Escape from Camp 14

A North Korean man’s escape story.  A bestseller book. 

4 years ago, when I first moved to South Korea, I saw this book in a bookstore. That time I thought it would be a man’s exaggeratedly dramatized story. So I didn’t have any interest to read it. 

But, recently  I wanted read somethings about North Korea. So it goes. I read it.   

It is worthy to read. It is not only a critique to North Korea but also it has many biting words for South Korea and America. 
2 Koreas. 

The route of escaping from North Korea: River separeting North Korea from China. 

China~North Korea border. 

China’s Koreans (Juseonjok People)

The activities of South Korean authorities and Korean churches for North Korean defectors in China. 

Next step for North Korean defectors: Thailand. 

Difficulties of adapting to South Korea for a North Korean defector. 

Yes it is a truth North Koreans are happier than their kins in South.


The Things They Carried (by Tim O’Brien)

Hello and welcome to Dogania.

I would like to  make regular posts on books I read.  At least a photo or a brief paragraph will be enough. I also encourage you to add your comments about them.

Today my post will be about a book I recently read; The Things They Carried. 88f712a7-cae3-4ebc-ad73-674209574dff

I am not sure how to range it; a fiction,  an autobiography, or short stories. When you read the book you feel like this is what really happened to Tim O’Brien in Vietnam. Every chapter independently tastes a beautiful short story. A war story, a love story…

When I was reading this book I felt Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-5. Did anyone else have this reaction?

If you go as s soldier for a military operation abroad, what will you carry in your pockets or in your bag?

A photo? An object? Some candies?

The Cup of Humanity; Tea (Book)

Tea Romanticism from Long Time Ago

Recently, I happened to read an interesting book: “The Book of Tea”, written in 1906 by a Japanese-American author, Kakuzo Okakura.

To be a tea addict, this book has boasted my love of tea. Now I feel more sophisticated when I drink one more cup of tea.matcha-tea-japanese-ceremony1

There are many artworks aggrandizing tea like mural graffiti works, but this one is so different. It is honoring tea in a wider perspective.

It approaches tea as a biological plant, as a socio-cultural norm, more interestingly as a religion. It was also so surprising to see how big tea affected Taoist and Buddhist practices.

Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order.

There are many proverbs about rice and bread in different languages, especially in languages like Turkish and Korean.  Not as many as bread and rice, there are interesting sayings about tea as well.

the man with no tea in him.


talking with him is without-salt.

Besides the oral influence, tea also has inspired art and architecture in China and Japan. Especially influence of tea on Chinese ceramics is worthy to be considered. During Tang Dynasty, the ideal color of tea-cups was intellectually discussed. Okakura tells about the book of Luwuh in his book. In that book a detailed paragraph describes the form and color of tea-cups;

Luwuh considered the blue as the ideal colour for the tea−cup, as it lent additional greenness to the beverage, whereas the white made it look pinkish and distasteful. It was because he used cake−tea. Later on, when the tea masters of Sung took to the powdered tea, they preferred heavy bowls of blue−black and dark brown. The Mings, with their steeped tea, rejoiced in light ware of white porcelain

Not everybody makes the propaganda of tea, sometimes it meets with the opposition as well.

Like all good things of the world, the propaganda of Tea met with opposition. Heretics like Henry Saville (1678) denounced drinking it as a filthy custom.

And, tea’s charm against the rivals

Everybody is a fan of those; tea,wine, coffee, cocoa. I am of tea. Now, me and my group we have good quote against the others;

It (tea) has not the arrogance of wine, the self-consciousness of coffee, nor the simpering innocence of cocoa.

Tea’s story as a plant:

The tea−plant, a native of southern China, was known from very early times to Chinese botany and medicine. It is alluded to in the classics under the various names of Tou, Tseh, Chung, Kha, and Ming, and was highly prized for possessing the virtues of relieving fatigue, delighting the soul, strengthening the will, and repairing the eyesight. It was not only administered as an internal dose, but often applied externally in form of paste to alleviate rheumatic pains. The Taoists claimed it as an important ingredient of the elixir of immortality. The Buddhists used it extensively to prevent drowsiness during their long hours of meditation.

Tea methods vary from culture to culture, from time to time. Throughout the history mainly it has been tried together with a few main other ingredients.

The leaves were steamed, crushed in a mortar, made into a cake, and boiled together with rice, ginger, salt, orange peel, spices, milk, and sometimes with onions!

