Wednesday, 31 October 2012

(Day 103) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 8 D-148

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
50 x 1 50 x 1 40 x 1

Breakfast soy milk & apple
Lunch rice & radish kimchi
kimchi soup
dried seaweed
marinated beef with cabbage and glass noodles
Dinnerrice & kimchi
cucumber kimchi
slimy seaweed in hot water
rice cake & pork

Happy Halloween! This year, I decided to go as a prisoner of the Korean justice system. How do you like my costume? Pretty authentic, eh?

I should be getting the first of my purchases today. That will be the highlight of my day until Tuesday when I get the last of my purchases that way I will order on Friday. That won't be that special. It’s only batteries for my electric razor. Today however, I'll get a new watch, skin lotion and toilet paper! I'll finally know what time it is. I can even make a schedule of my day and then I won't need a watch anymore. The TV will turn on and I'll know its 2 p.m. because my schedule and watch will have told me that. This would have been so much easier, and cheaper, if they just lent me a watch for 24 hours. Although now, when I wake up in the middle of the night, I can see how much longer I have to pretend to sleep until morning roll call...

For some reason, now that I don't smoke or drink, eat a healthy meal at least twice a day and exercise regularly, my skin has become very, very dry, hence the skin lotion. And finally TP ain’t free. I wonder what happens to prisoners with no money who run out. What do they wipe their ass with? Maybe I'm just an idiot and bought the premium brand instead of just asking for the generic stuff. Tomorrow, I'll finally get my daily newspaper delivered, as well as some letter paper and some new notebooks. I've almost used up the ones L sent me in September and I started writing a sci-fi novel.

Tomorrow, I'll write a letter to my mom and Z, but I won't be able to mail them until next Monday, because I can't order envelopes until tomorrow and they won't be delivered to me until then.

I was able to take a shower after the exercise session today. It was awesome. Soap. Hot water. Next week, I'll even have a change of clothes.

I totally neglected my exercise this morning and I had a killer headache starting around 3 this afternoon until late evening.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

(Day 102) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 7 D-149

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
50 x 3 50 x 3 40 x 3

Breakfast bread with bean filling
apple
(not part of the menu)
Lunch kimchi & rice
pickled garlic
fish & tofu in hot water
spicy pork & cabbage
Dinnerrice & kimchi
sesame leaf kimchi
soy bean soup with tofu
sweet & sour deep fried chicken

Nothing much happened today. Woke up, sat around until exercise session, walk around in circles, came back inside, sat around waiting for lunch, ate, sat around waiting for dinner, ate, went to sleep and in between read some wrote, some drew some. I expect 148 more days just like this.

Monday, 29 October 2012

(Day 101) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 6 D-150

sit-upspush-upschairlifts
50 x 450 x 440 x 5

Breakfastskipped
Lunchrice & kimchi
cucumber kimchi
beef & rice cake soup
rice cake with soy bean sauce
Dinnerrice & kimchi
spicy pork and soy bean paste
shrimp & turnip in hot water

I successfully ordered a watch today. I should get it on Wednesday. There are quite a few items I can order, 99 of them to be exact, plus various medicines, of which I have a list of 420 (I know, the irony a list of 420 drugs to order). I have no idea what drugs are on the list because it is all in Korean. Anyway, the 99 items are divided into groups that can be ordered only on certain days and are delivered two days later. So, items ordered on Monday are delivered Wednesday, items ordered on Tuesday are delivered Thursday, items ordered on Friday get delivered on Tuesday. It takes a bit of planning if you always want to have coffee available, which can only be ordered on Wednesdays and Fridays, to be delivered on Fridays and Tuesdays, respectively.

I only have one serving of coffee right now, which means I won't see another one until Friday when I can order it on Wednesday. I should have ordered it on Friday, but I didn't know then. I had to translate the 2 lists first. Now that I have done that, I've finished my shopping for the whole week, spread out over 5 days. I set myself up so I don't have to buy certain things except occasionally, to keep my cost down, but at the end of 6 months, it's still going to be a significant chunk of change...

They let all the inmates in my cell block out at the same time for our exercise session. Usually, they only let out half of us at a time. Mr. K and I stood at one end of the yard talking. It was kind of cold today. I used the hot water delivered to my cell to warm my feet when I got back inside. Mr. K gave me a bottle coke. He talked a lot about making money and living in different cities all over the world. He even worked for the Korean government at one time, apparently. I asked when he might be released, and he said he should be able to find out when he finds out who the next president is. It sounds like Mr. K is a big deal to other Koreans. To me, he's just a guy with fanciful stories in a place where everyone has a story of fantasy to tell. He does seem to get preferential treatment, though. He's always served first at mealtimes.

Mr K just showed me a book of his life. He really is a big deal. It has pictures of him as a younger man shaking hands with people all over the world in the 70's and 80's. I'm sure if I had access to a computer, his name would pop up all over the internet. Out of respect for his privacy, his personal info shall remain private, but it seems there is more truth to his stories then I usually hear from other inmates.

November is supposed to be “write a novel month” so I am. I started a few days early and wrote five thousand words in the last two days or basically chapter 1. I know nothing about plot structure or storytelling, but I've read enough books I think I have a pretty good idea of how it's supposed to be. And I seen Star Wars more times than I can count. In my head, I think I have enough material for a trilogy. In reality, I probably have enough for one book and I have plenty of time to write it. In a sense the Korean government is paying me to write and draw, so I may as well make the best of it.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

(Day 100) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 5 D-151

sit-upspush-upschairlifts
50 x 450 x 440 x 5

Breakfastmushroom soup
coleslaw
bread & strawberry jam
strawberry milk
Lunchrice & kimchi
slimy seaweed in hot water with beef
rice and fish cake in spicy sauce
pickled garlic
Dinnerrice & radish kimchi
zucchini & onion
mini pork cutlet
kimchi soup with a couple of pieces of pork

Around these parts the term Sunday Funday is a misnomer. This has to be the least fun day of the entire week. The stupid traveling karaoke show will be on TV later guaranteed, and true to form I'll have already seen it two weeks ago. There is no exercise session, which compared to Hwaseong, is almost daily, thankfully. There are no visitors and no newspapers. The only good thing so far, is they did not serve rice and kimchi for breakfast. However, cream of mushroom soup and coleslaw would not be what I considered traditional breakfast foods... it is a good thing I'm in a cell by myself. Between the pickled garlic and kimchi I ate for lunch, it's going to get pretty stinky in here in a few hours. Sunday done day.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

(Day 99) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 4 D-152

sit-upspush-upschairlifts
50 x 450 x 440 x 5

Breakfast(from the smell)
rice & kimchi
some sort of watery soup, I'm sure
& tofu - SKIPPED
Lunchrice & kimchi
another kind of kimchi
thick noodles in hot water
2 hard boiled eggs
Dinnerrice & kimchi
pepper & garlic kimchi
something fried
spicy vegetable soup with beef

It's the weekend at ye olde prison. Current population of my cell-- 1 Canadian. Waking up and mornings are always the most emotionally draining part of my day, because my first thought isn't “What a glorious day!” but “Shit, still in prison.” The “one more day closer to freedom” thought doesn't happen until I go to bed.
I've got one more chapter left in my life book that JO gave me and then I'm screwed for reading material into until my newspaper delivery begins on November 1st, which is still a week away. JA, JO, and JU all know where I am, so maybe they'll visit me very soon with some new books. Until then, I figured I could fill my time drawing portraits of famous people from my textbook. It's good practice and good advertising if I find myself with no money on a street corner. Just whip out the portraits and start drawing people on the street. I'll never get rich, but I won't starve and it usually provides some booze and shelter too.

It figures. I finally get a pencil (mechanical) and I run out of pencil lead. I had refills, but it got confiscated in the fight to bring my sketch, note and textbooks with me. I argued successfully for the pencil, but neglected the refills. I can buy more next week, but I'm pretty sure the sizes are incompatible. Mine is 0.5 mm and I think they sell 0.7 mm, so I have to buy a new pencil too. I have a 0.7 size pencil, but I brought 0.5 mm size specifically because I had refills-- which I now don't have... thinking ahead, but still screwing it up. Score! The inmate worker had pencil refills and they are the right size! Maybe my luck isn't all bad after all. Only a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

And a small defeat... a movie started playing on TV and then suddenly nothing... There was an announcement sometime later and the TV came back on, but the former English language movie has been replaced with a concert special of old people singing old Korean songs. What a total fucking drag. I can't even change the channel. There are only two channels and they’re playing the exact same thing. This country has the absolute worst taste in music. Most of it sounds like stuff my grandparents may have listen to. To be kind, it sounds like bad lounge music by Celine Dion, but worse.

