Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shit Morons Say ... to Obfuscate.

"Racism and stupidity happen everywhere not just korea. You make it sound like it only happens there."

The above quote was in an email I recently received from a fan. It reminded me of similar comments made both on and off my site.

"Also, you act like this type of attitude in Korea is exclusive to them! "

"But the point is that I’ve had plenty of run-ins with racist people EVERYWHERE."

"It’s amazing that you guys make comments like “this is how retarded some Koreans are” and “this is how rude/fucked up some Koreans are” as if, again, these things are exclusive to Koreans."

Same shit, different morons. (Oh wait, some of those were posted by the same moron.)

It never ceases to amaze me that people who come to a blog about a specific place or region get their panties in a bunch because people are talking about shit that happens there. I do have another blog that talks about stupidity that happens in Canada. Does that mean I am making it sound like idiots, such as the Vancouver rioters, are only found in Canada? Of course not. At least not to those who live in the real world.

This type of "reasoning" is often used by trolls and apologists to cloud an issue. To deflect away from what was being discussed and try to diminish what a person experienced. It is often accompanied by whining that people are talking about all Koreans even when phrases such as "many" or "some" are used and not "all". When the morons use this tactic they are being disingenuous and just trying to push their narrative.

Year 1 - Rainy Season

The latest floods in South Korea and Stig's post about the 2002 flooding he experienced got me thinking about my 1st year in South Korea. It was my first experience with a "Rainy Season" other than spring.

My strongest memory is of when a typhoon hit. Cheongju is far enough inland that we didn't get a lot of the wind but holy humidity batman did we ever get the rain. While the flooding wasn't on the scale we have seen in the news now it was pretty soupy out.

A group of us went out to supper on a Saturday night and did something stupid. It wasn't raining when we left so no one brought umbrellas even though it was pretty dark out. After supper it started raining but we just beat feet to Road King. Then the heavens opened and what seemed like a deluge of biblical proportions started.

From the window seats we got to see a lot of lightning and rain. At times the rain was so heavy you couldn't see across the street. Part of the street, running downhill, looked like a small river. Ok, I am exaggerating, more like a stream. None of us were looking forward to the walk home. Luckily, home was only about a 5 minute walk away.

The rain had lessened but was still coming down pretty hard when we decided to head home. It wasn't a cold rain so we all said fuck it and decided to just enjoy a walk in the rain. It was actually kind of nice once you got over the initial soaking. A nice hot shower once I was home helped too.

I have always loved the sound of rain falling. It something I find kind of relaxing. Nights when it is raining I usually have the best sleep. As a kid I liked to walk in the rain, not always with rain gear on. That night reminded me of it. After that I would sometimes go for a walk in the rain, with or without an umbrella (not in the winter though). Or go to a park and sit under one of the pagodas with a book and just relax listening to the rain. There is a great spot in BalSon Park with a pagoda that over looks the bus terminal and part of the city. A great spot to sit and relax on a rainy or stormy day.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

What the ... referrals 3?!?!?!

I was bored so I peeked at the referrals that led people to this site.

The number one is still people googling "What The Kimchi".

Lately a bit of traffic has been directed here from Korea Sentry. Mainly from a thread Settt set up to complain about me complaining about him. He claims to not like Hitler and doesn't like it when people say he does. Nor does he like being called a racist, and he can't seem to understand why I would think he is one. No surprise there, he doesn't strike me as the sharpest tool in the shed.. Although he is definitely a tool. :)

Someone found WTK by googling "korea blood money". WTK was the #2 hit for that search, AAK was #1. Odds are that pits his knickers in a twist. :)

Some of the stranger searches that led people here were "what is shit in korean" and "Koreans sleep anywhere" and "mokpo love hotel".

The funniest was "anonyjohn fucktard". :)




Friday, July 29, 2011

Floods

I've been reading about the recent flooding in South Korea. I'm sorry about the deaths and havoc caused, and I hope the people who I know there are safe and dry.
I remember similar flooding in 2002, and thought I would share the photos I took from that time. I was in Daegu, and the two rivers are the Sakdong (which flows through the centre of the city), and the Guemho (which flows along the northern edge of the city). The flooding occurred on or about the August 15th holiday, and the pictures showing how the rivers look normally were taken on November 2nd.

The Sakdong in (almost) full flood. August 15th.



The same, November 2nd.



August 15th...



... and Nov. 2nd.



The Sakdong (again) Aug. 15th...



... Nov. 2nd.



The Guemho looking like the Mississippi August 15th...



... and back down on Nov. 2nd.



Under the bridge August 15th...



... and Nov. 2nd.


As I said, I hope everyone in Korea stays safe, and the rains stop soon so the waters can go down.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gossip

Well, there's always gossip, isn't there? The passing along of information about people you may or not know is at the same time good (who can't resist?) and bad (if you're talking behind their back). It's a pretty big business when you consider TV shows like "TMZ" and "Entertainment Tonight."
So let me tell you what I heard...

The "Chinook" troop carrier

During my first year in Korea, my co-worker Blondie became involved with an American soldier I'll call Mr. Bill (Oh noooooo....). Blondie, as you can imagine, was very popular. I remember once when our gang went to the nightclub at the Ariana Hotel in Daegu. She got invited to a table full of Hennesy reps and was given all the free samples she could drink.
Daegu had at least three U.S. bases, so there were many opportunities to run into and party with the G.I.'s. There was a club close to Suseong (where we all lived) called "Morrison's" (after Jim Morrison). The cover was 15,000 won, and for that you got all the beer or soju you could drink. I stuck mostly to beer, but there was a variety of flavoured soju available, as well.

The versatile, and venerable, "Huey."

I remember one night trying to drink 15,000 worth of alcohol. I made it, but just barely. And I didn't keep it for very long.
You may think 15,000 may not have been very much, but at the time you could get a jug of draft for about 6,000 or 6,500. Beer was (and still is) really cheap there.
In downtown Daegu, there were lots and lots of drinking establishments. There was the Rock 'n Roll Bar (sadly out of business), Old Blue (which featured two rooms: one devoted to jazz and the other devoted to rock - again, sadly out of business), the El Toro (which had a big patio and an even bigger St. Bernard wandering around), the Berkeley (which also had a patio and a trickling fountain), and the Gypsy Rock.
The Gypsy Rock's original location was a basement room just down from the El Toro. It was the favourite of a lot of G.I.'s. The walls were bare cement covered with graffiti, and the furniture was crude wooden tables and stools. When the place was arockin', you couldn't move. I imagined it was what the Cavern would have been like when The Beatles were playing there.

The "Loach," a light reconnaissance 'copter.

The Gypsy moved after a year or two to newer premises. The dance floor was in the basement, and the upper two levels were open in the middle so you could look down and see the dancers crammed together. The new premises were larger, but you still couldn't move when the music was playing.
So somewhere along the line, Blondie met and fell for Mr. Bill, who was a helicopter pilot. They look very happy in the few pictures I have of them.
Because she knew a soldier, he could sign us into the base and shop for certain items at the PX. He got us a turkey for Thanksgiving and a barbecue to cook it with.
We also got to go to the base for the open house and see a lot of cool military hardware (pictured here).

The Apache, Mr. Bill's 'copter.

But they didn't stay happy for very long.
Their intention was to get married until Blondie found out Mr. Bill was already married. His wife was living in the States while he served his tour of duty in Korea.
Blondie was heartbroken, but she still pined after him. She did two years in Korea, and then went to Mexico. I eventually lost contact with her. She just lost interest in replying to my e-mails, I guess.

As part of the show, Mr. Bill took off straight up into the air, spinning around, and taking off like a bat out of hell.

I later heard that Mr. Bill may or may not have been killed in a helicopter crash. I also later heard that he may not have been married at all. The crash and the marriage stories may have been invented just to give him an "exit strategy" in case any woman got too close.
This was just one story about some of the people I met while I was in Korea. I know many more. Ah, gossip.

Shopping In Korea

Korean Adventure (June 21, 2002 Chautauqua)

Shopping in Korea can be an interesting experience. There are many modern western-style supermarkets, including Wal-Mart, Costco, and Homeplus. It is a great temptation to stick to these convenient mega-stores. They carry most of the goods we are used to, and the prices are fairly reasonable. There are subtle differences, though.

