The first day of the Peace Mission has passed. I found my way through the rain to the designated train station in the countryside and somebody picked me up. Some of the associates whom I met last May soon arrived thereafter, bringing S, sometime around 2:30.
He floundered at the subway station in Seoul that morning, arriving much too early and buzzing about looking for people before they got there, emailing me frantically before I was even awake. Finally, the people of AWC called me looking for me; they had forgotten their original instructions about meeting him at the subway station at eight in the morning. It was already 8:40 at that time. I replied to S' emails telling him to hold tight and go to the correct exit. Eventually, around nine, they met.
S had not taken all the info I had sent to him about transit to the hotel and then to the subway station meeting point the next day. He said he took a taxi all the way to his hotel in downtown Seoul, to the tune of $150! He got ripped off. To take the metro system the next day, he asked people and muddled his way through it. He commented that he thought the subway system efficient, so it could not have been that bad. It is just that he arrived their too early and must have been confused about the meeting time. A typical arrival story, actually, especially for someone in Asia for the first time.
There is a roadside camp below the transmission tower construction site, with a path dug up leading to it from the road but it is closed off by a platoon of police bearing shields and grim expressions. In front of them sat a half dozen pretty elderly women in white poke-a-dotted sky blue rain jackets. It was quite a sight! Surrounding them were a troupe of young people. In fact, they all posed with the women for a photo shoot. I got one, but my camera stuff is packed away for the moment so I'll have to upload the picture later for you. I guess our arrival, or their departure, was timed so that someone would be there to replace them when they all left in a big red coach bus. We made greetings and short speeches then went into a large tent to have snacks while we were briefed on the situation. They community has been fighting the installment of the towers for two years, and now the last of the towers is being constructed on the hillside above a rice paddy. Helicopters drop posts, and circle around to survey the scene, coming and going about 60 times a day, said the spokesperson. Around 500 police officer have been are posted in the village area. When few people are at the picket camp, police often beat the protesters, elderly or not, at the slightest excuse. That is why it has been important to get people to go support them and add to their numbers as much as possible. I was glad to be helping out.
I stayed until eight o'clock in the evening then got a lift to the train station. When I took the trip in and checked the train timetable, I could see that I would not have enough time to stay until the following morning and leave after the 10 a.m. press conference. I would have needed time to take the train to a station in Busan, take transit back to my place, change and shower, reorganize my carry-on bags, and close up the apartment before taking transit to the Busan airport. So I made the decision to leave that evening, although I had come prepared to stay overnight. The rain was pouring hard when I left the camp. I wonder how everyone fared lying on the mats all night. I was glad to get home and have a shower and bed rest.