Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What the ... Thought Crime?!?!?

A friend on FaceBook watched the movie 1984 last week and was deeply disturbed by the parallels with South Korea. As he said "Thought Crime exists here!"

He saw a lot of parallels:

"I'm no expert in Korean language or culture but I keep running into Koreas notion of there being only 1 right way (or opinion) and many wrong ways.

For example the word "틀리다" is oftem used to mean wrong and different. That strikes me as double speak and limiting people's thoughts and actions through language.

In 1984 they address each other as brother and sister , here we have "형" "어니" etc.

Everyone has a rank and does what they are told, even if it is wrong. In Korea 2+2 does equal 5 if someone older than you says it does.

Critical thinking seems to be discouraged, especially in education where rote learning is king.

Also, being a public school teacher I hear kids singing the national anthem and taking the pledge of allegiance on what sometimes feels like a weekly basis.

Plus the collective culture, jingoism, uber nationalism "우리나라" our country not yours. Suspicion of '외국인' - literally outsiders.

I read 1984 about a hundred years ago, i'd never seen the movie. The movie made me think about Korea a lot."


There is a lot to the thought crime comment when you consider how the government goes after anyone who speaks out against it. I am not talking wing nuts who make death threats. I am talking about people who simply say they don't like government policies. Two years ago a friends co-worker, a University professor, was called in to the Police Department to discuss his anti-government comments. Some of her students had been called in too.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mook of the Week

I was thinking of making our first Mook of the Week Yie Eun-Woong. Stig felt that would be using the big guns too early. He is more of a Mook of the Year.

So we had a dilemma. It isn't always easy to snap a picture of mooks in action. By the time you get your camera out they have mooked off. As we sat sipping coffee and trying to pick someone we heard some yelling.

A taxi had stopped in the street, and in the crosswalk, to let out his fares. The taxi behind beeped his horn at him. Once. Well, that was it. The driver who stopped got out of his car yelling and shaking a fist.

He LEFT his car in the street and went up to the other taxi driver's car screaming. Shebal Seki this .... gae seki that ... cho-ah mook mook mook. Quite the spectacle. He spent a good 5+ minutes shaking his fist at the other drivers window.

He finally figured out the other driver wasn't getting out, or he saw something shiny and got distracted, and went back to his car. He made a show of getting back to it. Yelled a few more times. Shook a fist in the air. Oh the injustice! He beeped at me for blocking the street! Now I have acted like a madman and saved face! Yeah me!

Then he got in his car and raced off.

What a fucking mook. He reminded me of the taxi driver I had a run in with.

So here is to you Mr. Taxi Driver. You are the Mook of the Week.

Year 1 - Gongju


I ended up going to Gongju yesterday instead of today. It was a fantastic trip. Min Jeong and I left around 9:45 AM and I got back just in time to make my 5:00 PM class. I had 2 minutes to spare. :)

The first place we went to was the tomb of King Muryeong who reigned ove the Baekje Kingdom from 501-523 AD. He was one of the last kings to rule from Gongju.

During the Japanese occupation of Korea most of the tombs in the area were looted of all their artifacts. As I mentioned previously, the vast majority of artifacts stolen by the Japanese are still in Japan today, and they do not intend to ever return them. Luckily for Korea the Japanese didn't find this tomb. No one did until 1971.

Workers were repairing damage done to tombs looted by the Japanese when archaeologists discovered King Muryeong's tomb. In it were the King and Queen, as well as a vast array of artifacts from the Baekje era. It is considered one of Korea's gtreatest archaeological finds. Hundreds of artifacts were recovered and many are on display at the National Museum in Gongju. The collection is actually the main focus of the museum.

The Gongju Historical site office is the first place you see. There is a brief explanation of the area, and a film, in both English and Korean. When you come back there is a beautiful gift shop, with some things you can only buy there. Mainly modern examles of Baekje crafts. There is some very nice stuff there.

It is a short walk up to the tomb area, actually a mound which several tombs are under. Before you get there you can see a replica of the tomb with some artifacts. The tomb itself was closed when we got there. They are working on it still.

The head of the area greeted us on our way in, and let us in for free after finding out I am Canadian. :) She also gave me a book on the area for free. It is in Korean and English, and usually has to be paid for. On the way out we stopped and talked with her for a while, and picked up some nic-nacs from the gift shop. I want to go back when I have more cash on hand.

From there we went to the Gongju National Museum. The museum opened in 1972, around artifacts found in King Muryeong's tomb. Part of it was built to resemble the inside of the tomb. Some of the artifacts you can see are the gold crowns of the King and Queen, gold, jade, and silver ornaments, pottery, statues, and weapons. One of the most interesting and amusing things I saw was the shoes of the King and Queen. They were made from metal and gilded. There were spikes on the bottom and toe area. They looked very uncomfortable, but would probably hurt like hell if you kicked someone.

There was also an exhibit to commemorate the last 10 years of excavations at Geumgang river. There were a lot of different artifacts from various eras there. From the stone, bronze, and iron age, as well as other eras in history. Also, there was an exhibit of paintings and photographs showing the changing face of Gongju, and historical sites, over the past 100 years.

Outside the museum is a garden area with various statues. There are many buddha statues, some without heads. Also guardian animal statues, pagodas, and huge water basins. They are all set out with English and Korean signs. All in all a very interesting museum, well laid out and presented.

After the museum we decided to head to the Buddhist Temple of Donghaksa. We had lunch before going to the temple at a place that serves Jung Shik. It was fabulous. For 7000 won each you get about 21 different dishes plus tea. (I treated.) There were about 5-6 different types of kimchi. Lots of veggies. A couple of fish dishes, 1 beef, and deonjeon chigae (bean curd stew). We were well fortified before tackling the walk to the temple.

It was a 2.5 km uphill hike from the parking lot to the temple. It is at the eastern end of the Gyerongsan (Gyerong Mountain) National Park. Gyerongsan literally means Rooster Dragon Mountain. Locals thought the mountain resembled a dragon with a roosters head. There are a couple of Temples around the park. Gapsa is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Korea, and dates back to the unified Silla period, 8-10 AD. We will go there next time.

Donghaksa is a fairly large temple complex. There are quarters for monks as well as nuns. Plus the requisite worship areas. There is also a small shrine for followers of Shamanism. Buddhism didn't attack other religons when it came to Korea, it embraced them. Although not in the way Christian missionaries did, which was to co-opt and then destroy them. They set aside places for believers in Shamanism to worship in peace within the temple area.

The area around the temple is beautiful. The walk alone was worth the preice of admission to the park. You follow a winding lane which itself follows a stream that comes down from the mountains. All around are mountains. I want to go back in the fall, it will be even more beautiful when the leaves are changing colour. A very tranquil area.

You will find many cairns on the way up to the temple. As previously mentioned, people add to them and make a wish. Min Jeong and I both added to cairns.

We were both pretty tired after a long day, but we both had to get back to Cheongju to work. Traffic tried to mess us up, but luckily I made it back with enough time to run home, change and run to school. It was a great way to spend a day.

I should have pictures developed next week, along with those from Saturday's World Cup trip to Ulsan.

Take care,


I miss hanging out with Min Jeong. She was a lot of fun. We had similar interests. Unfortunately she got married 5 years ago so no more male friends were allowed.

On a funny/strange note. Last night Stig and I were having a post-dinner cigar and drink on the benches when who do I see. Min Jeong. It was ... interesting to see her again. Her husband "lets" her out twice a week to walk. Those were her words not mine, and her English is still very good. So she was on her walk.

Do I expect to hear from her again, even though she "now" has my phone number? No. We exchanged pleasantries. I gave her my phone number which hasn't changed in 5 years. She didn't give me hers. She resumed her walk. Life goes on.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Year 1 - Lies and Bad Days


Last time I wrote I said "May looks to be an interesting month. Hopefully only in a good way." I think I tempted fate by saying that.

So far it has been interesting, but like the time of a full moon, May brings out the strange students. For some reason they seem to be gravitating to my free talking class. My regular sudents usually put them in their place if they get disruptive. But, there is one student who is an emotional basket case, and a bit of a stalker. Unfortunately, they other teachers never warned me about her stalker characteristics.

Stalker might be a bit harsh, but some of the definition does describe her. She will focus in on one English teacher and basically try to insinuate herself into your life. She wants to go everywhere you go, do everything you do, spend all possible free time with you. I had thought I had run into her by chance Friday morning, but it turned out she followed me from school.

