The Great Mould Battle: Part Two

See Part One Here

I was sick for a few weeks. Coughing, sore throat, shortness of breath, the whole deal. Thinking it was a cold passed to me by one of my students I started to get a little confused when after a few days I didn’t get better. It wasn’t until I discovered I felt healthier away from home than I did at home that I finally pieced it together. My arch nemesis – Korean Black Mould – was back to haunt me.

Pacing my apartment I grew worried and increasingly confused. I had cleaned literally every available surface when I moved in; the ceiling, the walls, the cabinets, the floors, even places that didn’t look dirty in the hopes that I’d completely eliminated the problem. Sitting and thinking, I realized it was time to go to work. I opened my closet to find a shirt to wear. No light inside makes it difficult to find a good colour, so I turned on my phone’s flashlight and shone it inside. There it was. I stared into the mould, and it in turn, stared back into me.


It was everywhere.

This unwelcome roommate had made its home all over the back wall and shelf of my closet. Due to the low light in my closet, and it being blocked by my shirts, I hadn’t noticed it for a few weeks giving it ample time to grow. Several thoughts rushed through my mind. I first tried to clean it, but the mould proved to be too strong a foe. I soaked the back wall with bleach and mould remover, but after peeling back a few bits of wallpaper, I made the gruesome discovery that it had eroded into the concrete wall.

Having had more than my fill, I used my academic knowledge and did the only thing a sane scientist would do; I gave the closet to the mould as a sacrifice. Sealing the doors, hinges, and cracks with leftover tape from the previous tenant I admitted defeat. Having poured more effort than I would like into my apartment, I reluctantly began packing my things, and made it clear to my school that I would be moving to a new apartment.

“Fixing” The Problem

My school, in what I can only assume was an attempt to save money and paperwork, informed me that the landlord would be re-wallpapering the closet; which seems to be the standard approach to dealing with mould in Korea. While I understood it would fix the problem, I pleaded in vain that it was only a temporary solution. My English complaints fell on deaf – or misunderstood – ears. Eventually, I made a threat disguised as a complaint, and was offered the chance to move later in the week. I was also told that they would be stopping by my apartment to fix the problem in the meanwhile.

Arriving home later that night, the first thing I noticed was that my scented candle was flipped upside down. A strange thing to notice, but I knew for sure that they had come. I can only assume the landlady has an irrational fear of rogue sparks igniting candles. Rounding the corner to my studio, I feared for the lives of my building co-inhabitants – a tornado had struck my flat. All my furniture was moved, the closet doors ripped open, and a new wallpaper applied to the back. An icy breeze slipped through the room as windows were left wide open to decrease the humidity.

On first inspection – the closet looked rather clean, but as I approached further, I saw that they had only wallpapered the problem that they saw, and completely missed the mould on the side walls, and the top shelf of the closet. Not wanting to leave the apartment I had put so much work into, I devised a plan to fix the problem myself – yet again.

If You Want It Done Right… Do It Yourself

Until 2 in the morning, I cleaned, cleaned some more, and slapped up sticky wallpaper onto concrete and over stained patches of other wallpaper. I researched ways to keep mould away, and determined if I kept my closet doors open, I could allow light and airflow in, keeping the problem to a minimum. With a screwdriver in hand I removed the closet doors, stored them aside, and pulled shelves away from the wall to allow for better airflow.

It’s my understanding that the ceiling leaks, but while there’s nothing I can do about that (yet), I can certainly mitigate the problem for now. Today marks day 1 after the fight. I slept much smoother than I had previously, and things are looking up, but I still sleep with one eye open, because while I may have won the battle, but I most certainly haven’t won the war.


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