of the North Korean border on the east coast, in September 2012. 


Moving in for the kill.


Time to put the paws up. 


On the Waterfront.

GET A LOAD OF THAT WEIRDO. Walking back from a temple many miles out of Busan, it was nearly 7:00pm, the road was dark & quiet and I was still a long way from town when with a rustling of leaves & branches a startled feline darted into the undergrowth. As in Japan, I usually found cats in Korea to be most unfriendly/downright paranoid, & not just the millions of strays. This time I had the feeling that my observer hadn't gone far; creeping off the roadside, I discovered that it was still watching -- and it had company. October 2010.

From my Goatography page: “Walking back from a temple many miles out of Busan, it was nearly 7:00pm, the road was dark & quiet and I was still a long way from town when with a rustling of leaves & branches a startled feline darted into the undergrowth. As in Japan, I usually found cats in Korea to be most unfriendly/downright paranoid, & not just the millions of strays. This time I had the feeling that my observer hadn’t gone far; creeping off the roadside, I discovered that it was still watching — and it had company. October 2013.”


There was an ugly, decaying little village on the edge of the rice paddies outside Yulha. The place had Doom written all over it, and I never enjoyed a single smile or even nod from the few locals when I wandered through on the way to the mountains beyond. That lack of hospitality extended to the resident felines, like this one watching from behind one of the numerous garbage piles…


..and this one, which soon bolted from its spot in the sunshine to escape from view.


This farm cat, resembling a skankier, less charming version of Dr Heinrich P. Mosenberg, is running across a dirty stretch of road between rice paddies. That’s Dead Man’s Peak (I named it) on the left, and the towers of delightful downtown Jangyu (home) in the distance.


A nervous runaway in an alley at Songjeong Beach north of Busan. The sign says “Seojin Mart” but I’m afraid I can’t tell you what Seojin means — maybe it’s just a name.


This ginger was too healthy and attractive to have been a true stray, surely — but it was one jumpy kitty, let me tell you. It lurked in the bushes on the nasty road leading up to my imprisoned dog friends, and even with a deep drain between us, wouldn’t let me get too close…


..before it fled deeper into the woods, stopping once to check I wasn’t following.


Same cat, same location, two months later. We never became friends. Nice ginger though, and I’m not usually partial to gingers.


I took a black-and-white shot of this guy/gal, but like the way the mottled colours of its pelt seem to reflect the hues of its urban habitat. This was in the crumbling, unkempt but kinda fascinating maze of backstreets on the hillsides overlooking downtown Busan. One more step and it vanished, the way they usually did. Maybe it was my face.


At last, some friendly felines! The motley crew in this and the next three pictures were wharf cats in a tiny, almost-but-not-quite-charming port-village north of Busan. They actually approached and consented to a pat and a back-scratch. Made my day — most Koreans I met on my walks drew the line at back-scratches.


I had a feeling that these youngsters…


..were the offspring of Big Balls Kim, the baddest tomcat on the docks.


Same village, same day. One of the most ferocious predators I’ve ever encountered on my rambles. I was lucky to get out of there alive.

PREDATOR & PREY. A forlorn-looking middle-schooler slumps to school past a piece of artwork dumped on the street in my town of Gimhae. March 2012.

And finally, a couple of exotic felines add some much-needed colour to the drab streets of Jangyu. From Goatography: “A forlorn-looking middle-schooler slumps to school past a piece of artwork dumped on the street in my town of Jangyu. March 2012.”

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote


  1. Great series! I adopted my cat here in Korea. She was originally on the streets ㅎㅎ I’m happy to provide her with a warm, loving home ^^

    • Thank you, Sreejith, I really enjoyed putting this post together. And it made me realise I enjoy photographing cats, which is something I’d never really realised before!

  2. Once had six cats. Numbers have gone up and down since – we’re now down to two. Zero is hard to imagine.

    Just been whizzing back through your blog to catch up. I guess it would be the understatement of the century to say it’s a shame you had to leave the US. Regarding photos and self-medication, I guess everything we do apart from cater for our own survival is a form of self-medication. I think, too, that if we’re involved in creative activities we tend to feel a failure if we don’t turn it into a job but it’s surprising how many creative artists from the past didn’t either. They say Van Gogh only sold one painting. Emily Dickinson hand-bound her poems and gave them to friends (her blog would have been a sight to behold). As for photography, look at Vivian Meier: career as a nanny, posthumously discovered as a surreptitious street-snapper.

    As for Korea, they’re reshowing M*A*S*H on free TV over here. They don’t make them like they used to.

    • My life in Korea was often like a MASH episode but with blacker humour, Dominic.

