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Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Here's The Deal

I'm in a constant battle to remain functionally healthy in Seoul, and I'm not alone. This time of year in Korea, dust storms in the Gobi desert blow across the sea from China to Korea, absorbing pollution along the way. The result is a perpetual yellow-brown smog for the months of February and March, turning an otherwise beautiful time of the year to an immune system endurance test. About a third of my students have a chronic cough, and I've developed strange Rorshach test splotches around my ankles. Undaunted, Korean trees will soon erupt in rioutous shades of spring blossoms; magnolia, cherry and plum. Even in Seoul, the craggy hills hide verdant glades between apartment block monoliths, and old men sun themselves on wooden pagodas.
It must have been incredible back in the day.

Seeing children wearing masks to protect themselves from the haze as they bob between the Hyundais, Kias, and Daewoos gives one pause for thought...What good is rapid industrialization if you can't breathe the air? My experiences here have turned me into an environmentalist. Korea is where we're headed, should Bush's "polluters regulate themselves" environmental policies become firmly entrenched.

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