Friday, 31 August 2012

(Day 42) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 29

It seems like the Nigerian and Pakistani are locked in a battle for my soul. The Pakistani is always pointing out that the Koran is better because it was written by one person and the Nigerian likes to point out of the Bible is better because it was written by multiple people witnessing the same events, giving more credence to it being true. What they fail to realize is I don't care. To me it's philosophy and holds as much truth as the paganism of the Greeks, Romans, Norse and druids. They are stories told by primitive people to explain the unexplainable,  most of which has been explained quite well with science in the last five hundred years. I don't need faith, I have proof and no amount of ancient literature is going to convince me otherwise. I will admit however, that all religious texts have merit as guides to living a good fulfilling life and by all, I'm including Taoism, Confuciusism, Buddhism, Hinduism and any other religion you can think of.

The same soup has now been served 3 times in a row. So, for three meals, we've been served plain white rice, kimchi and egg drop soup. The first version had coleslaw and fried chicken. The second version had some sort of bean sprout salad and chicken in the soup and today's version was served with mandu. They finally served a different soup at dinner, as well as a salad made with slimy seaweed.

I talk to P and L today. I heard Guinness barking at the pizza guy, I miss that dog (I miss pizza). Both P and L are sending a package of books to me in the mail. L is going to send me a new sketch and notebook, too. I've said it once and I'll say it again, I have great friends. I should really make more of an effort to reciprocate their friendship.

Its Friday, so the current cell population is 12. The Filipino who went home this morning has been replaced by another Filipino. The Burmese kid also went home this morning. He was replaced by an Indonesian. The population breakdown going into the weekend is: 1 Canadian 1 Nigerian, 1 Pakistani, 1 Filipino, 1 Indonesian, 2 Vietnamese and 5 Chinese.

Without any explanation, the entire cell block was moved to a different wing of the immigration center. The cell is essentially the same, but we lost the door frame we were using for chin-ups.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

(Day 41) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 28

Finally got ahold of P. Guinness has adjust to his new home easily and is his usual happy dog self. P will also get L's phone number for me and mail me some more books. If I have to spend a lot of time here at least I'll be well-read and in great shape. I'll also have enough written material I could write a book and enough drawings to have a gallery show. Maybe even publish something using a combination of the writing and drawing.

Not much is going on. The two Mongolians went home yesterday and were replaced by another Chinese ( a friend of the guy who must pay a $35,000 fine) and a Filipino. Another Filipino went home this morning, as did one of the Chinese, so the current cell population is 10. By tomorrow, more will leave and more will arrive to replace them.

Still no sign of my package from JU or any visits from JA or JO. Though, I can hardly blame them. Packages are the fault to the post office and the typhoon. Visits are the fault of my remote location. I'm not sure I would visit either if I was faced with the same situation.

I started reading The Discourses by Niccolo Machiavelli. I'm still on book one and its interesting from historical point of view because it was written during the reign of Henry the VIII, before he became a tyrant, before Shakespeare and the Golden Age of England, before the French and American revolutions, which gave birth to two of the most famous modern republics, before the Industrial Revolution and economic expansion replaced territorial expansion, as discussed in the book. I wonder what Machiavelli would think of the modern world with its technological wonders akin to magic and political entities that never existed then, such as communism, socialism and fascism? Machiavelli talks about only three types of governments principality, aristocracy and democracy and those three evolve into tyranny, oligarchy and anarchy respectively. I wonder what categories he would say communism, socialism and fascism fall into? Dictatorships could easily be the obvious answer for all three. Definitely, a man ahead of his time. It's a good thing he lived in Italy, he would have been beheaded in England if he had lived there. A lot of his ideas seem to have merit 500 years later, from what little I know of political theory... And I like how he talks about the reign of Moses, David and Solomon as historical events and deletes the aspects of God from the discussion. It's a nice change of pace from the religious overload of the Old Testament.

The food today was an absolute disgrace. As usual, it was rice, kimchi and soup, but the soup at lunch was exactly the same soup at dinner. The only difference was there was chicken in the soup at dinner and at lunch, fried chicken with served as a side dish. They're not even trying to hide the fact that they're just serving the Korean equivalent of bread and water. It's like being served pizza three times a day. Sure, it may be pepperoni pizza lunch and a combo pizza at dinner, but its still fucking pizza. I could use plain hamburgers or cheeseburgers for my metaphor, but I think you get the point.

Some of the detainees spend their time playing a game similar to checkers, but on a bigger board and the rules are slightly different. The Nigerian almost always wins and I either don't understand the rules very well or he makes them up as he goes. The basic rules are the same as checkers, except when it comes to capturing your opponent's pieces. You have to take the opportunity or you forfeit your piece. To capture, you can go forward or backward, whereas in checkers you can only go forward until you're crowned. In this game, once you're crowned, you can go in any direction, like checkers, but you can go as far as you want. You're not limited to one square per move. These rules I understand, but I've seen some other questioning moves that the Nigerian plays with other people and when faced with similar situations they aren't allowed to make the same moves. If other players didn't occasionally win, I might even go as far as to accuse him of cheating, but like I said I don't really understand the rules so well, so it would be unfair accusation.

Another game the detainees like to play a lot is gin-rummy. This game I understand, but it's been so long, I forgot the rules. Truth be told, I'm just not a big game player. My friends always invite me to come play card games, but I'm just not very good at them. I'm not a big fan of gambling. I hate losing money and I've never won enough of it to get that thrill or justify the lost. Friends have told me about their great night at the casino, but when I actually do the math as they talk (I'm actually pretty good with numbers even with my artistic bent), they barely break even. All the talk sounds like they just won a couple hundred dollars, but they gloss over the couple hundred dollar loss before they won it all back. About the only thing they actually got was some free drinks (that they arguably paid for with their losses) and maybe some excitement similar to the massive mood swings of a manic depressive person, which I tend to experience naturally. I don't need to gamble for it

When you're stuck in a cell with a bunch of Chinese fishermen guess which type of TV show is the most popular? It's like watching golf, or watching paint dry, or waiting for water to boil or watching a man tug and pull on a giant skinny rod while he moans and groans how hard it is and then when he catches something he oohs and aahs about how big it is... I guess you could accuse me of the same thing when I watch Bob Ross. Some people would consider that boring, whereas I find it fascinating. Painting happy little clouds looks so easy when he does it.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

(Day 40) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 27

Another day, another step closer to freedom... Although, I have no idea how many more steps, since I don't know when any of my court dates are or how lenient the judges will be, but one must remain positive.

The two Mongolian residents from my cell went home this morning, so we'll probably have a new resident by this evening and most likely Chinese.

I finally finished both the Old and New Testament of the Bible. Homosexuality, specifically between men as well as bestiality with women is only mentioned 6 times, but being a good subservient wife, as well as how to be a good slave is mentioned in nearly every chapter (33 times), especially in the New Testament. With this in mind, I'm amazed how fond Christians/ politicians are of pointing out how wrong homosexuality is, but they never point out how wrong feminism, freedom and individualism is. And what's up with bestiality and women? Was there a big problem in ancient times of women turning to animals to satisfy their sexual urges? It's obvious that the Bible was written by really, sexually oppressed men who really could have used Freud's help. My real point is, if politicians and fundamentalists are going to use a somewhat obscure reference to prove their point, then they should have to use and take all the other references the Bible makes as well. As it is mentioned so often, anybody who takes one part of Lord's teaching and rejects the rest, is not really following the word or law of God and is therefore a sinner as bad as the worst sinner and anybody who follows these false prophets is also doomed to hell. Now that my understanding and knowledge of the Bible is so much better, when I get out of here, my conversations/arguments with religious nuts are going to be so much more fun.

Still no visit from JA and no confirmation of any packages being delivered from JU, so unless I get a surprise visit from JA or JO tomorrow, it looks like I'll be going into the weekend with nothing to read. This weekend will also mark my one month detention here. I've been locked up for nearly six weeks now. The last month went by really fast. I got P's number with Z's help, so now I can check up on Guinness and get L's number, too. Maybe I can get the two of them to donate some books.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

(Day 39) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 26

The only thing on the news today is all about the typhoon currently battering the coast. I always find the coverage of natural disasters like this kind of stupid. During this time of year, typhoons hit the coast of Korea-- Every. Fucking. Year. And everybody runs around acting surprised, marveling at the wake of destruction left in its path. It happened last year and the year before that-- why is everybody surprised? It's going to happen next year, too. You would think people would learn, but it happens in the southern states, too and the reaction is the same.

