Friday, 30 November 2012

(Day 133) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 38 D-118

sit-ups chair-lifts
100 80
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 6


I did a lot of writing today. Really, I should have finished writing my novel today, but I've been totally slacking for the last week or two. I kind of made up for that today by writing seven thousand words. I'm almost half finished now. I’ll see how far I get this weekend now that I've run out of books to read.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

(Day 132) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 37 D-119

sit-ups walking chair-lifts
100 2 km 80
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 1


I love reading. I like escape of any kind literary, narcotic, alcoholic, by plane, train, or automobile. But I especially like books as the laziest form of escape. They're also healthier than the other forms of lazy escape. However, there is a certain disadvantage to being able to read so fast. I'm finished all the books JU brought me already. I will have to go back to writing my own books I suppose, or drawing more. Boring day. No mail or visitors. Ran out of books to read. Not really feeling the writing. Drew a picture instead.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

(Day 131) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 36 D-120

sit-ups push-ups chair-lifts
100 0 80
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 7


A representative from the Canadian embassy is supposed to come here at 10 am. to check up on me. How nice of them to remember nearly a month later.

I have a couple bones to pick with them...
1.      My appeals were dismissed, not my cases. Big difference.
2.      I haven't been sentenced to five months in jail; I've been sentenced to fines totalling $8000. Paid today, leave today.
3.      I was never sentence or convicted since I never went to court. I was arrested for assault and obstruction of justice and subsequently, fined a total of $8000 for the offensive.
4.      Waiting 3 months at the immigration detention center for a chance to have my fine reduced was a waste of time.
5.      The lawyer was useless. He knew nothing about my case until he met me 5 minutes before I appeared in front of the judge at court. I could have defended myself better. His interference made things worse in my opinion.

My bones, so to speak, are concerned about the misinformation the embassy is relating back to my poor mother and daughter. As well as the quick response, great translation and interpretation skills. I'm thankful they got me a lawyer. It wasn't their fault he was incompetent, but maybe they could have suggested it more than a week before my court appearance. I walked into court totally unaware I still had two outstanding charges because I have been told they had been dismissed. My Embassy representative, who is ethnically and fluently Korean, should have confirmed this properly. I was blindsided in court and the fact these charges were still pending, had a lot to do with the appeal for a reduction of my fine being rejected. And it's also the reason I'm in jail right at this moment since I'm actually doing the time for those fines right now. The main $4000 fine doesn't come into effect for another 2 weeks.

So, let's assume that I still had a valid visa and those two charges really were dismissed on August 2nd. I would have been released from prison, as well as immigration and I could have worked until my court date three months later. I possibly would have had my fine reduced because the other two cases would have been dismissed and the judge wouldn't have seen them on my record. Then, I would have walked out of court and had another 6 weeks to pay off my possibly reduced fine.

Instead, I got released on August 2nd into immigration jail for 3 months; the other two charges were not dismissed as I was told to my great surprise in court, so now here I sit for a total of two hundred and fifty days instead of 40 to 160 days. Big fucking difference. So you can see why I may have a few bones to pick.
The bones are clean. My mom should be less worried tomorrow. I wasn't able to get Z’s address but my mom should be able to relay messages about my well being to her.

Who's the more trustworthy? Criminals are honest about being crooks. Lawgivers are crooked about being honest. However, although all criminals are crooks, all lawgivers are not. Everybody lies. The act of denying it is a lie.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

(Day 130) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 35 D-121

sit-ups push-ups chair-lifts
0 0 50
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 6


I've read a lot of books in the last 4 months. More than a couple, take place during times of war or conflict and in every one of them, just before the fighting starts, the combatants always get drunk or at least have a very strong drink. I've come to the opinion that before the 20th century, most of civilization was pretty much drunk off their asses all the time. It's no wonder life expectancy was so low and it took so long for civilization to advance. It wasn't until we sobered up that we could produce the industry and technological innovation we have had in the last century.

I got a job offer today. I'm not sure it's such a good idea to accept a job offer from a Korean in jail for shady business practices, given my feelings and rants about the subject before, but I have nothing to lose, being in jail myself right now. And if it gets me out of here earlier, because I’m making money and I have a job, I can't really complain.

I also got a letter for my mom. She had a lot of misconceptions of why I'm here. I set her straight. The info she got made it sound like I was sentenced to 5 months in jail, no matter what. This is simply not true. If I had $6000, I could be released today. I don't have that money, so in lieu of, I'm to stay here until the debt is paid-- which just so happens to be 120 days right now. The closer I get to April, the less money I have to pay. When I get to $0, they will let me go. I should get to $0 around March 28th. I haven't been convicted of a crime and sent it do time in jail. I've committed an offense and failed to pay the fine. That's why I'm in this jail for mostly white collar criminals, instead of a prison specifically for foreigners who have committed serious crimes in Korea such as drug smuggling or murder.

A Canadian embassy official is coming to visit me tomorrow morning. Looks like I have to set them straight too, so they stop telling people I was sentenced to five months. I wasn't sentenced to 5 months, I was sentenced to pay a fine or sit in jail until the debt is paid, whichever comes first.

Monday, 26 November 2012

(Day 129) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 34 D-122

sit-ups push-ups chair-lifts
100 0 120
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 5


It seems like if I don't write about Korea or Koreans I have nothing to write about... How lame is that? I don't do much else other than read and draw and occasionally write. There are links on the Internet to the drawings and list of what I'm reading. I just finished Island now I'm reading Treasure Island and that's about it. Day in and day out, so if it sounds like I'm repeating myself, I am. I'm adding an entry just as a placeholder more than anything else.

I was visited by the warden today. I think he was doing an end-of-month inspection, but he stopped to chat with me. He seemed surprised that I had eaten all the food. There's nothing wrong with the taste of Korean food, I just find the options bland-- there's no variety. That doesn't mean I won't eat it, I just won't enjoy it. Anyway, I showed him my drawing and writing. He was impressed that I was so industrious. I think his underlings were impressed with his English level, which is near fluent compared to most of the guards with 0 English skills. I'm also probably one of the only prisoners he knows by name, since there are over 1000 Koreans and only one foreigner-- me.

Still no visitors or mail. Friday happened to be the turnover or halfway point. I now have fewer days left then I've been incarcerated for. It's all downhill from here, as “they” say, whoever “they” are...

