Sunday, 30 September 2012

(Day 72) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 59 C-24

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
1 x 100, 2 x 50 2 x 35, 1 x 130 2 x 35, 1 x 30

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
soy milk
bread with red bean filling
Lunch rice & kimchi
salad with lettuce, bell pepper, cucumber, & carrot
chicken and veggie soup
Dinnerrice & kimchi
cabbage and onion
chicken and veggie cream soup

I should probably explain the differences in Chinese detainees. Not all detainees are created equal, no matter what Korean authorities like to believe.

First, there are the fisherman. These Chinese happen to have been caught illegally fishing in Korean waters. Usually, they are simply crew members working for a bigger company. Their boat has been confiscated and in order to get it back and released, they'll have to pay huge fines. These fines eventually get paid by the companies and if they're not, the detainees do jail time. They are usually here for about 6 months before they are repatriated. It's cheaper to pay fines than to buy a new boat, but the detainees stay until the Korean government tires of them and pays to send them back to China. They don't speak Korean. The fisherman are just normal labourers. They are usually uneducated and the same as most blue-collar, uneducated rednecks in any other part of the world. They can be rude and inconsiderate, but it is unfair to attribute it their ethnicity,  as I have previously. It is simply a matter of up bringing and education, just like anywhere else on the planet.

The next two groups are a little more complicated. One group is ethnically Chinese and the other is ethnically Korean. Both have lived in Korea so long that they have jobs and families here. For some of them, the only Chinese thing about them is the language and the passport. This is the group that bothers me the most because they have the Confucius/Korean ajjoshi  attitude of entitlement. They think, because of their age, they are superior-- and the more of a commoner they are, the bigger the chip. There is nothing humble or any humility in these idiots. The Chinese who walks and the Chinese who yells and the Chinese who showers fall into this group. All three of them are between 40 to 45 years old and are actually Koreans born in China and got busted for drinking and driving. They are here because they're ethnically Korean, but technically Chinese. They are not Korean enough for Korean society and too Korean for Chinese society. To me, they are just  more asshole ajjoshiis.

The ethnic Chinese tend to be a bit more humble and nicer. They have been living here for years like many Canadians and Americans and also have wives, children and jobs. Their visas have lapsed and they have been negligent getting them renewed. This is where are not all foreigners are created equal, because Americans and Canadians would never be detained for the same offense. I know this, because I was in this exact situation for 6 months before I tried to leave the country. I even had paperwork and appointments to rectify the situation. I didn't bother because I was leaving the country anyway, and they had no choice but to detain me this time around as a result.

Since it's Chuseok, it got me to thinking about families in Korea. There is one detainee here who must be at least 70 to 80 years old. How did he get here? Where is his family? No one that old should be in here. This is no place to spend, what could very well be, the very last days of your life. Since it's a holiday, there are no visiting hours either, but since it's Chuseok, this should be the one time of year when they have special visiting hours for detainees with family.

Because of Her I find Chuseok particularly bittersweet. I'm not a fan of holidays like these-- Christmas included. It's a sad reminder of years wasted with a person I thought I would be with forever and of years wasted apart from people I should have been with instead. And here I am, one more holiday in a shitty place, due to one particular person, when I should really be with the family I've always had. I really do blame my current predicament on Her. She abandoned me in a foreign country and left the dismantling of the seven years of our life together completely up to me while She escaped to wherever. She may say its my fault for doing certain things, but I wouldn't have done those certain things if not for Her or lack of. I can't say it was any one action or really anybody's fault. We are both responsible but her reaction was extreme, cruel and selfish. Never again.

Today was a very painful day. Too many memories of my marriage and no booze to wash them away. Facing them does nothing but make me want to forget, which makes them all the more vivid. I remember things I haven't thought about in years to the smallest detail and I don't think it will ever get any better when times like this occur. I need to get out of here and make new, better memories.

24 days to go...

Saturday, 29 September 2012

(Day 71) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 58 C-25

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
1 x 100, 2 x 50 2 x 35, 1 x 30 2 x 35, 1 x 30

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
donut filled with red bean paste
orange soy drink
Lunch rice & kimchi
cucumber kimchi
kimchi in hot water with fish and potatoes
Dinnerrice & kimchi
bean sprouts with carrot & sesame oil
egg and soft tofu in hot water

Its Chuseok weekend in Korea. This is the equivalent of Thanksgiving and is celebrated by families traveling to their hometown. Since the population is about 50 million people, in a country that is only about 700 km by 500 km, this means most of the population spends the first 24 hours driving along highway in their family van at about 10 km/h. The TV is showing reports of traffic conditions on  the highway with one side going towards Seoul nearly empty and the other side going away from Seoul jam-packed, barely moving at all.

The other most remarkable thing about the pictures on TV is that 80 percent of the vehicles are white and the other 20 percent are black. There are no cars of any other color on the road. No red, blue, green, yellow-- nothing. Just black and white-- mostly white. What makes this interesting is the distribution. Black is usually reserved for the boss or owner of a company which makes the white cars belonging to all the worker bees.

This afternoon, undoubtedly because it's Chuseok, we had fried chicken and cola delivered. We had four big plate of fried chicken and 16 individual bottles did Coca Cola. Of course, everybody joked about the absence of beer and soju.

When we were finished, I was on my way to the bathroom to wash up and someone had left a full cup of water at the foot of their mattress, out in the area where everybody walks, which I promptly kick across the floor. I got a mop from the bathroom and cleaned it up ASAP, picked up the offending cup, now empty, went to the common room and explain that whoever left a full cup of water in the middle of the floor was a complete, fucking idiot. Then, after putting the offending cup on the table where it belonged, I went and sat down on my mattress to read. Minutes later, the Chinese who yells (who else? Out of all 16 people, of course it had to be him) comes marching up to me yelling in Korean (I  later found out) about how I'm an idiot for not watching where I'm going! Shocked at how ludicrous his argument was (why should I be concerned about things blocking my path in an established walkway? Cups of water do not belong on the floor in any culture), I retorted with three words that everybody knows, "Fuck you, asshole." When he continued to yell at me in Korean, I just said "blah blah blah" and made talking motions with my hand-- another move guaranteed to piss people off in any language, turn around and sat down.

The reaction from everybody else witness to our confrontation, only confirmed what I had already suspected. The Chinese who yells really is crazy. Everybody else shared looks of sympathy with me, said "it's okay don't worry about him" in a mixture of languages and we all went back to do what we were doing previously. Order restored at last.

So much for keeping my head down and staying out of the way. Still I'm surprised I lasted this long. I didn't expect to get past the first weekend in this cell.

Dinner totally sucked. Good thing we have a whole plate of fried chicken for a midnight snack.

Friday, 28 September 2012

(Day 70) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 57 C-26

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
1 x 120 2 x 30, 1 x 40 3 x 30

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
soy milk
2 small muffins
Lunch rice
gravy with chicken and veggies
shredded potatoes
tuna salad
potato in hot water (they call this soup?)

Who Am I kidding? I'm still an asshole. Just because some Chinese dude shares a snack doesn't mean I've misjudged his character. Maybe he just had an extra snack he didn't want to throw out. He still walks and paces around too much and it still annoys me. And when he's talking to his other compatriots, they are all still incapable of talking without shouting at each other.

The Russian kid thinks this is all fun and games, but at his age, it's not surprising that he fails to see the seriousness of the situation. And Korean kids can be merciless to those who are not Korean, so I can imagine his school life is hell. It's no wonder he wants to go back to Russia. He probably hasn't had this much attention in his whole life. Here, everybody is concerned about his welfare-- giving him snacks and stuff, playing games with him, talking to him... In school, he'd probably be the only white person/foreigner  in the whole school and the other boys would go after his non-Koreanness. He can speak Korean, but he probably can't read or speak it as well as he is expected to by the teachers. They would more likely point this out and ridicule this weakness then understand and try to work past it. I feel sorry for him and it looks like his only way out is if his fine is paid. He wants to go back to Russia where his grandparents are apparently.

