One word: awkward

Conversation with the principle over kalbi.  A range of topics: in Buddhism there are three lives.  (Essentially, before, during, and after.)  My karma brought me to Jeju-do so that I could meet him and Mrs. Jang and Mrs. Kang whose husband runs the factory where they make those triangle kimbaps that are so delicious.  He starts explaining karma, so I joke that if I do bad deeds I will be reborn as a mosquito to indicate that I already understand.  This is so funny he spits meat and leeks.  Our students want to become like Marie Curie –“nobelists.”  The best way to learn English is to memorize English books.  He has memorized Unchained Melody.  I should record a pop song that he can then play in the cafeteria ever after so that the students will never forget me.  There is a saying, when a tiger dies there is a skin, when a man dies there is a name.  So I should have a legacy.  The most important thing you can do, in Buddhist philosophy is be a teacher.  They are very pleased that I am friendly with the students.  I should join the foreign service so that I can come back to Korea.  I explain that I would have no choice where I went.  He reminds me of “cogito ergo sum,” which is very difficult to understand when quoted by a Korean.  Somehow I can, through the power of Descartes, control the mind of Washington DC and make them send me here.  Contributed “veni, vidi, vici” to the conversation, though I thought better of implying that when I left I would have conquered Korea.

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