The newly constructed (ca. 2008) Busan Fish Market

There is an entire aisle devoted to seaweed. It is dried and compressed into sheets of various sizes, from postage stamp to full human length. Koreans mainly use it to make "kimbap", which is like sushi. You lay out some seaweed, cover it with rice, and then various fillings like meat, fish, or vegetables. You then roll it up into a cylinder, approximately 12"long and 1" in diameter. Slice into pieces, and that is a meal. I enjoy having kimbap for lunch every once in a while. The price is more reasonable than the usual hamburger and fries, and it is filling, too.
There are also differences in the kinds of vegetables that are available. Koreans' favorite accompaniment to any (and every) meal is kimchi. It's a spicy cabbage. I’ve seen it made from a variety of vegetables, but the cabbage is my favorite. There is usually an island in the produce section where they make and display the various kimchis.

There is a lot of fresh fish available; any kind you could imagine, and some you could not. Squid and octopus are big sellers, and they are usually displayed live (in tanks) so you can be sure it's fresh.

Yes, the department stores are convenient, and have just about everything you could want, but the real "Korean Experience" demands that you go out and shop at the open air markets that are in every corner of the city. Some of them specialize in dry goods, furniture, food, what have you. There are some very good deals to be had, if you know where to look. A person can spend a whole day just wandering around, seeing the many sights and sounds. Buying something becomes a secondary consideration.


There are some interesting corners that some people might want to avoid. Really fresh meat and poultry in the form of caged ducks, chickens, and rabbits should not be confused with pet stores. I remember walking around the Chil-sung market (in Daegu) with my friends last summer. We rounded a corner deep inside the market, far from the main thoroughfare. There, laid out for display was a freshly slaughtered dog. How fresh do you ask? The muscles were still twitching.

Yes, the Koreans do eat dog. Some of the people I have talked to do not see anything wrong with it, and are nonplussed by some western reactions. There was even some talk of setting up dog-meat booths at the World Cup venues in order to introduce foreigners to this local delicacy. One foreigner, a teacher I believe, wrote a letter to the Korea Herald, denouncing this intention in a near-hysterical rage. I have not heard if the booths were set up. Maybe more PR-conscious heads intervened.

These open-air markets have been a staple of the Korean life-style for hundreds of years. Many of the structures look as if they have been there that long. People continue to flock to them, just as many go to the more modern establishments. This combination of the old and the new, makes for a fascinating experience for the traveller willing to explore beyond the beaten path.

Year 2 - Some Winter Observations

Howdy

It's beginning to look a lit like Canada here. We have had more snow this winter than last. By Korean standards a LOT more. By Canadian standards not that much. Not even enough for Toronto to call in the army. ;)

The snow started in the wee hours of the morning. It kept up all day. At times it was really being whipped around by the wind. Even then, it still wasn't that bad as the lowest temperature was around 1 Degree celsius. The ground was more slushy than anything else.

The problem started when the sun set. Now the streets and sidewalks are a sheet of ice. I saw several cars that crashed on the way home. One woman went up on the sidewalk, hit a tree, and split the front of her car right into the radiator. She was alright.

Some people here put chains on their tires when it snows. That is, when it snows heavy by their standards. It is still strange to see vehicles with chains on their tires. Mind you, they have no salt or sand trucks so they need chains.

You will still see women walking around in their usual footwear though. I am amazed they don't fall more often. Walking on ice wearing high heel boots and shoes just doesn't make sense. Then again, they do walk up mountains wearing them too.

I had no problem walking home. A little bit of slipping and sliding, but nothing worth worrying about.

Take care
Flint

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Shit Morons Say ... about Mixed-Race Children.

Data confirms that mixed race children are less intelligent.

20% of mixed race children fail to graduate from middle school. Almost half can't even get past high school. Activists blame Korean society for being racist which is completely untrue. These kids are borderline retarded by Korean standards
.

Intelligence is part genetics part environment. Mixed race children lose out on both. The father is an uneducated laborer/farmer/loser who did poorly in school and was was too stupid to make a better life for himself(which is why he needed to buy a mail order bride). The mother comes from a third world country whos national IQ average is around 80. Her family is so poor and stupid that they had to sell their daughter to a complete stranger whos old enough to be her father. Both parents are genetically at the imbecile level. Both parents tend to have terrible values(the mother is a prostitute) which they will surely pass on to their kids.

Ummmm, yeah Settt, no racism there. It reminds me of comments he made in another thread about the parents of mixed-race children.

The worst of the worst breeding so that they can create the next generation of sub human trash who will end up populating Korea.

Disgusting, unhygienic middle aged laborers with oily skin and low intelligence marrying gold digging prostitutes who are willing to sleep with anyone they can get their hands on in order to get out of their shit hole of a country. You have two low IQ individuals breeding so that they create subhuman offspring who will then be educated on how to be a loser/prostitute just like their parents. You don't just inherit your genes from your parents, you also inherit some of your intelligence and personality from them. Its sad that these people are so determined to have children.

He considers their children to be subhuman. But he isn't a racist. Then another KKKlucker, Vitamin200, joins in the first thread I mentioned.

Mixed-race children are also more prone to genetic diseases.

Really? He knows this because he is a geneticist? A doctor? A misanthrope? At least he does openly admit he is a racist. Which was no surprise.

Then Sett posted this gem

**Edited my post**

Alright maybe I did go too far but my point still stands. I don't want Korea turning into a poor south east asian country. This entire situation is just infuriating.

So what you saw at the beginning was his edited post. A supposedly less or non-racist one in his view than what he originally posted. Wow. What a bunch of racist fucktards.


What the ... rising racism?!?!?!?!

A friend sent me a link to a Korea Times article titled "Xenophobic groups grow more vocal". It wasn't a big surprise. Nutjobs call for a similar approach to foreigners in South Korea as the terrorist/murderer in Norway. You just have to look at Korea Sentry and the fucktards that hang out there. Korean Netnazis are all over the place spouting their bile when something gets their panties in a twist.

What caught my eye was the message forum following the article. They tend to be more interesting than the articles. One post in particular jumped out.

Koreansentry (14.200.73.34) 07-26-2011 20:20
Say No to immigration, because it's plague to Korea. Let's keep Korea clean, I personally don't want to see Seoul turning into another Paris, LA, NY and London. Increase in foreign immigrants means racial tension and riots. Is Korea ready for all this?

Yes, it looks like Herr Consoleman posts on the Korea Times forums as Korea Sentry. The best reply to him was from someone going by the name thankswww.

thankswww (121.190.181.232) 07-26-2011 21:24
Koreansentry: Your IP address says that you are in Australia. Are you seriously complaining about immigration to Korea, while at the same time being a Korean living in a foreign country yourself? Why do Koreans become so proud only after they ditch their own country for greener pastures?

It is funny to see someone enjoying the life of an immigrant in one country speaking out against against immigrants going to his Fatherland.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Shit Korea Times Writes ... using English improperly..

Change of lifestyle causes adult disease to women

The Korea Times, Worst in the Nation, continues it's long tradition of bad English. What a horrible fucking title. It reads like something Herr Consoleman would write.

This is an English language newspaper that has been around for quite a while. Yet mistakes like this always seem to crop up. What, they can't invest in a proof reader who can actually comprehend English? Probably because their "reporters" are too busy ripping off UFO stories from other media sites.

Living In Korea

Korean Adventure (June 7, 2002 Chautauqua)

A foreigner, coming to Korea to teach English, is a bit at sea on first arrival. It's a foreign country, where people speak a different language. If you don't know anyone, there's only the staff at your school (or "hagwon") to rely on. Sometimes this can be a blessing, as I have met some really good people over here.
I remember when I first got off the plane, I was met by my director and his assistant, who oversaw the teaching staff. They loaded my luggage into the car, and took me for a drive through the nighttime streets of Taegue. Korean cities at night remind me of Las Vegas somewhat. It's not quite that gaudy, but it's close. Koreans like a lot of signage on every available space. The neon lights and banners with the strange symbols are everywhere. It's pretty, but you don't know what they mean.

The street entrance to my second con-apt building.

Eventually, we arrived at the apartment I was to share with another teacher. I was so tired after travelling, I just hit the sack for a couple of days. Most hagwons provide their teachers with housing. Some of it is shared, and some teachers are provided with a place of their own. The apartment I was sharing had an entranceway, where all shoes are left. Koreans only walk around in special house slippers, and leave outside shoes by the door. It's very bad manners to wear your shoes in the house.

