Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mook Vocabulary

Mooks everywhere you look. Mooks relentlessly exercising in the park across the street. Mooks crowding the sidewalk and reacting with dismay when you put your shoulder into them.
Mooks standing around in doorways, oblivious to others edging around them to get in or out. Mooks hocking up their lungs and spitting on their own country. Mooks driving their cars into, around, and dangerously close behind the other guy who HAS TO GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY NOW!!!!
Mook? Was is das "Mook?" Whence came this word mook?
I picked it up from some mafia/gangster movie somewhere, maybe even that great old police drama "Crime Story." "NYPD Blue?" Anyway, I used it to describe any great shambling, dumb, bovine faced moron who happened to lurch across my path. I used it back home in Canada for years before I even thought of coming to Korea, and continued to use it here. There are no shortages of mooks anywhere you go.
There is a variety of things that mooks here do that are unique to Korea, however.
Just off the top of my head, for instance, is their use of car alarms. They just love to play with their car alarms.
I live in Habukdae, a district that contains a couple of night clubs, innumerable hofs, and many, many love/business motels, so there's no shortage of mooks and mook activity for Flint and I to laugh at and mock.
My con-apt is on a side street, a couple of blocks off the second main drag, and it's fairly quiet. I have no complaints. It's one of the best con-apts I've had in Korea.
There're a few loudspeaker trucks, but they don't come past my place too often. For some reason, their windshields get splattered with eggs. I don't.. know... what it is....
But the car alarms! They go off and on at all hours. It's like they get off on the sound, and have to do it a few times just to prolong the pleasure? Or are they suspicious the things aren't working properly, and they do them over and over again just to make sure?
I knew this one mook, he was the only English speaker at my hagwon, so he had to deal with me quite a lot. Which was too bad for him. My recruiter had lied to me about the hagwon, telling me it was in Cheongju. It was actually in a small town a half hour north of the 'ju. A small town I now refer to as the Junkpile. Guess why.
So I wasn't too happy there, and I took it out on him whenever my temper got the best of me. He was a pretty simple fellow, totally dominated by his wife and our director (another woman), and sometimes I feel guilty about the shit I heaped on his empty little head. But not too much, and not very often.
Anyway, he drove this piece of shit Korean car (redundant, I know). I think it was an "Atoz." One of those tiny little things that look like you could blow over with strong onion breath.
This mook, whose English name was "James," would drive this car to work whenever his wife wasn't using it, and he sometimes drove me around to do various errands.
I used to ask him why he didn't have a baby chair in the vehicle, for his two year old daughter. He said she was fine roaming around the car, as he never had to drive very far in the Junkpile. I guess he thought it would be too much trouble buckling her in and making sure she was safe just to drive five minutes to eat sam gyup sal.
After a while, he told me he couldn't take me to do any more errands, as the front passenger seat was "broken." I had laid into him pretty good a few times by then, so I can understand his reluctance to have me around any more than was necessary.
But one thing he never failed to do was put the car alarm on whenever he parked the car. Never mind that the alarm remote was malfunctioning, and he had to try it more than a few times before the alarm was set. Never mind that this car was a piece of shit that nobody in his right mind would want to steal. Never mind that this was a Korean car that nobody in his right mind would want to steal.
What country am I in?
He had to set the alarm. Another thing that I would try to talk logically to him about, and receive one of those maddening Korean-style answer non-answers that deflected the logic with deliberate obtuseness.
These fucking mooks and their fucking car alarms.
Have you ever listened to mooks talk? Flint and I were reflecting on this one day, and Flint remarked that it was like every other word out of their mouth was "shepal," one of their curse words.
It was a while later, when fall was getting on, that we remarked on their constant use of the word "cho-ah," (which means "cold"). As in, "I'm cold," "It's cold," "I'm cold," It's cold today," "I'm cold," "The weather is cold," "I'm cold," "Fall is a cold season," "I'm cold," "Winter is a cold season," and "Boy, am I fucking cold!"
Mooks don't seem to "converse" as westerners understand the word. One person will talk, almost in a monologue, and the other will stand there hypnotized, occasionally uttering "ung" to show they're following the "conversation," and haven't fallen asleep.
One side of a phone conversation is either one or the other. It's not strange to see a person holding a phone to their ears and just saying, "ung" every once in a while. The other side of the conversation is easy to hear, as the average mook will not consider anyone else around him, and fail to keep the "conversation" at a lower, more polite volume.
I used to work at a hagwon in Changwon. It was my second school (much better than the first) and my desk was next to the head Korean teacher's. She was a fairly typical Korean hottie, and easy to get along with to boot. Whenever she was on the phone, her "ung" was more like an "mmmm." It was a kind of a purr, soft and low. I used to love to listen to it, and imagine I was the one provoking such sounds. Mmmmmmmmm.....
Ahem! Ah, where were we... oh, yes...
Now, whenever I see a particularly mookish bit of behaviour, I usually mutter, "Mookity mook mook mook."
Like when I saw one young mook standing in the exit door area of a bus I was riding. He wasn't getting off. He was using the convex mirror above the door to carefully... arrange... every single hair... on.. his.... head.
Mookity mook mook mook.
I was once walking in the park next to my conapt, came around a corner, and caught another mook doing exactly the same thing. He was sort of embarassed, and walked off like he wasn't doing anything at all, officer! Nothing to see here!
Mookity mook mook mook.
Have you ever noticed Korean "sideburns?" Their facial hair doesn't grow in that area, so they grow their hair long, and style them into what look like sideburns. I used to wear a beard, and it would amuse me to see Korean men look at it, and finger their pathetic excuses for manliness. (No, not their dicks, their "sideburns.")
Mookity mook mook mook.
Or the mook who came across Flint and I sitting on a bench in Habukdae, smoking cigars, sipping Scotch, and shamelessly ogling the hotties going by. "You are cold! Go home!" he said, no doubt uttering the only English he knew.
Mookity mook mook mook.
After a while the words "mook," "shepal," and "cho-ah" came together to form the basic structure of mook vocabulary.
Flint and I imagined a typical mook conversation, and came up with:
"Mook mook mook shepal mook shepal cho-ah mook mook mook."
"Mook shepal mook cho-ah mook mook shepal cho-ah mook mook mook."
Shepal mook mook cho-ah mook shepal cho-ah mook mook mook."
And so on.
Winter is passing us by, and yesterday morning was so nice, I started to think spring-like thoughts. But now I wonder what the mooks will do once spring does arrive. It won't be cold anymore. They won't be able to say "cho-ah," thus losing 33,3% of their vocabulary.
Will they replace it with "ttu?" (hot?)
Whatever it is, you can be sure the sheer mookishness of it will be related in future posts.
G'day, eh?

Friday, January 29, 2010

What the .... Christer!?!?!?

I just got back from work and was in the process of locking up my scooter when I hear "waegukin." being bandied about behind me. When I straightened up there were two Koreans. A woman and man both well dressed. You know what my first thought was. Hell the title of this gives it away. Christians. Even worse, Korean Christians.

First thing the woman said (the man hung back a few meters) was "Where are you from?" Her English was good. I reluctantly said "Canada." This caused her to gush on about Canada for a minute or so. Turns out she had been to Canada.

I was waiting for her to drop one of two bombs. The religion bomb or the "Do you know so and so from Canada?" bomb. Both are annoying. Instead she said "Are you busy?" Am I busy, hmmm. Just got home from work. Hungry, would like to make something to snack on. And I don't want to talk religion. "Yes, I am kind of busy."

Of course the proper response to that is to say "My name is HyunHee." My mother would not have liked my response. I knew where this was heading. All signs were there. I replied "Hi." And started to turn towards the safety of my apartment building. She immediately answered with "What's your name?"

I sighed and said "This is going to be about religion isn't it?" The guy might have understood some of what I said because he got a guilty look on his face and turned his head away. He had a bible in his right hand and tried moving it to his side away from me. HyunHee blinked and looked like a deer in the headlights. So, I repeated myself, which I hate doing and said "Religion. This is going to end up being about religion right?"

She nodded her head. I said politely but firmly "I am not interested in talking about religion, meeting about religion, or anything to do with religion. ok?"

Then she blurts out "I need your help with a presentation." Now I was starting to get pissed off. She was making me repeat myself and not taking no for an answer. So I said "Listen, I am not interested in religion. I have been bothered by too many Christians in this area. I try to be polite but when people don't take no for an answer I stop being polite. Understand?"

She nodded her head and said "Yes but you can help me."

I was exasperated. It was getting hard but I actually was keeping my temper in check. Best not to start the weekend by blowing up at someone. Then I decided to take another tack. "Sorry, I can only help you through my school. Immigration is very strict."

She gave me a dumbfounded look and said "They are?" To which I replied "Oh yes. I can be deported for teaching or doing things like that outside of my school."

Her reply was "But you can help me."

At this point I had enough. I said "I have tried being polite. I have told you no many times. Do you know what fuck off means?"

She had a shocked look on her face and said "Yes."

"Good. Then take your boyfriend and your bibles and Fuck Off! This is why I can't stand Korean Christians. I have been polite and said no to you several times. Yet you still go on. Fuck Off already."

I almost threw in the "C" word but decided it wasn't warranted. Yet.

This seemed to get things through to her. Or so I stupidly thought. As I turned to go into my building she said "But ... my church."

All I could do was flip her the bird and say "What a fucking stupid C***." Then it was just a matter of opening the electronic look and entering the sanctity of my building. Knowing they can't get in.