Friday was one of those days when nothing ever seems to go right. The things that do go right later turn out not to have really been good. It started with a Free Talking class that I felt was only so-so. I had to go downtown to get a book from an English bookstore. That is when I ran into Angela, or as we affectionately call her Stalker Girl. She said she wasn't busy and offered me a drive, she knew were the bookstore was. I said sure. She did know where the store was. While I was getting the book she got a call that she had to go in to work so we couldn't go for coffee. On the way back to Sacheong-dong we were talking about work and she almost started crying. (It turns out that when she was in another teachers Free Talking class she DID start crying anytime they were talking about life. Really creeped out the other students.) Very weird drive back.

So, it was only 10:30 and I wanted brunch. I figured I would have something I hadn't had in ages. Popeye's chicken. They open at 10. Not this day of course. It took then 15 minutes to decide to tell me that they wouldn't be opening until 11:30 that day. Fine, I didn't really NEED chicken. So, I went home and cooked brunch and got ready to watch Star Wars Episode 2. A friend and student had borrowed it from a friend. It took 2 CD's to hold the movie. I was really looking forward to watching it. Of course, for some reason, the disc's were not compatible with my CD-rom!!!

Argh!!!! After trying different codecs, and some cursing I gave up on watching the movie. I would download some hockey and watch the 1st Toronto-Carolina playoff game. But, of, course, something went wrong and the FTP would not work.

The bad luck didn't end there. I went to school to teach my kids class. I was told that they have no one to teach my Saturday classes in 2 weeks. I am SUPPOSED to have it off to go to a World Cup soccer game. They told me 2 weeks ago I could have the day off, NOW they tell me this. There is NO way in hell I won't be going, I already have my ticket. Great start to the evening.

It didn't improve. The air conditioner in the room wasn't working! It was hot and humid, and I was in a small room with 12 kids. It got very sticky and very stinky very fast. Not fun. My next class was better, fun. But my last class, no one showed up! So I figured cool, I am off early, I will call a friend I have a dinner "appointment" with, and go early.

My friend, Cheong Seob, was busy and couldn't get there early. Fine, it just meant killing less than an hour until he got there. I went home for a bit, to change clothes and relax. When I got back, no Cheong Seob. While waiting I talked with another teacher, Matt, and one of his students. That is when I found out who Stalker Girl was. 8:15, still no Cheong Seob. I hadn't eaten since 11:00 Am and was pretty hungry. SO I called him. He said he couldn't get away until 9. I said do you REALLY mean that, or at 9 will you have another lame excuse. That is when he said he wouldn't be coming, he was too drunk. I COULD have eaten at 7PM if he had just told me the truth, that he wasn't coming. So, I was pretty pissed off. It was too late to go to eat Sum Kyub Sal now since I was supposed to be meeting some other students at 8:50 at the school to go to a Noribung. One student less now.

9 PM rolls around and only 1 student showed up to go. Another, Seo Jong begged off, because she said she had to go home, she was going to Seoul Saturday. I was hungry, and in a pissy mood, so I asked Yun Jong if she would rather go eat supper instead of going to a noribung. She said sure. Then we ran into Seo Jong and another student. Surprise surprise, she has time to go for supper. Rather than just say she didn't want to go to a noribung that night, she decided to lie. That didn't help my mood, but fine.

We went to a place called Acapulco. It serves Mexican food!!!! I was jonesing for some good Mexican food. We sit down, it is about 9:30. The waitress takes our order, then comes back and says they close at 10PM and aren't taking orders. The luck continues!

We head off to another place. This time a bar-restaurant. They serve steak. I decide that steak would be nice. The waitress takes our orders, comes back and tells us that they stop serving that menu at 9PM. NOw they only serve anjou, beer food! So, my supper consisted of french fries. I was not a happy camper. Going home, it started raining. I had no umbrella.

The night ended for me at 11PM. I went home early, and went to bed hoping Saturday would be better. Friday? It was more like a fricking Monday! :)

Saturday was much better. My kids classeswere great. I treated a friend-student (BumSuk) to Galbi for supper. Plus copious mounts of Soju and beer. We went back to his place to have beer and watch Star Wars Ep. 2. Then went to the market by my apartment and sat, talked, and had a lot of beer. I walked him home, or he probably wouldn't have made it.

Today I am going to a Buddhist temple. It is Buddha's birthday today so I am going to watch the festival of lanterns. It should be a great time, except Stalker Girl is supposed to be going. DungChim is probably going to come too though, so it shouldn't be that bad.

I hope your Friday was better than mine. :)

Take care,


The lieing really pisses me off. If you don't want to do something just say it. Catching people in lies makes me question anything they say. The amount of lieing people do for stupid reasons is insane.

Catching so many people lieing to me that day started to open my eyes a bit more.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What the .... sinking?!?!?!?

What is going on at the South and North Korea maritime border???

A South Korean naval ship is sinking and they (South Korean government) don't know why?

Dude. Some one done sunk it! Who do YOU think would do that?

Year 1 - Oops I forgot to mention .....

Oops I almost forgot to mention another observation or two.

Women here usually dress to the 9's for daily life. They put on makeup even if all they are doing is putting out the trash. So, when you go down the street there is a lot of eye candy to distract you, which is one reason why I never noticed what a lot of men carry.

Korean men carry purses. Not all, maybe not even most, but a lot of Korean men use them. I noticed it when out walking around Saturday morning. Purses with straps and without, little handbags, whatever you want to call them, it isn't uncommon to see men with them. As one of my friends calls his, his bitch bag. :)
Take care

I still have to chuckle when I see Korean men in suits carrying those little handbags with a tiny wrist strap.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Year 1 - Museums and Friends


It has been so long since I last wrote that I almost forgot what I wrote about.

The Thursday after I posted I went to the Early Print Museum with a friend, Yun Jong. It is a very interesting places, but I found out after snapping a picture that you are not supposed to take pictures inside. Dunno why, it is just museum policy. The world's first moveable type printing press was actually invented in Korea a couple of hundred years before Guttenberg's press. The type they used was very tiny and intricate. I imagine the monks went blind carving them by hand. A nice museum to visit.

Yun Jong said she had a place she wanted to take me for lunch, a surprise place. It was about 20 minutes outside of town. When she said the name in Korean I said Angel and the Woodcutter, right? Heh, I was right. We had a nice drive along the Museoncheon River, then out of the city. Lunch was great Muk Bap and Hamul Pajeon. Muk is a sort of jelly like thing made from chestnuts. Very tasy, especially with other stuff. Basically it is the same as BibimBap but with Muk. Hamul pajeon is sort of a seafood pizza. We had a great meal, then spent a while walking around the place. Unlike last time I had my camera with me, because of going to the museum. So, we took finished up a roll of film. Since most people were studying for midterms it was a pretty quiet weekend.

Last weekend was another story. It was very busy. Friday night I treated one of my students to dinner. Then we met up with Yun Jong and another student. (Her name eludes me.) We went to a naribang and did karaoke for a couple of hours. Yun Jong is a pretty good singer. We had a great times. :)

Saturday night I went out with another student, and a friend of his. DungChim has been a student of mine for about 3 months, and his English is pretty good. His friend, Ju Young, is about 5' and looks like she is 16, when she is actually 30. She is married, which was a little strange because most married Korean men do NOT let their wives have male friends. And yes I mean LET. DungChim and her husband, and her, have been friends for a long time though so it is different. We went and saw Spiderman. Good movie.

After the movie we met some other friends of his. Two bars and many hours later it was around 3:30Am and time to go home. I didn't get in until around 4AM. It was a great night though.

I had planned on going to Cheonan, but didn't get up until noon. So, I did some cleaning and cooking, then took in a movie. We Were Soldiers is a pretty good movie.

Sunday was another Holiday too. Children's Day, which is when parents celebrate having their kids. The kids get presents and treated. Of course it fell on a Sunday, which ticked off a lot of kids because it meant no day off of school.

Today I had lunch with two of the women who work as receptionists at the front desk. Sun Young and Eun Jin. They treated me. We had Italian food. VERY good Italian food. :)

Next weekend I am going out of town with some friends. Yun Jong, Choon Seob, and maybe a couple of others, to a place called Everland. Picture disney world in Korea. It should be a great time.

June 1st I will be in a city called Ulsan to watch a World Cup game!!! My boss gave me the saturday off and a buddy in Seoul picked us up a couple of tickets. We will be seeing Uruguay versus Denmark. Uruguay is where the 1st ever World Cup of FOotball was held, and Uruguay won it. Denmark beat Germany for the Euro Cup in 1997 (I think 97). Stat wise both teams are fairly equal so it should be a good game. I will definitely be bringing my camera with me! I never thought I would ever get a chance to see a World Cup game, now I am going to one. :)

May looks to be an interesting month. Hopefully only in a good way. ;)

Take care,


Never did get to Everland and I am not upset about that. ;)

DungChim's "friend". Well, she was really his "partner". Which means she was cheating on her husband with him. Something that seems to be fairly common here. As I have been told on several occaissions by Korean women. They marry for financial security not love. Then find passion elsewhere.

