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David S. Wills Archive

David S. Wills

Meeting a Messiah

November 11th, 2009
by David S. Wills

DAEGU, KOREA

His name was Daniel and I think he was a paedophile. Whether he was or he wasn’t, he certainly was a violent and delusional man, and his brief stint in my life was alarmingly full of coincidence and fear.

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David S. Wills

The Penis in the Mirror

October 22nd, 2009
by David S. Wills

DAEGU, KOREA

I was drunk one night after work, singing in a noraebang (Korean karaoke) with co-workers, when Robbie cornered me in the dingy little bathroom. It was awkward. I barely knew the guy, except that he was a co-worker’s boyfriend and a notorious alcoholic. He was a big solid Irish guy, and I couldn’t place his age – Thirty? Fifty? His face was wrinkled and only his bright blue eyes shone out from the mess of grey stubble.

“Your hair, David,” he said. “Your hair is shite.”

“Thanks.”

“I mean, you’re a handsome fella, in all. You look like Johnny Depp… But that hair… No… That hair has to go.”

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David S. Wills

The Magic Hat

October 9th, 2009
by David S. Wills

DAEGU, KOREA -

I didn’t look at a clock or my watch all day. Time ceased to be of any consequence. But not too long after the sun had risen, and well before it hit that point in the sky that said it was midday, we set out to see what Kelly called “real Korea”. When she said those words and showed some optimism I never doubted her for a second. Usually my cynical side kicks in and I laugh silently at anyone when they grow enthusiastic about something I dislike, but I trusted her fully.

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David S. Wills

Hagwon: The First Day

September 23rd, 2009
by David S. Wills

DAEGU, KOREA -

I woke to the most awesome bright light. It was insufferably bright, in fact, and hurt my head tremendously. I could hear a terrible pounding and I wasn’t sure if that was the headache or the light making me crazy, but after a minute of lying there, I realised it was my door.

“Dude!” Thomas said, laughing almost to the point of falling down the stairs. “Holy shit!”

“Fuck off,” I told him. “What the fuck are you makin’ that goddamn racket for? Banging on my door at this hour…”

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David S. Wills

A Thousand Words: Wilderness Kicks

September 14th, 2009
by David S. Wills

BIG SUR, CALIFORNIA -

I used to work on an organic farm in California, living in a barn full of horses and riding tractors through fields under the warmth of a gentle fall sun. I was a Beatnik then more than now – among hippies and flower children, believing everything I was told and digging all the world in some glorious young innocence.

I was obsessed with Kerouac and Ginsberg, and with the notion of wilderness. I read too much for my own good; my head full of dreams and naïve thoughts. I’d read Into the Wild, a lot of London and some Thoreau. I was obsessed with Big Sur and becoming free of the constraints of humanity. I loved the idea of the writer disappearing into nature.

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David S. Wills

Teaching Mikhail Gorbachev

August 24th, 2009
by David S. Wills

DAEGU, KOREA -

It surprised me when I first came to Korea and realized that Korean kids were given English names. Why, I wondered, wouldn’t they just keep their Korean name? Does an English name really make it easier for the kids to learn, or is it for the benefit of native teachers?

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David S. Wills

Shit Needle

August 10th, 2009
by David S. Wills

DAEGU, KOREA -

There may be some eyebrows raised by those of you who’ve never been to Korea, but what I’m about to tell you is true. It may also seem like it is exaggerated, or in need of censorship, but this is a serious anthropological study.

In Korea, humour often pertains to the anus, much like in the West. Penises aren’t as funny here, and we NEVER speak about breasts or vaginas. Everything revolves around the ass – from childhood to old age, everyone laughs at a cartoon piece of poop, or a man being raped by a large spear.

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David S. Wills

The Worst of Weeks: Fleeced Like a Rube, Pt. 2

August 8th, 2009
by David S. Wills

DAEGU, KOREA -

Rodney Munch is the sort of guy you’d normally consider pretty damn lucky, but lucky folks fall, too, and they fall harder than the rest of us.

I once saw Rod being dealt a Royal Flush, only a week after his first game of poker. Another time, I saw him decline to choose heads or tails in a coin toss, only to have the coin land on its side.