I can be brusque but I am not usually deliberately rude with people. I actually believe in practicing common courtesy. However, I have had this scenario happen too often in Korea and I know what to expect. Nor do I like throwing the C-bomb around in public. Sure when nattering with friends but not like that. It is just that even when they have good English nothing gets through to these fucking religious whack jobs.

Oh well. Now I can relax and plan the evening festivities. Friday night. Woo hoo!!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What the ... change of a day or two can do.

Gloomy and grey to snowy and nice. The grey days seem to suck the life out of me. I tend to be lethargic on those days.

Today the air was cool and crisp. About 10 seconds after I started scooting to work it started to snow. Just a flurry of small flakes. But it was nice. Ok not NICE nice but nice. I have no visor on my helmet anymore so the snow was hit my eyes at times. THAT wasn't nice. See, I can complain about anything. :)

Being that it is Friday might have something to do with my upbeat feeling too. This is my last day of Morning/Afternoon work. Starting next week it is back to the old afternoon/evening times. I can get back into my old routine again. And watch hockey in the mornings. ;)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Another grey day.

Damn. For January I am working mornings and done by 3:20 in the afternoon. Cherry schedule. For some unknown but maddening reason last week I was waking up at 6:30, Wide awake. Don't have to be at work until 9.

Today was no exception. But 6:30 AM was DARK. 8:00 AM looked like 6:30 usually does. Today is going to require a LOT of coffee.

Tomorrow is the last day of our Winter Intensive classes. None of my classes are horrible, they all have some good students. But one is FAR FAR better than the others. Everyone does their homework. They all TALK. They ask questions. The class breezes by so quickly because of that. So I am going to surprise them with pizza today. (One of them won't be there tomorrow.) My way of thanking them for being great students.

I also feel sorry for them. When kids here have vacation it means EXTRA private schooling. Oh joy! No life for them but more work for me.

The reason one student won't be there tomorrow probably makes most Westerners shake their head. She has to go to school for 1 day ... to clean. All the students come in and clean their school. They don't have janitors?

Every school here does this. The party line is that it helps them feel closer to their school and responsible for keeping it clean. Odds are it is a way of the Principal pocketing the money that should have been spent on janitors.

Some of you might think that is harsh but I have heard a lot from friends who have worked in public schools about funding that vanishes. Happens at the University level too. I worked a Summer Camp at a University in 2005. We ended up being paid 2.25 million won for 3 weeks work. Which isn't bad. BUT I found out from some pissed off co-workers that it was supposed to be 3 million won. The head of the English department (also Director of the Summer Camp) pocketed the extra money. There were 10 foreign teachers which means the guy made 7.5 million on top of his wages off of us NOT to mention the money he skimmed off of the Korean teachers. Nice job if you can get it. ;)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Part 5- Lessons Learned

I did learn a lot about Koreans, Korean culture, the legal process, and friends from this. Most of it bad.

To recap points already beaten to death, err mentioned I learned that 1) Korean men are never braver than when they outnumber you, 2) never break up your group ... the Korean's will always go after the weaker people, 3) there is no self-defense law in Korea, 4) when dealing with the law or other authorities (often just with Koreans in general) foreigners don't count, 5) Koreans are poor losers, and 6) racism is rampant. Hope I didn't forget one in my recap. There are 4 more lessons I learned from this incident.

7) As brave as Koreans are in groups if you look scary enough they will back the fuck off. When I left the police station the night of the fight I was in a BAD mood. On the walk home I could hear a couple of mooks at a ddeok beokki stand makes noises about me. Some michen mejuk (crazy fucking American) comments, in bad English someone said fucking American. Like I said, bad mood, I don't usually do this, I walked up and yelled "What the fuck do you assholes want?" They looked horrified and started apologizing in English and Korean. When I finally got to my room and got ready to shower I figured out what scared them. I was wearing a white shirt. There was blood all over it plus the gout that shot up my right arm. Some blood on my face. Add that to my size. Yeah, scared the shit out of them. :)

8) Then we have the lesson of Blood Money. It is a strong part of the Korean legal system. If you pay off the person the charges are dropped. DongChim wanted blood money. He ended up getting it too.The police will actually push you to make a monetary settlement instead of doing their job and charging the person. If it hadn't been for DongChim's eye injury being worse than anything that happened to our attackers WE would have been screwed. As there is no self defense law, if you get attacked and hurt your attacker you will have to pay him blood money. Nice system, eh?

DongChim, well, what can I say, I am not friends with him today, or BumSuk. DongChim was never really MY friend, he was a friends friend. I always thought there was something sleazy about him. He actually finished my lesson on Blood Money and how sleazy some Koreans are about it.

A year later he was in a car accident. He bragged about how he got the doctor to keep him in the hospital for an extra week so he could get more money for it. Oh and to prove a point about how bad the other driver was. Fuck me. What a lieing, cheating, ricetard.

Years later one of my friends was attacked repeatedly by a Korean. He kept knocking the guy away. Finally the guy picks up a bottle and charges him, My friend kicks him in the balls and pops him in the face. As the guy goes down he is basically chanting "money! You pay me money!" Everyone ended up at the cop shop. The Korean is KNOWN for this type of BS, the cops were apologizing to me friend for the guy. YET my friend HAD to pay blood money or be charged. He paid 2,000,000 won. What fuckery is this?

9) Then we have the senior-junior BS that permeates Korean society. I say BS because of the fuckery it leads to. Before Gus Hiddink started coaching their National Football Team the younger players would ALWAYS pass to the older so the older player could get the goal. Even if the younger player was better or had a better shot. That about sums it up. If you are older you are right even if you are wrong in reality. What REALLY got DongChim and BumSuk's goat that night was that someone younger than them told them to fuck off.

10) Anti-Americanism is strong in Korea and has been for as long as I have been here. Some try to hide it behind a veneer of apologies or dismissal. The main reason we were attacked almost 9 years ago is because we "looked" American and these mooks wanted to hurt whitey.

You can see it in the attitude of many Koreans when you first meet them. The first question is are you an American. Often you see them trying to mask a sneer or their disgust. As soon as they hear I am Canadian their whole demeanor changes. "Oh Canada is good." I remember several incidents when I was out with American friends (fuck I hate having to qualify nationality) and Koreans would say "Hi. Where are you from?" I would say Canada. They would smile and make nice. As soon as my friend said America they would snarl and say "Fucking Americans." While this wasn't a common occurrence it happened enough that it didn't seem rare. I have had students, when discussing 9-11, start laughing about Americans being killed. It disgusts me to see that.

11) I am long winded. :)

Part 4- Consequences and Repercussions

Back to the story.

A couple of days after the cops had hauled Immigration boy in for questioning my old school got a call. It was from Immigration. They were calling to notify them that I was being deported for fighting. Which is kind of funny because I wasn't in the country. I had left my Alien Card at Immigration in Incheon because I wasn't coming back to that school. I guess one branch didn't notify the other. The Immigration officer seemed surprised to hear that I wasn't in Korea. What the Kimchi????

Mind you I hadn't heard ANY of this. My friends "didn't want me to worry" so they kept me in the dark. They also didn't know if I would be able to re-enter the country. I arrived back in Korea with no problem, blissfully ignorant of what had happened or was about to. When I let my friends know I was back their first words were "Good we were worried immigration wouldn't let you in or would arrest you." What the kimchi? I was a little pissed they hadn't told me what went on.

Once again it looked like the story was over though. I started my new job and settled in. A week later the boss comes into the teachers room first thing in the morning. He tells me that we have to go to immigration. They want to talk to me about a fight was in. At first I had no clue what he was talking about. Then it the light above my head clicked on. Immigration boy was out for me again.

Two days before this Hilda got tired of the cops refusing to take her statement. So she went back to the police station with our Korean friends and bitched them out until they took her statement. (At this point the detective in charge was getting tired of the assholes changing their story so many times too.) It was pretty much what I said here. It implicated Immigration boy for physically attacking DongChim when he was on the ground. This is why I was called in to Immigration. He went to his boss for protection. I wasn't looking forward to this.

On the way there my boss alluded to me just agreeing with whatever they said. I never answered him. He brought it up a few times. I should have known he would turn out to be an asshole in the future himself. It seemed to me that the fix was in. They were going to try and coerce me into making a statement that was a lie. He was supposed to set the stage by working on me while taking me there. I was ready to tell them to kiss my fat hairy ass taking great care to lick my taint and then I would leave the country.

My Immigration visit was almost everything I expected it to be. I was surprised they questioned me publicly, at the counter instead of in a room. The first thing I told them before they could say anything was that I was NOT comfortable being ordered in to talk about this. If I should be talking to anyone it is the police. That seemed to take them aback a bit. I don't mean to make myself look like Captain Macho the unafraid hero here. I was scared shitless. I figured this would end badly. However I was more pissed off than afraid. When I get my ass up like that I don't like to back down when I feel I am being threatened or pushed around. Not always a good trait.

They said they just wanted to hear my side of the story. I told them I also wasn't comfortable with him (Immigration boy) being there, and I pointed him out to them. I said he had already lied to them once and tried to have me deported. They poo poo'd that and said it would be ok. So I told them basically what I wrote here. Maybe a little more detail as it was fresher in my mind. Then again that night is pretty much burned into my mind. Immigration boy tried chiming in at one point while I was telling them what happened. I said if he is going to be getting involved I think we should have the police come and take my statement at the same time. He was told to be quiet.

