Tuesday, 26 March 2013

(Day 249) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 154 D-2

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner = March 5

This is it. The last day. Tomorrow, I will finally leave this place. Whether or not I'll actually be free, is yet to be seen. I won't truly be free until I'm sitting on an airplane, and I'm far from there yet. I won't be in jail anymore-- that's the main thing, but I'll be able to use the telephone and I will be at least one more step closer to real freedom than the 23 hour lockdown in solitary confinement I am currently enjoying.

I gave my playing cards that I made and all my extra pens to Mr Kim today. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to make the hand off tomorrow. I kept a pen, the highlighters and pencil so I could continue this diary and draw, if the desire strikes. I also kept the black markers in case my next destination is immigration and they confiscate my pen and pencil due to the metal content.

I've also kept the newspapers from the last few days. The detainees might appreciate some recent news. I've packed the books just in case, but if I go to the airport, I'll have to abandon them which I loathe to do. I'm not traveling around with 30 books or paying for overweight luggage. It’s so tempting to pay the $50 just to leave today. I'm so broke though, $50 could be the difference between being able to afford a plane ticket to Bangkok or being stuck here.

So, what have I learned after 250 days of incarceration? I'm a selfish narcissist, but I knew that already. Whoever holds the keys, makes the rules and no matter what is written or considered law, the only thing that matters is who holds the keys. It isn't about willing to do the time if you commit the crime, it's about how much money you have to pay everybody off. Just ask the new president of Kenya or all of my fellow inmates jailed for corruption-- and there are a lot of them in Korea. Just last week, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency joined our merry band of criminals and it won't be long before the Vice Minister of Justice himself is added to our ranks.

I had one last meeting with the warden after lunch. I explained my fear about being sent back to immigration jail upon my release tomorrow. I explained how it would be in everybody's best interest to drive me to the airport let me buy a ticket and leave Korea tomorrow night. He said he understood my predicament and he would make a plea to the immigration officials sent to collect me on my behalf. I will be released at about 9 am. I also got a receipt of all my expenses during my stay here and I have $100 more than I thought which is totally awesome. I'm still broke but not as broke as I thought. If I make it to Thailand I'll even have a couple hundred dollars to get me going. Finally I donated all the books I had to the prison. The warden said he wanted to read them and that he could lend them to other prisoners.

For my last night in jail the Korean national soccer team has decided to play a World Cup qualifying match against Qatar live from 8 pm to 10 pm. We got to stay up late and be entertained with something worthy of my attention. Go Qatar!

I notice in the paper today at a presidential nominee for the Fair Trade Commission has withdrawn due to a tax evasion investigation. There has to be a certain irony in that. So far 12 candidates have withdrawn or been eliminated due to corruption or questions about ethics. Yet, I'm the one in jail because I'm too poor to pay off the right people.

The game went into overtime but the prison broadcast station killed the broadcast exactly at 10 pm. This is the difference in cultures. In the West, this would have caused a riot. In Korea there were a few indignant cries, but it was pretty quiet. In the end, no one knows who won-- it was a tie when the broadcast was cut off.