Monday, March 2, 2015

Destruction of Professors Dorm, Korea University

January 2014, after having a lot of difficulties renting from Korean landowners I decided to move into the professors dorm. (My luck - my landowners were constantly selling the apartments I was renting and the last owner couldn't speak a lick of English and hardly spoke Korean so would hang up on me when I called .... fruuuustrating!) Wow, but I loved the dorm! I choose my apartments by the amount of direct sunshine, by having a view and by being near nature and somewhere to conveniently get some exercise. The teeny-tiny self-contained apartment (10' x 21') had what I liked, and with the added bonus of birds singing outside my window and the acacia trees with their heavy perfume scenting the air in the spring. Yes! I planned to stay a while.

the professors dorm in mid-December 2014
However, sometime in the spring semester the disturbing news that the professors dorm would be torn down in the summer (2014) came. I was not happy. Somehow, because of funding and perhaps other reasons, that plan didn't go through but we were told it would go through in the winter or the following spring. Fall came and the question again arose that the dorm might be torn down in the winter. We waited for news and then finally we received an official letter stating that the dorm destruction (and rebuilding) would be again postponed, this time until summer 2015. About one month later, I believe it was about December 8, we were abruptly informed that all residents of the professors dorm had to move out by January 11, 2015 and that destruction would take place shortly afterwards. We ... were ... stunned! We were basically given one month and one day to move. That's not much time to find a new home if a person is going to "escape" the destruction site. A few of us really had no time to house-hunt and so were kind of forced to move into the nearby International students dorm. Newer, nicer, five years old and with very modern conveniences, but very pricey. We ... were ... not ... happy.

December 22, 2014, less than two weeks after the residents had been told that their home would suddenly disappear, the ground-breaking ceremony for the new dorm took place. I caught the clean-up of the ceremony, and was not amused. All morning many KU employees had been working to clear the ice that no one had previously bothered to do anything about from the large parking lot. They spent hours scraping. Ah yes, a red carpet ... hmm! And notice the long low wall - it was topped with sand brought in from somewhere and so for the ground-breaking ceremony no brick from the parking lot was lifted but sand from some out-of-space place was lifted. A very indifferent action speaking here.
And of course "golden" shovels were used when "breaking the ground", actually the foreign sand.
The people cleaning up the ceremony remains asked what I thought. I said it was sad to say goodbye to such a fine home, but they didn't really understand. Rebuilding old things always seems to be viewed as better. There doesn't seem to be much place for nostalgia, or reflection on the past. The future must always be better, brighter ... Ah well.
Ah, politics seems to be what drove this sudden and very abrupt change of mind. As rumor has it, the Korea University president was out of town for a week or two and the person in charge of housing was going to go into retirement in less than three months and wanted to leave a "legacy", a statement of his contribution to the development of Korea University, and so while the president was out of town, he went ahead and contracted for the sudden demise of the dorm. The papers were quickly signed and once that happens, the ball is in motion and nothing much can stop it. Teachers and other residents were quite angry to say the least, and if someone wanted to be brave and file a lawsuit, it would have been viable as, according to the law, the leaser or owner must give three months notice before terminating a contract. Hmmm, but who in their right mind is going to sue their job provider ... and the hot feelings just had to be cooled outside of court. The top-down thinking in Korea still is strong, and little bottom-up complaints or suggestions is listened to. Although we didn't have much recourse for taking action, there were some people who were on the edge of "going for the juggler vein" of KU because they were so angry. They were also quite rational and dropped the idea. A very good idea they didn't, although as some of us said, it would have been "interesting" to see the fireworks!
And the image of the new dorm. Supposedly it will be finished in the summer of 2016 or winter of 2017.
I must remind myself ... new is always better ... but I will miss the trees, the birds, the quiet simplicity,
but I will also adjust.

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