Sunday, February 28, 2010

Land Of The Morning Dead

I like horror movies. My favourite character is Dracula, but zombies figure prominently among the many creatures that inhabit that scary landscape.
"Night Of The Living Dead" (1968)
"Dawn Of The Dead" (1978)
"Day Of The Dead" (1985)
"Land Of The Dead" (2005)
"Diary Of The Dead" (2007)
These are classics of the genre. No-one does it as good as George A. Romero.
So it's easy to see why I would liken the mooks and ajummas that shamble through my life here to the antagonists of Romero's series.
Whenever I leave my school, I pretend I'm in one of these movies, and I have to get to my car and get home before one of them catches me and eats my brain.
I've taken dialogue from these movies, and pieced it together to provide a commentary on what I, and Flint, and no doubt many others have experienced, and what conclusions we might make.

"They're ordinary looking people. Some say they appear to be in some sort of trance. Others describe them as being misshapen monsters. At this point, there's no really authentic way for us to say who or what to look for and guard yourself against. Stay inside your houses behind locked doors."

"I realized that I was alone with fifty or sixty of those things, just staring at me! I plowed right through them. They didn't move! ... they just stood there, staring at me!"

"The scientific community is focusing on the phenomenon, specifically on that trance-like state that seems to characterize them. Clearly a behavioural disorder..."

"I've only been around them a minute or two, but that's time enough for me to decide that I don't like them very much."

"They're so slow. We could just walk right past 'em and we wouldn't even have to run."

"They're all messed up."

"What are they doing? Why do they come here?"
"Some kind of instinct. Memory of what they used to do. This was an important place in their lives."

"They're still here."
"They're after us. They know we're still here."
"They're after the place. They don't know why. They just remember. Remember that they want to be in here."

"What the hell are they?!"

"These creatures cannot be considered human. They prey on humans. Intelligence? Seemingly little or no reasoning power, but the basic skills remain. More a remembered behaviour from normal life. There are reports of these creatures using tools, but even these actions are the most primitive..."

"They are us."

"I once saw one of these things sitting behind the wheel of a car... trying to drive down the street. It didn't make me want to be its friend."

"We don't have enough ammunition to shoot them all in the head."

"You want to put some kind of explanation on all this? Here's one as good as any other: We're bein' punished by the creator..."

"It wants me! It wants food! But it has no stomach, can take no nourishment from what it ingests. It's acting on instinct!
"I call him Bub... Bub's been responding so well, I let him live."
"But is he alive or dead? Well that's the question nowadays, isn't it?"

"What the fuck is wrong with you people? They're dead! They're fuckin' dead!"

"Temporarily out of service."

"Zombies, man. They creep me out."

"They're pretending to be alive..."

"The problem doesn't seem to be that people are waking up dead, but that dead people are waking up."

"What is it? What gets into our heads when we see something horrible? A horrible accident on the highway? Something keeps us from just driving on. Something holds us. But we don't stop to help. We stop to look."

"Lock yourself inside! Don't trust anyone, not even those you love."

"They are monsters. Monsters who prey on the flesh of the living."

"See?! I told you dead things move slow!"

"Morning approaches. Things always look better in the morning calm."
"Not to me. Mornings bring light. Light brings mooks. I prefer the darkness. It's easier to hide from mooks in the dark."

What the ... referral?!?!?

Hey Stig we have kind of, sort of, maybe made the mainstream media back home. :)

Someone who visited What the kimchi??? was referred by what looks to be a site affiliated with Macleans magazine.

They have a listing of blog views about the "controversy" surrounding the Canadian Women's Hockey Team's celebrating the gold. Our "What the ... celebration?!?!?" post made the list.

Woo hoo! It is nice to see by the list that Canadians feel the complaints were bull shit. Party on girls!!!!!

In other news there was another interesting referral site. One person was referred by a google search for "kimchi smell soju."

What the ... shopping?!?!?

A tip of the hat to Lousy Korea for bringing the topic up. Normally I hate going shopping. In Korea I have learned to loathe it. Koreans just have no clue how to behave in public a lot of the time. Their oblivious-selfishness can be infuriating and sometimes painful. It never fails that at least one mook hits me with their cart, clips my cart, or blocks me. If only one does it that is a good day.

It doesn't matter if you are next in line or people are ahead of you. Some dumb bitch will think that hitting you (gently or hard) will make the line move.

Then you get the twats that think they need a whole fucking aisle to themselves. They position themselves in the middle of the aisle and slowly stroll down. Often leaving their cart in the middle while they check out a shelf. Or something shiny attracts their attention and they walk towards it while letting their cart go off in another direction, usually towards me or my cart.

Then you have the couple shopping who have to use TWO carts to hog an aisle.

I remember one time, one of my WORST experiences in HomePlus, I got behind a couple like that. Each had a shopping cart and of course were going up the aisle I needed to go up. They slowly proceeded when a cart came down said aisle. The female of the duo looked at the woman pushing the cart almost into hers. Botsh started squealing, jumping, and whining as Koreans are wont to do when they run into someone they know. (Almost literally run into in this case.) Then the fucking bitches STOP and start yammering away blocking the entire aisle. That is about when I popped my cork.

I had already been hit, bumped, and blocked about 10 times in 20 minutes at this point. To say I was ready to throw down would be an understatement. I started off by yelling at the woman and her friend for blocking the aisle and assailing my ears with their high pitched whiny ass cartoon voices. The male of the duo looked at me, started to say something, then did the smart thing and shut the fuck up and got out of the way. I don't hit woman. Men, no problem. The woman had that classic mook "I did something wrong expression" on her face.

Idiots like them are TOO common place in Korean. Which is why I now use a smaller grocery store near my apartment when possible. In and out quickly. Fewer mooks.

And then there is the looking in your cart bullshit they pull that Lousy brought up. Describing them as children is spot on. What the kimchi? You have to see what is in the foreigners cart?

Worst time this happened was in a Carrefour. I was in the booze section looking at wine. My cart didn't have much in it and was behind me. I heard a sound. Some asshole was actually rummaging through what was there. I gave a hearty "Ya! What are you doing?" in Korean. He gave a mook look and walked away. I go back to the wine and my mooky sense started tingling within 3 seconds. The fucker was back in my cart. This time I asked him if he wanted to be hit (in Korean) and told him to get the fuck away from my cart (in English.) He took off down the aisle to his cart. But that isn't the end of it.

It was a major grocery day. I had about 3 full bags in my cart. On the way out I stopped at a little boutique thing that was selling hair stuff. Bourettes, pins, things like that. My cart was close to me, less than a foot away. Out of the corner of my eye I could see a Korean woman slowly edging her way towards my cart. She was oblivious to the fact I could see her. When she got to the cart she immediately started looking through a bag. Not grabbing something and running. LOOKING. What the kimchi? I quickly turned around and started yelling at her. She gave that mookish look and just walked away.

What the kimchi is their obsession with what is in our carts? It is bad enough when your stuff is sitting in a cart. But bagged and paid for and the bitch starts looking through the bags? It really does seem like most Koreans have no sense of personal property or privacy. Bunch of fucking mooks.

What the ... Pet Peeves?!?!?

In one of my higher level classes Friday we talked about pet peeves. Of course I had to explain to them what a pet peeve was. A pet peeve is something people do that annoys you. You could see some light bulbs starting to go off above their heads.

Then I took a pen and started clicking it. A light bulb went on above one girls head. "Yes! I hate that!" The others quickly understood.

I told them I have many pet peeves, whether it is home or in Korea. Some things are universal. Just then I cringed. One of the kids said "I know you pet peeve!" They all started laughing and I joined in.

What made me cringe was our receptionist. Like many Koreans, she NEVER picks up her feet when she walks. She always scuffles up and down the hall. I hate that sound. Would it kill people to pick their bloody feet up when they walk?

Pretty smart kid. She saw me cringe and remembered hearing me complain about people scuffling about.

Last night Stig and I were enjoying an after dinner cigar. For about 3-4 seconds it got quiet. It was eerie for Korea, but beautiful. The sound that broke the silence? Some ricetard scuffling their feet. It is amazing how many Koreans do it. My mother would have smacked me one if I walked like that as a kid. As an adult she would ask me if I ever learned how to walk properly.

The kids brought up some interesting pet peeves of their own. One hates it when people scrap their chopsticks , fork, or spoon on plates and pans. Another hates it when people sit revving their car engines. (I have some moronic neighbours who like to do that.) Another hated ... spitting. I asked if they were Korean. :) The last one made me chuckle because I also share it for the same reasons. People parked outside someones apartment beeping their horn to get the persons attention. I hate that one back home but here there is even less of a reason to do it in Korea. Everyone has a cell phone. Don't beep the horn. Call the person you moron!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What the .... puritanical!?!?!?

Ok I thought the BS that happened with the Canadian Women's Hockey Team was the height of stupidity and the US press. Then I read about Scotty Lago.