The kids bought playing cards (as well as a shitload of junk food-- substituting that for a real meal of rice and kimchi at lunch today) during our twice-weekly goods purchase. I only bought a phone card and batteries for my electric razor-- I traded coffee for a free drawing earlier in the week. Knowing human nature, the other detainees are going to fleece the kid of his junk food, using his own playing cards to do it. I'm sure they'll all share it back with him, but still its inevitable. Taking candy from a baby...

Going into the Chuseok weekend, we're up to 16 detainees so far... 9 Chinese, 1 Vietnamese 1 Thai, 1 Russian, 1 Uzbekistan, 1 Bangladeshi  1 Filipino and myself-- 1 Canadian. It's very crowded in the sleeping area and there is barely enough room at the table to eat.

In 70 days, I've managed to read 27 books (slightly more than a book in two days) I have 6 more books to go and 26 days left. 3 of those 6 books are pretty big though, so I might be alright. To be honest, the novels only took less than a day and one or two of the non fiction books took up to a week.

Some of the other things I've accomplished in 70 days:

  • quit smoking
  • lost beer gut and got skinnier, but gained 3 kilograms
  • no alcohol or other recreational drugs
  • read the entire Bible cover to cover
  • wrote over 100 pages-- usually 2 to 3 per day  or about 35 thousand words
  • drawn approximately 50 pictures, a dozen or so that have the potential to be paintings
  • eaten rice and kimchi 127 times in a row

I am re-reading Lord of the Flies and it got me to thinking about the different ways detainees have made substitutions for things that we lack. Exercise makes up a big part of most of our daily lives, simply for lack of anything better to do. Since we have no actual the equipment, we make do with what we have-- tables bolted to the floor and bottles. I use the table to brace myself when I do sit-ups or as an incline when I do push ups and chair-lifts. The bottles are 1.5 liters each, which, when filled with water, equal 1.5 kg each. Two of them tied together with string, confiscated from mops, makes a 3 kg weight. Four bottles give you weights for each arm. Not a lot, but enough. A number of strings from the mop make up a pretty decent clothes line.

Someone tried to commit suicide by drinking shampoo (which is why we have none now). I'm surprised no one has tried to weave a rope using the mop... but I'm getting sidetracked...

Sometimes, we get juice for breakfast and the container it comes in has a small round sticker on the lid. The stickers are used as a replacement for tape, which has been used to stick up posters and pictures taken from magazines to decorate the cell. One ingenious person has used the container our toothbrushes come in to fashion a pen holder on the side of the telephone, stuck on with the aforementioned stickers. The same juice containers are also used for table salt since the shit that passes for soup is really tasteless as it's really nothing more than hot water and veggies most of the time. Another previous tenant has taken some of the pages from the calendars hanging outside our cells and made a checkerboard and I've seen at least one person (the unchristian Nigerian) make a complete set of chess pieces drawn on some cardboard squares. Every cell I've been in also has a checkerboard carved into the top of the picnic table. How this is done previously puzzled me since no one has anything metal or anything even remotely hard or strong enough to carve up wood on the table. Yet, they are covered with graffiti scratched into them. I think the most common instruments of destruction are the pull tabs that have been broken off  from zippers. Our mattresses are made from foam covered with cloth that have zippers along the side. Some of them are missing the pull tab. I've also noticed the hinges on the bathroom stalls missing a screw here and there... screws I've found and used to make a few marks on my own on the table. Boredom and lots of time is the mother of invention, as much as necessity.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

(Day 69) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 56 C-27

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
2 x 50 5 x 35, 1 x 30 2 x 35, 1 x 30

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
vegmil soy drink
caramel flavoured bread
Lunch rice
bean sprouts and crab meat
chicken soup
spicy seafood with veggies
tofu and veggies in hot water

Less than four weeks ago...

Nothing happened today. The Russian kid is still here, the Chinese walks still walks too much, the Chinese who yells is incapable of talking quietly. Actually, all the Chinese are incapable talking quietly. There are now 15 people in the room, eight of them are Chinese. The Filipino is supposed to be going home in four days. After he leaves, I'll be the only person who speaks English in this room.

The Korean word for underwear regardless of gender, is 'panties.' Hearing grown men talking about their panties is hilarious. The Korean word for the sport of boxing is also 'boxing' but the word 'boxers' doesn't seem to have entered the Korean lexicon like 'panties.' Boxers are also called panties and so are jockey shorts. There is no distinction accept a between female panties and male panties.

We had an exercise period today since it was Thursday. However, the weather has begun to get colder so I, and others, would rather stay inside, read, nap or watch TV than stand around outside twiddling our thumbs. No one ever does any exercise anyway, they just gossip, but nothing ever really happens (no dead Mongolians this week), so there really isn't anything to gossip about.

One of today's new detainees is a Thai. He got busted anything along with 30 other Thais. They all got sent home to Thailand, but he was sent here because he didn't have a passport. I guess the real moral of this story is don't be hanging out at any singing rooms if you don't have a valid visa. And if you don't have a valid visa, at least have a valid passport or you'll find yourself sure your room with 8 Chinese men and a Russian boy.

Sometimes, the going-ons here are like scenes from a keystone cops movie. Some dude in the cell next to ours started banging on the walls. One of the Chinese banged on the wall in reply. The banging from the other side got louder. The Chinese banged on his wall louder. This went on for several minutes, finally ending with the Chinese cursing at the offender. I told him to stop-- his banging only encouraged more banging, but this was lost in translation and it fell on deaf ears. This is the same Chinese dude took the remote control away because he wanted to watch his show. At that time, he was spouting Chinese at me making some gestures with his hands. I just mocked and mirrored him with the same gestures, which pissed him off and caused him to confiscate the remote.

Now, don't I feel like a total tool. The Chinese who walks and seems to spend a lot of time scowling at me just offered some of his snacks. If I was Christian, I'd be suffering from some old fashion Christian guilt right now, but I'm not, so I'm just suffering from plain old normal guilt... Me, being all judgmental and what do I really know? Nothing. I've learned absolutely nothing. Maybe this will teach me, but probably not. I'll make the same foolish mistake again someday.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

(Day 68) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 55 C-28

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
1 x 100 1 x 30 2 x 30, 1 x 40

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
soy milk
caramel flavoured bread
Lunch rice
spicy chicken soup
2 pieces of fish
fried chicken
veggies in hot water

is there some sort of cutoff age for being kind and considerate and being an asshole?

Chinese who walks and the Chinese who yells are both being nice to the Russian kid. Showing him where to put his mattress, what to do at roll call and meal time, giving him advice... To every other detainee that has joined our cell since I've been here, they have ignored, if not been downright rude and outright hostile. Of course, everybody is being nice to the kid because he's a kid, but why not be nice to everyone?

I would assume it's the first time in an immigration detention center for everyone. Since they are deported out of the country, the likelihood of being here again is small, if not non-existent. We could all use some friendly advice about where to put our bedding and what to do at roll call and meal times. I've changed cells enough times, I just demand where I should go, instead of asking politely and most people have heard of the Canadian in their midst, so I don't need to go around introducing myself or making friends.

Talked to L today. I've had a really hard time getting a hold of her lately. A simple explanation-- she was getting shagged. So, we talked about the benefits of shagging members of the same age and culture. Mainly no pretense and fewer misunderstandings. It is what it is and nothing gets lost in translation, figuratively and literally. Good for her.