And DungChim wasn't friends with her husband.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Is it Monday?

You ever have one of those days, and it isn't a Monday, when shit just happens?

Today has been one of those days. I woke up feeling like shit. Actually that is being kind. Shit warmed over. By noon I felt pukey but otherwise ok. So I went to work. (Yeah, yeah. I should have said fuck it at that point and called in sick. Like a Monday! Brain not working.)

Half way through the work day I started to feel ... cold. This actually scared some of my students. I am never cold. I wear short sleeves all year. Now I was turning the heat up and for my last 2 classes wearing my jacket. Now my co-workers are worried. Then the freezing becomes too hot. Then back and forth. God damn. I have a cold. :(

Work ends. A co-worker asks where all the info I put on the computer yesterday is. I say the file I was told to put it in. I entered it yesterday and saved it. We checked every file. Nothing. Then I check the date the file was last altered. Some fuckwit copied their version over it today instead of entering their information. Which meant my stuff was gone. At this point I said "Too bad. So sad. I will re-enter my stuff tomorrow. I am going home now.

That should have been the end of the drama and BS. But it wasn't. I had to pick up some water, juice, and stuff on the way home. I stopped at the local mart. Parked my scooter. Some fucktard in an SUV decided to back up, when he didn't need to, and knocked the scooter onto me. He SAW me pulling in and getting off the scooter. My left ankle ended up crunched under it. The fucker took off.

I picked up my scooter. Quickly grabbed some stuff and went home.

My ankle is puffed up. May have to see a doctor tomorrow.

I wish I wasn't sick. I could use a drink right now.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What the ... assimilation?!?!?!?

Well it has only taken 4 months for our Korean-Canadian teacher to be assimilated into the collective. (Ok 3 but I was lazy and waited almost a month to type this up.)

When she first started she complained that people knew she "wasn't really Korean" . Odds are it was her clothes. She didn't wear shirts with sparkling shit all over it, or logos, or crappy English. She also wore a lot of pants/jeans and not as many skirts. It could also be her Korean was affected by her decade in the Great White North.

She also had no qualms about pointing out what was bad or stupid about life in Korea. When Koreans did something, like perverted taxi drivers, she would tell them off. Or report them if possible.

Basically, the Kamikaze Kimchi Kommandoes wouldn't have liked her. Except ... she was already partially assimilated. Or would that be part of her indoctrination by the collective was still intact after her sojourn into the Great White North? Regardless, she still had some collective directives in place. She told anyone who would listen that her main purpose in coming to Korea was to find a husband. (That has now changed to make a husband. Her English has deteriorated in her time back in the Motherland.) She wants to find a good Christian Korean man who doesn't smoke or drink and likes going to church. (What is even funnier is that Korean male colleagues told her she set her standards too high. She didn't tell him off which she would have in her first month. Instead she pouted and whined. )

Now she is pretty much back into the collective. Bad English. Bad habits. She used to keep her mouth closed when eating but now chomps away with it open just like the rest of the collective. She now wears the standard collective fashion too. Including bad English at times.

You can evade the collective but you can never fully escape.

Year 1 - Yellow Dust Plus


Yellow Dust. It kind of sounds like some quasi-racist name given to something in the west. Like Chinaman Mountain, or the Washington Redskins. However, it isn't. It is the name given to a phenomenon that hits parts of asia every spring. Unfortunately it is now springtime and the dust is rolling in. The problem begins in parts of China, around the Gobi desert. The winds there get very fierce and blow dust and sand around. It gets so windy that it carries the dust across China and into other countries, such as Korea. The dust is very hard on the young, old, and those with breathing problems. Much like the smog problem in many western cities. As with smog alerts, schools sometimes close because of Yellow Dust.

Today we are being hit by it again. It is hard to describe. Right now I am sitting in my apartment with the window shut. Outside it looks hazy because of the dust in the air. In doors I can smell the dust, taste it even. There is no escaping from it. It is cloying in the air, and gets into everything. Schools will probably close for kids today, and our attendance will be lower, because of the dust. People on the street either wear a surgical mask to try not to breath any dust in, or try not to go out. According to the media today is suppoed to be one of the worst incidents of Yellow Dust ever. I believe it, it has never been this bad before.

Other than that, things are going well. While we didn't have a long weekend because of Saturday classes, we did have a holiday weekend.

Friday I went into Seoul for the day. I did some shopping, there is a nice deli to get cheeses at. Also, I found a bookstore that sells used English books. They have quite a selection so I bought enough books to keep me going for a week, seven. It was an adventure getting from the bus station to the deli. Luckily I had clipped their ad out of the paper and had the phone number. My driver called them for directions. We ended up at the wrong end of a very long street, around embassies. A passerby helped give us proper directions. When I was leaving the store I had planned on walking to the bookstore but wasn't sure of the direction. When I showed the ad to the clerk he said it would be too far a walk so he got me a taxi.

I met a friend and his coworkers for lunch at a place called Panchoes. It was mentioned in a previous update. The food was good, the tequila better. :) We hung around for a while then met some friends from my work (Hilda and Matt) for supper at the Thai restaurant I had been to before. That left time for some more shopping before coming home. I bought a nice tie that looks like the Canadian flag. The shopkeeper was a bit perplexed when I started laughing at him though. He asked if I didn't want the US FLag tie to go with it. I laughed for a while. :) THen it was a lengthy subway trip, a bus ride, and back to Chongju.

Sunday, yesterday, I went out with a student. We went to DaeCheong Dam to see the cherry blossoms, and the dam. It was very nice. I hope the pictures turn out. Then we went out for lunch, Taek Bek Suk, a type of chicken and rice soup. We had some fresh strawberrys for dessert and went back into Chongju.

Last night I decided to go to the movies and saw Blade 2. It was as good as the first one. Since I liked the first one a lot that means I thought it was very good. ;) On my way home I ran into a friend (Dong Ae). We went out for a couple of cocktails. Then we walked around drinking coffee and talking for a while. It was a good time.

School is going to be busy this month. Next week one of the teachers goes home for 10 days. I will be picking up 3 of his classes. It will give some nice overtime. :) Friday is his birthday, so taht should be a good time too.

We scouted out some nice bars this weekend. Thursday night we went to our Soju Bar. Unfortunately, it has changed hands. It sucks now. :( I doubt any of us will go back there. From there we went to a new place called "Avec" above the movie theater. Actually the same floor as 1 of their theaters. NICE place! You don't get glasses, you get pewter glasses. They don't bring you a pitcher of beer, it is like a huge goblet with a cover, and a spigot to pour your beer. Sort of like having a lidded keg at you table keeping things cold. Very nice. Good music. Good staff. We will be back there.

We found a couple of other nice places Saturday night. One we had been to before, so we didn't really find it saturday, is called the O Bar. They have a balcony, and the counters are fish tanks. Very cool. Good service. They play jazz and old rock, with a little pop mixed in. Another bar we did find that night is called Cube. EVERYTHING is a cube in there. Seats, tables, menu, balcony, everything. Very cool motif, good side dishes, service, and booze. Another place we will be returning to.

Overall it was a good week. Hopefully this week will be the same or better. Dunno with that dust though. It is pretty bad right now. I can taste it with my window shut. Hope you had a good week.

Take care,


My first encounter with Yellow Dust but not the worst.

I actually don't like going to Seoul. Too many people for my taste. Luckily there are places like NiceDeli.com to get deli stuff from. :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Year 1 - Happy Easter 2002

It is Easter Sunday here now.

It has been a while hasn't it? A lot has been going on lately.

On top of the usual hectic pace of teaching I have had my dentist visits. Monday will be my last visit for this tooth. The dentist and I have had many talks, he is a nice guy, and a good dentist. His staff is nice too, but they don't speak a lick of English. He likes to improve his English, and we ended up having a discussion on semantics.

He said that dental work in Korea is cheap. I replied that some of it may be cheap, but I prefer to say affordable. Cheap has a double mean. It costs less, and the quality is less. He does good work, not shoddy work. So I would say he is affordable, not cheap. We had a chuckle over that. :) Many things in Korea are affordable without being cheap.

Thursday I went out of town with some students. We went to a place called Munue (pronounced Moonie). First we went to a spot overlooking the valley. There is a cave there that legend has was the home of a dragon. So, we stopped, went into the cave, and looked around. I didn't see any dragons. There was also a cairn there where you can place rocks and make a wish. One of my students and her husband want another child, so she wished for a boy. I put a rock on it and made a wish for my mom's health. We had a nice walk around the area. Then we went into Munue for lunch. We had Ori Tang, duck soup. It was very good. Not gamey at all. It was a nice way to spend an afternoon.

