Letter to/from Korea, July 2011

Dunboyne, Co. Meath

Dear Ireland,

Or, should I say Korea? I’m all a bit mixed up at the moment – I missed last month’s post and then this month I’m not sure who I should be writing to. I know where I am writing from. I am back with my old nemesis, Dunboyne in County Meath. Does that have anything to do with my indecision? God help me if it does.

It was strange to come back to Ireland again after spending practically one year away. We, myself and herself of course, had been anxious to come back as soon as we left Ireland the last time. An undesirable living situation as well as the long humid summer which we returned to didn’t help our conviction that we should move back to Ireland as soon as possible.

We arrived back in my parent’s house almost three weeks ago and unsurprisingly, nothing seems to be different. Sure there are additions and things have been moved but the house is the same. The garden is as green as every other summer and the dog’s hair is everywhere, much to my mother’s continued annoyance.

The  years away seem to grow shorter and the difference less pronounced. When I come back I am in less of a rush to run out and meet my friends and family. Either way, most of them aren’t in a position to down tools and rush to a celebration of my return. I don’t blame them. Life must go on whether your friends are there or not.

Since we came back to Korea last July plenty has changed; we don’t live in what I now refer to as ‘The Cave’, our brief café adventure is no longer a part of our lives, and we now live on the twentieth floor of an apartment building where we are lucky to get modern conveniences such as sunsets, a breeze and natural light. I have even been known to walk to and from work. Living with the things you take for granted makes life easier, I suppose. Our standard and quality of life in Korea is definitely improved. Has this changed our perspective on being in Ireland? Maybe.

One thing that we do when we come back to Ireland is we go shopping. Not just for clothes, but also for kitchen utensils (we saw a set of knives and forks the other day which we intend to buy, as well as a tea pot, a salad spinner, a bread bin and there’s probably more), food which doesn’t go bad quickly, and pretty much anything that you can buy here cheaper than in Korea – this includes the litres of Jameson from the duty-free. There are probably a few people out there who can’t understand how anything in Ireland could be cheaper than Korea, but you would be surprised, and this includes a whole host of items which are not potato based. I won’t list them here so just take my word for it.

I have wanted to sit back and consider the two lives we live, both in Ireland and Korea. Let me consider my biggest concern. While we are in Ireland for over two months, it is still a holiday. That being said, while we are in Korea and plan to be there for the time being, we do not consider ourselves to be living there for the rest of our lives. In a sense, we are always living in this constant sense of eventual departure without having bought a ticket or decided on a destination. Where we will be in ten years is a mystery, and as much fun as it was ten years ago it is not as exciting a prospect these days. So, you can probably imagine that returning to Ireland on a two month holiday has done plenty for helping us unscramble the mess that has become our plans for the future.

When we are in Ireland we get a glimpse of a life we could want to live. When we are in Korea we see daily the life we are living. We get on with it of course but without an answer to any lingering doubts in our minds, and often we find that we are not sure what we are living for.

I remember I wrote a post about something similar to this about a year ago, in a similar Letter from Korea, and if I offered a position on where we were in terms of the answers asked of in that post, I would say I am probably further. Plenty has happened since I wrote that post and plenty has happened to direct us closer or further towards an eventual ending, I think, although don’t ask me what the ending is. What I would say is that we are now on a roundabout and we are constantly going around and around and we are not sure which road to take.

The thing is that when we come to Ireland we automatically start looking for Korean stuff, and when we are in Ireland we starting looking at the calendar trying to estimate when we can afford to pay for more tickets back to Ireland for whatever holiday is coming up next.  That’s just a small part of the puzzle.

Both countries have plenty going for each other in terms of choosing one as a place to live, and then again they are equally both very difficult places to live in. Korea seems to get more and more expensive while wages do not increase. That’s not even taking into account the lack of worthwhile opportunities for herself in her own country.

In Ireland it appears to be getting cheaper but then there seems be an overwhelming sense of negativity and doom, not to mention that if I do come back work (as opposed to do the Phd I’ve been mulling over) there is a chance that I might not be able to find work, too. I’ve also got a job I enjoy and plenty of interesting opportunities to seriously consider if we do have to make a decision. Of course no plan has been made and if anything does happen, it will happen in three or four years when everything might be very different.

So that is how things stand.

One way or the other, we are where we are and that’s about the most that can be done about it. That doesn’t really offer much clarity, does it? I suppose it doesn’t clear up any personal doubts and there are plenty of those close to me who would tell me that I have never been able to make up my mind. Unfortunately, I often get the feeling that I burned up all of my assertiveness deciding that I wanted to go out drinking.





3 thoughts on “Letter to/from Korea, July 2011

  1. I’m always scared of getting displaced by going away long-term but I know that if I don’t I will never be satisfied staying here in Ireland without ever having properly experienced living in another place. I enjoyed your letter and its inconclusiveness. It was real and I’m sure it’s what a lot of people are going through at the moment.


    • Dear IJS
      I swear I took my eye off it for a second and it vanished – the durty tugs! I didn’t get a warning, and I wouldn’t have minded copy and pasting a few of the wee poems I put up there that were good. Ah well, I’m sure I can remember them!
      Glad to see that you are letting the dream live on, this drastic place needs it!



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