While Walking Through the Hanok Village, I am Reminded of Spicewood Lane and Blue Velvet


I had to get out of the city.  Every day in Seoul started to look the same, sort of a muted blue grey, almost matching the color of the buildings that lined the streets like trees on a path.  It got to be like waking up to the same alarm clock sound year after year, and pausing one morning to say, “Why do I always wake up to the same sound?  It’s driving me crazy.  I’m sick of this sound.”  So I headed to the bus terminal on Saturday and hopped on a bus for Jeonju, about three hours away from Seoul.  I looked out the window the entire way down but I don’t remember anything I saw.

Jeonju was small and quiet; the streets were mostly empty and there didn’t seem to be much of a reason for me to be there.  I met up with my friend Yi and we got coffee.  “This is a nice place,” I said, sipping my latte and looking around the coffee shop.

“It’s okay,” Yi said.  “I don’t understand why there is a tree inside the coffee shop.”

Actually, there were two trees inside the coffee shop.  The floor had openings so the trees could come through.  I felt Yi had a valid point.  Why were there trees in the coffee shop?  Maybe that’s the next wave of indulgence – indoor trees.  The trees might not have even been real – the leaves were distinctly fake.  It was November and the indoor trees had leaves that were as green as shamrocks.  I wondered if the coffee shop realized it was autumn.

We took a cab from the coffee shop to the Hanok Traditional Folk Village.  Apparently this and bi-bim-bap are the two things Jeonju is known for.  The
day was breaking and, even though it was still light out, the streetlamps were turned on.  Yi and I walked up a tall hill so we could see all the houses, with their wooden tile roofs.  Swarms of mosquitoes buzzed around us.  By the time we got back down to the main streets, it was already quite a bit darker and quite a bit cooler.  Yi and I walked past one of those psychic places, where an old lady inside tells you your future, and Yi asked me if I believed in that.

“No,” I said without elaborating.

“I do,” Yi said.  We walked through the village and she told me about how a psychic had seen her whole future.  She had been told the dates when significant things would happen, and she wasn’t surprised when important things did in fact happen on those dates.  She decided, though, not to say anything to the others involved.  That’s a big decision one must make after seeing a psychic: when to tell others that you know everything.  Or never telling them.  It would make life pretty boring if you said anything, I suppose.  Every time your friends would call, you’d answer the phone with, “Yeah, I know already.”

We walked around for a long time, just talking.  “Will,” Yi said, because she doesn’t like the name Bill and refuses to call me that, “how do you want to die?”

“Gee, um, I don’t know,” I said.  “Murdered maybe?”

She laughed at that.  It was dark by now and the streetlamps lit the cobblestone roads.  This didn’t feel like the Korea I had grown accustomed to, with its neon lights and loud music.  I started to think of the movie Blue Velvet, which I’ve seen probably thirty times.  In one of my favorite scenes, Jeffrey (Kyle McLaughlin) and Sandy (Laura Dern) walk around their neighborhood at night, talking.  They bounce from topic to topic, culminating in Jeffrey showing her the “chicken walk,” an odd joke he remembered from growing up.  I’ve always loved that scene because it reminds me so much of my adolescence, living in the suburbs and walking around the empty streets at night.  I remember going around and around aimlessly with my friends, walking by the trees painted black by the night and the houses with their porch lights on.  It was all so quiet, the adults firmly in their homes and the children in bed.  There was just us, me and Richard and Kevin.  If we had something better to do, we would’ve done that.  But we didn’t.  So we walked around the cul-de-sacs and by the neatly trimmed lawns, past the driveways with the basketball hoops that were never used and the fences that kept the dogs in.  It was all about boundaries, separation.  I didn’t know if I wanted that.

“Look at how the cars are parked,” Yi said.  “You never see cars parked on both sides of the street in the Philippines.  Do you see that in America?”

“Yeah,” I said.  “They all have to face the same way though.  Nothing like that.”  I pointed to two cars that were both parked on the same side of the road, one facing us and the other pointed in the opposite direction.

“It’s like they’re standing back to back,” Yi said.  I laughed, and then I realized
how strange this all was, right as she said that, how I could be across the entire world, at a folk village in Korea, and it seemed just like I was back on Spicewood Lane, walking around and talking about nonsense.  The same thing I did when I was fifteen.

There is no separation, I guess.  The world mirrors itself in funny ways.  We decided to get another cup of coffee, the night repeating the day, and sat outside to drink it, at a table besides a tree that had orange and yellow leaves.



4 thoughts on “While Walking Through the Hanok Village, I am Reminded of Spicewood Lane and Blue Velvet

  1. AFBsax

    Love it!! I just connected with this post in so many parts, although I haven’t really seen the Blue Velvet (might Netflix it) but its these sort of moments that I just cherish. I was really disappointed to see that nobody commented on this post so I decided I would. BTDubs, I’m a big fan of your stuff, although that might sound a bit strange. I don’t read often, but when I do I make sure to read a lot and I’ve been wondering what you look like for a while. It would be interesting to have a picture so I could have a face to connect the words to, although usually when this happens everything that I read is automatically changed so I’ll just leave it up to you, but I think you should regardless. And make sure to keep on posting the odd depressing post because I, for some strange reason, enjoy these just as much as your funny posts. Keep writing!

    • Thanks! That’s so funny because I really liked this one a great deal when I posted it and you’re right – it got no responses whatsoever! Of all my posts, this is one of my personal favorites for sure. Makes my day that it finally got a little love. : )

      Another thanks for the support. I’ve put my picture in a couple posts…not positive which ones off the top of my head. I know there’s a pic of me and a donkey on one of the posts. Also, my gravatar picture is a pic of me. And if that doesn’t work, just picture Steve Buscemi.

      It’s a daily battle to NOT go all depressing all the time. There will absolutely be more depression in the future, that I can guarantee.

      And if you’re into offbeat movies, absolutely check out Blue Velvet. It’s pretty dark and weird though, so proceed accordingly!

  2. AFBsax

    Hahahahaha, yeah I read the You Never Get a Second Chance to Look like Steve Buscemi post and the thing where they thought you were Mr. Pink. (Is that you in the second picture?)

    And luckily I do like dark and weird movies, I just only like to watch them when I’m happy or else I go into this altered state where I can’t move and I’ll just lie on the couch thinking about what I COULD be doing instead of doing anything. Have you watched J. Edgar yet? That’ll put you in a bout of depression without a doubt, and it’ll probably freak you out because Leonardo DiCaprio ends up being gay and kisses a guy in the movie. :S

    And you’re welcome! You are a great writer! You should definitely consider writing a book or something of the sort, it’s really time consuming and annoying at times but it’s really nice.

    And I really hope you can stay happy! Just try doing something different every day, it might not make you any happier but it’ll make your day more interesting. Sometimes I go out into my driveway at night and lay down right there and just think. Sometimes I lay down in the middle of the road, although I don’t suggest that one unless there’s someone to make sure you won’t get run over. 😀

    • LOL – yeah, lying in the road sounds a bit deadly. But I enjoy and appreciate the sentiment.

      I’m going backwards here – thanks a ton for the compliment on the writing. I’m trying to find time/motivation to write more fiction. And by more, I mean some/more than the none I’ve been writing in the last few years.

      I have not seen J. Edgar but will give it a go. Interesting subject matter and I think DiCaprio is a solid actor.

      Yeah, that’s me in the black and white photo on the Buscemi post, trying to emulate a mug shot. I think I pulled it off fairly well. haha

      Cheers AFB!

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