Thursday, December 15, 2011

What the ... statue?!?!?

A tip of the hat to Korea Beat for this one. My only thoughts ... too fucking bad Japan. You did it. Stop trying to gloss it over. Own it. Sincerely apologize for it. And then you can move on. There is a reason most of Asia hasn't forgiven you. Until then ... in the immortal words of John Stewart .. go fuck yourselves.

Monday, December 12, 2011

And the killings continue.

A tip of the hat to ROK Drop for this story. It looks like Chinese fisherman have murdered yet another South Korean Coast Guard Officer. There isn't a lot I can add to what ROK Drop said.

It is funny how quick South Koreans are to rally or riot when it is something the US did or is perceived to have done. Yet when things like this happen they stick their heads in the sand and ass in the air. A North Korean soldier murders a SK tourist. Nothing. Chinese pirates murder SK Coast Guard officers. Nothing. Free trade with the US? Time to get in the streets. Mad Cow lies and bullshit? Let's riot! Talk about skewed priorities.

A country that allows shit like this to continue is giving up their sovereignty.




Friday, November 25, 2011

What the ... outage?!?!?

As Burndog walks away from his Herr Consoleman and Eve keeps bringing up hers I feel left out. It has been a long time since I mentioned my Herr Consoleman, the real one, and his sad band of racist fucktards at Korea Sentry.

I was going to visit there to see what Herr Consoleman is rambling about now and then mock him here. A friend pointed out that Korea Sentry is DOWN. Lo and behold, it is. If you go there you get the following message.

It has been down for 2+ weeks. I have to wonder just who they will blame for it being down.

Foreigner Teachers? After all, this is their biggest bugaboo. They blame foreign teachers for just about everything.

Immigrants to Korea? They do seem to be their second favourite whipping boy.

Vitamin200: The recent massacre in Norway was caused by multiculturalism ... Korea must avoid this dangerous multicultural path.

China? Probably tied with Immigrants as their second favourite whipping boy.

Herr Consoleman himself: Fuck China!

dangun harabuji: Still, it'd take a really long time to dilute the Northern heritage. Although the amounts of chinese cockroaches gaining citizenship is kind of worrying.

xcreaturex100: Chinese, probably island chink, that's why we had to make refute videos against these chink trolls.

The Japanese? Another favourite of theirs.

Jews? Yes, anti-Semitism also has a home on Korea Sentry.

shihtzuumji in a thread about Steve Jobs dying: The man was a killer and a Jew wannabe.

Vitamin200: Korea can't become a Jewish-worshiping nation. All these bullshit ideas such as "multiculturalism", "human rights" and "globalism" are Jewish ideas that have plagued Korea and a lot of European countries.

Herr Consoleman: you know Hollywood is control by Jews and a lot of non-American directors and producers and if you're redneck then there isn't much future within entertainment industry.


Korean Women? After all if they even think about not marrying a Korean they are stupid and evil.

MidwestInsahm82: Little do these stupid yellowcab sellouts know that dating or worse, marrying a white or non-Korean male leads to marriage problems in the future, and even identity crisis for their kids.

I'm all for Korean-only marriage. I know this may sound off topic, but this is why horses that participate in races are PURE bred. Nobody wants to buy a cheap mixed-breed horse. Same with racial purity.

Herr Consoleman: Korean women are bossy when it comes to Korean men but submissive when it comes to smelly Whiteys.


What can I say, they seem to hate everyone not Korean, and even some Koreans. It is hard to say who exactly they will blame but odds are they will try and put it on foreigners somehow.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Douchey Dave: 1st Encounter

My introduction to David Thiessen aka Douchey Dave happened on YouTube years ago. He left a typical Douchey Dave comment on my old YouTube Channel.

"I wonder why you do this.? Can you tell me?"

This wasn't left in reference to any one video, just in the general comment section of the channel. It was followed up by this one.

"Foreigners only have themselves to blame for much of what transpires during their sojourn in this country, we are not blameless and the fault does not lie with the Korean nation only.

Take a hard look at your own actions, look at your attitude and behavior through an outsider's eye and see if you are happy with what you see."

I would discover that this is classic Douchey Dave. He takes the stand that whatever happens it is ALWAYS the fault of the foreigner. No matter how fucked over the foreigner gets it is always their fault according to good old Double D. It really makes you wonder how he functions with his head so far up his ass.

I left a couple of replies, which formed the nucleus of my later response. Then I looked up his YouTube Channel. The twat basically just went around to any videos that criticised South Korea in any way, whether real or perceived by DD, and spread his batshit. That is the sum of his contribution to YouTube. Much like his contribution around the web and in print. To be a troll.

Since my replies elicited no response, and in the time honoured tradition of ranting and responding, I made a video for Davey boy. :) Below is a transcript of it. At first, based on the insane logic and blind defence of South Korea I figured DD was just another Kyopo or Korean with an axe to grind, like the KKKlan members at KS. It was only after making this and searching his name on the web that I found out who he is, and just how batshit crazy he is.

***

Good afternoon. This is a bit of a rant but also a response. YouTube member davidarchthiessen posted a couple of comments on my channel's main page. I really don't know what to make of the comments he made.

Basically it seemed like he started off by saying it is the foreigners fault if things go pear shaped. If they have any problems, if something bad happens it's YOUR fault. And ONLY the foreigners are at fault. Never the Koreans.

He did have a bit of a point, and not just the one on his head. Sometimes with your attitude or your outlook you can create your own problems. I do that. We all do that.

Everybody has bad days. Sometimes your actions are so strange that it REALLY makes you look bad. Like if I were to, ohhh, take a phesant and hammer it to death. That would make me look very bad. Maybe a little "evil". Maybe I would even look like a psycho.That would be my fault and no one elses.

It works both ways though. Sometimes people create the problems for you. Sometimes it is their attitudes and what they do. Like if I am walking down the street and I hear a Korean say Meechin Miguk to me. Well, who just created the problem here? Him or me? Me because I learned enough Korean to understand he is being rude or him for being a rude asshole?

So, I do agree with him to a point. Sometimes foreigners do create their own problems here. I have done it. Other foreigners have done it. But it doesn't ALWAYS work out that way. According to Douchey Dave it is always the foreigners fault. That is pretty fucked up.

Then he posted "Why do you do this?"

Why do I do what? Why do I make videos? Why do I talk about life? Why do I criticize Korea? (Which does seem to be the burr in his saddle.) All of the above? I mean, it is not actually a bad question but qualify it. What do I do that you want to know about?

Why do I make videos? I want to. I can. So, I do it. Ok, that is being a little glib. I do it for my friends. A good friend got me started on YouTube or I probably never would have. So, some of it I do for him. Some of it I do for me. Some of it I do for family. Some of it I do to try and share my experiences in life with other people and friends. I have met some nice people through this and I have met a lot of people full of haterade. Which one are you davidarchthiessen?

Why do I talk about life? Well, you know what? I am living it! I'm not going to talk about your life because I am not living your life. What happens in your life, well, I don't know. Maybe YOU should share that with other people? You might like it. You might not. If you don't then you stop doing it.

When I view other peoples videos, well, except for the comedy ones, but the life ones I view them to learn from their experiences. Sometimes I learn lessons about myself. I hope people have the same experience with mine.

Sometimes in doing my videos it makes me examine what I think. Or comments I get back make me examine some of what I have said. Maybe I was a too harsh. Maybe I am taking something the wrong way. I would like to think that I am open minded enough to learn from that.