Scotty Lago is a member of the US Snowboard team. He won a bronze medal in halfpipe. Like any normal human being he wanted to celebrate his win. A picture of him wearing a Team U.S.A. t-shirt while a fan kisses the medal at crotch level and another with the same fan biting the medal appeared on the website TMZ.

He ended up leaving Vancouver quickly. The media reported he volunteered to leave but according to Lago the United States Ski and Snowboard Association asked him to leave. He was worried there would be repercussions with them so he left. Now he is at home party with family and friends and getting a heroes welcome.

She kissed the medal and bit it. Whoopie shit. I like how some reports said he was wearing the team uniform in the pictures. I wasn't expecting just a bloody t-shirt with Team U.S.A. on it. I expected something more. Hell I was expecting much more explicit pictures. They are tamer than the English Spectrum pictures that got so many Korean men pissed off. You would think these people were caught fucking chickens or something the way the yanks get their panties in a bunch.

Friday, February 26, 2010

What the ...... celebration?!?!?

I have stayed away from going on about hockey but after reading about the "scandal" concerning the Canadian Women's Hockey Team I had to say something.

Ok ... let me see if I got this straight. AFTER the Gold Medal winning game the Canadian Women's Hockey team is celebrating in their locker room. An hour or so later, AFTER the rink has cleared, they bring it out onto the ice. It is a tradition for them to go out and get pictures on the ice and by the various logos. They brought out beer, champagne, and cigars. Big deal, right?

Well, not until the US media got a hold of the "story" and starts the whining. They brought it to the attention of the International Olympic Committee.

"Gilbert Felli, the IOC's executive director of the Olympic Games, said that drinking in public was "not what we want to see" from athletes at an Olympic venue. The organization will investigate the actions and will speak with the international hockey federation and Canadian Olympic Committee and ask them to "act accordingly.""

Act accordingly? They weren't pissing or spitting on the ice. They weren't fall down drunk. They weren't trashing the place. No one was puking. No fighting took place. (All of which makes it to tame to be considered a party by Korean standards.) They were smoking Cuban cigars not joints. Sadly, no acts of lesbianism occured. They didn't even Lewinski the cigars. What the kimchi is the problem?

There might be an under-age person (of age in her province) sipping beer. The horrors. Oh and one reporter said they were chewing on the gold medals. Seriously. What a bunch of puritanical idiots trying to make something out of nothing. It reminds me of the shitty reporting you see at the Korea Times.

What is next? They will investigate the Russian bobsledder who started celebrating when the Canadian team wiped out and could have been seriously injured? That would be as stupid as this "investigation." The look the guys team mate gave him was enough.

Hockey Canada quickly issued an apology. Personally I wish they had pulled a page out of Pierre Trudeau's play book and give the media the bird. "Seeing people celebrating a gold medal win bothers you? Fuck off." Or for a less profane response use Sven Kramer the Dutch skater who when confronted by a reporter asking dumb questions simply said "Are you stupid?"

Here is a link to some of the pictures taken during the Teams shenanigans after the game. Party on girls!!!!! Congratulations on the win!!!

Year 1 - Seasons Greetings

Season's Greetings, again!

When I last left off it was the day before the night before Christmas.

Christmas Eve caught me at my best and worst. I had supper with Don and Mary, the owners of the hagwon as well as the 2 South African teachers. We went to a meat and side dish place and hade Galbi. Galbi is beef on the bone. Actually a strip of beef attached to the bone, which you grill up in front of everyone with garlic, onion, Korean sweet potato, and mushrooms. Plus you have a plethora of side dishes. Several types of kimchi, duenjoen chigae, oysters, miniature clams, large peppers to dip in a bean paste, sweet potato noodles, daikon radish, things like that. It was a pretty good time. Even with a bit of a suck up fest I had to put up with from one of the other teachers.

The night took a downturn after dinner. Hilda and the gang who went to Cheju Island called. After talking with them I started getting depressed. All my friends in Korea were either on Cheju Island or off snowboarding. All my family and other friends are in Canada and the US, far away. Yeah, I got a case of the "poor me's". So, I promptly smacked myself one and decided to go out. It turned out that a teacher (Patrick) from another Hagwon and his brother Gordon were still in town. He had hurt his ankle so the snowboarding trip ended up being one night. I ended up joining them at a nearby bar.

Along comes Flint, with his Santa Hat on, and the festivities began. There was a table with 7 Korean women at it. They kept looking over at us. So, mainly due to Patrick, we ended up joining them, and picking up all 7 of them for most of the night. :) What can I say, it was amusing to see other guys try to come over, and the girls send them away to stay with us.

It turns out all 7 of them had been in Canada. They had each spent time, some a year, in British Columbia. Several even sported Canadian flag decals on their phones. They also all spoke English fairly well. We ended up at a nurae-bang (karaoke room) with 4 of them. I got home after 5AM Christmas morning. It was a great night. Odds are we will be getting together with them tomorrow night, New Years Eve. ;)

Mind you it is pretty much impossible to have a social life right now. Actually for the next month. It is winter break here, so all the parents send their kids to private schools. My January hours will be 11 hours a day teaching. 6:30-11:00Am and back from 2:30-9:00PM. Weekends are free, and we have a four day break at the end of the month. Which we will definitely need. I am thinking of spending some time in Seoul.

New Years Eve should be fun. Mind you, it will also be a little sad. It will be our farewell, again, send off for a teacher, Dave. He will be leaving January 2nd for Prague to take a course, and teach. He is a pretty cool guy, one of the better teachers, and people here. We will miss him.

Tonight we took him to the same place I went to Christmas Eve for a send off dinner. Damn it was good. :) Here is a price comparison for you. For 7 of us to eat it cost a whopping 43,000 won. Lets say $43 CDN. It cost 4 people $120 CDN to have a similar, but smaller, dinner at a Korean restaurant in Halifax. Quite the difference.

I hope everyone has a great New Year!

Take care


I will have to devote a post to the other 2 teachers at the school. I don't really mention them because they were assholes. (Done.)

Heh ... the 7 girls was ALL Patrick's work. Not mainly due to ... all due to. One of the most outgoing people I have ever known and just a great person over-all.

What the ... parking lot?!?!?

When we were moving our school to the new floor I found out something interesting. Our building has a parking lot on the roof. A special car elevator brings your car up. There are about 12 spaces for cars to park. There is even a handicapped parking spot. Yet none of my co-workers, or anyone else in the building, uses them.

When asked why this was so I was given a brief history of building regulations in South Korea. Basically the new buildings MUST all having parking. Whether it is underground, ground level, or on the roof. The underground spots are the most expensive to make. Many new buildings have a ground level parking lot and the offices/shops start on the second floor. (I always wondered why the hell they made buildings like that. A lot of the restaurants have parking on the 1st level.) Some put it on the roof.

Those who put it on the roof usually do this to circumvent the law. They put it in place but never allow it to be used. Whether, like our building owner, they say the elevator broke down and never fix it. (They never actually used it, the owner just said it didn't work from day 1.) Or they say the cars cracked the building a bit so it is unsafe. Evidently the government never checks to see if these claims are false or not. So, Koreans just ignore the law.

Am I surprised? Hell no.

Year 1 - Dogs, Health, and Rude Foreigners


The week felt longer than 4 days for some reason, but now it is the weekend. In my last class a food topic came up. I am not sure if it came up just to see my reaction or not. Actually, I think it came up honestly. I had just talked about Ruger and Sheba, and how much I love them. So, a student mentioned that he loved dog for another reason. He eats dog meat. My view on it is c'est la vie. Some Koreans eat dog meat. Usually it is eaten around 3 festival periods in the summer. Men will eat dog penis mainly for its rumoured boost to a mans virility, much like bull testicles are eaten out west (prairie oysters). (Ruger would want to keep the lipstick in the tube here. ;)) While I can't see me going out and eating dog meat, if someone enjoys it so what. It is no different than people in Newfoundland eating seal, flipper pie. Or people in the US and Canada eating bull balls. Or any other animal that gets eaten. It doesn't make a person evil, although the thought may be repugnant to some. The topic got a lively discussion in class, with all the students participating. It was interesting.

Before my 1st evening class I had some pung eo bung. It is a pastry in the shape of a goldfish. Very light pastry. Inside is red beans. It was ok. Mary, my boss, also gave all the teachers a bag of Tangerines, probably 20-30 in a bag. I love Tangerines. Normally in Dartmouth we only see them, at an affordable price, around Christmas time. Even then they are pricy. Here they are very cheap. They grow them in Korea.

I also found out 2 reasons why we had the pastry and the tangerines. Mary is looking out for our health. Red beans are supposed to help build up your resistance to cold, and the oranges have vitamin C. Cold season just started a couple of weeks ago. This is Mary's way of helping us with some prevention. It helps the school to have healthy teachers too, but it isn't for just that reason. I like Mary, and her husband Don, and just about everyone who works at the school. She trys to take care of all of us. It is nice to see.