Dating in Korea is interesting. Some of the means are similar to North America. Meet someone, ask them out. Even where you meet people can be similar, work, church, bars. THere are a few other ways that are fairly common here which aren't as common in Canada or the US. Blind dating is VERY common here. Sometimes it is group blind dates, sometimes single. using the internet for dating is very common too. They meet in chat rooms, or through services, set up an "appointment" and see how it goes from there.

I mentioned in at least one previous letter about how same gender relations are here. It is common to see girls, women, walking down the street hand in hand, arm in arm. When out at a bar, restaurant, or other places it is not unusual for them to be clingy with each other, playing with hair, holding onto each other. Although that mainly happens at bars. Men also exhibit this behaviour, but not as often as women. (Mind you according to Koreans there is NO homo-sexuality in Korea, it is a Western problem only. But that is another kettle of fish.) This is something that most Westerners never get used to, I still haven't.

Last night I went out to dinner. After dinner we went to a nurae bang (karaoke room) and spent several hours. It was a good time. Karaoke rooms are very popular in Korea. Their selection of music is actually pretty good. There is a wide selection of Korean and English songs. There is even the odd Japanese song thrown in. One of the girls last night was a really good singer. Karaoke is something I would never have done in Canada unless very drunk. Even then it is debatable. ;)

Take care,


And my singing is still horrible. :)

One thing that still strikes me as strange is that for all the Christians in Korea Easter isn't that important a holiday.

Huffington Post mentions AES

There was an interesting article in the Huffington Post today about South Korea's contradictory, or some might say hypocritical, policies concerning aids.

It seems that Korea has pledged to lift the travel ban on aids infected people but haven't actually passed any legislation that would make it legally binding. Add to that their mandatory aids test for ONLY foreign teachers. One which could soon be expanded to apply to ALL foreign workers in Korea. But not Koreans.

It was also interesting to see Anti-English Spectrum being discussed and exposed as the racist piece of shit we all know it to be.

"Critics of the bill, like Wagner, take issue with its purpose statement that reads, "Nowadays, the number of foreigners working in Korea is increasing, but a good many have previous convictions for drug and sexual crimes or carry infectious diseases." Wagner traces the statement's origin to Anti-English Spectrum's efforts to stigmatize foreigners as AIDS-infected, sexually abusive predators. To this day, no foreigner has ever been found guilty of infecting a Korean child with HIV, and in 2008 the native English teacher crime rate was more than five times lower than the Korean crime rate."

While it is nothing new to those of us in Korea that AES is a racist organization it is nice to see it being exposed more outside of Korea. Especially when you look at the politicians here using their fabricated facts to help make policy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What The... Courtesy?!

I did Flint a favour this week. He'd received a shipment from nicedeli.com, and the package was just too big to fit on his scooter. So I swung by his school to pick it up and take it home for him.
It was a sizeable box - an armful, but not too difficult to handle. His school is on the eighth floor, and as I was riding down to the lobby, the elevator stopped on the fifth. This guy got on and rode down the rest of the way with me, not acknowledging me in any way as strangers will do.
He preceded me out of the elevator and the lobby, letting the front door close in my face as I laboured along with my arms full of package.
What the kimchi?
Since when did holding a door open for somebody become something that doesn't even cross your mind? Is the bridge out? Are your brains that crowded with thoughts of kimchi or Dokdo or your tiny penis that you can't make the courtesy connection?
I've been treated courteously before by Koreans, so I know some of them do have manners, but so many more of them act like I'm simply something in their way, an obstruction to be got round or elbowed out of the way. To them, I'm not even worthy of an "Excuse me," or even a "Shille hamnida."
This mook reminded of an adjussi who was entering a restaurant where Flint and I were chowing down on some excellent sam gyup sal. He was gawking at us while he was holding the door open for his wife, who was some way behind him. He let the door go just as she got there, shutting it in her face.
What the kimchi?
This past couple of weekends, I've gone to the movies. Last week, it was "Alice In Wonderland," and this week it was "Shutter Island." Both of these movies were disappointments (I want my money back for "Shutter"), and Flint was glad he gave them a pass.
But both times, I had a mook sitting next to me pull out his cell phone to answer a call/make a text message.
What the kimchi?
I'm trying to watch the movie, and this brain dead moron doesn't have the courtesy to think the beeps, talking, and bright light is not a distraction.
I smacked the first guy, and flicked popcorn at the second. Both of them looked at me as if to say, "What? What's your problem?"
I've already written about the discourtesy that the average Korean driver exhibits, driving like they own the road and everybody else should look out for them. I do try to look out for them, more out of a sense of self-preservation than that of being courteous. I have been less willing to allow people to cut in or merge lately, simply because of the constant never-ending mookishness I experience just driving to work.
This country is in serious need of a good paddling, and a round of cotillion. Flint has always said he would enjoy seeing them try this shit in a place like New York or L.A. They'd get more than a smack, that's for sure.

Year 1 - Plastic Surgery


Lets talk about Plastic Surgery.

Lately I have been bringing my computer to my Free Talking and Interchange classes on Mondays. We watch a sitcom, like Friends, and then discuss issues that arise out of it. WHether it is love, friendship, infidelity, humour, or even plastic surgery.

Friday we had a great discussion on plastic surgery. I learned quite a few things that I didn't know, and my students said the same thing.

In Korea plastic surgery is very common. Usually it is eyelid surgery to give a double eyelid, which westerners tend to be born with. Some Koreans have them naturally most don't. So, many of them will get surgery to have it as they feel it makes them more attractive. The same goes for the nose. In the West most people who get a nose job do it to have their nose made smaller, more aquilline. It is the opposite here. Koreans, Asians, want their noses a little larger. It was an interesting topic.

We also discussed other aspects of plastic surgery. Like a man and woman in the U.K. who had plastic surgery done to make them look like Ken and Barbie. Collagen injections in the lips to make them plumper. Bocholism injections in the face to take away wrinkles. Tattooed make-up.

The lengths some people will go to "look beautiful" is staggering. In China right now the big fad is leg extensions. Women think they will attract a good man if they are taller so they have special surgery. Basically, your lower leg is broken. Then a special brace is attached, and over a month, or two, or three, you basically keep the leg broken. You twist and turning it periodically as it is healing to lengthen it. I think the average length added on is 6-9 cm. It is very painful, you have to stay in bed while it is being done, and it is very expensive. It is also very popular. In my mind it is also very insane! :)

It actually goes against one of our discussion topics on ideal mates. A worldwide study showed that men are attracted to short women, and women to tall men. Every class I have done this discussion in has pretty much agreed with that. You get the odd person (like me, and a few students) who says height isn't that great an issue. The majority say they would NEVER date a man who is shorter, or a woman who is taller. If that is true worldwide, it means those women going through leg extension surgery are going through all of that for nothing. It makes the mind wobble. It also made for a great discussion.

From discussions of what we look for in a mate, here is the majority opinion. Women tend to look for an older man, who can provide for them. Men tend to look for younger, attractive women. The women want someone who can support a family. The men want someone who can provide them with a progeny. It is interesting to listen to some of the reasons people had, but in the end that is what it all boiled down to.

Take care,


Plastic Surgery is still a great topic with adults and advanced students. Especially since parents are giving it as graduation presents from middle school and high school.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Year 1 - Poster Boys


Yes, ANOTHER update, and this one won't seem like a rant, or a history lesson. I hope. ;)

This weeks is the start of another month, and new classes. Some of the classes are going to be LARGE, as University just restarted for another semester. Right now I am doing 9 hour days 3 days a week, 7 hour days the rest. That will change soon, as some clases, those with low attendance, are dropped. I am now teaching the high level "free talking" classes, as well as the other level classes. It is fun.

Some of my old students have moved up to the higher levels. Others have stayed where they were. Plus I have a lot of new students. I also have 2 permanent kids classes, all beginners, 3 times a week. They are basically learning, well, the basics. The alphabet, etc. It is going to be challenging to keep them interested, and it should be fun.

Yesterday I went out looking at antiques with another teacher. He is VERY creative and bought some old screen so he could redo them to look like traditional Korean screens, and attach 3 of them together to make a large folding screen. Knowing Matt's talent it will look very nice. I saw some interesting pottery. One piece was from the Josun era and is pretty expensive. I also same a nice, old, and very rare book case I would love to have. However, hearing the word rare I decided not to even ask the price. ;)

Today, well, I had to go to the local police station. I had my picture taken along with Matt and a Police officer. Matt and I will be on posters in the area with the police, showing them helping foreigners. Advertising and PR stuff for the upcoming World Cup. I am hoping to get some tickets to see a game or two. If I get a copy of the pic, or can get a poster scanned I MIGHT email or post it. ;)

Take care


Never did get a copy of the poster. :(

Monday, March 15, 2010

What the ... Icetards?!?!?!

