I almost accidentally deleted this post before publishing it. I am so relieved.
This blog post will be a little different. For one because I don’t have a suitable short piece to share with you – everything I’ve written lately has been very dark and a bit disturbing – so I’ll be sharing the prologue to my new book instead. If you’re interested, scroll down. I hope you’ll stick around to read the rest this time as well.
I might’ve mentioned a few times that I started learning Korean again. I wasn’t really making that much progress so I decided to give myself tests. It worked for English in high school so why wouldn’t it work for Korean too? Every time I scored under 70% I’d have to do 100 push ups and 100 sit ups as a punishment – it’s the closest thing to my mother’s disappointment I could think of – but if I got over 90% I’d get a reward of choice.
Of course, being the shopaholic I am, I splurged and ordered Blonote on January 17th, three days after my first test. (I will refrain from posting any pics because photography is not a skill I possess and the ttmik website has great photos posted in the link provided.) I then had to study extra hard to make sure I deserved the reward.
If you’re unaware, Talk To Me In Korean is a great resource for anyone interested in learning the Korean language. I haven’t bought any of their books yet – not counting Blonote, as it’s technically Tablo’s book – because I’m permanently broke, especially nowadays, but they have plenty of free resources on their website too. I mostly rely on their podcasts for grammar. They’re fun to listen to, the speakers have great chemistry, and they provide helpful PDFs to summarise what they said.
Last month I finally decided to take the plunge and order something from their website. Had I been smarter I might’ve gone with one of their textbooks but Blonote caught my eye and before I fully realised what was happening I was looking at the order confirmation email. The shipping fees are kind of expensive but that’s normal when ordering stuff from Korea. The total for two books and a CD, including shipping, still only came down to a little over €40, which is reasonable. Estimated shipping time was 2-3 weeks.
Imagine my surprise when I received my package after only a week.
Ever since that day I’ve been practicing my self-restraint, only allowing myself a single page each day. It’s so hard not to read it front to back whenever it’s in your hands. Tablo did a great job and I am so stoked TTMIK made it available for sale on their (sister?)website. It’s hard to come by books in Korean here (in the Netherlands) so I’m happy I found a reliable source.
Unless you’re completely broke, I greatly recommend checking out TTMIK, especially if you’re (interested in) learning Korean. Honestly, I was tempted to even buy the Hangul Master book, even though I can read Hangul pretty well. It’s just that the promise of being able to read the titles of dramas/films from the poster /cover image/whatever it’s called was tempting. I had to remind myself that I couldn’t even read handwriting in the Latin or Cyrillic script to stop me from spending more money. If you do have the money to spare it’s easy to justify shopping at My Korean Store. I know I learnt more from TTMIK than I did from the Sogang textbooks I own.
So, now that I’m done freaking out over all the stuff I cannot have, enjoy this short piece:
A Bed of Flames – prologue
The scent of fire carried for miles in each direction, allowing bystanders to enjoy its exhilarating odour without the need to worry about their internal organs shrivelling up. In a way he was doing them a favour. As far as addictions went, his was fairly safe and unobtrusive to others in the vicinity.
Or at least it used to be back when he first started. No one looked twice at a homeless guy warming himself near a small fire, especially in the capital. The homeless were pariahs, social rejects of an entirely separate calibre, and as such more often than not completely overlooked.
That he didn’t actually fit it in no one seemed to notice. People were predictable that way; they didn’t want to see him so they didn’t. It was nothing new. A better person would’ve felt a shred of remorse at his blatant disrespect for the community but compared to the rest of society his actions were mildly bothersome at best.
At least he noticed them, provided them with warmth on those dreadfully long winter nights. He wasn’t a saint but he was honest about his shortcomings, at least to himself. And he didn’t pretend to be a good person.
Knowing all that, it was only a matter of time before he attempted stretching his boundaries. Stretch they did, further and further until even he was amazed by his lack of morality.
It was, therefore, only a matter of time before another human being would get caught up in it all. And another moment for him to realise it didn’t bother him in the slightest.