The Tipping Point

I live in the city of Incheon. Incheon is directly next to Seoul. Incheon is the onramp MacArthur used to invade Seoul. But it’s not Seoul. The view from my villa window is a rusty tin shed straight out of apartheid South Africa. Ladyfolk I squire home wake up in a panic because they think they’re in North Korea. Anyway last year Incheon hosted the Asian Games, which is the Olympics minus white people and erected a silver behemoth of a stadium that they used for 10 days. It’s two blocks from my villa and will stand there inert for the rest of time. It cost $429 million. For those keeping score at home that’s $42.9 million a day to watch all-Asian shot put and other shit. Incheon is now broke and will be for the rest of time. The showoff move didn’t work. The tourism boom Incheon coveted never materialized and no wonder; Incheon is all peasantry and Soviet apartment blocks. No one visits here. You might as well visit Boise. No one grows up in Incheon and says aspires to stay in Incheon. What you do is you get the fuck out and move across the Han River to Seoul, and then lie and say you’re from Seoul.

Anyway Incheon is broke as fuck and the full-force of the fiscal pinch is now being felt at the school of my employ. It’s December and it’s cold. We have heaters in the ceiling but they’re permanently switched off. Too expensive. I dress for work like I’m going camping in Nepal. The beanie and scarf never come off. You could teleport me from my office to K2 and I wouldn’t even blink. At night they cut power to the whole building and if you have food in the fridge it spoils. You have to go hunt for the one person in the cold quiet building who has a key to the circuit breakers and ask him to switch everything on so you can start using Microsoft PowerPoint. Every morning he’s somewhere different. One morning he was deep under the stage in the gym dusting off the basketball nets. I shone my phone light on him and he grinned in the dark like Gollum. All of this is just to get to zero, to the starting line where you can begin to perform your contracted employment duties.

We have elevators but they’re locked down. Too expensive. The light panels have half their bulbs removed; full illumination is too expensive. I brought in a space heater to use under my desk and was told to remove it; too expensive. In the summer you have the opposite problem because of the heat. This is the human cost of the Games. There are also millions of people in Beijing and Brazil who were bulldozed into homelessness so other single-use stadiums could exist but fuck them, this is about me and I’m cold.

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11 thoughts on “The Tipping Point

  1. Sounds like I left Incheon at the right time, before the games happened. I lived in Songdo and it wasn’t so bad, but now I sort of wonder now what happened to the whole city that they were trying to build from nothing, massive buildings erected in the middle of fields.

      1. Yep. I think it was slowly going under as well. The Director was fired shortly before I left because many of the students were switching schools.

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