Archive for November, 2008


Why I Love My Hobby

One of my reenacting units (that I actually am a founding member of), the QRF, is hosting an AWESOME private Korean War event in February. I am so stoked about attending. Here’s Marc’s “ad” about how fun it’s going to be, to try and get more participants. The event isn’t really open to outsiders, but I figured this would give you a bit of an idea of why I love reenacting.  Enjoy:


Hiya guys,

A group that I am active with, the QRF (Quick Reenacting Force) is going to host it’s second annual Korean War tactical event near Danville, VA, in February. 

Generally, it’s an all-immersion, first-person, 36 hour tactical event which seeks to recreate the actions of early 1951 before the fronts stabilized. Last year we had a great time. 

This year we expect something on the order of 50 GI reenactors and 2-3 jeeps. Right now we are in the process of recruiting people who would be interested in doing CPV, or Chinese People’s Volunteers.

“Now hold on a minute,” I can hear you ask. “Why the hell would I want to volunteer to do a new impression with people I barely know with maybe half a dozen other Chinese reenactors? We’ll be butchered!”

Well you see, that’s just the thing. Because of our few numbers, CPV members are there to portray an OPFOR (opposition force) for the GI’s. We’re almost like event staff. We will be in constant touch with the American commanders (also members of the QRF) and as such we will be ready to strike at all times. That means that we will be springing ambushes, launching tactical strikes against static allied positions, and of course, spend the nights sleeping well and drinking Tsingtao around a fire while the Americans freeze their asses off wondering when we will strike next.

There will be full autos on our side. Booby traps. Flares. Grenades. Patriotic music and propaganda broadcasts over our bullhorn at 2am. Ambushes. Inflitration. Psy ops leaflets. Artillery barrages. And of course the inestimable satisfaction of making sentries shit themselves when we slink into their foxholes and slit their throats with rubber knives 😉

For equipment, all you need is…

  • An Ushanka without insignia
  • Telogreika trousers and jacket (preferably with nondescript buttons)
  • Some kind of old-timey civilian shirt
  • A canteen
  • Canvas sneakers/ “kung fu shoes” or leather low boots
  • an Arisaka, Gew98, M91/30, M44, M38, PPSH, PPS-43, K98, M1 Carbine, or M1 Garand.

Let me know if anyone is interested!



Now, doesn’t that make you want to be a reenactor?


A Book List and a Note about North Korea

So, since I spend a lot of time on buses, there is a good online used bookstore here in Korea, and Marc left me some of the books he brought with him during his visit in July, I have accumulated a decent number of books while here in Korea.  Here is the list (ones I have completed are crossed out, those I am close to finishing are in italics):

I prefer to read two books at once (keeps me from getting burned out by a book), and I think that my next two will be Frontsoldaten and North Korea: Another Country.  I need to read a German memoir or two from WWII before I go portray one at the reenactment I have in February, and Frontsoldaten seems to be one of the better ones.  As for North Korea: Another Country, well, given that the collapse of North Korea seems on the horizon, I figured I should learn a little bit more about that last relic of Soviet times.

On that note:  Last week, the Chinese moved an invasion force to the North Korean border that is slightly larger than the force that the US sent to invade Iraq.  My friends in the military (including those who are serving here) say this is very significant, if that wasn’t obvious enough already.  It has been almost confirmed that Kim Jung Il is very sick, and possibly already dead and replaced by a double, and the country seems to be destabilizing.  The reason the Chinese movement is doubly significant is that while South Korea has spies in North Korea, China actually has ties with North Korea, and they communicate regularly.  If anyone knows what’s up, it’s the Chinese.  So, the fact that they have seen fit to make such a large and sudden troop movement should be taken as a rather important sign.

On one hand, that scares the bejesus out of me.  On the other, I’m a photojournalist and an opportunist, and if shit goes down, it could be a boon to my career.  If there’s one truism about us press folks, it’s that our priorities are royally screwed up, and I am certainly no exception.