After I finished they asked me to retell the last part again and draw a diagram. So I did, showing them where I was, the 2 guys fighting, Immigration boy and the other mook standing to kick DongChim, and Hilda. The others involved were either gone or around the corner. Of course what I said confirmed everything Hilda said in her statement to the police, without knowing what she told the police.

At this point Immigration boy had to dispute what I said. "Are you sure that was me? We all look alike to you."

To which I replied "Well, I identified you on my own when I came in here today. But hey let's say I mistook you for your friend. That means YOU were trying to kick a guy being held on the ground in the head! You are real brave aren't you?" (Seriously, what a piece of shit. Trying to throw "we all look alike to you" in. I guess he knew he was in trouble and was grasping for straws.)

That took the wind out of his sail. He was told to shut up in Korean (I did know the Korean for shut up. :)) and sent from the room. I told them again in no uncertain terms that I was not happy with being called in. I was thinking of letting the police know that I was called in here and questioned like this or at least talking to a lawyer. And that now I had to wonder if Immigration Boy would abuse his powers again to try and have me deported to save his hide. They seemed embarassed and didn't have much else to say. I was told I could go. They would contact me if they needed to talk to me again.

On the ride down in the elevator I talked to my boss about what had just happened. He had been invisible the whole time. Never tried to help me, or shut me up. I said that I was worried about what the asshole would try next after having already tried to deport me once.

When we got off the elevator a short older man got off with us. In excellent English he said "Don't worry. Everything will be fine. You have nothing to fear." I thanked him, whoever he was, and sloughed it off.

Unfortunately, I had to go back to Immigration a few days later to get my Alien Card made. Immigration boy didn't look happy to see me. Although he did smile when he found out I only had 1 photo. He started to sneer and say that I would have to come back with another photo. It couldn't be processed without 2. The guy I thought was his boss had been keeping an eye on things. He came over and in English asked what was wrong. He then berated Immi boy in Korean and in English told him to simply take my old photo off my old school sheet and put it on the new one and to use the new photo for my card. And to make my card NOW. I wouldn't have to wait a week. As I was leaving coming out of the bosses office was the old guy from the elevator. Turns out (from my boss) he was high up in Immigration. He wasn't happy with Immigration Boy.

One of my friends was in Immigration the next week. No Immigration boy. We never saw him again. He was working at Immigration as his military service. I am hoping that they booted him into a regular army unit. Hopefully the most miserable one they could find.

And that ends this story.

... to be concluded in The Wrap Up ...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Part 3: After the blood falls

It still bothers me that my friends were stupid enough to break up our group ... but I digress.

Oh before I continue, I was remiss in my initial posting in explaining what KATUSA means. A KATUSA soldier is a Korean Attached to the US Army. From what I read they get the posting because of English ability. They work directly with the US military, not a Korean unit. It is considered a good posting if you can get it. KATUSA boy, who hated Americans and wanted to beat them up, was assigned to work with the US military.

Because of the eye injury, and general pissiness because he had lost, DongChim insisted on going to the police station and laying charges. Even he didn't know how serious the injury was at this point. This was how HE would save face. He wanted the fight just as badly as KATUSA Boy or he would have let it go. KATUSA Boy got the last hit in so now DongChim had to "save face". He stood in the middle of the road screaming but not in pain. It was in rage over the other guy getting the last hit. THAT is why he wanted the cops. Now he was yelling about compensation.

I went with him and BumSuk to the local cop shop. The odds of actually catching them seemed pretty slim to them. (Not to me but to the Koreans, you will find out why later.) They had run off. DongChim wanted his pound of flesh from them though. I stayed around until he told his story to the police and was taken to the hospital. They also talked to BumSuk but were not interested in me. Never even took my name or any information. It was around 3:00 in the morning and I had to catch the 6AM bus.

When I got back to the apartment I talked with my friends about what had happened. That is when we pieced everything together, from what had we understood of what had been said. I was informed of the assholes reason at the police station. They wanted to beat up Americans or at the least their Korean friends. I headed off to my room to shower and catch a little sleep. At this point I thought the story was over.

While I was home a lot more happened, that I wasn't told about. The third or fourth day I was home BumSuk sent an email lamenting the fact that they couldn't catch the guys because they didn't know them. To which I replied why not? Are you an idiot? (Time would show that yes he is but that is another story.) We know one of them works at Immigration. Thus, because of me, the saga continued. I don't know if I was wise to do that or not. It might have been better to just let it die.

The police showed up at Immigration the next day with our Korean friends. They ID'd Immigration boy and he was hauled off by the police for questioning. Being the cowardly piece of shit he is he quickly turned KATUSA boy in to the cops.

Have you ever dealt with the Korean police? You should read Metropolitician's tale of woe. I wasn't surprised by his problem because the same sort of bullshit happened to my friends. My eyes were really opened to just how much of a "law and order" country Korea is, that there is NO self-defense law, and that foreigners don't count.

The first thing the police did was ONLY bring in the Koreans involved in the incident, along with the ATTACKERS family members. Then they put them all in a room together. The family members of our antagonists proceeded to try and intimidate and threaten our friends into dropping the charges. The threats would continue outside the police station. The police even gave my friends phone number to the assholes families. They harassed our friends a lot. Of course the assholes lied to the police about what happened. Over the period of a month they would change their story 9 times. The police were considering charging our friends instead of them at one point. The ONLY reason they didn't was the eye injury. Throughout the whole month of "investigation" the police never once got the foreigners statement. One of my friends was told that our statements didn't matter.

This led to two more lessons. First, and this is an important one if you ever get into a fight in Korea. There is NO self-defense law. None. Nada. Zip. In the case of a fight the most injured party is the aggrieved EVEN if the other person started it. Even if you go to help someone, say a woman being beaten by a man. For the apologists who may be reading, yes the Korean courts did decide ONCE to rule in the favour of a KOREAN man who came to a KOREAN womans defense. ONCE. We aren't Koreans. Which is directly tied to the next lesson I learned.

Foreigners don't count. Even though we were witness/participants to what happened the police didn't want to talk to us. We were ignored and avoided. When everyone was hauled in for questioning it was everyone except the foreigners. When Hilda went to the police with a Korean to interpret and said "What about my statement?" She was told "You are a foreigner. Your statement doesn't matter. We have the statement of the Koreans involved." The Korean who translated for her knows English well enough that there was no mistake in translating what was said.

Immigration boy bears further mention at this point too. I don't know whose knob his mother was polishing but I heard she breezed into the police station like she owned it. The cops kissed her ass. This is why the gave out our friends phone numbers. He was actually doing his military service at Immigration when this happened which from what I was told is not an easy post to get. (Always nice when you have someone who hates foreigners working for Immigration. Kind of like having someone who hates Americans in KATUSA.)

... to be continued ...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Part 2: Never break up the group

As I mentioned, when we left the restaurant things continued. The two Fucktards must have gotten bored because they left at one point.

For some stupid reason that no one could ever explain to me everyone else decided to break up our group. DongChim REALLY wanted to fight Katusa boy. If it weren't for him we probably could have defused the situation. Everytime things started settling he would start raging and cursing at KATUSA boy. Then things would escalate again. I said we should stick together, especially since we now actually out numbered them. I was ignored.

Matt and Dave took BumSuk off one way. I was left with Hilda and DongChim. And what happened next was pretty much what I expected. The cowards now had a choice go after a group with 3 guys or 2 guys and 1 woman. They acted just like you would expect, they went after the group with 2 guys and a woman. You know Koreans are never braver than when they outnumber you. And now they had saw an opportunity to have 2-1 odds. (They don't count woman as a threat in a fight unless she is an adjumma. Ooops I mean a RUBY.)

The ninth time KATUSA Boy and DongChim went at it I said fuck it. Never tried to stop them. Have your one on one fight. It was a fair fight at first. A typical Korean on Korean fight. Lots of posturing before they came to blows. Then they just ended up grappling on the ground with no one having the advantage.

Of course, Koreans rarely fight fair when they can gang up on someone. While KATUSA boy was on the bottom of the grapple, holding our friend in place, two of his buddies started putting the boots to DongChim. Immigration boy started stomping on his back while one of the Ricetards tried to kick him in the head. I intervened then and sent the mook going for the head flat on his ass. He got up and ran away. (No idea where the other Ricetard was at that point. I think he buggered off when the grappling started.) Immigration boy also fucked off rather than face me. (I am not much of a fighter but I am a big guy so it puts people off. Usually I am able to calm things down without fighting.)

DongChim and KATUSA Boy were still grappling so I decided to end that and separate them. KATUSA boy was flailing around and started cursing at me. That is when Hilda, who had been watching from the sidelines, said that I should let our friend kill him. It turns out the piece of shit KATUSA coward had ran up to her at one point while I was trying to control DongChim, screamed "Go home you fucking bitch!" and PUNCHED her in the face. That was it for me. I drove my right fist into his mouth, had a nice gout of blood shoot up my arm. At that point he decided the fight was over. As they broke up he took the opportunity to sucker punch DongChim. He drove his glasses up UNDER the eyelid with the punch. Actually it severed part of the eyelid underneath. (Keep in mind we didn't know it was that serious at the time. We thought he had been cut around the eye.) Then he ran off like the piece of shit coward he is.

That was the end of the fight but not the story. I had already learned a valuable lesson. Most Korean men are never braver than when they outnumber you. There would be more lessons to come in the aftermath.