Friday, 26 October 2012

(Day 98) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 3 D-153

sit-upspush-upschairlifts
50 x 350 x 4 40 x 5

Breakfastyogurt 
Lunchrice & radish kimchi
soybean & kimchi soup
sweet potato bread
quail eggs & mushrooms 
Dinnerrice & kimchi
bean sprouts in hot water
spicy chicken & potato
banana 

There is no way I can eat what they serve for breakfast here. The smell, the texture, everything about it just makes me nauseous. Thankfully, they also gave me some strawberry yogurt, which I eagerly consumed. Of course, as soon as I refuse to eat the food, a guard came to stare at me through the plexi-glass window in my cell door, like I'm the crazy one for refusing to eat that garbage. I feel like an exotic animal in a zoo or a fish in a bowl, where the kids are tapping on the glass, trying to get a response out of me. I just ignored the guard as I wrote this in my book. He eventually went away.

In a lot of ways, all this extra time in jail is my own fault. I accept that. I was drinking a lot and angry, because of the divorce, and getting into fights at the slightest provocation. I eventually clued in and stop getting into fights, though still drinking a lot, but by then, it was too late-- the damage has been done. When the judge saw the charge of assaulting a police officer and further charges of assault later, it didn't matter if I went to rehab, become a God-fearing Christian, devoted to charity work and taking a vow of poverty, I had been a bad boy and I deserved to be spanked. It didn't matter how many excuses I made. Although, I think that not including my previous time in immigration custody was being totally unfair. But here I am. The sooner I accept that fact and deal with it, the better off I'll be-- at least mentally. As I fall into a schedule, I'm sure the days will fly by-- more so if I can fill the days with factory work. They make all sorts of things here, like all the clothes I'm wearing and my electric razor. Maybe I can work in the kitchen. Mr. K, my next cell neighbour, helped me translate the list of available items for sale. Now, I just have to figure out what day I can purchase or order the available items. Mr. K apparently owns a big company with offices in places like Singapore. He's here because he didn't give some product to a customer. because they ripped him off for a lot of money. As I understand it. His client owed a bunch (and buy a bunch, I mean a couple million dollars) of money to him, so he refused to provide a product. Because he didn't give the product, he was considered in the wrong and jailed. It all sounds very confusing and doesn't make any sense to me. In jail, everybody is innocent so there is always a story behind the story.

Compared to the dreck served at Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center, the food here is practically gourmet. It's still only kimchi and rice, but different types of kimchi, more variety in the side dishes and actual meat in the watery soup. If they replaced the breakfast with something that didn't make me want to throw up from the smell, it wouldn't be half bad.

I just met with the guard from last time and arranged for a paper and wristwatch, so when I get them, I'll be able to tell what time it is and have something to read every day. I made sure to get a newspaper Mr. K isn't getting, so we could trade papers and have twice as much to read to make the time pass quicker.

I decided not to appeal the 2 assault charges I'd thought I had been dismissed. By the time I would have been given a court date in 3 months, I will have completed by sentence, but if I appeal, I'll be sent back to Hwaseong to wait. And all I've if I'm found guilty anyways, as I just was, the wait will have been a complete waste of time. As it stands, I have 90 days plus 66 days left so 156: minus the three days I’ve just done, so only one hundred and fifty three days to go... I'll be done April 1st which will be the 9th Anniversary, to the exact day, that I arrive in Korea. Fate is cruel.

As for working in a factory or kitchen, that option is only available for people with prison sentences of two years or more, not minor offenses like mine. One of the inmate workers brought me some smoked chicken and Mr. K gave me some milk. I've drank so much soy milk in the last 3 months real milk taste weird. The chicken was awesome even though it was processed. I'm going to have to exercise more from all this food I've been eating the last few days. At least I'm not going to starve even if I skip breakfast.

I've mentioned before about the lack of TV channels here. To make things worse, its K-dramas K-pop showcases, karaoke shows and celebrity game shows-- all shows I hate with a passion. To make things even more worse (and there is a stand-up joke in here somewhere), the K-drama shows are all a month or so behind the actual schedule playing to the public. What this means is the shows I was forced to watch a month ago at the detention center by the Chinese, and watch the rerun again a week later, I am now watching again! For the third fucking time. I just can't catch a break lately.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

(Day 97) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 2 D-154

sit-upspush-upschairlifts
100 x 250 x 440 x 5

Breakfastrice & kimchi
dry seaweed
soybean soup with cucumber & tofu 
Lunchrice & kimchi
kimchi soup with beef
glass noodles with veggies & corn salad
Dinnerkimchi seafood stew & rice
yellow radish
kimchi mandu with soy sauce

And back to rice and kimchi 3 times a day for the next 154 days. I don't know what's worse doing nothing for 154 days or eating rice and kimchi 3 times a day, for 154 days. It all sucks really. I'd forgotten how often roll call is here. Immediately in the morning, then again at 8:15 am. I'm not sure why they even have it. There are cameras in all the cells and we spent 23 hours of the day in the cell. There is no possible way out without tools of some sort, so we're not going anywhere and we have no privacy when you're being watched by CCTV the rest of the time. These cells are sealed up so tight, I saw one insect the last time I was here. His name was George. He left me through the drain.

I met a guy during the one hour exercise today who spoke English, but then I had to go to my “education” session. Here, they tell me the rules and procedures, but it's all in Korean. The guard asked if I understood, I said "no" and he shrugged his shoulders and kept going with his little speech.

Then they took us to get all get a medical check-up. They gave me a bunch of papers to sign, again all in Korean. I think some of it was about my medical history. Then, I saw a doctor and he shrugged me off as well. It's a good thing I'm very healthy or I'd be dying in my cell tonight like the Mongolian and Chinese dude at Hwaseong. I guess I won't be getting any pain relievers for muscle relaxants for my back this time.

When I got back to my cell, I noticed all the other inmates had mattresses, so I asked for one, too. I was told I had to buy one, but no one knew how much, or when I could do so. So, I asked for more blankets instead. The guard babbled something at me in Korean and for the 3rd time today, I told him I didn't understand. He, too shrugged and walked away. The inmate worker came back later and said he would bring me a couple of blankets on the down-low later.

Back to the inmate I met during the exercise period... he is an older dude. He told me when he first got here, he had a hard time, but now he's gotten used to it. However, he's spent so much time overseas, he can't stand the food either, so we spend some time complaining about the rice and kimchi 3 times a day, together.

The “education” session was a waste of time. I would've rathered continue my exercise period especially since it only happens for an hour, once a day. Someone had put a couple of roses in a coke bottle outside. I drew a picture of it with a pencil. I didn't get to finish it though, so I'll do that tomorrow.

The food may be rice and kimchi every day, but at least the quality is better. There is some actual meat in the dishes and, because there are no Muslims to worry about, it ain't chicken.

It turns out I can use my mini table to do the chair-lift exercise.

After lunch, there was a special concert. I've mentioned the TV show that is a traveling karaoke contest before... Well, it’s even worse live. It wasn't the actual TV show, but same format. The first hour was a bunch of inmates singing old songs. The winners, instead of $100, won a whole box of cup ramyeon (instant noodles). The first place winner won 3 boxes. After that, the next two hours were older women and men caterwauling away. If you are at all familiar with Asian traditional music, you'll understand the torture. It really does sound like dying cat. Beyond the concert from hell, I was in an auditorium with approximately 600 inmates (20 rows of 7 benches holding for people each = 560, plus quite a few individuals chairs) and I was the only foreigner. Everybody else was Korean. Not one person was even remotely Pakistani, Uzbekistan or any other race that I could tell. I saw the guard who was so helpful the last time I was here, is going to come visit me tomorrow. I also saw the two inmate workers from 3 months ago and the guy who helped me way back in March. The guy sitting behind me happened to have lived in Orange County, California USA for 8 years, so we talked through most of the concert. He was a pretty young kid. He told me I might be able to work in a factory job to get my time reduced. So, even though the concert was shit, getting out of my cell and seeing some familiar faces was okay. It's actually been a pretty busy day. And now that I have some pencils and an eraser, I can work on that DNA drawing that took me all day to come up with nothing the last time.