      Good to hear from you, I too have a lot of catching up to do, blog-wise. Yes, there’s been a setback or two with our long-term plans but we’re hopeful it’ll work out.

      I often think that I would spend a lot of time walking and taking pictures even if each one disappeared at day’s end and I had to start afresh. Something about taking them immerses me completely in the moment. Then again, maybe I’d find the absence of a camera while walking liberating and refreshing!

      Can’t wait to see that movie about Vivian Meier. I saw a trailer and it did look intriguing.

  3. I liked your photographs of the felines and your captions, it seems you have some kind of love for them, otherwise who would take this many pictures of them. They are lucky I’d say.

    • Thanks, Ranu. I find cats easier to photograph than dogs (and children), and although I think a lot of the strays have bleak lives, I did enjoy photographing them as though they were wild animals, free in their own habitat.

  4. Poor old Moe. Fortunately he’s receiving good care though in his old age and I am sure has led a charmed life with his family. I like cats and dogs but am probably more of a cat person. I like their independent attitude and their distant sort of companionship. You don’t go for gingers though?! I actually prefer them a little, but don’t ask me why! Interesting pics as usual and I enjoyed the entertaining commentary. My neighbours have a cat but it lives on my 1/2 block most of the time, eating my birds and reptiles! The down side of outdoor cats is their devastating effects on our sensitive wildlife. I’d have a cat if it wasn’t for this problem and also the fact that a family member is allergic.

    • Yeah, some of the gingers Ive encountered have been a tad boring, personality-wise. It’s one problem Moe doesn’t suffer from — he has a little too much personality at times!

      We’re worried he’s reaching a pretty bad phase of his condition, but so long as he’s eating and not suffering too much, we’ll let him hang in there. I agree, cats are super-destructive to wildlife. As recently as last American Summer, Moe was still able to do a lot of damage to the local squirrel and chipmunk populations in our backyard, despite his advanced years. I can only think it was some kind of Darwinism in action, as any squirrel that let itself get caught by Moe must have needed thinning from the herd! And at least with those victims, there’s a plentiful supply!

  5. Awesome post! Great photo of Heinrich too. I love the way you photograph the surroundings of the kitties. It really sets the scene. Hey, now you can do a cats around the world post! 😀

    • Cheers, Kate! I do have TWO kittie shots form Switzerland, perhaps one or two from Japan, and about 500 from America (all the same cat).

    • Er…not officially, I’d say, but then again, neither is dog in more “developed” areas. I’m no Korea expert, and can only judge from my travels on foot over two years (which were extensive), but although Koreans were always telling me that dog was no longer eaten — they were sorta embarrassed — that was far from true.

      All my research suggested tens of thousands of dogs are still eaten each year in Korea, and I came across dozens of dog farms or small breeding/raising operations in rural areas. According to Wikipedia (look up “cat meat” — ugh) cat is sometimes eaten as a “tonic”. For sure, in China you wouldn’t wanna be a cat — or any other animal for that matter.

    • Glad you liked it/them, Stuart, I really enjoyed putting that post together — I had no idea I’d accumulated so many pussycat pictures over there! I have learned that I like taking photos of cat, all the more in their semi-wild state where they add a touch of wildness to sometimes drab human settlements.

  6. I have adopted two stray cats from my neighborhood. They were frequent visitors to my home once we started feeding them. Once it turned cold and we knew that they didn’t have any homes, we couldn’t resist. Seeing these pictures makes me glad that we took them in. I have such a soft spot for animals. I’d take them all in if I could!

    • Kate often tells me that I’m an animal person — I never realised I was, although I’ve often lived with an animal or two (not even counting housemates in my twenties!). I found that I have a soft spot for dogs and hated to see them ill-treated when I was in Korea. I unofficially “adopted” two maltreated purebred dogs which were chained and starving and sick. If you’re interested, a search of this blog via the tag “dogs” will tell you the story. I also love photographing cats, which I never realised before — they’re marginally easier than dogs (and children) which never keep still, though these strays were usually a challenge as they were so wary and distrustful of humans (for some reason)…

      Thanks for reading!

  7. I visited Uijeongbu and Seoul for a week in 2011.
    At the time I wondered what they did with their homeless. Massive urban sprawl; no unsightly beggars, anywhere. It didn’t occur to me, until now, that I also didn’t see a single pet.

  8. Wow that was good. I lived in Korea also for some time and will not soon forget all the stray cats I would see alive or dead. But as you said they have it better than the dogs in that country.

  9. I have 11 cats and you can call me a cat lady. I got three from the streets and the rest are their litters but now I got them spayed and neutered already. 😀 If I could I would take all the cats I see on the streets here in our country. Nice posts. Cute cats.

