Things to entertain you…I think Seoul might be a key area in the election

ntroducing “Things to Entertain you.” This is going to be my daily format for sharing random cultural thoughts, pictures and basically anything I want to in an easy to digest and read format. Expect to be updated Monday-Thursday, and probably once on the weekend.

Something for you to read:

Believe it or not, but the South Korean Presidential Election is scheduled for next Wednesday folks!

Election fever fills the air, and I even find myself donning my red power tie.

Maybe it’s because I’m so insulated from Korean political culture, but it feels like the hoopla that surrounds the American election system is largely absent here. I have yet to see any commercials for any candidate thrashing their opponent. No slow motion video montages that highlight the powerlessness of those in need to play on the guilty sympathies of those who have (not as much as the candidates). If people don’t vote here Puff Daddy will not shoot them.

Of course, every time I pick up a newspaper the front page is covered with stories regarding the candidates and their policies. Discrepancies and squabbles between parties as well as within can be read just are discussed and I’m sure that if I were to watch the Korean television news I would find much of the same. But these expected sources of news aside, the whole campaign has been a rather refreshing change of pace.

I received one packet of mail that included all the brochures for each candidate. I have received no phone calls telling me to vote. The only thing that could be viewed as even partially annoying is that in the past 2 weeks, trucks that blare music and campaign slogans have started to make their rounds through the city. But to put that into perspective, they’ve only been going on the past 2 weeks…not since 2006…which is most certainly the case in the United States. And honestly, these trucks end up being more amusing to me than anything else. Especially when they have singing children and dancing chopsticks on the video monitors that adorn the sides of these trucks.

So on Wednesday, Koreans make their way out to decide their political future. Except Rachel. She says that she doesn’t like any of the candidates that much. The only one she would have voted for dropped out a month ago. It is this particular brand of realistic, political cynicism that is one of the reasons I like her. She offered her vote to me if I wanted it.

I don’t think I’ll take it. P0litics here, much like in America, don’t really affect me. The only real affect it has on me here in Korea is that my classroom has been designated as a voting area and I have to clean everything out of my room to make way for voting booths. I doubt whoever I vote for will really change this fact.

Besides, I’d just waste my vote on a 3rd party.

Visual Stimulation:

photo071205_000.jpg

One of the aforementioned “Campaign Trucks.” I’m not sure which candidate this is for. But I liked his music…it made me want to Kimchi Dance.

Six Degrees of Korean Culture:

Maybe I should be worried about who is President of South Korea. As of right now, I am within 4 people of the current President Roh.

Me —> Kang (the drunk, sidewalk punching mathematics professor)

——> The Fortune Teller (the old, surreal man who wears a shriner beany at all times of day. Tells my friend he will one day be an American Senator, and accurately predicted the day that Kim Jong-Il’s father would die and therefore had to leave Korea for a bit)

———–> the wife of President Roh (never met her)

——-> President Roh (seen his picture)

f I’m going to get into serious trouble in this country I think sometime within the next 8 days would be perfect.

Piece of Pop Culture I Miss Today:

Going to convenience stores, where people don’t automatically recognize you. Every store in my general area is manned by a parent or grand parent of one of my students, if not one of the students themselves. Since I am the only white person who lives within a 5 mile radius they usually recognize me.

This is difficult when I need to make maybe some, embarrassing purchases.

“Honey, who did we sell the bottle of ‘Bowel Free’ to?”

“The White Guy”

I’m getting tired of taking the subway 3 stops away to avoid being recognized every time.

Piece of Pop Culture I’m Diggin on Today:

Nothin really…for the first time since I got here I kind of miss home. I’ve spent the entire day listening to music and playing FreeCell.

Reason Number 2,567 why I don’t think my students are ready to work in groups without my direct guidance:

Today we were playing a card game at the end of class that helps the students review vocabulary. A question was asked

(paraphrased into English or course, but this is basically what my student was asking me)

Student: Teacher, all the cards in the deck are organized…what do we do?

Me: Um…mix them up?

Student: Oh…OK

This question was asked on more than one occasion.

If this goes much further I’ll be expecting my own baby seal:

South Korea is hit with it’s worst oil spill ever.

I am living about 90 miles from a disaster area.

Of course, any real life situation you might deal with has already been thoroughly dissected by Zach and the gang.

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