Friday, December 16, 2005

Rocket Man
Lunch time at Victoria Park where the 1,100 members of the Korean Peasants League can be found when they aren't clogging up the MTR system on their way to anti WTO guerilla mini-protests or sucking in pepper spray en masse near the Wanchai Sports Field has turned into a spectator sport for some of the park's regulars and other visitors.
The Hong Kong Korean community has been donating box lunches of Korean cuisine including bulgogi (barbecued beef), kimchi, rice, kong numul (boiled, seasoned bean sprouts) and sukju namul (mung bean sprout salad) to the KPL members who sit in circles on the sidewalks and along the low slung park walls to chow down.
Their repast quickly draws friendly, curious crowds who stand gaping and commenting on the Koreans as they shovel it down with wooden chop sticks. "Haven't they seen anyone eat lunch before?'' asked one European activist drawn briefly by the gatherings.
But the Koreans have turned the new cuisine spectator sport into a public relations coup by offering tasty samples of their lunches to anyone who looks hungry and applauding those who take the kimchi challenge.
Thirsty, too? That's when they pull out their secret weapon. Ever wondered what keeps them fueled for those long urban marches and gives them the spirit and stamina to hurl themselves into the harbor or to throw themselves repeatedly against police shields?
It's soju, a distilled clear rice-based liquor, usually about 30 to 40 percent alcohol. "Rocket fuel" might be the western translation. The KPL members were sucking it down from jars Friday prior to forays to the US consulate and other targets and offering hefty samples to the crowd. Strictly for professional reasons, I accepted three large shots and found myself shouting "mansei!" ("victory" or roughly the Korean equivalent of "bonzai") and "down down WTO" with them before orbiting back to the newsroom.
Glad to see you have cheered up a little. Your blog is compelling because you write with great honesty about your life.
I, for one, would miss your blog updates, if you chose to jump into Victoria Harbour, ingested the accumulated toxic substances there, and mutated into a writer for the South China Morning Post.
Remember the words of our great leader, Hunter S Thompson.
"Where's the Bourbon?"
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