Been a pretty uneventful day. The Russian kid is still here. The Chinese who walks and the Chinese who yells are still rude and inconsiderate (to be fair, the other Chinese are okay...) And Mr. Asshole the guard is working the night shift again.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

(Day 67) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 54 C-29

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
2 x 100 40 40

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
soy milk
caramel flavoured bread
Lunch rice
stringy french fries
fish soup
watery noodle soup
spicy chicken with potatoes

So, I'm sitting in the sleeping area keeping to myself, hanging out on my bedding, reading and drawing. A couple people going back to bed after breakfast, some are reading, a few are playing cards. Two of the Chinese are having a conversation. These Chinese are incapable of talking at varying volumes. There is only one volume-- loud.

The Filipino comes into the room for a nap. As he gets his bedding down from the top shelf, he says, "If that was you or me talking, they would say 'Jeez, my head hurts. You guys are talking too loud. Shut up!'"

I laughed and replied "I would bet money on that and win."

If either the Filipino or I were to claim their loud talking was giving us a headache and told them to be quiet, even politely, it would be fighting words. Anybody who has lived in Korea knows this to be true.

I drew a picture of the Chinese's kids. It only took 1.5 hours and turned out okay, I guess. The Chinese was grateful. As expected, dream to riches were just that-- dreams. He gave me two boxes of coffee, so I'm flush with coffee for the next week or so. Since all I spend my money on is coffee and phone cards, I guess I saved myself some expenses.

Now we have a 15 year old Russian kid who's mother lives in Korea... What the hell is he doing here?!! He should be home with his mom or in school...apparently he got busted for taking 1700 dollars from a PC room. A crime to be sure, even one that an adult would be deported for, but this is only a kid. What kind of fucked up country is this that they arrest a juvenile, and instead of taking him home or contacting his mother, they try to deport him? That's some fucked up shit! I already have a pretty low opinion of Korea... This makes it even lower.

I talked to Z today. She had a busy weekend with your friends-- or so she claims, because she never goes out. I asked her if there were activities for kids her age on the weekends. She said there are, but she never goes because all the kids are "under the influence," as she puts it. Hearing those words from my 15 year old daughter made me feel extremely proud and incredibly guilty. Proud that she had good common sense, strong will power and confidence to avoid the pressure of her peers, and guilty because I've been pretty much under the influence since I was her age and she knows it.

When people have children we always want them to lead and have better lives in ourselves. I have not had a bad life (present circumstances notwithstanding) however, I never thought I'd learn about moral character from a teenager-- my teenager. I suppose M & G deserve a lot of credit for Z but I know more about them than Z as well. Things are not always roses with those two, but I guess Z will discover that on her own as she gets older, too. Things have a funny way of working out. M and B have the life they wanted and worked hard to get. M and J also worked hard and did well. I can congratulate them both, though I know they don't feel the same about me. I tried to conform. I couldn't do it. Maybe one day they will all understand and accept it. Until then, I wish them all the best and continued success in life.

Monday, 24 September 2012

(Day 66) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 53 C-30

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
10 x 20 reps 5 x 20 reps 5 x 20 reps

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
Almond soy drink
bread with red bean filling
Lunch rice mixed with veggies
egg drop soup
bean sprouts in hot water & kimchi
cucumber kimchi

Only one month to go until my potential release date and potentially the longest month of my life...

Interesting observation about lunch... The rice was served with mixed vegetables and most of the Chinese threw it out without eating because it wasn't plain white rice. Personally, I hate plain white rice and always mix it with whatever is available, usually vegetables... There's even a western product specifically meant to be mixed with rice. Most western meals involving rice usually have it mixed with something, but in Asia, boring plain, bland white rice is the way to go.

Awesome dinner! We got rice with kimchi! Cucumber kimchi! And soup with kimchi! Kimchi, kimchi, kimchi! Giving Koreans stomach cancer since the Portuguese introduced red peppers to the Japanese 500 years ago!

Our night shift guards tonight also included Mr. Asshole, himself. Our evening is shaping up to be full of fun, games and other surprises. I think I'll just hide out until tomorrow morning...

The Chinese who walks is like a child at the playground who takes his ball home when things don't go his way. He was sitting inside the sleeping area playing cards by himself and got so upset that he couldn't watch what he wanted, he actually came into the common area and took the remote away from us. Normally I would make a fuss and call the guards, but since we have Mr. Asshole on duty, I'm just going to have to suck it up. Maybe I can change cells tomorrow. However, one of the Chinese wants me to draw a picture of his daughter from a photo. I said I would do it for $100. He countered with $50. I may as well try to make some money while I'm here and since I'm not good at gambling with cards, who knows? If I do a good job, maybe some of the other detainees will be willing to pay me $50 as well for portraits of family members. I might end up walking out of here with more money than I walked in with if I do enough portraits. Just silly speculation at this point though, and hard to do without pencils or erasers. There's no room for error with only a marker.

The other guard who works with Mr. Asshole just got into a yelling match with another detainee in the cell next to us. It seems to be a running theme with guys-- tiny pricks with big badges-- the most common story on the planet. Give a small dude some authority and they think they're a little Napoleon. I wonder if they're going to throw him into solitary tonight? It took 7 of them to put me into solitary, and I'm kind of small... this is Asia though, I'm practically a giant here... and my arms, shoulders and chest have gotten noticeably bigger since I've been here due to my exercise regime.

... I guess you only go to solitary if you swear at the guards in English...

Sunday, 23 September 2012

(Day 65) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 52 C-31

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
orange flavoured soy drink
Lunch rice
chicken/veggie soup
julianed potatos
noodles and veggies
yellow curry

In the 3 different cells I've been in here, this one is the strangest. Not so much strange, just different than the rest. Some people might like it, even prefer it, but to my selfishness, it cramps my style.

First of all, the layout of the rooms is different and smaller. I made a diagram because it's easier to draw than describe:
Basically there are two rooms of equal size. The sleeping area has space to sleep 12 people on a raised platform with a walkway down the middle, and shelving above the platform for personal belongings. The common area is about the same size with 2 picnic tables bolted to the floor facing the TV. There is a telephone and water dispenser on either side of the door. The bathroom has 2 toilets at one end and 2 showers at the other. In the middle, there are 2 sinks with a urinal on either side.

In this cell, the layout is quite a bit different. The rooms are not the same size. The sleeping area is much bigger but does not have the raised platform for sleeping. It's one big floor with 9 shelves on each side to accommodate up to 18 detainees. The common area is much smaller and the picnic tables bolted to the floor take up much of the space. They also don't exactly face the TV either. The bathroom has 2 sinks, showers, and toilets, but only 1 urinal. Also, instead of showers at one end, and toilets at the other, there is one of each on either end.

Now, you may ask yourself, "What difference does it make?" In Asia, quite a bit. While indoors, Asians spend all their time walking about barefoot or with socks or slippers on. Walking into a room with your shoes on is a hanging offense. You will hear audible gasps and great cries and shouts of blasphemy. The sky will rain brimstone and the seas will boil... and the reason for this is that this great civilization has yet to invent tables and chairs. They sit and eat of the floor. The famous Asian squat is testament to this lack of furniture. I'm sure the picnic tables are just a compromise for the foreigners who aren't Asian and may happen to haunt their precious cells.

Because of this Asian quirk, when you go from the common area to the sleeping area, having a raised platform and walkway makes all the difference when going to the bathroom. With a walkway, you take of your slippers when you step onto the raised platform. You wear your slippers in the common area, the walkway and in the bathroom. In the bathroom, the floor is always wet (these people seem to be incapable of washing their hands, and when they do, they can't keep the water in the sink, but must evenly distribute it all over the floor), and in the common area and walkway, the floor is always dirty. There's no need to clean the floor too often because everyone is wearing slippers.

