Surviving 13 Hours In Coach


Here is a surefire way of doing it without going postal and swinging open one of those emergency exit doors at 37,000 feet: a broad selection of entertainment options and an interesting party sitting in the next seat. I had both while cruising from Los Angeles to Beijing on Korean Air.

How long is 13 hours? Enough that squinting at a personal screen and into permanent eye damage of four movies, two documentaries and a game or six of mini-golf still didn't totally consume the time. Thank goodness for Kim Myunghyun.

He is 16 and wasn't with us the entire journey --- opting only for the first 11 hours into Seoul. His parents sent him to the States when he was 5 to live with family friends to learn English and be educated. He returned for a grandparent's funeral at 12 and is now back for three weeks to see his family. That's a total of 11 years and two home visits with Mom and Dad and older sister.

Kim attends Bishop Amat High in La Puente, Calif., and wants to be a veterinarian. It's a goal he adopted at age 7 after taking to a dog that hung around the church Kim attended. The dog died when Kim was 10.

"The dog kept me from feeling much loneliness," Kim said. "I do not have friends, but God has given me the destiny to become a veterinarian and save many animals like the Church Dog."

Kim seems like a good kid. Quiet. Shy. But while we descended into Seoul, it became apparent how much his native land has changed in his absence. Near the airport sprawled a beautiful golf course.

"Wow," Kim said. "I do not remember that or many of them."

For Christmas, I'm going to send Kim a copy of the current LPGA Tour rankings.