One of the Chinese detainees was just told he had to pay a $35,000 fine or his boat will be sold and he will have to spend two years in jail. Today's lesson-- don't fish in Korean waters if you're not Korean. The other boat owner detained in a different cell has to pay $65,000 for a total of $100,000. It's no wonder that confrontations between the Korean Coast Guards and Chinese fishermen often become violent. If faced with losing my boat and a $100,000 fine, I'd put up a fight too. Of course, I probably wouldn't be illegally fishing either, if that was the risk. The problem is the crews of the ships of no idea of their location or relevant laws. They are uneducated laborers who know nothing but fishing and the trouble they find themselves is under the direction of the captains and companies who really don't care about the fate of a couple of peasants. It's a story as old is civilization itself and unlikely ever change. Better man than me have tried and I'm no Marx or Lenin or Jesus Christ.

JA was supposed to visit today and bring me some books. I guess he's not going to make it. This place really is in the middle of nowhere so I'm not surprised. Disappointed, but not surprised. There's always tomorrow.

Monday, 27 August 2012

(Day 38) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 25

Lots of excitement last night after the lights went out. They put a Mongolian detainee from a different cell in solitary confinement. I guess he was suffering from alcohol withdrawal and had a bad case of DT's because he totally freaked out. For about two hours, he banged at his door then he turned to yelling, then moaning loudly, and by 2 a.m. paramedics were called in to cart him away. I'm not sure exactly what was wrong with him-- dead or alive, but he left on a stretcher. Rumour has it that he's dead. The Nigerian says foul play, blaming the guards. Whereas, I wouldn't be surprised if he killed himself simply with the way he was banging against the door. If you keep hitting your head hard enough, you'll do damage. Suffice to say, the guards aren't exactly forthcoming and the Mongols in my cell are concerned for their friend. Tensions are running high.

In other news, I keep having a reoccurring dream. Not reoccurring in the sense that the same thing happens over and over again, but reoccurring in that the same person as in it. I don't know her but she says her name is Carrie. She works at a coffee shop and she keeps inviting me to a Monday night blues jam at some bar with the name that starts with an H or she invites me to a Tuesday night wing night. She is also the single parent of a young child. I'd love to take her up on her offer, but first, it's a dream and second, I'm sort of in jail in a foreign country.

Some administrator-types came to inspect the cell and look at the damage the Mongolian did to the door. The Nigerian is convinced the guards are covering their tracks because he thinks they beat him up. I think he's paranoid. This is not North Korea or something 3rd world dictatorship. If the guards beat him, the doctor doing the autopsy will be able to tell and inquiries will be made independently. Inquiries are already being made. The other Mongolians here will also be making calls to various friends, family and embassies. You can't keep this sort of thing hidden. Besides, the guards are so afraid of human rights abuses, I hardly think they have it in them to go around killing detainees. Now, a CSI team is here taking photos and investigating. If the guards did anything wrong, these are the guys who will find out the truth.

A final thought about this poor Mongolian who died in solitary confinement. The Mongolians in my cell and a few other detainees are quick to blame the guards because the guy had a known heart condition and had repeatedly asked for help. I had to tell the fable of the boy who cried wolf and pointed out that the Mongolians themselves told the dude to stop banging on the door, and after a while we all tried to ignore him. His cries fell on deaf ears in our own cell and on speakers of his native language. We are all guilty of neglect and contributing to his death. My observations stopped any more blaming of the guards and there was silence for quite a while. Poor dude, I hope he found some peace.

I thought that since I'm not allowed to have anything with metal in it, I might be able to use oil pastels. No such luck. I'm not sure why, maybe they think I'll try to eat them in a suicide attempt or that I'll waste them by drawing on the glass...

I finally got word on why I'm not writing this from a jail cell (a cell with bars is still jail as far as I'm concerned, but I'm not "imprisoned," I'm being "detained". It sounds like the prosecutor's office actually made a reasonable decision. They decided to keep me at the detention center until I have made all my court appearances and have had all my convictions finalized. Then, they only have to send me to jail once and when I'm finished all my sentences I can finally leave the country. The only problem is waiting for the court dates... How long is that going to take!?! This could work to my advantage. I may not have to spend any time in jail if I can convince a judge to include my time here at the detention center. It's a long shot, but there is still a chance.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

(Day 37) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 24

Today, I'm just writing to say I wrote something. Lunch was the same as it has been for the last 5 weeks, the routine is the same, etc. the only thing that changes is the date and the faces. I'm so bored, I'm starting to redraw some pictures, so even the drawings are the same now, just the technique is different. I suppose the drawing is an improvement even if it is essentially the same...

The point is, I'm bored and I don't know what else I can do to amuse myself. Even in a room of 11 other people, I feel lonely. Only two other peoples speak English and we talked each other out of anything else to say weeks ago. All the other detainees are foreigners, of course, but they are all factory workers who all speak Korean out of necessity. To most foreigners from English-speaking countries, we speak Korean out of choice because every Korean we meet wants to practice their English, making the  learning of Korean difficult.

I had a wife for 7 years who it translate everything I needed into English automatically because it was easier than dealing with me trying to struggle through it. I know it sounds like I'm making excuses, but there are lots of ESL teachers or and NESs like me who have lived in Korea for years and barely speak Korean.

Also the rose-colored glasses have come off and the Kool-Aid has soured, I have no desire to learn Korean. I don't even want to be here and everything about this place-- the people, the culture,TV, music, language, food-- you name it, irritates the fuck outta me. And before some smart-ass leaves a comment like "If you don't like it, just leave." I have been trying to, jackass. The government won't let me. That's why the title of all these entries are Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center and if you're actually reading this online it means I have left, so bite me.

Some people ask how I'm able to draw such detail drawings from the top of my head without looking at a photo or copy from a picture. the truth is, I usually draw the same picture a couple of times, so by the time I'm comfortable showing other people, the picture they see is actually a copy of a copy of a copy I've previously drawn. To paraphrase Michelangelo, the pictures already there I'm just coloring in the spaces. The ability to draw sure has helps to make friends over the years. I may not have many social graces or maybe I'm just awkward with the ones I have, but a drawing really helps to overcome a lot of barriers, including cultural and language barriers. If I believed in God, I owe him my thanks for blessing me with skills. Sometimes, it really is a gift and I am grateful for it. My reasoning mind says however, I draw a lot of pictures so it's only natural that I'm good at it. I saw an autistic kid on TV once who was able to look at something and recreated it in precise detail. They took this kid up in a helicopter over New York and this person recreated the skyline with exacting detail from one glance. It was truly amazing. That kid was gifted, I'm just a hack in comparison.

The funny thing about writing, once I started today, I actually had lots to write about. Although, I didn't really write about anything at all. Much ado about nothing.

(Day 36) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 23

At this point, being here is just a waste of time. Since I was supposed to be serving time in jail since the 22nd, by Monday, I will have spent five extra days here that I didn't need to spend. I fully intend to make some noise about this. I don't mind doing my time for my crime but I don't want to do anymore time than I have to. Sitting here at the whim of bureaucrat is bullshit, yet even as I write this, I know it's true for every government in the world.

I did absolutely nothing today but sit in bed and draw. No writing or reading. I finished all my books. Feeling pretty low. Maybe I'll feel better this evening. I'd watch TV, but I'm outnumbered by people who understand Korean and want to watch stupid game shows or even worse, stupid dramas.

Lunch was hardly worth eating, so I didn't and dinner wasn't much better. Going to bed hungry tonight.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

(Day 35) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 22

Yesterday ended uneventfully and today has been fairly uneventful, so far. I talked to my mom briefly to assure her I'm still at Immigration and not in jail, yet. Although, if that's going to change, it should happen today. Again no one tells me anything, so I won't know until I'm in a vehicle being transported to prison.

I also called Z and with her help I was able to access my email. She's the only person I trust with my passwords. I should make her a list of every password I've ever used just in case something should happen to me. When my dad died, it was very difficult to access his computer without his passwords, so I was only able to contact a few computer friends to let them know the bad news. Usually, a few is all you need though-- bad news travels far and wide quickly. Perhaps, when I get out of jail in two weeks I'll get Z to go through my Facebook account as well. I can only imagine how many messages I have after a month of no access or activity.

The new Chinese guy looks like he has never seen another human being that wasn't Asian ever before in his life. He keeps giving the Nigerian and me funny looks and staring. I've seen the same look from little Korean kids before. On an adult though, I just want to punch him in the face. The look is part disgust and part amazement. On a child, the disgust is actually fear and I don't mind the amazement. I suspect the Chinese dude is a fisherman caught by the Coast Guard fishing in Korean waters. He doesn't speak any Korean and I overheard a caseworker tell him he had to pay a $35,000 fine in order to get out. That information was translated to him by another Chinese and a fine that big is so that he can get his boat back from the Korean Coast Guard.

It's hard not to be judgmental, especially since I'm stuck in the same cage, but a lot of these people at the detention center seem like complete idiots. I don't understand what they're saying-- they could be discussing deep philosophical questions of the universe for all I know, but from the tone of their voice and body language that is not the impression I get. It's something or more precisely, the lack of something in the eyes. A dull sort of glazed look, and their speech is loud like they can't hear themselves speaking. It doesn't really matter. I'm just bitching about nothing. My interaction with them is minimal since we don't speak the same language or have anything in common. The most I have to deal with, is being forced to watch TV I'm not interested in (I can read or draw or write instead) or listen to them talk on the phone loudly or to each other equally as loud. I'm just being petty.