Why do I criticize Korea? I don't JUST criticize Korea. Granted a lot of my rants do that. But, you know what, I am living here. I pay taxes here. Income tax, pension, health care, sales tax. I pay that money out and if I want to criticize something about Korea ... I will.

If I was living in Canada odds are my rants would mostly be about Canada. No one country is perfect my friend. None! South Korea, Canada, America, Zimbabwe ... you get the idea. I could keep throwing out the names of every country.

No country is perfect. They all have problems. And sometimes, especially if it is a big problem like racism, if you don't talk about it then it will never get fixed.

After looking at your responses, reading your comments, and posting my replies I took a look at your YouTube Channel. I wonder why YOU are here? Are you just here to attack people you feel are saying disparaging things about Korea?

You created your account just over a week ago. All you seem to have done is piss people off by posting on their channel how much you don't like them. Which makes them post back on yours about what a douche you are. If that is all you are here for ... go away troll.

Why not try and contribute something? Make some videos about what you think makes Korea great. I challenge anyone out there ... make some videos about what makes your country great. If there is something in your country that ticks you off make a video about that.

There are a lot of good things in Korea. Tell us about them! Educate us about the country and what makes it great. If you aren't going to do that ... piss off.

If you need help I can give you some ideas. If you need some stock footage I can take some for you and send them to you. No problem. I will help you if you really want to do that.

If you do that. If you start to contribute and not just with your stupid comments. (Ok they weren't all stupid. "Why do you do it?" was an ok question.) People will take you seriously and won't just think you are a troll.As it stands right now I think you are just a troll. But I made this anyway. :)

Davidarchthiessen, have a good day. Relax. Drink some soju. If it raining where you are a little makkeolli and pajeon always goes good with the rain.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What the ... honour?

Stig emailed me this headline from Yahoo News. It is about a current trend in South Korea for people to have the ashes of deceased loved ones transformed into beads to wear.

I am betwixt and between about what I think of it. On the one hand everyone grieves in different ways. I know of one woman, Korean, who had a special crucifix made to hold some of her dead husband's ashes. It is a touching gesture.

On the other hand it seems a litdtle morbid. Especially when you read about the guy who had his father's bones dug up to be cremated and then made into beads for him to wear.

In the end I lean more towards thinking "to each their own". Many people keep the ashes of loved ones in an urn in a place of honour within their homes. Now some will wear them. While it isn't something I would do if it brings them comfort and doesn't hurt anyone so be it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

More Mad Cow Stupidity.

A tip of the hat to Korea Beat for translating the article about how Young Koreans fear that the FTA with the US will lead to Mad Cow infected beef coming to South Korea. According to the article:

54.7% of those in their 30s believe that the KORUS FTA will cause rampant mad cow disease, and 69.1% of women in their 30s are worried about it, the survey found.

After being in South Korea during the various bouts of Mad Cow bullshit I can't say I am surprised by the poll. There was a lot of batshit reasoning floating around then. A lot of fears were played on to get people riled up. A lot of anti-American bullshit was heard. Which makes the part of the poll that showed a majority of people feared becoming a US colony due to free trade not very surprising either.







Friday, October 28, 2011

What the ... Douchey Dave rides again?!?!?!?

A tip of the hat to Burndog for bringing David Thiessen's latest foray into fucktardery to my attention. Yes the idiot that told us there is NO racism in South Korea is back in the Korea Times, Worst in the Nation. His latest endeavour is a made up conversation between him and a friend recycling some of his batshit. All foreigners (except him, his "friend", and the few silent foreigners) are bad, deserve being treated like shit, and are racists. Burndog does an excellent job of dissecting the tripe so there is no need for me to do that here.

This piece of crap journalism, typical of the Terrible Times, wasn't a Letter to the Editor. The Times has actually got Douchey Dave to submit crap like this for their "Thoughts of the Times" column. I knew the Korea Times had a low opinion of foreigners but hadn't realized it was this low.

Douchey Dave makes the same mistake a lot of apologists and the KKKlan over at KS make. He assumes that all foreigners support the bad behaviour of other foreigners. That is what, Elementary School logic? Which sums up DD quite well. The mental and emotional maturity of a child. Or one of the KKKluckers at Korea Sentry.

It is funny to see him try to distance himself from the apologists. He said, through his fictional friend Cal, "Even their so-called apologists are not really defending the Korean nation."

If they aren't defending Korea by excusing the bad behavour of Koreans then they aren't ... apologists. I guess he is trying to set himself up as the Uber-Apologist. Better than all the rest.

I may have my run in with him on YouTube around it might be worth typing up and posting.

*****

As per 3gyupsal's request here is a link to the article. The 1st of 2. Sorry I had a brain fart and forgot to attach it when I initially wrote this thread.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What the ... kowtowing?!?!?

Chinese fishermen are once again illegally fishing in South Korean waters. When confronted they are fighting back. The first time I heard about Chinese fishermen doing shit like this they actually kidnapped, beat, and KILLED South Korean Coastguard Officers. Now they are at it again.

31 Chinese fishermen were arrested by the South Korean Coast Guard Monday October 24th. When initially confronted the fishermen attacked the Coast Guard officers and as in the past tried to fight their way out. The fight lasted an hour and saw a helicopter used to

The Chinese government then had the temerity to lecture South Korea on how to deal with the illegal fishermen.

"China urges the ROK to avoid the use of violence in the law enforcement process, to civilly and properly handle relevant issues, and to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese crew."

Yes, China actually tried to lecture someone else on civilised law enforcement. What a load of hypocritical bullshit. They also told South Korea

"We will follow developments closely."

South Korea's response? Not surprisingly it was similar to the last time. They bent over to take it up the ass from China again. The fishermen were released a while after China issued their statement. If they did nothing when a Coast Guard Officer was murdered, and wouldn't even allow the Coast Guard proper weapons to defend themselves in the future, why would they do anything more now?

What a fucking joke. If Korea isn't going to actually defend it's sovereignty they may as well just join China. I am not advocating just sinking Chinese fishing boats who are illegally in Korean waters. But if these fishtards pull shit like this they deserve to be shot out of the water.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Still learning lessons from my students.

The other morning, about 5 minutes after I woke up, the phone rang. It was work wondering where I was. I said at home. They told me I was supposed to be at work. I said no I don't start until 7 tonight. They said that the schedule says I should be there now. Long story short, someone changed the schedule on my day off and never bothered to tell me.

Needless to say I was PISSED. I have never been late for work because I forgot I was working or hadn't checked the schedule. The only times I have been late in my life, and I can count them on 2 hands, it was because of forces beyond my control. The weather or traffic.

I am the kind of person that would rather be 30 minutes early than 1 minute late. It irks me when people are late and I try to NEVER be late. There are people at work who are habitually late and it screws up everyone who is working. To me being late is a sign of unreliability and I never want to be considered unreliable.

Needless to say I was working myself into a righteous fury on my way in. Not a good mood to be in when driving. Nor when working. Especially when you factor in that I am NOT a morning person on a good day and this was not starting off as a good day.

As I listened to myself rant I had an epiphany from my teaching days. I had just ranted to myself that "I am never late!" when I heard a little voice in my head start laughing at me.

Then I remembered how upset some students got because they didn't get a perfect score on a test. One student actually cried because she got 99 out of 100. Shen went on and on about how she never failed. She never got less than 100. At the time I thought she was just being stupid. Now I can understand it better.