Friday night, after my last class, I went out for a gathering with some of my students. The Soju was flowing freely, and they tried keeping up with me. 9-10 bottles of Soju later 2 of my students had pretty much passed out, and the rest were on the verge. Except for one who showed up later, and didn't drink any alcohol. For supper we had a souk (soup) with rice. It was very spicy and had a mix of veggies, meat (pork/ham) and hard boiled egg slices. Plus kimchi, quail eggs, dipping veggies, and a nice dish called Du Bu Kimchi. It is tofu (dubu) done with sesame seeds and kimchi. It comes piping hot and you wrap the du bu with kimchi and eat. Very tasy. The student who didn't drink much made sure everyone had a way home, and made sure I got to my door ok. I could have been sober and he still would have done it, my "state" wasn't why. I was their guest, and they take care of their guests. The food was great, the drink was great, the company was great.

I didn't go out to dinner tonight with the other teachers due to some miscommunication. Which is kind of good because I know my mouth would have gotten the better of me with another teacher. They went to Il Mare, an Italian restautant. The owner-chef studied in Italy. Very good food. But I digress.

The waitress mixed up one of the orders. So the four people there didn't get their main course at the same time. Then they went to order coffe after the meal. Hilda and John did the ordering. John can speak Korean fairly well, and Hilda got him to explain ordering multiples. There are 2 types of numbering systems in Korean. The primary one for 1,2,3,4,5 and another when ordering food or items. It can be confusing. So, after John's lesson for Hilda, and having ordered 4 coffees one of the teachers (South African) showed just how intolerant some foreigners can be. She always assumes the Koreans speak no English and will talk down to them. She said: That is 4 coffees now dear. 1,2,3,4. F-O-U-R. Four. The girl was VERY embarassed and a little humiliated because she speaks pretty decent English. I would have let the teacher know exactly what I thought of her comments. Hilda and the others bit their tongues. This teacher has a penchant for pulling crap like this, the only time she did it in front of me I put her in her place. I hate it when people act like that.

Tomorrow Mary is taking us to see a traditional Korean dance. I will write more about that in my next email. I will be picking up a disposable camera to take with me. If anyone is interested when I use up all the film and IF I can get the pics scanned I will make them available. Maybe put them on a website rather than email them. (I got this idea from my niece who does that. I always enjoy looking at her picture site.)

Thats all for now.

In retrospect the guy who told me he loved eating dog after I talked about mine was just being a dick.

Also in retrospect our boss wasn't worried about our health per se. She was worried about having the foreign body in the classroom. If she was really worried about our health she would have actually provided the health insurance she was supposed to. At the time I didn't
know about that though.

Holy shit I was really giving people the benefit of the doubt back then.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What the .... bathroom!?!?

I am in shock. Almost gobsmacked, but not quite or I wouldn't be writing this now. ;)

My school moved last weekend. Not much of a move, up 2 floors. What a difference a new move can make. Overall the school is cleaner, especially the bathroom.

I don't know what it is about some places but they just cannot clean a bathroom properly. My first school cleaned the bathroom daily, but the adjumma also washed the floors with toilet water.

Until the last school I had pretty good luck. But there ... holy shit (no pun intended) the bathroom was disgusting. The bathroom is the responsibility of the building owner, not the businesses that are on the floors. Unfortunately the bathroom on EVERY floor is public access and always unlocked. The owner only has them cleaned once a week.

There is an after birth hospital below us and rather than sully the works there parents would come up to our floor and leave the bathroom in a disgusting state. It ALWAYS stank of urine, sour kimchi, and often times shit. Once someone threw up in both stalls and it took the building owner a FUCKING WEEK to get it cleaned. It was so bad the smell was starting to coming into the school itself. (I still think my boss got it cleaned in the end and is just letting the owner save face.)

If the kids, or one of these ricetards who came up to our floor, clogged the toilet it could take a week to get it fixed. Many is the time you would go in for a piss and start gagging, have to pull your shirt up to cover your nose, from the stink. I actually hoped people would smoke in the bathroom because it would detract from the odour if I had to use the facilities. Fucking disgusting shit hole. I have been in outhouses that were cleaner.

Now the situation has changed. Hopefully for good. No more ricetards drifting up to use our bathroom. After almost a week of use it still smells fairly normal for a bathroom. No more gagging.

Now if it just stays that way.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Year 1 - Beggars and annoyances


Today it really started feeling like home here. We had SNOW! Not a lot, just a light flurry. Of course it didn't staty, but it was a nice change.

Walking around today reminded me of something I find amusing. Some of the English names of places here are very literal translations. For example, there is a bar that in Korean is called the 7 Faces Bar. In English it is called the 7 Face Beer Park. Another translates to Jail Place Bar. It can be amusing.

I was thinking about Law and Order again after reading news about Dartmouth on the internet. In Korea, the beggars are all liscenced, and use a government approved metal box to collect donations. If someone is caught begging or panhandling without their permit they are carted off to jail. They also are not allowed to make any physical contact with peoplen OR their property. While it is sad that people end up in that position all over the world, it would be nice to know that they would not be running up to my car if I was at the Willow Tree in Halifax waiting for the light to change. It is dangerous for them, and annoying for me.

I know in most of my talks I go on about how much I like it here and the things I enjoy. There are things that I do not anjoy, and that I have trouble putting up with.

I almost got into trouble Friday night at a Soju Bar. Some friends and I were there for supper. There were 4 people, 2 men and 2 women, across from us at another table. They seemed to be having fun, and drinking heavy. I heard a noise a while later and looked over to see one of the guys behind a woman pushing her head towards the table. It is hard to describe, sort of like he pushes hard, her head goes forward almost hitting the table and then she jerks back. She didn't seem to be enjoying it, nor did it sound good. Peter and Gary, 2 of the guys at my table got up when I started to move and stopped me. According to them, they saw me look over, saw my eyes narrow, and my back stiffen, and knew I was going to go over. Gary speaks the language so he mentioned something to them. The guy and his girlfriend were "just kidding" around. She said she wasn't being hurt. Then again isn't that what most people who are in abusive relationships say? I still think I should have smacked the guys face into the table like I wanted. He was fairly embarassed and ended up picking up part of our tab as a means of saving face. Still, I would have liked to smash his face. I can't abide seeing a man abuse a woman.

My first night in Korea I almost got into it with a guy for a similar reason. Some of us were coming home from a western bar, the Road King. A woman and her boyfriend were arguing, and she started walking away from him. It looked like he almost yanked her arm out of the socket the way he pulled her back towards him, plus he was yelling at her. I started going towards him and shouted that if he didn't take his F*****G hands off of her I was going to break his F*****G arm. Of course, I didn't think about the fact that he didn't understand English. Duh. Regardless, he seemed to have gotten some message. He got all apologetic and "bowy". (Lots of bowing.) He lost face, and let her go her own way. Unfortunately he probably beat the shit out of her later.

Physical abuse in relationships is a problem here. The men seem to think that a good beating will solve any problem with a woman, and a smack upside the side of the head will smarten a woman up. They coddle their children until they reach about 6 or so, then they taste the same sort of discipline. It is sad to see. I don't expect then to change their culture because I don't like an aspect of it, but is this really cultural? Conversely, I shouldn't be expected to hold back my repugnance at seeing someone abused.

I try to bring food with me to some of my kids classes. Whether it is pizza, or kimbap (think vegetarian sushi), or just a snack. The kids got to school all day, from 8 AM on. Then they go to Hogwa's, private schools, after school. They come to ours to learn English. Go to another for Science. Some of them don't get home until 11 PM, and most of them haven't eaten since noon. The parents feel they are teaching their kids a valuable lesson, and ensuring they have a future with a good education and job. A lot of the kids learn nothing because they don't want to be there. Or can't concentrate properly because they are hungry. To society here, the parents are doing the right thing, and taking proper care of their kids. To me, it seems like they would at least make sure they ate a good meal in the evening. So, I do what I can, when I can. The schools frown on you feeding the kids a lot, because then it will be expected of all the teachers. Which I can understand.

Thats all for now. Next time a lighter topic, I promise.


I did stop bringing food to class as often if at all. In the years after that I would sometimes treat a good class. But it had to be earned. If not they just expect it.

On top of that it isn't oUR job to feed the kids. Their parents SHOULD be making sure they eat properly. not me.

And it turned out all I was told about beggars was bullshit.

Don't ask if you don't want the truth!

I am a firm believer in the old adage that you should never ask a question if you don't want an honest answer. There are too many people in the world who are like that. Whether it is the girlfriend asking "How does this dress look?" Or someone asking you a more serious question.

A friend once asked me about a guy she really liked and was getting seriously involved with. Basically her question was what would I do if I was in her shoes. It turned out the guy had hidden the fact he was married. When she did find out he told her (surprise surprise) that he had left his wife and was divorcing her. Of course that was a lie, he was still with her.

The first thing that came to mind is that my friend didn't know me as well as she thought she did or she would never ask me what I would do. She would know. I would NEVER get involved with someone who is in a relationship. Friends yes. Involved no. And if they lied to me that would be it. Game over.