Sunday, 25 November 2012

(Day 128) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 33 D-123

sit-ups push-ups chair-lifts
0 0 0
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 4


Today, I woke with the feeling of lethargic melancholy. The mood doesn't happen as much as it used to but it's happened enough times in my life to dread it. I feel I'm in for a couple days of crushing self-pity and depression. For no real particular reason. Nothing dramatic has happened. Today's circumstances are no different than the last couple of months and are going to be the same for the next couple months. It’s not a hopeless situation, just tiresome. No amount of optimism or positive thinking is going to change that. The power of thought is unlikely to set me free and manifest my innermost desires.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

(Day 127) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 32 D-124

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
0 0 0
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 3


Nothing exciting happen today. No mail, no visitors, did some drawing, some reading, not much else. Only picked up a pen to write this entry. Watch Korean polka group yodelling in Korean. It was surreal. The movie normally showing on Saturday night turned out to be a Korean baseball movie, so it was even more boring than usual. I just turned it off and finished reading my book. Maybe tomorrow will be more interesting, but doubtful. I'm locked in my room until the 10 am exercise period on Monday morning, so approximately another 48 hours. Pretty exciting stuff. Not.

Friday, 23 November 2012

(Day 126) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 31 D-125

sit-ups jogging chair-lifts
100 10 min 100
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 2


I've been here a month now. Only 4 more to go. I hope they go as quickly as this one seemed to.
Today is Friday. I tried to order some snacks with the hope I would receive them today. No such luck. I should have known as much, considering it takes 2 business days to get anything else. I threw in a couple boxes of coffee for good measure even though Mr K just bought me a box. Kevin, the inmate worker I met way back in March, just brought me a pair of running shoes. I could have bought some but I didn't see much point in buying a pair of shoes I would wear for only one hour a day for 4 months, just to throw them away when I leave. They are an expense I can't afford or need. However, Kevin says they’re a Christmas present. Why did I meet all the nice Koreans in jail? They're making it difficult for me to spout my usual venom, but then I just have to remember the box of coffee I'm sold for the pictures and it all comes flooding back.

I've been neglecting my novel writing this week, but I don't feel too guilty about it because I drew three pictures instead. I gave one of them to Mr K so he would have my email address and because he's been so kind to me. It's the only way I know how to repay him.

Still no mail from my mom, so I haven't been able to send mail to Z either, because I don’t have her address. My mom’s address was written in my passport, so that’s why I was able to write her. No visits from any friends, but maybe JU will come tomorrow. I understand having no visitors though. Everybody is busy working and it takes a couple hours to visit. When you only have a limited time to do things in your own life, going to a prison is really the last thing you want to be doing on your day off.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

(Day 125) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 30 D-126

sit-ups jogging chair-lifts
100 15 min 100
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 1


I wonder what the fallout will be. Our basic prison uniform consists of a pair of socks, underwear, tank top, a pair of pants and a jacket designating out cell and block number and our inmate number. During the roll call, and whenever we step foot outside of our cell, we are supposed to wear the jacket so we are easily identifiable. 

While at rest, I take the jacket off because:
a)      I'm alone in my cell. I don't need to tell myself who I am.
b)      It’s a quilted jacket. It's hot.
c)      I only have one. The more I wear it, the dirtier and smellier it gets.

So anyway, last night after final roll call and dinner, I was quietly drawing. The TV was on, but the volume was practically turned off, it was down so low. I wasn't really watching it. I was drawing and the guard comes by and tells me I must wear my jacket from the time I wake up until the time we go to bed 6:30 am to 9:00 pm. Even if I'm alone in my cell. In less than an hour it would have been 9:00 pm, so I asked him why.

He says, “It’s the rules.”

 I say “Okay, show me the rules and I'll follow them.”

He, of course, can do no such thing because it's one of those unwritten rules that power-tripping assholes pull out of their asses when they want to abuse their authority. Now, never having been questioned in such a way, he goes and gets his supervisor, who doesn't speak any English, but yells at me in Korean anyway.

When I keep repeating “I don't understand,” he keeps repeating whatever it was he was saying in Korean and visibly getting angrier and angrier.

The other guy started taking pictures as proof of my insubordination. I thought it was a simple request. He said it was a rule-- I got no problem following the rules, as long as it’s an actual rule. In writing. On a list, with all the other rules. If it isn't written down, then it’s a request, not a rule and you can't go around making shit up just to make yourself feel better.

This morning when the workers were delivering breakfast, neither one of them were wearing the jacket... And they're outside of their cells. So the rules only apply when it suits their whims? Bullshit. One more check-mark against my respect for authority. I respect the warden because he was respectful to me, but these two guards last night were complete fucking morons. If I don't hear anything about it today...

And I never even got to finish that sentence without hearing about it. This time however they showed me the rule in a book so I agreed to follow it. Then they spent 30 minutes trying to get me to apologize to the guard for not doing what he said, which I refused because I never said I wouldn't do what he asked-- I only requested that the show me the rule that says I'm required to wear a jacket the entire time I'm awake. He never showed or attempted to show me any such rule, so I ignored it. I guess that makes me the asshole, but I don't care.

Any rule that starts with “you must do whatever the guard tells you, no matter how unreasonable the order” is an abusive rule. That's the same as “you must do what I ask because I have a badge.” What if the person with the badge is breaking the rules? It's actually more likely.

 Think about all that the governments in the world and how many are corrupt vs. uncorrupted. There are barely a handful considered non-corrupt and even those have plenty of corruption. Look at the police in Kenya or any African country. Military dictatorships are corrupt by their very nature and there are quite a few of those in the world.

So, I'm sorry that I have nothing but contempt for such authority and don't trust anyone with a badge. That's the only thing I apologize for. That and the fact they dragged poor Mr. K into it to translate. It’s not his fight. He doesn't need the stress and for that, I truly am sorry. But the guards? They can kiss my ass. In 4 months, I'll be gone. They'll still be stuck here in prison as long as they are guards working here. Sure, they go home, but they spend at least 12 hours a day here amongst all us criminals. Besides, a little drama and controversy makes the day go faster and gives me something to write about.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

(Day 124) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 29 D-127

sit-ups jogging chair-lifts
100 15 min 100
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 7
Hmmmm... What should I write about today? Culture and nationalism? Yesterday, it about was business, I guess today should be about dramas and k-pop... Then, maybe a couple entries about exercise thrown in for good measure. Wash, rinse, repeat, for the next 4 months...


Konglish is always worth a good rant and I think the most important obstacle preventing Koreans from learning English. They spend all their time speaking Korean (of course) and Konglish is when English words are adapted to the Korean lexicon. Except. They are always pronounced wrong, sometimes to the point of being unrecognizable as being English. So much so that when a native English speaker encounters a Korean and uses a certain English words, a Korean, more times than not, will have no idea what is being said unless the NES uses a bad Korean accent. So, words like “lighter,” “Internet” and “computer” all come out sounding like "ryeta," "intanetuh," and "gumpyoota." Pronunciation is actually a minor problem, but people are so set in their ways, it seems they are incapable of changing this, and as a result, when Koreans encounter new vocabulary, the bad pronunciation comes with it. This results in every word ending with a consonant always having "uh" appended to it and any word ending with an E, G or H has a Y added to it-- image becomes "imag-ee," watch becomes "watch-ee," and so on. But, like I said, only a minor annoyance. 