The trend has been broken! No actual kimchi was served at dinner-- just kimchi based food like stew and mandu...

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

(Day 96) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 83, C-0 Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 1 D-155

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
50 x 3 50 x 3 0 (no chair)

Breakfast skipped
Lunch missed - was in court
Dinnerrice & kimchi
cucumber kimchi
slimy seaweed in hot water

Well this is it. The day of reckoning. I really hope things go well but I try not to get my hopes too high because I'm usually just disappointed if I do. It sure would be nice to avoid jail and to be able to leave the country. And all you newbies? Playing with/groping yourself under your blanket isn't fooling anyone. Save it for the shower, the toilet or at night when everyone is asleep, and even then, you'd be surprised how many people are still awake.

I never thought I'd say this but I actually miss the two hard boiled eggs soy milk and caramel flavoured bread this morning. Today's breakfast actually made me nauseous when I saw and smelled it.

Well, that was a fucking complete waste of time. The judge threw the proverbial book at me. And the two cases I thought were dismissed, were not dismissed all. My appeal was dismissed. I'm still guilty for both offences. What this all means is I have to fulfill four sentences, for a total of 160 days... It's October 24th now, so I should be free to leave this country sometime in April of 2013.

Now, I'm back at Mokdong immigration, locked in a room full of Chinese again, and wouldn't you know it-- there's a fucking Korean drama on TV. I really, really dislike this country.

And we're back... I guess we're at Day 0  or 1 again at Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility. I'm feeling pretty depressed about this whole deal. I spent three men looking forward to this day on the chance that I might get out only to find myself worse off than before. Now I have 179 days until I leave. The only good thing is I've already served 19 days, so I actually only have 155 days left.

I was told to stay positive. I can get a newspaper everyday now. I have a pencil and eraser... I can't think of anything else... I'm in Seoul again so maybe I'll have more visitors...

Of course, as I was being processed I had to fight for my notebook, sketchbook, textbooks, newspaper, pens and pencils. I even had to fight for my electric shaver and instant coffee-- all of those things I just listed, as being items I previously acquired the last time I was here, so they are things I know they have for sale from a list posted in my cell. Somehow in the confusion, they still manage to take away my phone card, so I can't make any phone calls-- even if they allowed me to. I guess I'll have to try to get it back tomorrow.

I'll have to wait until Monday to order a watch and wait until Wednesday to actually get it, so until then I have no idea what time it is and I'll constantly be scolded for my ignorance until then. My best guess is I'll be here until April 3rd or 4th.

My exercises will have to be limited to sit-ups and push-ups. Now that I'm back in a 2 m x 1 m cell, there is no chair or comparable object, or even enough room to do the chair-lifts I was doing before. It's too bad really, my triceps were getting huge, along with my forearms. I suppose I'll have to settle for rock-hard abs, a big chest and shoulders.

Back to watching only two channels-- KBS1 and KBS2 at limited times of the day. For now, it will have to suffice as my clock. There's a documentary about whales on TV right now and it was originally filmed in English but they've dubbed it into Korean. If you listen closely, really closely, you can still barely hear the English dubbing. I don't even know why I have the sound turned on...

One last thought... I'm reminded of the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks, where his character describes trying to commit suicide because it was the only thing he could control. He goes through all the trouble of making 30 feet of rope and hauling a piece of wood large enough to test the strength of the tree limb he plans to hang himself from. He throws the wood tied to the rope off the cliff and the tree branch snaps, showing him that he didn't even have control over his own death. The next day, the outhouse door washes up on the beach with the incoming tide and he use it as a sail to escape the island. While constructing the raft, he needs another 30 feet of rope and he has to go back to the cliff to get it from the place he hasn't been since the suicide attempt. He tells this story to a friend after his rescue and at the end, he says that when he found the outhouse door, it was a sign that he had to stay alive, because you never know what the tide might bring in. That's how I feel about my whole day. It was a really shitty day and I'm pretty depressed about it, but 155 days from now I'll be free to go and that's a lot better than being stuck on an unknown island in the South Pacific.

PS. I got a souvenir from the immigration detention center-- a shirt with "foreigner detainee" written in Korean on the back. I'll never be able to wear it in Korea, but hopefully when I'm done, I'll never be coming here again.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

(Day 95) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 82 C-1

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
4 x 50 4 x 50 5 x 40

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
soy orange drink
bread with cream filling
Lunch rice & kimchi
chicken & potatoes
bean sprouts in hot water
Dinnerrice & radish kimchi
black beans & fish
potato in hot water

24 hours to go... the longest day ever.

It just got a whole lot more interesting around 3:00. An announcement was made to put away our bedding for the exercise period. As we were waiting to go out, I was told to gather all my stuff. I was going to Seoul. I quickly wrote a note for Rwanda and gave him JO's number and all the books. I hope JO gets them all back in November. Then I got processed out, all my luggage and money and driven to the Seoul Immigration Center I started at 82 days ago, and where I now sit, writing this.

Tomorrow my fate is decided and I either leave the country or go back to jail until they let me leave the country.

A huge group of labourers just arrived. It looks like they grabbed them right off the construction site. They're all wearing safety gear like a road crew might wear.

I was able to read an English newspaper today. You know have no idea how exciting that is for an information junkie like me.

 I have no idea of the nationality of everybody but 3 of the 8 new roommates there from Peru. Typical story-- working at a factory, owner probably turned them in, now won't pay them. They should be on their way to Hwaseong tomorrow. The other 5 inmates are all Asian. A couple of them look Mongolian, but its hard to tell exactly... So many look sort of Mongolian.

The Mokdong branch is a lot dirtier than any of the other facilities I've been in thus far. There are also mosquitoes. I've been in a closed environment for so long, I missed the whole mosquito season, but I've been bitten at least half a dozen times in as many hours. I guess they really don't care about the cleanliness too much. Most of the visitors are only here for a couple days at most, before they are moved to the Hwaseong facility for long term care or the airport for deportation. At Hwaseong, as documented previously, the detainees take care of cleaning up, for better or for worse. The one thing this place has going for it is more TV channels, although after 3 months, I've gotten pretty good at entertaining myself due to a lack of TV options.

Since this is now my third time here, I was bagged and tagged pretty quickly. They didn't take my photo or fingerprints, like the other two times. I was able to grab a few books from my bags and they just released me into the wild. I didn't even have to tell them my name or country of origin, they already knew.

When dinner was served, the dude who serves every meal greeted me by name and shook my hand. Dinner was slightly different today due to a different location, but essentially the same as the last 202 meals. I hope this is the last time I come here and everything goes well tomorrow.

Going to sleep tonight will be difficult. One of the new residents here just got upset because another one is snoring. He went off in a huff about 10 feet further away. The snoring got worse. This dude is in for a rude surprise when he gets transferred to Hwaseong and gets to spend an indefinite amount of time with 12 to 17 other snoring men in a room about the same size with nowhere else to go. I remember my first time here, so I know how he feels, but I have to laugh now because I know what he's in for. This is only the beginning of the whole deportation process.

Monday, 22 October 2012

(Day 94) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 81 C-2

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
100 x 2 50 x 4 0

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
soy milk
caramel flavoured bread
Lunch rice & kimchi
cucumber kimchi
fish cake and vegetables in hot water
Dinnerrice & kimchi
something deep fried (potato?)
kimchi in hot water with tuna

Monday. The beginning of a new week possibly my last week here (I can only hope...).

The Egyptian injured himself running away from immigration police. He's hobbling around on crutches. Everybody pities him. Except me. He shouldn't have run. When the cops are chasing you they know who you are and they will catch you eventually. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

That might sound funny coming from me, but I voluntarily turned myself over to the authorities and have been patiently waiting for my day in court. I probably could have been released from here long ago, but then I would have to pay for rent and food while I waited for this day. So far, it cost me a couple hundred dollars instead of more than a few thousand.

Anyway, back to the injured Egyptian. He doesn't speak any language but Arabic. I sympathize with him, but pity or feel sorry for him? Still no. And the reason why, is this guy is one ungrateful, little prick. Because of his injury, his mobility is limited. Other detainees have fetched his medication for him, folded and unfolded his bedding for him twice a day at roll call and not once, in any language, has he said "thank you" or even indicated that he was thankful. He acts like it's due to him and we are his servants. I have no pity, because the very least he could do is fold his blankets. His arms aren't broken, it's a sprained ankle, but he doesn't even do that. He just gets up and walks away, expecting his mother to come and clean up after him.