The next lesson was that Koreans are VERY poor losers. KATUSA Boy had lost the fight, because his friends couldn't help him, so he took the opportunity to sucker punch someone rather than just let it end. It allowed him to "save face". I lost but I got the last hit in. Then he could run away like a piece of shit coward but still brag to his friends.

Another lesson was how racist your average Korean is when it comes to pigeon holing foreigners. If you are white you are American. Later I would learn blondes were the exception to this rule. If you were blonde you must be Russian, and blonde women must be Russian hookers. All blacks are from Africa. All Japanese are evil. All other Asians are dirty and poor.

... to be continued ...

Gran Torino

I love that movie. Clint Eastwood's character reminds me of my dad in many ways. The movie actually helped me understand my dad in some ways.

One of the scenes that made me laugh was when Thao was walking home reading a book and a Mexican gang starts harassing him. His cousin is riding with some of his Hmong gang and sees it. They pull up beside them and BOTH groups start yelling at each to go back to their own country. The inanity of it was just too funny. :)

I can't remember another movie that disgusted me (the racism), enlightened me, made me laugh, AND made me cry before.

Some of the quotes ... damn ... :)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Part 1: Let the games begin!

As warned in a previous post this is a long story. While it is about the events of one night the repercussions were felt over a period of months. So I am breaking it up into sections. This is the first part. It is mainly the lead in to what happened.

My friends wouldn't want their names used so I am using fake names for them. They would rather forget it ever happened. I will never forget it happened or the lessons I learned.

Let me introduce my friends. First the "foreign" contingent (God only knows why but Koreans can't seem to have just friends, they must be pigeon holed as Korean friends or foreign friends. This should make my writings Korean friendly. :)) The Canadians Dave, Matt, and Hilda. The Koreans DongChim and BumSuk.

The antagonists were all Korean. They are Immigration Boy (sometimes called Immi Boy), Katusa Boy, fucktard 1, Fucktard 2, Ricetard 1, and Ricetard 2.

And now on the the story.

It was the end of my first year in Korea. I was supposed to be getting the 6AM bus to Incheon in the morning for a month home. Then I would return to start a new job.

A group of 6 us had gathered to celebrate my good bye. We sat around a friends apartment drinking and talking. We hadn't drank a lot, I wanted to make sure I could get up in time to get the 6AM bus. Well, Dave was a little toasted but he was in the happy drunk stage. Around midnight or so we decided to head out for kamjatang. There was a little shop run by a woman, her mother, and grand mother. Great place ... now gone. :(

The place was about half full when we got there. The largest group was 6 Koreans. One of them, Katusa Boy who was 7 sheets to the wind, decided to come over and make friends. There were no problems, he seemed to be happy drunk. He had latched onto Dave to be his new buddy.

A while later Katusa Boy's friends left. After a lengthy good bye he headed out too. A minute later he was back to inform us that we had to pay his friends bill. He started some BS saying Dave had said we would pay for them. He was politely told to piss off. Then he started getting mouthy, mainly in Korean. I understand some of what was said now but then I didn't. He was cursing us up and down. He moved towards Dave and made some threats while raising a fist. The two Koreans with us literally smacked him in the face. One on each side. It was kind of funny to see because it happened so fast and he was so shocked. His glasses popped up to his forehead.

Well, at that point his friends who were waiting outside started to come back in. Odds are he was sent in to provoke a reaction from us and it worked. (Our Korean friends never did translate what was said. They just said it was an insult that should never be used unless you are ready to fight.) This started a kind of see saw battle. They ran in yelling and threatening. Then they headed out with the adjumma screaming at them. Then some of them ran back in and left again. When we tried to leave they started in again. All in all there were 7-8 little incidents with someone being pushed down or around.

A little background on our attackers. No idea who 4 of them were but 2 stood out. One worked for immigration. All of us recognized him from their office. He was the main instigater of their group. Most of the time he stood back and egged his friends on in Korean, while telling us in English he wanted to stop them from fighting. How terrible it is. Basically a two faced piece of shit. He also knew we were not Americans. At one point early on I talked with him and he asked about where I was from. I told him that we were all from Canada (except the Koreans). He actually mentioned he saw us at Immigration.

The second guy was the one that came to our table to make friends. From what he told us he was in KATUSA. He asked the usual question about where we were from etc. So he also know that we weren't Americans before they started their bullshit.

I have mentioned that they knew we weren't Americans because it came out that the reason the decided to attack us was because they wanted to beat up some Americans or at least their Korean friends.

.... to be continued ....

Fucking Mooks!

Well, I've written about what fucktards the drivers in this country are, and I have yet another shining example to share with you today.
Flint and I went to Daejon to stock up at Costco. Inside Costco was a breeze. We were there right when it opened at 10 in order to beat the mooks. Not all of them, but enough to make shopping enjoyable rather than a chore to get through without bloodshed.
But on the roads I was presented with a different story. I knew even before I got out of my neighbourhood on the way to pick up Flint that the mooks wanted to have an accident with me. Ajummas were wandering around the centre line, ajussis were dashing and dodging through traffic and cabbies were either following too close or moving to cut me off in order to get just one car ahead.
Typical mookishness, so I was able to keep my cool.
I was just about ready to make the turn into my neighbourhood when I met the Mook Of The Day. He had stopped to block the turn lane and was asking a question of the policeman standing there watching traffic.
You know it's a bad sign when the cop listens for a bit, and then points back in the direction this fool has just come from.
So, now what is he going to do? How is he going to get turned around? He's in the right hand curb lane, with four lanes of traffic between him and pulling a u-turn.
Is he going to just go ahead and drive through the crosswalk? He's heading that wa... No! He's turning back to the right, and he's going to make the right into Habukdae. Or is he? He's stopped again! Fuck! Make up your mind!
I always say that drivers here don't know whether they're coming or going. You'll see them going along, and then pause as if they forgot where they were and what they were doing, and then go back the way they came.
Well, here's the prize champ. Or is it chump?
He finally makes the turn (without using his signal - in fact, he never used his turn signals OR his four-way flashers at all), and heads into my neighbourhood, Habukdae. He's moving slowly, but not too slowly. Just slow enough to piss off the cab drivers and give an opening to the other mooks waiting to get on to the high street. They pull in front of him, cut him off, and he just takes it.
He goes through one intersection, and then pulls to the right hand lane just before the next intersection. He's stopped there, in the curb lane, and there are no signals going. This is my chance to get past him finally.
But... NO! He's pulling back into traffic right in front of me!!! He's going to make his u-turn right now!!! Swerve!!! Beep the Horn!!! Raise the finger into his startled face!!!! Keep going before he can collect his addle-pated mind!!
The last I saw of him, he had pulled back into the curb lane, and a long line of traffic was going past him.
Whew! That was a close one! Did you see how close he came? Missed me by that much!
These people just do not pay attention to what is going on around them. They act without thinking, or checking to see what's coming. I've seen kids, adults and ajummas just walk into traffic and cross the street without looking. Some of them even run into traffic. They'll walk on the street rather than the perfectly good sidewalk (which is for scooters, I must admit).
Flint calls them "the bottom of the food chain." I call them "the next statistic."

Friday, January 22, 2010

When I dream ....

.... I dream of dreaming.

Damn. Maybe it was the soju and ribs. Who knows. Strangest dream or set of dreams ever.

I woke up. Turned off my alarm. Got a drink. Hit the bathroom. Laid back down because I could easily kill another 30 minutes before I had to get up. Closed my eyes for a sec.

Then I woke up. Turned off my alarm. Got a drink. Hit the bathroom. Laid back down because I could easily kill another 30 minutes before I had to get up. Closed my eyes for a sec.

Then I woke up. Turned off my alarm. Got a drink. Hit the bathroom. Laid back down because I could easily kill another 30 minutes before I had to get up. Closed my eyes for a sec.

Then I woke up. Turned off my alarm. Got a drink. Hit the bathroom. Laid back down because I could easily kill another 30 minutes before I had to get up. Closed my eyes for a sec.

Then I REALLY woke up. Said what the fuck was that?!?!?!?! Stumbled to the can to hear my alarm go off. But I shut it off! Doh! That was a dream.

I have had some strange dreams before but never a sequence like that, and it all felt so real. Each time I woke up in the dream it felt like it was real. I am going to have to track down that batch of C1 and see what they slipped into it. :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Do you live in Korea and crave some of the tastes of home, or the rest of the world?

If the answer is yes then you need to check out in Busan and you won't be disappointed.

Stig and I put in an order last week. They ship every Tuesday and you should have it by Wednesday or Thursday. I got it in Cheongju on Wednesday around 1PM.

They carry deli meats and a lot more. Some of it you can get at Costco but not every city has a Costco. I have to go in to Daejeon. If your order is over 100,000 won delivery is free. Free delivery to my door, or work. That is sweet.

I ordered more than Stig. What can I say, I am an impulse shopper. The more I looked at their website the more the impulse hit me. :)

I ordered a few deli meats. Some pastrami, Genoa salami, roast beef, and a salami stick. I also ordered some chorizo sausages and another sausage (chipolta I believe is the name). Then I kept looking at the website and had to add the pepperoni box, green curry paste, saurkraut and of course some cheese.

Stig went for the deli meats too. Some roast beef, turkey, country sausage, hot dogs, cheese and saurkraut.

As soon as they had my payment (bank transfer) they let me know. They also emailed me when the order was shipped. They REALLY impressed me. Not just because of putting the order together but because of their customer service.