The courtyard inside the street entrance. The door into the building leads to a hallway. My door was the last on the left.

The common areas of the apartment were the bathroom, the TV room, and the kitchen. The bathroom had a sink, a toilet, and a shower attachment on the wall. There was no tub, and there was no shower curtain. There wasn't even a drainpipe attached to the sink. The water just emptied onto the floor, and down the same drain as the shower water. I had to get used to not keeping my feet well away from the sink when I returned to Canada.

The door to my con-apt from the inside. The "kitchen" is to the left.

In my last two apartments, I have not even had sinks, just a combination tap and shower sticking out of the wall. It's a bit odd at first, but you get used to it, and even enjoy the space that a whole "shower room" affords. There are even separate slippers that you wear in the bathroom, just to keep your feet out of the water that's there after your shower.

The door into my bathroom. Just a toilet and a tap/shower attachment.Note the fan in the lower right corner. This was just before they installed an air conditioner (my first in Korea).

Sometimes the washing machine is installed in the bathroom. I haven't lived in an apartment like that yet, but I know people who have. One girl even had an electrical outlet almost directly beneath her shower head. Yikes!

The door to the storage room at the rear of my con-apt.


Inside the storage room, with the washing machine in the foreground.


The modern Korean dryer, the latest in technology!

The television is an adventure, as well. There are about 70 channels. Most of them are Korean, naturally, but there are a few movie channels that show English films. There are also American sitcoms shown on various channels. "Friends," "Third Rock," "Seinfeld," and "Married, With Children" just to name a few.

The TV in my second con-apt. The bulge on the top is a VCR. This is before my first computer and the joys of downloading.

There is also the Armed Forces channel, which shows all the regular programming available back home. There are no paid commercials, just service announcements that the GIs film themselves. Some of them are fairly amusing in their amateurishness, and we all get a good laugh at the (unintentionally funny) antics of the American Army.
The kitchen area has a fridge, some counter and cupboard space, and a two-burner gas range for all of our cooking. One of the things I have missed over here is baking or roasting some of my favorite foods. But Korean cooking is very good, and I have no problem with the local delicacies.
Now, the school looks after the rent, but the teachers are responsible for their own utilities. This means TV, water, electricity, and gas for the cooker. There is also a fee for the oil heater. This heats up water for the underfloor heating system (called "ondol"), and the sinks and shower. Unless the school's troubleshooter instructs you on its proper use, you can have trouble getting enough hot water. I remember we had that problem until we figured out which buttons to push, and what dials to turn. Since then I have had no trouble with getting enough hot water.
The only rooms left in the apartment were the two bedrooms. My first roommate had the bigger of the two, which I got when he moved out after one month of our sharing the place. I got another roommate a few months later, and he was a good guy. We really got on well, shared the cooking, and hosted some good parties. Since then, I have had only single apartments for myself.
Next time I will talk about shopping, cinemas, and beer. Mmmmmmm, beer.
----------------------------------------------
I remember that first nighttime drive. It seemed everywhere I looked, there was a flourescent orange cross. I wondered just what I was getting into.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Year 2 - Rainy Days

Another one from the e-mail box.

*****
Howdy

Last week felt like rainy season came early. It was cold, rainy and gray for the most part. We caught some sunny breaks Tuesday, but that was it. It started raining Thursaday night, and poured until Friday evening. Which made for a nice nights sleep, but it REALLY messed up everyones Friday morning.

We usually take our Kinder Kids to the park for an hour instead of being in the classroom on Fridays. I also have an extra hour with another Kinder class on Fridays. Having the break of going to the park makes the day go by faster. Instead we were classbound. Luckily it stopped by the evening, so going out Friday night was fun.

It was also testing time thursday and friday. We give evaluation tests every few months. This week we do evaluations to send home. Sometimes they are...interesting to write. Most of the parents don't understand English so it can be a bit of a waste.

Next weekend we have a 3 day weekend. I am trying to get to Panmunjom if I can. If not, I might go to Kyeongju. The only problem with going to Kyeongju is there will be hordes of kids on school trips for the weekend.

May 5th is Children's Day here, hence the upcoming 3 day weekend. Kids get the day off of school, which is a pretty major event here. The 8th is also a holiday, it is Buddah's Birthday, or the Festival of Lantern's. So the week of May 5th we only teach 3 days. Well, 2 and a half since Wednesday is always a half day. :)

Time to go watch a movie.


Take care
Flint

*****

Hagwon student evaluations, testing, and report cards, also known as a fucking waste of time unless the student is good. I know I have mentioned this before but what they hey, the horse ain't dead yet. ;)

Except for my good boss, we were NEVER EVER supposed to tell the parents anything negative about the students. They all had to be little geniuses. Nothing with a score of under 70 was sent home either. They were not meant to be an honest evaluation of the students ability. They were just supposed to make the parent believe their child was doing well and progressing.

Before the testing Korea teachers would prep the students, often with the answers. Which let you know just how wrong the level was for many of the kids when they still did poorly on the tests.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What the ... abusive power?!?!?!

A friend sent me a link to a Korea Times article about bloggers. It was titled "The Abusive Power of Bloggers".

My first thought seeing the title was "Yes. finally, they will take a piece out of the net nazis and assholes. They will expose the way these idiots try and ruin peoples lives and in the end give Korea a bad name. Then I thought, "Yeah right, and monkeys might fly out of my butt. This is the Korea Times after all. That means they will probably go after bloggers who say anything negative about Korea." So, with that confusion in mind I decided to look further than just the title of the article.

The piece was about bloggers who promote products and companies for a fee. Often shilling shitty defective products to the gullible while trying to look like a neutral party. That is abusive power?

Well, yes it is. After all, an inordinate amount of Koreans do seem to believe what they read on the internet. (Much like my Grandmother and so many others believe what the National Enquirer says.) One just has to look at the "Mad Cow" bullshit to see that.

So, the article is right. I was ready to jump all over it for being a deceptive title. However, it just looked at a different aspect of the abusive power of bloggers than what immediately sprang to my mind. Both types of idiots deserve some ... special treatment.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Shit Morons Say ... about having a disabled child.

“We would rather leave our baby to die if he has to live disabled. That will be good for him,”

This was said by the parents of a premature baby in Seoul. They are refusing further treatment that would allow the baby to survive. The hospital is seeking an injunction so they can operate and save the child.

The child's intestine ruptured during a surgery. If the latest surgery isn't performed the baby will die of peritonitis and blood poisoning.

The parents don't know if the child will end up being disabled in any way. They just don't want to take the chance. I could kind of understand it if the doctors said there is 99% chance your child will be a vegetable. But they don't say that. People like them don't deserve to have any children.

One of my nephews was premature and had complications. There was a chance he could have had problems but he didn't. He grew up to be a healthy "normal" person. If he hadn't, his parents still wanted him.

I have to stop here because anything else I write could be a tad unfair and very harsh.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Shit Morons Say ... to Delude Themselves.

"Flint, you’re an intelligent guy, but it’s obvious debating isn’t really your thing."

Bwahahahahaha ... John actually thinks he is debating!?!?!? If debating means you act in a condescending manner, spam, harass, and generally act like a dickhead then John would be considered a great debater. If we are basing it on reality then he is just a troll.

Year 2 - Playing Tourist in Seoul

Another one from the old e-mail bag.

*****

Howdy

Since I have been feeling better I have become more active, and remiss in writing.

Last weekend I went to Seoul. It was a blast. I didn't get to stay at the hotel I had planned on, but the one I did stay at was a 3 star and very nice. It even had a Captain Kirk toilet seat!

Right now you are probably thinking WTF? In Korea high tech Western style toilets seem to be all the rage. You can buy add ons to make them more comfortable or functional. The one at the Pacific Hotel was such a toilet.

There was a control arm on the right side of the seat. You could start the bidet, heat the seat, and there was even a blow dryer for after using the bidet. (Yeah, I know, I was thinking the same jokes well before I typed that. ;)) The instructions on the use of the toilet are posted on the wall across from it, in both English and Korean. I almost lost it laughing when I read the part about being able to warm the stool. It meant warming the toilet seat, but of course it has that double meaning. I am still chuckling thinking about it.