"I am never late!" "I never get less than 100!" They are actually pretty stupid things to get worked up over. Whether it is anger or sorrow. Of course we are late at times in our life, whether our fault or not. In my case it wasn't my fault. It happens. Just like getting 99 instead of 100 isn't the end of the world.

Even in my state of pissed offedness I could see how much I was over reacting. It helped calm me down and get me looking at things from a more reasonable perspective. It also helped me understand, in retrospect, some of the stress my students were going through and why they reacted the way they did.

I always said that my students taught me things. Even over a year after teaching I can still learn from them.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Beauty Pageant Bullshit

A tip of the hat to David Wills for bringing the issue of what happened at the Miss Asia Pacific World in South Korea up on his blog. In a nutshell, some contestants in a beauty contest in South Korea were cheated, harassed, and had to flee the country.

None what happened surprised me. Not what I read on the BBC's website. Not what I saw in videos one of the contestants who fled made while going through the bullshit. Not what I read about it on Critical Beauty.

In fact, it reminds me of the way Hagwon owners treat their slaves errr I mean foreign teachers. Lots of promises that aren't followed through. Lots of lies and bullshit. The rampant corruption. The uselessness of the police. The sexual harassment. The racism and ignorance (all blacks must be from Africa so the black girl from Guyana gets the African award for her national costume). All of which makes what the contestants went through no surprise to me. Been there. Been through some of it. Saw the rest of it. Never bought the t-shirt.

Hopefully the Korean government does something to make sure these assholes never run another pageant again. I don't actually expect that to happen but it would be nice to be pleasantly surprised.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Korean Culture

I was talking with a co-worker a week or so ago. She is originally from the Philippines and took some ESL classes in Canada to improve her English. When she heard I had spent time in South Korea she started gushing about Korea. Some of her classmates had been Korean and introduced her to Korean culture. She loves Korean culture.

I bit off my cynicism and held back the first comments that came to mind. Instead I asked her what she liked about Korean Culture. She thought about it but was never able to answer because we had to get back to work.

It got me thinking about Korean culture and for the life of me I blanked. I just couldn't think of anything other than K-pop, karaoke, neon, and noise. (Ok, the flashing lights and slot machine noise helped me think of the last two.) A while later some of the traditional stuff came to mind. Samulnori, the hanbok, some of the food.

It bothered me a little that I couldn't think of a slew of things that would fit the category of Korean culture right off the bat. Had I become that jaded or forgotten that much? (Quite possible both. :))

If you feel like participating I am interested to read about what you think of when you hear Korean Culture?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What the ... timing?!?!?

It may be time to wrap this blog up. Sure I can always come up with Korea Times article to shake my head at or stupidity at Korea Sentry to rant about but South Korea isn't really part of my life any more.

My new job takes up a lot of my time. I am, surprisingly to me, enjoying my job. My free time, well, I tend not to spend it on the internet that much any more. (Thanks for entertaining me with you fucktardery John. I probably would have come to this conclusion sooner but you always gave me material to run with. You and Herr Consoleman. :) )

Stig has gone back to University and doesn't time for the blog either. Heh ... Back to School ... good movie. :)

All of which has me wondering if it isn't time to let "What the kimchi???" go and focus on my follies, or just let it all go.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Untimely replies and racist comments.

A comment that was left for me on Notes From the Dog Farm was pointed out to me the other day. Since time had passed I decided not to answer it. It did raise 2 interesting questions.

The 1st had me shaking my head a bit. The commenter asked why I stay in Korea if I dislike it so much. The only reply I can think of is a question. How can someone who claims to have read both my blogs not know that I left Korea almost a year and a half ago? If he meant why did I stay 10 years, that would reply a post of it's own.

The 2nd question raised was about some of the words I have used on my blog when talking about Koreans. Two were mentioned specifically; mook and ricetard.

It still surprises me a bit that people don't know the word mook. It has appeared in many TV shows and movies. Just about anything Mafia related has the word show up in it. You can't have watched The Sopranos without having heard it being used. It has even been used on the Simpsons. While it is an older term, more popular in the old pulp fiction novels and gangster movies, it isn't THAT rare to hear it used today.

Mook isn't just used to refer to Koreans. I use it to refer to idiots of any nationality. Once again, if someone read my blogs they should know that.

Of course you have 'tards like John who implied I was using it as a play on the word gook. Mind you that was him either being deliberately dense to imply racism on my part or too lazy to use a dictionary and just showing his own ignorance. But I digress.

Ricetard, well, yeah, regardless of how it was meant it was kind of racist. (Hmm, I went back and reread this post before posting it and even saying "kind of racist" seems like a cop out. It was racist.) Which is why I stopped using it.

It didn't seem racist to me at the time. Which is a reason not an excuse. It seemed like a funny play on words (especially after a Korean company released a confectionary called a Rice Tard), and Koreans aren't a race. Mind you that kind of reasoning is just a cop out. It is a way of trying to excuse something you either know or think could be bad behaviour. In this case my own behaviour. I can see how it can be construed as being a racist comment. So rather than using the term any more, or being stupid enough to actually try and defend the indefensible and continue using it, I stopped and just went with the generic fucktard and non-racist variants of it (Bustard, Youtard, etc.).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What the ... YouTards?!?!?!

(I wrote this post while events were still fresh. Unfortunately, I got busy with work and never got around to finishing it. While going through What the Kimchi yesterday I noticed that this was sitting unpublished. I decided to finish it and post it today.)

Odds are if you read a Korea related blog you saw the video and know about the expat blowing up at an old man on a bus in Seoul. (Was it Seoul?)

First you had the title of the video "Blacks riot in South Korea Bus". It was actually one black man. I don't know if that can actually constitute a riot but I doubt it. Regardless, it was very misleading. The title has since been changed to Black Violence in South Korea Bus. Still fucktardic but not as misleading.

But that isn't what had me shaking my head at the idiocy of some YouTubers. It was the comment section. I had almost forgotten just how fucktardic people can be on YouTube.

You had your Internet heroes making comments.

"I'D SHUT YOUR ASS? UPPP~~~~~~~~~~" emma1021poo

"What a fuckin IDIOT!! I'LL BRING IT MUTHAFUCKA!! Tough guy! I'll do that? shit to you!" zionrocket

if i was on that bus (as a black female) i would have slapped the sht out of him.
cdm0014

Of course if they were there they would have done something. They would have put him in his place. They would have kicked his ass. They would have ... probably done sweet fuck all just like the others on the bus did.

Then you had your racist trolls just using this as another way to grind their axe.

"fuckin nigger. i am not trying to mock all the black people, but his behavior makes me angry. and i cannot understand how come he is an english teacher in korea? such a mother fucker. when you go to Rome, you obey their rules big ass. and fuckin leave? this country. i usually try not to mean to people. but GO BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY SHITTY MOTHER FUCKER" StoryOfSouL

Ah the old when in Rome line. I could do a blog just on how stupid a thing that is to say.

"Fucking Nigger. Don't blacks know that they are the lowest race on earth? Didn't apartheid in South Africa and discrimination in USA thought them to bow down? to ALL other races?" AmandaLee392

is there anyway we can educate niggers with ipad?
koban4max

Then you had some that made comments that just didn't make sense. Or rather, made even less sense than the nonsense some of the YouTards were spitting out.

DEVIL FUCKER?
baitormaster07

He shouldn't even be there ..
southernature

Jap agent is active to let a Korean quarrel with a black.
killjap100

You did have some people making reasonable comments. Whether it was voicing their disgust vociferously or just letting people know it was wrong. (And that the net tards were wrong too.) Unfortunately, they seem to get drowned out by the idiots.