    • Cool, I am really hoping Moe will hang in there till I can get back to the States again. Lately he’s been a lot better — I see him every day when I skype Kate. Still likes to eat and is actually loving the special (expensive) food he gets now. He’s even ventured outside a few times of late, since the snow in Kate’s backyard melted with the rain — he’d never go out voluntarily when there was a lot of snow.

  10. When i was in Eastern Europe we saw a lot of stray cats, particularly in Bulgary and Turkey/Istanbul. It’s saddening to see.
    What’s thought-provoking is that every time I saw one of these skeleton cats sauntering about I wanted to snap pictures and raise awareness, but …

    The poor people living in the city? Not just homeless people, though there were plenty of those, too, but regular people living in povert in Eastern Europe, which seems a place stuck in the past.
    We unsaw them.

    Why can we see the cats, the dogs, the birds … and not our fellow humans?

    • Good point, so many survivors lying low in the world’s big cities. When I lived in Japan and Korea I found it fascinating that the homeless (there were a lot, especially in Tokyo, and there’s a lot of shame associated with it there) were largely invisible, until you went underground at some of the larger subway stations at night and saw dozens of men lying side-by-side in neat little bedrolls. Where do the homeless women go? And sometimes I’d come across little bush encampments on the fringes of cities, on riverbanks etc, or under bridges. Always very neat compared to such camps in the West.

    • Cheers, I loved those guys too, something almost romantic about those fellas — but maybe I’m too influenced by ‘Top Cat’ cartoons etc, as a kid. I always loved finding them, they really made the ports and wharves that much more fascinating.

    • A lot of westerners seem to like it, but I was pretty miserable for most of my two years there. I tell people that a two-week trip there would probably be enough for most westerners.

      The thing about dogs (and probably cats too) there is that there were two or three extremes: you might well be a stray, or worse, a captive for the meat trade — or you would be an overly preened chihuahua or shitzu, carried around like an accessory, dressed ridiculously, unable to be a real dog. Think I’d rather be a stray…

  11. Great Post! Take a look at my blog as I do not have any followers. Or if you can’t at least comment of like one of my posts.
    -emilynsong is the blog name

    • Thank you, and good luck with your blog. It’s hard work getting started — this one is three or four years old now and I’ve done over 300 posts, but although I’ve found my voice, it still takes up way too much of my time!

    • Thanks a lot! I love “shooting” cats. There was one vet/clinic in the Busan area that tried to help abused/dumped animals, but they had their work cut out…

    • Thanks a million, that’s a favourite of mine as well. Not much subtlety in Korea, and sometimes that brashness in design etc can be used to your advantage. Also, without a zoom, I wouldn’t have been able to get in close to that kittie, so I decided to pull back.

      • jessiemartinovic says

        Minty fresh look forward to seeing more goaty goodness

  12. Really good work!! I live in Korea and see cats everywhere!! I’ll follow your blog and look forward to seeing more of you posts!!

    • Where in Korea are you, Martin? Yeah, cats and dogs roam all over the place, especially in the rural and edge-of-town areas. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • Cool, had a few days in Seoul (I was down near Busan) and never got to Andong, but I enjoyed my one trip to Daegu — the mountains outside town (snow when I hiked), the temple up there. One day soon I’ll get around to posting the story of my walk along the Han River in Seoul over two memorable summer days…

    • Thank you, I loved that pair of pictures too, though as with so many photos I took “back then”, I wish I could re-take them now with a bit more experience and skill!

    • Much appreciated, I did enjoy showing a side of Korea not many foreigners see, through feline eyes. I’d love to do a similar series in a bunch of different places — hmmm…

  13. Your photos are gorgeous. I’m a cat lover, so I’ve always been interested in seeing photos of cats from around the world. There is something about seeing such a familiar animal in such exotic (to me, right now) locations that is just very appealing.

    • Thanks, that’s a great observation. Cats are true survivors to be sure, but they’re problematic in Australia as we have a multitude of feral ones that get bigger and wilder down the line as they breed — they have decimated an already fragile native fauna population. Just last night I saw a TV story about feral cats killing off a very precarious population of nail-tail wallabies. So I have mixed feelings about them here and think if I were to own another one in this country it would be a house cat.

    • Thanks, Jeanne. I have another one of that cat leaping off a fence or wall just before that, but I wasn’t so happy with it technically — he/she caught me by surprise!

    • My pleasure, posts like that are really enjoyable for me. I have a friend who loves to rant about how the ubiquitous nature of digital photography nowadays means photos only have real meaning if they are presented in some kind of context and preferably in a series with words. I don’t agree with him 100% but it’s definitely true that the “photo essay” can be a really satisfying journey — for both reader and maker.