I played tourist a bit while in Seoul. On Sunday I visited a couple of sites. The first was Tapgol Park. It literally means Pagoda Park. The name is due to a 10 story marble pagoda that resides there. It is surrounded by a metal and glass protective barrier which is pretty ugly. The pagoda isn't actually 10 stories tall, it has 10 different stories or levels. Some are large some are smaller as you get to the top.

The park was also the site of the start of the March First Movement. On March 1st 1919 Sun Pyoung-hui and other Koreans opposed to the Japanese occupation drew up a Declaration of Independence. Two days later it was read publicly in the park and thus started the Independence Movement. Thousands of Koreans were tortured and murdered by the Japanese for daring to dream of being their own country again. There are several statues and monuments commemorating this. The main monument contains the text of the Declaration in both Korean and English. I was going to visit the park on March 1st, Saturday, but it would have been too crowded.

After touring the park I met up with my friend SJ. She took me to a place called UnhyongUng. The site is considered Historic Relic Number 257 by the Korean Government. It was the private residence of Prince Regent Hungson-Taewongun ,who was the father of King Kochong, the 26th monarch of the Choson Dynasty. King Kojong lived here till 12 when he rose to the throne. Taking the reins of government, Prince Regent Hungson-Daewongun made it the main center of politics during the late Choson Dynasty. Currently, the Unhyongung, reduced in size and facilities, contains only Noandang Hall, Noraktang Hall and Irodang Hall.

Irodang Hall was a place for women only. Men were not allowed to enter. The building itself is square shapped, with smaller entrances to prevent men from entering.

While the area was small compared to other spots like GyungBukGung. However, it had a lot to offer. Unlike some areas you could look into almost every room and they were occupied! Mannequins were done up in period dress, and artifacts from the era were in place. This really made the place feel as if you were seeing it as it looked during the Joseon era.

It was a strange contrast in style to see this old building surrounded by modern ones. All in all it was a good way to spend a Sunday.

This week we start a new year for the kindergarden classes. There are a lot of new students. We are also starting a new curriculum for some special classes. That will be keeping me busy as we get used to the new schedule and content.

I will try to write more often.

Take care
Flint

***

I had forgotten all about the Captain Kirk toilets and blow dryer. :) Yes the info for the tourist sites was taken from tourist sources. :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Inside The Korean Classroom

(May 17, 2002 Chautauqua)

I can still remember the fear I felt when I walked into a classroom for the first time. It was just this morning.
Seriously, I can now feel fairly comfortable in a classroom. When I first started, I had no experience aside from some labs I took in university. I was expecting to receive some kind of direction from the school that I was working for, but all they wanted was a native speaker to give the kids some exposure. How you spoke, and what you did to capture their attention, was pretty much left up to you.
Now the morning kids in the typical Korean "hak won" are pre-schoolers. They have no attention-span to speak of, and the Korean teachers keep them in line through fear. It's not corporal punishment, so much as the shame of being made to stand against the wall with their hands in the air.
The most profitable way to keep their attention is to be a bit of an entertainer. One teacher likened it to performing like a professional wrestler. You have a flashy entrance, some music and movement to attract attention, and a lot of loud vocalization to keep the kids centred.
The first class I teach in the morning are five-year-old boys. They are probably the most difficult to handle. They are more pre-occupied with making sure that their pencil is the longest in the classroom. It's harder than it seems, as the pencils also have to be sharpened after each individual letter is written. These points are then inserted into the erasers and broken off, necessitating more sharpening, and on and on in an endless cycle.
My next class is composed of 7-year-olds. I share that class with a Korean Teacher, and we do story-telling. I read the story, and the kids repeat my words until they can tell the story in English. The Korean teacher, Jenny, translates the words into Korean occasionally, so the kids can better understand the action. I also teach the kids phonics every other month. The other foreign teacher, Aurora, is doing that this month.
My last class in the morning is 3-4 year-olds. There is not too much I can do with them but colour, and try to introduce some English letters, numbers, or words along the way. These kids are very sweet. One boy, David, is like a pudgy little doll. He usually has a big smile on his face, and the other kids play with him as they would a doll.
The afternoon kids are elementary and middle-schoolers, ranging in age from 7-15. When I was in Korea last year, I had to do quite a bit of prep work each day. I was expected to draw up a syllabus, and do lesson plans. My first school had limited resources, and I relied on the Korean teachers for direction. My second school was a bit better organized, with teacher's manuals, games, and supplements that made planning a lesson so much easier.
The school I am at this year does not require me to do any prep work. I just walk into the classroom and the Korean teacher shows me a couple of pages in the book to do. The Korean teachers do not even leave the room. Some of them do a little interpreting of what I am saying, some do work on their own, and some sleep.
They work long hours, and I do not envy them. They are all young women, in their early twenties. There are not a lot of opportunities for women over here. It is very much a man's world, though it is slowly changing.
Some of the afternoon kids can be a little bratty, especially once you start dealing with teenagers. But most of them are very smart, and are keen to interact once the initial shyness (on both sides) has worn off.
Usually, the earlier in the day it is, the younger the kids are. Some of my last classes of the day are composed of 15-year-olds. These are kids that speak English fairly well, but need some help with polishing, grammar points, and forms of language. I've gotten a bit better at deviating from the book if a line of inquiry opens up, in order to expose the kids to as diverse an experience as I can.
It amazes me to think how far I've come from those first days, and how much more I have to learn about teaching. Although I can do a pretty basic lesson without too much thought, I hope I can learn enough to be of more use to the kids coming to me for knowledge. I'm working for them, and I want them to "get their money's worth".
------------------------------------
Even tough I sound pretty confident about my abilities, I never really shook that fear that I had going into a classroom for a long time. And now that I've been out of work so long, I think I've forgotten how to teach altogether!

Year 2 - Party Time and Observations

Another one from the 2nd year E-mail bag.

*****
Howdy

What a wild weekend, and it is only saturday morning.

I had no classes until Friday afternoon and evening. My friend Sunny got back from the Phillipines. So, we had a welcome home party for her Thursday night. That was fun. Wine Sum Kyub Sal (bbq pork) and lots of soju. Sunny is a really nice person and a good friend. We ended up going to Albatross for a while before ending the night. It was a good time.

Friday I went to Seowon Middle School. My friend CS is a teacher there. We were supposed to go out for lunch at 11 AM. I agreed to go see the festival being put on at the school before lunch. It was actually interesting. They had art exhibits by all the students, and in the new gym there was a variety show with traditional and modern acts being performed by the students.

We had bori-bop for lunch. It is barley, rice, and vegetables. It is also very delicious. The only down side was the Christers we met. There were 2 ajummas sitting at the table beside us. They started talking with CS. Their conversation quickly turned to religon, they wanted to know if I was Christian. I should have said nothing, but I said so-so. Then they wanted to give me religous literature and have me come to their church on a sunday. They were very persistent and annoying. I played nice and didn't say what I wanted to.

This is one of the big problems I have with most Christians over here. If you say you aren't a Christian they want to convert you. If you say you are they want to be your church buddy and drive you crazy. The ones who are that bothersome don't take subtle hints to stop, you have to be rude to get them to shut up and leave you alone. And that doesn't always work.

He wanted to go to a nori bang after lunch. Since I had a few hours to kill I said sure. After getting there he invited a couple of female friends to join us. I barely made it to school in time for my first class. Classes were literally starting when I got there.

When I got into my class the kids looked at me funny. One of them ponted and said "Flint Teacher, pe! Pe!" and pointed at my face. Pe means blood. It wasn't blood, it was lipstick from one of CS's friends. I had to go clean my face off before I could start class. Luckily the director and other teachers didn't see that. ;)

After work there was a staff party. Two of the Korean teachers had birthdays, one thursday and one friday. Plus there is a new teacher, from Ireland. So it was a combination welcome and birthday party. It was also my welcome party. They did have one planned for me, but never told me about it, so I didn't go. ;)

You have to keep something in mind about going out with colleagues. At my old school it wasn't just frowned on, it was actively discouraged. The director and her husband were mormons and didn't drink. They also didn't want the Korean teachers and staff fraternizing with the foreign teachers. They wouldn't say anything to us, but they would call the Korean's into the office and take them to task. Especially if they thought they were getting "too close" to a foreigner. So, we rarely had all the staff out together, and it was always a sedate sort of affair.

At Ivy School, the director and her husband don't mind us all getting together. In fact, they join in! They want everyone to party together. Last night was a blast.