I tried to be politely blunt. I told her that I would run far away from the person as quickly as possible. Based on the cheating and lies there could never be a relationship with me.

Her response. "I shouldn't have asked you. You are too fucking judgemental."

Why the hell ask me for my opinion if you don't want to hear it? When you ask someone what they would do in a certain instance you are asking for their judgement. Fucking moron. If she knew me at all she should have known I would speak my mind and not be some sycophant saying yes to everything.

I don't know why people delude themselves this way. Or waste time asking a question they only want to hear one answer to. Their answer. Don't waste my time.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Year 1 - Shopping, Foods, and Dogs


Hmmm ... what to talk about? I haven't eaten any new or exotic foods.

I did go shopping at E-Mart again. One of the girls who worked at the school, SOng Ae, came with me. Last week was her last week working for the school. She is going back to University. Dong Ae is a very nice person, and a little shy. She is a good friend, and when things bothered me has always loaned me her shoulder. In one of lifes funny twists her boyfriend is actually going to be in Halifax teaching Korean. But I digress.

We did our grocery shopping. I also picked up a small Christmas tree and some lights for it. My students are going to make some decorations for me. I bought one angel to put on the tree, and to give to mom when I return to Canada. She collects Angels, and has always been my guardian angel. They had a few different Christmas cards there, but nothing I really wanted to get for people. I bought a couple of cards and decided I would find another spot to buy more.

Shopping there was a very different experience from Canadian stores. You have to pay for your stuff on EACH level. So before we could go up to the stationary/toy/book area we had to pay for the groceries. I had to pay for the cards on that level before we could go up to the electronics level. They also use people with loud speakers to try and get you interested in buying stuff. It was different, but fun. I actually enjoyed shopping!!!

Oops, I almost forgot, I DID have something new and/or exotic to eat. Dong Ae bought me lunch. There is a McDonalds at the main level of E-Mart. In the lower level, where all the groceries are, there are also several Korean food stalls. She bought me a dish called Zzam Bbong. It is a blend of Chinese and Korean cooking, using noodles and seafood, and is VERY spicy. I have yet to figure a way to eat the noodles without spraying at least a little juice on my shirt. It was a good lunch.

A place opened up a few buildings down that sells sandwhiches, western style. They will have a pizza oven next week and start selling pizza too. They also make fresh juice as well. The husband lived in Wisconsin for a couple of years and can speak pretty good English. His wife speaks some English but not much. They are very nice people. I hope the shop does well, because they are nice and for a selfish reason.

They have a puppy. He is a Jindo, the breed, which is a Korean breed. His name is ChonGun (pronounced Chawn Goon) which means General. He is SO cute it isn't funny. Of course, this means I am getting more than a little attached to him. Unfortunately, my apartment is to small to have a dog. So, I have adopted him. They aren't able to walk him as much as they would like, so he tends to be on a short lead. So, I walk him when I can. I also visit him almost every day, bring him treats. I hope their shop does well so they don't move and take him with them. I miss my dogs, so he is my surrogate. I just hope I don't get too attached. Although it is probably too late to hope for that.

The police have been on a crackdown for drivers using cell phones while driving. It became against the law to use one, unless it has a hands free set, last month. This means they are also catching people who violate other motor vehicles laws while watching. Every day there are several cops at every major intersection. Usually anywhere from 6-10 of them. They will get drivers to pull to the side and ticket them.

I saw one guy who didn't want to stop. Most Koreans are very obedient when it comes to obeying authorities. This guy ignored the cop and kept driving. The cop said something into his radio and before the guy went one block he was swarmed by police who dragged him out of the car. It kind of reminded me of that episode of Seinfeld with the shoplifters. The floorwalker would say "swarm swarm" into his radio, and 4+ other ones would swarm around the person. It kind of made me chuckle.

Talk to you later. :)


What I left out was that the assholes at E-Mart at first REFUSED to sell me the zzambang. They said it is too hot for foreigners.

Hahahaha .... law and order. Obedient of authorites. Reading that I actually spit out some of my coffee laughing. Man did I ever drink deep of the kool-aid.

Changing Weather

What a difference a week can make. Hell a few days. It was BEAUTIFUL out yesterday. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the toad was whining. I didn't even need a jacket when riding the scooter. And it is supposed to be warmer today.

Mind you that didn't mean you still didn't hear "cho-ah" from the odd Korean. Hmmm ... yeah odd is a good word to use. :)

Of course the stores STILL had the bloody heat on. Even my gym had the heat one. As did my co-workers. I quickly put an end to that BS. We needed a window open not the heat on. The teachers room was too stuffy.

Here is hoping it stays this nice. :)

Year 1 - More Food Talk


Since I was absent for a while, I figured I would do another little update. Of course this means that something happened today which might bear telling. Lunch.

I had been talking with one of the other teachers about Hae Jang Kuk's. So far I had eaten 2 types. Byeo Oda Kwi Hae Jang Kuk (the pork rib/bone one) and Sogogi Hae Jang Kuk (beef). There is a third one I have heard about which uses sprouts and fish. Deva mentioned that the restaurant next to the school sold another type and he wondered if I would eat it.

It is called Seon Ji Hae Jang Kuk. The main ingredient is pigs blood. Congealed pigs blood. After having eaten the squid tentacles and all Friday night, Deva figured I would eat that. Or that if I balked at eating something this would be it. So of course I went out and had it for lunch with some students.

Seon Ji Hae Jang Kuk is not the spiciest. Luckily it came with the usual side dishes, rice, AND a small bowl of diced Jalapeno peppers. So I was able to spice it up. There were large chunks of congealed pigs blood in the Kuk. You break them up into smaller portions, which makes it easier to spoon them out. As with the other Kuk's, you add the rice and mix well.

Then I noticed that the meat I was eating looked, how shall we say, different. It was tasty, I already knew that. So I asked one of the students. He smirked and said: "It is good. Eat it." To which I replied, I know it is good, I have been eating it. What is it, the stomach of the pig?" He said: "Yes." Damn, it was tasty.

The stomach is actually tasty. It looks strange. Sort of white and yellow. A bit spongey. There are little white, hmmmm, tentacle like things over one side of it too. Overall, it was the least spicy Kuk I have had, but it was still good. :)

Tomorrow, I go shopping.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Year 1 - 1st Free Talking


It was an interesting weekend. A long weekend because Monday was a preparation day for all the teachers. Which means we had it off. ;)

Due to my hours as a teacher I don't see a lot of bicyclists. When I go to work it is around 6AM and not many people are on the streets. Traffic is just starting. When I leave after my final class of the day it is 9PM and they are all gone. (I do have time off in between but people are all at work.) However, there are the omnipresent bicycle stalls. Rows of places to park and lock your bike. While a lot of people use their bikes, the numbers pale in comparison to the number of drivers and people on the bus.

Speaking of buses. They run on time here. And they are efficient. Something I would never have believed possible having lived in Dartmouth. Mind you, as I mentioned previously, taxi's are so cheap it isn't funny. It is actually cheaper for 3-4 people going downtown to take a taxi instead of the bus! To go from here to E-mart cost me about 3500 WON, which is around $3 CDN. For those who know Dartmouth the distance is comparable to that from my house to Penhorn Mall, which would cost at LEAST $10 CDN.

Monday I bought my first ever cell phone. Which is kind of funny when you think of it. I worked for AT&T Wireless for 2 years, but never owned a cell phone. The phones are tiny compared to what we have in Canada. EVERYONE has a cell phone here. Mine was 2nd hand and only cost about $48 CDN. People change phones here like we change underwear. As soon as a new model comes out they HAVE to have it. So they trade in their old phones, which then get resold at a low price.

I still haven't gotten used to the driving habits of most people. While it is interesting to watch the traffic jams on the side streets, sidewalks can be dangerous. I almost got clipped by a motorcycle that was driving on the sidewalk. That is common, but dangerous at times.

My classes have been very interesting. Last Friday I held a Free Talk in every adult class. Free Talking classes are very advanced. The class is expected to do the talking, not the teacher. You just provide topics. My topics were fairly ecclectic.

My 6:30 AM class chose to discuss the culture of drinking in Korea, and abroad. What you choose to drink can somtimes make people think you are in a certain class, or wage range, or a certain type of person. What made the topic even more appropriate is that 1 student showed up drunk, and another hung over.

At 7:30 AM we were scheduled to discuss Blind Dates. Blind Dates are not common in Canada. However, in Korea they are VERY common. People even go on group Blind Dates. It has become an intrinsic part of their culture, as has internet dating. We also discussed relationships between men and women.

At 8:30AM the topic was relationships between men and women. Can a man and a woman just be friends? Is platonic friendship possible? The consensus seemed to be yes. However they would not want their spouse or mate to have a best friend of the opposite sex. Too much temptation.

My 5:00 PM kids class didn't get a free talking subject. they always try to talk about things other than the class material. ;)

My 6:00 PM class discussed cultural differences between Korea, Canada, and the USA. What do we need to be happy, what society tells us? Do we have to have a wife and kids to be happy? It was an interesting discussion. (As were all of them.) The consensus seems to be that although we don't need what society tells us we need to be happy, most people WANT it. See, brainwashing does work.

