Wednesday, June 07, 2006


RIP Shawn. Shawn was a former English teacher in Korea who committed suicide not long ago. Some friends mentioned recently his death, and how they were going to participate in a charity fundraising to send his ashes home. I didn't realize who it was until tonight.. I've often come across his thoughtful and articulate posts on Dave's ESL Cafe. He kept blogs and even published a few books about living in Korea. I remember replying to his last thread on Dave's ESL, about how he was really happy in China.

I remember this thread in particular, because people seemed to mistake his happiness for gloating, and seemed intent on proving him wrong. He seemed really easy going about it, apologized, and changed the thread title from 'I'm in China now. It's better than Korea' to 'I'm in China now. It's different than Korea.' He had real-life problems, but it's sad to think that maybe some of the online bullying contributed to his mental state. I suppose it serves a good lesson to err on the side of being nice to everyone, even through the internet, as you never know how your words could influence someone. Here's a great example of his writing. I know some people who could definitely use an alternative garlic mincing solution!

The Subway Salesman

November 22, 2002
by Shawn Matthews

I was riding the subway in Busan reading the Korean Herald when I heard someone make an announcement. I glanced up. It was a Subway Salesman. I have always found these people rather entertaining. They are usually lively, animated middle aged men that deliver their sales pitch with such gusto that you suddenly find yourself needing their wares, even if you can not understand Korean.

On this particular afternoon, the Subway Salesman appeared to be selling some sort of ring. He held it up and showed it around. Many people watched, whether because they were genuinely interested or because there is not a lot else do on a subway I am not sure, but they followed his hand intently with their eyes. He spoke at length about this apparently amazing ring, his voice rolling on, slowly getting louder, faster, rising higher and higher until it reached an almost feverish pitch. Then suddenly he stopped. All was quiet save the sound of the subway rocking down the tracks. He paused a moment for effect. Then, to my bewilderment, he put the ring on his thumb. Several people began to murmur. An Ajuma gasped and covered her mouth. The Subway Salesman held his thumb out and slowly showed it around drawing the close attention of every passenger in the car at this point. Next he reached down into a black bag and dramatically whipped out a clove of garlic. This is getting pretty bizarre, I thought. But then I finally figured it out. It was not just an ordinary ring. In fact it was a garlic cutting thumb ring! There was a blade on it! Within a few seconds the Subway Salesman had diced the garlic into a small pile in the palm of his hand. He held out his hand showing each passenger. As the strong odor filled the air, he continued on with his sales pitch. I wondered what he could possibly be saying for so long and so ravenously about it.

When at last he ended his spiel several men and women held out 1000 Won bills and purchased the extraordinary garlic cutting thumb ring. As he passed me, he gave me a look as if to say, "You must be crazy. You will rue the day you passed up this great bargain." The subway squealed to a stop and the Subway Salesman moved on to the next car.

He was right. Even to this day, whenever I slice garlic with an ordinary knife, I wish I had purchased that ring.


Anonymous korean reader said...

Hi Jocelle,

It is very sad. Sorry about the loss.


Here's a couple of links for someone who may be interested in being a home stager in Vancouver. Last time I forgot to post it when I replied to your query.

9:06 PM  
Blogger s said...

Thanks for the links! That looks like it would be a really challenging yet fullfilling job. Love the before/after pics.

10:52 PM  

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