Tag Archives: Jeonju

The Lotus Ocean – Visual Fiction

lotus ocean

Morning dawned on the world of green.

The inhabitants awoke from their verdant  beds to find that the central ocean had been replenished, as it was every night.

“Dad, where does the ocean come from?” the boy asked his father as the family walked down one of the jade veins that radiated out from the center of the leaf.

“It comes from the sky,” the father said. “Every day it dries up and then is replaced during the cool of the night.” They reached the edge of the ocean, which towered above them, curving out of sight. They could see others gathering on the far side of the ocean, their forms skewed by the curved surface of the water.

The family drank, putting their mouths to the wall of water in front of them and drinking deeply. After several minutes, when all were refreshed, they began the climb back up the leaf to their home.

“Dad?” the boy asked. “What if the ocean stops being replenished?”

“Do you mean the legends, son?” the father asked. “The legends of terrible cold or burning heat? That is not likely to happen, but if it does, we will move to a different leaf. There are thousands of them, you know.

“What if it happens to all of them?”

The father only smiled and ruffled his son’s hair but the fear tightened inside him, the fear that he would admit to no one. It was the same fear that they all felt, in the private recesses of their minds if the night was long or the weather turned strange.

What if the ocean stops coming? What if extreme heat withers the leaf? What if cold freezes everything into an uninhabitable wasteland?

What if?

lotus pond

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Blue Storm – Visual Fiction

For those who are new to my blog, I do a Visual Fiction flash fiction every Sunday, based around a picture of mine that I find inspiring. If you’d like to join me in this, feel free to use the picture to write your own story. Just give me the link to yours in the comments, since I’d love to read it. I write stories of all genres and moods, although this one happens to be rather dark.

Taken in Jeonju, South Korea

Taken in Jeonju, South Korea

I knew that magic had a price, but it never occurred to me that it might extend beyond the one foolish enough to try to wield it.

*

“Jules, you’re mad! Quit it!” I shouted, trying to be heard above the rising winds. Jules was standing in the circle he had drawn in the forest clearing, shaking convulsively. At the time, I thought it was some sort of ecstasy of unholy power, but now that I reflect, it looked more like a person who has grabbed onto an electric fence and has tapped into a source of power far too vast for them to handle.

I ran, just as the clouds overhead began to seethe and spread a poisonous blue hue across the sky. It moved faster than I, and by the time I returned to my apartment, it had covered the city. A rift of dazzling light appeared in it and the last thing I saw before I shut and locked my door was a rain of dark objects beginning to fall.

*

It has been two days. I have not heard from Jules, but if he is dead, he is lucky. The city is in a panic at the unearthly scourge that has overrun it. There are many names for them: imps, goblins, demons. No one knows what they are, only that they are incredibly hard, if not impossible, to kill.

I sit and cower at home now, regretting any part I played in Jules’ mad schemes. I know that if they should find me, the concrete walls of my apartment will offer me little protection. Still, I wait and pray that this storm, like all others, might eventually pass.


How to make my day

So, I came home this evening to see this:

Freshed PressedYep, my blog post on Jeonju’s south gate got Freshly Pressed.

As you can imagine, I’m pretty happy about that.

Thank you to everyone who has visited, liked, commented, and followed the blog as a result, as well as all those who have been faithful followers for a while. I appreciate you all.


The Great South Gate of Jeonju: Pungnammun Remembers

The Prosperous South Gate they named me, and I have borne that name with pride for centuries. I have been a rampart against attackers and a conduit of prosperity to my people within; the First Fortress of the Honam region, I was the first, the greatest, and now I am the last. I am Pungnammun.

Pungnammun sign

I do not track the passage of time itself beyond remarking the change from the bitter cold that grips at my mortar to the sweltering heat that bakes my stones and slate roof. Still, I remember. I remember the people, the little ones that have walked over and through me and I feel for them in their brief little lives, so full of tragedy and desire.

I remember the day when they passed judgment on three of their kind for worshipping a deity from a faraway land. They beheaded them and hung the heads from my walls. That night the skies poured down rain and soaked my stones with tears that I was unable to cry, washing the martyrs’ blood from my walls and into the eternal soil for burial. I remember an endless stream of peasants and goods entering in to sell at my markets; I remember the bodies being carried out for interment on the mountain slopes. I remember each and every one of them.

Pungnammun in the 19th century. Source.

Pungnammun in the 19th century. Source.

What I remember most happened long ago, back when my walls were intact and people and animals passed through me every day. Invaders were attacking the country from the east and a young lieutenant of the city guard left to aid in the defense. The night before he left, he met his beloved in my gatehouse and pledged to return to her, if he could. Her name was Seon-Mi; I know because he said it over and over as they held each other. I did not know his name, for she called him only “my lord”.