At 7:00PM the topic was Marriage and Divorce. Why is the rate high in Canada and Low in Korea? Korea is the most conservative of the Asian countries, and places a very string emphasis on the family unit. Divorce is not as easy to obtain, and contains a powerful social stigma. While in Canada it is acceptable, and a lot of people live together and have families out of wedlock. A Korean would be ostracized for being a single mother. Interesting differences.

The 8:00 PM class, last of the day, choose to compare Korea and Japan. If there was time left over they wanted to discuss the culture of drinking. While I enjoyed all the discussions this was the best. I learned a lot about Korea in this one. The differences range from historical, to geographical (an island is harder to invade), to cultural and economic. A lot of Koreans see Japan as being more advanced and a better place to live, whether that is deserved or not, but do not like them very much. The Japanese tend to look down on Korea, many still consider it a possession. Japanese businessmen will come over on sex junkets, whether it is with local girls, or Russian whores. It was interesting and enlightening.

Considering that my classes are either beginner or just after beginner they did amazingly well at free talking. Some of them will have no problems advancing. They all talked, gave ideas and opinions, and had fun. I will probably do it again in December or late November.

That was my friday, my weekend, and another little snippet of life in Korea.

Take care


Damn ... I sounded kind of pretentious didn't I? "It is a very high level activity".

It was kind of funny that all the students in the 7PM class went on about how low the divorce rate in Korea was, and I drank their kool-aid, when it was really one of the HIGHEST in the world. The next year Korea's divorce rate would be the SECOND highest in the world. Yet Koreans, Koreanphiles, and apologists would drone on about how low the rate was and how sad it was that divorce was so common in the west.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mixed emotions

What is the perfect follow up to a great dinner? After dinner drinks and cigars. Which is what Stig and I were doing after dinner last night. It was so nice out that we sat outside. It is fun to watch the populace mooking about, and there is usually some eye candy.

A cute woman with a back pack went into the soju bar we were sitting in front of. She came out quickly and then approached us. Her English was very poor to non-existent. Between her bad English and Korean she introduced herself. She is from Mongolia and going to University in Cheongju.

Then she opened her backpack and asked if we would buy socks from her. That is why she was shuffled out of the soju bar so quickly. She went in to sell to customers. Which a lot of places don't mind, but I guess they did.

I didn't need socks. Plus I wondered if she was really a student. Was this some kind of scam? So I, well we, politely told her no. She took it well and headed off up the street.

After she left I felt like a cad. Sure she could be scamming us but then again she could be just what she said. A university student from Mongolia. A stranger in a very strange land. Maybe she needed the money.

Stig and I talked about it. I wondered how much of the money she actually got to keep. Street vendors usually sell them for 2000 won a pair. Why not spend a little money?

Stig saw here coming back down the street and called her over. She sold 3 pairs for 10,000 won. Not quite the price of 2 Long Island Ice Teas. We each bought 3 pairs. She was very happy. Lots of Happy New Years from her. Then she headed back off down the street.

We were happy too. It is nice to help someone out, or at least feel like you did. Part of me still wonders if she was really a University student. I guess I tend to be suspicious of people and their motives. Regardless it felt nice.

Year 1 - Still drinking the kool-aid


I am getting used to going around more on my own, and slowly learning Korean.

I can go into a restaurant and order what I like in Korean. Same goes for bars. I can say hello, goodbye, thank you, cold, I am cold, and a few other phrases. All in what 2 and a half weeks?

One thing I have noticed in my sojourns is entertainment. A lot of corner stores, and EVERY arcade have a couple of games that seem to be very popular. The first is a kicking/punching bag game. The object is to hit it as hard as you can and get the highest power rating. They will spend HOURS hitting these things, especially while drinking. I have seen more than a few hobbling away from the kicking machines.

The other "game" I have noticed a lot of people playing is called "Happy Crane". Remember those games you used to see at the airport or bowling alley? The one that you pumped money into, used a crane, and tried to grab a prize? Well, they are ALL over the place here. People pump money into these two games faster than a video gambling machine back in Dartmouth.

One of the things I really miss about home is bath tubs. There are none in the apartments here. I have been tempted to rent a hotel room for a night just so I can soak in a hot tub of water.

The World Cup of Football will be here in 2002. A few of us are going to try and get tickets and see at least one of the games that will take place in Chongju.

One thing I haven't talked about yet is the underworld of Chongju, the sex industry. I don't think I will email this part to mom. ;)

Korea is a very conservative country compared to other Asian countries. Sex is easier to get in say Japan or China. The people of Korea tends to be more moralistic, and steeped in family tradition.

However, that doesn't mean that there aren't any outlets for them. One of my classes, in a discussion on differences between Korea and Japan, educated me on a few interesting subjects.

First there are Coffee Girls. You will see them EVERYWHERE driving their motor scooters. They don't lean over the handlebars. They sit with perfect posture while driving, and are always dressed to the 9's.

You can call a number and they will bring coffee and snacks to your apartment. They serve you coffe and food, drink and eat with you, and chat. For most of them, they will have sex with you IF they like you. Some are out and out prostitutes, but most aren't, and choose whether or not to have sex.

Then there are Parlor Rooms and Parlor Girls. They are basically the same as Coffee Girls, but you have to go to them. You are served dinner, drinks, etc. Then you may get to go into a back room for a ride.

They also have your regular type of whores. Them you take to a sex hotel. Sex hotels are easily noticed, they all look like castle towers. You rent the rooms by the hour. There are even a few Russian whores from Vladivostok. The Oriental men LOVE blonde women. Especially tall ones. "Bagging" one is seen as a bit of a status symbol.

Something else my class enlightened me on was sex trips. Business men from Japan will come to Korea for "special" business trips. Which basically means they come to get their ashes hauled by the locals. Koreans feel that this is just another example of how the Japanese look down on them, and see them as objects they own and can use at will. Mind you they don't see Korean men using Coffee Girls or Parlor Girls in the same light.

It was an interesting class.

One thing I have noticed is that crime, as we think of it, isn't that prevalent. A lot of people will go out and leave their doors unlocked.

Something I haven't done, and I doubt I would get used too. There are a LOT of police and army around at any time. When you reach 18 National Service is mandatory. You can either go into the Army or the Police. They take their law and order seriously here.

That is all for now.


I have to laugh now when I read myself saying Korea is conservative. Might be the subject of a good post. Exactly how is Korea conservative?

My male (adult) students were always eager to talk about the sex industry and the evils of Japan. They left out the sex junkets Korean men go on.

I was new and slurping up the kool-aid.

I was also still confused about the name of the city I was living in. Chongju, Cheongju, Jeonju. There were NO World Cup games in Cheongju. There were just too many ways to anglicize Korean and too many cities with similar names. And I am a tad stupid. ;)

1958 Horror of Dracula

I just watched the 1958 Hammer horror film "Horror of Dracula."

When it starts off you expect it to follow the "Dracula" story written by Bram Stoker. If that is the story you want you will be disappointed. Quite early in it veers from that. Without divulging the whole story it has elements of the original story but a lot of artistic license is taken.

For example Harker's fiance is Lucy. And he goes to castle Dracula knowing what Dracula is. His goal from the first moment is to kill Dracula.

While it diverges from the original novel it is a good movie.

The acting is good. Christopher Lee makes a great Dracula. This is actually his first performance as Dracula and sets the bar for any future Dracula. Peter Cushing as van Helsing is damn good too.

As long as you don't expect the novel or the movie "Bram Stoker's Dracula"I recommend this movie. If you do you won't like it. The whole Lucy and her tomb take is different and interesting. All in all this is an interesting movie. It is an interesting version of a classic horror story.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What the ... gas lady?

I was watching the game when my door bell starts blasting and someone is trying to open my door. First thought ... fucking Christers are back. Turns out it was the Gas Lady to check that there are no leaks. Fine this won't take long. As she comes in the building owner summons her so she goes out, and leaves my door open. A minute later she is back. Heads out to the balcony to check for gas. Then heads to the kitchen but leaves the balcony door open.

She finds no gas leaks in the ... ahem ... kitchen. Signs off on it. Confirms my phone number. Asks for my name and is actually poised to write it. Then figures out she can't so leaves it blank and doesn't ask me to sign. She heads out not closing the door.

What the kimchi is with Koreans and doors!? Kids or adults they just don't seem to be able to simply close a god damn door. Summer or winter. They either let the heat out in the winter or the cold air out in the summer. Then they fucking wonder why they are cold or hot.

Oh the kicker with Gas Lady. I went to boil some water for coffee. Gas didn't work. Just to be safe I check ... and it is off. Bitch shut off my gas before leaving. What the kimchi!?

