When I first arrived in Korea, everything was jumbled, larger than life, confused chaos. The streets were narrower and shinier than back home, the buildings taller, the advertising more in your face, the whole world was new and fresh and exciting, and damn confusing. For the first few months the bright neon signs looked like stripes and dots, meaningless shapes blending together.
Then I learned to read and write Korean. The Korean language system is called Hangul, and was developed by King Sejong of the Joseon Dynasty in 1443. I can’t remember that moment when I first learned to read as a child, but I bet it felt the same way it felt millions of years ago when people saw drawings on cave walls and understood the meaning. The world snaps into place, like putting on glasses, or pulling your head from under water. I was on the treadmill at the local gym, staring out the same window as I’d done many times before, when I realised I could put the letters together, and make a word, and understand the meaning. The building opposite me was a singing room. I didn’t know that until just then. I had became literate, and I was aware of the process taking place inside my head, and it felt great.