The method of tea-making in Luwuh’s book “Chaking”:

In the fifth chapter Luwuh describes the method of making tea. He eliminates all ingredients except salt. He dwells also on the much−discussed question of the choice of water and the degree of boiling it. According to him, the mountain spring is the best, the river water and the spring water come next in the order of excellence. There are three stages of boiling: the first boil is when the little bubbles like the eye of fishes swim on the surface; the second boil is when the bubbles are like crystal beads rolling in a fountain; the third boil is when the billows surge wildly in the kettle. The Cake−tea is roasted before the fire until it becomes soft like a baby’s arm and is shredded into powder between pieces of fine paper. Salt is put in the first boil, the tea in the second. At the third boil, a dipperful of cold water is poured into the kettle to settle the tea and revive the “youth of the water.” Then the beverage was poured into cups and drunk. O nectar! The filmy leaflet hung like scaly clouds in a serene sky or floated like waterlilies on emerald streams. It was of such a beverage that Lotung, a Tang poet, wrote: “The first cup moistens my lips and throat, the second cup breaks my loneliness, the third cup searches my barren entrail but to find therein some five thousand volumes of odd ideographs. The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration,−−all the wrong of life passes away through my pores. At the fifth cup I am purified; the sixth cup calls me to the realms of the immortals. The seventh cup−−ah, but I could take no more! I only feel the breath of cool wind that rises in my sleeves. Where is Horaisan? Let me ride on this sweet breeze and waft away thither.

The place of tea in Buddhism (specifically in Zen Buddhism) is so special. Tea has a proverbial connection with Zen Buddhism. Zen monks used tea as a faith metaphor and practiced tea rituals by it. I was surprised to know that most of the modern day cultural tea ceremonies in Korea and Japan originated from those practices.

 The monks gathered before the image of Bodhi Dharma and drank tea out of a single bowl with the profound formality of a holy sacrament. It was this Zen ritual which finally developed into the Tea−ceremony of Japan in the fifteenth century.

Zen… Taoism…. Confucianism … There are dozens of precious details to learn about Asian beliefs in the book…

 Chinese historians have always spoken of Taoism as the “art of being in the world,” for it deals with the present−−ourselves. It is in us that God meets with Nature, and yesterday parts from to−morrow. The Present is the moving Infinity, the legitimate sphere of the Relative. Relativity seeks Adjustment; Adjustment is Art. The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings. Taoism accepts the mundane as it is and, unlike the Confucians or the Buddhists, tries to find beauty in our world of woe and worry.

Mongolian invasions and tea…. Mongolian invasions were so destructive, but they helped to spread the cultures long distances away. When Mongols invaded Chin, they destroyed most of the tea gardens. Though they introduced tea to other nations under their rule, their damage on China’s tea heaven was so huge.

Tea-room. Okakura makes a informative tearoom description in his book;

In the tea−room the fear of repetition is a constant presence. The various objects for the decoration of a room should be so selected that no colour or design shall be repeated. If you have a living flower, a painting of flowers is not allowable. If you are using a round kettle, the water pitcher should be angular. A cup with a black glaze should not be associated with a tea−caddy of black laquer. In placing a vase of an incense burner on the tokonoma, care should be taken not to put it in the exact centre, lest it divide the space into equal halves. The pillar of the tokonoma should be of a different kind of wood from the other pillars, in order to break any suggestion of monotony in the room.

And, some artistic quotations from the book:

——-Noble secret of laughing at yourself…

——-Thus began the dualism of love−−two souls rolling through space and never at rest until they join together to complete the universe. Everyone has to build anew his sky of hope and peace.

——-Perhaps we reveal ourselves too much in small things because we have so little of the great to conceal.

——It is true that with cultivation our sense of art appreciation broadens, and we become able to enjoy many hitherto unrecognized expressions of beauty. But, after all, we see only our own image in the universe,−−our particular idiosyncrasies dictate the mode of our perceptions.

—— We classify too much and enjoy too little. The sacrifice of the aesthetic to the so−called scientific method of exhibition has been the bane of many museums.

——To gladden the flowers with soft music.

—— In all circumstances serenity of mind should be maintained..

The ceremony is over; the guests with difficulty restraining their tears, take their last farewell and leave the room. One only, the nearest and dearest, is requested to remain and witness the end. Rikiu then removes his tea−gown and carefully folds it upon the mat, thereby disclosing the immaculate white death robe which it had hitherto concealed. Tenderly he gazes on the shining blade of the fatal dagger, and in exquisite verse thus addresses it:

“Welcome to thee, O sword of eternity! Through Buddha And through Daruma alike”

Who is alive, who is dead…

John Atinson Grimshaw1875Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, in the English-speaking world simply as Rumi, or in Eastern (Islamic world) more popularly Molana, lived and died in my step hometown, Konya. Therefore, a natural relation has occured between me and  this great poet, Molana.