I don't really care much for figure skating, it isn't ice hockey. But when I see someone being jerked around it pisses me off. I read a news article this morning. The more I read about the most recent case of douche baggedness the more I had to shake my head at the stupidity of the International Skating Union.

Joannie Rochette won Bronze for Canada, and her mother, at the Vancouver Olympics. Her mother died a few days before the Olympics. Rochette could have given up and grieved. Instead, to honour her mom she pushed on and gave the performance of a life time.

Since then she has been asked to skate the routine that got her the Bronze on a television exhibition called "Thin Ice." Unfortunately for her the International Skating Union has not sanctioned this event.

The ISU, in an amazing show of lack of class, told Joannie that if she skated in the show she would lose her ISU eligibility. The Canadian Skating Federation could also be punished.

Basically it comes down to money. The ISU told her that she COULD participate in "Thin Ice" IF and only IF she also skated at the World Championships. After her heart wrenching Olympic performance she is a huge draw. That is what the ISU is interested in. It comes down to
money again.

Several Olympians have already said they would not attend the Worlds. This was an attempt by the ISU to force Joannie to attend thereby helping draw more people.

Rochette's response has been an FU to the ISU. She has withdrawn from the Worlds. She will perform on "Thin Ice." And the ISU once again makes itself look like a bunch of idiots.

Once again? Why once again?

Oh, and Koreans, this should actually interest you, it is the same sort of Bull Shit the ISU used to try and force Kim YunA to participate in the 2010 Four Continents Championships prior to the Olympics. She didn't give in to their threats and they backed down.

I love it when you get people from a group like the ISU who throw the rules and punishments in someones face and when they don't back down and things go public say "We never threatened to disqualify them."

Yes asshole. You did. You say "Here is the rule and you can be disqualified for breaking it. You are breaking it." That IS threatening to disqualify them.

Then again what can you expect from the ISU. They can't fucking count. They allowed THREE Chinese pairs teams to participate in the World Junior Championships but China had only won TWO spots. Fucking morons.

In a sport that has been marred by scandals you would think the ISU would have learned some tact. Especially when you consider what Rochette already went through losing her mother. To have someone play politics with her future in skating. You did the right thing Joannie.

Fuck You ISU!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What the .... worship?!?!?!?

I have been re-watching the old Survivor series. Just started the China one today. One of the things that stood out about it is the religious freak.

One of the contestants is a woman who is a Christian Radio host. She reminds me of some of the zealots I have met in Korea. In the first episode she left the welcome ceremony because it was in a Buddhist temple. And God doesn't want her to worship graven images. It seemed petty but hey she is religious and organized religions tend to have some pettiness about them.

What REALLY made me shake my head, and wonder about Christians, was her whining about not having her bible. She rambled on in the second show about feeling bad and missing god. She wished she had her bible because if she could read it she would feel better and be with god.

Ok ... this is a religion that believes god sees all and knows all. He is everywhere. Why the fuck would you need a bible to talk to good? Why would you need a building? Just fucking talk to him!

Seriously. I don't understand the rationale. Can anyone explain it?


Another Flint & Stig rip-off.

(to the tune of "She Bop")

We-hell-I see them every day in their pink outer-wear.
With their man-purse and their vacant slack-jawed glare.
Hey, they're not thinking of what they say,
They're looking at - Hey! - My way?!
Oop - she bal.

Do I wanna punch them when they all stare?
Huh, yea, I wanna go and throw them ev'rywhere!
Hey, that son-of-a-bitch said that I am slime.
He said I'm utter crap
And that I'm a crime.
Oop - she bal - she bal.

She bal -- he bal -- a wae gook,
I bal -- you bal -- a -- they mook,
Be bal -- Be bal -- a -- lu -- she bal,
I hope he will understand,
She bal -- he bal -- a -- wae gook,
I bal -- you bal -- a -- they mook,
Oo -- oo -- she bal -- she bal -- she bal.

(whistle along here... )

Hey, hey - they say I better go learn some names.
Because I can't understand all their Dokdo claims.
No, I won't worry, and I won't fret.
Ain't no law against me yet.
Oop - she bal - she bal.

She bal -- he bal -- a wae gook....

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Year 1 - Korea vs Japan


I realized that I was remiss in my last update. For some reason I forgot to tell you exactly what the holiday was on friday.

On March 1st Koreans celebrate Samil-jeol (Independence Movement Day). The Korea Independence Movement was born on March 1, 1919. Thirty-three Korean patriots gathered in Pagoda Park, in Seoul to protest the Japanese occupation of Korea. They read the charter of the movement. The protestors were beaten and put in jail. This sparked a nationwide uprising against the Japanese, and thus the Independence Movement was born.

The independence movement spread to other cities and towns in Korea. During the followoing year more than 1,500 demonstrations, attended by about 2 million people, were held throughout the country. Although the demonstrations were peaceful, the Japanese police and military reacted with harshly. Nearly 23,000 Koreans were killed or wounded. Of approximately 47,000 who were arrested, around 5,000 were sent to prison. Today March 1 is celebrated in both North and South Korea as a national holiday in honor of the demonstrators' patriotism.

There is a HUGE museum in Cheonan called Independence Hall. It is the largest museum in Korea, consisting of seven buildings, and presents Korea's history from ancient time to today. The Japanese feature prominently in the museum in light of their colonial occupation of Korea, and earlier attacks on Korea. According to one of my students the site of Chonan was chosen because it is close to the hometown of a 16 year old girl who was one of the first to rise up and complain about the Japanese occupation. She was brutalized and murdered for speaking up. In honour of her the Independence Hall was built in Chonan.

One of my friends here, a teacher from Scotland who works at another Hogwon, called it the "We Hate Japan" museum. He couldn't understand why the Koreans HATE the Japanese so much. Many westerners wonder why the Koreans dislike the Japanese so much. If you look at historical facts, it is easy to see. The Japanese shipped off tens of thousands of Korean men into forced labour for Japanese industry. Women didn't fare any better, as the Japanese forced them to become "comfort women" for Japanese troops. To this day there has been no real apology by the Japanese, and no compensation. Even Korean artwork and relics that were stolen by the Japanese remain in Japan. If a person wanted to do a proper study of Korean history they would have to go to Japan because that is where most of the old books (most of those that were not destroyed by the Japanese occupation forces) and artifacts are today. They were never returned.

The Japanese tried to systemically destroy the Korean culture. They did this through various means, such as outlawing the language and anything to do with the Korean culture. They destroyed hundreds of thousands of books on Korean history, culture, and geography. They closed schools and denied an education to most Koreans, unless it was a Japanese education. Anyone who dissented was jailed or killed. Tens of thousands were sent off into slavery. If that happened to your country would you EVER forgive those who did it? Especially if there was no apology, restoration of what was stolen, or even an attempt at compensation? I wouldn't.

Add to that the recent attempts by Japan to rewrite history and you not only have old wounds that are still bleeding, but some new ones. The Japanese have decided to rewrite history. They downplay or ignore most of the atrocities they committed. Take the "Rape of Nanking" in China as an example. According to the new Japanese history textbooks for their school it wasn't that serious. They ignore the fact that the Japanese pretty much executed every man, woman, and child in the city. The women being killed after being raped. Little things like that just keep the anger alive in Korea, and the rest of Asia. Japan has angered most Asian countries, including China, the Phillipines, and Vietnam. Attempting to rewrite history just pisses me off in general.

Hmmm, this turned into another rant didn't it? :)

Take care


This was from the start of my 5th month in South Korea.

I almost didn't post this because my defense of Korea seemed so ... rabid. However, it is what I said and thought at the time. Although some of the information it was based on was faulty a lot of my reasoning stands. (I was still drinking kool-aid. Cherry flavour.)

When I look at the issue of Japan and the rest of Asia, not JUST Korea, I can understand the anger. A couple of years ago Japanese film makers, endorsed by members of the government, released a movie saying the Rape of Nanking never happened. The Japanese do have a tendency to rewrite history and that is something I don't like. At least when the revision is so blatantly wrong.

Look at the Chinese reactions to the Japanese in recent years. Riots in the streets. Japanese cars being trashed. And knowing how strict the Chinese government is about controlling things the fact it was allowed to happen tells you a lot about what the government was thinking.

I also understand the anger from another viewpoint. Insert the words Nazi and German instead of Japan. IF a German Chancellor EVER went to a memorial honouring the SS in ANY way there would be HELL to pay. That is basically what Koizumi was doing. That puts the lie, in my view, to any apology the Japanese may have made.

