When you climb to one of the peaks of Taebaek mountain you reach an area with trapezoidal stone-stacked altars where shamans still worship the sky and ring bell drums and chant and hold various animistic beliefs. When you look over the landscape you can see the military base and airstrip and sometimes hear the sounds from the bombs and weapons proving ground there. It really adds a level of interest to the landscape, as you scan it and realize it's punctuated by a mix of abandoned and still functioning coal mines, rivers, two thousand year old trees, a military base and weapons testing area, buddhist temples and shaman altars.
We ended up having some beers with a couple of US airforce dudes the other night who crashed our table at the bar along with a couple of Korean special forces soldiers. They were doing a "combined operation" for a few days at that military base. The quote of the evening must have been when one of the airforce guys was praising the great health care that the military provided him:
"Especially like...my fuckin' second kid...like I didn't have to pay shit for him!"
When he said that it really made me feel like there was something entirely different going on in his mind than there was in mine.