What's worse are the English words borrowed and given new meanings. Koreans know what a "handphone" is, but not what a "telephone" or "phone" is. Add the word "hand" to "phone" and a little light bulb goes off. Or the word for "dress" is "one piece." Why not just call it a "dress?" Why use "one piece?" If it comes in 2 pieces, wouldn't you have a t-shirt and a skirt? And isn't a skirt by itself also a "one piece?" A word that makes me laugh every time-- the Korean word for underwear is panties, no matter what gender.

So, what's the solution? Realize the Korean alphabet and language is not perfect. Scientific, maybe. Great as a combination, sure, but as a substitute for other languages, forget it. Make new Hangul characters for L, R, Z, V, F, or learn how to pronounce them properly, instead of using 3 characters to substitute for half the English alphabet. Rant over.

I had a visit with the head honcho himself today. I was asked to go see the warden of the entire prison today after lunch. We talked for about half an hour about the usual things-- how I was being treated, the food, how I could leave at any time if I came up with $8000... One beneficial thing to result from our talk is I may be able to get my colour pencils and bigger sketchbook. I tried to get my laptop, but no dice...

The warden told me I am the only foreigner in this prison. There are a total of 50 prisons in Korea-- 40 correctional facilities and 10 detention centers. There is a prison just for foreigners, but it only has foreigners convicted of a crime and sentenced to time in prison. I haven't really committed a crime, so much as failed to pay my fines. If I pay my fines, I'm free to go. The foreigner prison has about 500 prisoners right now, most of them Chinese.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

(Day 123) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 28 D-128

sit-ups jogging chair-lifts
100 12 min 100
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 6

Every morning, except on weekends, the radio comes on from 7 a.m. to 8 am. At 8:30 is a segment where a foreigner comes on, usually speaking Korean (unless they’re from an English-speaking country) and extols the virtues of Korea. Now, I wonder are Koreans really that small-minded and insecure that they need foreigners to come on a local station and tell themselves what a great country they live in? On CBC or any Vancouver station you don't hear us going on about how great Canada is. You may hear ads for a tourist destination bike parks or ski hills, but not from Americans raving how special Vancouver is.

When people ask where I'm (from which is a daily occurrence) and I answer with Canada, I'm almost embarrassed. these people will inevitably give me a thumbs up and exclaim “Oh, Canada good!” and I'll smile and nod my head.

Sometimes, I’ll answer with how I really feel, “Not really or I wouldn't be here. There's lots of crime in the big cities. Problems with hard drugs and gangs, high taxes and like you in your country, I don't make nearly as much money in my country.”

Then they will go on to tell me about their brother or cousin who makes $3000 a month (big money to them) and I sit down with them and break it down for them-- the cost of rent, utilities, food and taxes, maybe they have a family and more mouths to feed and $3000 is barely enough to pay for everything. No, they're not starving and they have a warm bed with a roof over their heads and clean water and health care, but they'll never be rich or get any further ahead. If anything, their debts will mount. But it doesn't matter to these people I meet from far off countries. They live in shacks with no water or electricity. This place is still the land of milk and honey and I know I too, should be content and thankful for what I have or could have, but I'm not.

So, here I sit at 40 years old, in a jail in a foreign country, because I can't afford to pay the bribe to the government. The irony is not lost on me, but most of my fellow inmates in this penitentiary are here for accepting bribes-- some of them on behalf of the very government I refuse to pay.

Instead, the taxpayers of this fair country give me a free room and food while I write and draw and read. This is an opportunity to me, not a punishment. While I'm here, I get to meditate on life and create. I almost never have enough time to do these things because I'm too busy trying to feed myself. I may be behind a locked and barred door, but I have freedom to do what I want-- what I need to do. Maybe some of it will bear fruit and I'll be able to share all of this and maybe even profit, or maybe I'll be fated to obscurity and nothing will result from my labours. Whatever the case, I'm okay with that. Leaving this place will be a rebirth of sorts and I'll start a new chapter in my life. And it certainly has not been a boring life.

Monday, 19 November 2012

(Day 122) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 27 D-129

sit-ups jogging chair-lifts
100 12 mins 100
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 5

Each morning, I wake up determined that this is the day I will start a morning routine. So far, the only thing that's become routine is my declaration that this is the morning I start and actually beginning today's entry in this notebook. My lack of physical motivation is legendary. I'm lazy and even when faced with the prospect of nothing better to do all day, getting started is the hardest part. Maybe it's hard to do, precisely for the reason that I do have all day to complete my task. This brings me back to the reason why I want to make it routine. Eventually, I'll leave this place and I'll no longer have all day. I don't want to stop doing the good habits I developed here. I guess time will tell. All I can do is keep on trying.

I finally managed do the exercise portion... It only took 2 hours to get motivated. The truth is, I'd rather read a book, which is what I did for the first two hours I was awake...

I cashed in some of my marker today, so my budget spending this week will be 0 dollars. Mr. K, bless his heart, ordered me some laundry soap, body soap, some more coffee and tea and some pants. He also bought me a couple pairs of underwear and a sweatshirt to keep me warmer in the upcoming winter months. He insists that I visit him in New Caledonia once we are both free of this place. See? Not all Koreans are greedy and selfish. In this case I am the greedy selfish one, although really I'm just collecting on our bet at his insistence. And I really am quite grateful for his assistance.

Now I find I almost have too much to do and not enough time in the day. I have books and newspapers to read, diaries, letters and books to write, pictures to draw, exercises to do... I may have to schedule a routine just to deal with it all out of necessity instead of a desire to develop good habits.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

(Day 121) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 26 D-130

sit-ups jogging on the spot chair-lifts
100 10 mins 100
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 4

Whenever Sunday rolls around, I never know what to write about. it's such a boring day. I guess I could always write about business with Koreans-- that always seems to produce a torrent of words... or culture and nationalism or dramas and k-pop... *yawn* After yesterday's rant, I really need to learn not to write first thing in the morning without having coffee first.

I changed up my exercise routine out of sheer boredom. First I jogged in one spot for 10 minutes with the window open to letting the cool crisp air and keep my body temperature/sweat/stink factor down, then I did 50 chair-lifts, followed by 100 sit-ups and finished with 50 more chair-lifts. It took 20 minutes in total. I skipped the push-ups because the chair-lifts are almost working the same muscles and are harder to do. That's how bored I am. I resorted to writing about exercise.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

(Day 120) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 25 D-131

sit-ups push-ups chair-lifts
50 x 8 50 x 0 40 x 2
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 3



I always think things will be different this time around they're not. It’s still the same. I'm talking about the coffee of course. I don't give a shit about the coffee. I care about what it represents.

