I’ve been coming to Jumunjin in Gangwon-do as long as I’ve known Herself. She’s a local, but she hasn’t lived here since she finished highschool and moved to Seoul to go to university. Not long after we started hanging out together she sneaked me down here and we hung out at the beach in between the time she would spend with her family. It wasn’t long before we started to make regular trips here and these trips increased in frequency once I was formally introduced to her parents. Now I’d almost say I’m a local here. I don’t think too many of the real locals feel that way.
Sogum River and Jumunjin in the winter.
Not only is Jumunjin the place where we later got married, it’s also probably the place outside of Seoul we visit the most. A couple of summers ago we were almost every second or third weekend. That being said, it has been a while since we were last out here. I’d say we haven’t been here since some time last autumn, which is quite a while.
I like Haebangchon. I have only lived there briefly, but I lived nearby for a while and spent many formative years in Korea there. I made a lot of friends there, and I still have plenty who float in and out of bars and cafés and shout and wave at me when I turn up on random sorties. A bit like me, Haebangchon has changed a lot, and I’d even say it has become more sophisticated, but still with its old town grit that people come back for so much.
Haebangchon is, in essence, a slum. At least it started out that way. Officially named Yongsan-2 dong, the place gets its name after it became a place where North Korean refugees settled after the war, which is why it’s called Haebangchon, meaning Freedom or Liberation Village depending on who you’re talking too. I know that when residents ask a taxi to take them there, regardless of where in the city they’re coming from, they’ll ask the taxi driver to take them to Yongsan-2 dong. It has a dubious nature, and you’ll do well to get a taxi from Itaewon to there late at night, but that has nothing to do with it being a dodgy neighbourhood. As far as I know, there are a few more former North Korean refugee enclaves around the city, but this is the only one I’ve heard off, and it’s also probably the most famous.
One thing I don’t talk too much about here is work. The reasons why are because it’s work, and work is work, and there are plenty of people out there who are more suited to talking about my line of work than I am, and more importantly, I don’t want to talk about work.
I talk with co-workers about work all day in work. It’s work talk. The same work talk that everyone else talks about in work, which usually involves complaining/marvelling over something irrelevant to the rest of the immediate world. It’s not very exciting and the less I have of it the better. Sometimes I talk with Herself about work, and she politely grunts and changes the subject, which I’m grateful for. I do enough talking about work and you don’t deserve, need, or really want to hear me go on about work.