It's late afternoon on Friday. I'm still at the detention center. I just saw my caseworker walk by so I asked him what was going on and he said he didn't know either, so now I'm in detention/prison limbo. I should have bought more snacks. I wonder if there is any way of moving this faster a long. The longer I wait for court dates, the more it costs the Korean government and eventually, the more it costs me. I'm not spending much-- mostly on phone cards, but even so, even $50 every week or two, adds up if I end up staying here for months. Eventually, I won't even be able to afford to go to Thailand.

The Mongolian left this morning and was replaced this afternoon by another Mongolian and a Vietnamese. Going into the weekend, our cell population is: 1 Canadian, 1 Nigerian, 1 Pakistani, 1 Uzbekistan, 1 Burmese, 1 Mongolian, 2 Vietnamese, and 4 Chinese. Of those 12, the Nigerian and one of the Chinese were here when I got here three weeks ago. The Pakistani and Uzbekistan have been here almost two weeks and the other seven arrived this week, five of which arrived in the last day or three. The Uzbekistan just changed rooms with a Mongolian...

The days seem to drag by, but it's hard to believe I've already been here for exactly three weeks. I'm a veteran now.

Friday, 24 August 2012

(Day 34) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 21

I still haven't been transferred. The worst part is not even the waiting, but the not knowing. It seems like in Korea, you never know what's happening until it happens. One of the greatest complaints of English teachers is un-informed schedule changes. Apparently, the Koreans know for months what is happening, but no one ever tells the foreigner and then Koreans are surprised when we get pissed off.

The Filipino went home a few days ago, he was replaced by a Chinese. One of the other Chinese left this morning, he was also replaced this afternoon by a Vietnamese. The Vietnamese kid was finally released today. It turns out he had a valid work visa the whole time, but was falsely accused of doing drugs. Drug tests were negative and no drugs were found at his apartment. After he was released from jail, he was picked up by Immigration and since they had no grounds to hold him, he was finally released today. Apparently, rumor has it, that because he was falsely accused, imprisoned and detained by Immigration, he is going to be monetarily compensated for the six months he was held. He's looking at close to $8000 in compensation. If its true, good for him. Score one for the little guy. If only I could be so lucky.
I'm almost finished all the books JU sent. I'll have to go back to the Bible soon. I still have a couple hundred pages to finish in that, but it's slow going and rather dull.

Nothing much else happen today. Other than the waking up and going to bed early, today was pretty uneventful although the day isn't over to just yet.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

(Day 33) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 20

Today is the day I'm supposed to be transferred to Seoul Nambu  Correctional Facility. It's now afternoon and no word from anybody if it's going to happen today or not. I suspect not, but TIK, so there is still time. New detainees usually arrive around 3 p.m. so if they're going to use that bus to ship me back to Seoul... it would be nice to have some warning though. Other than that, just another typical day behind bars. Typical breakfast and lunch. More reading and drawing and writing. I woke up in the middle of the night and wrote down the dream I had. It was intense, but I was forgetting the details as I was writing them, so story I wrote is not as intense as the dream.

I've been doing a lot of the same style of drawing lately and I was thinking they would look really good framed as part of a gallery show. As for the reading, I finished three out of five books in about two days. I need to pace myself by drawing and writing more or I'll run out of things to read. I may be able to get a subscription to a newspaper right away when I get to prison, though.

There is a Chinese detainee who is older than the others. He's been here since the beginning and every night before he goes to sleep he meditates and performs Tai Chi exercises. He is very good natured and for an older Asian man, quite polite and pleasant. Lately, he has taken it upon himself to learn English, so he has spent been spending his days copying the alphabet over and over again on any scrap of paper or cardboard he can find. He has done a pretty good job of learning all the letters and has now moved on to learning what sound each letter makes. The problem is the only other language and alphabet he knows, is Korean and Hangul, so I'm doing the best I can using my shitty Korean to explain how all the sounds work using Hangul as an example. The real problem is there are many letters in English that have no Korean equivalent and as a result it tends to butcher pronunciation. The other detainees have also been trying to help. Both the Nigerian and Pakistani speak better Korean than I can so they help me explain more difficult concepts such as vowel combinations. In Korean there are 14 separate symbols for all the different vowel sounds we make in English with five vowels, and there are only 11 consonants compared to English's 21, which makes it a real bitch to teach Z V F L and R. That's why jokes about Asians always point out the accent with L and R. The sound doesn't exist in Asian languages-- at least not with the distinction we attribute to it. The Vietnamese kid shares a common alphabet with English so he's been helping with the sounds of letters. About the only people not helping are the other Chinese. They make fun of him and it makes me wish I spoke a common language with them so I could bitch them out. At least the old guy is making the best of his confinement and trying something new. It's inspiring to see him still learning and learning a difficult language with a strange alphabet in an environment with few tools to learn from and to teach with. It's not like I can start him off reading with flash cards and children's books. I have adult novels that are challenging to many adults, a couple of pens and limited paper. Our only common language is a second language to us both and I suck at it. I hope when he gets done here he keeps studying when he has access to better learning aids.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

(Day 32) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 19

Apparently, I should be going back to the Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility tomorrow to serve out the remainder of my original incarceration in March. The fine is now about $950 and I've already served 5 days so I should have about $700 for 14 days left and then I'll be sent back here to wait for a trial date for the other 3 offenses. Of course as is so typical of my time in Korea, I have no idea if I'll actually go anywhere tomorrow because no one has actually told me anything concrete. It was just mentioned in passing when the prosecutor came to visit me last week. As usual, I guess I'll find out tomorrow when they come don't come to pick me up. If it happens, a change of pace will be nice. I'm getting pretty bored here. I'm not real fond of the other inmates because I don't really have much in common with them nor do I speak any of the same languages as most of them and I can only watch so much TV or read. I'm getting cabin fever. The girl at the Embassy and my case worker have no clue if I'll go to the prison tomorrow, Thursday or Friday. Once again, I'm in Korean limbo. They do know I'll only be here in the prison 13 days and my next court date is more than a month away.

Monday, 20 August 2012

(Day 31) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 18

I've been locked up for exactly one month now. In two more days, I may be transferred back to prison for a couple weeks to serve the remainder of 1 sentence. Only three more sentences to go. I started doing jail house exercises a couple days ago. I've already seen an improvement in my endurance, although that could be from lack of cigarettes, too. At night, I lie on my back and lift my legs for 40 reps. In the morning, I do 5 sit-ups 10 push-ups and 10 chair-lifts (my back to the bench, supporting myself with my arms, legs extended in front and lifting my body with my arms off the floor) 4 times, so 40 of each. This morning, I ended with an additional 60 sit-ups!  No washboard stomach yet, but I can feel the burn and the beer gut is gone. Maybe we can call this is David's guide to a clean and healthy body for less than $150 in 2 months, guaranteed! its simple. Go find a native in any country you're in, punch him out and don't pay the fine. They'll throw you in jail for 40 days (in Korea), feed you a vegetarian diet, you won't be able to smoke and or drink and you have nothing better to do, but sit-ups and push-ups all day. I guarantee you'll come out healthier. It's really a health club for poor people. The $150 is for the guide and luxuries, like an English language newspaper, a comb, a watch, maybe a pen and some paper. Other than this illustrated guide and the optional luxuries mentioned above, your entire program-- all food clothing and accommodation, is provided for free courtesy of the Korean government.

Finally got access to my books from JU. Dude has got some good taste. Not books I would normally get for myself, I usually read pulp, but all good literary works. Check my list to see what I got. Should last me the week at least. Or maybe not. I already finished one book (only 250 pages). There is some rejoicing amongst the other English speaking detainees because they too, now have something else read other than the Bible.

I feel a sense of pity for quite a few the detainees here. A lot of them have had Korean girlfriends and did the Korean thing of letting them take care of their finances. She tried to do that with me when we first got married, I shut that idea down pretty quick. If she wanted to control over more money than I gave to her for an allowance, she could go get a fucking job... anyway, quite a few of the guys here were turned in by their girlfriends and now have no money or access to any of their money because they did things the Korean way. Now, they're stuck here being screwed by the very people they turned to, to live a better life.

They worked hard in 3D jobs ( dirty, dangerous, difficult), doing work Koreans don't want, making shit wages, only to have all their money stolen from them and kicked out of the country. Quite often, other friends and family from homes in poor countries, are paying for it. It's quite a scam and unfortunately it doesn't surprise me at all that it's happening here in Korea. I'm sure shit like this happens all over the world, but at this point, I almost expect it here. I'd be surprised if it didn't happen. And a lot of these people come from countries that aren't as influential as Canada, so no one gives a shit. They're not white or speak English as a first language.