Colonial Firearms Geekery

I know that most of you are not interested in guns, but you really should take a look at this French musket and its details. The craftsmanship is truly beautiful, and the gun’s $10k pricetag is definitely warranted.

Now, granted, something more along the lines of this are more my style, but still, that is an incredible rifle.


Public Service Announcement

Know what I miss?




(yes, this deserved a blog post.  stfu.)

My town’s attempt at a sewer system…

Jindo's Sewer System


I wish I were kidding.  A few feet below that hole (there are holes about every 6 feet) is a stream that has been diverted to run under parts of the town, serving as a rudimentary sewer system.


The Personal Side of War

One of the things that has always fascinated me, as a reenactor, is the personal side of wars.  I have never been a big one for military history – I could really care less about the movements of the fronts, or why X offensive was a good or bad idea – what I care about is how those things affected the individual soldiers.  How did they feel about it?  What was going through their heads?

Where did they come from?  Did they have a family?  Did they volunteer or were they drafted?  Did anyone care enough about them to send them mail?  Did they have anyone to send mail to themselves?  Were they cold?  How awful was the food?

These are the things I wish I could know – the things one can only find out through interviews, or diaries, or similar resources.

So, when I see collections like this up for sale, it is always amazing (and tempting) to me.  I love looking at stuff like that to see what sort of details I can glean about a person, and having so many documents about a single person is a very rare find, and quite cool. I am not particularly interested in collecting militaria like many collectors seem to focus on, but I could see myself starting a collection of soldier’s letters, some day. I think it would be neat. They are usually so telling. I like to imagine that if everyone read letters like these, and had a better idea of the cost of war to the individual soldier, that there would be fewer wars. Maybe. Then again, most people, I think, prefer not to think about those things. It’s just easier not to face them.  That saddens me.


Is that my brain I feel oozing out my ears?

I have been recently feeling like my head wants to explode from lack of use. When I’m not intellectually challenged for awhile, I begin to get physically antsy. My get this sensation almost like humming, in my brain, like it’s screaming “USE ME! PLEASE!”, and it makes me a little twitchy, and more than a little…weird. I try to deal with the feeling by going out on what I call “high speed” walks – it’s not really speed-walking so much as just wanting to walk so fast that I am only peripherally aware of my surroundings. I find it difficult to think while sitting still, for some reason, and so when I can’t take the pounding of my brain against its walls, I find that it is best to get my own self outside my own less-metaphorical walls.

But, it only helps marginally. When I come back, the feeling comes right back, often worse as I am now physically energized as well. This feeling of being intellectually stifled is bad enough in the US (and I have felt this, to varying degrees, since I was a kid), but it’s even worse here in Korea, where I can’t really talk to anyone (and even when I can, I don’t exactly feel “challenged”). I end up sitting around a lot of the time outside the Family Mart (convenience store), watching people and trying to figure out things about them, or trying to predict what they’re going to do. Sometimes I play little games with myself, even, where I do things like try to figure out where a person is going, and then I try to get there before them, via a different route, without running, or I try to get from point A to point B while always in a situation where my shadow is in front of me via the streetlamps.  Things like that which require constant observation and reassessment are my bread and butter.

I have no idea why I do these things, but they really seem to be one of the only ways that I can keep from feeling like I want to bang my head against the wall out of a lack of stimulation. I sometimes suspect that this is at least partially the reason I generally prefer solitude over random company. Most people feel…odd…to me. Boring isn’t the right word; neither is characterless – I see characters in everyone. I think that uninspiring may be closer to the mark, but whatever the word I’m searching for is, it is a word which stands for a person with whom conversation holds little more intellectual stimulation than eating a ham sandwich.  I think I would enjoy the general populace much more if I didn’t have to interact, and could instead just silently observe.

I’d almost rather trade this for mediocrity, sometimes. I know that faced with that decision, I would always choose my current state – the world is so much brighter, more colorful, so much more entertaining – but, it definitely would be a tempting switch to make. I suspect that I would probably feel like a lobotomy patient, but sometimes as is, I feel like someone has the voltage on my brain turned up a little too high.

Anyway. Just some thoughts.

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