Monthly Archives: January 2008

Your Daily Shot of Soju:…

So, I had a bunch of stuff to talk about today.  Then I went out with some friends and drank too much.  Tomorrow is my friends birthday so it’s not looking much better.

This probably has a story somewhere in all of it.  However, I’m not going to think about it now.  I have the hiccups and they’re pissing me off.  So I think that I will hold my breath for like 60 seconds to try to get rid of them.  Then I will drunk dial Rachel and probably get in a fight.

have a good night kids

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Your Daily Shot of Soju: 5 reasons learning Korean sucks, Teaching News, and The Greatest Music Video ever!

“Your Daily Shot of Soju” is 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:

Story 1:

There were three words. Three simple words, uttered not to me, slowly and sequentially, that led me to briefly think “wow, maybe I’m starting to pick up on this Korean language.” Then she rattled off, by my count, 300 words in the span of 10 seconds. I then begin to wonder “Does the itch on my left ankle constitute a valid excuse to leave?”

Story 2:

A group of women spoke to one another as I looked down at my plate of food. I pretended that the steam rising from their bowls of rice could capture their words the same way a can of aerosol can capture those red security light beams they use at banks. At the end of the meal one of the women looked at me looking down at my, now empty, plate of food. She asked me in Korean if I my food was delicious. I answered back, in Korean, that ‘yes it was.’

You know when you see a puppy do a trick you give it a treat and act really excited? That’s probably the closest analogy to describe the way I felt then. Only I probably received more ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs.’ Also, I didn’t get a treat.

Story 3:

She came into my classroom early in the morning, before classes started. She asked if I knew where my co-teacher was. I answered in Korean that I didn’t know. Stupid me.

I forgot that using one word in Korean signifies to the listener that you are perfectly fluent and are completely prepared to listen to their favorite story from yesterday. I wonder how many times I smiled and nodded before she realized I had no idea what she was saying? I counted to 6 then got distracted when she gave me a piece of candy.

Needless to say, learning Korean on the fly has been both humbling and humiliating. Rarely does it stray towards confidence building and a sense of pride or accomplishment. Without further ado, the 5 hardest things about learning Korean.

5 – A monotone voice. The Korean language puts no stress on any syllable. This seems like it would be easier than another language that puts the stress on different syllables but it’s not. Try speaking without changing the tone of your voice for a couple minutes and see what I mean. It’s boring as hell. The only way to spice up the language is to hold a syllable a little longer than others. This makes me sound like a 15 year old girl complaining that I need a new car on my 16th birthday because ‘I’m a good daughter, and I deserve it.’ Furthermore an inflection on a syllable means that what you’re trying to say will not be understood by a native Korean speaker.

4 – Taxi Drivers. These are a serious impediment to my self confidence when it comes to speaking Korean. Let me give you a snippet of an exchange I had with one the other day

me: Seongbuk Yok (Seonbuk station)

Driver: (blank stare)

me: Seongbuk Yok…um…Sangbuk Yok

Driver: Sinimun?

me: No, Seongbuk…Seongbuk

Driver: OOOOOOHH Seongbuk

God damnit.

3 – Word changes. There are a million ways to change a word. You can shorten syllables. You can add certain syllables. You can combine it with other words. This makes it incredibly difficult to listen to what people are saying, even when they are using words/roots that you know. Of course, if they know you know the word Malhaeyo, they expect you should know how to say Malhadudae or Malulhada. They get upset when I don’t.

On a piss off related note: If you mis pronounce any of these syllables in the slightest they have no idea what you are saying.

2 – Double consonants. DD is different than D, but is pretty much the same as T, which also has it’s own letter. SSayo is different than Sayo, and constitutes 4 separate meanings between the two of them…one has a more breathy sound to it. L vs. R. We make fun of Asian people for mispronouncing them, they make fun of me FOR pronouncing them at all.

1 – This blog.

