Harry had finished his Sunday guys catch up around 7pm. I'd pottered around tidying up, food shopping and writing, and had a nice Skype chat with my parents back in England. Korea's stench-inducing heat had driven me inside to hide, later when it was cooler, we would play tennis. My neighbour's poodle puppy kept wandering in tentatively to sniff around before bounding out again. Strange specimen - something once so beastly and useful reduced by human intervention in their evolution to a handbag accessory.
My phone buzzed; "Still up for playing tenis?" his txt read, "I'm pretty tired..." he wined. On our way to get dinner I suggested we went for a walk. "Why don't we walk back to mine?" he offered. Walk there? It was a ten minute bus ride out of central Seosan, but maybe only a mile or so. Why not. It was still light, shards of pale pink streaked the warm sky.
We walked out of the main part of town towards the rice paddies. The air was fresher as we drew it in, but suddenly our faces were caught in a huge swarm of insects. We batted them away and ducked. A small price to pay for living in a beautifully sunny country. By this time it was dark and harder to dodge the midges and mosquitos. Both feeling up for an adventure, we strode on through a concrete path that cut straight through a rice paddy field. Thousands of honking frogs filled the air with their soothing song. Before us the path magically reached way way out into the dark horizon like iconic pictures of roads I'd so often seen before. We'd always romanticised travelling in our minds, and now the long harsh Korean winter was over we were beginning to find some treasures off the beaten path.
We came to a mini t-junction in the path a little way into the field, but luckily not in the middle. Frozen with disbelief, we watched with breath gripped in our lungs as two shadows approached. The pair of large wolf-like wild dogs sauntered down the joining path. "Oh my god" is all I could utter. We began to slowly moonwalk, aware we may need to run backwards. But the dogs didn't even glance at us. The fur of the white-grey long haired beast in front of the dark one flowed as they trotted on. Harry grabbed for my hand and gripped it, leading me back to the main road as quickly but calmly as we could. If we ran would they notice us as a threat and chase us? They carried on their way, no collars, no owner, but in a decidedly purposeful trot. What if we'd been in the middle of the field?
Once on safe open ground we shook off the survival instincts bubbling inside of us. We brainstormed on what the news headlines would have read in our best American newsreader voices
"Couple go on walk in Korea, no supplies, no one knew where they were. Their parents are devastated by how stupid they were!"
"Couple found dead eaten by wild dogs. What were they doing out there? Running away to join a circus?"
Korea's backroads are lined with guard dogs, we're used to the sudden growl of big white fluffy monsters outside uselessly guarding messy plots of land where there's nothing to steal. But every one of the full-grown guard dogs I've ever seen has been chained-up. Stupid as we were, it was rare. Never have I wanted more to be wearing boots instead of flip-flops.