What can I say, these kind of tards are part of the reason I gave up on YouTube a long time ago. It seems like their whole life revolves around YouTube and posting their vitriol.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I was wrong.

I have several posts on here that mention or talk about blood money. The last one saw The Korean from Ask A Korean respond. After reading what he said I had to think about why I call it blood money and just why I blamed the system, in Korea, for the way things are handled.

I could come up with excuses for why I tried to defend calling it blood money and raging against the Korean system. But they would just be excuses. There are reasons, some kind of silly when I look back now, but I am not going to make excuses.

What The Korean said makes sense. I could have tried arguing against it but I would have been doing something I berate others for doing, denying reality. While I had read the post on his site I never really processed it. For whatever reasons I never laid my own bias aside when I read it. Luckily I have never claimed to be infallible and this is a good example of it.

I was blaming instances of people abusing the system or making errors in judgement on the system being wrong, even evil. I was using it as a whipping boy for things that pissed me off. In short, I was putting the blame on the wrong things.

(After posting and re-reading this I came to the conclusion that the title I used sucks. "My blood money argument" is kind of ... bleh. So I changed it to what it now reads. "I was wrong." )

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What the ... insult?!?!?!?!

My first month in Korea I got in trouble with a co-worker. In one of my classes the students were noisy. So, I asked one who had half decent English how I would say be quiet or please be quiet in Korean. He told me. I was new enough at the game that I took him at face value.

A few days later I was in the teachers room trying to talk with a co-worker. I say trying because Mrs. Cho who was beside us was so fucking loud that I could barely hear the person beside me. Well, I had learned how to say be quiet so I used it on her. That is when the shit hit the fan.

Mrs. Cho leaped out of her seat and proceeded to get in my face. "What did you just say to me?" At this point I really thought she was going to hit me. "How dare you tell me to shut up!" Yeah, the fucker taught me shut up not be quiet and I was stupid enough not to confirm it.

Once I could get a word in edgewise, which took a couple of minutes, I told her what I thought I said. She proceeded to lecture me on how shut up is the worst non-profane thing you can say in Korean. I should expect a fight if I ever say it to an adult and a phone call if I ever say it to a student. She didn't calm down until I told her the name of the student who misinformed me. He was her student too, and she left to take out her anger on him. He never did volunteer to tell me how to say anything in Korean after that.

According to what I was told by Mrs. Cho, and other Koreans when the topic came up, shut up is extremely rude in Korean. There is no playful way to use it. There is no polite way to use it. Any Korea would take extreme offence to being told to shut up. Mrs. Cho's reaction was considered normal for someone who had been so offended. Which is why I tended not to say it.

Reading many of the comments left on the YouTube video of the BusTard in action had me thinking of the shut up incident. Especially the following comment but some YouTard named StoryOfSoul.

fuckin nigger. i am not trying to mock all the black people, but his behavior makes me angry.
and i cannot understand how come he is an english teacher in korea? such a mother fucker. when you go to Rome, you obey their rules big ass. and fuckin leave? this country. i usually try not to mean to people. but GO BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY SHITTY MOTHER FUCKER

When in Rome eh? I can't tell you how many times some retard, be it an apologist, a netnazi, or just some mook, has used that line. It is as stupid now as it was then.

Up until the point the BusTard started getting physical with the old man and woman on the bus he reminded me of ... a Korean. I immediately thought of Mrs. Cho's reaction to being told to shut up. It had me wondering just how visceral a reaction a Korean would have given if they were told to shut up. Especially by someone younger than them. Or even worse, by a foreigner younger than them.

Even the threats of a beating from the BusTard reminded me of Koreans over reacting. Especially the taxi driver who cursed me out in Korean but wanted a fight because I flipped him the bird after his tirade. He was waving a fist around so much I had to put my hands in my pocket or I would have snapped him upside the head. Which of course is what he wanted so he could cry injury and try to get some blood money. But I digress.

When in Rome? Well, it was in Korea not Rome and up until the point of physical contact the BusTard acted like a Korean. Which doesn't make his over reaction right. It just makes him a BusTard who needs to be punished for attacking an old man and pushing a woman around.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

What the ... preparation?!?!?!?!

One of my brothers visited us for a week along with his wife. They tend to be a tad loud and at times cause confusion. I say cause confusion because the wife is so slow to get ready that plans to do things tended to get screwed up all the time. My brother never helped matters either. All of the noise and confusion would leave our mother stressed and ready to blow up.

Towards the end of their visit both my mother and one of my sisters (not at the same time or together) asked me if it didn't stress me out. It didn't. In fact, my mother caused more of a headache for me by getting stressed out. The next question was "Why doesn't it bother you?". The answer was pretty easy. I lived in South Korea.

I spent 10 years living and working in South Korea. Confusion, noise, last minute changes, and lateness is par for the course in life there. You learn over time to ignore it to a degree or you go insane. You find ways to vent, like blogging, so you don't explode. Compared to what I put up with in Korea it didn't rate very high on the stress or bullshit scale.

Living and working in Korea also helped me to deal with my Sister-in-law. She is deaf and has a lot of the same trouble that students learning English have when speaking. Vocabulary, pronunciation, and talking speed at times. You have to pay attention when she speaks and when you reply you have to watch your speed and vocabulary. It was a lot like talking with students. Which meant I had no problems, or stress, talking with her and understanding her. And she was able to understand me.

My 10 years in South Korea pretty much prepared me for my brother's visit. :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Celebrating The Lunar new Year

Korean Adventure (March 7, 2003 Chautauqua)

Since I have been living and working in Korea, I have been able to celebrate the new year twice. On January 1st, I welcomed 2003, and on February 1st, I welcomed the year of the goat.
There are twelve different animals assigned to various years, including the rat, the dragon, and the cow. I was born in 1959, the year of the pig. According to my horoscope, I will be more of a homebody this year. So, no change.
Our calendar, the Gregorian, is used throughout Asia, but there are still those who rely on a lunar calendar to calculate the best time to celebrate ancient rites, such as the lunar new year.
The Gregorian calendar ignores the moon and adds leap days to recalculate the solar year. The lunar calendar, like the Islamic calendar, ignores the sun. The lunisolar calendar, exemplified by Chinese and Jewish calendars, adds leap months every three years. It can make you dizzy trying to keep them straight.
One of the main parts of the Korean tradition is something they call "jesa," which is a ritual performed in homes asking the residing spirit for blessings.
An altar table is set, and then the head of the household lights incense, pours liquor into a glass, and then into a bowl. He then bows twice to the ancestral spirit. His family follows suit, and the head reads the "chuk mun," or ritual address.
This is done three times, and a small amount of food is eaten to signify acceptance of the ancestors' symbolic blessing.
Some Christians have denounced it as a form of worship that they cannot condone. They also object to the drinking of liquor, as well as the increasingly popular tradition of visiting a fortune teller.
Such talk would have certainly brought down severe punishment in the 19th century, when over 300 believers lost their lives. Christianity has become close to a religious majority nowadays, and churches can be found on every street corner.
The struggle between the old (Confucianism) and the new (Christianity) can be very divisive of families, and compromises are having to be made. Many people are trying to find their own way of celebrating that will include everyone.
Some people simply say they are honoring their ancestors, and New Years Day is the appropriate occasion. It is part of a break from any orthodox religion and an effort to tailor their own beliefs and practices as they see fit.
Mainly, it seems to me, it is about family. Many Koreans have no religion at all, and don't perform the ceremony, but they do take the time to visit their home towns and pay their respects.
As the country changes and modernizes, some things will no doubt be lost. Maintaining something that is their own, may help a lot of Koreans retain a sense of national identity, and pave the way for better understanding and (one hopes) peace.
I got a lot of the information for this article from the Korea Herald, and a story by staff reporter Andrew Petty.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Coming To A (Korean) Tree Near You

Korean Adventure (November 15, 2002 Chautauqua)

A recent article in the Korea Herald (which used the above title) by Andrew Petty listed the major areas in the country where people could go to see the "most spectacular collections of autumn foliage."


