Sunday, 30 December 2012

2012 in Retrospect

As is the custom, it is time for me to reflect again on the monthly highlights of the past year. Unfortunately, unlike the previous years (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) since I started doing this, I have not been very good at chronicling my life, mostly because I've been working too hard, leaving me seldom in the mood for blogging. Hopefully I can recall the most significant events. But sometimes life is not about what happened, it could also be about the things that didn't happen. For instance, 2012 was the year in which I should have gotten married, but didn't.

January / February

January started with a trip to Hong Kong. This was my second trip to Hong Kong and I enjoyed it every bit as much as the previous one. I was there for only a few days but I did a variety of things and felt much more at home this time round. This time I got to see the fish, bird and flower markets which I missed out on the previous visit. I also went to some more of the artsy places and also went to a "blind"-tour which I highly recommend. Unfortunately I did not have time to look into the local martial arts on this visit. Hong Kong is definitely one of my favourite cities. From Hong Kong I continued to South Africa for my annual trip to visit family and friends.

My visit in South Africa was exceptionally exhausting as I traveled almost ceaselessly. Stops included Cape Town and surrounding areas, Vanderbijlpark, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Pinetown, Durban, Polokwane, Tzaneen and Potchefstroom. I did some touristy stuff in Cape Town while visiting with my brother and also met up with some friends whom I haven't seen in years, including doing some parkour for the first time in a very long time after I had hurt my knee. It was good fun. I also had a number of martial art stops, including a Kyukushin Karate school in the Cape Flats; and I present Taekwon-Do seminars in Pinetown, Pretoria, and Potchefstroom. My trip in South Africa furthermore included attending a family reunion in Pretoria with family members I had literally not seen in decades.

You can see some posts and photos of my journey in Hong Kong and South Africa, particularly Cape Town, here.


Birthday Photo
At the end of February I returned to Korea to start with the first semester of 2012, teaching six modules, of which two were new classes that I had not taught before: Short Stories and Proze Reading & Writing. March is of course the month of my birthday. I had the flu, but I nonetheless made time to meet with some friends for dinner. I was quite tired since the previous night I went to the wake of my Taekwon-Do instructor's father-in-law who had passed away. I stayed with Master Kim-Hoon until around 3am.

There was one other interesting moment in March. I had the opportunity to meet with a famous Korean actor that used to make kungfu movies in Hong Kong during the 70s, master Wang-Ho, founder of the “Heaven-Earth Martal Art Way,” that mixes traditional Korean martial techniques with some Chinese elements, and Korean cultural arts, such as dancing and calligraphy. It was truly a fascinating encounter.


April was a very strange month. Let's start with the non-strange. I had my annual health check and all seems fine. I attended an awesome Traditional Korean music and dance performance. I also attended a theater production of a friend of mine. Slightly strange was a student that acted terribly disrespectful. An interesting occurrence in April was when I met with a Professor at Kyunghee University to discuss the possibility of me doing a PhD there. Little did I realize the import of that meeting. (See December.) The weirdest thing during April was when a friendship suddenly turned head-over-heals and turned into something unexpected. Somehow all my precautions went out the window.


In April I saw the amazing theater adaptation of the graphic-novel The Arrival. It was pure magic. Another highlight for May was when I modeled for the artist Jang Yeongdoo who exhibited his work during the 2012 London Olympic Games. It was a great experience. Also martial art related, I co-promoted two students to black belt. I furthermore attended a Taekkyeon demonstration and hosted a Jeet Kune Do workshop, presented by a Dr Zee, a doctor of Chinese medicine and Jeet Kune Do exponent. I also went on a very interesting Buddha's Birthday tour, visiting some of the most significant Buddhist sites in and around Seoul. Then there was also a trip to a farm in Heongseong with a Korean-American friend who came to visit her parents.


June was slightly less crammed. I visited the Seoul Flower Market for the first time, which was very nice and I hope to go there again, and went to a rather boring Brazilian Jiu-jitsu tournament. I thoroughly enjoyed Ute Lemper's cabaret performance.

