Before I came to Korea, I worked at a place that I loved. At that place that I loved, the boss man referred to me as Radar. At the time, the humor (veiled compliment?) was wasted on me.
Shane and I finish the season three finale of M*A*S*H, the same program that as a petulant teen I teased my mother about watching because it had aired fifteen years before. And because the colors were dull and murky. Watching this episode, I ball my eyes out and wish I would have sat down with mom at least once. To start understanding something unable to be understood.
That same boss, when I announced that I had begun the search for a job in Korea, seemed skeptical. "What in the hell for?" he asked me.
I couldn't blame him for asking. He was stationed in Korea, near the border, after the war. He spent a good chunk of his early twenties jumping out of planes and running with his rifle for the army. He tells me of a time his outfit chased North Koreans who had snuck over the border in an attempt to reach the South Korean president in Seoul and assassinate him.
Of course the show's palate was ugly, dull. It was war. I sit and watch M*A*S*H now, and I try to contextualize and situate myself in a country that just sixty odd years ago was largely destroyed. In the show, the Korean characters wear hanbok and look for arable land and sometimes are operated on by Hawkeye.
Korea is a different place now. Hanboks are usually only worn on special occasions and most farming families live in the cities doing non-farming work. Korea of the past is a place I can comprehend even less than the Korea of the present, no matter how much I read and study, though read and study I will. Radar be my guide.