Special honorable mentions:

Sentence structure, which makes everything I say sound eerily reminiscent of Yoda.

Then the Subject vs. Object markers that go in the middle of sentences that are pretty akin to the female and male classifications given to words in the romance languages. Meaning that they have no rhyme or reason for going on certain words and they definitely make you sound like an idiot if you don’t use them correctly.

Visual Stimulation:

I was looking through my pictures and realized I’ve worn lots of funny hats here in Seoul. This can’t be a coincidence.

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Piece of Pop culture I’m diggin today:

The fact that members of boy bands here live in the same house and are not allowed to have girl friends. This makes for a slew of amazing innuendos and some great t.v.

Also, it helped create this music video. I don’t even want to ruin it by making any comments. Besides, I don’t think the word Gay/feminine really covers it.

BUT PLEASE…FOR YOUR OWN BENEFIT WATCH THIS VIDEO…at least 4 times

Piece of pop culture I miss today:

Does having a sense of what the goals of my job are count? Cause I sure as hell miss having some of those.

A Slew of Education News:

For right now I’m also going to reserve comments on these because I think these deserve their own post.

Korea is thinking about integrating education into it’s entire curriculum by 2010. Including Math and Science.

Most teachers oppose this move. Not a surprise since this could mean their jobs.

An article discussing the failure of the Korean education system in effectively teaching conversation English.

More than 1/2 of foreign teachers in English schools lack proper teaching qualifications.

Maybe these qualified teachers aren’t coming here because Korea kind of sucks when it comes to helping foreigners adapt.

News not necessarily related to English:

Seoul is designating 6 spots as foreigner areas. Like a China Town or American Town.

The Chinese hate Koreans more than they hate the Japanese…and the Japanese tried to colonize the Chinese!?

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Your Daily Shot of Soju: How to avoid getting killed by your dead ex-girlfriend with long black hair that covers her face?

“Your Daily Shot of Soju” is 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.

Movie Review; Pon (Phone) – 2002:

I suppose that girls are crazy. In fact I don’t suppose it, I know it. However, a little bit of craziness has never bothered me. Crazy people care. Crazy people are interesting. Crazy people have relatively interesting stories. I expect this from crazy people, and in fact I guess I’m a little crazy myself.

What I don’t expect from crazy people, girls particularly, is for them to haunt me in the event that we break up. This is a theme in Asian horror movies. Shutter and the Grudge both explore this crazy ex-girlfriend theme very well. So it was that I watched the Korean scary movie “Phone.”

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The movie revolves around a female journalist who is decidedly not that crazy, at least in this movie. She has changed her phone number and is trying to find a new place to live. She does this because she has exposed the shady, childish underbelly of the Korean sex industry and her safety might be at risk, an idea underscored by the mysterious phone calls and snuff film emails she begins to receive. Let me save you some time though, this part of the plot has nothing to do with the actual story. The last time I felt this way about a huge chunk of a movie going absolutely nowhere Al Pacino was watching Apollonia blow up in a car.

Of the “crazy ex-girlfriend coming out of mirrors and having really long black hair that covers your face” genre it definitely isn’t as scary as The Grudge (especially the Japanese version) or Shutter. It’s actually fairly predictable in many (read; most) parts. But I have often wondered, what possesses a girl to go so crazy as to haunt someone she previously loved. This may seem like a fairly ridiculous question, but as someone who tends to enjoy dating girls who have a history of crazed behavior, it hits home to me. Are the guys they haunting amazing in bed? Are they just really funny? Are the girls just incredible losers who can’t find anybody else?

I suppose that if I were to take the “Scream” scary movie rules and apply them to the “crazy ex-girlfriend coming out of mirrors and having really long black hair that covers your face genre,” then the following rules would apply;

1. don’t date girls who are losers.

2. don’t date girls who are your grad students or are still in high school, especially when you are 40 years old and are already married/engaged

3. don’t date girls with really long black hair.

