Wednesday, August 18, 2010


The man in the shadows. Who is he? He's Kenny Kim, aka Kim Young-jin. Jeju Big Swim team member and responsible for the Korean blog:

Kenny has been fielding media requests for us and balancing work, for JDC as a manager for the Jeju Airport Duty Free Shop, and family as well. The best part about Kenny is he volunteered for the project, and he is a regular contributor to rhymeswithjeju, a foreigner's internet portal. He has the foreigner's community at heart.

Comment posted on the Korean blog. (Edited) From J.W. Kim: Hi Sherrin! Because of the typhoon, I worried about you. Many people are talking about you and your purpose. It means your purpose is already successful. I congratulate you! I hope you finish The Big Swim safely and successfully. Take care.

Where did you sleep last night? A popular traditional American folk song popularized by Nirvana, "My girl, my girl, don't lie to me, Tell me where did you sleep last night?" I'm not sure where "my girl" is or where she slept, but I happened to sleep here in The Big Blue 33 dive shop after arriving in Seogwipo Harbor.

Media cannibalism. Alive and well throughout this project. I am a part of this. I first heard this idea at The Jeju Weekly's one-year anniversary when former editor Tracie Barrett and Arirang Radio DJ Jenie Hahn explained that the English media on Jeju - since so small and everyone knows each other and talks about each other (and really just a microcosm of Jeju people and their media) - cannibalizes each other. One person interviews each other, who is interviewed by another and in the end everyone just interviews each other, figuratively eating each other alive.
Here is the perfect example. A JIBS producer (I'm not sure what the Konglish meaning of "PDnim" actually means) is interviewing team member Sung-mi, who in turn, throughout various parts of the day, was filming the producer film Sherrin and I. But, in the end, I am taking a picture of both of them and posting it on a blog. It is endless. Koreans, statistically, take more film and pictures than any other people, per capita, in the world.

Fake hugs. Ah, the Korean media! Sherrin and I fake hugged four times for the cameras Tuesday. Twice on the beach, and twice when I left the Hyatt on Tuesday night.

Why not reality? The best filming will come from Young-lim's and Sung-mi's cameras - since they spend the most time with us - not any other media. If Korean media were to actually be in the right places at the right times, they would have much better story lines and REALITY. I've written this before, but if they filmed me sleeping on Pyeongdae Beach instead of faking me setting up a tent on asphalt in the Maze Park, or filming Sherrin crying two times (once on Samyang Beach and once on Pyoseon Beach), or filming me vehemently swearing at Sherrin approaching Seongsan Ilchulbong, or us crash landing into whitewater at numerous locations (However, JIBS did luckily get the landing at Jungmun!), or filming the entire sloppy-fueled-by-wine conversation between Sung-mi and Young-lim in the wee hours on the Hyatt suite balcony and having Sherrin come and tell them to hush up. THAT is reality. Not Sherrin and I fake hugging.

Another donation. This one is from Rains Calvin or is it Calvin Rains?, on August 17th. I just write what Ji-su e-mails for the donations. Thank you. Personally, I don't know you. Your name is for sure Western, though. We're curious how you know of us. If you get a chance, please tell us; if someone else knows, please tell us.

Jawbreakers. A popular candy in the Western world, also known as Gobstoppers. Team member Ji-su is actually having her jaw broken during surgery, which takes place Thursday. All team members wish her the best of luck and she will not be able to talk, according to her, for two weeks.

Garbage update. The metal bucket floating in the water a few days ago, reminded me of a dairy farm. Did a cow kick this to sea? Probably not a dairy cow on the island. This could be the one piece of garbage that truly originated from China. ... A lot of wood pieces. Big chunks. I've seen some with the nails sticking out and through. The bigger harbors we have recently passed by - Namwon, Wimi, Seogwipo, - are filthy. Shit floating everywhere.

How clean are Jeju's waters? I've had extreme experiences with water. I grew up close to the Milwaukee River. Everyone knows to eat a fish out of that river is simply not safe due to the high toxicity levels, and this was true when I was born 31 years ago. Fast forward to today. I can and do drink the water to this day out of the Pocosin and Conway Rivers which flow close by my mountain cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Are Jeju sea waters clean? Overall no. Relative to China? Yes. Would I tell a prospective international traveler to visit Jeju or someplace in the Caribbean based on the water quality? The Caribbean, without a doubt. For example, the waters around Puerto Rico's smaller eastern islands, Vieques and Culebra, are much more scintillating than Jeju's. And Puerto Rico is one of the most densely populated islands in the world with 4 million people. And, they properly clean their beaches, year round.

But, Jeju's waters should be the cleanest, and their many diverse beaches should also be the cleanest, if properly cared for.

Don't believe the nonsense Jeju government reports that say the water is "clean" to attract tourists. While those same domestic tourists contribute more to their country's waste in the sea by never being taught to properly throw it away.

Get out there and see the sea for yourself. Don't believe what other people tell you. Do the research yourself.


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