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That sounds a bit sensationalist.

Actually, I’ve just returned from spending the night on my friend Yeong-chol’s farm on the Imjin River, which is on the edge of DMZ territory–as in down the road there were signs warning of land mines.

The area out there is pastoral and gorgeous.  I think the added threat of danger heightened the senses enough to make the colors more saturated.

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Since I’m on vacation, I got lazy with the pictures.  Do I have to take pictures of everything I eat?

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Well, I did eat this.  More on that later.

Yeong-chol called me Sunday and asked if I’d like to head out there Monday.  I had been wanting to get out into the country this summer, so I accepted.  We went down there with his family.  Even though it was just for a night, we did a lot of stuff.  Here are some highlights.

  • One of the best Subway sandwich shops in Korea.  It’s located in Dongducheon, near Camp Casey.
  • Helping harvest some deer antlers.  The farmers tranquilized a deer and sawed off its horns.  It’s a humane procedure, considering that the deer would get into fights and lose its horns anyway.  It was my job to carry the horns themselves.  They were surprisingly warm.  The base end was like bone, but the tips were surprisingly soft.  Since the bones are covered in fuzz, the harvesting produces some blood.  My other job, then was to help quickly bottle a solution of stomach medicine and ten percent deer blood, freshly mixed, before it coagulated.  I was coaxed into downing a paper cup full of it.  Tasted like minty Maalox.  Funny, my stomach was very relaxed the rest of the evening.]
  • Got to see the mountain that Yeong-chol owns.  He’s fighting the government to keep it.  It’s getting designated as a historical site for what sounds like conveniently political reasons–it’s where the Koreans defeated the Chinese in a major battle that led to Korea’s expansion.  There’s a political spat between Chinese and Korean historians over Korea’s historic borders, so this sounds politically timed.
  • Sharing a pitcher of beer, a bottle of wine, and two shots of North Korean liquor while enjoying the peaceful quiet night on the deck.
  • Note to brother: the farm’s accountant is cute, young and single
  • Country breakfast of stout all-Korean bean tofu fried in oil (tasted like pancakes) with a rich doenjang jjigae, some deer meat and fresh water kimchi.
  • Making potato chips in the farm’s restaurant kitchen.
  • Enjoying the foot massage machine/robot
  • Being the only men in an all-ajumma cooking class–talk about being the center of attention!
  • Sleeping with the window open out in the country with only the sound of the river in the background.
  • The sushi restaurant near Yeong-chol’s house in Seoul.  Amazing omakase.
    • Hairtail roe wrapped in shiso leaf–a new exotic flavor with a new exotic texture
    • Two sea urchins (Yeong-chol gave me his just to watch me make those gutteral noises again)
    • A fermented fish dish similar in style to Edo zushi and the original forebear of sushi itself.  Extremely intense flavor that caused cramps in my salivary glands and made me cry.  Not pretty but good stuff.

We had actually planned to go to a DMZ lookout point and check out some horses, but obviously we ran out of time.  So, how was your weekend?

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