I said I would draw one picture for two boxes. That turned into two pictures for three boxes, some shampoo and a few apples. I got the one box, apples and shampoo while I was still drawing the two pictures. As soon as I was finished my end of the bargain, the remaining two boxes became a promise of one box yesterday, which turned into 0 boxes today.

Every single time I do business with a Korean, this is what happens. When he received the second picture, he actually complained because the picture I drew didn't look exactly like a photograph. Of course it doesn't look like exactly like the photograph-- I'm not a fucking camera! I'm a person who drew a representation of a photograph. By hand. With a pencil. So after he complained, as Koreans always do at the end of a job, he tried to get a discount. 2 boxes turned into one box and after he received his product, he didn't pay me at all.

This has happened every single time I've worked with the Koreans, except once. If it only happened once or twice, I would attribute it to the individual, but it always happens with all Koreans. Unfortunately, getting screwed by Koreans seems to be the rule rather than the exception and as a result, when it comes to business, I'm a racist. Don't do business with Koreans.

Contracts are a guide to them, not a legally binding document. They will not honour it if it is to their disadvantage. Even if you agree to terms and payment beforehand and get it in writing, they will always find fault with something and try to get a discount. If they finally accept the job and take possession, getting final payment is like getting blood from a stone. It’s generally a good rule of thumb to get complete payments before delivery no matter whom you're doing business with, but then credit wouldn't exist. With Koreans, always get complete payment first because you'll never get it later.

There are exceptions, of course. Not every Korean is a total slyster. I would tend to limit these rules only when I'm actually in Korea. For one thing, there are very few laws protecting foreign investment and laws to protect foreigners are practically non-existent.

Don't believe me? Go to Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center and pick any foreigner at random. Ask them why they’re there. There's a 90% chance or higher that the employer didn't renew a visa or even get them one, and then refused to pay them for at least 3 months.

My success stories are limited only to Koreans born and bred outside of Korea, such as Korean-Americans or Koreans that spends most of their time outside of Korea doing business. For example, I use to edit comic books for a Korean publisher. All of his business was in Southeast Asia. He spoke at least four languages. He always paid in full when he said he would. I've had other business dealings with Korean-Americans based on nothing but a promise and a handshake. Never a problem. Those business dealings turn into friendships that I still have to this day. But every time I do business with Koreans in Korea, it always seems to end badly.

Even in the six to seven years I taught English I had two pleasant experiences. The first one, the manager was half white, half Korean, raised in America and the second one, my co teacher was married to a Brit. Not all of the rest were complete disasters, but most of them had at least some feeling of ill will, usually about payment.

I don't care. Call me a racist. I've tried to be open minded. When it comes to business, I've given everybody a fair shake. This is my experience. I always hold up my end of the bargain. If I didn't, I wouldn't be able to survive as a freelance graphic designer.

Want further proof? There are over 1000 prisoners in this particular jail. This jail is specifically for nonviolent offenders. Everybody I've met so far is in here for corruption, embezzlement or some other financial crime. Just look in the paper right now. The biggest story in there is about the president of the country and his family trying some sly manoeuvring of money and then next biggest story is about a prosecutor, the very person in charge of upholding the law, taking bribes from the biggest con man in Korean history.

There are a lot of great things about Korea, it’s history and people. Business ain't one of them. And really I should know better-- I'm in jail. What more obvious places there to be ripped off by liars, crooks and thieves?

Friday, 16 November 2012

(Day 119) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 24 D-132

sit-ups push-ups chair-lifts
50 x 4 50 x 2 40 x 2
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 2


I misjudged the pen supply again. I got a pen in exchange for drawing and it lasted until yesterday afternoon-- by which time it was too late to order anymore. It's also the only time to buy pens. I have two pens from my last order, but writing 3000 more words for my book quickly used up one of them, which leaves me with one pen to last me 9 days. No chance. I have back-up markers, but writing with markers just feels wrong. I only mention this totally boring topic of pens because I started reading Robinson Crusoe. He talks about the importance of pen and paper, except in his case once, once they’re gone, he has no way of procuring more. He is truly fucked. My only problem is a preference of pens over markers or writing in paper notebooks instead of scraps of paper or in my sketchbook, which takes up valuable drawing space. I can get more. It's a matter of when, not if like poor Crusoe. Although Crusoe was much, much better off than Tom Hanks in Castaway.

Pretty boring day. No visitors, no mail, no coffee as promised (no surprise there). I did some laundry after last roll call and dinner, just before lights out and bed. And of course, as soon as I wrote this sentence, the night shift guard comes by and gives me shit for not wearing pants (because they’re wet). I have one pair of pants. This is the first time I've washed them in 23 days. To say they were dirty is an understatement and as soon as I take them off to wash, some asshole comes by and tells me that to put them back on again. Who am I bothering by not wearing pants? I'm alone in a 1 m x 2 m cell. If he's offended, don't fucking look at me, asshole.

Being here has giving me even more contempt for authority figures. Give badge-- instant asshole. I literally have been told that I had to do things, not because it was morally correct, the law or part of the rules, but because the person who told me said they were in charge and I had to listen to them even if their requests were totally in left field. The immigration officers at Hwaseong were the worst abusers of their authority.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

(Day 118) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 23 D-133

sit-ups push-ups chair-lifts
50 x 4 50 x 2 40 x 2
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 1

Wow, it's cold this morning. I usually open the window to air things out every morning, but not this morning-- way too cold. I would rather be stinky than cold. The whole point of going to Thailand was to avoid even one more winter in this country and here I am, in this fucking country for one more winter. I can't decide if this country loves or hates me because it's doing everything it can to keep me here, but it's also done everything possible to make it as unpleasant as it can be.

Even in prison, I'm getting screwed over payment for my work. The inmate worker that I did two pictures for, owes me two boxes of coffee, but he's been moved today. He promises to pay me, but that's what everybody says.

It's a shame only because when I get out of here, I'll have 4 to 6 pictures that I won't be able to include with the collection I made, while I was here. I drew a couple of pictures I was going to send to my family for Christmas, but they will take high quality digital photos to send to me so I won't be losing those pictures.

The new inmate worker replacing the one mentioned above happens to be Kevin. He was the person I first met in March of this year when I came here the first time for an incident that occurred on the subway with Guinness. I got that sentence reduced by 20 days and just finished serving that particular sentence last Tuesday on November 6th.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

(Day 117) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 22 D-134

sit-ups push-ups chair-lifts
50 x 4 50 x 2 40 x 2
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 7

When I was at Hwaseong, I read a book called The Secret of the ‘secret’. It talked about the secret of success, which was basically positive thinking, which is really no secret. Anyway, it talks about the history of self-help books all preaching the secret of success. One of these books was the Master Key System, which I now possess. So far, the first four chapters of 24 read like a Dummies Guide to Meditation. I suppose, when this book was written 100 years ago, it was a big deal to the Western school of thought, but it is really just Buddhist teachings in dumbed down English. I'm not trying to be all high and mighty about living, or studying these practices already for years, because I haven't. What I have done is read a lot of books about different religions, self-help and the like, and all the hype and mystery surrounding the Master Key System is just that-- hype. Anybody comfortable in their own skin, moves to the beat of their own drummer, or whatever metaphor you want to use, already know this stuff. It's no secret. I guess if you are weak-willed it would be helpful. I have no problem with ego. Mine's pretty healthy.