Year 1 - Customer Service


Koreans take customer service very seriously. Whether it is a bank, a convenience store, a gas station, or a stall at the traditional market. They don't open self service gas stations here because no one wants to use them. For a negligible savings in the price of gas you do it yourself. ON the way to Korean Immigration we stopped for gas. TWO people service you. one to pump your gas, the other to pump your ... hand. (You thought I was gonna say something dirty didn't ya? That is the COffee Girls job not Gas Attendants.) While the gas is being pumped the other person gives you a newspaper, and coupon book. Sees if you would like a complimentary coffee. PLUS he cleans your windows and offers to check your oil. Now that is frickin service! All of this with a smile, and a thank you. And they seem sincere. They take a lot more pride in their work than any gas station attendant I have ever seen.

I have previously mentioned the people who run the convenience store in my apartment building. They go out of their way to help customers, even ones who don't speak the language. When I moved into the apartment from my temp one they loaned me a dolly. When they see you on the street they always say hello. They take their customer service seriously. They take pride in their work.

After opening my bank account I went for a walk around with another teacher. On our way to the traditional market I saw a street vendor selling something. I couldn't read what it was but the smell captivated both of us. She was selling these strange looking cakes. A friend of mine, Gail, who had lived in Korea told me to look for walnut cakes. I found them! Thy take some cake batter and partially cook it in a mould. Then they add some walnut and more batter. They cook them on the spot until they are a nice golden brown. The cakes actually look like walnuts. They also have peanut cakes. They are fantastic. A very nice snack.

We looked around the market for a while. I bought a huge pillow that goes the width of my bed and is like having 2 pillows side by side, stacked 2 high. A small mat for in front of my door. Plus some mushrooms, we do a brunch every weekend, or try to. This weekend I am making omletes.

Last night i found out I had the wrong name for the dumplings I ate yesterday. They are called Mando (Sounds like Mountain Do). While waiting for ours to cook, the owner gave us some Kimchi Mando to try. The flavour explodes in your mouth. If you like spicy, you will love kimchi mando. I know I do.

After that we sort of wandered back to our apartments. I am getting my internet srvice finalized this afternoon, preparing for my evening classes, and writing this.

So far, that was my day. Another good one.

Take care


I do like the customer service here. Most places go all out. And no one expects, or demands, a tip.

Boredom = Looking at Korea Times

I was bored in between periods of the Canada-Switzerland game so I decided I would see what was new in the Nation section of the Korea Times. Have they stopped their stupidity and cleaned up their act? Or do they still think the news from other countries belongs in the NATION section. I wasn't surprised.

The top 2 stories from today were;

Korean fans wear kilts now? What the Kimchi?

Ah Scottish rugby fan Keith Davies has become a controversial YouTube sensation after dropping his kilt on live TV.

KRD the Koreans are coming to claim you!!!!! Hide your haggis!

2) The you have Billboard Porn Stunt

Billboard porn in Korea? Ummm ... no. Russian police say they have arrested a prankster who hacked into a computer system to show a pornographic movie on a ...

Russia is part of Korea now?

Then we have stories from yesterday.

'I suffocated dying lover.' from .... the UK. No Koreans involved.

Sexless Women in UK ... ummm .... once again .... the connection to the NATION of Korea is?

As is the norm for an entity with no journalistic entity like the Korea Times NONE of the articles attribute the original source they were "borrowed" from.

Thanks Korea Times for maintaining the low to no standards that we have come to expect from you. And thanks for giving me something to do between periods. The hockey game is back and you are once again a fading memory.

What the ..... silver hair?

So I am sitting at my desk starting my 3 hour break. A co-worker is sitting beside me. he is playing a game on his computer. Another co-worker comes in and starts chatting at us in English and Korean. (They are Korean.) She tells him in Korean that she sees a white hair or two. Then she proceeds to start grooming his hair by pulling the white hairs out.

20 minutes later she is still pulling out white hairs. He is keeping them in a small pile to the side on his desk. She actually asks me to help her. I decline.

25 minutes later she is finished and he has a nice little stack of white hairs.

What the f ... I mean kimchi did I just witness?

He is married, she isn't. Was this some sort of friendship ritual? They have a little something something on the side? Did I witness a form of skinship? Hairship?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What the ... volunteering?!?!

Brian in Jeollonam-do had a good article about volunteering in South Korea. It had a link to a Korea Herald article which was interesting too. I had started to make some comments but ... didn't want to be too negative there. I do believe it is important to help others in need and didn't want to be appearing to turn people off of it in his comments section.

Back home I helped in many different ways. Cash donations to charities. Giving my time to programs, especially the local food bank. I thought I would continue to do it here.

Since I first got to South Korea I was told one way or another that foreigners were NOT ALLOWED to volunteer to help Koreans. Hell, according to some people, including Korean Red Cross, we were NOT ALLOWED to donate blood. Our assistance wasn't just not wanted it was legislated against.

I based my own involvement or lack thereof on what I and friends were told by Immigration back in 2003-4. Several of us inquired about volunteering at an orphanage and were told it would violate our E-2 VISA. ANYTHING we did other than teach at our school, even if for no compensation, would violate our E-2 VISA. I even had a Korean friend corroborate that with Immigration and he was told what we were told. One friend wanted to hold a peace rally and was told the same thing. Our help wasn't just not wanted. It was illegal and could see us kicked out of the country. What the kimchi?

Based on that I decided if Korea didn't want me to do anything to help Koreans in need out they could kiss my ass.

Then there is the Korean Red Cross. I wanted to donate blood at a blood drive. I was told by the KRC people there that foreigners were NOT ALLOWED to donate blood. Our blood is not the same as Korean blood and not wanted. What the kimchi?

Was I in medieval times? Different skin colour means different blood colour?

The bull shit about foreigners having aids was active even back the early 2000's. Talking with some supposedly adult Koreans about it I heard the whole line of crap over and over again. Foreign blood is different. Most foreigners have aids. Shit like that. These were supposed to be educated people.

I missed Brian's post about the changes in Immigrations policy when they were originally posted. I can only hope the article is true. Maybe I would have changed my attitude toward volunteering in Korea then. It is hard to say.

Now, I only have 3 months left. I don't want to take the chance though that some twat in Immigration will give a different version of what appeared in that article and I will get in trouble. Immigration doesn't always do what the government says (look at testing for cannabis) and they often give contradictory or false information. Nor can I get the bad taste out of my mouth about how foreigners who wanted to volunteer have been treated.

I am not saying people shouldn't help out. This is just why I haven't.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Year 1 - Shopping and exploring

Hi again

It is hard to believe that I got here 2 weeks ago. That I am entering my third week in Korea. It feels like it was just yesterday in some ways. In other ways it feels like I have been here forever.

Today, I resumed exploring the city. After my morning classes I went to the E-Mart.Even the taxi drivers here are friendly! Go figure.

The E-Mart is basically WalMart. It even has a McDeath inside. Unlike Walmart, the E-Mart is several stories, each dealing with a different thing. Clothes is the first level. Books and toys the second. Electronics the third. The fourth is not in use. The 1st basement level is food. The escalators up and down are ramps, not stairs, so you can bring your cart all over with you.

One strange thing was entering the store parking lot. They have someone whose specific job is to direct traffic. A woman, dressed to the 9's, making sure deliveries went one way, customers another, taxis yet another. It was unusal to see for the first time.

Something else that I found strange was that you had to pay on each level. WHen I bought a pen set and writing pad I paid on the second floor. When I bought a set of speakers for my laptop (FS-350's by JPC, 380 Watt speakers, and they only cost 16,000 WON, about $20) I paid for them on the third floor. They also don't give you bags.

After I got back to my apartment I decided to continue exploring. I had heard of a traditional street market in the area, a few blocks away. So with someone else from the school I went looking. The traditional market is just what I expected. Stalls all up and down ythe sides of a narrow street. The backs of the shops are where the owners live. You can find anything there. Fresh veggies, fresh meat, freshly killed chickens hanging in front of a stall, clothes, dishes, ANYTHING. Even live eels. It was fascinating to see. The market ended at the start of the red light district, which wasn't as interesting to see in daylight. Or so I hear. ;)

I found a stall selling a sort of dumpling called Samgyetang. It is chicken stuffed with ginseng, sticky rice and garlic. It is seasoned with salt and black pepper and stewed. I say sort of because real samgyetang has jujubes in it as well. For 2000 won, about $1.60 CDN you get 8 of these, some sauce (soy with hot pepper) plus some radish kimchi. It is a good meal in and of itself. After all the walking (and not having eaten breakfast) it was a very satisfying meal.

The exploration was well worth the time. I found a place to go and get things I may need at VERY reasonable prices.

Take care


I say samgyetang you might say mandu stuffed with samgyetang. ;)

I'm Fed Up!

(to the tune of Alizee's "I'm Fed Up!")

They're babo (means stupid), heads up their asses.
There's more sense in th' stump of a tree.
To think for minutes, makes their head hurt,
They're completely moronic!

It's a big problem, their lazy mind.
Babo and stubborn, their lazy mind.
Melon full of shit is just a waste.
It makes me wonder , Is it a brick?

