Sean Walker has been living and working in Korea (Jeolla-Do specifically) on and off since 2002. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the English Education Department at Chonnam National University.
Jojo Riser, a native Gwangjuian, never expected her future life would include an American man-child, two adorable rescue dogs and a house in the Jeolla-Do countryside.
Gouda & Willie are, without a doubt, the two luckiest rescue dogs on the Korean peninsula.
The House was apparently built sometime in the 1980’s and was abandoned around 2010. It’s a work in progress.
Uncle Jung is not only our closest neighbor, but also a longtime family friend. He enjoys whiskey, soju, and welcoming any and everyone to the village.
The Damyang House is the brainchild of two stubborn thirty-somethings with a strong desire to find a loophole in what seemed to be certain destiny: shoe-box apartment living. It was clear from the beginning that the traditional route of paying cash up front for a move-in ready dream house was out of the question. So, we got creative. After years of scouting locations, talking to real estate agents and brainstorming solutions, we came across this beauty:
It was not love at first sight. In fact, we laughed it off and chalked it up as another wasted afternoon of research. Then reality set in. Basically, this abandoned house on a forgotten and overgrown slice of earth is what people renting a 20ish pyeong, one window, nondescript apartment can afford. So we contacted the owner, who was more than happy to accept our offer, and bought it.
It goes without saying that we had a vision and could see the potential hidden in this dump, but it was hard not to second guess ourselves when seeing the shock, horror, and confusion displayed across the faces of friends and family as they saw a photo of our new ‘home’ for the first time. A combination of stubbornness and ignorance fueled our drive to move forward and within a matter of weeks we had hired a contractor and were designing a house from the ground up. Our previous collective design experience was limited to choosing paint colors or arranging furniture so I’m not sure either of us were ready to jump headfirst into a project this large. Each new decision or problem was methodically solved with an argument, a doodle on a napkin or a liquid courage fueled shot-in-the-dark.
As our pipe dream slowly snowballed into a reality it seemed the gamble had paid off. All said and done we ended up with a small (one bedroom/bath) house, a kitchen big enough for two to cook in, a decent yard and enough privacy to create the relaxing atmosphere we were looking for. Stop by for a cup of makkoli and see for yourself!
Sean, Jojo, Gouda & Willie