The “Special” City of Seoul

There hasn’t been a clear day since I’ve been here in this so called “Special” city of Seoul.  The skies have all been so smoggy and I can definitly say in confidence that it is worse here than LA.


I think you can say the same thing for a lot of peoples’ mentalities here.  Everyone’s heads or thoughts can get cloudy if you stay here too long.  I cannot get that way.  In fact, part of the reason why I’m on xanga is so that I can document this.  If I am not back in the United States by May 31st, 2007, somebody please drag me out of here.  During which, I must remain focused.  I hear of so many horror stories of people wanting to go back, but can’t.  Or they fall in love and they want to stay here with their significant others.  Or they don’t go back because they don’t know what else they would do.

I can see myself falling in love with this country.  This city.  The people. My cousin asked me, “Why not just stay here for the rest of your life?  Your family has been here for generations (5000 years).”  I gues that’s a reputable track record but still…is that enough to go without a weekly fix of In & Out burgers?  I guess if they bring that to Seoul, then I’m fucked.

I guess I should outline the reasons why I am here.  That way I can look back in case I get lost.

#5) To get in touch with my roots:  I want to walk where my parents walked.  See where they grew up.  Look at the same things they were once influenced by.  Go to the same schools they did.  And not just see these things, but feel them and be embedded within them.  Often times, I wonder what is going on in my parents heads.  Often times we misunderstand each other.  Understanding where they are coming from and what this Korean way of thinking is.  This is a small reason but hopefully it will bring us closer together.

#4) To find out if finance is the right career path for me:  I’ve been eating, drinking, sleeping, shitting finance for as long as I can remember.  Well maybe not that long, but ever since college.  But is this it?  Is this what I’m going to be doing for the next 35 years?  Don’t get me wrong.  I can handle it.  I just see other people around me a bit more passionate than I am about it.  To them, watching the market is fun.  To me:  Its work.

I saw the movie Wall Street by Oliver Stone and became inspired to become an Investment Banker.  I went to school at NYU’s Stern School of Business studying finance and marketing.  I had some amazing jobs and internships doing some of the largest business transactions as a kid fresh out of college.  After our company got dissolved, I decided to move out to LA where I’ve been trading fixed income securities for the past 5 years.  Now to go from banking to the bond market is like watching trees grow.  Its not the most exciting profession in the world.  My bosses were getting hard ons to see a bond move a half a basis point (0.00005%).

Anyway, I think I was drifting off there.  I guess the point is:  rather than spending $30,000 a year on graduate school to learn a new trade and running the risk of not even liking it, I’ve decided that moving out to Korea for a bit might serve me better. Here, I can get involved with ANY company in ANY industry, simply for the fact that I speak English.  Once I get in, its only a matter of a few connections before I’ll be running the joint.  Well not really, but at least I could be learning something new like mass communications or something like that.  Then I can take that skill back to the States where I find a new profession.

Or it could just be that finance is for me and that I only came here to confirm that.

#3) Getting reacquainted with the other 50% of my family:  My whole father’s side of the family is still here.  Not to mention another uncle and grandparents on my mom’s side.  Growing up as a kid, we saw each other a lot.  Now that we are all older, I would like to know them again.  Communicate with them effectively.  Use them for connections and vice versa.

#2) Get in shape: I had a dream a couple years ago. It was this dream of me in my 50’s wearing a wife beater.  I was all old and raggedy.  I was fat and smelly and there was an old bag of McDonald’s on the floor with flies hovering above it.  As mentioned in earlier posts, I quit smoking after 15 years.  As mentioned earlier, I go hiking and workout everyday.  In LA, this would have never have happened.  In LA, I have no mentor.  Here in Seoul, I have my grandfather (81) and my uncle (78).  In fact, I’m staying with my uncle.  Both are stronger than I am.  Both could still kick the living crap out of anybody if they really wanted to.  It is through their lifestyles they were able to live so long and to be as healthy as they are today.  They are the mentors.  The masters.  I’ve come here to learn from them in hopes that I can be just as healthy as they are by the time I get to their age.

#1):  The GIRLS!!!!

They are so hot!  Just kidding.  LA girls are, have been and will always be the best!  But no, girls are not a reason why I’m here.

the #1 reason is:  To become fluent in Korean:.  I think the biggest regret of my life is not taking Korean classes seriously when growing up. Or was it that chick from……eh forget it.   Hmmm.  Well anyway, I think its important for me as a Korean native to not only speak it, but to pass it along to my future family.  I also believe it will help me better to communicate with my parents.  As mentioned previously, many times I believe we misunderstand each other.  Not necessarily due to the translation and culture, but I do feel it will help.  In fact, I’m sure most of it is normal parent/oldest son issues with any family, but I want them to know I’m trying.

Not to mention I had another dream a long long time ago.  This was a not a dream that you have in your sleep.  Rather, it was a vision.  I saw myself as a bridge.  A human bridge that started from Seoul and extended to the States.  I think the meaning of it has something to do with my career.  That I will somehow, someway, be a connection between the two countries.  How?  I guess you can say I’m here in Seoul to find out.  One thing is for sure though:  You better be fluent in Korean and English to even start thinking that could be a reality.

So to all the people in NY and LA.  Whether or not I accomplish these goals by the end of my 2 years, make me remember what I said and drag my ass out of here.

**edit** My new number 1 is to search my soul and strengthen my spirituality.  But fluency in Korean is not that far off.

12 thoughts on “The “Special” City of Seoul

  1. That’s only cause you’re staying in Seoul. Get out of Seoul and visit the rest of the country. In Seoul you’re taking in smog. Jeju’s air is pristine compared to Seoul.

  2. those are the same reasons i wanna live in korea…well replace #2 with the girls …aiming to go after i finish the stuff i got goin on now.

Leave a Reply