i remember 제주도

Jeju-do is an island off the south coast of Korea (Hangul: 제주도), famous for its resorts but also for the so-called Jeju uprising of 1948–49.

Gangjeong is a small village on the south coast of Jeju-do which is home to an anti-nuclear Peace Zone.

The village mayor, Kang Dong Kyun, regularly protests against military activities on the island.

I wrote this poem after visiting Jeju-do, and the Gangjeong Peace Zone, in 2009. It was first published online in Peril in 2012.

for Choi Sung Hee

i remember jeju-do: that living eye,
a candy-coloured sky that was remote-
controlled by halla-san, or lord muck,
a lady mountain gathering her skirts
around her as a cloud sucks up rain. 

i remember 제주 4·3 사건, although we
were not there, bullets like a maze,
weeping in secluded lanes, wounds as
big as tangerines & the green moulds 
all over the dead (the reds, the red

i remember gangjeong peace zone, cute
as a postcard, & its anti-nuke murals
(white wall with that painted-on tree 
whose outline mirrored that of a real
tree (its leaves greener than my hopes

i remember kang dong kyun, the mayor,
was arrested for protesting too much - 
and for eating too little in his cell,
his hunger strike embarrassing some,
while electrifying the people's media 

i remember "Touch not one flower, not 
one stone!", a great mantra for daily
living, just like mayor kang's letters,
each beginning with the line: dear 
mr. noam chomsky! dear mr. chomsky!

i remember seogwipo, quiet six pm city 
on the island's south side, the flowers
in boxes lining the steep path down to
the marina, & the harbour, & the wooden
restaurant where the mosquitoes ate us

i remember u-do, tiny postage stamp of
an island, where the haenyo plied their 
trade, sleek as seals in black diving
suits, surfacing with buckets full of 
sea anemones & sea's salt-water tears

but i forgot you, funny dol hareubang, 
like manwha characters playing dead,
frozen into stone on the mountainside. 
there'll be no memorial service for you
who can't remember, let alone regret.


About the author

Davey Dreamnation (1972–?) is an Australalian musician, vocalist, pirate and record-label owner who now lives 'in the third person'.

View his full biography.

O hai. Would you like to add a comment?