I often feel while I've been locked up that Koreans have been harassed and surprised by so many countries for so long throughout history, that they like to shove it in our faces that they are now in control. It's like an entire nation with "small man" syndrome. I get that feeling by the way they present themselves on the world stage, in the media as well. It's sad and I feel sorry for the whole country. I hope they can evolve. I think they can but it would take another generation or two. They still get fed a lot of ridiculous propaganda from early age. I think a lot of Westerners would be shocked to hear some of the things I've heard kindergarten and elementary students say. Their parents are younger than me and usually University-educated so they're not exactly as sheltered or as ignorant as their forefathers may have been. I know that sounds very arrogant, ignorant and racist myself, but it's just an observation. I'm a hypocrite, as my disclaimer states. As a Canadian, I don't go around spouting how great Canada is at every opportunity, although I'm sure there are some Canadians who do exactly that.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

(Day 30) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 17

Sunday Funday or it would be if I wasn't here. I've been reading the Bible lately because I'm bored, never read it before and I have nothing else to read. I'm not a big fan of religion, especially the organized kind, so this is definitely not my usual fare. Its been educational, for sure, but I won't be converting and repenting my sins anytime soon. The Nigerian however, is a God-fearing man who has read the Bible four times and reads from it daily because he's a true believer and I have to say, I really like the guy, but sometimes he is a bitter, hate-filled man. Very unchristian like. He's a nice enough guy, but some of the crap that comes out of his mouth... yesterday, during his yelling match with the Pakistani, he said the Pakistani was a fool for staying in Korea for 10 years and asked why didn't he want to go home. Today, on the news, was a report of a roadside bomb in Pakistan that killed a family of 5 and I said to the Nigerian, "That's why he doesn't want to go home. he doesn't want to die."

His reply was a tirade about how Pakistanis come to Korea to make money to send back to terrorist organizations for the jihad and don't want to go home because they'll be forced to become suicide bombers (I'm sure my blog just got red flagged by the CIA and NSA just now. Welcome, I hope you enjoy it, guys). I was stunned... I just gave my best Mona Lisa smile and nodded. Maybe there really are people to do things just as he described, but I'd like to think/hope that most people are really just looking for better, more peaceful lives.

Contrary to popular belief, I may be an arrogant, opinionated and passionate about my beliefs, but I am NOT angry. Not like that, anyway. I may be bitter towards Korea and one Korean in particular, but I don't hate everybody in the country. I'm just guarded about my interactions in relation to this country.

Experience has taught me to be suspicious, but it doesn't mean I think every Korean is a dirty lying thief-- just to be careful in case they are. And to be truthful I'm like that with everybody I meet for the first time, no matter what is your ethnicity is. Not only that, but lying and stealing is a far cry from believing you're going to blow me up.

Most of the time, I think people with religious convictions are more racist, prejudiced and close-minded than the average person on the street, which is the total opposite of what every religious text tries to teach. Peace is achieved through tolerance, understanding and compassion, not dogma, tyranny and tunnel vision. Can't see the forest through the trees or looking for zebras when it's really just a horse. Whatever the case, it's a sad state of affairs that has existed for thousands of years. It's time we evolved beyond that.

I gave the blog address to the Nigerian soon after I met him. If he ever reads, this I hope he takes the time to reflect on what I wrote instead of getting upset in a knee-jerk reaction because I posted stories about him online. Even though these posts are public and anybody can read them, only the subject and myself really know the identities. If you are a third party and you can figure out who I'm really talking about, then you already know the story I'm telling, so there should be no real surprises... I hope...

Another glorious Korean lunch of rice, kimchi and kimchi soup, which is essentially just hot water with kimchi added to it. Nobody likes it and the only reason they keep serving it to us is because everybody keeps eating it. It also creates lots of food waste, but the Koreans don't care because they just feed it to the pigs, anyway. Essentially, we're being fed the same slop they feed to the swine. I can hear them at night when it's quiet and if the wind blows through the windows a certain way, I can smell them, too.

Although the occasional interaction with English speakers is nice, and its not even the socialization, it's the TV channels telephone access and mattress, I think I almost prefer the solitary confinement of prison. Then I don't have to deal with all the inconsiderate bullshit. Like the Vietnamese kid who stays up until 2 a.m. talking and then sleeps all day. It's not the sleeping all day that bothers me, its the fact that he does it in the common area on the benches, so no one can sit down. Yelling at him is pointless because he doesn't understand a word I'm saying to him.

I did another pointillism drawing today. It literally took me all day to draw... Great time waster, but hell on my pens. I think I've used up about 5 pens in two weeks and I may not be able to get another one until Tuesday...

Saturday, 18 August 2012

(Day 29) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 16

The Nigerian and Pakistani got into a yelling match this morning. No one understood it but me because they were yelling in English and it broke down to two grown men yelling "shut up!" "No, you shut up!" back and forth for a couple minutes. It was kind of comical really. I get both points of view and both of them were both right and wrong. Other than that, there's not much going on. Its Saturday, so we have the weekend guard shift and no activities or schedule. I already drew  a picture today (22+ since July 20th), so unless another brilliant idea pops into my head, I'll spend the day watching TV, napping and reading. Not much else to do to pass the time...

I wrote a brief autobiographical story today. People are always telling me what an interesting life I seem to have led. I don't feel like that, but perhaps people find my story is interesting anyway. I don't like being judged the wrong way, but I understand the concept of misjudging others-- is it okay to just not like people because I think they're fools?

Friday, 17 August 2012

(Day 28) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 15

It turns out I can't look at my box of books until Monday! I'm only allowed access to my stuff on Monday and Thursday. I've been here for two weeks now. And this is the first time I've heard of this rule. This is one of the things that drives me crazy about Koreans and Korea; all these weird rules that seem to be made up on the spot, but have apparently been in effect since the beginning of time. Then they act all surprised and indignant when you get upset because, even though nobody has told you the rules and they are not posted anywhere, you are expected to just know them because all Koreans know this stuff. I can't wait to get out of here. It would be awesome if I never had to talk or interact with another Korean ever again.

Going into the weekend, the population of our cell has changed again. We now have 1 Canadian, 1 Nigerian, 1 Pakistani, 1 Uzbekistan  1 Filipino, 1 Burmese, 1 Vietnamese, 1 Mongolian and 4 Chinese. Out of all of them, the Nigerian, Vietnamese and one of the Chinese, have been here since I arrived. All the rest are recent arrivals.

I've done a couple drawings using pointillism. It takes forever to do, which is great when you have a lot of time on your hands, like me, and it looks pretty cool. It's a technique that is perfect to use when you have all you have is a pen to draw with. I can see a lot more drawings using pointillism in my near future.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

(Day 27) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 14

Almost a month spent in some form of detention now. I've been able to talk to some friends on the outside who have promised to visit and bring me more books. In the meantime, I write and draw.

It's nice to be able to socialize with people, but some of my fellow detainees are just plain annoying. Being locked in a room together and being civilized to each other is what separates us from the animals, but its hard to do if we are not considerate of other and our surroundings.

Things like talking on the phone. The whole cell block doesn't need to hear your conversation. There is a built-in microphone in the handset for a reason. Or talking above a whisper after or before the lights are turned off/on. Some of us want to sleep. I have my own shelf off my stuff. The pens on that shelf, are pens I paid for. They are mine. They are not community pens to be used whenever you need a pen. If you ask me, chances are I'll lend it to you, but if you just take it forget it-- you're never using it again. The same goes for paper, books, or anything else from my shelf. you don't have to speak the same language to be polite and considerate.

I've been having some interesting debate about religion with the Nigerian and Pakistani. The former is Christian, the latter Muslim and I'm atheist/agnostic. I look at both the Bible and Koran as philosophical text with elements of historic truth. I believe the events that are described in both actually happened in history but their explanations or reasons 'why' are the superstitious beliefs of a primitive people, like the myths of the Greeks and Romans or the Norse or Aztecs. Whereas both the Nigerian and Pakistani believe the reasons 'why' are truly the acts of a supreme being's wrath. My final thought about all this is that opinions are like assholes-- everyone has one. You are entitled to believe what you want. As the Bible says in Matthew 7:1, who am I to judge? I'm not God. I try to respect other people's beliefs as long as they also try to respect mine. I think its pretty stupid that everybody essentially believes in the same God, but how they choose to worship Him is different and they have all been fighting about that for thousands of years. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results... insanity.

I talked to JO today. Through him, I'll be able to let my friends know what has happened to me. I talk to JA, too now I don't feel quite so isolated. I'll be sure to have a few visitors in the next few weeks. At the very least, I'll have a resupply books. I started a list to keep track.

