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Ace Blogs: The Devil of Yongsan

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    Ace of Blades

    During my time here, I have met some very interesting characters with even more interesting backstories. Especially those who have come from overseas (me, for example) and are trying to make a new life for themselves.

    A Chef of the same level as I had started a week after I did, let’s call him J, and I slowly got to know him because if both of us are going to be in the back prep area picking parsley leaves for an hour, you’re going to talk.

    At first he seemed like a really laid back kind of guy trying to brush up on his English skills while he was on a work holiday visa, but then we started talking about our pasts.

    J told me he was in the Korean army a few years ago.

    I thought to myself, “oh sweet, he’s probably got some war stories to tell me.” Yet, as the saying goes, war is hell and J had coined the nickname Devil.

    The Korean army requires mandatory service for a few months from those who just turned 18, yet even in this short time frame, one can be completely changed.

    The Yongsan military base was one of the few metropolitan bases in Seoul, so he wasn’t cut off from civilization and is a US controlled base. He began by saying that, on top of all the training and drills he was doing, he was also working in the kitchen as a cook. A military cook is up at the earliest of hours making food that is somewhat palatable for a few hundred dudes three times a day.

    I can only imagine what kind of stress he put himself through to spend one day training and then the next day in a 16 hour kitchen shift. I can see why he was so calm all the time, because the job he is currently doing is hardly half as hard.

    As he yarned his stories he maintained a certain objectivism, like the things he went through were just every day occurrences (I guess they are if you’re in the military). Even though he didn’t advance in any ranks, he took his service quite seriously and mocked those who didn’t; some to point of tears. He would do his training and kitchen duties without fail, as if he was being groomed to be some sort of super-soldier chef. This is why they called him Devil.

    I was slightly intimidated.

    A few days later we were working in the same section during dinner service, and I need a spoon to plate something. I took it right before J was going to use. In a disappointed yet threatening tone he said, “If you take that spoon without my permission, I’m going to kill you with it.”

    Needless to say I gave his spoon back to him.

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