There was a World Cup friendly on TV today between Korea (naturally) and Australia. Even though I'm not Australian, I felt it was my duty as the only foreigner in this prison to cheer for the Aussie team.

Watching Korean sports always sucks. When Korea scored, we were subjected to an instant replay from every possible angle over and over again throughout the game. When it went to commercial, when it came back from commercial, we got the instant replay each time again, but when Australia scored close to half-time, we got one instant replay and that was it. No multiple angles or replay after returning from commercials. I realize the audience is Korean and of course, they are proud of their accomplishment, but they take nationalism to a whole new level. I bet that goal will be shown on every single domestic Channel at least three times tomorrow, and if they win the game, the whole thing will be broadcast in its entirety at least a couple more times this week on some other channels. Now, I'm just being bitter and cynical. Good for Korea. 11th largest economy, risen from the ashes of war, has four distinct seasons, kimchi is good for you, Dokdo is theirs... blah, blah, blah. Australia won. There seems to be other Aussie fans here because I heard cheering from other cells when they scored.

I've also noticed that nationalism goes the other way. I know a couple of ethnic Koreans born and raised in Western countries who can’t stand Korean culture. They even have a skit about it on a popular comedy sketch show called Gag Concert. I’ve talked to them about being the children of two cultures and they've told me that even with the racism in the West, they still feel more accepted in New York then they do in Seoul. Inevitably, I'll get comments about how much more racist the West is by some Koreans in Korea, claiming Koreans aren't racist. That one comment will do more to prove my point than anything I could possibly write. Just look at how many Koreans were killed in the Korean War by other Koreans, just based on different political ideologies. “Han” isn't a feeling of past repression Koreans have suffered; it’s an excuse for self-hate and denial.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

(Day 116) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 21 D-135

sit-ups push-ups chair-lifts
50 x 0 50 x 0 40 x 0
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 6

That didn't take long. I've already finished one book out of 11. I'm a 10,000 words per hour reading machine, minus some time to eat and wash clothes. The book itself was about how to be a writer. It basically told me to do exactly what I've been doing for the last 100 days and keep doing it-- get up and force yourself to write for an hour a day, even if you think you have nothing to write about. The pure physical act of writing makes you a writer. Not getting published or any malarkey like getting paid, but the act itself. Utter rubbish I say... What's the point of doing anything if you don't get paid? Just for the fun of it? For some personal satisfaction? Pure rubbish. I need to go pay for that house in the Hamptons-- finish writing the next great American novel (written by Canadian naturally).

I figured out I'm 10,000 words behind schedule. This is supposed to be “write a novel” month, which means I should have written 70,000 words by the end of November. In 2 days, halfway through the month, I should have completed half the book or 35,000 words. By my estimate, I've only got 20,100 words, so I have to write nearly 15,000 words in two days. That's 50 pages. I wrote 10 today. It took 3 hours or one hour per 1000 words. I'm going to have to write a lot faster in the next two days...

Now that I have books to read and write just the day just flew by.

Monday, 12 November 2012

(Day 115) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 20 D-136

sit-ups push-ups chair-lifts
50 x 4 50 x 2 40 x 2
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 5

I mailed another letter to my mother. It ended up being 7 pages of rambling. By the end of the weekend I felt like I was repeating myself a lot. And I was. I would write it here, then to my mother and finally a third time to Z. No cut and paste features available here. I spent the morning finishing up chapter 3 in my ode to sci-fi novel. Now on to the action, or act 2. I wish I was able to share it so I could get some feedback. To me it sounds juvenile and quaint.

I still haven't gotten the books JU sent me. What on earth could they be checking them for? There just books made of paper. Even if something was hidden inside, it would not be that hard to x-ray them and it doesn't even take long to flip through every page. Even if they're looking for hidden messages, I'll be released before they even finish reading the first book, I'm sure. They can barely speak English here, I don't they're reading skills are much better-- certainly not good enough to pick out a code if there was one.

Later in the morning a guard came to my cell to test the screen in my window. I'm only here for a couple months. Do they really think I'm going to try to bust out? Where would I go if I did? How would I leave the country? Wouldn't it be cheaper to just pay the fines and walk out legitimately? I wonder about the sanity of some people sometimes. Watching too many Hollywood movies making us foreigners out to be criminal masterminds.

The books finally arrived around 4 pm. There are some really good titles here. I hardly know where to begin... I think I'll start with turning the TV off. It's all in Korean anyway, except for the movie on Saturday nights, which was Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows this week and some forgettable movie last week called The Darkest Hour. I usually just have it turned on to watch the moving images, like a dog or cat might watch TV. The travel shows were interesting. They sometimes have English speakers and the documentaries are usually produced by Western media and dubbed into Korean, but I can manage just fine without the dumb drama and talent-less shows. I don't care how popular K-Pop is becoming, it sucks donkey balls. Maybe I'll keep it on this week just to make a viewing schedule of the documentaries. The schedule is the same every week, since its all controlled by the prison system and there is only one channel-- their Channel-- which usually presents the shows broadcast by state run channel KBS 1 or 2. Pure Propaganda. Brainwashing doesn't get any better than this.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

(Day 114) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 19 D-137

sit-ups push-ups chair-lifts
50 x 8 50 x 4 40 x 5
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 4


Totally forgot about doing any exercises yesterday. I will do a full set to make up for it today. This is a habit I should try to keep because I'm normally such a sloth and I'm more likely to smoke and drink myself to death then exercise. If I am going to smoke and drink, or at least drink myself to death, I should have at least one good habit and be fit while I do it. I also decided that I only needed to keep track of my meals for 7 days a month, since the menu is the same for the remaining 23 to 24 days. If it actually varies from the norm, such as drinking milk that someone might give me, I don't think anyone really cares. I just started in the first place to illustrate what rubbish the food was here.