Now that I've read the Old Testament cover to cover, I think it's safe to say, Wow! Was that ever boring. All you really need to read is Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and that's about it. The rest of it is mostly repetition of everything else... 31 separate chapters or books and it just tends to repeat over and over again. There are a few choice nuggets of wisdom, but you really have to search through them. Chronicles give a pretty good summary of the first 12 books and certain chapters like Daniel and Jonah do add new stuff not heard any other chapters, but most of it can be summed up with "I am the Lord and God who brought the Israelites out of slavery from Egypt to Judah, the land of milk and honey where my children forsook me, time and time again, after a hundred warnings, so I exiled them to Babylon, brought them back to Jerusalem after 70 years, where they ignored me again, so I killed everybody because I'm a jealous vengeful God." The end. And "Oh yeah, here's a list of every Hebrew born in history" over and over again. Reading it the first time was kind of fun and interesting, but after reading it again for the 50th time, it's sort of lost its luster (bluster?) What God really needs is a good editor.

I got a box today, but I won't be able to look at it until tomorrow. Yay! new books! Thanks JU. I have some really awesome friends. Not a lot of friends really, but the ones I have are some of the strangest, yet some of the best people I know.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

(Day 26) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 13

Today is Korea's Independence Day, so everything is on a holiday schedule, even though it's Wednesday. That means nothing is happening.

I called my mom today. We talked about Dickens. Literature is one of her great loves, so it's nice to have conversations about such intellectual pursuits. Z went home today so I missed talking to her. They went to the bookstore the other day and Z chose Catcher in the Rye as for book purchase. Truly, she is her father's daughter. I may not have spent as much time with her as I would have liked, but she is like me in so many ways, it's obvious we are related. The tz genes are strong in this one.

On Monday JU said he would mail me a bunch of books. I hope they arrive tomorrow. All I have to read is the Bible, and the Psalms and Proverbs are pretty dry reading. They basically say the same thing over and over again for 200 pages using different terminology and sentence structure. The Psalms are all prayers about how great God is. Proverbs talks about what wisdom is. For 36 pages. To me, wisdom is getting your point across in the least amount of words. Psalms basically says "praise God for He is great" 150 times. For all you Pulp Fiction fans, Psalm 23 is for you.

Really getting tired of rice and kimchi and soup everyday. Nobody here is Korean so why do they serve us food everybody hates? Most of the rice and kimchi gets dumped in the slop bucket anyway. Not even the Chinese eat it and according to stereotype, they'll eat anything. I'm so sick of it, I didn't even bother eating dinner tonight. I really, really would rather starve than eat that shit one more time and I think I'll do exactly that. If they ask why, I'll tell them it's the same as serving bread and water everyday at every meal. And in reality, it really is the same. Plain rice has the same nutrients as plain bread and soup made from water is-- water. Kimchi maybe a staple to Koreans, but to me, its eating rotting cabbage that uses red peppers to cover up the rot. Even if you took one food from every ethnic group detained here, it would be more variety than what is served every day. Everybody here hates the food and only eat it because they have no choice.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

(Day 25) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 12

I was able to stock up on coffee and snacks today. Still no progress on anything else yet.

I finally finished A Tale of Two Cities. Not as engaging as Oliver Twist. I'm not sure if this is true of all fiction novels, but the relationships between characters in Dickens' books seems too contrived. Over the span of decades, the actions of one character affect another character, that they just happen to meet by coincidence. Its natural that the actions one person affect another, but to have them just randomly meet one day on the street, years later, and have the relationship sewn up in a nice neat incestuous little package? It's an impossibility that only happens in books and Hollywood and although I enjoy the plot, I have a hard time suspending my belief as a result. In addition, Dickens' dialogue is way too wordy and convoluted. I understand it was a different era and language has changed a lot over 200 years, but still-- get to the point! It often takes two pages of dialogue before the reader finds out what the character's trying to say. Maybe, I'm just a product of my jet-set age, but my patience wears thin at times, when reading Dickens' prose. I suppose part of the fun is finding out how all the characters are related in Dickens' stories.

I got a haircut for the first time since May 2011. I almost look respectable again. If/when I go to court, I'll look halfway decent, at least. My hair is still pretty long, it just looks neater.

One of the things that is different about the detention center and jail, besides solitary confinement, is there are different activities each day of the week. On Monday and Wednesday, there is church service and on  Tuesday and Thursday, there is an exercise period. In both cases, nobody does what they're supposed to do-- they mostly go to gossip with the inmates from other cells. Some are actual Christians, but most are non-religious like the Chinese or else they are Muslims. The service is entirely in Korean so it's kind of pointless to English-only speakers, such as myself. It reminds me of when I was younger and went to a summer camp because they had awesome activities, like horseback riding and water skiing. The reason I'm reminded of this camp, it's because it was run by 7th day Adventists. They are an ultra-hardcore sect of Christians whom recognize the Sabbath on Saturday, eat only vegetarian food and have Mass every morning. Since I'm not religious, I would sleep through morning Mass. My mom would send me salami in my bi-weekly care packages and I would resell it on the camp's black market to other kids who weren't so religious or vegetarian. The camp had some pretty awesome programs, so lots of kids, from all over, went to this camp for the whole summer-- just for the activities and we would tolerate the Christian brainwashing.

One of the Chinese left this morning and was replaced by a Filipino and another Chinese this afternoon.
The Nigerian tells me that he had to fill out a questionnaire once, that asked about a gym and restaurant. He filled out "no gym" and "no restaurant" and the guards got upset because the survey was from the UN and this place is supposedly funded by them as a refugee center, too. Some shady stuff going on here between the Korean government and the UN.

Monday, 13 August 2012

(Day 24) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 11

Now that the Olympics are over, I guess its back to fighting over the remote control to decide what to watch on TV. The closing ceremonies were pretty cool, as were the opening ceremonies. The UK has a lot of talented people in the arts. They have a huge pool to choose from and they certainly did their best to include it all. When you think about it, it's amazing how much of our modern world owes to the UK and its culture. The impact is mind blowing.

The Korean athletes should be ashamed of going home early. TV showed a lot of them arriving home at the airport days ago. They don't even have enough respect and common courtesy to stay around for the closing ceremonies. Selfish. Not deserving of the medals they wear. Music bands do the same thing when they're playing gigs here. As soon as they finish, they pack up their gear and leave and they don't even bother to stay around and support the other bands that are playing.

Waiting for something to happen has become lethargic. All I do is read and sleep. There is not much else to do, but wait. I had shower and washed a shirt and that's about it. I'm finding it hard to find things to write about because nothing is happening.

(Day 23) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 10

Just another Sunday Funday at ye olde Detention Center. Nothing much to do here. Washed my shirt. I don't think my shirt has been washed in awhile. I'll bet it was dirty a couple of inmates ago and hasn't been washed since. I soaped and rinsed it quite a few times before I was satisfied it was clean enough. The first couple washes were disgusting.

I started A Tale of Two Cities today. It turns out my mom got a new Kindle and this is the first book she bought for it. My mom seemed surprised that I read Oliver Twist in one day. Its only 400 pages or so, and I have 15 hours a day to do nothing. Even if I took five hours of the day and used it for eating, washing and napping, I'd still have 10 hours to read 400 pages. That's 40 pages an hour or just over a minute per page, which is plenty of time to read one page. Based on these calculations I should be finished A Tale of Two Cities today too. I read half of the Old Testament in two days. It's a little boring, so I cut back to a chapter a day.

The Olympics are almost over. I like watching most of the events, especially the track and field and gymnastics, but all the running events get pretty boring after awhile, especially when the same people keep winning them all. Korean TV seems to show a lot of repeats of the same event over and over again, too. I must have watched the men's 200 meter at least a dozen times. And artistic gymnastics floor routine... the Summer Olympics version of Kim Yuna... I must have seen her swing that hula hoop around a couple hundred times.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

(Day 22) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 9

Of the 11 people, including myself, that were here when I arrived, only five are the same as last week. 8 people have come and gone since, and of the six new ones that came yesterday, three of them are Chinese. So, now our cell population is one Canadian, 1 Nigerian, 1 Vietnamese, 1 Pakistani, 1 Uzbekistan, 1 Mongolian and 5 Chinese. All of them speak way more Korean then I do, to various degrees of fluency. Only the Pakistani and Nigerian speak English.

It's Saturday, so there is nothing to do or be done for the next two days, but read, eat, shit, watch TV and sleep. Maybe write and draw somewhere in there, too.

I started reading Oliver Twist last night. The narrative of the Old Testament was getting a little boring with all the repetition, especially with Chronicles 1 &2, which is nothing more than a regurgitation of Genesis to the end of Kings. I've only finished the first 100 pages of Twist, but Dickens paints quite the portrait of the poor little bastard. It's no wonder it's such a classic. It tugs at the strings of empathy right from the start and doesn't let go. The only time I've stopped reading was to eat and write these words. However, I have to point out how improbable everything is. Every single character Oliver meets is intertwined in some way-- the house in the middle of nowhere that Sikes takes Oliver to rob, just happens to be the home of his aunt. The buyer of books that the Artful Dodger tries to pickpocket, just happens to be best friends with Oliver's father... there are just too many coincidences to be believable and it feels utterly contrived. And if you think I should of framed this post with spoiler, you need to read more. By the way, I finished the book today, too. If I'm going to have to stay locked up for a while, I'm going to need a lot more books.

