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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Message In a Bottle: Korea and Israel


In some surprising ways, Korea has become my second home. I would have hung that mantle on Israel, with all our trips there and my decade of work with Seeds of Peace. But certainly that connection has become far too complicated by how Israel, as a political entity, treats a people (the Palestinians). I think that relationship is a bit like an addict and an enabler. Every time I try to will hope and good intent on the State of Israel, one of its leaders steps forward, yells something about a foolish new policy, and peace retreats two steps, or even further, into the shadows. It's an exhausting and disappointing process.

Korea is a much easier marriage (at least for me). Like Israel, the food here is great. Like Israel, the politics (with its neighbor, North Korea) are heavy lifting. But Koreans ignore the demons. Yes, there are the occasional incursions and gunfire. But what else, they seem to say, would you expect from a sad and outcast drunken neighbor?

The list of what I love about Korea is long: the food, the people, the topography (and only the size of the State of Indiana!), the culture, the history. And, not insubstantially, I suspect (no, I really do), that I may have lived a previous life here. Either that, or I am confusing a previous existence here with my earlier stint as a 22-24 year old peace corps volunteer. Either way, some very emotional strings are pulling me...

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