In the new cell, with the bigger sleeping area and lack of a raised platform or walkway, slippers come off at the entrance to the small common area. There are 2 pairs of slippers in the bathroom for communal use (which is pointless, really, as I'll explain later). This creates a couple of interesting/infuriating scenarios.

First, there are the 2 Chinese dudes who "own" the cell-- the one who yells and the one who walks. The one who yells also happens to be a clean freak, which is both good and bad. Good because everything is clean, bad because he expects everyone else to be a clean freak too and help him. That being said, every morning, before roll call, we put our mattress & blankets on the shelves, clearing the floor. Then the bathroom, sleeping & common area floors are mopped. When that is finished, the Chinese who walks, paces the perimeter of the room. When there is a raised platform and walkway, there is no mopping or pacing. When roll call is finished, the mattress and blankets come down off the shelf and everybody goes back to bed until breakfast, then we eat, and go back to bed again. None of this mopping/pacing bullshit. It's seriously cramping my style. Now, I have to wait until all the Chinese have sat down for breakfast before I can put my bedding back on the floor and go to sleep.

As for the bathroom, the reason you would wear slippers is to avoid fungal disease or a wet floor. These communal slippers are always wet anyway, and they're communal... if anybody has a fungal disease and everybody shares the same slippers... Asians may be good at math, but they suck at biology.

So, in conclusion, no raised platform leads to less sleep, more cramped quarters and a higher chance of fungal disease (as the Chinese dude sitting across from em starts picking at his feet). Sunday, Funday!

The Chinese who walks wants to watch some stupid variety show instead of UFC. What kind of room is this? Even gay men would rather watch muscular men kick the crap out of each other than the gay crap that passes for Korean television.

The rest of the day has been pretty uneventful. I heard the unchristian Nigerian arguing with a Chinese about Korean drama VS. UFC in the cell next to mine. Mostly, I just read another book (almost finished all the books JO brought... I thought it would take me a lot longer...), napped and drew some. Throw in some exercise later and call it a day. Unless something incredibly interesting happens, of course...

Saturday, 22 September 2012

(Day 64) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 51 C-32

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
10 x 20 reps 5 x 20 reps 5 x 20 reps

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
soy drink
caramel flavoured bread
Lunch rice
bean sprouts in water
scrambled egg
cucumber and onion kimchi
turnip, carrot & potato in hot water

Two of the Chinese detainees have been here for 8 months and you can tell. They act like the cell is their domain, and we are just guests. They are currently walking around the perimeter like caged lions. Caged they may be, but hardly lions. Apparently, one of them is here because he was caught drinking and driving, which seems to be a common offence if they're not fishermen (and ethnically Korean).

I don't think I'm going to last in this cell past the weekend. One of the Chinese dudes won't stop pacing around the room. He's literally been doing it for hours. The other Chinese dude yelled at me this morning because I didn't understand what he was telling me to do in Korean, and he has a habit of telling everyone what to do. I don't take orders. One of the other detainees, who was also up late playing poker after lights out, was loudly complaining and swearing because he couldn't sleep through the morning due to the other detainees watching a movie on TV. Looks like I'm not the only one who thinks these people are rude, selfish and inconsiderate little bastards...

With only one month to go, it's really for the best if I keep to myself, avoid eye contact and generally ignore those around me. Inevitably, people think I'm rude, but I don't care-- just counting down the days now that I have a date to count to.

Friday, 21 September 2012

(Day 63) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 50

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
50 (am) + 10 x 20 reps 5 x 20 reps 5 x 20 reps

Breakfast N/A
Lunch N/A
soybean soup with veggies
fried fish

now in day 2 of solitary confinement. The meds help me sleep through the night but I didn't get any with my breakfast. I tried to sleep the day away as much as possible. I didn't eat breakfast or lunch. I wasn't really that hungry. I got my pain meds at lunch and that help the afternoon pass by. At about 3:30 they moved me to a new cell block. Asshole guard was back to videotape the whole thing for prosperity.

Now, going into the weekend, I have a whole new group of detainees to share a cell with. I'm the only white one. All the rest are Asians of different sorts I think at least one is Filipino.

Since I'm in an entirely new cell block, I don't think I'll have any more encounters with the asshole guard. Of course, that means I won't have any more encounters with any of the other detainees I've gotten to know over the last 50 days. The American went home this morning. He shouted his goodbyes to me in solitary as he left. I hope he gets this money, but I think he's given up on that and just wants to get the hell out of here.

Speaking of getting out, while I was in solitary, a letter with my court date came! My final court date is October 24th at 11:00 am. Depending how that goes, I have one more month left here!!! However, the date is 16 days after the date my original sentence ends so I'm actually being forced to stay in this country longer than I should be. Korean logic at its best. I fucking hate this country.

Going into the weekend, there are 13 men in my cell, myself included. The breakdown is 7 Chinese, 1 Vietnamese, 1 Filipino, 1 Bangladesh, 1 Uzbekistan, 1 Chinese-Korean and myself-- 1 Canadian.

I was supposed to call Z yesterday, but I was throw into solitary before I could complete the call. I hate missing dates with her more than anything else in the world.

The Filipino tells me the Chinese are the same in this room. They monopolize the TV remote and we end up watching shitty Korean soap operas and k-pop variety shows all day. I can't tell the difference between any of the girl groups. They all have at least five girls that all follow a stereotype-- short blonde hair, long two-tone hair, blue contacts, corn rows, etc. It's no different with the boy groups, either. They all look like girls. The only way I can tell them apart is the girls are all wearing hot pants to show off their legs, but I bet the boys could give them a run for their money with their anorexic bodies, too. Really, the only difference between a boy and a girl is the clothing and hair. Other than that, the bodies, faces, the music and dance moves are nearly identical. Maybe that's why Gangnam style is so popular. It features one singer, overweight, obviously male, and the music is closer to American counterpart than usual dreck turned out by the k-pop music mill. Not to mention the unconventional dance moves...

The popular card game in this cell is poker. The Chinese are playing using instant coffee for chips. One guy must have over 100 packages. I know who I'm hitting up for coffee tomorrow.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

(Day 62) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 49


Breakfast2 hard boiled eggs
Lunchsome soup
tofu in red pepper paste

I'm writing this retroactively since I missed a day because I was put in solitary confinement due to yesterday's  incident-- not as a direct result, but as a continuation. The irony is not lost on me, since I claimed they couldn't do exactly what they did.

At lunch time, when medications are handed out, I usually get some painkillers for lower back pain-- sitting on the floor and sleeping on a hard mattress doe NOT make your back feel better. Anyway, the dude giving out the meds was the same dude from yesterday. When I asked where my meds were, he dismissed we with a wave of his hand. I got upset at being treated so rudely, so I was rude back. After another shouting match, a different guard came and said I could see a doctor after lunch.

After lunch came, I went to see the doctor. When I came back to the cell, 7 guards were standing there to escort me to solitary confinement. I did not go quietly.

Once again, I found myself in a room that was equal in length and width to my height, so there was enough room to lie down. There was a toilet, a tap, and a window looking out into the exercise yard. No mattress, no blankets, no toothbrush, spoon or toilet paper.

Soon thereafter, it was the exercise period so I was able to talk to my fellow detainees through the window. The American called my contact at the Canadian embassy. After the exercise period, I was moved to a different solitary cell. This one had my mattress, blankets, cup, spoon and toothbrush, as well as a bottle of water, toilet paper, a bar soap and a new tube of toothpaste. The asshole guard was now the proud owner of a video camera and videotaped my move from one cell to the next. A little while later my meds were unceremoniously tossed through the bars. I didn't take them. Later dinner was delivered. I didn't eat it. More meds came. This time, I took both doses so I would pass out and sleep through the night. Honestly, I can deal with being a small room, but I can't deal with being in a small room with nothing to do, so better to double up on the pain medication and pass out then stare at the ceiling.