Friday, 10 August 2012

(Day 21) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 8

You would think, in a place where every single inmate is a foreigner, they would make an effort to serve something other than rice, kimchi and soup, three times a day, and I suppose they do-- breakfast is always soy milk, two hard boiled eggs and some sort of pastry. Forget about lunch and dinner though-- completely hopeless.

Besides that, more of the same nothingness. Just sleeping, waiting, reading, watching TV. Anything to fill up the 15 hours of the day, locked in a room with seven other men-- none of whom, except one other, speak the same language as me. The population of the cell changes daily as detainees are repatriated home, and most of the new detainees (as well as the exiting ones), are Chinese.

It's no wonder the Bible is so long. Most of it is constant repetition. If all the redundant phrases were removed, I bet it would be half the length. Whole chapters could be removed. Deuteronomy  for example, is really just a repeat of Leviticus. And how many times do the Israelites really need to be reminded that God delivered them to the promise land after freeing them from slavery in Egypt? Quite a few times apparently, because every time God speaks, he mentions it, and the Israelites are constantly incurring His wrath because they keep forgetting and fucking up. I'm about half of the way through the Old Testament, so far. Pretty brutal and bloodthirsty. Not at all a volume that promotes peace and goodwill towards your fellow man. More like "worship me or you will be stoned to death and every member of your family all your servants and even your livestock will die with you. Your house in all of your possessions will be razed and burned to the ground until nothing remains but ash." Not very Christian of him.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

(Day 20) Hwaseong Immigration detention center-day 7

I filed mailed and faxed all the paperwork I can at this point there's nothing left to do but wait.
The only thing on TV is reruns of Olympic events where Koreans have won.

Out of pure boredom, I started reading the Bible. Don't worry, I haven't all of a sudden found God. What I have found is a load of shit. May God strike me down with lightning for my blasphemy... still here... nope... nothing. Genesis, in addition to the creation of the world, seems to be nothing more than a family history of Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, who becomes Israel, and is eventually responsible for all the Hebrews ending up in Egypt, only to become slaves because they're too lazy to stand up for themselves. Most of Genesis seems to be "this son had 5 sons and one of the sons had 5 sons and one of these sons had 5 sons" and on and on it goes-- most of it quite incestuous. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, became a good slave, got some responsibility and made his brothers into slaves, blah, blah, blah. And then we get to Exodus... some of which sounds like my life right now. Moses causes the Pharaoh of Egypt so much grief he practically begged Moses and all of the Hebrews to leave Egypt.

And it's especially good to be Moses' brother, Aaron and his sons because according to the Word of God from Moses' mouth, every Hebrew has to give up the best materials to build an ark, alter, church and clothes to be used to worship God by Aaron and co. as the priests. Every Hebrew also has to give up the best of their livestock and grain to be used as sacrifice by the priest, and only the priest can consume the leftovers, all in honor of God and His Word from Moses' mouth and only then will you be free of sin.
Then in Leviticus, there are very specific instructions how to prepare the sacrifice for the priest to offer to God. Sounds like one of the greatest cons of all time or the story of every politician and public official --how to get the people who actually do all the work to support the few who have nothing to offer but lies and a belly to feed.

And the treatment of women! they are depicted as no better than livestock and slaves. If you rape a girl and find that you like her, just throw her father a few shekels of silver and you can have her as your wife. Do people who believe in God actually read this shit? Or do they just pick and choose the stuff they like-- much like koreans and their rules? Somehow I don't see reading this is going to make me into a believer anytime soon. It sure helps pass the time though.

I have to say God, as betrayed in the Old Testament, sure is a vengeful, jealous asshole. He/She isn't very nice or forgiving at all.

We had another exercise period today. It's really nothing more than all the detainees in our cell block standing outside for 10 minutes and talking.

One of the other Nigerians gave me Oliver Twist and a Tale of Two Cities to read. I'm getting quite the classical education here.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

(Day 19) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 6

I had a dream last night. I dreamt I was in high school, sitting in class about to take an English test. My arrogant teenage self-- which isn't really much different from my arrogant adult self, accept then I only thought I knew everything, now I really do-- was bored and wondering what the point of the task was at the time. Sitting on a desk, at the front of the classroom, were a bunch of objects. We were told to pick one and write a descriptive story involving the object and emphasize it was vintage using metaphors and idiomatic expressions. My teacher came by my desk and told me to just write random thoughts and weave it into a story  and stop trying to be funny.

I replied that I wasn't ever trying to be funny and I wasn't even aware it was funny.
The weird part wasn't the dream, but after I woke up, I actually started writing this story as instructed by my teacher, in my head. I've almost finished this notebook, so I soon as I get a new notebook, I will actually write this story down and it will be my first work of fiction.

As predicted, Korean TV stations are showing repeats of the Korea vs Switzerland football game, instead of yesterday's Korea vs Brazil game, because Korea won the Swiss game, but lost against Brazil 0 to 3.
I got a visit from the Mapo prosecutors office today. The dude who send me to jail, drove all the way to Suwon to try to intimidate/convince me to withdraw my request for a formal trial. He told me that they would have to drive me back and forth between the jail, detention center and court and it would cause too much paperwork and hardship for them. He also tried to tell me that scheduling a trial date could take months and I would have to stay in the detention center until then.

Typical. They only want to follow the rules when it's convenient for them. As soon as it's inconvenient, they try to get you to change your mind.  When that happens, you know you're on the right track.
If I keep it up maybe it will cause them such hardship that they will just give up and let me go on my way to Thailand. If they follow through with trial date and jail, then instead of 180 days in jail, maybe I'll spend 80 days in jail at the most. If the judge rules in my favor and charges are dropped, I may not spend any time in jail.

Whatever happens, eventually it will be over and I'll be on my way, as planned. All I need is patience and time. Time I have plenty of. Patience is a whole other story...

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

(Day 18) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 5

I just finished writing my objection to my deportation and I have three copies --one for immigration, one for the Canadian embassy and one for the NHRCK (National Human Rights Commission of Korea). Both my mom and I are of the opinion that if I make enough noise they will give up and just let me go to Thailand as planned. I will meet with my caseworker after lunch and we'll see what happens. I am optimistic. My objection letter is polite and I just stated the facts of my case. I don't disagree with leaving Korea-- that's what I was trying to do in the first place, but I do disagree with how I'm being forced to leave.

JU came by it with the rest of my belongings. it took him a couple of hours to get here, since the detention center in the middle of nowhere. I really appreciate all the help, after all the trouble I put him through, and it was nice to see a familiar face after almost three weeks behind bars. It's reassuring to have all my stuff in one place again, although I'll have to repack it all to get the weight of my bags down to fit airline regulations.
I was also able to shave and buy more pens and coffee. Since July 20th I've written over 40 pages and drawn more than 20 pictures (I gave quite a few pics away). I've used up almost three pens and one notebook. It's going to take a long time to transfer all of this to my computer when I finally get a chance.
There seems to be some confusion about my situation/case. Since I repealed my police charges and was released from prison, Immigration is not sure my deportation is valid. I may have to stay in detention until I go to court. If it takes more than two months, then I may as well have stayed in jail, since I was due to be released in two months anyway.

There is also the issue of two more charges that I have to deal with, but I may be able to get all of those charges dropped based on my evidence, location and time frame. I remain optimistic. I have faxed a copy of my objection letter to my contact at the Canadian embassy and submitted my objection to Immigration. During the exercise period, a couple of detainees came over to ask about my incidence with the guard yesterday. My situation/story has spread to the other detainees in other cells. I have become somewhat of a celebrity, like Spartacus. I'm quickly becoming so much of a problem that perhaps Immigration will just give up and grant my requests. As I mentioned before, I'm an expert in the art of defiance. Keep jumping through hoops as I present new loops. Given the opportunity to object, that's what I'll do.

If I manage to get out of this place and make it to Thailand instead of Canada, I've met three new friends from Bangladesh, India and Nigeria, so I have three new places to stay as I crossed the planet. The best part is, it is their home, so they will show me the right places to go instead of the tourist traps, and I'll have a translator as well.

Monday, 6 August 2012

(Day 17) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 4

Monday, the beginning of a new week. My half birthday, so I'm exactly 40.5 years old today. It was so important when I was a child, now it's a sad reminder that I'm not getting any younger. It's also the 67th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb. Hopefully the day is productive towards me getting out of Korea.

I tried getting my electric razor out from storage today. The guards gather a bunch of detainees and take us all at once to the storage room. As soon as I got my razor, it was taken away from me because the time window to use it had passed for the day and I wouldn't be able to use it until the following day.