I never saw him again, or felt his feet on my stones and planks. Seon-Mi came every day to sit in my gatehouse and watch for his return. The tears that she shed soaked into my planks and I kept them for her, pledging silently to hold and guard her until her lord could return. I kept the rain and snow off her as she sat and waited through the years and then, one windy night, I held her body as her soul flew at last beyond the reach of my protection and help.

I am alone now. The wall has been demolished and my sisters and brothers, the North, East, and West Gates of the city, have been torn down to make way for the insatiable step of progress. Their places are forgotten, but I remain. And I remember.

Pungnammun at night

The above account is a mixture of fact and fiction concerning the iconic south gate of the city of Jeonju, South Korea, written in part for the Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge, whose theme this week is “Iconic”.


The Wrong Tourist – Friday Fictioneers

Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for choosing my picture for this week’s Friday Fictioneers. This was taken in Jeonju, South Korea. Pungnammun, the historic south gate of the city is in the background.

The Wrong Tourist

He nodded when I pointed to the gate and proffered my camera. I walked towards it . . . and turned to see him take off running.

He picked the wrong tourist.

I screamed like a berserker and tore after him. He was almost at the road, a patch of wet cement between us.

That Nikon was two weeks old.

I made a flying leap and grabbed his ankle, just before crashing into wet goo. He flailed frantically but I death-gripped him ten minutes til the cops came.

We made the evening news.

I hear they put up a statue to commemorate it.


The Woman Who Wants to Meet Bush

Considering this is a fiction blog, almost everything I put up is fiction, even if it’s written in a realistic way. This post, however, is totally true. It actually happened to me last week and nothing is exaggerated. For those of you who don’t know, I live in the city of Jeonju, South Korea. The conversation below took place in Korean, so what appears here is an approximate translation.

*   *   *

I was walking through one of the outdoor markets on the way to lunch when a woman grabbed my arm. She was older, with a heavily wrinkled face and sporadic, yellowed teeth. She was dressed up in several coats.

Her first question was where I was from. This is not that unusual; it’s the number one question people ask me. Before I could answer, she asked if I was Mexican (that’s a first). I told her I was Canadian.

Woman: You know America?

Me: Yeah, America.

Woman: I don’t know who the president of Canada is, but the president of America is Bush. I like him. He’s four stars. I wanted him to come to Korea before, but he didn’t come. Here, let me write my name down. Do you have something to write with?

Me: I got a pen.

She wanted something to write on too and dug through her coats (proudly showing me the US Air Force patch on one of them) and pulled out a small day planner. She laboriously wrote down her name and her address and then wrote down “To the American President” I had to tell her how to spell the last syllable of the Korean word for “president” which is the first time I’ve ever helped a Korean spell a Korean word. Then on the side she wrote “I am inviting you”.

Translation: Korea, Mrs. Son Il-Kong, Jeonbuk, Jeonju, Geumam 2dong, Block ---, To the American President. I am inviting you.

Translation: Korea, Mrs. Son Il-Kong, Jeonbuk, Jeonju, Geumam 2dong, Block —, To the American President. I am inviting you.

She gave me the paper and told me to be sure to ask him to come. People passing by were giving us looks as she was writing all that down, but I didn’t care. She told me again to be sure to tell him to come and I said I would, because seriously, what else can you say in a situation like that?

Me: You know, the president now is Obama.

Woman: No, the one before the black president.

Me: Okay. (the woman knew who she wanted)

Woman: Maybe you should take a picture for him to bring.

Me: Sure thing. Let’s do that. (I take her picture.)

Woman: What’s your name?

Me: David.

Woman: Can you write that down? (I write down my name, but not my address.)

The woman who wants to meet Bush

I almost laughed when she threw up the peace sign.

At that point, I shook her hand and said good bye. I walked away feeling great; it was such a great experience. You might think she was mentally unbalanced and perhaps she was; I can’t comment, since I don’t know her. All I know is that she really wants to meet President George W. Bush.

P.S. I really did email President Bush and passed on her invitation to come to Korea to meet her. The ball is in his court now.


Visual Fiction – Tower Camp

Tad looked up the moon burning like white phosphorus above him. It was growing, fattening, and three days from now it would be full. He lay down and listened to the soft hum of electricity running above him. Already he could feel that wildness that grew inside of him every month, the atavistic ferocity that led him to desert his comfortable town life and move his dwelling to this rude camp under the tower. His neighbors had laughed at him anyway and called him crazy.

He didn’t care though. Three more days and he could hunt werewolves.

taken in Jeonju, South Korea

taken in Jeonju, South Korea


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