Dearest mother……

Dearest mother,

I received your letter yesterday and would like to respond to your numerous questions. I feel like maybe you have the wrong impression of this country altogether. We should clear this up before you visit otherwise you’ll be very disappointed.

Despite what you read, South Korea is a first world country so yes, we have clean, running water. It also comes in still and sparkling should you prefer to buy some in the shop. We use a monetary system to acquire our items so best bring some along. No, you can’t get it in Ireland, you’ll just have to wait until you get here.  I know you’re a fussy eater, but seriously, there’s no need to bring your own food, we can buy it here.  Times are tough, but not that tough.  We do have Rice Krispies but I’m not sure if they’re called Rice Krispies because I don’t like eating cardboard. I know I usually write letters to you but honestly we do have internet and phones.

You expressed fear about your Western fashion standing out.  Let’s have a little chat about this. Your fashion standing out should be the least of your worries. When people stare, it won’t be because you’re wearing the latest Dunnes fashion, it’ll be because you’re( sit down for this one) FOREIGN!  Since we have free choice as to what we wear here, chances are that they’ll be at least 5,000,000 people in Korea wearing the same t-shirt/shorts combo as you. And should you still be fearful after you’ve arrived, you can always buy your clothes from any of the 200,000,000,000 clothes stores there are here.

That’s if people even manage to see something other than your head.  There are a lot more people here than in Ireland. I mean a LOT more. Koreans are everywhere. So although I live in the “country” ,I really meant that it was more country that downtown Seoul. There are still a lot of people in Paju. You should prepare yourself for this. There’s no such thing as going out to feed the sheep in the morning. In fact, you would be hard set to find a sheep in my part of Paju so best of luck if you’re trying to feed them.

I’m sorry to have to tell you that you’ll be staying in a space a lot smaller than our house in Ireland. It may only have 2 rooms but it’s what I call “home” so it’ll have to do. If you see a house in Korea, you should take a picture, most people live in apartments.

About the safety thing. Mum, this may be Asia but apart from being half way round the world, it’s not all that different from Ireland. Just do what you do in Ireland and don’t do what you wouldn’t do in Ireland and you’ll be set.  But this image you have of thieves and gangsters roaming the streets is so far from the line, that the line is now just a dot.

Mother, mother, mother, have many times have I told you that there is no reason to fear our pesky friends up North? What would they want with you? Nothing, that’s what. If you were planning an emergency evacuation plan, don’t. You’ll only be here for two weeks and yes, we will go to the DMZ because why wouldn’t we? We’ll have a whale of a time, I tell you.

Anyway, pack well and remember that 20kgs is what I got to start an entire life out here so surely you can pack for 2 weeks and be under the limit. Don’t forget the tea bags and treats.



p.s. Since we have cars and petrol here and roads that work, I’ll pick you up from the airport.

My letter writing challenge- the half way stage.

My first letter started with the words “Hello everyone, it’s me.”  At this half way stage, I didn’t expect to blog about this but it’s proving quite the adventure.

Although I’m a person that’s never really stuck for words, my first letter was a general summary of my week.  I just didn’t know what to say. It’s not like an email that has a purpose, it’s a letter where I was free to say anything I wanted.  I felt like that Sunday morning RTE show about the roundup of the week’s news.  Then when I finished and put it in an envelope, I realised that there was so much I forgot to tell them.  Thankfully, I just remembered it the next day and wrote it then. 

Since then my letters have taken on somewhat of a “Day in the life” form.  I have taken to writing the letters at the end of the day and write thoughts on paper that I would never dream of speaking in real life.  It’s like confession.  I can write what I truly feel and not worry about the consequences.  But it’s not just me writing these letters.  I’ve enlisted the help of my friends and their children because I figure it’ll make it more interesting for those back home to get letters from people other than me.   

It all started when I was eating dinner with some friends.  Their children were bored so I took out my notepad and told them to write a letter to my mum in English.  After the initial “what am I supposed to say”, they go into the swing of it.  Here is some of what they wrote;

                                                                                          alex letter

 The one above is probably one of my favourites.  I especially like the “My favourite soccer players are Ronaldo and Messi because they are handsome”. 

                                                                                                        pic 2

I even got so confident that I wrote a quarter letter in Korean.  Then I realised that they would have no clue what it said so I wrote had to write in English.  At least I tried……….

                                                                                                                    korean letter

The saddest letter was one written by a middle school student.  It’s just so sad how he describes what he does everyday and I can imagine my family reading it in otter disbelief that he has no real life outside school;

                                                                                                        last letter

            The funniest one by about a mile is the one below.  It supposed to be a question answer type thing, I think.  But I think the child got slightly confused.  Makes for great reading.                                                                                                   

            pic letter

The real adventure is whether any of these letters are ever going to make it to Ireland.  I started sending them on the last day of January thinking I’d have a head start.  But as of today, February 20th, my family has yet to receive one.  So there are 21 letters out there  just waiting to be read. 

I  think it’s something to do with the lady in the post office.  Everyone morning I arrive  at the same time and send the same letter, in the same yellow envelope to Ireland.  But she never listens to a word I say so for all I know, she could be sending them all to Iceland!!!!!! Or she just be taking them out of the post box herself and using them as a way to learn English (I’ve noticed a slight improvement lately).  Or taking the letters out to see what will happen when I realise they’re never going to arrive in Ireland. Either way if they don’t get to Ireland soon, she’s getting the blame.

It doesn’t really matter because I’ll still continue to write them and send them as has become routine.  Then at the end of the month, I’ll stop and wait for my reply letters to start coming through the letterbox.