There is Mt. Naejang in South Jeolla Province, Mt. Jiri and Mt. Gaya in South Gyeongsang Province, and Mt. Seorak in Gangwon Province. All feature rugged mountain scenery, splendid views of the trees, and a variety of Buddhist temples to compliment the serenity of a day in the wild.


Well, these areas are a bit removed from Daegu, so I had to settle for either Beisulsan (to the south) or Palgongsan (to the north).


I had been to Beisulsan last October, with a large group of friends. We caught a "coach bus" for a two-and-a-half hour trip that still wasn't over when we debarked. It seems the driver had let us off at the bottom of the hill, and it would be another three hour walk before we arrived at our condo.


There is nothing so resourceful as a group of foreigners to find alternate transportation. A truck driver at a nearby construction site was more than happy to carry us up the hill.


There was a short ten minute walk to our condo, which passed by a hillside temple surrounded by trees clothed in brilliant orange and red. The view down the valley was very nice. Trips like this exhaust your vocabulary. There is only so many ways to say it was all spectacular.


That night was spent consuming many beers, so that we would be in the proper frame of mind the next day. A long night of singing and drinking games is a fine way to appreciate the hike up to the top of the mountain.


There was a wide flat space just below the summit where a great congregation of trippers were enjoying picnic lunches and the view all the way around.

There was a pagoda on the lip of a precipice, and there were a couple of para-gliders to complete the picture.

Flint is enjoying this picture, I bet.

This year, I was all on my own. Saturday, November 2, was a brilliant day. The sun was shining, but the wind had picked up, and made the cold just a little more bitter.


I took a "coach bus" all the way from my place to Palgongsan. There is a small tourist village at the base, with a variety of restaurants, hotels, and souvenir stands.


Not being as physical as last year, I took the cable car to the top of the mountain. The trees were more colourful the closer I got to the summit. There is a much smaller space to move around, and there is a trail that leads back down.


I took this trail, but it is not for everyone. It is very rugged, with a lot of jagged rocks and tricky spots to negotiate. There are even ropes strung up to assist the more vertically challenged. Going up would definitely be a major challenge. Going down is no problem, as there is a variety of long stretches where you can do little else.


About an hour down from the summit is the temple of Dongwasa, which has the largest stone Buddha in the world. And it is enormous. It was erected in the hopes of the eventual reconciliation of North and South Korea (something a little more distant now that the North is going nuclear).


The temple itself is the center of a loose collection of temples, and there were many people using the various facilities to pay their respects. There is a large area at the base of the Buddha where you can light a candle. The floor of highly polished marble is a no-shoes area, and many supplicants brought their own rugs to pray in comfort.


Korea's "fall" is a very brief time between the steamy heat of summer and the bitter cold of winter. I was very happy to have taken advantage, and gotten a little taste of a world some only see in a postcard.

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I have some photos of us strung out along the road, hitchiking, with our pant legs up to show our legs. Doesn't work too well on the guys. Another photo shows us all piled into the back of a Bongo, sitting on top of our bags. The guy was a good driver, and not one of us fell out on the way up.
I went to Dongwasa a few times. There's another temple/Buddha in the area at Gatbawi, which I never did manage to get to.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pucca Face

Last night I was sitting around a fire talking with some friends. We all started telling stories from our lives and I told them some from Korea.

One of my favourite classes only had 3 students but they worked well together. Their English was pretty good and they all wanted to be there. It was the kind of class where you can throw the book out and talk about anything.

One time I opened the class to anything they wanted to talk about and the subject they picked was Western music. I ended up bringing my laptop in and showing them some videos on YouTube. The last one was Lady Gaga's "Poker Face".

When the video finished one of the students started singing her version of "Poker Face". She called it Pucca Face. I can't remember all of her lyrics but as you can guess Poker always became Pucca. The students ended up doing some Pucca and Garu artwork and making a story up as well.

The next class one of them showed up with a Pucca face on a stick and ty started singing the song again. It was hilarious.

Anytime I hear Lady Gaga's name I think of "Pucca Face." I miss teaching that class.

What the referrals 4?!?!?!?!

Searching for "what the kimchi" is still the most common referral to here. There are many others that have been used.

Some of the funnier or stranger ones are;


how to do kinchi babalety I have no idea what babalety is supposed to mean. :)







Some interesting ones.

stig korea This one has shown up a few times.


muslims in korea I find this interesting because searches like this appear monthly, directing people to WTK. There is only one post that talks about Muslims in Korea, the one about the guide to Halal food in Korea.

IVY English Academy and Oedae Language school Ilsan It is nice to see people actually checking into schools before going there.




Friday, August 19, 2011

Inside Korea

Korean Adventure (November 1, 2002 Chautauqua)

I subscribe to an English-language newspaper called the Korea Herald. It gives mostly political and economic news, and a view of what some aspects of Korean life is like. There are profiles of Korean public figures, discussions of artistic endeavours, and bits of traditional lore/folkways.

In the political arena, one of the main points of interest for the past year has been the presidential election, due in December. There are two main parties, the Grand National Party, and the Millennium Democratic Party, which was created about six years ago by the sitting President, Kim Dae-jung.

President Kim received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for his "Sunshine Policy" of reconciliation with North Korea. This process was stalled for a time after the election of George W. Bush, who included North Korea in his so-called "Axis of Evil." It is only recently that things have gotten back on track (pun intended). The two Koreas are building a rail link through the de-militarized zone, and working on a permanent re-unification village, where long-separated families can meet.

President Kim has had a very bad year. His administration is under investigation for corrupt practices, and two of his sons are now in jail for profiteering. The president is not eligible to run for re-election, but the voters are turning away from his party in droves. The present candidate has spent more time fighting off challenges from within his party than campaigning. Whether the party will survive to the election is still up in the air.

The candidate from the Grand National Party hasn't had an easy time, either. His son has been accused of draft-dodging, and there have been acrimonious exchanges when the law-makers meet in session. At one time, there were so many charges and counter-charges flying around, the Herald had a "Scandal Round-Up" section in the paper.

News from the north is scanty. There are tales of millions of people starving to death, which makes the need for reconciliation that much more acute. One story said that people were foraging in the hills for anything edible, and others were attempting to cultivate seaweed. The same day that story appeared, another one was printed that said the south's First Lady had sent up a shipment of soccer balls. The thought of starving people being given sporting equipment...

A recent article outlined South Korea's high costs and low quality of life. It is the eighth most expensive place to rent an apartment (three bedrooms): 1,580USD/month, as compared to: Taiwan 1,440USD; China 1,460USD; America 1,675USD; and Japan 2,160USD. Office space runs 523USD/year for one square meter (ninth highest), compared with 245USD in China, 452USD in America, and 486USD in Taiwan.

