Most of you are probably not aware of this, but with the end of the month of June, that means that the ROK Drop is now officially 5 years old. The site has definitely come a long ways from when I first started blogging back in 2004. When I got back from Iraq I started Googling for information to get back up to date about Korea since I knew I was going to be posted there again. That is how I found the now defunct Korea Life Blog. Korea Life is still to this day the best blog about daily life in Korea that I have read. The writer of the blog Shawn Matthews really wrote about everything that happened to him in such an open and honest way that you felt like you had known the guy for a long time. He even wrote a book about his experiences in Korea and it was hilarious. However, his openness and honesty unfortunately may have been because of depression problems Shawn was having that unfortunately may have led to his suicide. His death was at the time a real loss to the K-blog community.
However, Shawn did get me hooked on reading the Rathbone Press, which at the time was a very informative blog about Korean current events and history. Like the Korea Life Blog this blog is now unfortunately defunct as well. Eventually these two blogs got me into reading the Marmot’s Hole as well, which to this day remains the top K-blog in Korea. However, reading these sites, becoming more aware of North Korea issues, as well as wanting to share my thoughts about the anti-US movement I seen around me at the time made decide to start my own site. Probably very few readers remember how this site used to be hosted in the blogging ghetto of Lycos Tripod. If you can believe it I went with Tripod simply because of a Internet search for free blogs that had Tripod pop up. I knew absolutely nothing about hosting my own blog back then and figured this was as good as any other blogging platform. How wrong I would ultimately find out I was.
When I started the site it was just simply called GI Korea. You can actually still read the first posting I did back in June 2004 about our unit securing out camp from anti-US protesters and some thoughts on the 2002 Armored Vehicle Accident. It is amazing how far this blog has come from those humble days by comparing that posting to the much more indepth posting I did on the 2002 Armored Vehicle Accident, a few years later. That posting is quite possibly one of the most informative postings on the site. Anyway most of my postings back when I first started blogging were real simple with nothing really groundbreaking. I actually was having some modest success traffic wise initially because I was really the only military person blogging at the time. Eventually Warrior News by the 2ID PAO was started, which is now defunct and then the great Lost Nomad blog was also started around the same time, but it to has since gone defunct though Nomad still blogs about his beloved sport of fishing. Strangely despite the thousands of US soldiers who rotate in and out of Korea, it now seems I am the only military person who continues to blog about Korea regularly.
After 2.5 years of blogging using Tripod I finally got smart and decided to change over to WordPress. I did the change while I was on leave over Christmas Break of 2006. First of it was a lot of work just to get my own hosted WordPress site up and running. I bought webspace through Bluehost and after much trial and error I was able to get the site running. However, after getting the site running I had to move all the content from the Tripod site over to WordPress manually because at the time WordPress could not automatically move postings over from Tripod. So I had to manually cut and paste all the postings from the Lycos site over to the WordPress site. It basically took me two weeks to get that complete. Besides the work I had to do to make the move a success, my site lost all its links and web presence to where I pretty much had to start all over again in buidling up the site to where search engines would start ranking it again. Fortunately most of my regular readers from before continue to read the site which I really appreciated. The move also caused me to rename the site from GI Korea to ROK Drop since I needed to register a new URL for the site with Bluehost. Anyone serving up in 2ID can tell you exactly what a ROK Drop is if you are wondering.
Looking back now I am so glad I did the move because WordPress is a far superior blogging platform to Lycos because of the freedom it gives you to customize your site with its myriad of themes and plug ins. The appearance of the site has changed a bit since I first moved over to WordPress, with the latest change happening after my site crashed this past January. The site crash was because Bluehost could not handle the site traffic at the time and they suspended my site and wanted me to find a new webhost. That is when I moved my site over to the Blogs About servers who have just been excellent to me ever since I started doing business with them. I didn’t have to do hardly anything as they moved my site over from Bluehost to their servers for me. The move to both WordPress and then Blogs About I think really moved my blog to the next level as I have been able to add new features to the site that the bandwidth from the webhost provider can support. I have continued to add new features to the site such as a Forum feature which was completed earlier this year.
Now if you all would just use the darn thing to justify all the work I put into it!
Anyway as you can see the ROK Drop has come a long ways since its humble beginnings, but I would like to finally thank all the readers that have made the success of the site possible. I can assure you I would not still be blogging today if no one was reading and responding to what I have to say. I have many great commenters on the site with some I have come to know either in person or through e-mail. Some of the commenters I can’t help be humbled by there great knowledge about Korea or other subject matter areas. It is always especially great to see guys I respect such as Andrei Lankov or Thomas Ricks leaving comments on the site as well.
So who knows what the future holds for the ROK Drop five years down the road, but even though I have slowed down my blogging a bit due to increasing work commitments; the blog will continue on for the foreseeable future and hopefully continue to be of value to everyone who reads it. Once again I would like to thank everyone for reading and commenting on the blog and making the ROK Drop the great site that it is and will continue to be.