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As is tradition, I stay up far too late. After a busy day of goodbyes and printing things and dropping Soul off to her new owner/catsitter (depending how things turn out) I put on tunes and start packing around 11pm.

I eat the remains of the fridge, even cracking into the cabbage kimchi I was given a month or more ago. It’s been sitting there for a little while because for me, unlike many Korean’s that I know, one kimchi dose a day is usually enough, and breakfast and dinner I can suffice without it.

The absence of my four-legged friend is eerie, and noises outside the window at 3am send me into an almost paralytic state of fear. I realise I haven’t really lived alone for ten months now. It’s not that Soul the scardy cat was ever going to be much protection from any actual murderers who managed to break into my well-defended, ground-floor apartment, but she was, it seems, a good antidote for the imaginary ones.

It crosses my mind that I could phone Mr Ha, my kind and fatherly landlord who I’m sure would come sleepily running to scope the perimeter of my house. I decide not to be ridiculous and lay the last of my holiday clothes on the ondol-heated floor to dry.

I remind myself of how crazily safe this country is, drink a final cup of tea and write a list of things to remember tomorrow, starting with ‘phone charger’.  Then I check for people under the bed and sleep with a knife next to my pillow.


A week-long English camp at Gijang Cultural Centre. We arrived to the soundtrack from ‘Spirited Away’ tinkling out from bronze lampposts. They were more ornate than the ones lining Yangsan river and the music had been chosen with more soothing deliberation, but I felt at home nonetheless.

This city camp is funded by Yangsan Education Office. Twice a year they pick five foreigners from the pool of public school teachers to attend a residential camp for one hundred middle school students from across Yangsan. Although the method of selection can feel a little like foreign teacher hunger games, most people survive and get some extra pay to make up for it.


Plus, the camp is supposed to be fun, and even manages to be sometimes. My lessons were game-themed: Battleships, Scattergories, Apples to Apples and a World Quiz. One teacher taught fairytales, and another did science experiments making wish I was in his class, dissolving eggshells and exploding bags.

Gijang is a rural seaside town recently tagged on to Busan city, and during our three-hour midday break I would walk along the coast. These winter days are clear and bright and you can be warmed by the sun even while the wind whips red into your nose and ears.

Now as far as I can tell, everywhere in Korea is “famous” for something. Not wanting to be an exception, Gijang is famous for seaweed, and on these afternoon walks I would pause to watch the women divers, black and flippered, free dive into the winter ocean and return with green handfuls to their bobbing net baskets.

Once, at dusk, I saw an orange robed monk and a couple stood on a rock over the ocean. The monk chanted while the couple threw food and drink into the waves. A ceremony for the ancestors I was told.

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Belén Lobos

Out of the ordinary stories in images and words Periodista independiente

Sophia Sheridan

en-route to something, somewhere, it began...

another side of the world

Teaching in Yangsan, South Korea. Travelling where the wind blows.

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