My 100th Day in Korea

1 December 2007

Back in September, my friend at work, Ms Heo, told me that it was her boyfriend called to wish her happy 1600 days of being together."Two things," I said. "One, wow, that's a long time. Two, how do you count 1600 days like that?!"

Koreans celebrate anniversaries in increments of hundred days and years, instead of months and years like I'm used to. I immediately decided that I must celebrate my 100th day in Korea, which, according to my cell phone’s handy anniversary reminder function, would be December first.

delicious pajon

delicious pajon

To celebrate, I invited a couple of my best friends out for a Korean dinner at my favourite Korean restaurant. Ms Heo, a moral studies teacher at my school, has become one of my best new friends I’ve made here, and my other friend is a friend from America I met studying in Ghana a few years ago. We dined on one of my favourite Korean dishes: pajon, a potato and seafood pancake.

with my 100th day party hat at N Seoul Tower

with my 100th day party hat at N Seoul Tower

Afterwards, we went to the N Seoul Tower on Namsan Mountain and took in the panoramic views from the top of the tower. The N Seoul Tower, very similar to the CN Tower in Toronto, is one of Seoul's paramount landmarks. Ms Heo was worried that the views wouldn’t be great because of the cloudy weather, but the clouds didn’t mask the radiance of the lights. The view was amazing. Seeing the glowing city lights is one of my favourite things about city life. The tower's windows are marked with the directions and distances to cities all over the world. We read them all and thought of our friends and family in various locations around the globe. It was the perfect Korean celebration of 100 days in Korea, my new home.

Early the next morning, on 2 December, I received a phone call from a friend that changed my feelings about that day. Our friend, John, died in a motorcycle accident in Seoul the previous evening, on my 100th day. My 101st day in Korea was spent mourning a great new friend.