4. don’t (and this one is important) let your friends rape your ex-girlfriend and then take a picture of it with the camera that she bought for you

5. don’t buy a house for your girl on the side…love motels exist for a reason.

6. DON’T promise her ANYTHING…this will come back to you…and will  probably foreshadow your death

7. Don’t be funny. And finally

8. Don’t do anything that will make her happy in bed.

I’ve followed these rules my entire life (except 3 and maybe 1, depending on how I’m feeling) and I have yet to be haunted. Moving on.
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So should you watch this movie? I liked it because I like scary movies in general. So if you also like scary movies, there you go…but if you don’t still watch it.

If for none other than this reason. The little girl in this movie is the most chilling thing I have seen in a long time. She carries every single scene she is in, and she’s only 8. This includes the most frightening scene of the movie when she becomes enamored with her porcelain dolls. She’s almost too good. When you watch her in one of her final scenes she, so completely, blows away every thing else the movie has to offer that I felt like giving her a standing ovation…the problem is, when you’re making a scary movie you want the audience to be frightened of the creepy little girl with the grin rather than in awe of her.

If you’ve never seen The Grudge or Shutter, I suggest you watch those. However, if you really want to see a girlfriend who gets a little too clingy too fast, this is the movie for you.

I suppose that the ex-girlfriends in all of these movies were wronged in their own way. But enough that you decide to haunt your offenders for the reminder of their short lives…especially when it’s like 5 years after the fact…this I don’t understand.

Either way, I made Rachel promise not to haunt me if we ever break up. She was non-committal.

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Visual Stimulation:

After writing the above I found the scene at the end where the little girl basically tells every other member of the cast “I’m better than you, now get me a cookie.”

Piece of pop culture I’m diggin today:

Lack of facial hair. I’m not saying nobody in Korea has it, I’m just saying there’s not much of it.

Over the break I grew whatever type of beard it is in me to grow. Admittedly this is not much compared to some of my friends. But because there’s so little of it here, today on the first day back of school my kids were freaking out over it.

Better yet, I actually frightened a couple girls. I may never shave.

Piece of pop culture I miss today:

Supermarkets that sell things other than groceries. The light bulb in my bathroom burnt out and now in addition to being extremely cold it’s extremely dark. I can’t take a shower after 6 p.m.

There are supermarkets every 15 steps. I can’t find any place, within walking distance, that sells light bulbs. Maybe I’ll steal one from my school.

Other things in my apartment that are broken:

The key pad to my apartment building. Not the lock to my actual apartment but the one that allows people into the building.

My TV. It keeps jumping and skipping. I have to reset it every ten minutes or so or the screen goes blank and a picture of a well in the middle of an open field appears…really annoying.

My washing machine. If I put more than 3 shirts in it, it gets too heavy with water and tilts. Also I keep finding clumps of long black hair in it.

My mirrors. They keep reflecting these two little oval shaped lights back at me. And sometimes, if the light hits it just right it looks like theres a shadow behind me. This makes it very difficult to shave…if I would ever do it.

More video clips from “Phone.”

This music video shows pretty much every worth while scene in the movie. And more of the little creepy girl. I know, I’ve kind of ruined the movie for you now…if you were actually going to watch it.

Consider this a favor…

Watch Shutter Instead:

Good movie. Scary as hell. You won’t look at pictures or neck cramps the same way again.

And to top it all off the storyline is pretty on-point. I actually understand why this ex-girlfriend is pissed as hell.

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I’m bored…let’s check out Matt’s Blog!

I added an events and activities page at the top.  I’m still playing around with the format, so bear with me.  If you hear of anything cool that you think should go on the site or have any suggestions for what you would like to see, let me know.  I’ll try to update the events page at least twice a week.

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Your Daily Shot of Soju: I’d rather be finger painting

“Your Daily Shot of Soju” is 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.

