One Week and Counting

모슬포 (Moseulpo), South Korea. 1997.

Four nights already passed with the Master and I had only intended to stay one night. Every time I suggested returning to Seoul, the Master calmly suggested I stay another day. And so I did.

Every day was something new. One day a guy shows up. He is a standard Korean dude in the standard Korean suit with the same exact belt they all wear. Only this guy is from 나주. He is a likeminded fellow in speech if not in fashion. But what he does bring to the table is something of interest to the Master and his wife (the former famous pop star). He brings fabric dyed a gorgeous shade of blue using the Indigo plant. He does it all right there in 나주. He pitches his wares to the Master and the Master is cordial but non-committal. They agree to put the business conversation aside and have some rice and Soju.

The hour grows late and the Master prevails upon the Indigo man to spend the night. He agrees. Kimi preps a sleep space for him. All in a day's work.

Another day brings a History professor from a University in 광주. He and the Master are old friends. Rice, Soju, yada yada yada and the professor spends a couple nights. Another day and 멍석 shows up. He, too, is a traditionally minded fellow who wears the Cheju Brown Clothes (갈옷) and a dapper hat. He is down from Seoul where he is the proprietor of a traditional tea house that bears his name in Insa-dong.

These fascinating characters all flit in and out of the scene around me in a seemingly random order. The common threads are their threads (clothes), the traditional mindset, and Soju with smokes of course. Meeting folks like these was truly a unique opportunity, and it was made very easy and comfortable by the Master. He explained my presence in such a way that they all instantly treated me like one of the family.

Before I knew it I had spent a full week at the Master's house.

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