 The American tells me he tried to call the Human Rights Center but the phone kept getting disconnected or turned off.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

(Day 61) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 48

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
100+ (am) 10 x 20 reps 5 x 20 reps 5 x 20 reps

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
Almond soy drink
bread with custard filling
Lunch rice
sweet tomato juice
egg drop soup
raw onion, cucumber, & carrot with red pepper paste
watery chicken, bean sprout & mushroom soup
plain fish cake in soy sauce

A representative of the Human Rights Commission came to the detention center today. Of course, at a place where no one is Korean, the entire meeting was conducted in Korean. And it wasn't a meeting either. we were given forms that we could have gotten and filled out at any time.

 I was able to talk to a representative later. I pointed out the lack of newspapers, English news on TV (they have Satellite, but CNN has been blocked. I know this, because I had the same service) and internet access (at least an hour once a week would be wonderful). I mentioned the shitty food too but to a Korean its normal, so they fail to see what's wrong with the menu. They also think Americans only eat pizza and hamburgers, because for them it's normal for them to eat rice and kimchi at every single meal.

Later, a guard was spouting off at me in Korean. I said, "I don't speak Korean" and to empathize, I continued with "blah, blah, blah" and made talking motions with my hands.

 He said, "We in Korea, you talk Korea."

 I said, "We in foreigner center, you talk English."

 He continued to talk in Korean, so I walked away and muttered "asshole."

In English, the Guard said "What did you say?"  and I replied, "Oh, you speak English now? You know exactly what I said, asshole."

He got really upset of course, and started yelling at me some more in English.

I just said, "The more you yell at me, the more you prove you really are an asshole for talking Korean to me when you know I don't understand, and you can speak English." and I walked away

There's not much he could say or do since the Human Rights representatives were still at the center and he couldn't put me in solitary for insubordination with 12 witnesses, when I was right. The guards are idiots and essentially powerless when it comes to telling us to do something.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

(Day 60) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 47

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
100+ (am) 10 x 20 reps 5 x 20 reps 5 x 20 reps

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
Almond soy drink
sponge cake with cream filling
Lunch rice
one egg in soy sauce
watery soy bean paste stew (daejon chigae)
watery veggie soup
corn & mayo salad

Sometimes I think the the things I write are cruel and overly judgmental towards a person or even a race, like Koreans, and then someone says something to me that echos my writing and I realize I'm not the only one. Maybe I'm a racist, or elitist, an asshole, condescending or think I'm more superior, but if people were more considerate, less selfish, less foolish or smarter than a doorknob, then I would probably feel different. So before you are quick to judge me, look in the mirror.

I should clarify that although I write a lot of shit about people, I usually keep most of my feelings to myself in person (I know a lot of my friends are laughing at that statement, but it's true-- for all the stuff I say, there's tons more I don't). Lately, I've been with a lot of English speakers who are also bitter because of their circumstances (who wouldn't be, locked up in a cage?). These same people make the same comments & slurs against the same people-- not always Koreans or against Korea. My comments about the unchristian Nigerian, the Egyptian who won't listen or the Chinese who showers 3x a day and watches Korean soap operas and shitty k-pop variety shows, are not sentiments just shared by myself. I'm just reflecting and repeating the opinions of others.

We got a Mongolian addition today. Apparently, he's been on a whiskey bender and is extremely hungover. I know how he feels, but I feel no sympathy. Because of the dead Mongolian from a couple of weeks ago, the guards are all concerned and afraid of a repeat. The other detainees keep asking if he's alright, to which he groans an affirmative. He's young, he'll be fine. Been there, done that, and I'm nearly twice his age.

Since I spend so much time drawing, many of the detainees request portraits from me and I usually refuse. First off, I think I suck at portraits. Sure, they sort of look recognizable, but they always look sort of warped to me and when it comes to representations of people's faces, anything short of photo-like perfection is garbage. There are so many artists so much better than I am at that sort of thing, I don't feel worthy of such a task. Also, if I do it for one person, I end up having to do it for everybody, and as I said, I don't really like doing it. I also find when I try to do artistic drawings by request (as opposed to requests more graphic design in nature), my heart's not really in it and I think it shows. The drawing (I think) lacks a certain Davidness to it.

Anyway, one of the detainees asked me to do a sketch of him after the lights had been turned off and everyone had retired for the evening. I forewarned  that I would do a quick sketch, but it might not necessarily look like him. So, in literally about a minute, I just did on a rough interpretation that actually turned out okay. I think it helped that the subject had long hair and was of East Indian descent because I could quickly draw upon the obvious features. I think that may have been the secret to the results.

The American was pretty impressed, as was the subject, because of the speed and rendition. He thought I could actually do portraits on the street as well as the pros. I don't know about that, but I suppose if I was ever hard up I can try "portraits in less than a minute..." The Pakistani (the subject) was pretty happy and showed everybody else. I'm glad you liked it, but I hope I don't have to do a bunch of portraits tomorrow.

Monday, 17 September 2012

(Day 59) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 46

Although I kept the menu from the prison, I should have thought of this a lot sooner-- keeping track of the daily menu and my exercise. Even though the menu is the basically the same every day... rice, kimchi & soup. Some days have better options. So, without further adieu:

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
1 x 100 reps 5 x 20 reps 5 x 20 reps

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
Almond soy drink
pastry with red bean filling
Lunch rice
spicy chicken
soy bean paste stew (daejon chigae)
bean sprout soup
seafood & fish cake in spicy sauce

I got some notebooks from L. Proper notebooks. With lines and margins and shit. Now my daily writings will have some semblance of order and organization instead of a pile of paper with writing of different sizes, going off in haphazard directions as I try to use as much paper space available in fear of running out of paper. Transcribing all this will be a nightmare because the writing order is different than the page order, since, when I started running out of paper, I went back to use up all the blank pages I skipped over to keep everything organized in the first place. I know that makes no sense to anyone but me, but since I'm doing all the work, it doesn't have to make any sense to anyone but me.

Other than the rude, channel-changing Chinese that are starting to become a stereotype, the group of detainees I'm with now are pretty decent. There's an old meditating Chinese-Korean from previously, a now typical assholei, channel-surfing Chinese and another young Chinese dude with tattoos that apparently signify his rank in his gang, a young, over-eager Vietnamese kid, a quiet guy from Uzbekistan, a guy from Nepal, a long haired Pakistani who used to be a night shift supervisor before he got screwed by his former employer, and the American from Guam with a Filipino wife also got screwed by their former employer.

The American, Nepalese, Pakistani and Uzbekistan have marathon rummy card sessions to pass the time, sometimes getting the huge arguments in a mixture of Korean, Hindu and English over points. The night guard comes by late at night to tell them to go to sleep. We all ignore him. The smaller or fatter the guard, the more they try to assert their non-existent authority.

 The Nigerian tries to sleep all day as the channel-changing Chinese flips through channels all day, occasionally pausing long enough to watch some Korean drama (girls crying, boys yelling) or k-pop variety store show.

 The Vietnamese boy has a strange habit of dealing cards for hours. He doesn't actually play any games, he just shuffles and deals the cards over and over again. Then he takes a short break and starts over again. I imagine he's in training for the Las Vegas dealer's Olympics.

The gangster Chinese kid sometimes takes part in the late night rummy sessions, but mostly he seems to sleep the day away.

 The old meditating Chinese-Korean play solitaire and mostly reads. he recently taught me how to play his version of salt air. I think the English name is called spider solitaire.

 It's kinda nice to be able to talk the same language with someone who sort of shares the same culture, although I imagine island life on Guam is much different in city life in Canada. On the other hand, it's been a long time since I lived in a city in Canada.

