grants. We could call it “Hands AcrossnSouth Texas.”)nWhat about that teenaged mothernthe Ford Foundation is worried about?nAnd my wife reminds me that there arenother people—ballet dancers, forninstance — who really can’t spare anyear at age 18. That’s easy. They cannget deferments. But they’ll be deferments.nAnd for each year they putntheir service off, they’ll serve an extranmonth. So if they don’t get around tonit until they’re 30, when their 15-yearoldndaughters have children of theirnown, or their ballet careers are over, ornwhatever, they’ll serve a year longernthan an 18 year old.nBut even those 30-year-old grandmothersnand retired dancers should benin uniform. So should draftees withnhernias and flat feet and unusual sexualnpreferences. Universal would meannuniversal, and putting conscripts innuniform would tell them, in effect: Wenwouldn’t do this to you if it weren’tnimportant.n]ohn Shelton Reed finished his graduatenwork in J969 at the age of 27.nLetter From SouthnKoreanby Thomas MolnarnRice Paddies and Tea HousesnThe schedule is rather monotonous forna lecturer invited to the big citiesnwhere universities are usually located.nFirst comes the airport, then the carnwith the polite, smiling young man asna guide, then hotel room and restaurant,npodium, introduction, photographs,nthe lecture itself—then thenwhole thing in reverse order the nextnday. Occasionally, the routine is brokennby unexpected events, but thenframework is generally predictable.nIt was altogether different last July innSouth Korea. The invitation was for anwhole week, and Seoul figured only asna quick stop, an arrival and departure.nThe rest of the time, five days, I wasn”centered” in the southern provincialntown of Su-chon, the departure pointnevery morning for a journey by car tonthe south, north, east, or west. Thenarrangement provided a marvelous op­nportunity to see unfamiliar countryside,nmeet real people (as opposed tonintellectuals), eat in local or Chinesenrestaurants, usually sitting on thenfloor, visit tearooms, Buddhist shrinesnand monasteries, train stations (alwaysnmore filled with common folk than arenairports), and, yes, lecture halls.nThe lectures themselves were not atnuniversities but were organized by privatenlocal people simply curious tonhear about the outside world. Theyncame: teachers, housewives with children,nold people traditionally dressednin white with a kind of narrow tophatntied under the chin. The audience didnnot understand a word I said but listenednintently to my translator who,nhad he been cursing me, I would notnhave understood. We stood side bynside on a podium; I said about fivensentences which he took at least 10nminutes to translate, interpret, elaboratenon, distort—I do not know to thisnday. But all went very well; I (we)nreceived thundering applauses. Onenman in the audience in town X admittednthat I was the first Western (white)nman he had ever seen. I was in thenhinterland. . . .nnnFor whatever reason, these were remarkablendays. I had always thought ofnKorea as the grim land divided by thenDMZ (demilitarized zone), where twonAmerican officers were axed to deathn10 years ago, provoking (as usual) nonreaction from Washington. In my imagination,nit had been a land of unfriendlynbare mountains, strangelynshouting karate champions. Now I sawna smiling, lovely countryside, charminglynmeandering rice fields occupyingnevery square inch between the hills.nWhere there are no paddies, the countrysidenpresented a fabric of endlessnvegetable fields, fishponds, wellforestednmountainsides, lovely streamsnand rivers with families picnicking onnfish and watermelon. The towns,nSeoul included, are nondescript, typicalnproducts of semi-Westernization,nundecided between uglifying industrynand agricultural or fishing centers. Towardnevening, they became more habitable,nwith dimmed lights and thenever-present markets going on till midnight.nPeasant women, squatted onnstreets and bridges, sell their producento busy shoppers.nThe villages are lovely gems. OftennMARCH 1987 / 39n