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David S. Wills

Fleeced Like a Rube on the BBC

July 26th, 2009
by David S. Wills

BUSAN, KOREA -

“I’ll never trust another old person,” Bart Simpson once said, and for that nugget of wisdom I’ve always half-respected him. The fact is the elderly are as capable of screwing you over as a menacing looking teenager, or a hardass, stoneface punk twenty-something. Worse, the elderly won’t just take you for a ride… They’ll say they ‘fleeced’ you and call you a ‘rube’. Of course, if you trust the elderly, you can have no complaints about being called a ‘rube’. That’s just exactly what you are.

And that’s exactly what I am. A rube. A pure-bred, plain-as-day rube. I met an old man and let him have his wicked way, and he damn well did it on national TV. No, not Korean national TV, which is of interest only to Koreans, and which is so backward, racist and pedophilic that no one could seriously give a fuck what is said there… but the BBC!

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David S. Wills

How to Meet Famous People and Get Free Books

July 5th, 2009
by David S. Wills

KOREA -

Some people call it blagging, but for others it’s just being lucky. I guess you might say it is called entitlement when you achieve something that maybe you didn’t jump through all the required hoops to get.

Two years ago I was put in a position that many people find themselves in, and I wasn’t coping with it very well. I had graduated from university and was lost. My friends had all failed their first, second or third years and had thus re-sat them, and now I was the only one of a tight group of maybe fifty students to have actually reached that point where they stop giving you cheap loans, cheap housing and something to do in the daylight hours.

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David S. Wills

Sundays, Fucking Sundays

June 28th, 2009
by David S. Wills

DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA -

I’m not a religious man by any means, and so you won’t find me at church or mosque, or worshipping anything anywhere. I’m also not really a terribly active man, and so whilst I enjoy a walk in the park or a game of football, you also will rarely find me there. I don’t watch TV, either, so my Sundays don’t revolve around that.

I’m a lazy fellow at heart, and so on my precious Sundays, I like to relax and stay at home. All around my house I have wireless internet access, and so I spend much of my time online.

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David S. Wills

Why I Support Iran (and Cameroon)

June 23rd, 2009
by David S. Wills

DAEGU, S. KOREA -

I recall an incident last summer when I was almost lynched in downtown Daegu by a hundred angry Korean football fans… It was the 2008 Olympics, and while the rest of the world focussed on the sport, Korea was obsessed – as always – with national pride and the supposed superiority of their people.

Every restaurant and bar had a TV tuned to the Olympics, and not for one moment did they show an event that didn’t include a Korean participant. This might seem strange to people from countries where the population is interested in the plight of others, but that’s not the strangest part… When Korean TV showed Korean athletes competing, they’d cut the broadcast before the Korean participant had lost. Sometimes they’d simply edit the match to make it look like the Korea had one when they hadn’t, or to make it look like they’d always been in control when they had won.

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David S. Wills

Jesus Lives by North Korea

June 15th, 2009
by David S. Wills

NORTH KOREA -

The Dogs Howl at the DMZ

The most heavily fortified border in the world is a strange kind of divide, because unlike the people on either side of most military separations, Koreans seem to view one another as brothers and sisters. It just so happens that one country is ruled by a tyrannical monster who has forced his population into poverty, and his nation into the headlines as a rogue terrorist state.

When you come close to the DMZ, you don’t necessarily feel like you’re approaching something so important. Sure, when the train snakes past US military bases – this is a metro line that runs from the DMZ to Seoul Station and down towards Cheonan – you can see tanks, guns and anti-aircraft weaponry, but it’s all just lying around casually, as a part of life. Everything else goes on as normal.

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David S. Wills

Roe Moo-hyun and Korea’s Suicidal Tendency

May 29th, 2009
by David S. Wills

DAEGU, KOREA -

In collectivist societies, suicide is often a common and honourable thing. Well, perhaps it’s not honourable exactly, but rather it is connected to honour and the prevention of increasing dishonour.

The recent suicide of Roe Moo-hyun brought this problem to light. Of course, in a country that pretends fan death is real as a way of hiding the number of deaths brought on by alcohol and suicide, one must expect a certain amount of farce to ensue. Here, people say that Roe ‘died’ and that he fell in an accident. Nobody mentions his suicide note.

