Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2013 in Retrospect

It is difficult for me to imagine that yet again another year has passed since the previous time I took a retrospective look at the passed year (2012). A friend just asked me earlier today if I have any New Year's Resolutions, to which I answered that I don't really do New Year's Resolutions, instead I take a retrospective look at my previous year and contemplate the highlights of each month. The first time I did it was in 2008, and I've done it ever since (2009, 2010, 2011).


It has usually been my custom to travel to South Africa during my January-February vacation, but since I needed to save money for tuition I did not travel to South Africa in 2013. Instead I just stayed in Korea.

On New Year's Eve of 2012 I went to the Taekwon-Do gym to train and afterwards went to a jazz bar with some friends. The following day, New Year's Day 2013, I met with two of my close friends to train some martial arts. Later in January I had a promotional martial art photo shoot, which was quite fun too. I also met some high level Taekwon-Do martial artists, one of which is a PhD in Taekwon-Do at a university. I considered 2013 to be the Year of Martial Arts for me. In a certain way it was.

I can't really remember what else I did in January. I guess I spent most of it just relaxing and working out.


Like January I spent most of February just relaxing and working out, and I hosted a practical self-defence workshop.

One unique experience was when I visited a Cat Cafe in Myeongdong for the first time. I also bought my new laptop, the Samsung Ativ Smart PC. A purchase I'm still very happy with. I saved for it for nearly two years. I also went to the Tim Burton Exhibition that was in Seoul. And in this month I saw Cloud Atlas and coined the little proverb "Half a story is not worth telling". It indeed became an important theme for me this part year, and I am happy that some of the "half stories" in my life came to an ending in 2013.

In February I had the big decision with regards to which PhD and new field of study I would pursue. I finally chose a PhD in Physical Education, with emphasis on Taekwon-Do and research focus in martial arts philosophy. At the end of February I moved into my new office.

I like the "love" poem I wrote for a male friend.


Birthday Photo
In March I officially started on my PhD, which for this year involved mostly attending graduate classes every Monday from early in the morning until late at night -- beginning with an early morning two hour commute to Suwon, and then an evening commute back to Seoul.

I went to a traditional Korean dance and music performance which was very nice. It was a "date night". I also watched two plays, one directed by a friend of mine called "The Toilet Bowl" and the other an adaptation of "Lord of the Flies".

March, of course, is the month of my birthday. I did not have opportunity to celebrate my birthday because I was in class the whole day. In 2013 it was also the month of the highly over-exaggerated North Korean threat by the international media.

I also attended a Tai Chi workshop in march that was quite interesting.


I can't recall much about April. I did go to an art festival where I saw a nice dance performance which had me nearly jumping out of my seat and dancing along. At the end of April I went to see a famous tango musical, but I wasn't too impressed with it. Sometime during the month I remember going to the Seoul Folk Flea Market where a bought a small leather backpack.


In my I was still in love, but started to notice the writing on the wall and "Don't Do Sadness" became my theme song. I went to see the Tiger Lilies' excellent adaptation of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and also a musical called "남자가 사랑할때" ("A Man's Love" or something like that) with the singer Kim Jaehee.

I went to see the Lantern Parade in celebration of Buddha's Birthday with some of my colleagues. It was pretty, but afterwards we couldn't find a place to eat, which had me a little moody. (Low blood sugar does that to me.) Also in May I had to give my first presentation during a PhD class. I think it was for Sport Sociology -- it went very well.


A photo of my eyes swollen
from crying over my
breakup. Lol. 
June was probably the most difficult month for me in 2013. At the beginning of June I learned a very difficult lesson when a relationship I was in came to an end. I learned that one can end a relationship not because you love someone too little, but because you love them too much. I cried so much.

There is very little I can remember about this month. The only good thing was that I found a biological dentist in Seoul at long last. The only fun memory is that I started watching the Korean comedy-drama "Super Rookie."


In July I received the results of my first semester's PhD classes and was surprised to see that I got distinctions in all my classes.

I went to the Top Talent Korea Finale, which was quite fun. A real highlight for me, however, was when I got to go on a little private tour of the National Olympic Training Village. This is a closed facility that do not allow outsiders to visit.

In July I composed a piece for the pipe organ, which I titled "A Fugue for the Expression of an Unclear Emotion". It was one of the many ways in which I tried to cope with the mourning I went through. I also liked the poem I wrote as an ode for the common working man: "To All Who Keep the Gears Greased".

I received my 3rd Dan certificate in Hapkido in July.

