Ep. 14 – John Nowell on 53 Years in South Korea

John Nowell has lived in Korea since 1965 and has been a first-hand witness to the economic and political transformation of South Korea from a poor backwater to global powerhouse. He has worked for the U.S. Army, the Ambassador Hotel, and even Lowry’s Steakhouse for a time. At 77 years old he now heads the Oriental Press at the Dragon Hill Lodge inside Yongsan Garrison. This episode is a joint collaboration between Settlers of Seoul and Yongsan Legacy Project, an organization dedicated to capturing the historical and cultural legacy of Yongsan Garrison and archive historical facts, stories, and memories of the site. To learn more about this please visit http://www.yongsanlegacy.org


Show Notes

01:40 on coming to Korea for the first time

03:39 on Korea in 1965

06:50 on coming to Seoul

07:40 Seoul in the 1960s

12:20 first impressions, John Wayne, and Makgeolli

16:30 on engaging in the community

19:00 transferring to Yongsan

23:20 changes in Seoul

26:40 on staying for good

30:30 on Park Chung Hee and society

34:46 on anti-Japanism

37:15 Korea’s democratization and job changes

42:25 on readjusting to life in the U.S and returning to Seoul

44:47 on work ethic and Korea’s transformation

50:20 on immigration

50:53 how Korea changed John

52:45 retirement, Yongsan relocation, and Yongsan Legacy

58:10 closing thoughts


People, Places, Things Mentioned in the Show

1988 Olympics (서울 하계 올림픽)

2002 FIFA World Cup  (월드컵)

Ambassador Hotel

Bulgogi (불고기)

Chun Doo-hwan

Civil Affairs

Confucianism (유교)

Democratization in South Korea

Districts of Seoul

Dongducheon (동두천시)

Dongguk University (동국대학교)

Eighth United States Army

Hyundai Pony (현대 포니)

Incheon, Korea (인천)

Jimmy Carter and Troop Withdrawal from Korea

John R. Hodge

KATUSA (카투사)

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s The Vietnam War

Kia K-360

Kimchi (김치)

Korean shamanism (무교)

Makgeolli (막걸리)

Miracle on the Han (한강의 기적)

Noryangjin (노량진)

Ondol (온돌)

Ox carts on the streets of Seoul

Park Chung-hee (박정희)

Seoul street cars (전철)

Syngman Rhee (리승만)

United Nations Command

United States Forces Korea

Yangban (양반)

Yeongdeungpo (영등포구)

Yeontan – coal briquette (연탄)

Yeotjeongsa (엿정사)

Yeouido Airport (여의도비행장)

Yongsan Garrison (용산기지)