The responsibilities of a 11 year old include; shoveling the driveway, raking the lawn, and shutting the hell up:

It was the last day of winter camp. It was supermarket day. As a final party we had gifts and snacks that the students could buy using fake money that we gave them. Our only expectation was that they use some English phrases in the transaction process.

It was with a grimace that she gave me the fake money and said “This is too expensive.” On one hand I was glad she was using English but with my other hand I wanted to smack her upside the head. You could have said something like “I’ll buy it,” or “I would like to have 3 pencils.” My classroom is not a bargaining culture. So I looked at her and told her that if she’d like I would give back all her fake money and she could give me back all the real snacks and school supplies she had bought with it. I doubt the point I was trying to make hit home, in fact she laughed.

This has been a hallmark of my interactions with the students at my school. The phrase I hear most often, more than any phrase I taught in any of my classes is “give me candy.” I have gotten used to the lack of please and thank you, culturally they are not usually included unless there’s a strong feeling attached to it. What bothers me though is that the students expect me to simply give them something for nothing.

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I wonder if this behavior is indicative of the culture in general, just my school, just my class or just a few noticeable students? After all, I remember the ones that piss me off much more than the ones who don’t. I have to remember that just because a few students act like jack asses this does not mean the entire culture is like this. However, as most empirical or philosophical evidence explaining Korea’s culture is written in Korean, I am left with only anecdotal evidence to draw my conclusions. Actually when I think about it, this type of behavior is probably indicative of most children, of any culture, in general…at least those who have been born with some sort of entitlement.

“Matt, go out back and pick up sticks so I can mow the lawn” – My Dad

“Will you pay me?” – 9 year old me

“No.” – My Dad

The students drew me a picture of myself. It was a goofy picture. I had the body of a world class wrestler and the face of a monkey. My nose shaped like a pig at the bottom. Above all, my head was huge, it alone took up 3/4 of the picture. Three students worked throughout their break time as a joke. A girl, who was not involved in the creation came over, took a look at it, and drew a big X through the middle. She wanted to draw me a picture that actually looked like me. selfport.jpg

I’m reminded of a time in elementary school when I knocked down a building of blocks that another student had built. I laughed for a moment, then spent the next 20 minutes in time out while the other students finger painted…holy crap I loved finger painting. I made it a point not to break others creations from then on out.

1997: 6:30 in the morning, it was snowing outside. I had just walked back from finishing my paper route. I slung my gloves and hat on the floor and was getting ready for breakfast. Dad walked right past me towards the garage, picked up a shovel and handed it to me. He went back inside to eat breakfast and read the newspaper. When I got back in I had earned the right to read the comics section. Oh Calvin…that tiger isn’t real…but Calvinball sure seemed like lots of fun.

Students here do not have jobs until they get their career. Until they get married children live with their parents, living off their parents income. My co-teacher has a job yet, since she has no husband, still spends no money on rent, food or any other necessity. Every penny she makes on her own is her spending money. As someone who’s had their own job since they were 12, this is difficult for me to accept.

True, I didn’t study as much. I suck at science and math, but damnit, I know what sustaining myself feels like. I know that when someone gives you something for free you don’t complain. And I sure as hell know that when someone else makes a building out of blocks you don’t knock it down.

I wonder if it’s part of my responsibility here to teach lessons such as this. I know that teaching in America I’m not only encourage to give these sort of life lessons in my spare moments but it’s almost required, as it seems many parents want their children to learn it but are too afraid to teach it themselves. Here though I’m not so sure. One of the first instructions I was given by my new school is “never get mad at your students.” Not that I’m an angry teacher, and in fact I hate even raising my voice and my teacher voice comes off like a 16 year old boy who just broke up with his girl friend and is trying not to cry, but what if the students deserve some scolding or life lesson? On the flip side all of the Korean teachers carry sticks and are allowed corporal punishment. I’m confused.

