I had just finished four wonderful years teaching English at West Point, and so the Army decided to send me on what was archly referred to as a “punitive tour”—an assignment meant as a counterbalance to a previous assignment that was, oh, perhaps a good fit for one’s skills, or in a desirable location, or just plain fun. Or perhaps all three. Whatever the Army’s rationale, I was ordered to leave my family stateside while I reported to South Korea and Camp Casey, well north of Uijeongbu (where M*A*S*H was set) and within shouting distance of the Demilitarized Zone and North Korea.
Amid the war games and training exercises, I spent much of my free time in Korea trying to complete the dissertation I hadn’t finished while teaching at West Point. But occasionally, I got out to see the country beyond the gates of Camp Casey. And so I went to Seoul for a weekend in the Spring.