I know how to say "thank you" in at least 6 or more languages. I may not know much, but I know "beer" and "thank you." Showing appreciation for something when someone helps you is not that difficult. Sometimes I am also guilty of showing my lack of appreciation, but not every single time.

So anyway, I've been a real asshole and even though he's sleeping right next to me, I haven't helped him at all... There are better people than me here to cater to him.

I was taking a nap at lunch time. Everybody was sitting at the table in eager anticipation and called to me. I was startled and quickly jumped up to everybody's great amusement. Since lunch hadn't actually been served yet, I just grimaced, pulled the covers over my head and went back to sleep. When lunch finally did arrive it, it hardly seemed worth getting up at all. It took less than a minute to eat/drink, since I avoided the rice all together. This marks the 200th serving of rice and kimchi. And the 201st serving was kind enough to include kimchi in hot water with tuna...

Nothing much happened between servings. I slept. I drew. I read. That's about it. Just killing time for two more days, then killing time until they let me leave this stupid country, I hope.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

(Day 93) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 80 C-3

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
100, 200 75 x 2 5 x 40

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
soy milk
bread
Lunch kimchi & rice
cucumber kimchi with lettuce
egg & tofu in hot water with kimchi
Dinnerkimchi & rice
radish
mushroom gruel

In an effort to push myself, I actually set myself back. Instead of sticking to a set number of sets and repetitions I've been pushing myself to do as many as I can until it hurts. Now, I find myself in so much pain I can't even do one. On the plus side, it seems to be an aggravation of an old injury which means it was easy to make it happen this time and less likely to happen next time, because I'm strengthening it, but right now-- damn hurts like a mofo. Compounded with the usual aches and pains in my neck and back and I feel my full 40 years this morning.

It's hard to believe in 72 hours I'll be going to court finally and finding out my face. I pray its good.

I found a box top of some chocolate bars with "the Avengers" on it and drew a picture using pointillism. Considering I have no pencil to pre-sketch (it's a lot like tattooing, I imagine), it turned out pretty fucking good. Of course, I'm just copying something so it's not the same as making it up which allows for mistakes, but still...

 pain medication kicked in-- works fine...

Who the fuck comes up with these menus? Korean food has to be one of the most unimaginative foods I've ever eaten. Not only have I had to deal with kimchi and rice at every single meal, except breakfast, for the last 80 days (that's 160 meals here, 199 total meals served), but some days even the side dish and the soup is kimchi, like today's lunch for example. For the last few days we've been served cucumber kimchi often. Today, to spice things up, they added lettuce to it and called it a salad. To make things worse, instead of the usual egg and tofu in hot water soup, they added kimchi to that too! Un-fucking-believable. Unless you've experienced it yourself, you have no idea how crazy this is. It's like having pizza, a salad with pepperoni and cheese and soup, also with pepperoni and cheese in hot water, at every single meal for three months. Just the food alone is enough for one to contemplate suicide. Dinner was even worse, but at least they tried to keep us from hanging ourselves by serving us a yogourt drink as a treat.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

(Day 92) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 79 C-4

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
100 x 2 75 5 x 40

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
soy milk
bread
Lunch kimchi & rice
cucumber kimchi
soy sauce with vegetables
Dinnerrice & kimchi
slimy seaweed salad
chicken & vegetable soup

The old Chinese Korean give the newbies shit for taking their sweet-ass time this morning. Granted they're new, no one tells you the rules and most of them don't speak Korean, so they wouldn't understand even if someone did tell them, but wouldn't the "lead by example" rule apply when everybody sitting in front of the room and you're the only person in the bathroom brushing your teeth? One guy decided to take a shower and then, even I stepped in and told him to stop, put on some clothes and get his ass to a seat in the common area. He has all day to take a shower. It takes 5 minutes for roll call and it doesn't start until everybody is sitting down. After that you can do whatever you want until the next roll call at 9:30 PM.

I kind of like this old guy. At least he's not bitter or angry. He likes to hold court and talk about politics, or at least that's what I think he's talking about. He mentions the names of a lot of countries, that's about all I understand, really.

For lunch today, we were served a dish Koreans consider to be Chinese food, the same way Kung Pow chicken or egg rolls are "Chinese food" in North America. None of the Chinese ate it. I wonder if they even know what it is (soy sauce with noodles and veggies) and look at it like I look at Korean pizza (with corn, potatoes or yams are all 3...) or some servings of spaghetti I've had here (basically ketchup and noodles)? Koreans do not cook foreign food well, and even when it's edible, it's prepared for Korean tastes, which inevitably include rice and kimchi.

Friday, 19 October 2012

(Day 91) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 78 C-5

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
2 x 100 2  70 + 60 5 x 40

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
soy milk
bread with apple filling
Lunch kimchi
fish
slimy seaweed & egg in hot water
Dinnerkimchi
potato salad
seafood & noodle soup

One of the things I miss the most, other than women and food, is news. I watch the news in Korean everyday, but I have no idea what's going-- on some sort of election in the US, fires in California, crops destroyed by rain...  but nothing important-- like who has the latest sex scandal tape--  including footage and screen grabs, of course.

Some things I won't miss-- K-dramas, rice and kimchi, hordes of horking men, sharing a bathroom or sleeping amongst a dozen or more sleeping, kimchi farting, TV remote stealing, room pacing, foreign language swearing, incapable of speaking with any volume control, rude, inconsiderate, selfish men. I expect to encounter people like this all my life-- just not all at the same time, in the same place, ever again.

The TV remote Nazi and the Pakistani went home this morning. Another Chinese was more than happy to take over the channel flipping duties. He's watching men fish, which is not much better than K-dramas, but it's better than watching girls cry and men yell.

Another type a TV show that really bothers me are the shows asking for charity for the third world. They always say that one percent of the income of people in first world countries would be enough to save the third world. Why not ask the one percent of the population that have all the money like Apple or Chevron? Why are you begging for money from the middle class who can barely maintain their middle class status as it is?

It's Friday at ye olde detention center, so our current cell population going into the weekend is 16 men, as follows: 1 Canadian, 2 Thais, 2 Vietnamese, 1 Egyptian, 1 Uzbekistan, 1 Kyrgyzstan, and 8 Chinese. The Chinese in this room aren't as bad as the others I've encountered. Other than the TV remote Nazi who is now gone, these are pretty decent bunch. There are the usual complainers, but they're not bitter and angry all the time like the ones who walk or yell or shower 3 times a day. The older Chinese-Koreans that are usually assholes, are actually kind of mellow and the fisherman seem resigned to their fate-- just sleeping or playing cards until they are sent home.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

(Day 90) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 77 C-6

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
2 x 100 2 x 80 3 x 30

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
soy milk
bread with peanut butter/almond filling
Lunch kimchi
hard boiled egg in soy sauce
veggie and tofu soup
Dinnerkimchi
corn & cabbage salad
tuna and veggie soup

It turns out one of the Chinese had an epileptic fit last night and eventually went to the hospital. Whether or not he's still alive? I don't know...

The room supervisor just came by and said something in Korean, but no one understood because no one knows Korean in my cell. He asked if anybody wanted to go and study Korean... If we knew what he said in Korean, why would we need to study? It's the same as the guard in jail asking me if I spoke Korean and when I said no, went on to explain jail procedures to me in Korean. It makes no logical sense and it would explain why after 10 weeks here, this is the first I've heard of language study.

There should be a weekly schedule of all the various activities in various languages posted in each of the cells so people can use and take advantage of them. The problem with that, is the times and days seem to change constantly. The exercise period was on Monday this week, instead of the usual Tuesday and it seems different cell blocks do different activities on different days or alternating weeks. It doesn't make any sense and is hard to follow.

I got a letter today stating that I will have a lawyer to represent me in 6 days. My chances towards freedom just increased. I only hope they work out and in my favour and this time next week, I'm either at an airport on a plane or in Thailand or only days away from any one of those scenarios.