My father fought in WW2. I know what he would think if he saw anyone let alone the leader of Germany basically honouring the Nazis or if someone said the Holocaust never happened. Dad got to see one of the death camps and those who survived. The images of horror were burned into his mind. He would be angry and disgusted. I can understand the anger of Korea and other Asian countries when Koizumi or any Japanese leader visits the Yakasuni shrine. Or when they try to rewrite history.

Yes, the rabid hatred needs to end. It just isn't healthy. But Japan needs to remember that it's actions can make people wonder if they have really changed. If they were really contrite. While people can forgive they should never forget.

What the ... drunk driver?!?!?!?

Korea has a great system in place that makes it so simple for people to NOT drink and drive.

For 10,000 Won ($9) a van will come with 2 people. They will take you and your car wherever you live in the city and drop you off. Back home this would probably cost you $50-100 if it was ever implemented. There is NO excuse for drinking and driving with this around. Great idea.

Tonight I saw one of these vans. Stig and I were enjoying a cigar on the benches in HaBokDae. A car pulls up. Then a van. The guy driving the car shuts it off and helps an obviously drunk guy out of the van. The drunk thanks him and pays him. Then hops in his car and drives off.

What the kimchi?!?!?!? The guy actually SHOWS some sense and gets the call van to safely take him home. THEN he gets in his car and drives off? What a fucktard.

I wish I had taken his picture. He would be my Mook of the Week if not the year.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What the .... Christers again?!?!?

God damn it! The electronic lock in the building hasn't been working lately. The lousy Christians have found out.

11 AM and I was half-awake. Just about ready to drift off back to sleep. I think I hear knocking on my door. Very lightly. I roll over to go back to sleep. A few more knocks on the door. Then the mother fucker starts holding the bloody door bell in.

I get up, put on a shirt and go to the door. Wiping the sleep from my eyes as I open it what do I see? A christer. How do I know? He is all dressed up and has his book of fairy tales with him.

He looks at me and in good English says "Oh did you just wake up?"

I decided not to bite his head off. It was hard but I managed. "Yes. I had a late night."

"Oh" he says "I thought everyone would be awake in your building."

I replied "You were wrong."

"You live in this building?"

At this point I was losing any desire to not bite his head off. What the fuck? What does it matter if I live here or not? I snarled "Of course I live here."

He continued with questions "How long have you lived here?"

"Good bye. I am going back to sleep." I snarled again, starting to close the door.

He kept on talking. "Why are you going to sleep?"

"Your a fucking moron!" was my only retort.

He STILL kept talking. Even with the door shut. He was talking AT my door. "It was nice to meet you. See you next time."

What a rude fucking asshole. You knock on someone's door. Wake them up and STILL stand there flapping your gums?

"Do you live here?" And if I said no it is my girlfriend's what the fuck would he have said? (On second though I wish I HAD said that. ) What business is it of his? "No I don't live here. I just broke in and slept in someone else's apartment. Moron.

If you have any sense of common courtesy you apologize and leave. Especially if they say good bye. Of course religious whack jobs don't usually understand what common courtesy is. Throw in Korean religious whack job and it is even worse.

No one answered my knocking I will just hold the doorbell in because I am a fucking mook who just doesn't know any better.

That about sums these god freaks. Religious Mooks.

What the ... crappy food?!?!?

My hagwon actually buys food for the teachers. Unfortunately, it is catered from some lousy Korean catering place. It is usually barely palatable.

For the 3rd fucking day in a row it was ALL veg. Not just all veg but pretty much all veg done the same bloody way. Cucumber and gochujang. carrots, onion, and gochujang. Bean sprouts in gochujang. You get the idea eh? Not only bean sprouts that way but the soup was spicy bean sprout soup. What the kimchi? And the rice was pre-cooked! What the fucking kimchi?!?!? We have a god damn rice cooker!

Oh and when there is meat it isn't that good. They consider hot dogs sliced up and slathered in gochujang to be a dinner meat. No idea what the meat was one day but it was ... gray. I took one look and couldn't eat it.

How about some fucking variety? Oh wait, where am I? The land of lousy rice, lousy kimchi, and lousy soup being the focus of EVERY lousy meal. (Sorry Lousy Korea, I was channeling you while typing that.) Variety!!!!!

Usually I bring something of my own. Sandwhiches (Thank you nicedeli.com!!! You are the best!) Or lunch is enough to tide me over. This week life has been more hectic, or I have been lazier, and have had to see what there was to eat here.

The Koreans hate the food but none of them will say anything to the boss. And as much as they hate it they STILL chow down every night. Stuffing their mouths full and eating with them open. Making fucking disgusting crunching, slurping, and smacking sounds. Gotta stop there or I will start digressing too much.

A couple of them said I should complain to the boss and ask for better food. Fuck that, Grow a set and do it yourself. I will just have to bring my own in as per usual or suffer through until I finish work and can eat.

There is good food to be found in Korea. Just not at my workplace.

What the ... communication?!?!?

A common problem faced by those of us teaching English in Korea is lack of communication. For some reason they just don't think to inform us of things, sometimes important things, until the last minute.

This happened a little, but not often, at my last school. Loved working there. When it did happen it was damn frustrating though. You just prepped for your class. The bell rings. Oh you have a combined class because we are testing some of the students. Doh! Or ... oh you have no class because of , and in some cases it meant I could have been gone an hour before that if I had known.

It was much worse at the other places I worked. You are starting winter intensive and aren't told what you are teaching until the bell rings. now you have to wing it IF you can find the classroom. Once I was out having lunch and had checked to make sure there was no new schedule that morning. They had come up with 5 different schedules in a 12 hour period. There wasn't so I went to lunch in another part of the city with friends.

As I am on my way to work in a cab I get a call from the office manager asking why I am not teaching my class.

I reply "What class?"

"You are supposed to be in blah blah class 20 minutes ago teaching."

"Well I am looking at the schedule I was given this morning (had it with me) and I don't teach for another 40 minutes. I called and checked to make sure the schedule hadn't changed at 1130."

"It changed. Why aren't you in class."

"Because none of you ass clowns told me about it. If you bothered to TELL us of these changes then we wouldn't have these problems. I will be at the work in 40 minutes." And I hung up.

When I got to work I was called in to the director'd office to explain why I wasn't in class. We pretty much had the same discussion. Fucking ass clowns might have been used instead. Of course these sorts of things kept happening.

Now you are probably wondering if I am on a soju memory trip. No. Just had one of those "oops" moments happen. I am in my class ready to teach. No students. Ok, maybe a bus was late. I wait a minute, get their test papers ready. No students.

They were in another room having some kind of information class with all the other kids. No one bothered to tell me. It was sweet. Killed 20 minutes of my class time. :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cigars - Partagas Serie D No. 4

I just finished a Partagas Serie D No. 4 Robusto. I have had some Partagas in the past. A few of them disappointing. Bad burns. Horrible draws. Overall they just seemed lacking. It left me with, no pun intended, a bad taste in my mouth. This one left me wanting more.

It started off kind of leathery yet spicy. But it didn't make my lips tingle right off the bat. The aroma was superb. Part way through it became stronger. Which wasn't a bad thing. My lips were tingling. It is hard to describe the flavour change. A little spicier and stronger. Then it just became ... perfect. A strong rich flavour. Maybe a little ... hmmm ... choclatey? Great finish, after taste, and overall aroma.

It held the ash quite well. Over halfway through before it dropped.

My main complaints are that it had a slightly uneven burn the whole way through. Also, for some reason, towards the end the draw wasn't as good. Mind you these are minor complaints compared to the overall experience.

Ok one more complaint. It ended too soon. I wanted more. :)

It is a cigar I will definitely buy again. If I had a humidor it would have a place in it. When I have one, soon I hope, it has a place.

Chrissy Snowflakes™ vs The Toad Man

After reading Chrissy Snowflakes™ self-congratulatory "look where I appear" comments I felt sad and dejected. I felt unworthy. Someone like Chrissy Snowflakes™ can appear in a couple of places why don't I? Maybe Chrissy is right and he is just better than the rest of us.

Then I talked to my peeps and begged them, for the love of whatever God/Goddess they believe in, to pray and find out why a windbag could be so popular. Chrissy may well have a popular blog that reaches people's most basic need to sleep. (In the same way a politician droning on about nothing can help you get to sleep.) It has nothing credible to help people laugh at the bull shit they will encounter in their daily life in Korea. I can't believe he considers himself popular and hope he just drones himself into a coma.

Then I looked at the referrals for people coming to my site. Oh my god or goddess. I am great. My reach is far. Just look at the Google searches that brought people to my site. That is ... if i actually gave a shit about any of that or needed to reassure myself and make others aware of how great I am. I have better things to do than than that. People who go on about stuff like that tend to seem kind of pathetic to me. Self-important blow hards.

