They say that money never sleeps, and increasingly neither do I, and not just because of the return of the humid weather that seems to conspire to turn our one-room apartment into an extended oven. When global stock markets become extremely volatile, to the point it even brings down a high street bank back home, there's money to be made and lost, Bloomberg gets streamed ten hours a day and Korea might as well be in another country, especially when you've taken to trading the Hong Kong market in the morning to try and wean yourself off trading London past midnight and somehow only succeeded in finding yourself embroiled in both.
It's a mistake of course. I'd been making some progress with my Korean language studies, by the time I stepped outside yesterday, for the first time since Monday, it felt a bit like I was having my first day in Korea all over again, for the lack of attention it's had in my mind recently. Because it was a market day, I was immediately hit with the smell of Korean cooking wafting through the streets mixed with the seemingly ever-present sewage smell, people shouting at each other in some strange foreign language, sometimes with megaphones, and using the road outside as a car park. The noise of a market day, which begins at about 8am and finishes around 10pm, is occasionally punctuated by quick blasts of police sirens as they try to work their own way through the crowds, often followed by sharply barked orders not to do this or that, which everyone naturally ignores.
It was all a bit of a shock really, not least because when leaving a shop I couldn't remember to say '수고하세요' which is the standard 'keep-up-the-good-work' thing that you say in these circumstances. My vocabulary has stalled at around 420 words but when I spend days immersed in the financial markets I'm lucky if I can remember my own name afterwards. When Keith Olbermann said George Bush's goal was 'War today! War tomorrow! War forever!' I couldn't help relating that phrase to my experiences here recently.
Korean tags: 공부, 시장, 전쟁