Current cell population: 1 Thai, 1 Vietnamese, 1 Uzbekistan, 1 Pakistani, 1 Egyptian, 1 Canadian and 8 Chinese. I'm the only one who speaks English. The Uzbekistan, Pakistani and Egyptian who just arrived today understand a little, all to varying degrees and none of it that good. The Uzbekistan, Pakistani and 3 of the Chinese speak Korean. The other five Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai only speak and understand their respective native languages, like me. Whenever any Korean is the Vietnamese, the Thai, the Egyptian and I have no idea what is being said. and the Egyptian and I can find out only through broken English and charades. Usually, after its too late to matter anymore.

Dietary restrictions based on religion are crazy. The way I see it, if God or Allah or whatever you want to call it, had meant for us not to eat it, it would have been poisonous as so many things are. The only justification I can see is a moral or ecological one based on killing of animals as either being cruel or by doing so it will kill the environment and ultimately you will also die as a result.

I took the packaging for my toothbrush and some stickers from the lids of the orange juice containers and I made a pen holder on the side of the payphone like I'd seen in the previous cell. Then I took one of my old pens that hadn't quite died yet and put it in the holder. Almost immediately someone took the pen and cleaned it for their own personal use. I found the offending person with the pen stashed behind his ear (I could tell it was mine because I chew on the lid when it starts to fade so I can keep track of which pens are newer-- I've gone through a lot of pens drawing over 60 pictures) snatched the pen from behind ear and put it back in the holder. Later, he asked if it was alright to take the pen so he could write a letter. I said "No. Go buy a pen. They're 50 cents. You buy coffee, cookies, and choco pies... Buy a goddamn pen, you cheap bastard."

This is why I'm so selfish most of the time to strangers. If I do something nice, I don't expect a reward or acknowledgement, but inevitably some asshole has to take advantage of it. Which leaves me to wondering, what's the point of doing anything nice? It's just going to get ruined almost immediately and any benefit others may have gotten from it is lost. It takes more effort to do the nice act than anybody receives. But then the optimist in me keeps hoping I'm wrong and I do it anyway or I'm a jerk to the offender who usually runs away complaining what a jerk I am, over-shadowing the nice thing I just did, and it last a little longer than "almost immediately."

I've been reading a lot of books about religions lately and it turns out I've been a Buddhist all along I just didn't know it... how Zen is that?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

(Day 89) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 76 C-7

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
2 x 100 2 x 80 5 x 30

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
soy milk
bread with sweet potato filling
Lunch kimchi
glass noodles & vegetables
soy bean stew
Dinnerkimchi
pasta salad (with apple and raisins)
soy bean, leek & chicken soup

One more week to go! I pray court goes in my favour and I really am here for only one more week.

I reluctantly got my exercises done this morning as soon as I woke up before breakfast. I skip the chair-lifts the last couple days because I think I pulled something last time. It seriously hurts my shoulder to do even a couple, so I thought I'd give it a rest. Doing only two reps of the others brings my time down to about 15 minutes, even if I rest a bit between sets and doing 80 push ups in about 2 minutes gets the heart rate up (and sore arms). If I could get rid of the last few inches of fat on my belly I'd be a happy man... even though I sound like a woman writing about my diet and exercise...

One thing about the Pakistani not eating chicken is I get two servings, which make up for the rice. I'd rather eat more veggies and protein than carbs.

A little bit of after hours excitement... After the lights went out at 10, I was drawing in the common area using the available light in the hallway. At about 11, I hear a ghostly moan like Marley in a Christmas Carol and shouts of "quick, quick, quick!" followed by the stampede of feet as guards and room supervisors all rushed to one of the cells at the end of our block. It seems one of the Chinese in another cell had suffered a heart attack (someone brought a P.A.D. with them) and died. The details are kind of sketchy right now and the personnel do not give out information easily, so it looks like we'll all have to wait until tomorrow's exercise period to find out all the juicy details. There haven't been any paramedics and no bodies have been wheeled out (like the Mongolian a month or so ago), so maybe no one died...

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

(Day 88) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 75 C-8

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
2 x 100 80 + 2 x 60 0

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
soy milk
bread with bean filling
Lunch kimchi
tofu and chicken in sweet & spicy sauce
bean sprouts in hot water
Dinnerkimchi & 1/2 bowl of rice
seaweed salad?
chicken noodle soup

I tried to draw a Möbius strip into a strand of DNA. I spent hours drawing both over and over to work out the geometry and came to the conclusion that it can't be done because I was trying to turn something cylindrical in shape (DNA) into something flat (Möbius strip). I'm pretty sure I could do if I had some tape, a pencil and an eraser, because then I could construct it out of paper and tape and draw it with the pencil and eraser.

So far, I've made it to mid-afternoon without killing anyone. The 4 who left, have been replaced with 2-- another Filipino and a Pakistani.

Out of all the books I have gotten, I only have 3 left-- one on zen Buddhism and two on US history and government. The book on World civilizations was pretty good, but it turns out it was only volume one, so I have a pretty good background knowledge of everything from prehistoric times until 1750 and then after that I'm dunce. 

This is the second time I've noticed this with Pakistanis-- the profess they are Muslims and won't eat the chicken because its not hafal or blessed, yet they are not devout enough to pray 5 times a day or to abstain from alcohol (they talk about drinking beer and soju all the time). Yet, I've seen Indonesians here who do pray 5 times a day (starting at 5 AM) and gobble that chicken up with no problem... 

I've been working on this DNA idea all day and I got nothing. I need a pencil. There's no way to do this with just a pen. Maybe it would be better suited for a full-on painting. On to the next idea...

Monday, 15 October 2012

(Day 87) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 74 C-9

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
2 x 100 2 x  70 0

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
bread with cream filling
soy milk
Lunch kimchi
cucumber kimchi
fish soup
Dinnerkimchi
bean sprouts
lots of tofu & kimchi in hot water

I feel like shit. Terrible sleep due to the stuffy nose. My back hurts more than usual. Going back to bed.

In regards to my rant on karaoke yesterday, due to a lack of space in Korea, entertainment that takes place in rooms is very popular. Such things as internet gaming, screen golf and karaoke. However, getting drunk with your friends and butchering popular songs, is a lot different than watching old people or children do it on TV, usually old traditional songs.

Explaining carbohydrates, starch and diet in a foreign language is an impossible task. I wish they would just leave me alone. I don't bother them, why do they have to bother me? I've been told half a dozen times now that if I don't want to eat rice, they'll give me bread. I don't want bread either. I don't want to substitute one form of starch for another. I don't want to eat any starch at all. If anything, give me more veggies. I'd rather eat more kimchi than more rice or bread.

The Indonesian left this morning. He was replaced this evening by another Uzbekistan. The Filipino, 1 of the Vietnamese, the Nigerian and Kyrgyzstan are going home tomorrow morning. Good for them, bad for me. They were the only English speakers and other than the Vietnamese and Thai, only non-Chinese. So, as fate would have it, I have to spend the last 8 days as the only white English speaker in a room full of Chinese... Fate is a cruel mistress.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

(Day 86) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 73 C-10

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
2 x 50 2 x 50 40 + 2 x 30

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
bread with strawberry filling
soy milk
Lunch kimchi
slimy seaweed in hot water
fried fish
Dinnerrice & kimchi
fried chicken with sweet & spicy sauce
egg in hot water

I managed to do some of my exercises first thing this morning.

As is inevitable in situations like this, I've gotten sick. I felt it coming on last night. Now I have a perpetual drip coming from my nose and my already sore back (I don't care what anybody claims-- sleeping on a hard floor does not help a sore back, it cause it) is now even more sore. Plus, the usual sore throat, cough and weak feeling... I feel like a million bucks... in debt. Somehow, I collected three doses of meds though, so maybe if I take them all at once (pain, anti-inflammatory and relaxant), I'll start feeling pretty fine.

After I finished exercising and eating breakfast, I slept till lunch, which was crap.

After that, UFC was on TV. While watching (writing) some Chinese dude changes the channel to a travelling "trot" (old Korean pop) show where random people sing old songs in front of a large crowd for $100. The Chinese love it. Its on every Sunday. I know this because I've been forced to to watch it 12 or so Sundays in a row. It's like watching old people sing big band music from the 30's and 40's. Pure, unadulterated torture, but the Koreans and Chinese love this shit.