The hot dogs Stig ordered were listed at 8600 won. It turns out this is the BIG hot dog pack you can get at Costco. It SHOULD have said 23,000 won. When they told us the order was shipped they said that they made a mistake on the website with the price. HOWEVER it was their mistake so the sent the hotdogs at the 8600 won price! THAT my friend is excellent customer service. They also subbed bratwurst for the chorizo (which they couldn't get). The brats actually cost more than the chorizo. Like I said great customer service.

Back home you don't often see that level of customer service. The same goes for here in Korea. Last month I went to a bar with some friends. When it came time to pay our bill was larger than it should be. The waitress told one of the Koreans with us that they forgot to change the menu to reflect their new prices. My friends just sucked it up and took it. I refused to pay the extra. My friends covered it and they shouldn't have. THAT is crappy customer service. I was very impressed by's level of customer service.

The order was sent out Tuesday. We were notified by email and given a tracking number. The order arrived Wednesday at 1PM. It was packed in a big styrofoam box with ice packs inside.. Everything was in good condition. I ended up sharing the Italian salami stick with one of my classes. I think I hooked half of them on it. :)

I will definitely be ordering from them again. In fact I am putting a smaller order in this weekend. Some of my co-workers want stuff too and I need the pizza crusts to go with my pepperoni. And MORE curry paste. :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cheongju Immigration Office Take 2

Ok, before you read this sit down. I know my last post about Immigration was a shock to people, a double shock to some. Saying nice things AND about a government department. You don't usually see that in any country I have lived.

Today I had to go back to Immigration and pick up my Alien Registration Card (actually I should have done it yesterday but it was too wet out.) I like to be early and I wasn't sure if the scooter was going to work so I left about 8:30, they open at 9AM. Except for one wanker that almot hit me I made it there with no problems. Maybe even too quickly. It only took 10 minutes.

Well, the doors were open so rather than wait outside I went in. At 8:45 a couple of Immigration employees came in and started getting their stuff in order. I got my number and waited.

At 8:55 my number, 1 of course, flashed on the screen. FIVE MINUTES before office hours start! That would NEVER EVER happen back home. Trust me on that, I did some casual work with different departments back home. They delay everything to the last minute and ONLY do what is required. Which is what makes the following joke so funny.

Why doesn't the civil servant look out the window in the morning?
Because he would have nothing to do in the afternoon.

She took my receipt, got my card, and had me sign for it. All in all it took about 1 minute and change. I was out of Immigration and on my way to work THREE minutes before they were even supposed to be open.

Once again I have to say a hearty Thank You!! The folks at Immigration in Cheongju are doing a great job.


The screen saver on my laptop is a bunch of sharks swimming around. There are two different scenes. One is the open ocean, and one is a reef with a sunken pirate ship.
The sharks don't do anything other than swim around looking dangerous. Some of them swim quite fast, while others just languidly sweep back and forth.
Whenever the scene changes, the sharks start out swimming straight ahead and then peel off in different directions, like they're trying to give the impression they're not up to something.
But I know different.
You can pick what kind of sharks you want to have.
I picked a leopard, a tiger, a blue, a bull, a black tip, and two great whites.
The great whites worry me. They keep bumping up against the screen.
One of these days they're going to come right through it.
If I ever disappear, check my screen saver.

What a grey day.

I didn't think it was raining that bad when I left for work. Of course I got wet, but not THAT wet. My scooter on the other hand did NOT like the rain. When I stopped at a store to pick up something for lunch it wouldn't start. I tried kick starting it but no joy. I ended up having to push it the rest of the way to work.

When I finished work I figured I would give it a try and if it failed I would call the repair shop. The guy I bought it from is great. He will come and pick your cycle up and take it to the shop for only 10,000 Won. He will even return it to you for the same price. His costs are always more than fair. Whenever someone asks me about getting a scooter I send them to him, I carry a few of his cards just in case. But I digress.

I tried to use the ignition and it wouldn't start. But one step on the kick start and it roared to life. Stopped at a store to pick up some water ... and it wouldn't start again. Had to push it home.

I must say it does look nice out with all the fog. In the distance it looks like the road just vanishes. Kind of spooky watching cars drive off into no where. Or come out of no where. Some of the apartment buildings reach up into the fog and vanish. Kind of cool. :) Back home on days like this I liked the way the bridges just seemed to vanish halfway across the harbour.

My order from arrived too but more on that later. :)

Sometimes life can be good even when it is being shit. :)

What the ... porn doll?

Once again the Korea Times shows its true colours ... a non-journalistic piece of crap. Check out this heavy news story that appeared in the Nation section. A friend saw it and sent a copy to me.

So, now we know, sex dolls made in the shape of porn stars is NATIONAL news in Korea. I guess the next question it leads to is who owns who? Is Korea the 51st State? (Put that in your pipe and smoke it all of you who said Canada was the 51st State. We are the 52nd!) OR is the US a Korean province? Wait! That means Koreans can no longer call Americans foreigner! You are all Korean!

At the same time, in the NATION section, you can find stories about CNN's Sanjay Gupta performing surgery on a Haitian girl and free drinks by bra size in Singapore. Once again, what the blue hell does any of this have to do with the Nation of Korea?

I said it before and will no doubt say it again. The Korea Times is a piece of shit. It is the poorest excuse for a newspaper I have seen in a long time. It makes the Enquirer look mainstream. It seems like every day they print something that just drives the point home even more.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What the .... protest?

Gusts of Popular Feeling has a very interesting post up. It the 4th in a series looking at protests in Korea. It starts at the 2002 World Cup and works up to today. I found the information about the death of the 2 Middle School girls and subsequent "protests" interesting and edifying.

I was never quite sure about when they were killed. From what I gleaned with my poor Korean at the time it happened after the World Cup. In actuality it occurred DURING World Cup. Koreans didn't really START acknowledging it or protesting until AFTER the World Cup. A fact the Korean media constantly ignored, and from reading the Korea Times and Herald back then I knew it was being ignored, the fact that the U.S. military HAD apologized to the family and paid compensation. The family ACCEPTED both. It was the Korean public, in a lot of cases stirred by Anti-US groups that went into a tizzy AFTER the World Cup.

Even the great Candle Light vigils started late. Oh well, actually, while Koreans were ignoring the accident and focusing only on the World Cup the US military in Korea held fundraisers for the families of the 2 girls AND held ... a candle light vigil in memorial for their deaths. DURING the World Cup. While Koreans were IGNORING the deaths of the 2 girls until it became politically expedient to pay attention and fan the flames of anti-Americanism. Very nice gesture on the part of the US military. Kind of makes the subsequent "outrage" look false and hypocritical.

I may write about my experience in the aftermath of the 2 girls deaths. Or rather my experience with the "protests". It involves getting attacked by Koreans looking to beat up Americans and the Koreans with them. The two most interesting members of the group that attacked us were a KATUSA soldier who hated Americans and punched a woman with us in the face. The other interesting fucktard was actually working at Immigration and was most responsible for instigating the others to attack. Unfortunately, it will be a LONG story if/when I write about it.

But I digress. I encourage you to read Gists of Popular Feelings post. It is worth the read.

What the ... acquittal?

Ok, this news story is bizarre but because of the court decision not the lack of journalistic ability of the Korea Times.

As a result of one of the riots inside the Korean parliament last year Democratic Labor Party representative Kang Ki-Kab (any relation to Kang Shinwho?) was indicted for using violence to try and disrupt proceedings concerning the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement. He is one of the morons you saw on TV using a sledgehammer to destroy furniture and trying to break a door down.

Well, in it's infinite stupidity the Korean legal system has exonerated him. Even though there is video of the mook in the act he is not guilty? By what stretch of reality could a judge find him not guilty? Well, to paraphrase presiding judge Lee Dong-Yeon, even though Kang used violence in his "protest" he didn't intend to harm anyone. He only intended to enter the room. What the kimchi??????

What great logic, or lack thereof. So, if I protest the stupidity of Korean taxi drivers who block crosswalks with violence, but I only smash their car up and don't intend to harm the driver that is ok? After all, I only intend to use the cross walk and get to the other side.


Flint clacks three soju bottles together and chants: "Taxi Drivers ... come out to playyyyyy!"

I suppose such a stupid decision shouldn't be much of a surprise when you consider how poorly the courts deal with child rapists and CEO's. Korean judges .... mooks in robes or simply ricetardic?. Or both?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mooks on Ice

It's been quite entertaining to see the mooks in this town deal with driving on icy streets. Some of them take an hour or so to just get out of their parking stalls. The sound is pretty annoying, but it is balanced by the fun watching them spin their wheels.
Is it a metaphor for their general way of life?
Today was pretty good. The mooks were actually clearing the ice on my street. They were using a backhoe to scrape the ice off of the street. It took a hell of a long time for them to work their way down, but they did a pretty good job.
And then they piled the scraped ice where people usually park their cars.
So now, back streets which were limited to one lane of traffic, are now just a little bit narrower.
Thanks a lot!!!

What the .... dung?

There is a Korean street food called 붕어빵 (pung ah bahng). Basically goldfish bread. No it isn't made with real goldfish. It is usually filled with red bean. I have seen different version. One filled with yellow sweet cream and another with kimchi.

Thanks to Korea Beat (he has a great site that I read daily) I got to find out about another type of bread. One which takes a national obsession in Korea and runs with it. 똥빵 or literally dung (shit) bread. Shit bread? What the ... kimchi?