They're babo (means stupid), heads up their asses,
Mooks you keep away from me!
Today lying low, twisting my head,
Watching for idiots sneaking up on me.

I'm fed up with mookishness, I'm so overstressed,
Fumbling, crawling after soju that always flows down & back up,
I'm fed up with creeps crying over the cold, Wear a coat!
Not very cool but a fool, if I could mess up their rules,
I'm fed up with your complaints, mook. Use your brain for once!
Fed up with the lame pathetic excuses they give.
I'm fed up with hypocrites smiling, waving, As if!
I'm fed up with dumbass mooks! Fed up!

They're babo (means stupid), heads up their asses,
There's more sense in the finger of me!
No delight or pleasure, moronic measures,
Give me such misery, their idiocy.

Bada bada bum....


Alizee is a French pop singer, who I first became aware of here in Korea about three years ago.
I was working in Daegu, at a middle school in the nort-west suburb of Chilgok. It was a fairly nice little enclave, close to the city but a little removed from the worst of the pollution.
I was the only English teacher working there, except for one other man, a newbie to Korea.
When he was setting up his bank account, they gave him an MP3 player, with some songs and videos already on it. One of them featured a beautiful young woman, singing "Las Islas Bonitas." Well, this fool couldn't figure out who she was, so I got on the Internet and looked up the song. One of the singers was Madonna, and the other was someone called Alizee.
Going to Youtube, I was able to find a number of videos featuring her talents, each one more sexy than the last. Do me a favour and check her out. You won't be disappointed.
Alizee first came to fame by singing a song called "Moi Lolita." Guess what the subject matter is. She rode the notoriety and her talent to the top of the charts. Now she's on her third album, still very popular, and still very beautiful.
Flint and I love her very much.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ballad of Anton Ono

After reading the last Korean BS about Ono on KRD's site I was struck with a song idea. To the tune of The Green Berets

The Ballad of Anton Ono

Fighting skaters on the ice
Fearless men who gold does entice
Men who lean, grab, jostle, and sway
Their goal to stop Anton Ono today

Silver medals just will not do
These are men with something to prove
1500 metres they'll race today
But there is only one gold to take away

Trained to skate, and stop their foe
They must stop Anton and win the show
Men who jostle, grab, and kvetch
Then point and swear Anton is a wretch

Silver skates upon their feet
They can only whine if they are beat
Of all the men who will skate today
The Koreans don't want Anton to get away

Back at home a people grits their teeth
With lots of cursing and disbelief
They pretend Anton cheated today
And print lies and half truths without delay

Put silver skates on our sons feet
THey are gentlemen and can compete
One of them will be the man is all they say
Who will make Anton cry with dismay

Sunday, February 14, 2010

House of the Morning Calm

Ok, Ajay laid down the challenge and Stig and I decided to do an individual effort. A song to sum up life in Korea. This is mine, done to House of the Rising Sun.

There is a place in Asia
They call the Morning Calm
And it's been the frustration of many a foreigner
And God I know I'm one

When you come it is all new
And seems like so much fun
Once you get to know it
The place comes undone

Now the people say they want you
To come and teach English
But you spend most your life here
Feeling like a goldfish

------ organ solo ------

Oh adjumma tell you children
Not to do what you have done
Spent your life pointing and staring
And generally looking dumb.

Well, you can find some good people
Usually they remain unseen
Drunkards and letches abound
While the streets aren't very clean

Well, there is a a place in Asia
They call the Morning Calm
Life there can be good and bad
But now my time there is done.

Year 1 - The Unmentioned Co-Workers

I was going to title this The South Africans but I know South Africans aren't all as bad as the two douche bags I worked with in my first year.

I haven't mentioned two of my co-workers from my first year. They were memorable but not for good reasons.

They were an aunt (Maria) and her nephew (Paul). They started before I did and the others actually thought thery were a couple at first. She got him the job, and a fake degree in order for him to qualify to teach in Korea.

I prefer to have peace in my workplace. So I try to get along with everyone. Sometimes you run into people that you just can't get along with. That would be these two.

Together or alone they were assholes.

We had a foreign staff meeting every Tuesday. The school had 6 foreign teachers. One teacher had to present how they would teach a chapter of one of our text books each time. They would work as a tag team to build each other up, at the expense of others. Or if they weren't presenting to tear others down in such a way as to make them look good.

Once at a teachers meeting Paul went off about how some of his stuff was missing from the staff room. (The staff room was ALSO a classroom. We never left anything important laying around because the kids WOULD go through the shelves. Before I got there someone left money and it vanished.) He said that he knew it wasn't the Korean teachers or children who took. Mind you he never actually checked into that he was trying to suck up some brownie points by implying Koreans don't steal and could be trusted. The one who did should confess. Basically, it must have been one of the foreigners. His stuff was just some glue and coloured pencils. Odds are one of the kids took it because he was stupid enough to leave it there.

In another staff meeting they were perturbed and upset because the "other" teachers don't always say "Good Morning" to them.

After I finsihed chuckling I smiled and said that I ALWAYS reply when someone says good morning to me. But if they expected good morning back they would have to wait a long time. It is morning. There is nothing good about it. I ALWAYS acknowledged their good mornings with either a "morning" or "Hi". If that wasn't enough too bad. (NONE of us were morning people, and I don't give fake sappy "Good Mornings" to anyone.)

One of our co-workers was from Mauritius. His skin tone was Indian. Dusky. I don't usually bring up peoples skin colour but it is relevant to this. These stupid fuckers actually tried to explain, with the use of a white board, how he was not black but coloured. And how you could break down the skin colour group. They felt he should know this because a student had told them he was black. God only knows what they told the student about him.I guess they were missing the apartheid system where they were number 1.

Maria was a piece of work. One of the most two-faced conniving people I have ever worked with. Toss in her feelings of racial superiority and it could get disgusting at times. Oh, and add some religious zeal too. Pretentious would be a good word to describe her.

She would always try to make herself look better at the expense of the other teachers. She even lied about what country she was from to students, saying she was from England.

We went to the Cheongju National Museum once. She spent some time prattling about the potential Koreans have but will never attain because they are heathens and the way they think. Constantly refering to them as "these people".

One of our receptionists and I became friends. This bitch started a rumour at work that I was in love with her and chasing her. She had a boyfriend and I wasn't chasing her. This sort of juvenile crap is what the bitch would pull all the time. Unfortunately, some of my co-workers fell for her lies at times. They should have known better. They worked with her longer than I did.

She was always talking down to Koreans and putting on fake airs with the students. The students didn't like her (or her nephew) as a teacher. You would hear her everyday giving a loud "Hello, How are you?" that just dripped of fakeness. I can't duplicate it in writing, but when I mimicked it to him, Stig actually cringed.

Paul, he dripped sleaziness more than anything. Just like his aunt he was good at always trying to get ahead at other peoples expense.

He would also tell people he was from England. Mind you he also lied so many times about what his degree was in and where it was from that even the Korean kids were starting to catch on. When he finally settled on a degree he actually made it up. He claimed to have a Master's Degree in Business Leadership from Oxford University. No Bachelor degree, but a Master's in a degree that Oxford's website said they didn't offer.

Sometimes he would talk about his job in South Africa before coming to Korea. If it was really his job. He would talk about working in a prison with glee. Especially when talking taking prisoners to be executed. He would get RIGHT into that role. Trying to show you how they spoke, walked/marched to the chamber, strapping prisoners in for their execution. Watching them die. He seemed to love talking about that in particular. Odds are it was just another one of his lies ubt it seemed like a fantasy he enjoyed.

Then there were women ... or rather girls. His comments would range from creepy to extremely sleazy. He would oogle the young girls. You could almost see him drooling as he leered at them. (Years later a taxi driver would remind me of Paul.)

And I mean girls. Once he saw a 1st year middle school girl in a short skirt and scoop neck t-shirt. His jaw dropped to the floor. The drool was running. She was like 13? 14? Looked like she should be in Elementary School.

The kicker for me was when he told me "his plan". He wanted to work in Korea for a few years so he could save up enough money to go to Vietnam. He wanted to go there because he heard you can buy women cheap. The first thing I thought of was that he meant hookers. He didn't. He went on about owning a couple of women. He may have just been bs'ing but with the way he acted and his sense of racial superiority ... ugh. I had enough of him.

Even the adjumma's could sense his sleaze factor. They would always try and switch classes if he was their teacher. The rest of us would have a lot more classes than him and his aunt.

Somehow, our boss found out he had a fake degree. He was gone the next day.

I have met many people during my sojourn in Korea. Most aren't that memorable. Some are. These ones are but for bad reasons. They are the kind that give all foreigners a bad name with Koreans and each other.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Lunar New Year

Happy Solnal!

After 9 years it doesn't seem strange to have 2 New Years to celebrate. It is kind of fun. Last year was the best though. Stig and I were in Qingdao, China for Lunar New Year. Great time.