Korea ranks 22nd out of 131 countries in terms of living expenses, while Korean households earmark 4.9% of their budget for education of children, the highest ratio in the world, followed by the U.S., 2.4%; Japan, 2.1%; and Britain, 1.4%. Despite the high cost of living, the 2002 quality of life index for Korea stood at 5.64, ranking 32nd out of 49 countries and trailing Austria (9.77), the U.S. (8.92), and Japan (6.15). The hourly wage of Korea's manufacturing sector workers averaged 8.13USD as of 2000, ranking 21st of 29 countries and trailing Germany (22.29USD), Japan (22USD), and the U.S. (19.86USD).

A lot of Koreans drive their own cars, and they spend a lot of money customizing them to the particular owner's taste. They also have very good, and cheap, transit systems. I do not have a car, but I can get around the country very well for very little cost. It comes in handy when the freeways are jammed to zip past in comfort on the train.

Mostly everybody has a cell phone. It is not unusual to see a couple walking down the street, both of them talking away, but not to each other. The phones are cunning little items, and some of them have special headsets that make it look like wires are trailing out of someone's ears. A lot of people tap away at their hand sets, sending text messages. The rings are modern pop tunes/classical pieces that almost make up for it when they ring in the middle of a crowded movie theatre. Sometimes I think I'm the only person in Korea who doesn't own one. Even my kids have them!

I don't want this to be taken the wrong way, but sometimes Koreans remind me of big, happy children - easily mollified by bright, shiny objects - but with a capacity to work harder than we are used to in the west. They work hard, and they play even harder. They have the confidence that will surely be rewarded, and it will be more than deserved.
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I remember the GNP leader Lee Hoi-chang once being quoted that he was shocked, shocked, at the opposing parties' corrupt practices. The very next week he was under investigation, and he eventually retired from politics.
Despite it's very high standard of living, it was fairly economical to live in South Korea. Mostly because the school paying for your living expenses and health care.
I sometimes wish I was back there earning a living instead of begging for a job, any job back here in the world.
I didn't get a cell phone until my third year there. I probably should have gotten one earlier. I resisited as long as I could, but it just became too impractible not to have one.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What the ... bureautardic bullshit?!?!?!?!

I never thought I would say it but I would much rather be dealing with Korean Immigration or the Pension people than the idiots I have had to deal with in the Canadian government just to get my birth certificate.

The last 2 years dealing with Korean Immigration and the Pension office was a walk in the park compared to the idiocy I have been dealing with for the last 6 months. Not even to start getting into the bull shit of getting my Criminal Background Check done. In many ways it worse than when dealing with Korean Immigration a few years back because there isn't a language barrier.

And they wonder why people hate bureaucrats?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Shit Herr Consoleman Says ... about geography.

A reader emailed me and suggested I check out the KKKlans thread "US Officially Confirms “Sea of Japan” Name". He said there were some real nuggets of stupidity in there. Holy shit was he right.

According to Herr Consoleman:

Actually so called "Sea of Japan" was called "Sea of Korea" prior to annexation of Korea in early 1900s.

However, there was no "Sea of Japan" prior to 20th century, when did "Sea of Corea" became "Sea of Japan"? right after Japan beating Qing and Russian Empire and annexation of Korea, so it should be return back to original name.

Then he made the even stupider comment;

Gulf of Mexico have reason to be called gulf of Mexico, it was discovered and named by Mexican and it's in every old European maps, Mexico was formed before U.S.A, and it's named after using int'l sea naming protocol, so there's no challenge.

Wow, what an astounding lack of knowledge of history and geography. (Australian education system, I am looking at you. Herr Consoleman graduated High School and University there.) The Gulf of Mexico was discovered by a Spaniard. Amerigo Vespucci is credited with discovering it. It was named by the Spanish. European countries used the name "Sea of Japan" well before the Japanese annexed Korea. Of course, I never expected anything more of Herr Consoleman than stupidity like this.

And what is it with morons who just repeat the same old bullshit over and over? Do they believe the constant repetition will make what they say true? Saying shit like "Sea of Japan wasn't used until Japan annexed Korea" enough times will alter reality and suddenly become true. And they wonder why they get called idiots?

Monday, August 15, 2011

What the ... false hooker advertising?

According to a the title of an article in the Korea Times, Worst in the Nation, 'Korean entertainers on Chinese selling sex list' . (Yes, that is badly worded but it IS in the Korea Times so what else can you expect? Proper proof reading?) It should have read "Korean entertainers appear in Chinese ads for prostitutes". The gyst of the article is

China’s leading media websites published photos of alleged Korean entertainers selling sex, spurring criticism from Koreans and other foreigners.

Sorry but I have to digress for a minute. "Other foreigners" are complaining about this? About Korean stars appearing on ads for hookers in China? Really Korea Times? That is pretty weak even for the Korea Times.

The article ends by saying

But it is doubtful that Korean female entertainers are really engaging in prostitution, as it has not been confirmed where the photos came from and who really are pictured, according to Onbao.com.

Which would mean that the sites are probably using photos of stars from elsewhere, look alikes, or just blurry photos that can't really be identified as anyone in particular. It reminds me of something I saw, no exaggeration, all the time in Korea. Cards advertising for hookers on cars and the ground. Just ask Stig how often he had to clear them off his car windows.



You can see a couple of those types of cards in the picture above. They are the smaller ones on the bottom left. You could see the pictures used in some bigger ads too. Most of the pictures on these ads/cards weren't of Korean women. They often used pictures of Japanese AV stars as well as Chinese stars. I saw more than a few ads using Shu Qi.

A few times students brought the cards to class. They said they were collecting them. :)

Go-Stop

Korean Adventure (October 18, 2002 Chautauqua)

"Go-stop" is a traditional Korean card game, usually played in smoky rooms with beer bottles and money scattered about. It is Korea's most popular gambling amusement.

The cards themselves come from a mixture of the deck used by the Portuguese sailors who sailed into these waters in the mid 16th century, and the deck that was in use in Japan at that time. Western-style card playing was made punishable by death in Japan in 1633, so changes were made in order to preserve the game that had arisen. The faces on the cards were changed to reflect Japanese culture, and the cards continued to be changed and modified as the years went by.
Japanese soldiers introduced their game, called "hanafuda," to Korea in the late 19th century. Koreans made some changes, and began calling the game "hwatu." The most popular game played using the cards today is "go-stop."
There are 48 thick cards in a deck with 12 different suits representing the 12 months of the year: January/pine, February/plum, March/cherry, April/black bush clover, May/orchid, June/peony, July/red bush clover, August/pampas grass and moon, September/chrysanthemum, October/maple leaf, November/paulownia, and December/willow and rain.

The first step to learning how to play is to study these cards, and recognize and match the colourful pictures. Two cards within each month are almost exactly the same. These can be called plain cards, equivalent to western junk cards.
The next step is to study the following cards: three blue ribbons with writing, three red ribbons with writing, four red ribbons with no writing, five with small round dots, three with pictures of birds, and eight with a potpourri of pictures: deer, pig, butterfly, insect, pillar, strange iris, chrysanthemum with soccer ball, and a pile of dung.
The rules state that three to five players are needed, with the action moving counter-clockwise. Deal out seven cards per person. Koreans have a very simple way of shuffling cards, and whenever I shuffle cards in the classroom (a very simple box shuffle that would be laughed at by any serious card player) I get "Oooh!" Aaaah!" and the occasional round of applause.