I don't know what the obsession with shit is in Korea but it can be pretty disgusting at times. Whether it is kids drawing dung pictures on everything, dung shaped knick knacks, dung characters, or now dung bread it is pretty bizarre.

When you add in 똥침 which translates to shit needle or shit insertion the level of bizarreness goes off the scale. Basically a Korean, usually a child but I once had an adult try it on me, will try ramming a finger up your ass. They try to get it IN your hole. Usually the kids will sniff their finger if they achieve insertion, and sometimes others will sniff it too.

This "game" disgusts me on so many levels. A few kids have tried it with me once, never again after that. And none have struck "pay dirt". When it happens the Korean teachers usually shrug it off or laugh. Until I get pissy and make them do something about it. (At my current school I have never had to make them do anything. They are great and stomp it out. Even calling parents. It rarely if ever happens at this school.) Even when confronted about it most parents just laught it off.

I am not sure if it started in Korea or Japan. In Japan it is known as カンチョ or kancho which translates to as enema. (Considering how much Koreans seem to hate Japan it is seems strange that they would both enjoy this.) There is a website written by an American working in Japan. It is a great read and kancho figures prominently in it.

There is even a ddong chim/kancho video game called Boong-Ga Boong-Ga that was created by a South Korean company. The object of the game is to score point by spanking and ddong chimming a human ass that is in the games cabinet. A plastic finger is part of the machine/game for sticking up the ass. Read the wikipedia article. :)

Fart, puke, and shit humour can be popular back home. However, as with most things, it involves time and place. Sitting around with close friends stories often lapse into puke or shit ones. But not in public. And they definitely have nothing to do with sticking a finger up someones ass. I understand that kids like strange things (ok maybe understand is the wrong word) but this obsession with shit, which also affects adults at times, makes the mind wobble.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A night out.

I never usually drank during the week until I came to Korea. It just isn't usual back home unless there is a special occasion. Coming here and having staff drinking dinners was a bit strange. But I got used to it.

I read a newspaper article a while back, after the switch to the 5 day work week. It talked about how more soju was consumed Thursday nights than any other night of the week. Not really surprising considering how many Koreans go out Thursday night now with co-workers.

One of my old foreign co-workers (can't just say co-worker eh?) asked me about that last year. Why do they always go out on Thursday night? I told her what I was told. With Saturdays off now they are family time. Koreans will go out and get soused Thursday night. Have their hang over Friday. Saturday is for family. Having a hangover Saturday would interfere with family time.

The interesting point of that is coming in hung over on Fridays. Since the boss was out with you and most likely got hammered too it is ok to be hung over at work the next day. Back home that could get you fired if it happened regularly.

Copious quantities of soju (sorry Toad Juice Man, C1 not Jinro but I do hear the boys at Jinro make a quality product) and Cass draught beer were consumed. Our new owner really nows home to throw a party. There will be a lot of ass dragging today. What will make it harder on most of my co-workers is that for January we start at 10AM, supposed to be there for 9AM. Any other month we would have started at 3pm. I left at 1:30AM and there were still 5 people drinking. I would hate to be their heads today. :)

It is almost 9:20AM now and the secretary and I are the only ones at work. :)

The food last night was great. A little shop that supposedly sells boar. After reading their sign last night (ok and having large portions translated for me too) I am not so sure. It didn't look like cuts you would get from a head but .... it is called Brawn. Brawn is the meat from the head of a cow or pig. It usually gets used in head cheese. (Mom loves it, I don't.) BUT it can also refer to boar. Based on the cuts of meat I am more inclined to think we ate boar. But (again) this is Korea. So you just never know. Some of my co-workers talked with the owner about the meat and she said it was boar. (Then again it could be boar brawn. Ok ... drink your coffee and stop thinking.) Regardless it was tasty.

I have AM grumpiness.

It has been a pretty shitty week, all around.
On Monday, my best class, or at least my favourite class, was doing a unit in a book called "True Stories," which deals with news stories that have been configured so the average ESL student can read them and discuss them and answer various scripted questions about them.
The story in question was about a young boy (three years old) who liked to ride in taxis, and got separated from his family for a short time.
There was a picture of the boy included with the story, and the reaction of my students to the picture is what is getting me down.
The young boy was black, and to my students he was a "gorilla.'
To me, he looked like a cute little child, but the reaction of my students was... disheartening.
They seemed so enthusiastic about their description of him that I could not come up with the words to describe how I felt about it. I was so demoralized I could not counter their so obvious racism.
These are kids that I like because of their enthusiasm in class, and their inquisitiveness, and their willingness to speak out. I could not even begin to explain what was wrong about their thoughts to them.
I have been trying to decide if I want to come back to this school for a third year. I was pretty much decided in favour, despite my folks' desire to have me back in Canada for good. It is a good school, and I have been happy with the students, curriculum, hours, and so forth.
My director broached the subject with me on Tuesday, and when I asked her if she wanted me back, she said it might be a good idea for the students to experience somebody new for a while.
Oh boy.
And then on Wednesday, I had another car accident. I've posted about this before, about how selfish and ignorant Korean drivers are.
When I pull into my neighbourhood, I have to deal with a two-lane road squeezing into one lane, with the added bonus of drivers waiting to turn off into their con-apt complexes.
Some drivers try (as I have said) to pull at least one car ahead (damn the torpedoes) in order to get home that much earlier.
I had one bitch pull up on my right side and then try to squeeze in ahead of me. Well, Homey don't play that, so I pulled in front of her. In the process, I clipped her side mirror with my own. This was a major, but major accident (according to her) and she pulled alongside to see if we could stop and agree on terms.
I had one objection to that.
I used one finger to express my objection.
Well, nothing really came of the incident, but it was the third on day three, so it sort of put its stamp on the week.
I am drinking many Cass Red's right now in the hopes that I will be able to relax and get some sleep later on.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Where is my AM grumpiness????

Kind of a strange start to a morning. I am not a morning person and I rarely if ever am in a good mood before my first cup of coffee. Usually I have that at work lately as I am working days for January. Today ... I woke up in a good mood. Maybe it is the cold weather ... maybe the 10 hours of almost uninterrupted sleep I had. And to top it off my first coffee of the day was FREE. My boss brought me coffee from Dunkin Donuts. Hot coffee delivered to your hands. Great start to the day.

And tonight is a work drinkfest ... I mean dinner. Last time we had boar. It was fantastic. And shit loads of soju and beer. :)

Of course the pessimist in me is saying "Yeah, it can only go downhill from here!" Damn you voice in my head! Don't bring me down! Bruce?

Speaking of the cold weather. My boss said today is the coldest day. It was -12 when he checked. I just checked it is up errr down to -13. One thing I haven't found is the windchill factor. Someone told me with the wind one day last week it was -21. I could believe it. Almost froze my arse off, not to mention my face, on the scooter that day. What gets me is that they say the humidity is 68%. How can it be that cold and that humid?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Korean Immigration in Cheongju

As you can no doubt tell by now I am damn quick to complain when something irks me. Well, I also try to be quick to give praise when it is due. Korean Immigration in Cheongju deserves a healthy heaping.

I had to go there today to switch my VISA over to another school. It was quick and fairly painless, at least for me but not so my boss. But I digress. I was in and done in about 10-15 minutes. The guy who was processing me was quick, efficient, and ... friendly.

This actually isn't a new experience. Last year they made a lot of changes in the local Immigration office. Out went a lot of the stodgy old guys that tried to make you think they were doing you a favour by actually doing their job. The ones who dragged their asses and made what should have taken 10 minutes become 30+ minutes.

When I went to renew my VISA last year I was expecting the same old same old. A long boring process that shouldn't actually take that long. What a surprise when I went in and there were two women there whose sole function was to translate for people and assist with filling out forms if needed. The woman at the desk had me processed and ready to go in about 5-10 minutes. What a change from the 40 minutes the year before doing the EXACT same thing.

I really appreciate the improvement in service they are providing. Kudos to the 1st floor.

My boss .... well he was informed that the last teacher who left never turned in their Alien Card. He had to go to a different department to be processed ... and fined. I waited outside after I finished. From what he told me he got to deal with the stodgy old guys who take their sweet time. It took over 30 minutes for the guy to do the paperwork. He had told my boss it would only take 10 minutes. A mantra he kept repeating every 5 minutes. All that to process a fine ... which of course my boss had to go somewhere else to pay.

Good start to the day for me ... not so good for the boss. :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Kang Shinwho Writing

Another Flint & Stig Production

(to the tune - sort of - of "Kung Fu Fighting")

Talkin' about Kang Shinwho's wri-uh-ting,
That cat plagiarizes fast as light-uh-ning.
His editor's a little bit fright-uh-ning,
The way he approves his suh-li-ming.

They're the funky Korean men,
From the funky Korean Times.
They're ripping other papers off,
And lying all around the town.

It's an ancient Korean art,
and ev'rybody knows their part.
From a puke into a slip,
and drinking from the hip.

Talkin' about Kang Shinwho's wri-uh-ting,
That cat plagiarizes fast as light-uh-ning.
His editor's a little bit fright-uh-ning,
The way he approves his suh-li-ming.

There was funky Oh Youngjin,
and little Lee Eunung.
He said "Here comes the foreigner,
Let's tear his rep all down!"

He took a lie and made it stand,
And spread it all around the land.
The stupid mooks who read this crap,
Fall right into their fiendish trap!

