By Christine Hyung-Oak Lee efore the humans wielded blades that spat metal and fire, before we were born, before our mothers and grandmothers were born, there was no long barbed wire fence across the middle mountainous regions under which one must dig and slink across under cover of darkness. In those days when there was one Korea, we could visit the bears in Paektusan near the area where the human language shifts from Korean to Chinese, and then venture south to Gyeongju and visit the monks in such places as Sokkuram Grotto and the various fortresses. It was a countryside that made a dog sniff relentlessly, the air a wild concoction of rabbit and grasses and squirrels and berries. The monks at Sokkuram Grotto were a generous bunch, a welcome sight after trekking through the mountains above Gyeongju, always a bowl filled with food, and another, filled to the brim with water, awaiting you after a long journey. And the warrior monks at NamHanSanSeong Fortress outside of old Seoul were rumored to be very kind to dogs, despite their ferocious reputations. They were good for sanctuary in the worst weather and were always reliable and disciplined men who,
Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature & Culture – University of Hawai'I Press
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