Anyway, the rest of the foreigners all gasped at the channel change, so I change it back to UFC and noticed there weren't any Chinese even in the common area watching the TV. They were all the sleeping area playing cards!

karaoke is fun to do, but I don't need to watch it on TV. There are more than a couple TV shows in Korea that show exactly that-- common people singing karaoke. Very strange.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

(Day 85) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 72 C-11

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
2 x 100 4 x 50 2 x 40, 4 x 30

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
bread with red bean filling
soy milk
Lunch kimchi
chicken soup
sesame leave salad
Dinnerkimchi
soybean & spinach soup
unknown side dish

So far, no drama, but it's only 9 AM.

I find it really hard to find the motivation to exercise in the morning. I usually do it at night, however I know that once I'm out in the "real world", I'll probably be too occupied at night to exercise, which is why I'm trying to change the habit to mornings.

I've started a little buzz amongst the ajjoshii security guards. I showed one of my sketchbook yesterday I( think you gave me the Paris baguette bread and yogurt drink) and I showed him my other sketchbook today and he in turn showed it to another guard who commented on all the hard work that must have gone into producing it. Any publicity is good publicity.

It's now late afternoon and it's been a pretty uneventful day. The TV remote Nazi watched K-dramas from after breakfast (7:30) until lunch (11:30). Everybody else read or played cards. I drew. After lunch, I took a nap while a couple of people watched the Russian-Portugal soccer match. Now, one person is reading, one is playing cards, another is watching TV, I'm writing and the other 13 are napping. I wonder how they sleep through the night. I'm usually awake until 1 or 2 a.m. drawing or reading and I nap during after lunch, but these people are napping in the afternoon and going to bed at 10 p.m. They must just lay there awake, doing nothing... They used to play cards, but that's been banned and surprisingly most are honouring that ban. In the last room, they just moved the card game into the sleeping room, where the reflection from the darkened glass obscured the view from the outside of the cell. Here, they actually go to bed. Although, I heard the click-clack of checkers being played in another cell last night...

I did all my exercises at once, today. I think I pulled a muscle in my shoulder. It hurts.

Star Trek was on TV. I was able to watch the whole thing without anyone changing the channel.

Friday, 12 October 2012

(Day 84) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 71 C-12

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
2 x 50 2 x 50 40 + 2 x 30

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
soy milk
bread with cream filling
Lunch kimchi
spicy pork
soybean stew with tofu
Dinnerkimchi
spicy squid and fish cake
bean sprouts in hot water

The Chinese certainly don't disappoint. They are just as rude and inconsiderate assholes in this room as they have been in all the other rooms I've been in.

First, one asshole was awake and talking nearly half an hour before the normal waking time. Another asshole started lecturing the Vietnamese about washing up and roll call when it's clear he doesn't understand any Korean and didn't really do anything wrong in the first place. Off to a first class start today...

How exciting! We are actually having pork for lunch. Usually, we only get chicken or fish because all the people (Muslims) who won't eat pork. How sad! The highlight of my day so far, is that the lunch menu has pork on it.

If you ever want to try to escape from Korean prison turn on a Korean drama. Our guard is enthralled with watching the one on TV right now.

Apparently, just before I came to this cell, there was a young Mongolian whose father is a famous Mongolian artist. This kid was pretty good at drawing, too as evident by the various illustrations adorning the walls. He was also limited by materials a pen and whatever paper he could find, in this case the back of a calendar. I would be interested in seeing some of his art because although his drawings are very good, they look like they came out of a how-to-draw manual. The technique and rendering a top-notch but I'm not feeling the soul.

Irony or coincidence? Last night I was talking to JU and I mention my altercations here. He related to me that he wouldn't tell a Korean or Chinese or anybody from any country not to spit on their own floor, in their own house, in their own country, but if they spit on his floor, he'd be pissed and all hell would break loose. Then, this morning, for the first time since I've been here, even after dealing with the horker who hacked up a lung every and all night-- at least had the decency to do it in the bathroom-- the local TV remote Nazi in this room just hacked up one right on the floor in front of him and not one person out of 16 said anything. If I had done that, you could be sure I'd be changing rooms again right now, instead of writing this down in semi shock. He later cleaned it up but still, committing the act in the first place... Disgusting-- and they call us barbarians.

It's only noon and we've already nearly reached capacity for this room. This room is capable of holding 18 people. So far we have 17. One of the Chinese went home this morning. He was replaced with a Vietnamese Thai and Filipino, so now we have 1 Canadian 1 Nigerian, 1 Indonesian, 1 Filipino, 1 Thai, 1 Kyrgyzstan,  2 Vietnamese and 9 Chinese. The Pakistani was moved to a new room. I heard two buses of new detainees arrived so they may have opened a new cell block. If they needed to shift some people around they should take a few the Chinese or even put me in a room with less.

Listen to me!!! This is what living in this country has turned me into-- a total racist pig. I never thought or talk this way when I lived in Vancouver. My roommate and good friend was Chinese and Here I am spewing out the hate against two entire ethnic groups. I feel so ashamed, but I can't seem to help it. Some of these guys are really selfish assholes and it really has been limited to the ethnicity. With the exception of the unchristian Nigerian, everybody else of different ethnicity seem really nice and go out of their way to be considerate. They were all curious about where you are from, how you got here and where you were going. We play games, watch TV without argument, shared snacks and coffee, discussed politics and religion, all done using a mix of languages that none of us know well, but have in common, whether it be English, Korean or even Russian, Thai or Vietnamese. The only thing I've gotten from Chinese is scorn, fights over TV shows, arguments about etiquette, and accusations of rudeness. All of which are the same things I complain about dealing with them-- spitting on floors, loud horking in the middle of the night, the constant K drama or variety talk show-- more often than not, a repeat of a program shown earlier in the week, the scolding in Chinese or Korean about some faux pas I've committed while using the bathrooms, wearing slippers or eating my food... I've probably met well over 50 different Chinese in 3 months and with confidence I can say only two were decent human beings-- the one who meditated every night and the one married to a Korean a girl with two kids that I drew a pictures for.

I don't go into these rooms looking for a fight or confrontation. In fact, I go out of my way to avoid it. I try to keep my interactions to a minimum. I don't speak unless spoken to and I spend the rest of my time reading, writing, drawing, and sleeping.

It seems I have a secret benefactor I got some bread from Paris baguette and a yogurt drink. I think it was from one of the guards who wanted to look at my sketchbook earlier. Now, if only I can get him to bring me a cheeseburger...

The 15 Asians I eat with must think I'm crazy throwing away the rice at every meal. It seems like a waste, but I know they just feed it to the pigs. I can smell them at night.

The local TV remote Nazi just got into a huge shouting match with the Nigerian about watching K-dramas all the time. This is not the first time. Rwanda pointed this guy out to me as the guy he argued with about the same thing. The room supervisors have advised the Nigerian to call him if he has any more trouble with the TV remote Nazi and they'll deal with him to avoid any physical altercations. We don't need to watch K-dramas we got enough of them right here.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

(Day 83) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 70 C-13

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
2 x 50 + 100 2 x 50, 40 + 2 x 30 40 + 2 x 30, 40 + 2 x 30

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
soy milk
bread filled with red bean
Lunch kimchi
some sort of salad with apples
chicken nuggets and fish cake in hot water
Dinnerkimchi & mixed rice
veggie and squid soup


20 days has to be some sort of record this time. I must be a drama magnet. The universe works towards making me the center of conflict, even when I have nothing to do with it in the first place.

Today started like any other. I woke up, put away my bedding, dragged my ass to the common area for roll call, got my electric razor, shaved, brush my teeth, got my bedding back on the floor, got my breakfast, went back to sleep.

The room supervisor called out to see if anybody wanted to see a doctor, I answered. 2 detainees went home. Castaway was on TV, I watched it.

Uzbekistan complained about someone hanging wet clothes to dry on the clothesline without squeezing them out enough, resulting in water all over the floor... He got into a yelling match with Bangladesh, the culprit. The room supervisor came to find out what all the fuss is about. Uzbekistan told him. Filipino piped in with his two cents. I piped in with mine. The Chinese who walks comes out yelling, pointing his finger at me. I have no idea what he's talking about (it was in Korean) and all I do is read, draw, write and occasionally watch TV. I try not to interact with the Chinese as much as possible. Anyway, Chinese who walks was complaining about me doing something. I stood up walked over to him and said "fuck you." About the only English he understands. He grabs me by the throat, trying to choke me. I punch him in the jaw pretty good, but lose my balance and fall when he pushes me away. He now has the advantage of higher ground so I just cover up until the guards come separate us. The room supervisor ask if I want a room change I'm like "hell, yeah! One with no Chinese!" The only downside is I wasn't able to deliver the picture I did for the Sri Lankan so I won't/can't get paid for it. I sent it via guard express post anyway.

