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Essay for Discovery by Park Ki Jin

The following essay is a mix of fact and fiction constructed in multiple perspectives.


Canoe Trip with Matthew

Whales were spouting water in the middle of the straits. We could not see them from the distance; however, we could hear their sound as if they were right by us. Maybe it felt too close that I got chills. That breath was massive just as we were next to the lung. Throughout the afternoon, we heard the sound. It was just like a sound of a man.

We continued to row the canoe. A group of humpback whales finally approached us. There was one sperm whale in the group. The sun was going down towards the west. From our left, we heard the gasps of the sea mammals like sea lions. We continued rowing in company with the aery sounds. At some point, it started to drizzle. We did not have a raincoat so we covered with the plastic bags and went along. The rustling sound of plastic bag was getting on my nerves, but soon after, I was no longer hearing the sound.

Matthew is the most amazing thinker that I know of. He knew that back in the days people used the dry ordure from animals as a fuel, and so he invented a fuel-making machine with the dog poop discarded around the city. He also made a snack cart with the machine to boil coffee or tea. After he graduated from MIT, he has been making that machine and mostly donated to the rural communities.

We were heading towards the southern island with the machine on board. The canoe was made with bent mangrove tree and drifted piece of vinyl.  I assumed some cheese, coffee, and two slices of biscuits as a compensation for making of canoe.

We landed on the beach and spent a night. We were all wet so we set bonfire with driftwoods. We were supposed to night watch in turn, however, I was too tired that could not easily fall asleep.

The next day, we met again with the humpback whales from yesterday at the strife. We woke up from the gigantic breathing sound gushing out from their lungs. The whales swam across where we are and head towards the further south, the sounds losing farther away.

I hurried for a voyage. We had 45L of water and some canned food. The tide has been right on just in time. It was enough for us to arrive in town by late night. 

‘Tekapo’ is the name of the village. It is ‘harmonious’ in Native Indian. When I first heard it, I thought it was such a beautiful word for some reason. Of course I did not know what it meant at the time. Matthew said he felt the same way.

We turned on a short wave radio to identify our location. As we heard the clear sound of a DJ, we knew this trip was heading towards its end. And that was when we last saw the whales. At 2 km distance, a sperm whale blew in the spout and went into the water with a big breath. It was as if he was waving towards us for a farewell. All of a sudden, I thought I would make a whale with the debris of a crashed plane and clear vinyl.


Call with Matthew

When I was in Brazil, I stayed on the beach. There were sands and palm trees right in front of the room and also the wooden dock and the Atlantic. A day before Matthew left for Korea, he was in Fulton port on Manhattan, New York. He was looking over the water and so do I. We knew the water we each were looking were actually a one connected subject.



When we look at the land, we acknowledge that one is connected to the others, except for the islands, which is separated by the water. We drive boats or planes and build bridges to connect the islands to the shore. Therefore, all lands are eventually connected.



I like water. Water appears silent, honorable, but protean. Let’s assume we are each standing on the riverside of Seoul and Taebaek.  The water we are looking from each point is actually a one body. The water we touch is a one object. All the water on earth is connected from valleys to creeks to rivers to the ocean. This connection is dispersed everywhere just like a telephone cable in the city. The water embraces in peace. Water is generous.


Observation tower for fish

At the end of our canoe trip, we were enjoying swimming. Sometimes, we took a glass bowl and watched the fishes. But from the distance from the high sea, we could not see the village. The only thing we could see was the mountain peak. I wished there was a tall observatory in the canoe. Then I could have seen the village...Then I saw a buoy on the water surface. But from the buoy, I still could not see the village. I remembered seeing buoy from the village. Matthew told me that from the mountain peak, we could see beyond the buoy.

I decided to make taller buoy. Just like the observatory tower on the mountain peak. And also put a clear window just like a glass bowl so the fishes could see the village. It might not be easy, but I believed this was possible.


Island like Lakes

In central Africa, there are lakes called Malawi and Tanganyika. Among many others, these two were originally a one deep. When the terrain moved, they are separated and became each lake. There lived the fish called ‘secret’. Secrets started to evolve in each different environment and attained totally different skin color. The secrets of Malawi have the bright color like the clothes of spring. The secrets of Tanganyika have the darker and heavier color than the clothes of the winter. These two distinct lakes neither follow the water stream nor communicate with the ocean. It is indeed a unique topography.



I often imagine myself being a fish and swim across the ocean. I really like the neutral state of floating, where I do not feel the weight of the body. After listening to the story of two lakes in Central Africa, I thought about the path connecting each lake. The water in each lake is being connected as if two islands are connected with a bridge. In order to overcome the elevation differences and to maintain the level of water, pressure must be applied along the path or use a potential energy of to keep distributing water from the lower lake. We can apply an electricity storage method of river diversion system.



It is always exciting and frightening to explore the unknown territory. Therefore, we first explore visually through making observations. The anxiety towards an unfamiliar place can be overcome in some degree through such observation. If the fear on new place does not disappear, then the observation method was ineffective.



On two lakes, the observatory tower for fish is installed place to places that now they can see each other from the windows of the buoy. Also through the paths under water, it is possible to come- and- go each place.

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