Seriously though Chrissy. Chris. You take yourself and more importantly An Idiot's Tale, too seriously. Lighten up and either enjoy what he writes or, and this could be hard to do, don't go to his site. Hell you shot yourself in the foot with your pathetic plea to others not to go to his site. Odds are you BOOSTED his readership. When told to ignore something most people tend to check it out.

The purpose of Blogs isn't just to do something credible to assist people. Maybe that is what Chris wants his blog to do. Just because that is what he wants doesn't mean everyone has to do the same thing. It is kind of pretentious of someone to think others must do it their way. A blog can be whatever anyone wants it to be. Whether a diary, a place for discussion, a myriad of things. It is nice that Chris hopes to do that with his Blog but Idiot's Tale never pretended to be like his blog. Ever.

For me, his blog fails to reach his goal. Mainly because it is hard to read his posts. He is just too verbose. It is nice to have pictures to show people things to see but seriously 5 sentences describing an empty field where something MIGHT be reconstructed? Zzzzzzzzzzz. That is me though. It might work for others. I hope it does.

I have been to Chris' site before his issues with Idiot's Tale started. I never book marked it or went back pretty much for the reasons I just stated. My problems with his "style" of blogging are not new. Unlike him when I don't like a blog I stay away and don't talk about it (at least until now). If others like it and talk about it more power to them. To denigrate them and try and get others to ignore them just because you don't like their style is kind of ... petty.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Year 1 - Daeborum


Here is a little tidbit of information I thought I would share with you.

Tomorrow will be the first full moon of theNew Year, Korean-Chinese New Year, and there is a tradition around it called Daeborum. (Or as some Westerner's refer to it "Crunchy Day".) Basically, as soon as you wake up, you eat as many nuts, different ones too, as you have years. If possible, you open them with your teeth. You wish for good health while eating them. Then you are supposed to drink a shot of alcohol and wish to hear good news throughout the year. That night you watch the full moon, and pray for your wishes to come true. That is the tradition as related by one of my students. For more on it check out the website below.



This was from Feb 2002.

Take Care

When Mooks Collide.

I have mentioned the idiots here who like to pull u-turns through cross-walks. Even when the cross walks are in use. I have mentioned delivery drivers on their scooters who drive on side-walks and through crosswalks. Neither brand of mook pays any attention to those around them. have you ever what would happen if the mooks collided? That is one tries to do a u-turn through a crosswalk while the other is driving through it.

I got to see the tail end of it on my way to work yesterday. It was sprinkling rain so the roads were a little greasy. As I got ready to turn into the street my hagwon entrance is on I noticed something up ahead at the intersection. A car with it's bumper ripped off in one lane and a scooter and a body in the other.

Not wanting to be a stupid mook who rubber necks and causes problems I kept going and parked my scooter. Then I went back for a look with my trusty camera.

One of the guys who works out at my gym was on the sidewalk watching. He told me I missed the accident by about 30 seconds. The van did a u-turn into the crosswalk while the scooter was crossing. BOTH had a red light. The scooter guy STILL wasn't moving at this point.

My friend retold the tale with hand gestures and sound affects. By now the scooter guy was starting to move. Eventually he sat up. I didn't feel like standing around so I left.

This is why I drive defensively in Korea. too many mooks like these two. My first year teaching, one of my students and her friend were getting off the school bus in a parking lot. A fucking mook decided he would go around the bus through the parking spot. My student ended up in hospital. Her friend died. A 8 year old kid got to see her friend die in front of her because of the way these selfishly oblivious assholes drive. She was never the same. Back in 2004 this is how a guy I knew got killed. A taxi driver doing an illegal u-turn into a crosswalk. While he was crossing at the green. He was DOA. If you ever wonder why I have 0 tolerance for the way these fucking assholes drive now you have an idea.

I am not one to say I told you so. When people do it to me I want to smack them around. I see incidents of mooks u-turning into crosswalks at least once a month. I always figured I would eventually see someone get hit. Hoped I wouldn't. This guy was lucky. Many aren't.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Korean Law at Home and Abroad

In a post I made mention of Koreans enforcing their laws in other countries. That was not entirely true. What happens is that even if something is legal in the country you do it in, if it is illegal in Korea and they find out you did it legally in another country, you CAN and WILL be charged in Korea.

There are two cases that happened in the mid to late 2000's that come to mind.

The first concerned a hagwon teacher and was brought to prominence by Marmots Hole. A korean teenager was surfing porn sites and saw a video with his hagwon teacher having sex with a foreigner. He reported it to the Seoul Metropolitan Police web site. The woman, known in Canada as Almond Tease, was arrested and charged for violating Korea's pornography laws.

I believe the law states you can only make crappy soft core porn that must seem like rape 75% of the time. She made good old western hard core porn IN Canada. With full penetration and no blurring. And it was made available via the web IN Canada. So of course she was charged with breaking the laws of Korea even though it happened in Canada.

Then you have the case of the Korean guy who was in the Netherlands. He tried ... marijuana. And blogged about it. It doesn't matter that he smoked it in the Netherlands where it is LEGAL. He is Korean and lives in Korea so of course he was charged for breaking the law for doing something that was LEGAL in the country he did it.

So beware of what you have done LEGALLY because if it isn't legal in Korea you could be in trouble. No wonder they have a snitch web site. They need to know what you have done regardless of where.

I tend to laugh at Koreans now who go on about America forcing it's will on others. What the hell do they think this is?

Year 1 - Grand Buffet and Chicken Feet


Not much new to report. Life here continues to be interesting, although that isn't always good. ;)

Lately I have been doing some extra work for one of the TOEIC teachers, Mr. Kim. TOEIC is basically a course that prepares you for the TOEIC exam, which mainly uses business English. It provides you with certification of your ability in English. Some universities require you to have at least one TOEIC score top graduate. Some require 3 or more. When you apply for a job you can submit your best score. The course requires a lot of listening in class to tapes of people speaking in English. Usually they have a booklet with the dialouge in it, and can follow along.

Mr. Kim needed quite a bit of taping done. He asked me if I would do it, and I said yes. Some of the other teachers had done taping for him so I figured what the hey. After doing one tape he wanted me to do the tapings for him exclusively, and he said he would pay me for it. Cool. :) So, I get to do something different, that can break up the routine of a day, and be paid for it. Plus it was kind of fun.

Yesterday he treated me, Hilda, and Matt to supper at Grand Buffet. I have NEVER seen a buffet place like this in my life. It makes any I have seen in Halifax, Toronto, and anywhere else look tiny. There were too many selections to list them all here. It took in traditional Korean food, as well as some dishes from other countries. The sushi was fantastic. Even Matt, a vegetarian, couldn't get over the selections. I don't think he had the same thing twice on his plate. After that supper I don't need to eat again for a few days. ;)

The place itself was as interesting as the food. The building it is in is around 6 stories high. Everything in the building is geared towards weddings, or special occaissons, but mainly weddings. The shops, the restaurants, everything. While we were there eating about 6 people celebrated birthdays. Lots of people there, but the place was so large it was easy to move around.

Hmmm, since i am talking about food I suppose I should mention what I had to eat friday night. After work we got together at our Soju Bar for dinner, Garanmari, rice, side dishes. We were joined by 2 Korean TOEIC teachers, and 2 of the receptionists. They ate some garanmari, but were still hungry. So, they ordered a delicay, chickens feet.

The chickens feet are de-boned before being cooked. they are served with veggies, and in a hot sauce. A VERY hot sauce. They ended up having noodles added to absorb some of the sauce. I decided to try them, and ... I liked it. :) The sauce was very spicy, and the feet were kind of chewy and crunchy at the same time. I am not sure if it was the cartiledge in the feet that made it crunchy, or maybe the tendons. I will have to ask my physio therapists back in Dartmouth. Regardless of the crunch, or the thought of it being chicken feet, I enjoyed a few feet. ;)

I suppose I could talk about the Olympics. While I haven't actually watched any of them, I have followed them somewhat over the internet. Thursday night my class was hijacked by discussion about the Olympics, and a LOT of anti-American feeling after what happened to the Korean short track skater who would have had the gold. Should have had it depending on who you talk to. There has always been controversy at the Olympics, but it really seems to me like the officiating has NEVER been as bad as it these Olympics. Whether it is the corrupt judging in Figure Skating (which has been a problem for years), some good calls that look bad, or the many bad calls that make officials look biased, it all looks bad for the Olympics. Does anyone REALLY expect them to "clean" up the judging or refereeing? Hell, the new head of the IOC, Rogge, was one of the people who took bribes to get the games in Salt Lake City. The Olympics hasn't really been about the sports for a long time. It is about the money.