I guess I’m becoming just like my father. Maybe next I’ll make them go out back and pick up sticks so I can mow the lawn. Except they don’t have lawns…or a driveway to shovel…no wonder homework is such a big deal.

Visual Stimulation:

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It’s a sculpture of a giant hand. Did you expect something else?

Piece of pop culture I’m diggin on today:

Winter camp is done. Winter camp is done. Winter camp is done. Winter camp is done. Winter camp is done.

Normal school starts tomorrow…dookie poop pants on a stick 😦

Piece of pop culture I miss today:

Concerts. I know Seoul has them but not any of the type I like. Where’s my Bonaroo? Where’s my Lollapalooza? I want to camp and lay out on a dirty ass lawn, surrounded by hippies while I chug down the liquor I snuck into the show and chase it with my 5th beer of the day…at 11 in the morning.

News and links of the day:

Seoul is making it easier to be a foreigner living in Seoul. They are opening a one stop building that will help you get credit cards, insurance, drivers license, etc. You know, all that stuff your school/co-teacher was supposed to help you with but probably didn’t? They are going to have a homepage up soon. The moment they do I will prominently link to it on this site.

Want plastic surgery? Come to South Korea! Seriously, they want you to come here and get plastic surgery. I’d talk more about this but I feel this deserves it’s own post. Expect one hopefully this weekend.

Yah it sucks, but it’s comforting to know that it’s not only the United States that sucks at disaster relief for it’s citizens.

The Korean version of YouTube…owned by…um…YouTube. (guess where the video below came from)

Ninja Vs. Breakdancers…kind of like “You Got Served” but if it was an actual fight one side would definitely quarter and disembowel the other side:

Does this remind anybody else of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers?

Well:

That it’s for the Daily Shot til Monday. Check back, before then, though for a new “Events” page, for sure, and maybe some other random posts, depending on how I feel.

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Your Daily Shot of Soju: Things that make sense- Barry Sanders, flash videos, and Jay-Z; Things that don’t make sense – Everything else

“Your Daily Shot of Soju” is 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:

The guy pushing me out of his way as he left the subway hit home the point. It wasn’t already enough that I just realized I missed my stop, I’m kind of dense and need physical confrontation to make me seriously evaluate anything, so for this I thank him. Also, I had zoned out and didn’t even realize I had missed my stop.

This is not my city.

In a way, this is good. Having grown up, and then gone to college in the same city, I began to feel a sense of ownership. The city is mine. Jigga coined it more perfectly than anybody else I have ever heard. “Mannerisms of a young Bobby Deniro.” Coincidentally, “Reasonable Doubt” is the one Jay-Z album I can listen to anymore. Even though later on he may have had more sway and swag, he never understood his city the same way he did on his first album. With every album following he was viewing the city as one who is removed, rather than one who is. Similarly, I will never understand my home town the same way again.

Startling as this has been I am far from being alone in my boat. There are many, not just in Seoul, but I assume around the world. You can never really find yourself until you are forced to look at yourself through the eyes of another culture. Or maybe you never lose yourself? The rules of universal remarks are lost on me and I find myself replaying Jigga lyrics in my head over and over again and it’s really messing with my train of thought. But again, “9 to 5 ain’t how I survive, I’m tryin to live life to the limit and love it a lot.” I think that applies here?

I look towards my own study of the Korean language and, while at times is the most satisfying thing in the world, is more often then not, incredibly frustrating and depressing. More depressing is the fact that once I start to become real good at the language and accustomed to the culture, I will probably leave. Maybe not, but probably. Wanderers do not own anything substantial, especially not a city.

I am reminded of this time in Sophomore Spanish when we were conjugating verbs. The basic form of Hablar, became hablos, habla, hablamos etc. Jigga was hot. We were all given mini-white boards. The teacher would read off a random verb and we were supposed to conjugate all the forms on the board and then hold it up for the class to see.

