Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lovely updates on my Korean letterbox

Seoul, South Korea, with N Seoul Tower on Namsan Mountain in the middle of the city
So one of the many things I have been behind on blogging about is my profound delight in getting find notices on a box I planted while in Seoul, South Korea: Love in Suraksan.

In early spring of 2012, I was a very sad Bumble who was missing her baby sister, let's call her Mini Bumble.  A year earlier, Mini Bumble flew across this planet to work at a South Korean hogwan where she was responsible for teaching English to a small class of nine adorable kindergarteners. Since I missed her and wanted to visit the place she had been calling home, I packed up my gear and flew over to meet her - taking a small letterboxing kit with me, obvs. She lived just outside of Nowon, a district of Seoul, at the base of Suraksan Mountain.

At the time, there really weren't many boxes in Seoul - or at least there weren't many listed on AQ.  Combine that with some significant difficulties in getting around without knowing the language meant that I wasn't able to find any boxes while I was there (came oh so close: we found the right spot for one, with certainty, but the box was MIA).

If you haven't been to Seoul, it is a magical place for letterboxing.  The dense urban city is broken up by endless little mountains with an infinite number of walking trails.  The only thing stopping me from heading in was my fear of getting lost.  Anyway - just a tip for any letterboxers who may be going over to visit or teach.

I had no idea what I would plant, and I was actually nervous that I'd have trouble taking a camo'd lock-n-lock through airport security, so I believe I had a box that was clear and a small slab of uncarved material.

In the end, overcome with seeing my sister after so long and absolutely loving the country, I decided on a simple heart with a Canadian flag maple leaf and a Korean flag Taegeuk inside. (If I've somehow spoiled the box for anyone, my apologies.)

I had a bit of a time hiding it, though.  With such a dense population of people, there was never a moment I was alone and my slight hike up Suraksan Mountain wasn't proving to have a lot of hiding spots.  In the end, thanks to the water that was not coming down the mountain while I was there, I was able to hide the box under the decking of the areas beside the water flow areas for which the mountain was named.  I hid it and got out as stealthily as only a tall, white, overweight foreigner can.

I listed the box and finished my wonderful trip, Mini Bumble as my guide, returning to Canada after my trip.

And I waited. 

And I waited.

Really, no hits on the clue.  I couldn't really imagine anyone from North America heading out there and to the end of one of the subway lines to climb a mountain based only on the directions given by a letterbox clue.  And as time went on, I could only imagine that the citizens of the cleanest country I've ever visited would find my box and remove it.  So I waited, but secretly wanted no one to even make an attempt because the thought that it was still there on the other side of the planet made me happier than if I found that it was gone.

But then two years after planting I got a find and a lovely message from Sonoran Girl: "I was the first finder on this box even though it was planted almost two years ago. It was a little mucky from its days by the creek, but it's in perfect condition and has a lovely hand-carved stamp inside. It's well hidden enough to never be noticed by someone not specifically looking for it, which is kind of a miracle here in Korea."

So very happy.

Then not so long later, from Fruitcake: "Just wanted to let you know that I came VERY close to your letterbox, but had the misfortune of searching on Korean independence day when the creek area was swarmed with people. UGH! So close, yet so far away! It is in a beautiful location though, and I really enjoyed my time in the park."

Almost there, but I can't believe all the people in the creek were not seeing the box...

But it was safe! From Lig: "The box and contents are all in great shape. First time trying multiple colors on the same stamp; it worked really well. Check out Cafe Dasio at the end of the street, near the box for an artsy place to stamp in while enjoying something sweet."

And then as recently as March, from JIY: "Hi, the park is beautiful and I loved the Stamp."

I've had a bit of a weird year starting last summer and have been a little down.  These finders don't know that their find logs filled me with an indescribable joy. Maybe I'll send this post their way...

Happy trails!

1 comment:

  1. Hey! That's me, Lig, and my Girlfriend JIY. So happy to have found your box. It was one of only a few that I managed to find in Korea. I have struck out on a few.

    I have planted a bunch and like you, am waiting, and waiting for finders and a new planter would be a godsend.

    I made a group meet to teach people about letterboxing and stamp carving. they had to find the meetup following letterbox like clues to make sure and get teh right people. in teh end I think it is hard for non native english speakers to follow clues that are often not quite literal. i have made some clues very plain step by step walk-throughs just in case but even those have not found many finds.

    Perhaps Letterboxing is a bit of a fringe activity that especially seems weird in a culture of such homogenous thinking. Though I am hopeful as there are many foreign students studying and working here. i kow one or two have to be letterboxers.

    Take care and keep boxing.