Speaking of, the guard is once again shocked I don't want to eat fish, soup and kimchi for breakfast. I'm telling you, my Western brain and body just want to run away screaming at the smell so early in the morning. You may as well put a plate of worms in front of me. I'm not even sure if I was starving in a third world country that I would eat it, I would I find it that revolting. I already tried to get it replaced with an alternative like bread and eggs, but then they served me that at every single meal instead of as a substitute for rice and kimchi and soup. I can't live on just bread and eggs. Koreans really do think it's normal to eat the same thing at every meal. In the end, skipping breakfast, avoiding the rice and eating everything else has been my best option. Due to my foreigner status, the other inmates, mostly the workers and now Mr. K, give me pastries and extra milk as well, so it’s not so bad. I would still love to have the stereo typical hamburger and pizza, though. I'm pretty sure that once I'm finished with all this shit, that's the first thing I'm going to eat. Sunday has to be the most boring day-- no exercise period outside, no newspaper, crappy TV. I wish I had some books to read... Oh wait! I do! But they won't give them to me yet because they have to x-ray them for contraband... or some shit like that.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

(Day 113) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 18 D-138

sit-ups push-ups chair-lifts
50 x 0 50 x 0 40 x 0
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 3

For breakfast this month, we get served three pieces of bread with strawberry jam, coleslaw, mushroom soup and strawberry milk every Saturday. I take everything but the soup. The coleslaw for breakfast is weird enough. The guards think I'm crazy because I won't eat soup for breakfast. Maybe if I was starving in a third world country. They also think I'm crazy because I won't eat rice, kimchi, slimy seaweed in hot water or fried fish for breakfast... Again, maybe if I was starving in a third world country and it was my only meal of the day. As it stands, it makes me want to vomit. Not the greatest smell to wake up to. I have coffee. Even if it’s only instant, I'm good with that, thanks. Of course, I have to wait for everybody else has been served first, before I can get hot water delivered for my coffee, but I'm okay with that. I'm only one person after all. I'm special but not that special.

Yesterday’s picture negotiations had some shampoo thrown into the offer. Shit just got real. When you have nothing, the smallest luxuries are huge.

JU found me. He brought me some books, but I don't know what books because the powers-that-be haven't given them to me yet. Apparently, it's going to take a couple of days because they want to make sure there isn't any subversive literature or maybe some escape tools hidden inside... How long does it take to check a couple of books!?! They’re all in English. They wouldn't understand any of it, even if it was Ché Guevara’s bio or the Communist Manifesto-- both of which I've already read.

JU also said he was going to try to raise some funds for me so I wouldn't go broke buying coffee and pens or the next 20 weeks. He seems to think he can even raise enough to get my time reduced, which I think is very unlikely. To say I tend to burn bridges would be an understatement. Sure, I have some great loyal friends, but I have just as many people who hate me and can't stand me because I'm not a shy person... That's the only nice way I can describe myself...

Friday, 9 November 2012

(Day 112) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 17 D-139

sit-ups push-ups chair-lifts
50 x 4 50 x 2 40 x 3
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 2

Another weekend has begun. Current cell population-- still one-- and unlikely to change for some time. I think I may have missed my opportunity to file an appeal. If I had a two or more year sentence, I might actually give a shit. As it stands, just buckle under and do the time, then get the fuck outta here in and on with my life. Spring is a good time to be released. A time of renewal.

I guess JU didn't know exactly where I was because he tried to find me through the Canadian embassy. I had to sign consent forms yesterday to release information to him. That's a good friend. I'm lucky to have one like him. I actually have quite a few friends like him and I don't show my appreciation enough. If this ever gets published in a book, this is dedicated to them. You know who you are and if you don't, there will be a list at the front of the book.

I sold another sketch of one of the inmate worker’s children for two boxes of coffee today. It's not much, but it offsets my own costs. Another 38 boxes of coffee to go...

Mr K says he owes me $1000 because I jokingly bet that Obama would win the election. He said he would buy me a few more items of clothing so I have a change of clothes and will be able to do laundry. I now have 1000 dollars of credit if I need to buy anything, according to Mr K. I have to say I'm a little sceptical. I may seem to be an optimist at times, but I'm also a cynical realist. Things too good to be true usually are...

2 boxes have just turned into 3 boxes, some pastries and chicken if I do another picture of him with his wife and children. I said I think about it. I'll probably do it, but it's fun to see what he’ll offer me as compensation. Another inmate wanted me to draw picture of him, but he's made no offers of compensation... People who see my drawing as a hobby are hard to deal with. We even talked about my job yesterday and I explicitly told him I don't draw things for other people for free... That's not entirely true. I just don't do it very often. And when I do, I usually have some sort of angle or ulterior motive.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

(Day 111) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 16 D-140

sit-ups push-ups chair-lifts
50 x 8 50 x 4 40 x 5
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 1

It's not really a big deal, but every day I start of this journal with my total days in confinement, then the current date in the current location, how many days left until I leave or D Day, and finally the actual date. Since I got the highlighter and the color-coded everything, I've also highlighted all the headings in my notebook with the appropriate color. The point I was trying to get to is when I see numbers turn over to a new date like 10 20 or 30 it makes me feel better-- like I've accomplished something.

To show how out of touch I am, it's now been two days after the US presidential election and I still don't know who won. We only watched the news once a today at 6 p.m. and naturally, it is all in Korean and mostly about Korea (I know! Shocking that the US isn't the center of the universe!) I won't get my newspaper in till about 11 am, so I'll have to wait four more hours from the time I wake up to find out (Yay! Obama!)

I started a new notebook yesterday and one of the things I noticed is that the line spacing is different. I suppose it's because of the way on Hangul is written in groups of three vertical characters per syllable. Since I'm writing in English, I can fit two lines of writing for every line drawn on the paper. This gives me almost 50 potential lines of writing per page or almost 500 words per page. Since there are only 30 pages per notebook, I won't have to buy as many-- not that it really matters-- they're only 35 cents each and the pens are 36 cents each. Stamps however, are almost a $1.50 each and instant coffee is almost $3. Both of these items are also the things I buy the most of, so it's costing me more than I care to spend just to sit here and write.

I just wrote my first letter to the editor about foreigners and drugs and November 7th edition of the Korean times. My main point was if all the drugs in Korea are the fault of foreigners then how come I'm the only for here in this jail and I'm here for assault? It will be interesting to see if they ever get my letter if they will read it publish it or try to contact me with a follow-up... That would be funny.

Since breakfast lunch and dinner is the same thing on the same day every week for a month, I can now look at past entries to see what I ate last week and whether I enjoyed it. Now I can comment on meals before their served...

I figured out that one of the announcements during the day is actually an advertisement for fruit. The announcer is actually telling us what kind of fruit is available and how much it is per kilogram. I wish I could figure out what the last announcement of the day was. All I could make out was the name of the prison, the words “computer” and “design”. If they need I designer and I get to use a computer, I'm their man-- ask me, ask me!!

These jelly ballpoint pens look really nice and write smoothly, but they only last for about 5000 words. The one I just got three days ago is almost finished. At this rate, I'll need to buy three pens a week. I just ordered 2. Good thing they're only 35 cents each. A dollar a week is still almost $20 in just pens while I'm here...

