Hello, and Happy Korean Autumn Holiday Season! This is Professor David Mason, making an appeal on GoFundMe for support that would allow me to get back to Korea and resume at least some of my ongoing career there. As has happened with so many millions of people, I have been entirely wiped-out by the CoronaVirus-19, and just cannot recover on my own. Immediate relief is needed.
I have been stuck here at my future retirement house in tropical Dumaguete since late December, and due to the severe lockdown policies of the Philippines I have not yet been able to leave -- all air-tickets that I could afford to book have been canceled month-by-month. I lost about 3/4 of my income, which in recent years has been from tour-guiding, public speaking and special-lecturing in various universities. My only remaining income has been from my half-time position at Sejong University tourism department, but all the salary funds from that are now instantly 'eaten' by my bank to pay overdue debts; so I really have no income these days at-all. While waiting here I have attempted to find other ways to earn income online, any sorts of teaching, writing are editing but only found a little -- seems like everybody's trying to do that, and internet speed here is not sufficient for the best gigs.
I borrowed what I could, including credit-card cash-advances, just waiting for some kind of break in this situation that never came. We sold everything that we could. By July, all my savings and emergency money just ran out to nothing. My Korean credit cards went unpaid then overdue, stopped working at-all. My wife has a small business here that has also been crippled by the Covid-shutdowns, and she manages to keep us fed each day so-far, but nothing more than that. We have stayed healthy, at least. We're now in danger of not being able to pay the basic bills that pile-up, like electricity, internet service and payments on our truck, so we could lose even those things. My 20-year-old website on the sacred sites and spiritual traditions of Korea will go offline in another month if I can't make the payments.
Most crucially in medium-terms, I really need to be able to get back to Seoul this October to settle my affairs and resume whatever remains of my career there. I haven't paid my rent on my "one-room" since December, and I fear that after I serve my quarantine I would be forced out of it. I need to move to a smaller place, the cheapest and tiniest possible, but need money for a deposit and the first rent, and the moving costs; also some settlement with my current landlord and the Korean Electric Company. Groceries for the first month or so. And, I will probably need to apply to the courts for legal bankruptcy, try to get the major bank debts discharged or negotiated to long-term payment, as it looks like I will never be able to repay them until global tourism fully resumes. For all of this I think I need $6000 at the very least, just to be able to get back to Seoul and basically settle my affairs, resume my life there.
I know that nearly everybody has gotten in tight wallet-situations these days, and so many are suffering so very badly; that's all around us here too, in this devastated tourist-town. Frankly, I feel humiliated and reluctant to publically declare that my 35-year career in Korea has come to this crash, and beg for help from you all; I've put this off for 2 months out of shame. But I can no longer delay making this appeal, as things are so dire. I will deeply appreciate it if any among my hundreds of contacts can donate anything to help me get out of this trap. I do hope that somehow the word of this will get out to the general Korean public and circles of Koreanists, people who might care about what I've done for the global recognition of traditional Korean culture and non-pop tourism attractions over all these years, and that some of those wider circles might see the value in helping me continued to do what I do -- if anyone can help me 'get the word out' to those groups of people, it would be extremely helpful and I will thank you deeply for it, just as much as for any donation however small or large. May the mountain-spirits and every other applicable deity from east or west bless this effort, and also grant you a great holiday season under blue skies! Thanks for reading...
- Martin Gray
- Gregory Brooks-English
- Sonia Knapp