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Living in ‘Korea’

By Jullie Y. Daza

TWELVE-year-old Paolo was preparing to pack, very reluctantly, for a vacation in Seoul. Mumbling as he did so, he said to his mother, “I don’t want to go to Korea, I would much rather go to Hawaii. There, I can go to the beach, do the fire dance, and wear a colorful Hawaiian shirt.”

“What’s there not to like about Korea?” his mother asked.

Paolo replied, “Who wants to go to Korea? I already live in Korea!”

This is what he meant. “When I was in grade 2 and 3, my best friend was a Korean. This condo is full of Koreans, I bump into them at the lobby, in the elevator. We eat Korean food, the maids watch Korean dramas, I will explode if I hear another sound and another word about K-Pop!”

Not to mention that his sister is friends with two sisters who are Koreans, or that it was his half-sister who brought up the idea of a summertime break in Seoul.

Going to Korea was as timely as the headlines, though by the time Paolo and his siblings arrived in Seoul, most of the cherry blossoms had fallen, gone with the wind. Still, the two Koreas were in the prime of their “spring of peace” as Kim Jong-un applauded and cheered a big troupe of entertainers from Seoul, including aging balladeers, K-Pop superstars, and taekwondo experts. Pyongyang reported Kim was “deeply moved” by the concert staged in Pyongyang, the first since 2005.

Another propaganda coup for Beloved Leader Kim after he sent a delegation to the Winter Olympics in Seoul and a separate team of cultural performers two months ago.

Paolo may not have jumped for joy at the thought of a Korean holiday, but he remembers that his mother was in Guam on a lark – via an “incredible” airline promo – two days after the same Kim Jong-un threatened to unleash a nuclear attack on the United States last year.

In Korea during the Holy Week, the same Paolo who complained about living in Korea, Philippines, messaged his mother: “I love Korea! The weather is so nice, the food is to-die-for!”

But chubby Paolo will not take kindly to a suggestion that he might look outstandingly cute with a Kim Jong-un haircut.

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