There Is Love There Is Wonder: Korean POV - There is Love (Park Min Soo)

Korean P.O.V. – There Is Love (Park Min Soo)

A version of this short non-fiction narrative is included in the book, “Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely.”


During my first year, while at my first job here in Korea, my first students of the day noticed a second-hand Korean language book on my desk. They looked through it without my permission while I was on my designated five minute break—relieving myself, and cursing at bill collectors in the bathroom.

On the inside cover they saw the Korean name of the person who gave me the book. He was a Cho (초) something who was very helpful in getting me a cellphone and that Korean language book, but could do nothing in getting me out of the matchbox studio that was my apartment. I hated where I slept at night; I hated the people who started calling my parents asking for money I didn’t have; I hated the stories, characters and ideas swirling around in my mind that no one else would ever read or hear about. Everyday, though, in my classroom, I taught like I loved the world. I smiled and laughed like that love was all I knew. That love was all I knew.

I was wearing that kind of smile when I heard an eight year old student named Judy ask me if the language book they snuck looks at was mine. She had a long ponytail, huge thin glasses, and the overgrown cheeks that only a child could possess.

“Alex teacher! Is that your book?”

With a loving smile I said, “Yes.” The students started buzzing in cheerful tones.

“Is that your name in the book?”

“No, Daniel teacher gave it to me.”

“Oh…”

A boy who’s English name was Brian or James asked, “Do you have a Korean name teacher?”

“No. I’m American. I only have my English name.”

For about two seconds I thought of the contradiction behind telling a Korean boy named Brain/James that it was strange for me to have a Korean name.

I asked, “Do you guys want to give me a Korean name?”

The laughter and yells of “Yeah” widened my smile. “Okay then, I wanna hear some names guys!”

 


Hey there… So, this story’s not all here anymore. The full version of this short non-fiction narrative is included in my book, “Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely.”

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*Image Courtesy Raoul Dyssell

Comments
9 Responses to “Korean P.O.V. – There Is Love (Park Min Soo)”
  1. Alex, thanks for this insightful little slice of life! I spent some time in Korea and can relate :)

    • Alex Clermont says:

      Hi John! Thanks for reading and commenting. Living in Korea definitely had an impact on my life, but somethings like pain and love are universal. Glad you could relate : )

  2. Sherise says:

    Nice job Alex and great site. Hope to see more soon.

    • Alex Clermont says:

      Hey Sherise. Glad you found your way over here! They’ll be more as soon as I can come up with it. lol. Keep a look out and thanks for commenting : )

  3. Nice!
    Do I remember my Korean well enough to transliterate that as Pak Min So? I know that Pak is a good Korean family name, and Min means “folk,” (and is also is a Korean family name). But I don’t remember what So means.
    Are you still teaching there?

  4. P.S. Very nice photo, too!

    • Alex Clermont says:

      Hey Jo Anne! Thanks for the compliment on the photo. My friend Raoul took it in Busan. No, I’m no longer in South Korea, so this is my last post from the Korean P.O.V…

      Yeah, your close. The translated version of my Korean name is in the piece’s title: Park Min Soo. About the meaning…. lol. I used to know but have since forgot. I’ll have to ask a Korean friend sooner or later. Most likely later :).

  5. lb says:

    Hi Alex–I’ve recently become enamored with Korean tv and movies. In looking for more Korea info, I came across your book and, just today, purchased it on Amazon. Yah man. I like your site and your vibe. As I’m now on your list, I look forward to your posts. Thanks and best wishes. P.S. Most of my life I’ved lived in Africa, although I’m a born and bred American and plan to write, following your excellent lead, about this ongoing experience…You’re my new hero 😊

    • Alex Clermont says:

      Hi lb. I really appreciate your purchase of my book “Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely”! I doubly appreciate the fact that you had good things to say about it. Make a Amazon.com recommendation if you feel up to it. I’m just saying, it couldn’t hurt…

      Seriously though, I’m happy you stumbled onto my site and appreciate my style of storytelling. I’ll be putting out a short story collection later this year with some more good stuff (Unfortunately not about South Korea, but New York City) and I hope you get a chance to check it out when it’s released.

      On your own writing endeavors I say “Hooray.” The world need more writers. Since you’ve signed up for my newsletter you’ll receive monthly notices on some of the “writing tips” focused posts that I plan to do a lot more of in the foreseeable future. I hope you get something out of them, I hope you keep writing and I hope you change your hero from me to Batman (that’s who I look up to) : )