  14. Great work. My wife and I adored the pictures but felt sad. We have had ten cats and cared for them. Three are left. Boo Boo died three days earlier and then we came across your work. I work in Lego Land, Florida and we have several feral cats roaming the entertainment park. They survive off of scraps. There seems to be about thirty of them. Somehow the racoons and the cats seem to work together raiding the garbage cans. The racoons are strong enough to open the lids and then knock them over. The cats and racoons eat what is inside.

    • Wow, thanks for the great comment, Barry. Sorry to hear about Boo Boo, but a fascinating description of two types of survivor working together.

    • Thanks! I was always more fascinated by the grimy underbelly (and believe me, it was grimy) of Korea than the flashing lights, neon and high-tech stuff that tends to draw a lot of attention.

      • I definitely think your approach makes for a richer picture. I personally love to take my camera into alleyways, old garages, dilapidated houses and in the more forgotten industrial parts of my city. Unfortunately (or fortunately!?) no cats.

      • A favourite quote of mine from film director David Lynch: “Well…if you said to me, ‘Okay, we’re either going down to Disneyland or we’re going to see this abandoned factory,’ there would be no choice. I’d be down there at the factory. I don’t really know why. It just seems like such a great place to set a story.”

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  16. jrhophotography says

    Nice idea for a series and splendid photos! Really liked when you said “to improve as a photographer, largely as an attempt at therapy, self-medication and diversion.” Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks a lot, nothing puts me in the here-and-now while simultaneously walling off all the things weighing on my mind like trying to get a photograph right.

  17. cats’ destiny in indonesia is worse that those in korea. they even look more skinny with bald skin as a result of fleas and numerous skin problems and people don’t seem to care that much. in some cases, households even pour them some (hot) water to get them out from the rooftops. at least those don’t show in your feline hunting, although they are still abandoned in korea.
    a great and observant choice of subjects anyways!

  18. Love this! And, yes – it is the incidental details in the cats’ surrounds that fascinates!

    I have never traveled. But when I come across blogs like yours, I feel quite involved in our global village…

    Question – are those short-tailed cats natural bob tails, or are they the fortunate survivors of ‘accidents’?

  19. Good photos. My friend, whose photo i/d I am using is complaining of getting too old to catch them. But even he refuses the meat.

  20. cyberscriber2world says

    Great Blog! If cats don’t get contact with humans during a few weeks of “imprinting” as kittens, they will grow up feral cats, as wild & untamed as a bird. I’ve been in Kunsan as an ex-pat and seen the urban and rural dogs and cats. (Might have even been fed a few.) In Saudi I never saw a stray dog but cats galore. Where there are men, there are mice. Where there is vermin, there will be apex predators like cats. Some of my best friends have been cats. 🙂

    • Mine too! Thanks for the great comment. I do find the co-existence of humans and domesticated or even wild animals quite fascinating. Sadly, over here the feral cats do tremendous damage to vulnerable wildlife populations in the bush where they have no evolved resistance to feline predators. Even as a cat-lover, I find it hard to get upset about the shooting/trapping etc of ferals here (after a couple of generations they’re BIG and BADASS). If I were to have another cat in Australia, it would be confined to the house or one of those elaborate enclosures some cat freaks make.

    • Oh yeah, cats everywhere over there — and dogs. But there’s a lot of mistreatment and neglect of animals too, it’s sad to see the condition of some of them.

  21. I really love this post. So many kitties inside one post. I have nine cats. XD I can definitely call myself a cat lady

    • Wow, I think I neglected to reply to you before — sorry! I was overwhelmed by the comments and interest from so many strangers after that post, it’s possible one or two comments were buried under the landslide. Turns out a lot of people like words and pictures related to felines. Nine cats? You are a queen among cat ladies!

      • Aw. Dont worry I know my comment could be buried but I just cant get over this. Maybe read it five times or more 🙂 continue writing cute things. Oh yeah I habe many cats from the streets. If I habe enough money I will get more. 😀 I plan on visiting Koreaaybe after two years. 🙂 I was in Hong Kong last month 🙂 mext year is Germany. Then Korea. I hope we can be stay connected. I think I followed you but I am not sure because I am new here and I do not know yet how to check for things. Hope you can help me out. If I didnt follow yet just message me 🙂

  22. mostly edit and delete, that sounds familiar to me. I really like the photo of the mottled cat on the urban stairs (I agree about the colors) and the fierce feline by the green wall.