To continue, before placing the remaining cards facedown in a pile, flip over six cards in the middle of the playing area. Players take turns matching a picture in their hands with a picture on the floor. If they match, the player collects both cards and puts them in front of him face up. These are the cards that will score the player's points.
Before the player's turn is over, he gets to flip the top card on the deck and try to match that picture with the remaining pictures on the floor. Again, if they match, he collects both. If they do not, he leaves the card face up on the floor.
The strategy is to collect as many cards as possible, thus scoring more points. The goal is to collect enough cards to score three points. When this is achieved, say "stop" to end the hand. If, however, you want to gamble and double the money, say "go." The risk in doing this is that more points must be added during the next turn. If another player gets three points in the meantime, that player can stop the game and win. What is the penalty for your risk? You pay for the other player as well as your own loss.
The points are counted thus: three red ribbons/three points, three blue ribbons/three points, five birds/five points, three dots/three points, four dots/four points, five dots/fifteen points, 10 plain cards/one point (each extra plain card is worth one more point), one "go"/one point, two "go"/two points, and three "go"/double points.
There are a few interesting things to be said about the cards themselves. The blue and red ribbon cards represent old Japanese scrolls where poets penned their deepest thoughts and feelings.
The old man holding an umbrella in the December rain card is actually Ono No Toufuu, the founder of Japanese-style calligraphy. The August moon that sits atop a hill is nicknamed the "Buddhist monk." The single oldest card in existence today, made in the 16th century, is located in the Miike Museum in Omuta, Japan.
The novice should be aware of the professional player, who plays the game as a full-time job. There are stories of players who have lost cars, homes, and even wives! Some Korean families will not even allow the cards into their homes in strong disapproval.
I thought that playing the game would be an interesting way to bridge the language barrier with my students. However, the first time I took them into the classroom, I was handed a note by the Korean teacher. They believe it is a game for adults, and not for children. The feeling was that if the students even see the cards, let alone play the game, the school would be inundated by calls from outraged parents, calling for my head on a stake.
It was kind of embarrassing, but I guess that's all part of the experience of exploring new cultures.

I got most of the information from an article in "The Korea Herald," by Everett McGuinty, who is described as a "Contributing writer."
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Once, when I took the ferry over to Japan, I saw a group of Korean men playing the game in one of the common rooms. I was sharing a beer with another teacher I had met (who was making his visa run) and we idly chatted as we watched the game. There was money scattered on the table, and it occasionally changed hands, so we imagined they were betting on the game.
A little later, some kind of crewmember passed by the table, took a look at what was going on, and said something to the players. They all looked like guilty little boys caught with their hands in the cookie jar as they tried to hide the money in their pockets.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Gangster Movies

Koreans seem to love Gangster movies as much as we do in the West. The difference I have found is in the genre of movie. Most Korean gangster movies I have seen are comedies while most Western ones have been drama or action movies. Well, there was "Mickey Blue Eyes" but that piece of shit sucked big time. Most of the Korean gangster comedies have a lot of action in them.

The first Korean movie I watched was "My Wife is a Gangster". It was good. The action scenes were damn good. I had wanted to see Shiri or JSA but they were rented out. Which ended up being a good thing. It got me hooked on Korean gangster movies. :) I wasn't as impressed with the sequel and the third movie in the series actually had nothing to do with the first two. It did have one of my favourite Chinese actresses in it though, Shu Qi.

The next one I saw translated to "Kick the Moon". It took place in Kyeongju and was also good. Interesting storyline, the school tough guy becomes a teacher and the school brain/nerd becomes a gangster. They both fall for the same woman. Hilarity and a lot of violence ensues. ;)

There are lots more out there like "My Boss is my Hero" and the sequel "My Boss, My Student", "I Married the Mob" (which also had a sequel). If you are looking for a good comedy I highly recommend these films and most other Korean gangster comedies.

Jinju

Korean Adventure (October 4, 2002 Chautauqua)

Jinju is a small (pop. 350,000) town to the southwest of Daegu. It is a very clean, pleasant place to visit. On the walk from the bus station, my friend G (who I met on the ferry to Japan) and I were offered sunny smiles from many of the school kids we saw.

The North Gate of the fortress.

The town is on the river Namgang, which makes a wide upside-down U through the town. Even though the summer season was over, there were a few people taking out the Duck Boats, and enjoying the breeze. There were some clouds that threatened, but held off until the evening.

Cannon-fired projectiles that probably really hurt.

The main attraction in the town is the fortress Jinjusanseong. It covers a fairly large hillock on the north side of the river. Included on the grounds are a few Buddhist temples, as well as a National Museum.

The fortress walls, covered with ivy.

The walls of the fortress have been restored, and there are many paths to follow around to the various attractions.


The fortress was built during the years of the Goryeo dynasty (100 - 1000 AD), and partially destroyed during the Japanese invasion of 1592 - 1593. It was here that one of the major battles of the campaign was fought, in which some 70,000 Korean soldiers and civilians lost their lives. The wall was rebuilt in 1605, and these remains are there today. They look pretty good for 400 year old walls.

You see these crews all over the place. I used to think they were some kind of groundskeepers, but they're actually scrounging for greens to put on the supper table. See how they protect themselves from the sun.

Overlooking the river is Chokseongnu, a large pavilion which was used as an exhibition hall for the poetry of the times. It was burnt down during the Korean War.


The roof of the museum.
The museum devotes its exhibits to pieces detailing the period of the Japanese invasion. These include some pottery, and some impressive paintings and drawings. The detail on some of them is very intricate. There are also exhibits of poetry books, which look very old. Koreans have a good appreciation for poetry, and some are translated and printed in the English-language paper that I read (The Korean Herald).

The main exhibit was some detail of the invasion, and how the battles were fought. If you can imagine hordes of samurai, battling their way up and over castle walls, trying to avoid spears, arrows, and boiling oil, you might get some idea of what it was like. There is one mural showing the defense of the fortress. There are huge crowds of samurai surrounding a little fort with only a few defenders. I was reminded of Custer's Last Stand, or the Alamo.

The cemetary - these steles rest on turtles - good luck charms.

There is a memorial to the dead, and some statues of heroes from the battle.


General Li, who dies during the fighting, is posed with his finger pointing at the viewer, as if to say, "I want you!" The other hero is a woman, Madame Kim. She is revered for sacrificing her own life and killing the Japanese general. She lured him close to the river's edge, clasped him to her, and threw herself in. She locked her hands together with special rings, so that he could not escape her embrace.


There are some very old trees which date back to the invasion, as well. They are marked as being the sites for defense of the fortress. One was where General Li stood, and another shadows the spot where Madame Kim made her sacrifice.

Namgang Dam
After the fortress, G and I visited the dam above the city. There is a resort area there, but we were happy enough just to sit on the grass. Real grass is at a premium over here, and there are not too many areas where a person can just sit and enjoy the cool feeling.

Before we left, we enjoyed a meal in one of the many restaurants downtown. For a small town, Jinju has a lively restaurant/nightclub area.

A monolith up by the dam.

I got some of the facts for this article from the "Lonely Planet" guide to Korea. It is indispensable for the traveller. There are many useful tips, and good advice on how to get where you're going, and what to do (and eat) while you're there.

