Lost in Korea

A couple of weeks ago, I received a belated Christmas present from N. It was a song he commissioned and had written for me! Keith John Adams (KJA) is a British musician. He was first in an acoustic guitar/drums/violin outfit called The Horse Doctors, then in Zuno Men, and now he’s on his own. For the release of his new CD, “Unclever,” which came out yesterday, his record label Happy Happy Birthday To Me did a special pre-order. The first 40 people to order “Unclever” would have a personal song written for them by KJA, based on stories they submitted.

When N. was placing his order, he asked me what my go-to anecdote was–the most unique experience I’ve had. I thought for a second that then told him it was probably when I got lost at a Korean Buddhist temple on Buddha’s birthday. Back in the summer of 1999, before N. and I were married or even dating, we both went on a university study abroad trip to Korea. A Korean TV network heard about our trip and decided to make a documentary about our group and so we had a camera crew following us around. Our group visited a lot of Buddhist temples, and even stayed overnight at one of them once.

Anyway, on Buddha’s birthday we were at a temple (Bogwangsa, I think) and a bunch of us decided to hike up the mountain above the temple to see a waterfall. About halfway up I decided to stop and take some photos of the rocks and stream and wait for the others to go up to the waterfall and come back. (I’m afraid that even then I was a pretty wimpy hiker.) Anyway, there was only one trail that led up and back, but somehow the rest of the group and I missed each other when they came back down. I waited by the trail until it started to get dark and I realized that it would be dangerous to try and get down the mountain in the dark by myself. So I headed down the mountain, silently freaking out in my head. My Korean wasn’t fluent by any means and I wasn’t sure how I would get back to the village we were staying at. I didn’t have a lot of money on me, but by the time I reached the temple I had convinced myself that I would be able to get a taxi or bus to the closest town and then from there I would be able to get a taxi out to the little village we were staying at. But I was pretty worried and only hanging on to my composure by a thread.

When I got to the temple, I saw that the procession of the lanterns had begun. As I watched the people streaming by, lit lanterns in hand, I recognized some students from our group. I was so relieved not to be stranded on my own that I promptly burst into tears. And fortunately the camera crew was right there to capture my humiliation! This was the only scene of me that made it into the final documentary. Awesome!

So N. told KJA a brief version of that story. And KJA wrote this song, “Lost in Korea,” about it. (You should see a player right below this. Let me know if it doesn’t work for anyone.)

I am thoroughly charmed by the song. It’s so sweet and fun. I’ve heard some of the other songs KJA wrote and a lot of them are very fun, but I still like mine the best! (Of course I’m a little biased though.)

You can find some of the other songs online at three imaginary girls and you ain’t no picasso. KJA’s record label is supposed to be sending the rest of the personalized songs to other music blogs during the next week or so. A bunch of people that ordered songs are getting together to have a vinyl record of all of the songs custom made. If it happens, I am definitely going to order one.

2 thoughts on “Lost in Korea”

  1. That has to be one of the cutest things I have ever seen! What a neat idea for a gift. He did a good job on that song.

    Pretty catchy too! I have a feeling I’ll be singing “lost in korea” in my head all day!!!


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