Jiggar, Jiggo, Jigga, Jiggas, Jiggamo, Jiggais. The moment I saw, bold and black on the beautiful white board, my life changed. To this day I still think it’s the funniest joke I’ve ever heard/saw, and I find myself wishing that I had the capacity to make the Korean language as fun. Perhaps, then I would stop worrying about my future plans so much and simply focus on enjoying what I’m doing now.

I guess it meant “To Jig,” but part of me wants to believe that the verb meant “to own a city.”

And just for the hell of it “Farfugnugen.” Bonus points for anybody who knows that reference. Or Schrute Bucks if you want to be down with the kids these days…god damn NBC.

Visual Stimulation:

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Piece of pop culture I’m diggin on today:

Supermarkets every 15 steps. A new one opened just the other day. I walked in and browsed the merchandise and guess what? It had the exact same stuff for the exact same price as the supermarket half a block down. Invention is the child of something or another…I know for sure, now, it can’t be necessity.

Piece of pop culture I miss today:

A real kitchen. I have a burner, a sink, and a place to dry my dishes. Making a “two slices of bread with tuna mixed with mayonnaise” in the middle of it has never been more difficult. Also I keep breaking dishes.

Eh, Maybe:

Jigayo, Jigsumnida, Jignungo, Jigasso, Jigkoeyo…eh, doesn’t have the same ring

Daily News and Links:

Google Maps is Wrong!!! This is a deal here, considering many of the mis-labeled areas are areas that wars/battles have been fought over…including on in 1999.

The Prime Minister of Canada apparently never took ‘Intro to Economics.’ If he did he would know that if one country is really good at making one thing, and another is really good at making another, then it is both countries best interest to concentrate on making what they make best. Then they trade. Why the hell would South Korea want Canadian cars anyways? I bet they’re huge (and probably don’t have GPS). But seriously, we’ll trade you cars and you give us maple syrup. The syrup they have here tastes like a mixture of sugar, water, and tree.

1000 years of South Korean history in about ten minutes. Really cool flash video.

As if we weren’t already getting our ass kicked by China and India in the auto industry, now we need to compete with them for English teaching jobs in South Korea.

Tomorrow I’ll teach them about the 2004 Detroit Pistons and on Friday ‘How to count to 81 by 2’s and 3’s, starring Kobe Bryant’:

I showed some of my kids a youtube clip of Barry Sanders today and they were mesmerized. There is hope for this culture after all.

I suppose, why not?:

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Naked babies holding a globe? It’s in the courtyard of my school.

Somewhere Julia Stiles is writing crappy poetry:

Heath Ledger died. You may remember him from “Brokeback Mountain,” but I don’t. I never saw that movie.

For now and til forever more I will remember him as ‘Sir William Thatcher.’ The peasant boy who changed his stars and became a knight and nailed the hot princess chick in his tent.

Unless of course he kills his role as The Joker in the upcoming Batman Movie. Then all bets are off.

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Your Daily Shot of Soju: Snow, Sudoku and “Woman! Get me my Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich!”

“Your Daily Shot of Soju” is 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:

So I’m back after a few days off to update the site and collect my sanity. Expect the “Daily Shot” to return, from here on out, to it’s regular schedule of Monday-Thursday.

It snowed the other day. One thing I have been impressed with lately is the lack of snow. The latitude of Seoul is similar to that of Mid-Michigan, where I grew up, yet there is almost no snow here where as there is tons of snow in Michigan. It might snow for a bit, but not much, and the amount that does fall is gone in a day or so. Right now I’m blaming it on the city’s air pollution and the heat that comes with 13 million or so people crammed in such a small space.

I’ve never been a huge fan of snow. It’s really too cold. But here it’s so sporadic and actually warm enough that I enjoy it when it comes.

So, imagine my delight when I walked out of my house (read: apartment) on Monday to see snow falling.