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David S. Wills

Korea Hates Google

May 17th, 2009
by David S. Wills

DAEGU, KOREA - 

“We have voluntarily disabled this functionality on kr.youtube.com because of the Korean real-name verification law.”

That was the message that popped up on my computer screen today when I tried to post a comment to a video I watched about Hunter S. Thompson and the Hell’s Angels. It hadn’t occurred to me before, but when I saw this, I suddenly remembered reading about a controversy surrounding Google in Korea, back in April.

In a country with incredibly fast internet speeds, a PC on every corner, and a militant netizen community, dominance of the ability to search online is highly sought. However, in Korea it is Daum and Naver that rule the net, and not Google.

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David S. Wills

How to Swear in Korean

April 19th, 2009
by David S. Wills

DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA - 

It’s strange, but as an immature male who is learning another language, I’ve never really thought a lot about swearing in Korean… I know a few words, but not many, and I’m not even sure if the ones I know are real, or if people are just screwing with me and telling me fake words. Mostly, I learn bad words through my friend, Brian, who in turn learns them from the Korean players on his football team. So when I do learn a word, it’s never written down or put entirely in context, and I’m left to wonder whether the pronunciation is lost, like in Chinese Whispers…

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David S. Wills

The Oxes of Evil

April 14th, 2009
by David S. Wills

DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA - 

Chairman Moo, Moossolini and the Pyongyang Dancers

A year of living in Korea saw me as confused about Korean culture as before I arrived. I’d read about the fusion of old & new, East & West, and hadn’t known what to expect. I arrived and was left equally confused. Kimchi came as a side dish with pizza, soju was sold in 7-Elevens, and hanbok was brought out once year to contrast with the gaudy visors and shell suits that dominated the other 364 days.

But apart from that, it was like being in any Westernised casualty of the new millennium. Fast food and big stores dominated, new ideas and knock-off American entertainment occupied the minds & time of the people. Tourist ads promised the subtle blending of cultures and eras, but I couldn’t see it. Korea looked lost in the mix. It was like someone tried to upgrade a Da Vinci and just covered it over, leaving a few barely recognisable spots.

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David S. Wills

On Travel

March 25th, 2009
by David S. Wills

DAEGU, KOREA -

I recent read The Art of Travel by the wonderful Alain de Botton, and it has really made me think about my time travelling over the past two years, and more importantly, about the very notion of travelling. That is the aim of this book, to make the reader realise that like everything in life, we can take travel as it seems to be, at face value, or we can think about it in philosophical terms. Whether we choose to think about it in depth or not, there is no denying that there is more to our views of the exotic and of bouncing around the Earth than simply the images we see in our minds like postcards. There is far, far more.

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David S. Wills

외국인

March 8th, 2009
by David S. Wills

DAEGU, KOREA -

Did you know that you are a foreigner? No matter who you are, where you are, as long as you are not a native Korean, you are a foreigner…

I might not be an expert in speaking Korean, but there are a few things I can understand. Indeed, there were a few things I could understand when I first came here with no knowledge of the language whatsoever. Shit, some things are just plain universal. Cultural differences here mean that even when language is not an issue, conveying an idea can be tough, but at other times it’s all so crystal clear: there is nothing subtle about Koreans.

When I first got here I kept asking people why Koreans were constantly staring at me. I thought maybe they mistook me for some handsome movie star, but alas, ignorant racism turned out to be the culprit. I thought it strange an entire group of people could be so unified in hatred (this might sound like a naïve comment, but I’m a white Scottish guy and this is the first time I’ve seen proper racism). Why would these fuckers just stare and stare? Surely they could hate me and not stare at me… But no, Koreans are so rude that they don’t care.

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David S. Wills

On Kimchi

February 23rd, 2009
by David S. Wills

DAEGU, KOREA-

Indeed, it may be “the cabbage you can ravage with the chilli paste taste,” but kimchi isn’t that amazing. I mean, taste is subjective and everything, but can anything really be so awesome that an entire nation of people could be obsessed with it? Even in America people vary their fast-food diets. One day it’s fried chicken and the next it’s hamburgers, and sometimes it’s a pizza. But in Korea, people are so crazy about kimchi that it goes beyond ridiculous. It’s something that has to be experienced to be understood, and I think it’s impossible to exaggerate the love Koreans have for their national dish.

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