Still no word on court dates. And I was right about the notebooks. Now, I have way more than I need, but I'm sure I'll eventually use them all.

(Day 58) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 45

I did absolutely nothing today but read and sleep. I almost forgot about writing it at all and I didn't draw anything. Hopefully, I'll find out when my court date is this week, which will give me a better idea of when I'll be getting out of here. As of this coming Thursday, 4 days from now, I'll have been locked up for 2 months. I can't imagine how some people deal with being in prison for years. It already feels like a lifetime and it's only been a couple of months.

The new group of detainees I'm with are actually pretty decent compared to the group of Chinese I was stuck with for the last couple weeks. Most of them are stuck in here trying to recover wages not paid to them by Koreans. It seems like a common theme here. These migrant workers come here hoping for a better life, but can only get visas that amount to indentured servitude or modern slavery. This means if they are treated badly by their employers and try to leave their job, there visa is revoked, so they can't leave the job. The employer's know they have them by the balls, so they withhold wages knowing that employees will get deported. The Koreans get what amounts to very cheap, and sometimes free, labor. If the immigrant tries to recover their wages, it means they could be locked up in the detention center for up to a year, while the case goes through the labor board and courts. The employer's know most of the detained employees will just give up rather than stay locked in a cell for a year.

And here we are thinking English teachers have it bad getting fucked over unscrupulous hakwon owners. Most English teachers aren't going to be turned in and arrested by immigration.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

(Day 57) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 44

The American from Guam is married to a Filipino who is also being detained in the women's ward. He's allowed to see her once a week. The crazy Korean logic here is that they are trying to deport her to the Philippines and him to Guam, even though his family lives in Pittsburgh.

Not much to do on Saturday. I've finished drawing on all the paper in one sketchbook, maybe I'll start the new book that JO gave me. Not sure what to draw though, maybe a self portrait in the mirror... Other than that, just reading all day. On Monday, I'll be able to get the package L sent, bless her heart.

Friday, 14 September 2012

(Day 56) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 43

Sometimes I feel sorry for the Chinese detainees. Out of the five in my cell, only one speaks Korean, so the rest can't communicate with anyone without the help of that one person. Unfortunately, that one person is the asshole who takes three showers before lunch, takes the remote and changes the channel whenever the mood strikes him and always watches Korean soap operas, which only he understands since he's only one who speaks Korean. He's very reluctant at the best of times to help is fellow countrymen because he actually thinks of himself as a Korean who just happens to have been born in China. It also reinforces my opinion of him of being an inconsiderate, selfish little prick.

We've changed rooms again, since a lot of the detainees have been sent home, including the Egyptian who won't listen. Now, I'm back in the room I started in with the meditating Chinese man. There's also a different Nigerian, 2 Chinese, a Nepalese, a Uzbekistan, a Vietnamese and young American from Guam. It's quite a mix and for once, English is the majority language instead of Chinese. Only the American and myself don't speak Korean so that's still the lingua-franca.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

(Day 55) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 42

Not much happened today. I talk to my mom, M and L on the phone. L sent me some more books and notebooks in the mail. M started her job at  again. Mom started teaching the Outsiders again.

As much of it as I love my sister, I know we will never see eye-to-eye on lifestyle choices. In some ways I envy her family and her life and in other ways, I wouldn't want that in a million years. However, as long as she's happy, it doesn't really matter what I think does it?

Mostly, I just read and napped the day away. I don't really interact with any of the other detainees since they are all gone in a couple days anyway. For one thing, none of the Chinese speak English and I don't speak Chinese, and when I do interact with detainees, they turn out to be mentally unbalanced, like the unchristian Nigerian and Egyptian who won't listen. The Pakistani was moved to a different cell last week and is going home tomorrow. Of the new detainees, I'm wary of those who are overly friendly, rushing over to me in a bid to be my new best friend. I don't give a fuck. I'd rather read and educate myself, write and draw, than play some dumb card game and watch stupid drama/soap operas in a foreign language. I'm not against meeting people and making new friends, but I'm ironically intolerant of intolerant close-minded people.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

(Day 54) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 41

It's now Wednesday. The 2 Mongolians, Indonesian and Uzbekistan are gone. The Egyptian is still here. All that money and demands didn't do him much good.

Last night I had a strange dream that David Beckham saw my painting at N's brothers house in England and wanted to buy/commission a new painting. Victoria Beckham messaged me on Facebook, but I didn't really believe it was her, but they wired be 10,000 dollars so I could pay my fines leave the detention center and fly to LA to discuss what they were looking for. After the, consultation they gave me some studio space to use and I painted 2 paintings for them, as well the set of 3 that could be separate paintings or combined with the two I painted for the Beckhams for a series of 5. Of course, they bought the whole set for $100,000. Even though it was a dream, I woke up with the idea of three new paintings to make up the set. I called Z to check my Facebook messages to make sure it was a dream...

JO actually came to visit me today. That was pretty cool. In fact. it was one of the coolest things someone has done for me in a long time. Not to say I don't really appreciate the books JU and L sent me in the mail. That's also really cool, but to actually visit me in Buttfuck-Nowhere, South Korea is pretty cool. He also brought some more books, which if I read them all, will give me a university-level education in US and world history. He also brought me a very nice new hardcover sketchbook. It's nicer than anything I would buy for myself. I am now in no danger of running out of paper to write or draw on. I was down to writing on toilet paper rolls... almost...

I tried to have a nice conversation with the Egyptian who doesn't listen today. First, he said "David is a Jewish name so you must be a Jew" and then he told me I must be a criminal because I wasn't Muslim (and a Jew). The conversation soon turn into a shouting match (mostly me tell him to go fuck himself). He asked what I thought of Arabs and Muslims. I said I try not to listen to stereotypes and and remain open minded.

During the shouting though, I said I changed my mind and that all Arabs were terrorist suicide bombers and baby killers. As for this Egyptian in particular, he claimed all Muslim women must cover themselves because he couldn't control his sexual urges and that's why I must be a criminal because I saw nothing wrong with a woman "exposing" themselves. As for what I really think about him, he's an ignorant, close-minded fool. He's scared of women and his ideologies belong in the dark ages. I think Muslims fear education for women because if they ever get educated enough there'll be a revolution in the Muslim world and men would soon find themselves at the bottom of the proverbial ladder.

One thing I've noticed, maybe since I'm the only white Westerner here at the detention center, everybody calls me by my real name. Every other person, except maybe the Chinese, because there are so many of them, get called by the country they're from. And they're referred to that name by the guards, their caseworker, the other detainees and the vendors, but everybody here called me David.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

(Day 53) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 40

I finished the book on the history of money... boring when it gets into the math part of it, but the actual historical parts of it were interesting. Now, I'm reading a book about the Korean War. It's (purposely) from an American perspective, which can be annoying since it doesn't include UN forces, but it's also not very flattering about South Korean allies. Some thing's mention so far (only on chapter two):

  • The Japanese system of comfort woman was maintained and utilized by South Korean soldiers during the war. 
  • The North Korean army tried to convert or brainwash POWs, but the South Korean army tortured and killed POWs and suspected collaborators.
  • The rebels of the Japanese occupation (1910-1948) were eventually the leaders and soldiers of North Korea, where as the Japanese collaborators made up the South Korean side

Now, anyone who has spent time with Koreans in Korea can attest to how much Koreans hate the  Japanese for the occupation, and any North Korean sympathies can actually get you jailed, so I find it ironic that the Koreans who actually fought for Korean independence are considered the enemies and Korean traitors are the good guys. There is a very popular drama on TV right now about a vigilante fighting the Japanese occupiers and collaborators, and idea that he's actually a communist would shock a lot of every day Koreans if they actually knew anything about history other than the propaganda fed to them since birth.