We started with dinner, sum kyub sal. That included champagne for the birthdays, soju, and beer. Except for one teacher who was ill all of the foreign teachers were there. Most of the Korean staff was there too. It was a fun meal, very relaxing and a good way to get ready for the rest of the evening. The director picked up the bill. They ended up paying for the entire night!

After eating we went to a bar called Jjocki Jjocki. It is a nice place, for a western bar. There is an outdoor area with a big waterfall fountain. In the summer you can sit out there and drink. We drank a lot of beer and vodka coolers there.

After several pitchers and coolers we went to a nori bang. The room we got was huge. It had to be to fit all of us. I have been to a nori bang with small groups of people, never with 12-15 people. I expected it to be like the smaller groups, but I was pleasantly surprised. Everyone was up and joining in on songs, dancing. It was a lot of fun. We spent a couple of hours there.

Our group broke up after that. Most people headed home, it was almoost 1 AM. 6 of us decided to go to Casanova, a night club. I hadn't been to one in all my time in Korea. It was a fun experience. Yes, I was dancing. :) One of the Korean's I work with is very shy and quiet ay work. When she is out patrying she is pretty wild. It was a great night out.

So far I like this new school. :)

Take care
Flint

******

I am pretty sure I mentioned the incident with the Christians in another post. While out to lunch with a friend I ran into one of the bitches again and she tried to ruin our lunch with Christ talk. My friend got rid of her. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What the ... answer?!?!?!

A commenter recently posted asking a question about John.

"Why does he troll these sites?"

My answer was a simple one. Boredom. Which to me is very plausible. I know I tend to focus on things more when I am bored and need entertainment. Like Korea Sentry or John. While I am talking about their stupidity and hypocrisy I tend to talk about it more than really needed because I am bored and it gives me something to do to while away the time.

According to John he does it for nobler reasons.

"Burndog, these people have disrespected me, a country I love (and the home country of my wife) LOOOOOOOOONG before I was here calling him stupid."

He does it because he loves South Korea and his wife is from there, oh and people disrespect him. I guess he sees himself as protecting Korea from bad mouthing. He likes to think he is doing them a service by attacking ... or in his mind educating or schooling ... those who "disrespect" South Korea. In the end, when he ignores reality, he gets told off and that angers him. Remind you of any other defenders of Korea?

He really doesn't seem to understand why people are "disrespectful" to him. When reasons are pointed out, like the way he treated a 1st time commenter on David's blog, he ignores them. His reasons for acting the way he does explain getting upset and pissy but it doesn't really explain the trolling.

Of course, John doesn't believe he is a troll and can't understand why people think he is.

"He says "I'm trolling," because I make multiple attempts to get my point across, which is responded by these fools as "trolling" from the get go."

I call it trolling because ... it is. Hell, it actually fits the definition of trolling. As in a previous thread, I have to wonder about John's ability to use a dictionary. If you have been making multiple posts, usually saying the exact same shit over and over, it is called spamming. It is something trolls do, especially when it is just used to incite or irritate. In fact, let's look at John's own words from David's blog.

"Kid, despite how much I’ve hated you and spammed you and made fun of you, I’ve shut you up and forced you to think countless times."

John admits to making hateful posts and spamming. He posted under many different "names" when moderated. He follows David to other sites, like here, and continues it. Why the fuck would we NOT think he is a troll? By his own admission he IS a troll. Which leads one to wonder if he is being disingenuous or just flat out being a liar when he gets upset and pretends not to know why he is being called a troll.

In some ways John reminds me of me. We both have a propensity for showing our asses when pissed off. The difference being I will admit it. Just like I can admit when I have been wrong and hopefully learn from it. John doesn't seem to do that, instead he increases his trolling. Or acts like a child.

Why a child? Often it all comes down to an infantile "I win" from John. "I've beat you!" "I kicked your ass." "I've shut you up." "I'm done with you." "You keep provoking me!" "They disrespected a country I love." "They disrespected my wife's home country." (Not his wife, her home country.) Sometimes it seems like he is just playing a childish game. Hence my reply of boredom being his raison d'etre.

In some ways John reminds me of the idiots over at Korea Sentry. The trolling. The rabid defense of the indefensible. The denial of reality.

Why does he troll these sites? Maybe he really just has nothing better to do.

What the ... shake up?!?!?!?

According to an article in the Joongang Daily the cause of Techno Mart shaking has been identified. The shaking was felt on the 20th floor and up, not below. Prime Group, the owners of the building, say the shaking was caused by 17 middle aged people exercising. They were doing Taebo in a gym on the 12th floor.

Really? That is almost as hilarious as the Norks blaming the poor performance on players being struck by lightning while practicing in NK. They are going to bring in experts and have a demonstration to prove that is the cause. It should be interesting to see their results. :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

One of the best Cab Drivers.

The talk on Burndog's is centered around Cabbies right now. Of course, I had to chime in about having wanted to smack some Korean cabbies around. Mr. Spock replied and got me thinking about cab experiences. I don't want to hijack Burndog's thread so I figured I would post this here, with a link to his post that started the thinking process.

Mr. Spock (oh and this is a different Spock, not my buddy/co-worker from Korea) got me thinking about cab experiences. It brought to mind one of the best cabbies I have had hands down anywhere in the world I have been.

It was the day before Buddha's birthday in my 2nd year and I wanted to go to one of the temples and see the floats they have for the parade in Cheongju. I was actually supposed to meet "my" Spock there. I hopped in a cab and gave him the name of the temple. The driver was pleasant but had no English. In my bad Korean we talked a little and he drove off.

It turns out that there are TWO temples with the same name. One by the "river: and one on the mountain. I had no idea about that, or which one I wanted. The taxi driver managed to get me to understand the problem. I wasn't able to get a hold of Spock to find out which temple.

The driver started asking some of the taxis on the road around us which temple had the floats. He wasn't getting anywhere so he pulled over. Then he shut off the meter and got on his phone. It took him about 5 minutes or so to find out which temple was the right one. He flipped the meter back on and drove me to the temple by the river.

Talk about great customer service. It only cost 5000 won to get there, not counting the time the meter was off. I thanked him and made sure to give him a healthy tip. You don't encounter people, let alone cabbies, that willing to do what he did. And most cabbies would never have shut off the meter. One of the best cabbies ever.

Latest Flint's Follies Post

I couldn't decide if the latest post on Flint's Follies should have been there, here, or both. It started off about Japan but was also kind of about Korea. So I figured I would just cross post it. :)

Year 2 - Medicinal Blues

Another moldy oldy from my second year.

********
Howdy

Not a lot new going on. I have been pretty sick for the last few weeks.

I picked up a virus about a month ago. My throat got infected, and it wnet to my head. Normally it would clear up and be gone in a few days. Unfortunately it is just starting to go away.

I went to the doctor as soon as it hit. He gave me pills which helped to a point. The symptoms would start to go away, and then come back with a vengeance. Nice things like chills, fever, sweats, coughing so much you throw up.

Saturday I went to the doctor yet again. The symptoms were back, worse than before. This time I found out that he was giving me penicillin as an anti-biotic. I am allergic to penicillin. The doctor either didn't hear me the first time I saw him, or didn't understand when my Korean co-worker told him I was allergic to penicillin the second time I saw him, or it lost something in the translation. Regardless, he put me on it and over the span of a month kept increasing the doseage. Which is why I kept getting worse. I was reacting to the penicillin, and the virus wasn't going away.

Now I am off penicillin and on eurythrimicin. The virus is starting to fade and the pennicilin is getting out of my system. Life is getting back to normal, there is a staff party friday night. :)

Take care
Flint

******
The moral of the story is that you have to be extra vigilant when getting medical treatment in a foreign country. If I had checked the pills out that I was given I would have found out they were penicillin. Unfortunately, every pharmacy gives you the pills pre-packaged for daily consumption. Which is great is some respects but in this case, if I had the bottle, I could have seen the name of the drug or checked it out more easily.

I Hate Rectangles

Styles come and go. In the Eighties, glasses used to be huge. There was enough extra lens for at least another pair. And then, in the nineties, glasses got smaller. They became these little rectangles that reminded me of the pair that Roger McGuinn of The Byrds used to wear.