    • Cool, thanks. Yes, I spend a ridiculous amount of time at the computer trying to catch up on the fine-tuning of images. Probably about the same amount of time that I spend outdoors taking them. And I’m only using Jpegs and Aperture — next step is RAW and Lightroom, which I’ve been putting off for ages.

      • I shoot RAW and use Lightroom (though I’m very much an amateur). I can spend hours working on a handful of photos. I try to limit adjustments to exposure, temp, contrast and saturation. The idea being that if I get too good a processing photos I’ll stop improving at taking them.

  23. This is such a nice post. You would have a hay day here in Brazil, where I live, with all the charming stray animals on the streets.

    • Thank you very much. Stray dogs and cats were all over the place where I lived in south-eastern Korea. Some of them were truly tragic to see.

    • I did find my share of attractive locations to balance out the gritty, over-developed (and over-developing) surrounds of my town in south-eastern Korea. I always enjoyed walking up the coast, where a number of these shots were taken.

    • Thanks a lot, I had a great time photographing them, though I suspect there were a lot more of them that got away before I could take a shot!

  24. I completely agree~ Lived in Seoul for 7 years and always wondered what happens to the strays (cats and dogs). The cats were always a rarity, and dogs… (It always made me tear a bit whenever I walk past a restaurant selling boshintang) T.T Thanks for covering this issue! Propz

    • No worries, glad you enjoyed the post. I haven’t seen much of Asia except a lot of Korea and Japan, but there was a weird dichotomy in both places (especially with dogs) which I suspect is common throughout the region, where many/most of them particularly in rural areas live terrible lives, chained up forever, given a poor diet, no attention or affection — or worse, obviously, in Korea, where I often came across dog-meat “farms” or “facilities” (dogs baying all day from cages), but then there are the urban pets, which are fetishised like dolls or accessories, carried around in bags, preened and forced to live most un-dog-like lives…

      If you’re interested, I blogged about Japanese rural dogs once (“Bastard Dogs of Backwoods Japan”) and my sad experiences in Korea with a couple of beautiful but badly mistreated dogs I dreamed of rescuing can be found if you search my tags under “dogs”.

      • Oh, maybe I should call it a trichotomy — never used that word before! — because of course there are the strays as well, strays by the thousands or millions…

      • I see that dichotomy you speak of so much in Korea! Not to mention the toy dog farms that breed popular dog breeds to sell- the puppies are often so sick and weak because their mothers don’t get enough nutrition and rest between births. 😥

        I’ll check out your other post you mentioned! ^^

    • My pleasure. Our cat in the States lives on $2 cans of gourmet medicated food. I eat worse than that, as does just about every feline in Korea!

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  26. As part of this year’s blogging101 course, today’s assignment was to read 5 new topics and 5 new blogs. Yours was one that I chose. Your photos are excellent. I hate that animals are ill-treated.

  27. Just found you on Freshly Pressed and being a Cat Lover clicked on your story. The strays have a tough life, but they are free. My home-based friend, Sushi is 15 now and his Kidneys are not behaving themselves. I started on the $2 per can diet and he does not eat all of it!!!! I think he is slowly saying good bye but I will keep him company for as long as possible. Thank you for a beautiful story.

    • Thanks for the nice comment, Lioness. Our cat over in America with Kate was spoiled on the $2 per can medicated food and loved it — for a while! Now he will barely touch it. Kate tried him on sardines, which he enjoyed briefly, but when she let him try salmon he became such a snob he won’t even look at sardines anymore! But I’m told his coat is now very classy and he used to get this scabby skin condition along his spine in Winter but not this year, so he’s evidently doing pretty well for an 18-yr-old with failing kidneys. He certainly eats better than I do.

  28. mtltechwriter says

    Great series of cat personalities pix, love the gingers because have one too and he’s 17 years old. Your photography has wonderful composition perhaps a few more closeups would make it an even more better series. Enjoyed it all.

    • Thanks! Yeah, I would love to have included more close-ups, but unfortunately my array of lenses is very limited — just a 24mm for most of my work, and a 16mm wide-angle (sometimes with a fisheye adaptor) for wider shots. So my style is very much built around getting as physically close as possible to my subject, which does suit my physical style of walking everywhere and travelling light. And I have always put a lot of work into the composition side, which is perhaps my favourite aspect of photography.

      This approach usually works for me, but wildlife shots, especially nervous wildlife like stray cats, are hard and wracked with tension! I have several additions to my kit in mind when I have a real job again, most important of which being a telephoto of some kind.

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    • Thanks, Gordon. I don’t know why they were so freaking wary in Korea (and Japan), but I guess it makes a lot of sense from a survival point of view!

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