March 16-17, 2019-
Having hugged my kids farewell, I found processing out of Korea, at Gimhae (Busan) and at Incheon (Seoul), to be a breeze. The flight back to San Francisco was, longer, as we were flying into the wind currents and things got a bit rough, when we passed through the North Pacific, between the outer Hawaiian Islands and the Northwest U.S. coast, I was able to sleep for about five hours, and ended up viewing “Kin”, which had an interesting Sci-Fi premise, loosely echoing John Sayles’ “The Brother from Another Planet” (1984), except, in this case, the alien is a 14-year-old boy, who is very vocal and is being raised by his adoptive Caucasian parent. He comes across a weapon, from his home planet, links up with his ex-con foster brother and is subsequently pursued, both by the foster brother’s angry loan shark creditors and by his relatives from Home Planet, who at least want the weapon back. It all ends, fairly well.
My arrival in San Francisco was not too shabby- C & I was quick and welcoming and the walk from International to Domestic is nowhere near as cumbersome as is that in LAX. Nevertheless, I was not able to reach the United terminal in time for the scheduled flight, and end up on the next one, reaching Phoenix at 11:20 P.M., five minutes late for the shuttle. That, in turn, put me on the last shuttle, at 12:15, and long story short, I made it to Home Base by 3:30 a.m.
One incident still rankles: A nice young lady, a flight attendant, on the domestic flight, had her skirt lifted by a female passenger’s shoe, as she was helping to go over the pre-flight safety instructions. She handled it with grace and poise, before a male flight attendant switched stations with her and she spent the rest of the flight away from the errant passenger. Having just finished welcoming my daughter-in-law into our family, and being welcomed into hers, I was angry that this even happened. That young woman, someone’s child and probably someone’s beloved, should never have experienced this. We are not in the bad old days of the 1950’s-early 70’s.
That brings me back to Korea. Chauvinism and machismo were starting to fade, as we left the country in 1992. There is scant evidence of it now- as Korean women have stood up for their rights and for one another. It ought to be a global phenomenon, and I will be responsible enough to speak out against such shameful behaviour, whether it comes from a man or from another woman, wherever it happens.
Korean cities have been very similar in appearance to the U.S, since the rebuilding efforts of the 1960’s, following the Korean War. Now, prosperity has made them even more so, with high rise apartment and office buildings, echoing those of North America, Japan and China. Standing in the sun room of my family’s apartment, in Busan, I envisioned a parkour master trying to leap onto the nearby building’s roof. This is something I, with my stumpy legs, would never dare to try-but a good running start would give a practiced parkour enthusiast a chance- maybe.
Enough of whimsy, though, I am back in the quotidian world and have done little, other than sleep, on this St. Patrick’s Day- leaving the apartment only for a two-hour meeting. Work resumes tomorrow, and I don’t plan on going very far afield, for at least the next few months. The just-completed journey, though, was astonishing. a good reflection of why I travel.