Take care

It is kind of funny reading this email and looking at the Olympics that just happened. 8 years has passed yet the Koreans are still reacting badly to pretty much the same thing. And bad calls are still happening.

Monday, March 8, 2010


My father was a truck driver. I was lucky enough to spend a lot of my childhood travelling around parts of Canada and the U.S.A.with him. Until he accidentally set his truck on fire he smoked cigars. (The heater blew off and over his shoulder in the cab. It landed on some rags between the seats. Next thing he knew smoke was pouring out of the truck. He put it out quickly, and no real damage was done, but he quit smoking that day and never looked back.) Unfortunately it meant I never got to share smoking a cigar with him.

Dad was not a cigar connoisseur. He didn't go in for Cuban cigars or anything fancy. White Owl's were his brand. Smelling a cigar, especially the brands like White Owl, always remind me of the time I spent in the truck. Anytime I think of him and the truck I can always picture it rolling down the highway. Dad with a cigar in the right side of his mouth or between the fingers of his right hand. Hank Snow playing on the 8 track. (oops ... did I say 8 track?) Those were some good times.

I still remember the day when Dad thought he would "cure" me of ever wanting to smoke. He gave me a cigar and said "Smoke it." So I dad. After years of watching him smoke I knew what to do and not to do. I didn't smoke it like a cigarette. When I finished it he told me to smoke another. I did. Then I smiled at him and said "Can I have another one?" He laughed and walked away shaking his head.

Year 1 - Lunar New Year

Happy New Year!

Yes, Happy New Year. It is the lead up to Sollal, the Lunar New Year, here. In Asia most countries don't really celebrate the "Western" New Year. Instead, Lunar New Year is the big celebration time. Which is why I have a 5 day vacation, which started yesterday. :)

This will be the year of the Horse, the Water Horse. I am a Fire Horse myself. If you are interested in learning more about the Chinese and Korean Astrological signs check out http://www.chineseastrology.com/wu/

Yesterday I spent most of the day out with one of my students. We went to Sangdangsansong, or Sangdang Fortress. It is an old fortress on top of a mountain. I had a great time there, and we went to one of the oldest restaurants in the area for lunch. Lunch consisted of a LOT of side dishes, plus a taek-tang and a bap-tang. Taek is chicken, bap is rice, and tang is soup. If you mixed the two soups together, and took out the ginger root, it would have looked exactly like mom's home made chicken soup with rice. It ALMOST tasted as good as mom's soup too. Then we went walking around a mall back in Chongju for a while. I picked up some dirt cheap VCD's. THey were selling off stock, and they only cost 3300 WON each! So I picked up Commando and Dusk Til Dawn. When I was getting out of the car to go home Cheong-Seob, my student, gave me a Sollal gift, a Whiskey gift set. It was very nice of him, I hadn't expected anything.

Sollal is to Koreans what Christmas and New Years are to us. It is a time for family to gather and celebrate the New Year. It is also a time to remember your ancestors, and honour them. You give close friends and family members, and those you respect a gift as well. Plus, when kids shpow respect to their elders on New Years day you are supposed to rewrad them with money. They show respect by bowing and saying a nice greeting to you. Elementary age kids get 1000 won, middle school 5000, and high school 10,000. It can be an expensive day if you have a large family. While it isn't excatly the same as Christmas, that is the closest Western holiday it equates to.

I will be spending a fairly quiet Sollal in Chongju. Unfortunately for 3 days not much will be open. Odds are I will spend part of it with friends. I also have a houseguest. While one of the teachers is in China I am watching his lovebird, Bibimbap. (Yes, he named his bird after a rice dish.) It has taken Bibimbap a while to get settled, he still isn't fully comfortable with the change, but he is starting to chirp to music again. Although not enough as to annoy the hell out of me. I think that if he knew it would annoy me he would be chirping a LOT more. ;)

Is Bush STILL on drugs? Some of his comments, before and after being appointed President by his brother Jeb, and then the Supreme Court, REALLY make you wonder if he is or not. Or at the least make you wonder if he has some sort of brain damage. I, and other teachers, actually use some of his quotes from major speeches, interviews, and policy announcements in class as examples of bad grammar, and how people should NOT create words just because they can't think of a real one. But I digress.

I hope you all have a Happy Lunar New Year!


Ah Bush thanks to your stupidity people could mock you AND educate others at the same time. :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cigars - Monte Cristo No.2

As you know if you read the blog both Stig and myself like to have a good stogie. I figured I may as well write about it. Neither of us is a regular smoker. Although lately we have been having 1 or 2 cigars a weekend.

Back home every Friday night was usually cigar and rum night at my brother's. Only thing that kept me sane some times. :)

I smoked a Monte Cristo No. 2 (aka Pyramid or Torpedo) yesterday and today. It is a damn fine cigar. It is the most popular of the Monte Cristo brand. Before trying this one I swore by Monte Cristo No. 4's. I like this more.

It started off with a kind of mild taste. After a few puffs the flavours picked up. It had a spicy taste to it that made my lips tingle. (They are tingling now just thinking of it.)

About halfway through the flavours started to change. It began to have a rich and strong cedar flavour, and some other tastes I can't figure out.

It finished off with a nice mix of flavours. Kind of woody and rich.

Throughout the experience it exhibited a great draw. There was no problem lighting it and keeping it going. The ash was strong and in a good setting would have stood for a while. About the only problem I encountered with this cigar, both nights, was a slightly uneven burn. There was no bitterness to the taste in the end.

If you are looking for a good cigar this is it. Perfect for a long lazy smoke over coffee on a Sunday. Or a night out with the boys drinking rum or scotch.

The cigar has a fantastic aroma. More than a few heads turned in pleasure from the smell.

All in all a fantastic smoke that had a great after taste.

Mmmmmmmmmmmm Ribs

Flint and I have been talking about posting some food reviews. Mostly it's Flint urging me to get off my lazy ass and contribute more to this blog.

But we have had some pretty good food here in Korea, and we'd like to share our culinary experiences with the rest of you, just in case you need a particular type, and are wondering where to go.

Flint and I both love ribs, and have a couple of excellent places to go for delicious savoury pork ribs. You can go to a western style restaurant like Outback or VIPS, and be perfectly satisfied, but the Korean offerings are just as good, if not better.

The first alternative, for take-out ribs, is the rib truck. This is a Bongo-type vehicle fitted out with a wood-fueled rotisserie where the owners cook up ribs and sam gyup sal. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.

I don't know what kind of wood they use (Flint?), but it gives the meat a particular flavour that keeps us coming back for more. I remember having to wait for some ribs to finish cooking once, and the owners invited me to sit in the back of the truck next to the fire. My coat still has that smell...

For 10,000won you get a generous rack of ribs, some pickled onions, hot peppers, and a savoury sauce that compliments the ribs to perfection. The owner usually throws in a few slices of sam gyup sal as "service," but I usually pick up an order of that with the ribs (10,000won) anyway.

The rib truck we go to sets up next to the OK Mart in Gagyoung-dong in Cheongju every Tuesday.

There're also trucks that sell BBQ chicken, but the main focus of this article is ribs, so we'll go on to the second of our suppliers.

This is a restaurant called "Cho Shim," which is located in Habukdae just down the street from my con-apt. It's on the ground floor of a ship-shaped building known as "Casa Bianca." It's the landmark I always give to cab drivers when I'm wending my way home from a night on the town. Most of them know it.

The restaurant has an equal number of tables with chairs and floor seats. Flint and I don't do floor seating, so we usually get a table next to the grill where they pre-cook the ribs.

My mouth is watering again.

Each table has a grill in the middle, so the patrons get to finish cooking the ribs for themselves. The ribs come with the usual multitude of side dishes, and especially a bowl of sweet sauce for dipping the ribs. You prepare the sauce by adding sliced onions and (in my case) grilled garlic slices.

I also like to grill the kimchi and the few slices of pa-jon that come with the side dishes. I also get to eat the "salad" (coleslaw) as Flint is not particularly enamored.

Flint commandeers the tongs, and makes sure the ribs are cooked to a turn. Each patron is given a cotton glove to wear on one hand, which helps protect against burns from the fresh, hot-off-the-grill ribs.

The set-up is fairly simple, like most Korean restaurants. You go in, order what you want, and are cooking it at your table within five minutes. There's not much else to it, besides the enjoyment of a very good meal.

The staff at this restaurant has come to know us, and the boss man even speaks good English. We sometimes see each other when he comes out for a smoke, and we are sitting on the benches, enjoying a good cigar and shamelessly ogling all the Korean hotties out on the street.

After a good long feed of ribs, there's nothing like a good cigar along with some scotch or rummmmmmmmm.