Also in June, I officially joined Facebook. #sigh#


July was a terribly sad month for me because my spiritual father Oom Andre passed away after a battle with cancer. At the same time one of my "mothers", Tannie Jenny, was in the hospital, also with cancer. I'm very thankful that she is still alive, although her struggle with cancer continues.

In July I did something interesting, I reviewed what I want in a partner.

As for trips, I went to Changgyeonggung Palace for the first time, and also visited Busan for the first time, even though it was a very short visit.

I think I wrote one of my best Afrikaans poems, "Boek en boekmerk", in July.


I was on vacation during August, but can't really say what I did during this month. There are very few photos in my August folder and my blog posts for Augusts reveals very little personal details. I know it was a very hot month and that I spent much of my time at home, probably just watching TV series on my computer. I know that I was close to burn-out the previous semester after those six modules I taught, so I really needed to just rest. I did start a new blog in August: "Korean Minute". One highlight for August was when I went to the National Museum of Korea to see the Ottoman art exhibit. I also went to some coastal town for a work "team building" trip. Each room had it's own en suite Jacuzzi, which was pretty awesome and my job gave all the employees a pair of Nike sneakers.

In August I bought a Horum Slow Juicer. I'm not sure if that is a highlight or not, but it does makes making nut milk much easier.


Starting with this semester I renewed my work contract for another two years, as of this new contract I was also promoted from Full Time Lecturer to Assistant Professor. The new title did not mean a raise in pay, however.

A nice September event was my tour of Buddhist sculptures at the National Museum of Korea. I also saw a number of performances: Pierre Rigal's "Theatre of Operations" and a harp recital.


My trip to Andong was definitely a Korean highlight for 2012, allowing for many great photo opportunities. A most unforgettable and magical production I saw was Murmures des murs by Aurélia Thierrée's.


In November I did capoeira for the first time. It was great fun. I also attended an anatomy drawing class. The theater production for November that I went to was "Opening Night" by the Amsterdam Toneelgroep. It was brilliant. I also saw three other dance performances, the most awesome one was by the Doo Dance Company founded by choreographer Jung Young-doo. His production "Forethought: Prometheus's Fire" was one of the most soul touching things I have ever experienced. It was soul-enriching. I know it sounds a little pompous to say that it was life changing, but I truly believe that to be the case. I walked out of the theater feeling as if I had heard the Gospel again anew.

In November, Guillotine, a literary publication I worked on as Creative Director and graphic designer went on sale in selected bookshops in South Africa. It was an exhausting but fulfilling project.

Standing in the snow

December was a busy month. As is usually the case at the end of the semester, I was very busy. I'm also teaching a winter class, Research Methodology, which kept me continuously busy even after the normal semester duties came to an end. In fact, I will be teaching the last class today, Monday December 31. This does not mean the end, as students will still hand in their final research papers at the end of this week which I then have to grade, so my holiday will only start well into the New Year.

Apart from being crazy busy, I did make time to visit with friends, particularly friends leaving Korea like Patricia, one of the first people I met coming to Korea for the first time in 2006.

Maybe the most significant thing that happened in December is that I received the news that I got accepted into a PhD program, starting next year, at one of the high ranking universities in Korea. The major is quite different from my previous fields of focus, so next year will definitely see a new chapter in my life. I'll still stay in Korea and continue my work at the same university that I'm presently working at, but I'm also starting my life as a PhD student in another major.


I'm sure I missed many other highlights. I know that I went to see some performances, such as a traditional dance performance at a palace, but I don't know when exactly it was. I also saw some movies that touched my deeply, like for instance Tree of Life and We Need to Talk About Kevin. Then there are other events that are too personal (personal in the sense that it is related to other people) so that I don't feel at liberty sharing it to the world, but which changed my life significantly. I mean significantly significantly, which caused me to re-evaluate my whole identity. 2012 was, in many ways, a shocking year for me. Unlike previous years where I had traveled to new countries, my journey in 2012 was a deeply personal one, taking me to new aspects of myself. I will always remember 2012 as a pivotal year. And, the world did not end.

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