Talkin' about Kang Shinwho's wri-uh-ting,
That cat plagiarizes fast as light-uh-ning.
His editor's a little bit fright-uh-ning,
The way he approves his suh-li-ming.

(repeat) ... make sure you have no ethics,
Kang Shinwho's writing,
has no moral compass...

Note: Oh Youngjin is the Korea Times' city editor,
and Lee Eunung is the Anti-English Spectrum mook (his official title).

What the ... Dokdo?

What the ... Kimchi? Dokdo has holy sites?

No one is greedy but someone covets Dokdo? No one is greedy but you will keep it for your sake?

And make up your fucking mind. Are they islands or islets? There is a difference. At least they didn't called them aisles. :)

Silly empty talks? Kind of like silly empty songs? Anything like Silly Little Love Songs?

Oops. I am getting ahead of myself. :) Let's roll back a minute or so and let me start over.

I was going through my favourites on YouTube the other day when I saw a gem I had forgotten all about. Almost pissed myself laughing when I first saw it. It still brings a chuckle.

It is hard to put into words just how horribly funny the song is. The music and singing were bad enough but the lyrics. Holy shit! They were so stupid that they were hilarious.

Strangely enough the song is meant to be a SERIOUS way to promote Dokdo as Korean. Instead it ended up like a lot of the nationalistic Dokdo hype ... amusingly pathetic.

I don't know what it is about Koreans and trying to express their extreme nationalistic fervor. They either come up with seriously deranged shit (a la the freaks a year or so ago who beat pheasants to death with hammers in front of the Japanese Embassy to "show the world Japan is evil." Who exactly is evil?) or you get pathetic shit like this song that just makes non-Koreans shake their head and/or laugh.

In case you wanted to spare your ears, and they are funny enough on their own, here are the lyrics. I copied the lyrics straight from the subtitles shown on the video. They were also provided by whoever posted the song. If I had written them based on what I heard they would have looked a little different.

Do you know Dokdo?
Written by MOON YOUNG Sung by SEO HEE

Dokdo the beautiful islands have been parts of Korean land.
For the last two thousand years.
They are Korean land.
Located in the middle of East Sea we call.
They comprise two main isles East and West islets.

Everybody wants to be there cause of the holy sites.
Everybody wants to be there hoping to meet seagulls.
Yes, nobody is greedy for them cause of the holy sites.
But some people covet them that is real nonsense!

Korea Korea proud to be Koreans.
I'm willing to die for the peace of Korea.
Dokdo Dokdo I'll keep it for my sake.
I love I love Dokdo forever.
I love I love Dokdo forever.

Dokdo the peaceful islands have been parts of the Korean hearts.
Since the Shilla King Jijung conquered Usan land.
Though the long war was over. some ones feel no peace yet.
Foolish men start to say silly empty talks.

Everybody wants to be there cause of the holy sites.
Everybody wants to be there hoping to meet seagulls.
Yes, nobody is greedy for them cause of the holy sites.
But some people covet them that is real nonsense!

Korea Korea proud to be Koreans.
I'm willing to die for the peace of Korea.
Dokdo Dokdo I'll keep it for my sake.
I love I love Dokdo forever.
I love I love Dokdo forever.
I love I love Dokdo forever.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What the ... dim sum?

Ok this has nothing to do with Korea but what the hell, it is hilarious.

If you don't read ROK Drop you need to go check out his post and the video showing how an enterprising Chinese man fights crime with his bicycle. Literally. :)

I have to go back and watch it again.

Kudos ROK Drop! Well posted.

Ah ... Taxi Drivers II

Well, I hope you enjoyed Flint's little tale, and are in the mood for another one.
Are you sitting comfortably?
Then we'll begin.
I've been teaching in a few different places around Korea besides the 'ju.
About five years ago, I was teaching in Pohang, a small industrial city on the east coast. Not a bad town if you're a foreigner. There's quite a friendly group of expats there, and some good drinking establishments like "Giant Step" and the "Wa Bar."
One day, I was in a bus going downtown, and traffic seemed to be a little slow. We came up to the problem: a bus stopped in the curb lane with a car bumped up along the left side. Traffic was down to one narrow lane. As we passed the bus, we could see the driver and the car's driver locked in an embrace, dancing around in front of the bus.
But they weren't happy, oh no. You could tell from the looks on their faces. My bus proceeded on, so I could not see the end of what looked like a pretty feeble excuse for a fight.
A few months later, I was treated to a view of just how such a fight may have started.
I was leaving work, on my way to teach a private lesson. I was pretty lucky in Pohang, as another teacher at the end of his contract handed over all his privates to me. It was two and sometimes three extra hours of work a day, but the money was so good.
So good.
Anyway, I flagged down a cab, and we went down the street to the main intersection. The light was against us, and we had to wait for the crosswalk to clear before we could make the right turn.
Suddenly there was a commotion behind us. Another cabbie, impatient to make the turn after us, was honking his horn for us to go, Go, GO!
The crosswalk still wasn't clear, so we were stuck. The cabbie behind us wasn't having it, and started to edge around us on our left side. My cabbie didn't like that, and moved to cut him off, causing more honking.
The other driver tried to edge around us again, only to be stymied once more.
More honking, followed by yet another attempt to edge around us, and yet another frustration of his designs.
By this time, the crosswalk was clear, and we were free to go on our way. But that was not to be. Finally able to get around us, the cabbie cut us off, leaped out of his cab, came to the passenger window, and proceeded to curse out my driver.
I didn't understand too much Korean curse words at the time, but I did understand shepal. There was this um, entrepreneur... who sold jade, phone cards, and ... er, exotic underwear in a shop in downtown Pohang. He gave me a little phrasebook called "Making Out In Korea," which was mainly designed to help lovelorn G.I.'s connect with willing young female company. There were phrases like "You're pretty," "Do you want to dance?" and "Take off your (fill in the blank)." There was also a chapter on fighting words, such as "shepal," which I was hearing a lot of from the other driver.
My driver was kind of cool, which seemed to drive the guy even further and further into his vituperative vocabulary, and further into physical histrionics.
He was not going to allow us to leave at all.
I was sitting in the back seat, watching this display (and enjoying it), but was mindful that I did have a private lesson to get to.
Finally, my driver had had enough, and got out of the cab and started to exchange verbal sallies with the other guy. They were getting dangerously close to each other, but actual physical contact seemed to be taking an inordinately long time to develop.
I had to go, and flagged down another passing cab. The last I saw of the two drivers, they were bumping chests, threatening to throw a punch almost any second, and generally mooking around and around.
I've actually seen one fight were punches and kicks were thrown. It looked almost like a real fight, but I think the loser was just dogging it until the police came and he could extort his blood money from the other guy.
There haven't been too many occasions when I've felt in danger from any Korean. I've been threatened more by other foreigners who've had more than was good for them.
Koreans are pretty entertaining when they are working themselves up to a fight, but it seems more like a pale imitation of what we're used to back in the "real world."

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ah ... Taxi drivers. :)

Interesting day today.

After lunch Stig and I were going to Dunkin Donuts. The crosswalk there is usually a cluster-fuck. It is the crosswalk I posted pictures of the car driving across the crosswalk. Today was no different.

When we went to cross the taxis had the crosswalk so blocked you had to walk on the road either side around them to cross. There was even a taxi on the OUSTISDE blocking the crosswalk (waiting to get in the taxi queue.) So I yelled at them for blocking the crosswalk. I guess the one of the outside couldn't handle being chastised by a foreigner. He leaned out his window shouting gaeseki this ... shepalnom that ... blah blah blah. My reply was to flip him the bird.

He bounded out of his taxi all pissed off. Keep in mind his taxi is STILL on the road, blocking a lane of traffic AND the crosswalk. He keeps blathering and swearing in Korean. What could I say? I told him I don't give a shit. This is a road not a fucking parking lot. He kept blathering. I told him I didn't understand (in Korean) and got off the road. You would think it ended there wouldn't you?

You would be wrong. This is Korea and he is an adjusshi with a bloated amount of self-importance. And I am but a dirty foreigner who insulted him and dared to suggest that he is not entitled to block the crosswalk and the street. He keeps standing ON THE ROAD with his cab there BLOCKING a lane of traffic yelling and whining. Posturing and pouting. Yelling at me. Yelling at the people waiting for the next green to cross. He is frothing at the mouth pointing at the road and the taxi queue in the distance. What can I say ... had to interject again. I looked at him and said I don't care. The road isn't a parking lot. With a smile.

Evidently he didn't like that. His vitriol got stronger and stronger. From this point on every other word was gaeseki. Everytime he paused I would just smile, chuckle, shrug my shoulders and say I don't care. (I think he understood that. Maybe he is a 2NE1 fan?) He stayed out IN TRAFFIC for a good 5+ minutes going on and on. Then he got in his taxi and drove off.

A minute or two later he was charging down the sidewalk screaming and yelling. Basically, he became a typical posturing adjusshi. Yelling, pointing, yelling at the people around him, raising a fist. (If you have ever seen Koreans fight it usually involves 20 minutes of posturing. Cocking a fist back every so often. Which usually causes them a lot of grief when they pull this bullshit with foreigners. You cock your fist back as if throwing a punch and most foreigners will flatten you. Seen quite a few Koreans get knocked on their ass this way. Their shocked expressions are priceless. They can't believe they were hit.)