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

(Day 110) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 15 D-141

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
50 x 4 50 x 2 40 x 3

Breakfast coffee & yogurt
Lunch rice & kimchi
bean sprout kimchi
fish
slimy seaweed in hot water
Dinnerrice & kimchi
radish kimchi
soy bean & tofu in hot water
mini pork cutlet

So it seems Shower Day is every Wednesday. Still, only once a week is not very often. It's hard not to stink. Even after I shower, I can smell BO under my arms. Disgusting, but as clean as I'm going to get without more than one change of clothes and some deodorant. If She could see me now, She'd laugh at my description because She thought anything less than a shower everyday was revolting.

Feeling lazy today. I only did half my exercises, which is still 100-200% more exercise than I did 110 days ago. I also weighed myself when I took a shower. I weighed 70.9 kg, so I lost one kilogram in one week by not eating any rice and exercising. If I lose two more kilograms, I’ll be the same weight I was when I was 20 or half my life ago.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

(Day 109) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 14 D-142

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
50 x 8 50 x 4 40 x 5

Breakfast coffee
Lunch rice & kimchi
green onions & red peppers
rice cake in hot water
fried squid
Dinnerrice & kimchi
spinach and soy bean in hot water
spicy chicken
Chinese bun with red bean filling

I finished one sentence today. Only 3 more, and 142 days to go. The next special day will be December 14th, and then January 24th, and finally March 28th. Christmas, New Years, my birthday and Z's birthday are all going to suck this year. Last year, it was because of my divorce, this year I'm in jail. I'm really beginning to dislike holidays.

I'm still pretty choked about the whole smelly room business. You know how your own farts don't stink to yourself? That's how Koreans see themselves and their whole kimchi-and-onions-for-breakfast country. Anybody who's had to take a bus in the morning can verify. These people and their whole country stink. They just don't notice their own stench because they are used to it.

Yesterday I got all my stationary ordered last Thursday. I ordered a marker, five colors of highlighter, glue, q-tips, envelopes and a long sleeve shirt. I was so upset about the smelly room comments, I forgot to write about what I did with all my new toys. I wore the shirt. Now, I won't be cold. It’s my only shirt, so I'll still stink later. I glued down the labels stating my cell and inmate numbers on my jacket and pasted the menu on my wall. Then, with the highlighters, I went through the purchase list and schedule, the menu and calendar and I color-coded everything-- 5 colors = 5 days of the week. Nothing happens on weekends. So now, at a glance, I can tell if it's Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. From that, I can look at the menu and see what I'll be eating that day (rice and kimchi of course so there's really no pressing concern there) or I can look at the purchasing list and schedule to determine what and when I can stock up on supplies. I used the q-tips clean my ears, of course and I'm still waiting for stamps, so the envelopes are useless. I also have enough envelopes to write a letter to both mom and Z every week until April, although the stamps for 44 letters might prove to be a little costly.

I finished this notebook today. From September 17th to November 6 is 50 days. An average of 150 words per page and 200 pages. 30,000 words in 50 days is about 600 words per day.

Monday, 5 November 2012

(Day 108) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 13 D-143

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
50 x 8 50 x 4 40 x 5

Breakfast coffee
strawberry milk
Lunch rice & radish kimchi
zucchini & onions
kimchi soup
sweet & sour pork
Dinnerrice & kimchi
corn salad
small, fried anchovies
spicy vegetable soup

Today, I was told my room smells and I must clean it. I had two questions: what does it smell like and what do I clean it with? I have no cleaning products, other than a bar of soap. I don't have a broom or dust pan or mop or bucket or even a rag. I have a towel that's as big as a dish or tea towel and if I use that, what will I use for my body? This brings me to my second question: the smell. Does it smell like shit or BO? If it smells like shit, stop serving me three different kinds of fermented rotting vegetables at every single fucking meal and add some fibre other than plain white rice, 3 times a day. Then my shit will be regular and not smell so bad. That will also change my body odour. Speaking of body odour, what about a change of clothes? I have been wearing the same pair of pants for 13 days now and there is no laundry or dryer. This means I have to wash them by hand, wait for them to dry and only wear underwear until that's finished. If I'm not wearing pants, the guards get really upset, especially at roll call. I've managed to wash my pants once. They should be fucking thankful. How about a goddamn shower more than once a week? What century is this? Since when do people in first world countries wash out of a bucket with cold water? So, a shower more than once a week or some deodorant, an alternate change of clothes and some cleaning supplies, like a broom, rag and some soap, and my room won't smell bad. Until then, fucking deal with it. I do.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

(Day 107) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 12 D-144

sit-upspush-upschairlifts
50 x 850 x 440 x 5

Breakfast coffee
Lunch noodles in soy sauce with pork & potatoes
mandu
yellow radish
Dinnerrice & kimchi
cucumber kimchi
kimchi & tofu in hot water
fish cake and cabbage in hot pepper sauce


I was looking at the box my instant coffee mix comes in and I noticed the expiration date. What struck me as unusual was that it had a time. What happens to the coffee mix if no one drinks it on March 24th 2014 at 2:57 in the afternoon? And is that 2:57 Asian Time or Eastern Standard Time or Pacific Standard Time? Does it suddenly become stale at that time? Does it taste more chalky then it usually does? Does it become poisonous or blow up and self destruct? That would be a neat trick. The idea that it stays fresh for nearly two years before suddenly self destructing at 2:57 Eastern Standard Time is funny. I have another box of instant coffee and it self-destructs at 2:56. According to the serial numbers that follow the time, there are seven more potentially hazardous boxes of instant coffee mix all timed to go off within a minute of each other on March 24th 2014.

All my clothes, my electric razor, notebook and paper all have a stamp or logo of Korean Prison Industries on them. You can only buy these items (as far as I know) if you are in prison. It's quite a scam. In order to get time off long sentences, prisoners can work in factories producing these items. They don't get paid with money, but with time. However, to get or use these items, we prisoners have to pay cash for them. The prisoners work for free to buy the same items they are making. To sell them outside the prison, all you really have to do is change the logo, which I'm sure they do. I wonder how many “made in Korea” items are made in Korean prisons? And do we do the same thing in Western countries? We should. Do something with all those “war on drugs” victims we have locked away. It’s not forced labour unless you're wrong the convicted. I tried to volunteer, but my sentence isn't long enough.

Dinner sucked. That is all.