In other news, I had a medical check up. I'm 172 centimeters, 72 kilograms and have a blood pressure of 119/63 with a heart rate of 58 ppm, so I guess I'm healthy.

Monday, 10 September 2012

(Day 52) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 39

In a continuing saga of the Egyptian who won't listen, before the day shift started this morning, he demanded the guard buy him a ticket to Egypt. The guard not being a caseworker, ignored him. I tried to explain to him again that Koreans don't respond well to demands that it requires subtle manipulation. He didn't listen. His caseworker finally rolled in around 10 a.m. and told him he could could leave Friday. The Egyptian who won't listen kept saying he had money now and want to pay to go today. The caseworker kept telling him Friday.

After about 20 minutes of this back and forth, the caseworker said "Finished. You go Friday. Stop calling guard." And walked away-- almost the same reaction as myself, except I only lasted about 5 minutes before I walked away. When you're in a cage, you're not really in a position to make demands about your release...

In one of the cells, there is a transgendered person. Technically a man, I suppose, but not really. Poor guy/girl is in the cell by him/herself. On one hand, she/he can watch whatever program he/she wants on TV, doesn't have to wait to shower, etc., but it must be very lonely to be in a cell all by yourself with no one to talk to, and whenever he/she walks by the other cells, the other men to make derogatory comments as she/he passes. It makes me sad to see, both for her/him and the other men.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

(Day 51) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 38

Sunday, not-so funday at ye olde detention center. I talk to Z today. She helped me with email and Facebook correspondence. I desperately need to get out of here, as everyday in here, is the day I lose money out there. A prominent blogger wants me to help him with the design of a new book he is publishing and I could use his help with the book I am now writing. I also have some new contacts with another publishing house looking for some design/editing work. Knowing the work is there is awesome, not being able to do anything about it sucks donkey balls. I got a message from V too. I wonder if I'll ever see her again or A or R? They were a lot of fun and I miss them.

In the continuing saga of the Egyptian who never listens, today he tried to get a change of clothes and couldn't understand why he was refused. He's only been here a few days and they only offer a change of clothes if you been here for over a week. I understand his frustration. The Koreans don't explain the rules and procedures for anything. They just expect you to know all the rules already because all Koreans know all the rules and that is what is expected from you. It's one of those things about Korea that falls under similar heading such as "Korean logic" which makes no sense to anybody but a Korean. The closest I can get to explaining it is take what you assume to be common sense and do the opposite. I know it sounds totally illogical but the theory is actually quite consistent and predictable. It's worked for me. Koreans also hate confrontation of any sort. A valuable piece of advice when it comes to negotiations. If they try to convince you to take the easy route, you know it's working and they will give in before you will. but I digress...

Every time I write about Korea or Korean, I seem to go off on some tirade. I have to stop doing that... so much... Anyway, back to the Egyptian who doesn't listen. I explained the clothing exchange to him when the guards came around with clean clothes. The guards to not offer clean clothes to the Egyptian. I told him he had to wait until next week. He said he'd be leaving this week.

I thought "we'll see about that." I said "then, I guess you won't need new clothes next week."

I knew if I stayed here it was bound to happen sooner or later... the Bangladeshi recognized me from Soul pub... The Uzbekistan is a caricature of a fat Eastern European on a beach in the French Riviera wearing a Speedo. Dark complexion, bushy eyebrows, hairy back and he likes to walk around with in his tighty-whiteys. An image you can never forget no matter how hard you try or how much eye-bleach you use. I'm going to need a week of internet pornography therapy when I get out of here or at least a couple nights with a Russian prostitute-- although she doesn't have be a prostitute, just Russian or European will do.

Sometimes at night, I get the odd with of a smell of what smells suspiciously like shit. I just realized that a) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center is so far out in the middle of nowhere that what I'm smelling is a farm and b)I've lived in a city so long, I've forgotten what manure smells like... Of course, it smells like shit, but it has a far more distinctive smell.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

(Day 50) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 37

As usual, things haven't worked out as planned, but I expected as much and my only plan was to get one of the guards to buy me a new notebook. The Egyptian however, was expecting to be moved or released today. I knew he wouldn't be. It's the same with all the new detainees. They think they have some control over their lives and they don't have shit. There at the complete mercy of their Korean jailers. You can actually see the fight drain out of them when they realize it and the sooner they realize it, the easier it is for them. I'll bet the Egyptian tries to talk to his case worker today, even though he's been told by a couple people that they won't don't work on the weekends.

It is the weekend. That means doing nothing but sleeping and reading. The last three books I've read all seem to have been related-- Machiavelli's Discourses, a history of the founding fathers of the US, and a history of finance. The first is a treatise on what and how republics work, the second is the history of how the largest and longest lasting Republic came into existence and third is how we all paid for it. All three are very insightful and I've learned a lot about finance and politics, both modern and historical. The most interesting part is how the last two books reference Machiavelli and the Bible and since I recently read both books, I actually understand what the references mean. I feel so smart ;)

The Egyptian just had a visitor and came back. He's very quiet and pacing, which tells me things aren't going as planned for him-- as I told him. I love it when I'm right, even when it's at the expense and misery of someone else.

Friday, 7 September 2012

(Day 49) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 36

I'm pretty excited about yesterday's developments. Now, I just have to deal with one court date and the results of that, and I'm out here. In the meantime, it seems they are expecting an influx of new detainees today. The meditating Chinese, Vietnamese and the Pakistani have been moved to a different cell block. I'm now the most senior detainee in my cell. Unfortunately, I got stuck with all the detainees I despise the most-- the injustice of it all. The Horker and the compulsive shower taker... it's not fair.

There is also the horker's boat captain, another Chinese, an Indonesian, and as of last night, an Egyptian, a Bangladeshi and yet another Chinese, for a grand total of 9 detainees in this cell now, and at least three more, maybe as many as nine more (the cell holds a total of 18 people), expected by tonight. it will be awfully crowded. It's a good thing I have my area staked out.

Other than that, I'm quickly running out of paper to write on. I've done my best to get replacement notebooks, but I'm not sure I'll get them in time and when I do, I may find I have more than I need because I pursued multiple sources to ensure success. I may have to cut back on the drawing so that I'm sure to have enough paper to keep writing daily until I get a new notebook. This would be so much easier if I was allowed to write on my laptop instead of by hand on paper. At this point, I've written 90 pages by hand. It's practically a small novel.

Speaking of novels, I now have plenty to keep me entertained if I don't feel like writing or drawing. my current reading list is up to 25 titles that I've read or I am about to read, with more on the way. I haven't read this much at one time since school and even then, not as many.
Our population has increased by 3, a Uzbekistan  and 2 Mongolians. the Egyptian seems to think he can buy its way out by tomorrow even after his case worker has told him it will cost in 1.9 million won and he won't be able to leave until Thursday. I tried to explain it to him that it doesn't matter what he wants, it's what the Koreans want that determines his fate, but all he does is talk over me and refuses to listen. The caseworker was also trying to explain and he wouldn't listen to him either. Thick-headed fool.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

(Day 48) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 35

Somehow this morning, the remote for the TV got mixed up-- they take them away every night and return them every morning. The one we got didn't work very well. The Nigerian got a different one, but the guard came back when the Nigerian was off doing something else, and changed it again, and again it didn't work. The Nigerian started yelling at me and blaming me for changing the remote with the guard even though I had nothing to do with it. I wasn't taking any of that shit from him and yelled right back. The end result was the guards came, the Nigerian was moved to different cell and everybody clapped upon his exit. He argued with everybody about everything and always blamed the person he was arguing with as the instigator. As a Christian, he should be familiar with Matthew... He should take a good hard look at Matthew 7, especially Matthew 7:5. With the Nigerian gone, that makes me the senior detainee in the cell, next to the meditating Chinese-Korean.