He went on for about 5 minutes. At one point he hauled out his cell phone and threatened to call the police. Sweet. I dared him to do it. I even double dog dared him. Funny how quickly people back away from a hollow threat. He put the phone away and went back to swearing and screaming. I told him I would call the cops if he didn't. So I aksed Stig to go into Dunkins and get the manager to call the cops. (The manager there speaks English well.) In Korean I let him know the cops were being called. Well in broken Korean. He didn't like that.

After a couple more minutes of invective he went out onto the street ranting to other cabbies. Stig figured he was trying to get a lynch mob together. :) He kept this up for a few minutes. The other cabbies pretty much ignored him. Then he ranted on the sidewalk for another minute or so before mooking off to his cab.

The police showed up about 10 minutes after he left. The manager talked to them about what happened. She let them know he had left. They hoped I understood that not all Koreans are like him. (Yeah ... yeah ... I hate when they do that but at least they didn't apologize for him.)

Now I don't usually advise calling the police in Korea. 9 times out of 10 it backfires on you. (Ask Metropolitician.) This was my 1 in 10 and I doubt I will ever play that card again. I figured it would make the mook leave and it did. When I told him the police were being called he saw Stig in talking to the manager, and the manager on the phone. That is when he started backing off. (Unlike him I don't make idle threats. If i say I am gonna do it ... I do it.)

All that was left to do was sit out with a coffee and chuckle at the stupidity of the mook. I didn't want to leave my scooter out there alone just in case the asshat did come back and tried to fuck with it.

There was some mookishness after that. Some ass left his chair on the patio and then tried sitting on my scooter. Another driver parked blocking the crosswalk and then drove through/across the crosswalk. The usual idiocy.

If this happened back home I would have put him on his ass the first time he cocked his fist. (In Korea it isn't worth hitting them unless you absofuckinglutely have to because win or lose the fight you will always lose when they come after you for blood money.) He kept thrusting his finger at me too. If he had touched me, I would have popped him one regardless. But I knew he wouldn't ... he was just a posturing coward. I think my smiling kept pissing him off too. Which was what I hoped for. :)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Schedule

What a weird week. Who would have thought getting used to a new schedule, a better schedule, would be hard. This month I have a cherry schedule. 10-3:20. 6 classes. BUT it meant getting used to waking up in the morning, instead of having to start work at 3PM. Maybe it was because of the sinus and throat infection I am getting over. Maybe it is the sleep patter. Maybe all that or nothing or more.

Whatever it is, I had a hard time adjusting. I found myself going to bed at 8 or 9 PM a few night! Gah! I would get home and just kind of sit there staring at the computer screen wondering "What the fuck should I be doing?"

Now that the week is winding down I have gotten used to the schedule. Next week will be great. Unfortunately, in February I will go back to the old craptastic schedule. :(

Oh well such is life in the Land of the Morning Calm. Enjoy it when the times are good because they can become bad faster than YankeeNom can say Blian Golden Balls.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Clearing Snow

I finally went back to work today after the New Year's break. I did remember how to teach after the long time off.
One of the things I saw today that made me say "What the kimchi?" was a man cleaning the snow off of his front windshield by pouring hot, steaming water all over it.
Now, here in Korea, I do not have a brush like I would have back in Canada. I don't even have a scraper to get rid of the frost on my windshield. I have been going into my wallet and using whatever plastic card I don't have any other use for. I did have a point card for Kyobo Bookstore in Daegu that I splintered into three or four pieces, but now I am using my Dunkin Donuts "Happy Point" card. It's from a different store than the one I go to now, and apparently the points do NOT transfer over.
Anyway, when I go to remove the snow from my car, I just sweep it off with my gloves, arms, and so forth. I did have a dire circumstance result from this.
When I drive, I like to listen to a book on my I-pod, and I was listening the last time I was brushing off the car. Somehow, ny arm got tangled in the I-pod's earphone cord and I dumped it into a snowbank.
I cleaned it off, let it dry, and it's been working OK, but... whew!
Just now, I'm listening to Paul Shaffer's book, "We'll Be Here For The Rest Of Our Lives." It transferred to my I-pod in a real strange-e fashion. Disk Two is in a chapter all by itself, while Disks One and Three to Seven are all mixed up in another channel. If I want to listen to Disk One, I have to constantly fast forward through Disks Three to Seven. It's really irritating, and the other drivers just don't understand when I drift into their lane (while searching) that it's really important, man!
After the guy finished pouring hot water all over his windshield he brought out a broom to try and sweep off the rest of the snow off of his truck. But it wasn't a broom like I was used to seeing. It was one of those long sticks with twigs tied onto one end. Don't these people have real brooms? Most of the ones I see are real short, so you have to bend over while sweeping. I used to think the old people in this country were all bent over and gnarly because that was how they'd spent their lives: bent over and gnarly.
I try to clean all the snow off of my car, not just the windows. I try to get the roof clear, as well. I hate it when people get in their car, switch on their wipers, and think they are finished cleaning the snow off. You can tell who they are, because they look like a miniature snowstorm as they drive down the street. Anyone behind them is lost, and they have to send out one of those St. Bernard's with the cocktails in a barrel.
Driving wasn't too bad today, but I did have to go around a few people that were either on 'luudes, or just being too cautious. There's being careful because of driving conditions, and there's being a wuss.
And then there's the ajummas walking down the ruts in the road when there's a perfectly icy sidewalk for them to break a hip on.
I guess it doesn't snow here often enough for Koreans to seriously get into snow removal equipment, but since when did common sense become so uncommon?
Oh, wait... what country am I in?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Driving In Korea

It's a beautiful day here in the 'ju. We've had a couple days of snow, and it's a winter wonderland. But Flint already posted about that.
There's a park across the street from my one room con-apt. It slopes up sharply from the street and then levels off just above my window (I'm on the third floor). There's usually a crowd of mooks playing that soccer-volleyball hybrid game, or a herd of kindergartners shrieking and running around crazy-go-nuts.
Today there's some kids using scrap pieces of cardboards as sleds on the slopes, sliding right into the street. Or they would if it wasn't lined with cars. I wonder if they sell sleds or toboggans here? Most of the places I've lived in Korea get snow for about a day at most, so I guess there's not much of a market for them. I remember what fun I had when I was younger. Calvin and Hobbes reminded me of just how dangerous a toboggan can be, so I figured Koreans would love it.
But I was going to write about driving in Korea, wasn't I?
I was not looking forward to driving in the snow, but my director called me to say she was closing, and that we would resume classes tomorrow. I was relieved to say the least.
I used to think Koreans were the worst drivers in the world, until I went to Saigon. Now I'm thankful Koreans aren't that bad.
I've had a car for about a year and a half now, and I've had four accidents. They've all been nothing more than scrapes/fender-benders, but still...
Flint has talked about selfishness vs. obliviousness. I lean towards Korean drivers as being selfish more than oblivious. They do tend to ignore everything that is not right directly in front of them, but it is far more important for them to be first. Running red lights, cutting people off, driving too close, and weaving in and out of traffic are just some of their tricks. They can NOT be second, even if it means endangering themselves and everyone around them.
Take my most recent accident. I was waiting at an intersection, intending to cross a busy road and go down a side street. There was a long line of traffic waiting for the light, and I knew I would never make it. I went into the right hand turn lane, intending to go straight and squeeze into the line of traffic. The driver I got in front of was so incensed, he crossed the centre line, zoomed ahead of me, and cut me off, clipping my front bumper in the process.
So we stopped, and I called my director's husband to interpret for me. The other driver was all silent and non-confrontational with me when He saw my foreigness. I eventually gave him 50,000 won and went on my way. First, I might add.
They are all about keeping in front of everyone else. I remember reading an article in TIME magazine about Asian drivers. A Chinese driving instructor told his pupil NOT to use his signal light, because it would give the other driver a clue to his intentions, making it easier to close up the space before he could change lanes.
Koreans use turn signals, but sparingly. They are much more in love with their four-way flashers. Flint says they think it means they can do anything and they're covered.
The obliviousness does come into it as a factor in their driving. I take it as read that every driver on the road is a potential bomb waiting to go off and destroy me utterly. I try to be careful and be prepared for any crazy shit to happen at any moment. Keeps me on my toes.
Flint says he could never be patient enough to drive a car. He would become consumed by road rage, and violence would ensue. I take the opportunity to work on my patience, take it easy, and take out my frustrations on my students.
No, really.
But not all Korean drivers are crazed maniacs with their feet pushed to the floor. Some of them are kinda slow, almost like they're 'luuded up, or something. People can't drive that slow and not be influenced chemically in some way.
The first accident I had is an example of how dumb they can be. The streets in my neighbourhood are fairly narrow, made even more so by the cars parked on both sides. The driving lane is one car wide at best. If you meet an oncoming driver, one of you has to give way. I remember waiting for half an hour before one cab driver finally backed down.
Anyway, I was coming around a corner when an oncoming vehicle forced me to put my car into reverse and back up so he could get by. As I started to back up, however, I heard some shouting, scooter horn beeping, and saw general mookish milling around in my rear view. I waited a bit, and then started backing up again, but heard more shouting, beeping, and saw yet more mookishness.
After I saw a scooter go off the other way, I started to back up yet again, right into a delivery scooter. I broke off a piece of his front wheel cover. 50,000 won and he was on his way.
I still wonder to this day what he thought my back up lights were for. Was he hypnotized? Koreans are mollified by bright shiny objects, so maybe...
Between being selfish/oblivious, Korean drivers do make life more interesting.