On TV there is a show that seems to be nothing but a bunch of guys talking eating and sleeping. That's it. Nothing else. There's no game or challenges, no one gets kicked out at the end. It’s just a bunch of famous (in Korea) actors goofing around. This is entertainment? People like watching this? It makes me want to slit my wrists.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

(Day 106) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 11 D-145

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

Breakfast coffee & 2 hard boiled eggs from yesterday's lunch
coleslaw
bread and strawberry jam
Lunch rice & kimchi
hot peppers in sweet sauce
quail eggs and mushrooms
fish cake & onions in hot water
Dinnerrice & radish kimchi
spicy pork
soy bean soup with cabbage

I couldn't sleep last night, so I drew a picture. In the corner of my room, on the ceiling is a concave (convex? Never really sure... ) mirror. It's a quarter of a half sphere or an eighth. I'm pretty sure there's a camera behind it. I heard the servo motor whirring away once. They have a distinct sound. There is the dome of a more obvious camera in the opposite corner, but there is a black square of cloth glued to it, covering the lens, and a small sign written in Korean. I think it says the camera has been disabled, but I'm not sure. Anyway, mirror with the suspected second secret camera... I drew a picture of the reflection. I didn't draw myself in the mirror, just the cell. It turned out pretty good. The natural distortion of the mirror shows the whole, tiny room. What you can't see is the window. It's situated opposite the door, directly under the mirror, so it’s not reflected. Looking at the picture, you might get the misinterpretation that I'm in a windowless cell. I'm not. I actually have a window I can open and get fresh air. I do that sometimes and take deep breaths, smelling the air. There is a very heavy, strong screen on the window. I tried to break it I couldn't. It’s bent out of shape from previous attempts by previous tenants. There are steel bars be on the screen and a courtyard beyond the bars, with a high metal fence. We exercise in a similar looking courtyard. There is another perimeter fence beyond the courtyard and a concrete wall that is at least 10 meters high topped with barbed wire beyond that. Past the wall, I can see trees on the hill side. The leaves are all changing color. I'll watch them disappear and grow in the spring.

The weekend schedule is different. So far, there has been no radio this morning. There are also no items purchased or delivered. Sometimes there is a movie in the afternoon.

I really like Mr. K but he's obviously never been poor. For a Korean, its very unusual for someone his age. He doesn't understand why I don't ask my artist/musician/teacher/unemployed friends to lend me $8000.

“$2000 is nothing” he says. “4 friends could give you $2000, you leave.”

I tell him that I don't know anybody with 200 dollars to spare let alone $2000. He says “friends get loan from bank. Easy.”

I tell him I'm a foreigner, in case looking at my white face and speaking in English made him forget. All my friends are foreigners-- no bank is going to give any of us a loan. Besides, as soon as I get out, I would be deported. How would I pay anybody back? Friend or bank? I'm what is called a bad credit risk. And I already owe enough money to enough friends. I don't need the guilt of $8000 more. I suggested that if money was no big deal, he should give me the money. I think he thought I was serious. He said he couldn't because his assets were frozen.

Apparently our cell block is for VIP prisoners. That’s why Mr. K is here and me too. Since I'm the only foreigner the whole prison. There is supposedly a prison for foreigners. Why I am I here and not there? Mr K says this prison is only for Korean Nationals. Maybe I can thank my e-wife for this.

My pen ran out of ink again. That's the third pen this week. New Pens on Monday.

Friday, 2 November 2012

(Day 105) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 10 D-146

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

Breakfast skipped
Lunch rice & kimchi
2 hard boiled eggs
rice cake in spicy sauce
spicy soup with beef, bean sprouts, egg & turnip
Dinnerrice & kimchi
lettuce, bean paste, spicy pork
spinach & shrimp in soy bean paste soup

Another weekend is here. It seems the week went by fast. which bodes well for me. I received my judgment from my court case. The guard who speaks English thinks I should appeal the sentence. Since my current time is unrelated (different charges), it takes if it takes 3 months for a new court date, so I won't have wasted any time and it if I'm successful with my appeal, I may be able to leave before April. It’s always good to maintain hope for something, even if I've already resigned myself to my fate.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

(Day 104) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 9 D-147

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
50 x 4 50 x 340 x 3

Breakfast skipped
Lunch rice & kimchi
cucumber kimchi
cabbage & tofu in hot water
marinated beef & cabbage
Dinnerrice & kimchi
kimchi & bean sprouts in hot water
spinach
banana

My head feels much better this morning. It was excruciating last night. Having the lights on all night doesn't help.

Highlights of the day... I get a newspaper and now that I have a watch, I can make a schedule. We got new inmate workers today. I guess they switch them up every so often. I wonder if they get time off their sentences?

I haven't been eating the breakfast unless it has milk or bread and jam. I just can't bring myself to eat rice and kimchi and soup for breakfast, as well as both lunch and dinner. I also have not eaten the rice since I got here. I still write it down because it's a part of the meal and served, but I don't eat it. I never really liked or ate rice before, so I don't feel like I'm missing anything.

I was able to weigh myself when I took a shower yesterday and I've lost one kilogram without cutting back on my intake of any other food, so I was right-- rice was making me fat.

I was able to write a letter to my mom, but of course I can’t mail it until I get envelopes (ordered today) on Monday and stamps on Sunday. The purchasing system here is fucked up. I also seem to be running out of pens faster than I thought. Ballpoint pens seemed to last longer when I was younger or more likely, I didn't write as much. More pens and notebooks arrive Tuesday-- in 5 days. I should be okay until then. My exercise sessions are actually very interesting. Mr. K was a government diplomat during the administration of dictator Park Chung-Hee in the 70's. He's a piece of living history. His stories of living during that time are fascinating. Only in a Korean jail would I share a cell block with a disgraced government official accused of corruption from a time when it was the only way to survive. He talks about throwing money around in a way I just can't comprehend. Living in Switzerland and New York, the best resorts, casinos... And now he's in jail and it means nothing. For a Korean he hates the food as much as I do, only he hates it because he's used to eating at the best restaurants and best hotels all over the world. He’s a pretty cool guy for an old Korean ajjoshii. He told me to give him my contact info so he can stay in touch when/if he's ever released.

My daily schedule in prison:
  • 6:30 to 7:00 am: lights brighten, wake up, roll call, hot water delivery, item purchased, breakfast. 
  • 7:00 am: radio turns on 
  • 8:00 am radio turns off 
  • 8:15 am: some sort of announcement, second roll call 
  • 9:00 am: first exercise session (1/2 of the inmates in the cell block) 
  • 9:30 am: TV turns on, item delivery 
  • 10:00 am: second exercise (other ½ of inmates in cell block) 
  • 11:00 am: TV turns off, hot water delivery, newspaper 
  • 11:30 am: lunch 
  • 12:00 pm: radio turns on 
  • 1:00 pm: radio turns off 
  • 2:00 pm: TV turned on 
  • 3:00 pm: hot water delivery 
  • 4:00 pm: TV turns off 
  • 4:30 pm: hot water delivery 
  • 5:00 pm: another announcement, third and final roll call 
  • 5:30 pm: dinner, TV turns on 
  • 9:00 pm: TV turns off, yet another announcement 
  • 10:00 pm: lights dimmed, stare at the ceiling for the next several hours.