In Korea Lunar New Year, or Solnal, is a 3 day holiday. BUT since it is based on the lunar calendar the actual days fluctuate on the solar calendar. This year we get screwed out of 2 vacation days because of that. Solnal day is today, Sunday, so we only get Monday off work. (Unless you happen to work Saturdays.) Next year it is going to be strange. It will be a Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The best times are when it is Wednesday to Friday or Monday to Wednesday. Then you get a 5 day weekend. :)

In China it is a week long celebration. Most places are closed for all or a good part of it. There are fire works all day and night. It is easy to buy some and set them off. If there had been more holiday time this year I would have went back to Qingdao.

The only problem with Lunar New Year in Asia is that a lot of places close. We wanted the rib place for dinner last night but it was closed. Settled for decent fish and chips and rum before going to meet friends. We are going to try and find sushi or sashimi today but it is hard to say if a shop will be open.

An old friend is in town with his family for the holidays. Last night he was out and about, so Stig and I hooked up with him and another friend. It was a great time. One of the best I have had at Road King in well over a year. If only they would get a rum that doesn't make me want to vomit I might go there more often.

We were drinking Jack Daniels and cokes plus some scotch when it came time for the cigars. I had a fantastic Monte Cristo torpedo. Stig had a Partegas.

All in all a great Lunar New Year Eve.

No idea why I woke up at 8 but it is feeling like time to go back to bed. Why go back to bed? Because I can. :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Year 1 - Teaching and Partying


What a week.

I started teaching Thursday, after 3 days of observing classes. The observation days were a big help. I learned some of what to do, as well as what not to do. Even then, observing really doesn't prepare you for teaching the class. Except for my M-W-F 5PM class it is all adults. The 5PM class is kids, probably 12-14 years old.

I have to admit, I was nervous going into my first class. It was small, which was good. Luckily, I had no problems leading the class, and teaching. Probably because I am full of myself and like to talk. This gives me a captive audience.

The classes themself are fun. Probably because the folks taking them want to learn. Not like being at public school at home. Or like my kids class, their parents force them to go. Everyone has a reason for wanting to learn English. Everything from wanting to know another language for travel, to needing it for work, to just wanting to do something different and learning a language seemed like fun.

The kids in my 5 PM class are there because their parents force them to be. Some like it, some hate it. Those who hate it sometimes disrupt the class. Their last teacher let them get away with stuff, he stopped trying because it seemed futile. So, I laid down the law yesterday. I let them know that if they acted up I wouldn't tolerate it, and that if they did it 3 times they would be out the door. When the first 2 acted up they got separated. Then one of them thought it would be fun to draw on the desk. After he finished cleaning it, he got to sit in the corner for the rest of the class, in front of the class. For some reason they decided I wasn't bluffing and decided that it would be best to start listening and doing their work. (Which is good because I tend not to bluff. Especially with kids. If you tell them that an action will lead to a punishment and don't follow through they tend not to ever believe you will in the future. They lose respect for your authority.) In the end, my kids class was great. All of my classes have been good.

Living in an apartment takes some getting used to. I have lived all of my life in a house. Once, in a town house in Ontario, but that is as close as I ever came to an apartment. Until now. My first apartment here was fairly quiet. With the windows closed you couldn't hear a lot from the street. The neighbors were VERY quiet. You only knew they were around when you heard the jangle of their keys when they opened their door. In my new apartment, I am right off of the busy street, across an alley from a soju bar/restaurant. It is a toss up whether I am going to kill my neighbours or some loud drunk. I do miss living in a house.

Last night was a send off party for one of the teachers. Dave has been here for 2 years. He is taking a month off to lay on the beach in Thailand. Then he will be back in Korea for a month before heading off to teach in Prague. There were a LOT of people at the party. We pretty much took over the bar. I had my first taste of Soju and liked it. Which surprised both the Koreans and Westerners. I guess any other Westerner who drank it had to chase it with water, or beer. I didn't. I also had about 10 shots of it and wasn't feeling it. In the end I had about 2-2.5 bottles of it. (18-23 shots) plus some beer. One of the local beers, Cass, is ok. I am SO glad I don't get hangovers.

The food. Mmmmmmm...the food. My table was mainly Korean. Some of the girls from work, and their friends. When it came time to order they weren't sure if I would want Korean or not. They were a little surprised when I said order Korea, surprise me, just make it spicy. They asked if I liked Kimchi Chigae, and I do. So we had seaweed soup, some pickled vegetables, quail eggs, rice, and a HUGE dish of a type of kimchi chigae. It was like the Sun Du Bu Chigae I described in an earlier post. The girls decided to get something a little different in it to surprise me. On top of the regular ingredients it had fish eggs, attached to the flesh. Korean men like it because it is supposed to enhance their virility. I loved the soup. The party didn't end until around 2AM when the last of us, myself and 2 others, went home.

Anyway, that was my week in a nutshell.

Oops this was actually an earlier letter.

It gets annoying when Koreans keep going on and on about how this food or that food is good for your health. And the way they (usually the men) go on about how it is good for your "stamina".

Year 1 - Food Talk

Hi again

The pibimpap was very good.

Last night after classes a few of us went to a Soju bar across the street from my apartment. (Of course there would be a Soju bar across the street from me.)

We didn't have Soju but we had a great meal. (which I think I might have described the first time I had it.) It started off with a dish I don't know the name of. It is sort of like a pizza, very thin, made mainly form egg with some veggies and squid in it. You dip it in a soy sauce that contains sesame seed, green onion, and hot pepper. VERY tasty. It comes with a seaweed soup.

This was followed by a dish called calanmiri (sp?). It is sort of reminisent of quiche, but shaped like a log. Egg is the main ingredient, plus there is spinach or seaweed inside of it. You dip it in the soy sauce mixture mentioned above.

That was followed by the main course. Sun Du Bu Chigae which is a spicy tofu and seafood soup. It can also be made with pork. The seafood is usually clams, but anchovies are sometimes used as well. This comes with kim, which is a type of seaweed; Steamed rice; kimchi, sprouts which were marinated then steamed; and radish kimchi.

Most people put some of the soup over their rice. Then you take a sheet of kim (it is about the size of a notepad sheet) put some rice, or kimchi, or sprouts, or tofu, or seafood, or any combination there of, in it, wrap it up and pop it in your mouth. Mmmmmmmmm.

By the time you are done you are STUFFED, and very content.

Saturday night we went to another restaurant. A more tradtional one, where you sit on the floor at a table. There is a grill in the middle of the table. You get strips of meat which you can cut into any desired shape to grill. Plus a load of different veggies, kimchi, radish kimchi, sprouts, kim, various edible leaves, rice, seaweed soup, onion soup, and I am probably forgetting a few items. It was great.

For some reason I feel the urge to go out for a late lunch.

Take care


Heh ... garanmari. I did eventually learn the names of things. :)

I HATED tofu before I came to Korea. I do like many of the ways they do it up.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Year 1 - Recollections and Musings

I didn't end up staying in the 1st apartment a full week. More like 3 or 4 days.Then I got to move my stuff and more from there to a building pretty much next door.

That is when I met the owners of the convenience store under my new apartment building. Salt of the Earth! They loaned me their dolly to move stuff. I had to move the fridge among other things. They even gave a free energy drink. Bacchus D. Caffeine and liquid nicotine.

The owners and their family were great. Still are. They often slipped us vitamin drinks because we looked like shit. :) First class of the split shift started at 6:30AM. We finished at 9PM. We would often gather outside their store after work and on weekends for beer and wine. They still keep a bottle of Mahjuang Red at the store in case we show up. :)

The new apartment was a disappointment. It was bloody small. The "kitchen" was an after thought. It was a typical 1 room apartment in Korea with no balcony. There was no washing machine. I had to share one with everyone else on my floor. So you would get assholes out in the hallway at 2 or 3AM yammering loud as can be on their phone while doing laundry.

My neighbours on one side were a few University boys sharing a tiny room. They could be a little noisy. Hilda used to have my apartment but moved up to a bigger one. She always went on about how quiet and nice these guys where. I guess they didn't like white guys because they wouldn't even return a hello to me. And they were less than quiet. Much less.

They would leave their door open while playing music, watching TV, or generally mooking about. Smoking in the hallway. (My bathroom "window" opened into the hallway. If you wanted to air out the bathroom you had to have it open. Even with the thin bathroom door shut you could hear anything going on out there.) Annoying shit like that. One weekend they all went away and never turned off their fucking alarm clock. It RANG for 2 fucking days!

The alarm was the kicker for me. I stopped trying to be polite to them. Started telling them off when they acted like Mooks. One day Hilda asked me about them. She said she ran into them and they talked about me. They told her I was not a nice person. I was always angry. She actually tried giving me hell for not being nice to them. I should have told her to fuck off them but I didn't. I defended myself and the conversation was left with her still trying to defend these mooks. "But they were nice to me." Years later I would regret not telling her off all the times she acted like that. But I digress.

I really enjoyed the area I lived in. It was in the area by ChungBuk National University. The main drinking/eating/party area for foreigners and university students. Lots of cheap food and booze. :)

It made for an interesting first year.