Tales of ItaewonKorea in the 1980s is a society in rapid and painful transition. From farm to city, from military dictatorship to democracy, from poverty to wealth, and from Confucius to Calvin Klein, the movement is fast, and no one is sure of the road ahead. Seoul, a city of over 10 million people, is only 25 miles from the border with North Korea, from where a million man army might invade at any time. In the center of Seoul, as guard against this threat, is Yongsan army base, headquarters of the UN Command under the direction of the United States Armed Forces. Just outside the base is Itaewon, the foreigner’s district, where a fake Rolex costs just a little bit more than a real woman.

            Looking for love in this wrongest of places are: Mi Sook, once afraid to enter the bars, but now working in them; Jason, trading on his status as a “native English speaker” to stay on as an illegal worker; Miss Moon, who dreams that a knight in shining armor will come into her shop for a “heavenly T-shirt,” and leave with her instead; and Sam the gambler, who may be an expert player, but is finding that love is one game whose rules he doesn’t understand.


     It was really a lovely toilet.  Not so large with all five of them inside, but that just made it seem more cozy.  When Mi Sook thought of public toilets, which was seldom, she thought of the toilet at school with its gray green stalls, and graying porcelain, and its dirty tile floor.  The floor was mopped daily, but the crevices surrounding the small octagonal tiles collected dirt, and reminded her of the carbon rings she spent so much time trying to memorize for chemistry class. That was enough to give her a headache, so she shook the memory from her head and looked around again at this toilet.