During my winter camp we usually give the kids a ten minute break in the middle. 3 hours of learning anything is difficult. I can imagine that learning a foreign language, taught by someone who only speaks the basics of your native language, when you’re a 9 year old boy, is especially difficult. So we give them a break.

On Monday I decided to give them a longer break so that they could go outside and play. On their way out some of the kids asked me to promise that I would come out eventually and play with them. They even made me pinky promise. They didn’t need to though, I was already planning my attack the moment I first saw the snow.

So after the children leave I waited for 5 minutes. I grabbed my coat. I forgot my gloves. I headed out the back door of the school. I collected a barrage of snow balls and I wished that I remembered my gloves. I turn the corner. I am pelted by 20 snow balls by students who were already waiting for me…lil bastards.

Luckily I’m really good at intercepting snow balls in mid flight and throwing them back at those who originally threw them. After the initial barrage of snow balls I took control. I’m faster, I’m smarter and I have better aim. Also I was now determined to make up for being the one caught off guard.

I left the kids wishing that I only gave them the regular ten minutes of break time…suckers.

Visual Stimulation:

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Groups of students play outside in the snow. Little do they know the fury of snow balls that later awaits them.

More Visual Stimulation:

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Think that’s a playground here in a park? Think again. Koreans will work out anywhere and outside facilities are found in the most random of places. I took this photo while walking through a park dedicated to outside sculptures.

Piece of pop culture I’m diggin on today:

The soduko game on my phone. Whip out a sudoku, anywhere and everywhere. Stuck on the sub for 30 minutes? That’s about one hard level and one medium level game. Ten minutes to kill between class? One medium level game and an easy one.

I pull this out all the time. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve started to run into people while I walk. I now understand how people are constantly running into me when I’m standing still in a completely open area or why they never walk in straight lines.

Piece of pop culture I miss today:

Being able to call a sandwich a sandwich. The Korean language has come to include the word sandwich, however the definition of sandwich is limited to club type sandwiches. In order to be a sandwich is has to have vegetables, meats, cheeses and fruit (which is actually really good). However, this leaves out some of my favorite sandwiches such as tuna fish and simple ham and cheese. They don’t even recognize Peanut Butter and Jelly as a sandwich. Instead, if I were to tell someone I ate a PB&J I would have to describe the sandwich as two separate pieces of bread, spread with peanut butter on one side and jam on another and then placed together facing each other. Just call it a SANDWICH damnit. Much easier.

I tried to make the argument that anything between two pieces of bread constituted a sandwich, but was told “Not here in Korea” by the Konglish speaking store clerk at the local ‘Buy the Way.’ To this I replied that the sandwich is an invention of the west and that Korea didn’t even have bread until they came into contact with Europe, therefore our definition should hold true. They were having none of it.

Regardless, I continued to argue until they finally said “Fine, call it whatever you want!”

I consider this a victory for all foreigners living in Seoul.

How bout a nice walk along the river…and a bench press or two:

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Walking along a river trail, bench presses and stationary bikes hug the sidewalk.

Your Korean News of the Day:

North Korea suspends international talks with South Korea. The article cites how the President-Elect is planning on being more stern with the north, even going so far as to with hold aide unless they comply with nuclear compliance demands.

Along the same lines, an interesting article discussing the feelings of moderates in South Korean politics about the new, conservative regime. Where as previous regimes catered to North Korean interests, avoid human rights issues in discussions, to gain ground on Nuclear weapon talks, Lee (The President-Elect) is so far talking tough…it remains to be seen if he can walk the walk, or even if he should.

“And never tell him what to do…” This is advice from the master:

A school for teaching traditional Korean values to young women in preparation for finding a husband. While women have made tremendous gains many still view them/themselves as second place in the marriage contract.

Another fun piece of advice: ” For example, saying, ‘on the way home, go to the supermarket and buy this, this and this, and don’t foget’ – you mustn’t do this…this is giving an order.”

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