If you look closely, you can see a pillbox guarding the base at Jinju.
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Jinju was a pretty cool place to visit. At the time I went there, I only knew it as the place where the girlfriend of an American teacher I knew lived. He was a hound. He had two girlfriends, and it was a chore making sure neither knew about the other.
I returned to Jinju a few years later to see a live show. It was fairly popular in Korea, but I can't recall the name right now. It was about a family of martial artists who're visited by thieves one night. They each dispatch a thief with an amazing display of a particular aspect of the martial art.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Living In Korea

Korean Adventure (September 20, 2002 Chautauqua)

I'm going to try and reflect some facets of my life here, in the hopes that they may complete a picture, and show what I am experiencing.
I live in a one-room flat, in a three-story building. The other foreign teacher at my school has her apartment next door. Most schools provide the apartment rent-free, and all the teacher has to pay for is the utilities and the TV. As you walk in the door, there is a small area to leave your shoes. It is impolite to walk into a Korean house with your shoes on. I like to walk around in my slippers at home and at work. It is very comfortable.
I have a fridge, which is fairly large compared to other fridges I have known. Opposite is the sink/stove/cupboard area. It's all one unit, and that's my kitchen. I've gotten fairly good at preparing delicious meals on a two-burner gas range. It's pretty standard for most Korean households. Ovens are a rarity. Most Korean dishes are prepared without one.

One of the roads up to my con-apt, which was a block to the right. I did get a lot of what Flint calls 'Christers' visiting my con-apt. I was never as... curt as Flint was, but I did learn to shut the door on them after a while.

I have a TV/VCR unit, and I am limited to watching movies or whatever programs are part of the American Army's channel. They get most of the shows that are part of the lineup I was used to, but they can be some months behind. They have no paid advertising, but a lot of service announcements that let the soldiers know what's going on in their area. There are a lot of reminders about what it means to be a soldier. These are produced by the soldiers themselves, and some of them can be a little amateurish. I get a lot of laughs in this way.
The bathroom is a tiled room, with a toilet, a tap with showerhead attachment, and that's it. There's a drain in the middle of the floor, and that's where all the water drains. I've gotten used to washing my hands while standing back from the tap. It will be strange to return home and get used to water that drains "normally."

The street leading up to my building, which was on the right, the last building but one.

There are taps in my bathroom that would usually hook up to a washing machine. The other teacher has to deal with this, but my washer has been installed in the "back room," which is like a storage area. I have no dryer, and I take care of that job by hanging my clothes on a rack, which is standard issue for most teachers' apartments. Some buildings have a tap out front, and I have seen some Koreans using this to wash their dishes and their clothes.
I was really lucky to have a double bed in my place. Most flats have single beds (my first one did). Koreans, of course, sleep on the floor, and one of my friends (tired of the cramped and lumpy single) has switched to this with satisfactory results. I also scored a microwave, which comes in handy when I want to cook up some popcorn. That is one of the snacks that I really missed when I came here.

There were two busy streets that I had to cross on the way to work. North of this one was the neighbourhood where my con-apt was situated, which was mainly three-story one- and two-room buildings. South was full of those huge blocks that marched off into the distance.

Koreans don't usually eat popcorn. They have some... different...flavours for their chips, too. Some of them are really spicy, and can cause your tongue to dial the fire department if you're not careful. Some of their chips are sweet-tasting, as well. I remember a comedy sketch from a while back about a man who gave a snack bar attendant fits by asking for "Raspberry Ripple" flavored chips, and so on. He would have got on well here.
I live approximately fifteen minutes away from the school (by foot). There is a big hill behind the building, where I like to go hiking on the weekends. The trails are well maintained and travelled. Hiking is a favorite activity for many people, and there are camping areas that feature equipment for the serious hiker. You can do chin-ups, sit-ups, play badminton; there's even a set of barbells to do some press-ups.

This is the second busy road I had to cross. Right on the corner, almost at my feet as I took this picture, there was always a pile of tofu for sale. It sat on the corner every day, absorbing the exhaust fumes, burps and farts, narrowly missing being spat on by some mook. I... never really liked tofu after that.

The area I live in is predominantly three- and four-story apartment buildings. There are a couple of private dwellings, but these are scarcer than hen's teeth in a space-premium country like South Korea. I imagine you have to be wealthier than Croesus to afford a private dwelling. Surrounding the neighbourhood where I dwell, is the main living space for Koreans, the high rise, which go on for miles. I tried to get a picture that would show these buildings stretching to the horizon.
I pass through these on my way to work, and they are like little villages. The buildings are about 15-20 stories high, and about 10-15 apartments wide. They each have their own little strip malls, and "police" forces to keep an eye on traffic. There is a lot of foot traffic going through, mostly mothers with their kids in hand. Foreigners have a lot of eyes on them.

The building where my hagwon lurked. The PC room I used was across the street. The hagwon's name was New York, and the lobby featured a mural of the city skyline featuring the twin towers of the World Trade Centre front and centre. I worked here the year after 9/11, and it was always a little jarring to see that photo every day.

I've heard that this type of dwelling is more expensive than the one I live in. They don't seem much different inside, and I'm not sure I would want to live in an area so crowded, with people on either side, and on top as well as below you. You have to deal with a substantial loss of "personal space" when you come to Korea. There is no such thing as waiting patiently in line for anything. It's every man for himself, and don't be afraid to use those elbows.
Still, there are perks. I use a computer at a "PC Room," and the owners have gotten very good at arranging for a monitor away from the smokers. I get a nice comfy chair, and an iced tea. Being served in a restaurant is a pleasant experience, and you get a lot of "service" (free stuff!) if you become a regular.
And the beer! Ah, the beer. Their draft comes in inexpensive pitchers that always taste like another one. A night out with a group of teachers looking for a way to unwind can go on for a long time, with no appreciable dent made in your wallet. Most bars like to try and sell you a side dish to go along with your beer, and it's not unusual to see a table of Koreans enjoying a nice array of ... fruit?... to go with their beer. Or if that's not to your taste, you can always try the seaweed. Dip it into a little soy sauce. Mmmmm.
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I've had a couple of hagwons try to get away with just supplying me a beer fridge. They look at me strangely when I tell them I need a regular sized fridge. When you consider they have fridges just for kimchi, I don't think it too much to ask.
I remember in my first year, my roommate's girlfriend kept kimchi in the fridge, and whenever you opened the door, the smell would hit you like a punch in the face.
I was always impressed with the relentless way Koreans exercised. I was never able to get motivated enough to follow their example. I'm flabby and out of shape, and I would be of no use in a crisis. I thought, 'Either get in shape or hope there is never a crisis.' I always hoped there was never a crisis.
I remember going to one teacher's wedding. He invited me up to their con-apt. They were just moving in. The place was chock-a-block with all the newest appliances and electronics still in their boxes. It was too bad when she gave him the boot the day after the wedding, but he deserved it. He romanced a foreign teacher and then dumped her on the advice of a fortune teller.
What a douchebag.
I almost lived in one of those highrises during my third year, but was lucky enough to get a solo con-apt. For me, it's the only way to go.
I still didn't have a 'puter, and I didn't get one until my third year. The PC room I used in my second year was a pretty good one, and the owners were very nice to me. But having your own 'puter is the bomb. I was really happy when I got my first laptop.
This neighbourhood was in West Daegu, and the local bar we went to was called Elvis. More often than not, the waitress would insist we order a side with our pitcher. I got to like the dried squid with peanuts. You could dip the pieces of squid in mayonnaise, or hot sauce, or both. Mmmmmmmmmm.
But getting used to the side dishes that most Koreans took for granted was difficult for me. I missed the usual salty snacks that we get back here in The World. There were a few places that served popcorn, like the Hollywood Bar in Cheongju, but then you'd go to a place like The Berkeley in Daegu, which served squid-flavoured crisps.
Eurgh.