The Chinese who walks is also told the pack up his stuff and was moved, whether to solitary or a different room, I don't know.

So now I'm in a new cell block again and there are less Chinese, but only one less than the 10 I just left. There are however, more English speakers with a Kyrgyzstan, Pakistani and Nigerian joining the ranks and I'm in the same cell block as Rwanda so I'll see him at exercise period on Tuesday and Thursday, which is today.

The room supervisors must hate me by now. In two months, I've changed rooms at least 4 times due to conflict. I only have 13 days to go. I should be able to make it in this room, but I say that every time and it's not from lack of trying. I just don't tolerate fools and I don't like being bullied (or choked).

So far, this room is a little more relaxed. Its got the same strange layout as the last cell-- big sleeping area with no raised platform or walkway, except the tables are oriented with the seats facing the TV rather than perpendicular to it.

This is the reason I know it's more relaxed. In the last room, all the slippers in the common area that are removed when entering the sleeping area, were lined up neatly against the wall on either side of the doorway. In this room, they are piled up in front of the doorway. No neat freaks and this room, but there is still the old Chinese man who commandeers the TV remote to watch Korean dramas. I don't think I will be able to get away from the bawling woman and yelling men-- the two forms of acting range in Korea, until I leave the country. And if hallyu is as popular as the Korean media makes it out to be (if I hear Gangnam Style one more time...), I may never get away from it. There is a hell, and its right here on Earth.

Another way I can tell it's a different environment in this cell-- After the exercise period outside, the Chinese who yells didn't yell at me to wash my slippers when I came back inside nor did anyone mop the floors or clean the bathroom. However, there are at least 5 to 6 Chinese-Koreans and therefore 5 to 6 potential assholes. The odds of staying out of trouble here are not good. I think the room supervisors are setting me up to fail on purpose...

I got an application for a free lawyer so I wrote a statement of what happened and what I would like to see happen and filled out the application. Perhaps having a lawyer will increase my chance of getting out of here in 2 weeks.

I ate the rice today. It was mixed with eggs and vegetables. I was hungry. I'm weak.

The Pakistani explained the plight of the Chinese fishermen to me today. I never really thought of it this way but really it should have been obvious. They're out fishing for the day/week/whatever, never expecting to be boarded by the Korean Coast Guard and arrested. When they get here they have no passport and maybe even no ID. All of this has to be checked and verified before they get send home. It could, and does take months. I didn't think about that aspect before. I never take my passport to work, either...

Tomorrow's Friday. Only one more Friday to go until my fate is to be decided in a Korean court. I hope the fates are kind. I've had enough of this bloody country and it's probably had enough of me.

The funniest thing about today's incident is the guard who asked if I wanted to change rooms and videotaped my exit was Mr. Asshole, himself. I think he sort of envies me at this point, because I did what he's probably always wanted to do-- namely, punch one of these self righteous ajjoshiis in the mouth.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

(Day 82) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 69 C-14

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
2 x 50 (am) + 2 x 50 (pm) 2 x 50 (am) + 2 x 50 (pm) 3 x 30 (am) + 2 x 30, + 40 (pm)

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
muffins
orange soy drink
Lunch kimchi
chicken
soy bean stew
Dinnerkimchi
some sort of pasta salad
kimchi stew with pasta

In order to develop it into a habit, I decided to try to do half of my exercises as soon as I'm awake and increase the amount so I'm doing about 200 reps of each per day, in addition to the no rice diet. I figured since I only have 14 days left here, the good stuff I started should continue, or I should at least try to continue, such as no smoking and daily exercise. Maybe I'll live longer than my dad, and his dad, as a result.

We got 2 new detainees, both of them Chinese. That makes a total of 10 Chinese and 6 others of various nationalities. It's getting a little crowded, but I'm just trying to avoid and interaction with just 2 of them-- who aren't really Chinese, but not exactly Korean either.

And this same afternoon, 3 Chinese are on their way home back to China. Easy come, easy go. There are still 7 of them here, 2 being the one who walks and the one who yells. Too bad I can't get rid of them as easy, or better yet, leave myself. No sooner had 3 left, when 2 more arrived.

The room supervisors announced that we are no longer allowed to play cards after the lights go out. In typical Korean fashion, when I asked why, he said it was part of the rules and always had been. They had been ordered by their boss to stop us and they were only following orders and passing it on to us. And of course, right at this minute, as I write this at 11:30 PM, there is a card game going on in the sleeping area, in the dark. Trying to enforce it is an impossible task. They would have to take all the cards away from all the cells. In our cell alone, there are at least 5 decks of cards because it's one of the personal items we can purchase on Tuesdays and Fridays.

During the day, that's all some of the detainees do all day. Most of them can't draw, like to write or have awesome friends to bring them a crap-load of books to read. Taking the cards away might start a riot, which personally, I'd find kind of fun.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

(Day 81) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 68 C-15

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
4 x 50 4 x 50 5 x 30

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
blueberry/custard pastries
soy milk
Lunch kimchi
slice cucumber
chicken soup
Dinnerkimchi
steamed egg
soy bean, tofu, veggies in hot water

Every morning I wake up write down the headings for exercise and meals in this diary. More often than not, it isn't until the end of the day that I make any significant entries. Usually, I find it very difficult to find anything to write about other than complain about my fellow detainees. Even I find that tedious and a bore, which is why I only write about it lately if it really pisses me off. I really don't like the Chinese who walks or the one who yells, their mere existence pisses me off. Watching them drink water annoys me, so it's pointless to constantly write about things that bother me or I would have pages and pages describing what these people do throughout the day. However, if I just start to write, the pages fill themselves.

The Thai left today. Looks like his passport turned up when faced with the prospect of waiting for months for a new one. He didn't speak any English, so we didn't talk much, but it sure would be funny to run into him on a beach in Pattaya, his hometown, apparently. He looked like he indulged in a bit of the wacky. Always good to have a native source for such things.

During the exercise period, a guy was looking at my sketchbook and I made the mistake of telling him how long it took me to do a rough sketch of someone's face (about 5 min), so of course, he wanted me to prove it. I laughed and said for $20, I'll do it. I don't draw for other people for free... so he agreed. I did the sketch and he said he'd pay me during the next exercise period. I said I'd give him the sketch then after I pointilised it (another 30 min). Only 20 more people to go and I'll have covered my costs of being here and made a small profit. Since I have only 14 days left, I'd have to draw more than 2 people a day and then get them to actually pay me.

Monday, 8 October 2012

(Day 80) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 67 C-16

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
2 x 100 4 x 50 5 x 30

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
cream filled bread
soy milk
Lunch kimchi
side dish & soup?
Dinnerkimchi
cabbage with bean paste
spicy chicken soup

If I had stayed in jail I would have been released today. However, I would have had to face two more charges and 14 days from a previous conviction, so maybe 94 more days. I may still have some days in jail coming to me, but I hope not.

I forgot to write down what we had for lunch at the time and now, at the end of the day, I forgot what it was... I'm pretty sure it had rice and kimchi and watery soup but I can't remember the side dish or soup and I didn't eat the rice. Two days without any rice at all and I kind of miss it-- I'm hungry.

I went to the church service today to see Rwanda. He is pretty confident he'll be released into Korea at the end of November. Good for him. I was recently reading about ecological collapse of societies in history and Rwanda was one of the examples, so I asked him about it. He is Tutsi,  the group that was hunted and massacred in 1994, but he was only 4 years old at the time and his family was not in Rwanda, which is how he is alive today. He told me that if I get to Africa, I should go to Rwanda and visit the memorial. The ethnic problems are complicated, but he says they're really kind of stupid, because they are based on physical characteristics, like lighter or darker skin or height or the size of one's nose rather than actual racial differences-- like the difference between me and him, for instance which is also really a matter of the color of our skin, ironically enough.