I bought that style, and wore it for about 10 - 15 years.
When I became a public school teacher in Daegu, the teacher at the school closest to mine had pretty much the same pair. We also shared the same goatee, but there was not too much else that we shared. He was taller, thinner, and had more hair.
Let's call him Ass, because let's face it, he was one.
Halfway through the school year, the department in charge of the foreign teachers in Daegu, the DEIEIO, took us all to Angang for the day. Ass didn't make the trip. Somebody had to sit it out, and he drew the short straw. It was a great trip and we all had a terrific time.
BUT...
When I was getting off the bus at the end of the day, the (Korean) head of the DEIEIO said to me, "Goodbye, Ass!"
At first, I thought, "Do we really all look alike to you?"
He was properly apologetic when I gently pointed out that he had mistaken me for another babo waygookin, and we all went back to working harmoniously together until they fired me for trying to kill a Korean English teacher.
Before my year there was over, I decided to change my looks. Not because I would have to go on the run, but I had been brooding after that Angang trip, and I decided I didn't want to look like an ass.
So I shaved off my goatee and went glasses shopping. There is an underground mall in downtown Daegu where there is a huge section chock-a-block with Ankyong (glasses) Marts.

I decided to go for some circles, not because I was a fan of Harry Potter, but because I was a fan of John Lennon. I even brought along a picture of him wearing his iconic "granny" glasses, just in case the clerk didn;t understand my lousy Korean.

I showed him my prescription, requested my style, and it seemed like no time before I was walking out with my new specs. They cost me, frames and all, only 50,000 won.
Affordable eyewear is one of the things I loved about Korea.
I continue to wear my circles, but I notice that I haven't started a trend. Everybody else is still wearing those fucking rectangles, and I'm really starting to get irritated. Did you ever look at somebody wearing them and want to rip them off and stomp them into the mud? Tune into Global Calgary's evening news program and take a look at the male anchor, Gord Gillies. A more squint-eyed ferret-faced little git does not exist. And those fucking rectangles! Does he really think he looks good?

I snort in disgust and roll my eyes.
Well, until the rest of the world catches up to me, I guess I will have to go my solitary way. So far ahead of my time, I'm starting to catch up with it again.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Blast from the Past: Dunkin Donuts Boycott

I was talking with my brother David about coffee and South Korea over Tim Horton's coffee and cigars last night. It got me thinking back to my frustrations with Dunkin Donuts that led me to boycott them for a while. I can't remember exactly how long it lasted but it was more than a couple of months.

This afternoon I was looking through old emails and found one I had sent to a friend venting about the stupidity I was encountering just trying to get a cup of coffee in SoKo and my DD boycott.

Here is the email, some more commentary will follow after it.

****
Hey bud!

You know that not much pisses me off more than someone screwing up my coffee. Dunkin Donuts in Korea is useless. Any Dunkin Donuts I have gone to in Korea has caused problems. I am not complaining about language skills, that would be stupid. You can't expect everyone in a foreign country to understand English. unfortunately, they even seem to be able to understand Korean here at any of the DD's I have gone to. There are so many reasons I am pissed off at them.

You go in and order a large coffee with cream. I don't like sugar in my coffee. I like large not regular. I don't want Americano (black) I don't want Original (cream and sugar). I want a large fucking coffee with cream. Not black. Not cream and sugar. It should be easy to get, right? Wrong.

They constantly fuck it up EVEN WHEN YOU ORDER IN KOREAN. I have gotten a small Americano, regular Original, coffee with 2 cream and 2 sugar, you come up with a way to fuck it up and odds are a DD's in Korea has done it and tried to pass it off to me as what I ordered.

They just can't think outside of the fucking box. In the box you have Original and Americano. Nothing else exists in their world. Try to go outside the box and they just can't wrap their tiny minds around it. Go help you if you want something a little different because they just can't ceop with it in Korean or English. I have had Koreans go in and order my coffee and they STILL get it wrong. Havign your first coffee of the day ruined by some moronic shit stains sets a bad tone for teh rest of the day.

Then you have ordering food. I liked getting their bagel sandwich. I hate sweet mustard and sweet pickles. Of course that is standard on most Dunkin Donut sandwiches of any type. I ask for them with no pickles or sauce, in Korean, and 9 fucking times out of 10 it comes back with one or both of those on it. Then they will try scraping the mustard off and then giving me the sandwich.

It must be a Dunkin DOnut thing because I NEVER had a problem with the McDonalds in YongAm-dong screwing up my burgers. I hate ketchup and pickles on my burgers. They never once fucked up and gave me a burger with that on. Evidently my Korean is good enough for McDOnalds to understand but not DD's. I think the problem is that they just don't pay attention to what you say and/or they aren't trained that well. Or they are just a bunch of fucking morons.

Then you have another problem. If you don't watch them, and stop them, they will half fill your cup with brewed coffee. THEN they will add hot water to the rest. Fuck me! I don't pay fucking starbuck prices for Dunkin Donuts coffee that is half watered down. That happened and every DD I went to. Sure, after a while, you can train them not to do that. Usually by the time you train them, and we are talking months here, someone new starts working there.

They would actually swear black and blue that they don't do that. Then turn the fuck around and start doing it. My co-workers would get coffee, tell them about my problem, be told it doesn't happn, and then the person who just told them that would fucking do it. Are you a bunch of fucking morons? Survey says ... yes.

So, the last few weeks this bullshit was going on almost daily, plus sundry other bullshit. Bullshit like how slow they are. Even when they aren't busy they tale too long. One friend just wanted a cup of black coffee takes 5-10 minutes with NO ONE in front of you. Last week I waited 25 minutes for a fucking cup of coffee. When I had come in the waoman was pouring coffee for some customers. There was at least a cup left. When I ordered she dumped it out. Which can be a good thing, fresher is better, but it took 25 fucking minutes! People were coming and going while I waited. It should take 5 minutes to perk a pot of coffee.

Then what happened when she actually started making my coffe? She half filled it and started adding hot water. What the fuck?!?!? And at that point I lost my temper.

I have had enough. I'm boycotting DD in Korea. I will not be buying anything from them anymore. I may go sit on the patio if my friends want something from there but I won't be getting anything. I have just had enough of the stupidity. I will tell all my friends not to go to DD. It will be a cold day in hell before I ever go there again.

I hope you guys enjoy your Tim Horton's. Wish I was drinking it now.

Take care
Flint

****

I decided to give Dunkin Donut's another shot after a few months. Two factors helped me come to this decision. First was the fact that it was hard to get good coffee or coffee service anywhere I went in Korea at that time. I remember trying to get a coffee with cream at Te Amo, which was right beside work. When I asked for coffee with cream no sugar they started putting whipped cream in. They actually had no cream or milk to put in coffee. Although they did have milk to make lattes with, but couldn't be arsed to put it in a coffee. Angel's In Us did the same sort of nonsense. So, no matter where I went for coffee, there was too much fuckery.

The second thing was a change in managers at the Dunkin Donut across from where I worked. I didn't expect anything to have changed that much but you never know. It turns out she made a big difference. The odd problem still happened but they were few and far between. not like the constant bullshit that caused me to start my little boycott.

Thus ended my boycott which probably had no effect on their business but made me happy.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Top Ten Ways To Amuse Yourself In Korea

Korean Adventurer (May 3, 2002 Chautauqua)

The Top 10 Ways to Amuse Yourself In Korea

This list was sent to me by my friend, Blondie. It provides some insights about what life in general is like over here.

10.) Play chicken with cars on the sidewalk. This is a fairly common occurrence. Koreans park just about anywhere they damn well please. Cars, motorcycles, and bikes take advantage of any opening anywhere, road or sidewalk, to beat the traffic. I remember walking home from the store the other night, and I heard an engine behind me. I was almost up to a space between two other parked vehicles, and I didn't bother moving aside, as I thought the space was too small for the following vehicle to pass through. I was startled to hear the motor continue close behind me. I looked, and was confronted with the smallest car I have ever seen. It gave new meaning to the word "compact".

9.)Order Steak and Potato with Fiddleheads at EVERY Korean restaurant. I'm not exactly sure what this means, as I've not had this particular delicacy. I think it makes reference to the fact that "fiddleheads" can make you sick if you're not careful. It's not really funny, as there was a story in the "Korean Herald" last week, saying that the food in six different fast food chains (KFC and McDonald's among them) had tested positive for staph infections in the foods. Bad news for westerners who do not like Korean food.

