Daegu Stories

I. Event Planning

“Watch this, Jen! I’m gonna visit you in Daejeon in March. I’ve declared it, I’m creating it, it’s going to happen!”

“Uh huh.”

“Oh crap, Jen! I didn’t realize Daejeon was that far. I won’t make it this March. This is going to take me a little bit…”


“Okay, June! I can do June, Jen! Can you spare a scrap of floor for a traveler, please?”

“Actually, Cat, I don’t want to do the three day weekend in Daejeon; let’s go somewhere else.”

“Ooh, okay! I’m down for that. Where do you want to go?”

“Hmm… Daegu or Incheon? I’m okay either way so you can choose, Cat.”

“Okay. Um, hmmm… well, Incheon’s up north and Daegu’s down south so this is the time to visit Incheon while it’s warm and not freezing. Incheon’s also got a Chinatown and I really want to practice my Chinese before my China trip. But it’s so far and so expensive to go, I’d rather save up for my China trip! Ugh, I don’t know… Daegu! Daegu! Final answer, Daegu!”

“Daegu it is, Cat. But the office is asking me for summer camp plans, I think this is only going to be a day trip.”

“All right, let’s do a work day on Friday then let’s meet in Daegu around noon on Saturday? We can stay one night and go home Sunday. How’s that sound, Jen?”


II. The City that Stole the Sun to Keep for Itself

I leave Ulsan in a state of imminent rainfall for a blazing stole-the-sun-to-keep-for-itself Daegu. I change my jeans for shorts after lunch, only to discover that among the items I forgot to bring was the SPF 50+ Innisfree Eco Safety Perfect Waterproof Sunblock with Sunflower Oil and Green Tea. Bought on sale, this simple lotion with the silly long name was supposed to protect my skin from cities that stole the sun to keep for itself. I resign myself to contracting skin cancer.

Venturing low underneath the city to join its other skin-cancer-fearing denizens, I discover that the SPF 50+ Innisfree Eco Safety Perfect Waterproof Sunblock with Sunflower Oil and Green Tea is again on sale, this time in a 1:1 special. Perfect timing for arming my companion and myself. We buy two.

For my second day in blazing stole-the-sun-to-keep-for-itself Daegu, I lather myself in the lotion. Legs, calves, forearms, cheeks, elbow crooks, under knees and over eyelids: skin cancer would not get me today.

And how could it when I leave Daegu in a state of imminent rainfall?

III. Phone’s Jacket

This is a necessary purchase
To stop the illogical urges
To hate my phone for all its battle scars
Scratch and scratch that effectively mars
The face of my once pretty phone

Let’s wrap it up in seductive red
Pink heart, T-money card swaying its head
Tied to the cloth cover
Of the case not made of rubber
To protect my still pretty phone

IV. X-Men: Days of Future Past

For 2 hours and 11 minutes, I think I’m in the United States. I am absorbed by the 1970s, by lava lamps and Richard Nixon, by counter culture metaphors and Quicksilver daddy allusions. By Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan acting like they exhale class and drama with every breath, two calm fingers on their frenetic, adrenaline-driven supporting cast. Wolverine steps into the role of Charles’ and Erik’s teacher too easily, methinks: wouldn’t the sight of two typically calm mentors acting out shake a bone in there somewhere? Speaking of shaking in one’s bones, Jennifer Lawrence is owning this movie like she isn’t half these men’s ages. I’d love to hear from a Vietnamese person if her Vietnamese is actually decent or not.

Then the lights go up and the faces all around me are each of them Asian and Korean. They talk about the film in 몰라요s and 누구 알아요s. An attendant bows us out of the theater. I live in South Korea now, and I have a feeling only two people in that theater understood Quicksilver at all.

V. We’re Like

I’m supposed to be scared of this, I think? A double whammy of being seen naked and seeing naked people all brought to head by your local bathhouse, 찜질방. But this is too much fun, too enjoyable, too relaxing for fear to rule.

We’re like a painting of wood nymphs at the baths.

We’re like mummies thrown on a heap on the floor, contorted in agony around our box pillows, twisted in our linens. That snoring lady at the end is a freak of nature for getting through this without waking at least a dozen times. But then again, she’s the cause of half the waking.

We’re, like, two random travelers with no particular place to be with no particular agenda to do.

So we might as well wake slowly, walk slowly, eat slowly, bathe slowly and leave slowly on our second day in this city of imminent rainfall.

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