Rumi’s works are written in Persian and his Mathnawi remains one of the purest literary glories of Persia, and one of the crowning glories of the Persian language.

During Rumi’s era, Persian language was very current in Konya and whole Seljukian country. While Turkish and Kurdish were folk language, Persian was written languages.

But today in Konya… Unfortunately nobody neither can speak Persian nor can read Molana’s poems. Most people in read Molana in translation version. Worst of all they do not know its original is not in Turkish…

Why I am making such an expression…

I don’t know. Maybe I am trying to say:

– Hey bodies! Look I can read Matthnavi, but they can’t:)

No. No, I’m joking. I think I’m not such a vain of himself… But, I want to talk about Molana. I want to share his poems and make their translations by my words. So I needed such a beginning. Now on, I am going to post regularly poems from Molana’s Mattnavi.

Today, I want to start with my favorite one:

 جمله معشوق است و عا شق پرده اي                

  زنده معشوق است و عاشق مرده اي             

(Comle maşûk est û aşık perde-i.

Zinde maşûk est û aşık morde-i)

—- translation to English:

Everything is the Beloved, and the lover but a veil;

The Beloved is alive, while the lover is dead.

—- translation to Turkish:

Her şey maşuktur, aşuk onu gösteren bir perde,

Yaşayan maşuktur, aşuk onu bedeninde yaşatan bir ölüdür.

—- translation to Kurdish:

Her tişt maşûq e, aşûq ji bo wê perdeyek e,

Zinde maşûq e, aşûq mirîyekê ku li bedena wê aşûq dijî…

OH… It is ok, huh?…

I should admit… I faced most difficulty in my mother tongue, Kurdish…

Dear followers , till next poem (bayt) take care of yourself…

(Note: Artwork inside post belongs to John Atinson Grimshaw, 1875)

My Loneliness on The Shore

‘Language… has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone. ‘
Paul Tillich

Hi dear readers!

Today, I want to feel Murakami effect on myself… Loneliness, which Tillich has defined above, leads me into such a way… Some times in my life loneliness is not a pain.I feel to be more in confort when I am lonely.   I escape from my friends, from my family from everything which breaks up my loneliness. To find myself on a shore and nobody around… Hey listen to Murakami. He defines my stuation better than me…:


“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

An you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

From Arabian Nights To Kurdish Days

The Arabian Nights – Andrew Lang

In Eastern societies fairy tales take a great  place in life of children. In every family there is someone who is a great fairy-teller. This one is generally such an old woman who gather all children around. And she tells her tales to children, to whom she is sometimes a grandmother, sometimes an aunt, sometimes just a mother, it is not important who she is. Her profession is to amuse children by her  tales. And she does so. She is many in the world. They always have been so far through centuries.  Nobody knows how old they are, or who told them first, the stories.

Middle East Nights

I emphesized about Eastern culture, because I myself grow up in Middle East. My family belongs to  a nomadic Kurdish tribe, Shawaks. This tribe appears in Central Anatolia, and still lives as nomadic. As you can imagine, in nomadic life, you can not find books, cinema… but fairytales… The best entertaintment for a nomadic child is listening fairy tales… So I did when I was a kid. I was waiting nights which were our great amusement. When nights came, our fairyteller were gathering us around her. And  she were telling her stories. The stories were all same. Our fairyteller again and again were telling same stories, but with every listening I was taking a new pleasure.

Then, we grow up. Our life style have turned some differant way.We migrated to city. We have changed. We have had  TV to watch, we have had newspapers and magazines to read…We have no time to listen fairytales.By this way, we have forgotten fairytales and our old fairyteller, grandmother. When someone tried to do this job to us again, we did not take fancy anymore.


Abowe, I said ‘WE HAVE CHANGED’. I think I have to make an exception from that ‘we’. The exception is ME. I have not changed. I always look for our old days. I miss our fairytales. I seek them everywhere.

Finally, I have found my grandmother’s fairytales. I have found them in books… They are all there without sound. They are in form of letters now…

I am 24 years old. I still take a great pleasure from fairy tales. Anymore there is no fairyteller, so I take this treatment from books.

Andrew Lang’s book, the Arabian Nights is such a kind of book. This book also have many tales which I used to listen from my grandmother…

Genius, princesses and princes…

Bad ones and innocent ones…

Sultans and Sultanas…


Persia, India, Kashmer Balsova, Baghdad… shortly Eastern…

Especially Caliph Haroun al Rashid….

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