8.) While sitting in a public spot, pretend to catch a fly with chopsticks. Celebrate loudly. Koreans are intensely interested in everything we westerners do, and do not hesitate to stare when they so you. They also like to examine the contents of your shopping basket. It's nothing hostile, just innocent curiosity.

7.) When something is said by one Korean to another that is slightly amusing, laugh hysterically. Don't stop. Well, this is just plain mean. Hee hee hee.

6.) Stand outside a Korean electronics store where the TVs are playing. Pretend to understand every word. Again, just mean. The kids in my school get very excited when I display any knowledge of their language, and it is difficult to stop them from testing me, and turn the lesson back to learning English.

5.) Remind a Korean man that he is short. Do this repeatedly. Be prepared for an a** kicking. It's true that there are a lot of short people here, but they are also very thin. One of the first things that struck me when I returned home last year was how many obese people there were, myself included. Most Koreans like to get out and do some regular physical activity, for which they should be commended. Also, there are quite a few who are as tall, if not taller than some westerners.

4. Convince them that both of your parents are Korean (oh yes, it can be done). The trick to arguing with Koreans is to remain calm at all times. Once you lose your temper, you've lost the argument.

3.) Wear Japanese flags. The Koreans really are very touchy when it comes to anything Japanese. A person who makes a reference to the "Sea of Japan" will be provided with the correct title, the "East Sea". There has always been some tension in their relations. Last year it was some textbooks, approved for use in Japanese schools, that did not deal adequately with Japan's conquests and behaviour during it's Imperial phase. It only just got smoothed over when the Japanese premier paid a visit to the shrine for Japanese war dead. Some of those memorialized are considered war criminals over here, and the visit has cast a pall over the upcoming joint Japanese/Korean hosting of the World Cup.

2.) Go to the cinema. After the preview for a Korean film, pump your fists in the air and yell, "I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE THAT!". Actually, there have been some very good films made here recently. A few years back, a film called "JSA" won an Academy Award for best foreign film. It was a tense thriller about a South Korean soldier accused of murdering some North Korean counterparts. Another film, called "Friends", dealt with four rookie firemen that featured some thrilling firefighting scenes.

1.) Fix something. It always seems like there is something to be done when foreigners move into their (school-supplied) apartment. Usually, it's fairly simple to make it seem homey. My friends and I have managed to make our places comfy enough to be a close substitute for "home". We are convinced that we are the only ones to take the time and trouble. Some of the people we've had as room-mates have been less than...clean. Oh well, it takes all kinds, I guess.

Anyway, there is a lot more to tell about life in Korea. I hope I have not rambled on too long, and I hope you look forward to the next installment. Until then, anyong assayo (Peace be with you).
________________________________________

Ask Flint about the shopping basket thing, and then duck.
My description of the movie "Friends" is erroneous. It's actually about four Koreans who grew up in Busan. One became a cop and another became a criminal, with tragic results.
I remember helping Mick and Jane clean an apartment after another teacher had left. The filth was indescribable. I remember scrubbing layers of grime off of the tile in the bathroom and wondering how anyone could stand it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

What the ... Dokdo Related Stupidity?!?!?

I was perusing ROK Drop today and noticed his post about the latest Dokdo stupidity.

Korea Air flew their brand spanking new AS380 Jumbo Jet over Dokdo. How is that stupid? It isn't. An airline, so long as it isn't violating an laws, is free to fly it's inaugural flight where ever it wants. The stupidity followed.

The Japanese got their panties in a bunch over the flight. An e-mail was sent from Japan's Foreign Ministry to all it's diplomats telling them that they were to boycott Korea Air for 1 month, starting Monday. Seriously!?!?

That is one of the most retarded things I have heard in a while. It makes you wonder if the Japanese Foreign Minister or Prime Minister (whichever moron in charge ordered this stupidity) had too much sake.

Shit Morons Say ... about themselves.

"I’ve never taken your words or the words of others out of context."

This was said by John, aka AnonyJohn, aka Anonymous, aka a variety of names on David's blog. He is still trolling around there declaring victory. It is kind of strange to hear him claim that he has never taken anyone's words out of context considering shit he has said here as well as on David's blog.

"Yet, you douches are the only ones comfortable with calling people derogatory terms like “ricetards,” peasants, mooks (clever play on the word gook?), and etc, but you get butthurt when you get criticized for it?"

He all but accused me of using mook in place of gook as a racial slur. Instead of being a man and flat out making the accusation he tries to be subtle and imply it.

You know what I do when I encounter a new word, or an old one I am unsure of? It is something I learned to do as a child. I look it up in a dictionary or ask someone what it means. Sometimes I do both to make sure I know the meaning. John should learn how to use a dictionary before pointing fingers.

Oh fuck it, I know the 'tard is too lazy to look it up. A mook is term I learned watching American gangster movies and television shows. It refers to someone who is ignorant in the true sense of the word (not knowing), selfish, rude, or a combination. Some define mook as an insignificant or contemptible person. It has nothing to do with the derogatory term gook or being Asian. Talk about using a word out of context. Mook does seem to fit John.

"You said that as if stereotypes are things only Koreans do, or that the stereotypes created in Korea are somehow worse than ones made in your country."

John made that comment on this blog as Anonymous. Yet no where in my posts did I say that. Something he had to admit to after Eve brought it up. But hey, he never takes the words of others out of context.

"“Korea used to have more diversity in wildlife, but tough times and a growing population have depleted their numbers. ”

So did England, America, Scotland, and every other first-world nation. You are stupid and yes, you are a bigot."

AnonyJohn posted this gem on David's blog. However, he left out something. Right after the sentence David wrote that JohnnyBoy zoned in on David mentioned that EVERY COUNTRY does it. By leaving that out John opened the comment to criticism and used it ... OUT OF CONTEXT. But he never does that, according to John.

What happened when this was pointed out to John? Did he reply by doing a mea culpa? Did he apologize for leaving that out just so he could attack David and seem justified? Of course not, that isn't John's style. His reply was to continue what he said he doesn't do, use things out of context.

"You were trying to argue that Korea is uniquely hostile to wildlife or something, as opposed to other first-world countries."

No, actually he said that Korea like every other country is hostile to animals.

I suppose he would say he never makes shit up either. However, he did just that when he accused me of writing a post titled "Retarded Shit Koreans Do". No such post or thread exists on my blog.

And John still wonders why people think he is a moron and a troll.


Stig's Second Year - The Adventure Begins

This column originally appeared in The Chautauqua, and describes my return to Korea for another year of Morning Calm and Afternoon Difficulty.

Korean Adventure (April 19, 2002 Chautauqua)

I took off from Calgary on Monday the 8th. It was cold and there was still a lot of snow on the ground. As I write this, it is raining in the city of Taegu, South Korea. Saturday was brilliant sunshine, just really nice. I had been in the country about three days by then, and I went to visit my friends, who were holding a "Welcome Back" BBQ for me.
I rode the bus across town, for almost an hour-and-a-half. The Koreans have some pretty good roads, and some are dire, and you have to sque-e-e-e-e-e-e-eze your way through. The problem with the good roads is that everybody uses them at once, so sometimes traffic can be frustrating. You can always amuse yourself by watching someone head for the sidewalk and scatter some pedestrians.
Anyway, I finally got to my friends’ place. Allow me to introduce them. The one that's been there the longest is Mick Dundee, an Australian from Perth, who was my roommate from March until May last year. He's a good guy, down to earth in that way some Australians have.
Then there's Blondie Bumstead, a Canadian from Ottawa. She gets loaded with all the dumb blonde jokes we can lay on her, but she's really smart and funny.
The third person is Jane (who's last name escapes me), who turned up after I had left. She's pretty quiet (like me), but can surprise you with a quip, and has a passion for all the candy she can get her hands on.
All three have apartments in the same building, so they're pretty close to each other. You have to have someone to rely on and trust when you're this far away from home, and these guys are the best.
The Koreans have these cunning little BBQs, that hold small charcoal bricks that ignite with the touch of a match. Or that's the theory. Sometimes they just smolder, and only slowly build up enough heat to cook on. We had a pretty ordinary western type of meal: steaks, salad, potatoes, washed down with beer. Just a group of friends catching up, and relaxing from a week of teaching the kids at school.
Aaaaah, the kids. A story for another day...