I exclaimed, "That's a fucked up policy."

The only thing one of the guards heard was "fucked" and he got really upset. It turned into a comical farce of me laughing at him, and him shouting "be quiet" as loud as he could.

He said, "What did you say?", and I said, "That's fucked up" and he would scream "Be quiet!" in Korean.

By the time we were finished, I was mocking him and he had started to swear and tell me to shut up in Korean. The poor guard was powerless to do anything but yell at me. There were 10 other detainees standing around (most of whom understood some English and what I had said in context), silently laughing at this little angry Asian man as a couple of the guards surrounded me, just itching to physically harm me, but unable to do so with so many witnesses. Eventually one of the guards realized how pointless it was and took me back to the cell. I love pissing the guards off. The are so afraid of complaints to the Human Rights Commission that all they have are empty threats. They can't take anything away from me because i have nothing to take and anything else would be a violation. Trying to stare me down is an exercise in futility, I'm was more stubborn and have had years of practise in the art of defiance. Since I don't have a job, apartment or bills, time is all I have, and they can only take so much of that away before it becomes a violation of my human right to due process. The only threat they have so far is to put me in solitary confinement. I just spent 2 weeks in solitary confinement in a prison-- not much of a threat.

I inadvertently went to church service today. I thought he said "judge", as in go talk to a judge about my case. The entire service was in Korean, of course. I just read Genesis instead.

I talked to a caseworker and they have a problem with letting me go to Thailand. Policy dictates that they have to send me back to my country of origin-- Canada. Even my contact sees no problem with me going to Thailand-- it's cheaper, I can afford it right now and it means Korea is rid of me faster. Otherwise, they are responsible for me as long as I ma stuck in this detention center, which costs everybody money (except me). It's another one of those situations when they only follow the rules when it's convenient for them.

After talking to my mother, we decided it would be a good idea to appeal my deportation order. Not on the basis that I want to stay in Korea, but on the basis that I was already leaving, was prevented from leaving, and forced to leave to a specific country I don't want to go to. I've been jailed, fined and lost hundreds of dollars in non-refundable airfare trying to do exactly what I am now being forced to do. It doesn't make any sense. If Korea wants me to leave, so do I and I was trying to leave when they stopped me, only to force me to leave 2 weeks later, costing me more money and changing my original destination to an unwanted location.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

(Day 16) Hwaseong immigration detention center-day 3

In the morning, when the lights turn on, there is an announcement on the loudspeaker a woman says something along the lines of “Good morning, did you have a good sleep?” in Korean, English and Chinese. I don’t know about the other two language spot in English, she sounds mildly retarded or on drugs. The timbre of her voice and the word emphasis is all wrong. Instead of “did you have a good sleep?” She says “Did you have a good sleep?”

There has already been some drama today and the lights had only been on for 15 minutes. The lights go on at 7:00, but most people were up at about 6:30 and talking. Loudly. One of the guys still trying to sleep got pissed off and started yelling at them. The guards came and the now not sleeping dude spoke enough Korean to tell the guard, who then gave the guys talking loudly a dressing down.

The guy trying to asleep, was the Nigerian who’s willing to stay in the detention center and as long as it takes to get his money. In English, he has referred to the other detainees, most of them Chinese, as “animals” a number of times. The first time, I had given him a book I had just finished reading and I complained about the condition— some pages missing, writing all over the pages, obscuring the text— and he said these animals have no respect for books, they rip out pages to use as notepaper. From the way he acts and talks, it’s obvious he’s been university educated I don’t mean to sound elitist or class conscious, but there is a definite difference between educated and unwashed masses. Sometimes you don’t even have to hear them talk, you can just tell by looking at— even if they are wearing the exact same clothes (as they are in this detention center).

Reading some of the graffiti, there are indications some people have been here for as long as four years. When I first got here, if I met the teacher who had been here for longer than two years, they were veterans. They had been through hell and back because of shady owners and general difficulties of living in Korea, but to be stuck in a detention center for all it really takes is a plane ticket to get out, for four years! That’s some crazy shit. Perspective.

This room has a crazy, channel-changing assholeshi in it, too. What is wrong with Asian men over 50 years old? Were they always assholes or did they suddenly become one when they reach a certain age? Pick a channel and watch it.

The Olympics are now half over, but the only thing on TV are events Koreans won last week. So, on every channel you can watch dancing, badminton, archery, handball, air pistol shooting, table tennis and men’s 400 m freestyle swimming over and over and over again and relive Korea’s glory moments. There is still a week of events left, but in Korea, the Olympics are essentially over. And they’ll show the saints ordering events as time filler over and over again for the next four years along with past World Cup games where Korea won. I think this is one of the reasons why Koreans have over inflated sense of importance in the world— because sports Koreans suck at or games in which they lost are not shown on TV, so they think they win everything. Park TaeHwan lost the 1500 m swimming event so now he’s refusing to do interviews. A Korean lost a boxing match a couple of the Olympics ago and staged a sit in the middle of the ring. When it comes to speed-skating mention the name Ohno and see what kind of reaction you get. They are very poor losers and not very gracious winners. The propaganda they are fed from the time they are born is overwhelming--  5000 years of history, incredible prosperity since the Korean War, kimchi cures cancer, SARS, H1N1, AIDS, etc., only country in the world with four distinct seasons, the list goes on and it’s a constant barrage every time I meet a new Korean. Okay, I get it, you’re proud of your country. Get over yourself and move on— one of my countrymen invented the telephone, my culture invented democracy 5000 years ago, so fucking what? I don’t go bragging about it to every new person I meet. Nobody gives a shit and it’s annoying. 

The trick to control over the TV is to hide the remote. Then the assholeshis wander around aimlessly looking for it. They look like lost zombies.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

(Day 15) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 2

Today, started off okay until I got into a disagreement about the TV. After breakfast, everybody took a nap while I watched the movie by myself. In the middle of the movie, the oldest Asian (fucking ajossis, the worst offenders for demanding respect, but never showing any) suddenly gets up walks over, picks up the remote and starts changing the channel with a total disregard to the fact that I’m sitting right there. It’s like I wasn't even in the room. I freaked out on him-- yelling and swearing. Five guards come running out-- of course, no one speaks English, so I'm just another white crazy foreigner. I demanded to be moved to another cell before I killed the dude, and I was moved. So, now I'm in a different cell with 11 other men. Again, I'm the only white guy. Come Monday, I hope they speed up my case so I can get the fuck out of here. I can only be so patient for so long. And I actually have enough money the country. Most of these people have been here for weeks because they can't afford to pay for a plane ticket out of Korea and they are waiting for friends and relatives to raise enough money. After a few weeks, it’s actually more cost effective for the Korean government aid for the deportation than to keep them locked up here. I wonder how many have been here for a month or longer. Three months locked up would pay for a plane ticket around the world. 20 days locked up cost the same as one plane tickets to almost anywhere in the world. Either way, it’s the taxpayers who ultimately pay the price. As a taxpayer, I’d want the government save as much of my money as they could. Not waste it because of inane rules, principles and policies.

There are ways of enforcing it so people don't take advantage of. After all, you don't want the government to pay for sending every illegal immigrant home either. Maybe work out a policy where the immigrant’s native country gets billed for half the cost. Then they might do more to discourage it amongst their own populations.

I actually got to choose a TV channel to watch. That lasted 30 minutes before another asshole demanded I change the channel.

It turns out this is way more than just a detention center for illegal immigrants, but also a refugee center paid in part by the UN. I just met a Nigerian who has been here over a year trying to get money owed to by some Koreans. He said he’s not leaving the center until he gets his money. I don't blame him. It puts my own bitterness and experiences into perspective— I once met a man with no shoes. I felt bad for him until I met his brother, with no feet...

It’s very easy to feel sorry for yourself and fill your soul with anger and bitterness. I come from one of the richest country in the world and a privileged upbringing. I had opportunities available to me that many people can only dream of and yet I often fall into this trap of self-pity.

When I decided to take this walk about the planet, many people looked at me in disbelief— it’s going to cost you a fortune, what about work? What about your family, how will you survive? The truth is, I don't know the answers to any of these questions, but other people have survived and with a lot less than I have. And I have certain skills that are well suited to this kind of nomad life.

As for my family, Z has had a good family to grow up with. M & G have been there in ways I never could, but I hope my action and life are an inspiration to Z to explore and follow her own dreams. As my sister once said to my mother, (I'm paraphrasing, I wasn't actually there) “David has been in many unusual situation and he survived them all and always come out on top.” I know my sister doesn't agree with my lifestyle choices most of the time, but I’m glad that she had that much confidence in me that no matter what jam I find myself the next, she has more faith in the than I have in myself. I envy her life sometimes— a husband, two kids, a nice home just as the society dictates, but I just couldn't do that myself I've tried a couple of times and failed.