Since we were talking quietly through the Service, the woman in charge got upset and told me in Korean to be quiet, plus a bunch of other stuff. I told her I don't understand Korean and she launched into this big long speech, in Korean of course, and someone else in the congregation told her to speak English because no one understood Korean. Very few people actually go for the service. Out of all the people at the church service maybe only 20 or 30 percent are actually there for the service, the rest are heathen communist Chinese and Muslims from Pakistan. It's the one activity were every cell block participates together, so really, we are all there to talk to each other. Anyway the woman in charge was actually kind of rude and mean. Not very Christian of her, but I can hardly blame her. I don't like people talking when I'm doing my set. In my defense, I was talking quietly.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

(Day 79) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 66 C-17

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
2 x 100 4 x 50 2 x 30

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
custard filled bread
soy milk
Lunch kimchi
cucumber kimchi
fish cake and veggies in hot water
Dinnerkimchi
fried mandu
spicy chicken soup

In a bid to lose the last inch or two of fat from my belly, I decided to try to stop eating the rice portion of our meals. I don't really like rice much anyway, but I eat it so I won't starve. I figured if I didn't eat it, I might be hungry, but I won't starve if I eat everything else. So, in effect I've come to another first in my life. Quit smoking, drinking, start exercising and go on a diet! Health-wise, going to jail is the best thing that's ever happened to me. However, when I turned into a hardened criminal, it will be the worst thing for society because I'll live longer thanks to them. The fried mandu isn't going to help much with my diet, but it's still better than rice.

Uzbekistan always calls me "teacher" although I've never told him I was ever a teacher. I have told my profession (graphic designer) many times. His English isn't that good, but it's better than my Korean or Russian. He reads a Korean-English version of the Bible. I help him with the pronunciation sometimes.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

(Day 78) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 65 C-18

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

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
bread with peanut flavoured filling
soy milk
Lunch rice & kimchi
steamed egg
egg & fish in hot water
Dinner rice & kimchi
pasta salad
vegetable soup

I saw a news report on Korean TV that totally pissed me off. If it had appeared on Canadian TV, special interest groups would be demanding heads for hanging.

The news report was about the burden of foreign workers on the Korean medical system. These poor migrant workers from third world countries come to Korea to work in factories, to do the jobs Koreans are too good for. The jobs are described as 3D jobs-- dirty, dangerous and difficult. Koreans think these jobs are beneath them with their 90% literacy rate and university education, so Korean businesses are forced to look overseas to fill vacant positions with immigrants whom they diligently screw over, as documented in previous posts.

As a report stated, some of these workers get injured and this forces the medical system and the taxpayer to be burdened with the cause of such things as prosthetics to replace missing limbs which cost tens of thousands of dollars.

I could hardly believe this racist tripe I was watching. In Canada, if the same thing happened, we would be rushing the doors to give money to these poor workers. Here, they're complaining about the burden placed on the Korean people. It makes me so fucking angry. If the Koreans love their fucking country so much, get the fuck out of my country and go do your own goddamn 3D job.

Our  cell seems to have naturally segregated itself. All 8 of the Chinese are in the sleeping area, pacing around, talking loudly, or playing cards. The rest of us are in the common area watching TV, reading or playing cards. I've been doing a lot of writing. The reading is all non-fiction, which tends to make me fall asleep. Its not boring, just kinda dry-- full of facts and figures.

I read one of my stories to my mom. She said it was good, but she's my mom. She saw parallels in style with Hemingway, with the sparseness of words and clipped sentence structure. Way more people need to read it before I feel comfortable with any comparisons to someone like Hemingway. I'm hardly a literary giant. I'm just a hack screwing around because of lack of anything else to do.

I've written so much, the ballpoint pen smuggled into me has run out of ink. Never done that before.

Friday, 5 October 2012

(Day 77) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 64 C-19

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
0 2 x 40, 2 x 30 5 x 30

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
caramel flavoured bread
soy milk
Lunch rice & kimchi'
jelly tofu & sesame leaves in red pepper paste
chicken, potatoes, & carrots in hot water
Dinnerrice & kimchi
shredded radish kimchi
kimchi soup with bean sprouts & fish

Today, I wrote a short (really short) story about having coffee with a girl I saw on the street. It's not a true story. There are some true elements about myself, but I just made the rest of it up. This is the second time I've written anything fictional. I can tell already, that when I type it out on the computer, it will go through some major revisions and additions. What I really need to do is get out of here, so I can turn some some of these creative juices into some income.

Once again it's Friday. Two more Fridays to go before my court date. Going into the weekend we've had no new additions since the Russian kid and one of the Chinese left. So, our cast of characters until Monday are 1 Canadian, 1 Uzbekistan, 1 Filipino, 1 Bangladesh, 1 Vietnamese, 1 Thai and 8 Chinese.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

(Day 76) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 63 C-20

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
50, 2 x 50, 100 2 x 35, 30 40, 2 x 30

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
caramel flavoured bread
soy milk
Lunch rice & kimchi
fish
bean sprouts in hot water
Dinnerrice & kimchi
spicy chicken
soybean and tofu stew

The Russian kid went back to the motherland to his grandparents. I gave him some drawings of superheroes that I didn't jail. They weren't that good, but he was thrilled.

I heard the unchristian Nigerian fighting with the room supervisor about the TV remote again. This room supervisor guard is actually one of the better ones. He doesn't talk down to the detainees like Mr. Asshole does and he always tries to be pleasant. Many of the room supervisors have a very sour disposition and I imagine it's a thankless job dealing with foreigners, always at their beck and call, but there's no need to make a bad situation worse by being an asshole about it.

After drawing over 40 pictures using pointillism, I haven't gotten any faster but I've evolved my technique. I basically go over the same picture four times. First I draw the initial framework for basic outline, then three layers of shading-- each building upon the previous layer and the last pass to add and refine details. As for the subject matter, I've done scenes that people familiar with my work will recognize, some portraits and lately just some patterns I find interesting. I think the drawings combined with this writing might make it interesting book. Neither has anything to do with the other, other than the location, circumstance and dates. It's not like I'm drawing what I'm writing about or writing about what I'm drawing.

Apparently according to the Uzbekistan,  I was giggling in my sleep last night at about 4:30 AM. I wonder what was so funny. I wish I could remember that... I woke up one night after I'd kicked the Filipino and I still remember what that was about. I was fighting with my dad in my dream, yet the funny stuff I can't recall it all... I think there's a joke in there somewhere...

There are actually two types of guards here. The first type is actually referred to in Korean as 'room supervisor' and they are the ones the detainees have the most interaction with. The literature refers to them as immigration officers. Whenever we have request to see the doctor for example, or get something for our personal belongings, they are the go-to guys. Mr Asshole is a member of this group. They also have control over the TV, phone, lights, tell us when to wake up, go to bed, exercise and so on.

The next set of guards are guards more in the tradition sense. They stand or sit around watching us. They have cop-like uniforms with dime-store candy-machine badges and stars on caplets with a little whistle and a Mace gun that actually looks like the handle of an automatic pistol without the barrel, in a  holster on their toy store cop belt. They are also all over the age of 50, if not over the age of 60. Even the smallest detainee could easily take out one of these guards, if there was a riot. Which brings me to pointing out the fact that security here is a joke. Our cell is room is rudimentary, at best. Sure there are bars and locks, but the 14 detainees I am with could easily rip the tables out of the bolts on the floor and use them as a battering ram on the cell doors. And as I mentioned, a 60+ year old man with a can of mace ain't going to do shit against the 60+ detainees just in this one cell block.

On the other hand, if we all successfully escaped, where would we go? We're all wearing shirts that say "foreigner detainee" in Korean on the back and we stick out quite a bit in a country where everyone is the same race. Not only that, but there are no means of escape from the country. The only land option is through the most militaristic, oppressive regime in the world. That means by air or boat-- again in a country where everyone is the same race. Bottom line, even trying to escape would be futile. There is a very, very, very, very slim chance you could get out on the Russian freighter... But you have to get from here to the port first.

The last group of people the detainees interact with are the "managers," as they're called here. In western parlance, they're your caseworker. They are your go-between with the outside world such as the embassy, bank, ex-boss or whoever or whatever is going to get you out of the country. In 2 months, I talked to my case worker maybe 3 or 4 times. I talked and learned more from my Embassy. All this stuff about court? He just handed me the mail and walked away. And since the mail was written in Korean, I had to get one of the other detainees to help me translate it. My caseworker is practically useless as far as I'm concerned, but like everything else here, from the food, to the room supervisors, to the 60-year-old guards, there is some good and bad-- but mostly just SNAFU.