In as plain a language as I can muster,
I tell you this.

I wandered out just now to take the garbage out. The
wind was flicking my ears like a grade school bully (plain=figurative)
and I walked by a vent pumping steam from a heating unit. Mixed with the cold air,
it was refreshing. It reminded me of something.

Years ago, an eon perhaps. A Friday afternoon after work, after a few drinks, that Majuang wine
that the storekeeper kept asking about. “Is it good?” she would say and I would nod. Good enough for a Friday afternoon.

We went to your roof, high behind Sajik tunnel, Seodaemun stretched out beneath us. The kindgergarden, that beautiful house with an interior garden, those few remaining bits of the ancient Seoul wall. A perfect picture I never took. I think by that point I had a departure date set. I think it was one of those last times, that last Friday perhaps.

The wind whipped around up there, blowing my hair in face, my tie flickering like a sail. We always looked out over the city perhaps because neither of us wanted to look any closer at that menagerie of the landlord’s underwear on the clothesline. Or his friendly face when he came up to retrieve them.

That, for me, was Korea in a nutshell. And for every day from here to the end, I would be willing trade it for one more Friday afternoon on that roof, watching the sun slowly set over our busy hive, our flags flickering in the dusklight.

I am better here, no doubt about it. But I was something there, too. Something worth remembering in a photograph. A few lines in plain language.

By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

One thought on “Unfurl the flag of youth”
  1. Missing verse:

    Boy runs between buildings into an alleyway as thin as two pages of a book held between index finger and middle finger.

    Boy chases cat into alley.

    Alley and cat win as boy’s body is thrown back violently. That bloody, pulpy mass on the pavement is boy. His is alone as we all, too, are alone.

    The cat recedes out of alley. It looks up at the two young men looking down from the rooftop. The cat sneers . . . and then walks away.

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