Since all the detainees in my section were moved to an entirely new cell block, our exercise area has also changed. So, I was able to sit in the sun, on some grass, for the first time in seven weeks and actually, it was really the first time this year. It was a nice 30 minutes.

I got two letters from the prosecutor's office today. They have decided to drop my 2 assault cases, which is really awesome because that means I have one case left for obstruction of justice. If I can convince the judge its all just a big mistake and I can get my sentence significantly reduced, I may not have to spend any time in jail other than the 14 days I have to serve from a previous offense. That means I could be out of here as early as next month.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

(Day 47) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 34

I manage to sleep the day away, reading when I was awake. JO was supposed to visit, I knew he wouldn't make it. No news about court date or anything. Sometimes, I think I'll never leave this place. At least in jail (unless you have a life sentence), you know what day you're getting out. Here, you're in limbo indefinitely. No one knows when you might leave until the day before. It really sucks.

My fellow detainees continue to piss me off, especially the horker. Its so disgusting and unnecessary. For all the talk about respect, I've come to the opinion that generally, Chinese and Koreans are the most selfish and inconsiderate people I've ever met. To people they know or are formally introduced, they're overly polite and considerate to the point of satire, but generally they don't give a shit about the feelings of other people. I suppose that's really true of all people not just Chinese and Koreans. I'm being unfair, but the people that I am incarcerated with seem to take and do whatever they want with it to total disregard of personal property or the significance of objects. I've seen them randomly rip pages out of books to be used for note taking, go into people's personal belongings and steal coffee food or pens because they're too cheap to buy their own (they buy other stuff, why can't they spend 50 cents on a pen!?). Stay awake until 3 am talking and get offended when told to shut up and then sleep all day and get offended because you're being too loud (in the day time). Spent two hours talking on the phone and get impatient when I'm on 20 minutes. When I'm obviously watching a TV show, take the remote and change the channel or complain because the English is too loud and make a huge fuss when I do the exact same thing and change the channel or turn the volume down.

Obviously not every Chinese or Korean person is like this, but far too many are compared to the few that aren't and it only takes a few bad apples to ruin the whole barrel. Just like every person of Middle Eastern descent is not a terrorist (Hi CIA and NSA watch dogs, good to see you again.)
Just as obviously, lots of things can be said about how white people act, but the main difference is I won't be offended. I already know about white people, we get demonized all the time.

The Nigerian and Pakistani do shit to irritate me too, but those irritations are part of their personality, not culture. The Nigerian always criticizes and its cynical. Nothing happens without some snide remark from him, and the Pakistani just has a high pitched laugh, like a girl. One of the Vietnamese was rude and inconsiderate like the Chinese but the other wasn't. Same goes for the two older Chinese-Korean men, one of whom meditates every night and another one with tattoos of Taoist religious symbols, who is actually pretty quiet and keeps to himself. But, except for these rare exceptions, the many Chinese I've seen in the last few weeks have generally been rude and inconsiderate of the other dozen people they have to share a room that we can't leave or go to another room and close the door.

Are you going to get offended and angry at me or point out the faults and try to change the offensive behavior of your fellow countrymen? I feel guilty for sounding racist, but my environment tells me otherwise.

It turns out JO did visit today, but was too late. I got eight more books from him though. I called him right away to thank him. He said he tried to visit again next week.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

(Day 46) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 33

I know I have books but I can't get to them. I have to wait two days because policy says I can only get items from my personal belongings in storage on Monday and Thursday.

On Tuesdays, we're supposed to have an exercise period where we are let outside for 30 minutes, but its raining, so it's unlikely to happen. The next exercise period is Thursday, but if it's raining we'll have to stay in again, which means an entire week locked in a cell with 11 other men.

To pass the time, I'm doing the usual drawing and writing. You're reading the writing. The drawing is the new idea for a painting. I don't know why I didn't think of it before since I've painted the "end of the road" twice. The idea is simply the "beginning of the road." I decided I would frame the drawings and send them to N. If anybody deserves them, it's him.

I manage to get my books from JU by begging the guard to make an exception because I would have to wait through two days of absolute boredom. He said it was a special case and to never ask again. I've  read all the books JU sent, in high school, except two of them. All of them are classics and worth reading again.

Monday, 3 September 2012

(Day 45) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 32

I talked to my mom today, but really, I just complained about my 12 roommates. I got the obligatory "That's too bad!" It made me laugh.

Since reading the Bible, I found myself questioning my thoughts and actions and thinking, "that's very unchristian of me..." And it suddenly occurred to me, what the fuck do I care? I'm not Christian. Having morals is one thing but it seems inane to care about a specific set of morals out of fear of committing sins against some entity I don't believe in... Not that I'm going to go out and start leading a hedonistic lifestyle full of debauchery. Besides, I can just do what every Christian does-- find a hypocritical passage that supports whatever affront I decide to commit.

I finally got JU's package but I won't actually be able to get my hands on it until Thursday when our cell block is allowed to access our personal belongings.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

(Day 44) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 31

Maybe I should just change the title of my blog to "things that pissed me off today..."

One of the Chinese guys takes at least three showers a day. He took a shower both before and after lunch. How dirty do you do you get sitting around doing nothing? The same guy has an annoying habit of changing the channel when 8 other people are watching TV, and he always chooses Korean soap operas or game /talk shows, which suck at the best of times. the Korean method of acting is screaming and yelling or balling her eyes out. I was forced to watch a show of amateurs singers singing trot music which is sort of like big band music except the more the singers sound like a dying cat, the more the audience cheers for you. The Nigerian always take the remote and change the channel first thing in the morning to the news and if there is a sporting event on we have to watch it, even if someone else has already chosen a program to watch.

One of the other Chinese guys likes to vocalize his spitting very loudly, even at 3 am. I have often been woken to the sound of him hacking up a lung, and throughout the day, the same sound will assault the ears regularly. I don't understand the need to hork loudly every time you spit and to spit a dozen times a day. I've smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years and I've never felt the need to spit so much and to make such a production out of it that the whole cell block is aware of it.

And speaking of smoking, its been 6 weeks since I had one and its true-- my sense of smell is greatly improved... for the worse. I think I prefer my sense of smell while I was still smoking. Ignorance is bliss. I've become much more aware of other people's body odor and bad breath.

Lunch was the same as the last 6 weeks, so I just didn't bother, but I was so hungry by dinner, I didn't care if it was the same as the last 6 weeks.

If I want to use the phone, I need to stand beside it and wait for the Vietnamese, Indonesian or Chinese guy, who takes three showers a day, to get off it because they are practically on it all day. I wonder how they afford it because all I spend my money on his phone cards. I've spent about $150 in four weeks and I'm not on the phone that often. Oh, well. By this time next week, there will be a whole new group of people to piss me off for different reasons.

If we spoke the same language, I'd ask the horker if he hears anybody else losing a lung, especially at 3 am and I'd ask the shower taker if he got special permission to go home from work in the middle of the day so he could shower.

On a side note, I'd ask the Nigerian if he often swears in another language at home so that those around him can hear him call people a "son of a bitch."

Saturday, 1 September 2012

(Day 43) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 30

Not feeling very good today. It seems everything anybody does today is irritating me. It's hard to feel inspired when in this kind of mood. I have nothing to write about and I can't think of anything to draw. I don't want to talk to anyone and every action or word out of anyone's mouth is like fingernails on a blackboard.
I guess it's not really true about being on inspire to draw-- I did 3 drawing today, but I did them more out of boredom and a desire to waste time than actual inspiration.