Maybe I’m still searching for my destiny or maybe the search is my destiny. It’s not the destination that matters, but the journey. And part of my journey to discover how does most of the population of our planet live? What can I do to help those less fortunate than myself? My father taught me handyman skills and I work construction so I can build. School and talent talking man in design so I can engineer. Growing up around my father and my own hobbies and interests taught me about computers so I can build one from scratch with spare parts.

Living in Korea taught me how to teach so I can pass on my skill to others. Surely, there will be people and opportunities along my path I can benefit in some way maybe I can provide the child with an opportunity they may never have had otherwise. Part of my journey to discover myself, and see the world with my own eyes instead of on TV or through a book, but a lot of it is to discover how I can contribute to making the world a better place to be a part of humanity instead of just a consumer of.

It comes at a cost to my personal life, especially with Z, but I hope she gets inspiration from it rather than resentment. I can't change the past and if I had known how the last 10 years are going to turn out in disaster I would not have been away from Z for so long. I can’t change that so I must move on and I hope she will read this and understand some day. Shit happens. Put it behind you and look to the future. The honest with yourself, dream big dreams, and never give them up.

Friday, 3 August 2012

August 3rd, 2012 Day 14

Now that the prison saga has ended, so begins the deportation saga. Are they going to deport me or make me stay, work, go to court and make me pay off all my debts? And if they deport me, will I be forced to go to Canada or can I choose my destination? If they are paying for my deportation, they are more than welcome to send me to Toronto— it would be perfect timing since all of my immediate family is actually in the same location for once— usually they are spread out across 5000 km of country. If I have to pay for it, Canada is out of the equation as I can’t afford it and I’ll choose Thailand, my original destination, two weeks ago. Knowing Korea, Koreans and their penchant for sticking to the rules at their convenience, I can see the stormy future.

As I see it, my destination, should be of no concern as I’m leaving Korea, never to return and that’s the point deportation. As an immigration official will probably see it, I’m Canadian and I should return to my country of origin. Thankfully, I’m a stubborn bastard and at the immigration official give him just so they don’t have to deal with me anymore. For now, it’s just a waiting game.

Now, they’re taking me to Hwaseong Immigration Detention center. I can’t get any more information or to anybody other than that it’s like a bunch of chickens running around with their heads cut off. Getting a straight answer out of anybody in this country is like pulling teeth without anesthetic. A couple hours later, I finally get a deportation order, so at least I know I’ll be leaving Korea, guaranteed. Apparently, in Suwon, I can change my destination country from Canada to one of my choice. One step closer, Thailand here I come. Patience. It may even happen today, with any luck.

No chance. Looks like I’m spending the weekend here.

The Suwon detention center is even more restrictive than prison.  They took away all my pens and left me with a marker instead. I had to give up everything with metal in, including any coins I had. Now, I’m back in a different cell with four other people— three Asians and a Sri Lankan.

It’s not so bad. My fellow detainees seem like decent enough people. We still have cable TV, I just watched a Clint Eastwood western, and it’s nice to be able to have a conversation with someone in English. It sucks having to spend the weekend here, but it’s way better than being stuck in a jail cell by myself with an uncertain future. I know I’ll be out of reassume, so a couple more days is nothing compared to 68. 
Unfortunately, dinner was pretty much the same as jail— Rice, kimchi and soup, although one of the guys had some salt and there was some actual dinner conversation. Oh yeah! Most important, I was able to have a shower! With hot water! And soap! My skin actually looks several shades lighter.

Once again, stupid rules that make no sense other than to make the guards feel superior because they get to boss us around. What is the reasoning behind holding up our bedding every time they do a roll call? What is the point, and why do some detainees to do it in others do not? If there are going to be rules, shouldn’t everyone have to follow them? The whole thing seems ridiculous and pointless.

Once I get out of this mess, I’m going to do my best to avoid contact with any governing bodies unless absolutely necessary— such as crossing borders for instance. I suppose at some point I’ll have to renew my passport, too.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

August 2nd, 2012 Day 13

The likelihood of my appeal being approved is looking more and more remote. I should get used to the idea being here for the next 6 to 7 days and try to make the best of it— or as good as being locked up in a closet with Windows at least for 23 hours a day as I can make it. Thank God, I like to draw and write. I would go crazy without these skills. Even the dumbest person here at least has the luxury of being able to read the newspaper every day. My options are forced to listen to shitty Korean pop music that I can’t turn off or control the volume on loudspeakers piping the music through the prison, watch Korean TV shows or stare at the walls. If I try to sleep, a guard comes and yells at me to wake up. It makes it harder to sleep through the night anyway. Speaking of sleep, I am not used to going to bed sober all time. I seem to be dreaming way more than usual. I’ve been trying to write down interesting ones as soon as I wake up. It’s also been almost 2 weeks since my last cigarette. I still want one, but not as bad. I haven’t gone this long without a smoke in 25 years. I’m sure my body is thankful. I’m pretty sure I haven’t gone this long without a drink either. Poor man’s rehab. Only poor people go to jail, only rich people pay for rehab. One of the ironies of life.
One of the things that bothers me the most about Korea and Koreans are their “rules” and how close they don’t follow them unless it’s personally convenient. The only time the rules matter to a Korean is when they don’t want to do something, and then they have the “rules” to conveniently back them up. Most Koreans have a very defeatist attitude. If they had never done it something before, then they are convinced that can’t be done and I think the fact that to get anything done, I have to freak out and kindly see like a crazy foreigner and then sit there in contempt while they stumble all over themselves trying to prove me wrong only to discover I was right in the first place. Of course, this is all leading up to something— today’s adventure in making phone calls from prison...

So, I want to call my mother to let her know I’m okay and not to worry. First, I was told I wasn’t allowed, so I pointed out they sold phone cards, so why would they sell phone cards if no one was allowed to make a phone call? Then I was told that my phone card could not work because the prison uses a special phone system. I saw the “system” the last time I was here. It’s a normal payphone with an extra handset of the guards can monitor your conversation. Nothing special about it. And the “special” phone card they wanted me to buy is a cashless smartcard, exactly the same that is used for the bus and subway system. You add a dollar amount the card and every time you use it, money is deducted from the card until it is empty. Just like cash without the actual cash. It’s not that special. I could use the coins in the phone and it would work exactly the same. Anyway, I have an international calling card with a toll-free number in Korea. I dial the number, follow the prompts and voila talking to people in Canada. So, 3 guards and 2 inmates with poor English skills telling me it can’t be done. I freaked out, had a temper tantrum like a 10-year-old, and 30 minutes later, I’m talking to my mom and Zoe, who happens to be visiting, using my international calling just as I described. My little freak out also got me and other pen, a pencil, a comb, a watch, a Korean-English dictionary and a subscription to an English-language newspaper. I hated resorting to such tactics but it’s very effective.

I’m sure a lot of people are/will be disgusted by how I portray Koreans. Not all Koreans are this way but unfortunately a lot of them are. It’s a stereotype. Stereotypes exist for a reason. Saying black people like chicken is not racist, is a stereotype.

Take a look at how Koreans treat other Koreans. It’s not pretty. For all the talk about Confucius and respect, I see very few positive examples. Quite often, I don’t seem to get any respect from Koreans unless I get angry first and then they bend over backwards to accommodate me. I have a real problem with this. I shouldn’t have to get upset to get treated with basic common courtesy. A lot of times, especially with older Koreans, they demand to be treated a certain way, while at the same time treating the other person like dirt. When people treat me like dirt, my reaction is not to be nice to tem in return. The funny thing is quite often, I’m the older person these days in my social interactions with Koreans and they still treat me like shit is because I’m not Korean and don’t deserve their respect— yet they expect me to treat them according to their rules and customs. It’s a hypocritical double standard and a game I’m not willing to play. That’s why I feel and act the way I do when it comes to Koreans. I’m sick of being nice only to get treated like shit in return. It’s a deeply rooted custom unlikely to change anytime soon and that’s too bad, because the other stereotype is true, too. When Koreans get to know you, they can be the most generous warm-hearted people. It’s just too much trouble these days for me to try to get to know them.

Today, just got a whole lot better. It looks like my call to mom was all for naught. At 4 PM, I was released into the welcoming arms of immigration, who, no doubt, will deport me tomorrow! Yay! Woo hoo! Got to love Korean logic, illogical but somewhat predictable. By this time tomorrow, I will hopefully be at the airport waiting for my flight out of this one horse burg.

Immigration detention center is a lot dirtier than the jail cell I just left, but much better. For one thing, the TV as every cable channel and no automatic shut off. I can watch English-language movies all night. The holding cell is also communal, so there are eight other illegal aliens to talk to, most of whom actually speak the same language that isn’t Korean. Right now, there are a couple of Filipinos, a guy from Burma, a Russian, Indian and Chinese dude. Clash of the Titans is on TV and dinner should be arriving soon. After two weeks the prison, this is a walk in the park.