My new school was in I-dong, which is on the west side of Daegu, while my original posting (and my old friends) were in Jisan-dong, waaaaaaaaay in the southeast corner. I would visit them there maybe once a month, but usually we'd meet downtown and go to the Rock 'n Roll Bar, or the patio at Berkely.
You know, I look at pictures of the old gang, and remember that these were people that I was quite close to at the time, but now we've drifted apart. I hear from one of them, maybe once a year. The others just stopped responding to my e-mails.
It's a shame.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Year 2 - The Latest Happenings (at that time)

Howdy

Just as there are Tabang Girls, it turns out there are Nori Bang girls too.

If you remember, a nori bang is a singing room. Basically, a private karaoke room for you and your friends. If you don't have any friends who like to sing the Nori Bang can provide you with a "partner" for a nominal fee.

Sunday I went out for supper and to a nori bang with a friend. He decided that we needed "partners" to sing with. We ended up with some very cute partners who could also sing in English quite well. Mind you they couldn't speak it. It made for an, um, interesting night out. :)

My classes are pretty good. So far my kindergarden is one of my favourite. They are cute, and so much fun. It doesn't matter how bad my mood might start out, they can always make me laugh and smile. Tomorrow we are going on a field trip to make ceramics, and for lunch. It should be fun.

I also have a 2 pretty good middle school free talking classes. They are fun, although one is more fun than the other. Sometimes they lapse into Korean a bit too much, but that is to be expected.

My other classes are vary. One which I find ok is supposed to be the worst class there. It is all boys, late elementary school, early middle school age. They can be crude at times in their joking. But they love the Simpsons, so we can relate that way, and sometimes their jokes are actually funny.

Yesterday I had a fight break out in one of my classes. That has never happened before. One boy grabbed a marker from another, that boy grabbed it back. The other boy punched him, he punched back, and then I grabbed them both in a hand and lifted them out of their seats. They got to spend the class with the director after that. What can I say, it was a Monday.

Take care
Flint

What the ... referral?!?!?

Taking a page from some other bloggers I sometimes check out how people found this blog.

It seems that the number one search, be it google or yahoo, that brings people here is .... can you believe it .... "what the kimchi". Or some variation of that such as "whatthekimchi" and even once "what the klimchi". For some reason this blog always appears as #1 on the list for this search.

People have also been referred here by searching for "stig in Korea", "korean sentry racist", and even "cheongju". None of which surprise me.

The strangest referrals I have seen are "koreans put kkk", "korean asking permission", and for some strange reason a Yahoo image search for "no KOREAN allowed".

Nothing as interesting as the referrals Burndog gets but some strange ones nonetheless.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My First Column

When I went to Korea for my second year, I began a column reporting on teaching and travelling in Korea and the surrounding countries. These stories first appeared in The Chautauqua, which circulates in Central Alberta. I'll be reprinting these columns here and in Stig's Silly Walks. The stuff about Korea will appear here, and the stuff about other countries will be found on SSW, unless I'm channeling Flint that day, and do the opposite.

Teaching English in Korea (February 1, 2002 Chautauqua)

By Alan E. Johnson

In the summer of the year 2000, I was working as a security guard in Calgary. I had graduated from university, but was unable to find a job that suited me. Security paid the bills, and gave me time to read. But it was a dead end, and I had been looking around for something better for quite a while. I had tried to get jobs teaching English in Europe and China, but they fell through.
Then I met another guard who was going to Korea. He gave me a handout that answered questions about applying for a job, the various procedures to go through to work in another country, and an address to contact a recruiter. A lot of the work can be done via the internet, which makes it easy for people in different countries to communicate quickly.
In no time, I had a variety of offers from recruiters in Canada, the U.S, and Korea. Eventually I settled on what seemed to be the most straightforward of the offers, and got my papers together. I had to submit copies of my university transcripts, a certified copy of my diploma ( the Korean Embassy in Vancouver handles that), and a copy of my passport. Koreans put great importance on a person's appearance, so a photograph is a must. No one seemed put off by my appearance, and a contract was faxed to me.
There is a website run by the Canadian government that offers some advice about working in Korea. They make it clear that a lot of what you do is at your own risk. Koreans don't see contracts as something that they have to adhere to completely. They place more emphasis on the personal agreements that people make face to face. A contract is just a guide that can be ignored if better terms can be arranged.
There was a lot of work to do before I was ready to leave the country. I had to quit my job ( that was a lot of fun!), put some of my things into storage, sell the items I no longer needed, and move the rest to my folks'. My parents were an invaluable source of help and inspiration in this. They were very happy to see me get out of the rut I had been in. It was a very emotional farewell.
I must admit to a certain amount of trepidation as I flew half-way around the world. Wandering around the airport in Seoul ( my pick-up was late), I wondered if I had done the right thing. That feeling never really left me the whole time I was there. A new teacher is not really given any extensive training - at least I wasn't - before being placed in a classroom.

Taegu from the southwest. Taken from the "mountain" behind my first con-apt.

The school I landed at was in the city of Taegu, the third largest city in Korea ( approx. 2.5 - 3 million population). It was part of a chain of schools that go by the name of "Wonderland". When I arrived, there were three other foreigners there. I was rooming with one of them, another Canadian by the name of Phil. He gave me a lot of useful information, but he was wrapped up in personal problems, and I had to learn a lot of things for myself.
I was given a couple of days to watch the other teachers in various classes before I was given my own students. There are no words to describe the fear that grabs you in that situation. A lot of what I did in those early days was made up as I went along. To tell the truth, Taegu Wonderland is not a very good school. Their curriculum is poorly organized, and there is not a lot of support for a new teacher to rely on. A person has to look inside for the resources he/she needs.

Taegu Wonderland (3rd and 4th floors)

The main reason that foreigners are there is to provide a resource for the children to listen to. All I had to do, really, is go into the classroom, start talking, and not stop until class was over. The children needed to hear English being spoken in order to get used to the rhythms and be given corrections about pronunciation. The hard rules about grammar points and spelling would come from the Korean staff.
The Korean teachers were young, pretty women. There were four kindergarten teachers, who did not speak very much English at all. Their task was to get the children used to the school rules, where the bathrooms were, when lunch is; the usual day-care sort of tasks.
The pre-schoolers (cute as buttons, all of them) came to the school in the morning, and were there from 10:00 until 2:30 in the afternoon. At that time, the elementary and middle school kids came in. Those classes went from 3:00 in the afternoon until 7:30 at night. The same kids were not there all that time. There were three sets of kids who changed "shifts" every 90 minutes. In those 90 minutes they had two classes, one with a Korean teacher, and one with a foreigner.

Changwon Wonderland in building indicated.

There were a variety of textbooks that were used, and the Korean teacher usually controlled how fast or how slow the books were used. After a while, I began to rely less and less on these books, and on my own resources. The books became a guide as to what I was teaching, and I grew more confident about discarding the less helpful parts and giving the children more substantial instruction.
In the time I taught in Wonderland, I saw a complete turnover in the foreign staff. The teachers who were there when I arrived moved on when their contracts were completed, and sometimes before. The act of leaving early came to be known as "doing a runner". I knew five different teachers who for one reason or another decided to move on before their contracts were fulfilled. Some were a bit overwhelmed by it all, and decided to return to the "real world". Some were merely taking some time to travel and experience a bit before they took up "real" jobs.
Living over there became easier as I became accustomed to travelling around the city by myself. I really began to enjoy my time when the new teachers arrived to replace the old. We formed a gang, and we relied on each other to help us through the tough times. We found that we could get together and talk shop, take instruction in the Korean language, and generally have some fun. It was a lot like being back in school. There was less "responsibility" in our profession, and we were able to have some fun with it.
Exploring the country, experiencing a different culture, is just one of the perks of the job. I was able to see the remnants of a civilization that flourished at the same time Christ walked the earth. I was also able to see first hand one of the few remaining places that the Cold War is still being fought.
The Korean people are very friendly once you get past their initial reserve, and I made some good friends that I am looking forward to seeing once I return. Yes, I am returning - if I can sort through the many jobs available - and I hope to see the people who I came to regard as my second family. One of the jokes I heard before I left was that I would probably bring back a little Korean wife. That didn't happen, but who knows who'll come back to Canada with me the next time? I'm working on it.

Well, there you have it. My first year in Korea, encapsulated in just so many words.
It left out just how difficult those first months were, and just how bad it was, working for Wonderland. I came this close to doing a runner myself, but I stuck it out and was glad I did. By the time the year was over, I began to feel comfortable in the classroom and in Korea.