In this month I also wrote an emotional email to a friend, which I regretted afterwards terribly. It would take months for us to reconcile. I should have known better and definitely learned an important lesson. First, never write emails while you are overly emotional. And second, never send private messages to work emails.


Much of August suffered under the burden of an estranged friendship because of the emotional email I sent at the end of July.

In August I dreamed about a chicken and then a few nights later had a conversation with Leo Di Caprio.

I visited a Dan Mu Do gym and received a bamboo flute 대금 as a gift.

And I went on a trip to the southern parts of South Korea where I traveled from Yeosu, to Yeontong, to Busan and Ulsan.

I also went to one of Kim Jaehee's concerts and then later in the month to a concert about the Hwarang Warriors. I also visited the Cinematheque Art Cinema in Seoul and saw one of my favourite childhood films, Interview with a Vampire.


The South African
Ambassador to South Korea
and I
For the second semester I taught some new classes, including Animation English for which I had free reign over the curriculum. I searched for animation films that I was sure most students would not have seen. One of my favourites was Sita Sings the Blues. You can watch it free online.

At the end of September the South African Embassy initiated the founding of the South African Students in Korea (SASKOR) association to which I was appointed chairperson.

I was excited to go see the Green Day musical American Idiot! 

There are two poems that I wrote in September that I particularly like, the first because I like the message, and the latter because it is so personal. Both are in Afrikaans: "ons loop trots" and "'n sms in perspektief".


In October the second issue of the South African literature and art magazine Guillotine was published. I'm the creative director and layout artist for this magazine. It took many hours of my time, but I'm happy with the end result. It is much better than the first issue from 2012 and I know that the next issue is bound to be an even further improvement.

I won a one month free membership to an exclusive lounge in Apgujeong where I spent many hours working on this magazine and other projects. It was a great place to spend my time and helped me to be quite productive.

The Tempest by the Chekhov International Theatre Festival was one of the best performances of a Shakespeare play I have yet seen, even though it was all in French and Russian. A highlight of the year, however, was "The Chorus; Oedipus", and Korean adaptation of the Greek tragedy. It was brilliant.

I only wrote one poem in October, but it is pretty decent: "What to Do with a Secret".

In October I also went to see the Seoul Annual International Fireworks Festival again. This post summarizes much of October.

I also went to a grand second hand clothing flea market for the first time. From now on I'm going to much of my clothing shopping there.


Kay and I
My dear friend Kay from Italy came to visit. We hadn't seen each other in seven years, so it was a happy reunion. My friend Chonghee also came to visit from America and I had Malaysian food for the first time.

The anticipated show I went to see in November was "32 Rue, Vanderbranden" by Peeping Tom. It didn't disappoint. I also had the opportunity to see the senses over loading extravaganza Fuerza Bruta with my Taekwon-Do instructor.

In November I visited Paju Book City where I bought some second hand books, and Provence, a little French themed neighborhood.


In December Nelson Mandela passed away and I went to a special memorial service to represent the South African Students in Korea. But an even greater loss to me was when Tannie Jenny passed away on the afternoon of Christmas Eve after struggling with cancer for a long time -- she was a "mother" to me, and I have little doubt that it would have been near impossible to finish my master's degree had it not been for her emotional and financial support.

In December I went to see a Korean ballet adaptation of Macbeth, "The Flower of Scotland".

I also went to a lecture on Korean shamanism and then to the Korean Shamanism Museum. It was quite interesting.

On Christmas Eve I reconciled with a friend (see July). It brought closure. Then a few days later, I went out with someone very nice.

The two poems from December that I like: "After all" and "One day for sure".

I ended 2013 in the same way I started it, by training martial arts with friends. I am a moodo-in.


There are of course many other things I did not mention, mostly with regards to work and studies and the details of personal stuff. I watched some great movies, read some good material, particularly the anthology "Apostroof" by Fanie Olivier which was very touching, and spent some quality time with friends. 2013 was a very exhausting year for me. Working, studying, and keep up all the other parts of my life took its toll.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I don't generally make New Year's Resolutions, but I do plan to make it a goal this coming year to get more hours of nightly sleep. Another goal is probably getting my 5th Dan, and of course, hopefully finishing my PhD by the end of this year. It is possible.

I have a life full of rich experiences. I am very blessed.


MasterQuick said...

Het was een mooi en treurig jaar Sanko! Dat 2014 veel zegeningen moge brengen!

Skryfblok said...

Dankie my broer. Ek waardeur dit. Mag jy ook 'n lewensryk en geseënde 2014 ervaar!