A Familiar Face

“I’ve seen you before,” he stammered in Korean.

And so began my re-acquaintance with Lt. Colonel Nam Dong Ho, our military escort at the Demilitarized Zone. I was surprised that he recognized me from my previous visit. Hundreds of tour groups must have passed by since our first encounter in 2013, but I guess it’s easy to remember a 193cm tall Korean American around these parts.

We began to shoot the breeze. I asked him how his family was. A manageable nuisance. I asked him how the DMZ tours have been. Just part of the job. Quit that smoking habit yet? Never.

Towards the end of the tour, our roles became reversed. I found myself the subject of questioning.

“What have you been up to since we last met?”

“I’ve enrolled in a master’s program at a graduate school.”

“What’s a graduate school?”

“It’s kind of like a 박사원, or PhD program, but shorter.”

“Well, what are you going to do after you graduate?”

I paused for a moment. “Man, I have no idea.”

“That sounds about right,” he laughed.

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