Sanko is one of those encounters that makes this whole project compelling! While he shows me
tiny, colorful paintings of birds that he makes, scattered around his bookshelves, and reads to me
Lord Byron’s “The Girl from Cadiz,” I understand that he takes an interest in many more things!
At 42 years old, he is a full-time professor of English literature and poetry in Seoul, part-time
teacher of physical education and martial arts philosophy, two to 5 times per month fashion
model. Once a week, he paints birds or fishes with an Asian influence. He is a character. We
have a very long interview, and I end up portraying him among his books, holding one of his
paintings of birds and dressed in a martial arts type of sweater.
He grew up in South Africa, where he took a degree in graphic design, one in English literature,
and a master’s in creative writing. Being introduced to Taekwondo at an early age, he became
interested in knowing Korea’s culture. Therefore, after university, he went to Seoul for one year
as a language teacher, an experience that shaped his life. He did Korean dance and drum courses
and became interested in their body culture (the science that focuses on specific countries’ ways
of moving and acting in society). After going back to South Africa and experiencing a difficult
breakup with his fiancée, he was offered a placement as a language professor in Seoul and
moved there 12 years ago. Sanko did a PhD in Seoul in physical education, focusing on martial
arts and Asian philosophy. Today he is a single man enjoying each of his passions equally and
teaching English literature from Shakespeare to the British Romantic poets of the 19th century.
During this quarantine, he works hard to make at least 10 videos per week available to his
students, as videoconferences are not encouraged anymore due to the dangers of digital
platforms. Five years ago, he was scouted for the first time on IG for modeling, and he now
enjoys well-paid fashion shoots and getting to see unusual locations.