Category Archives: Things to Entertain You

I hate people who pun the words Seoul and Soul

I haven’t been posting as much lately, sorry I guess. It’s a combination of nicer weather making me want to be outside, a preference to studying Korean rather than writing and an aversion to just posting for the sake of posting. Also, any idea I’ve had lately seems to fit into a series of posts I’ll probably start posting in the next two weeks Except for one that I’ll hopefully be able to get up tomorrow before I leave for China for a few days.

That said, a few random thoughts

– The other day I saw a man pissing on the street. Not a side alley way, not a darkened corner, but a street with traffic and people walking up and down it. I guess it says something about me that I didn’t even find this behavior abnormal. I actually thought the man had balls. I would have shook his hand had it not been otherwise busy.

– People who pun on the word Seoul and Soul bother me.

– Why do foreigners always stare at each other like we’re marking our territory?

– Myths about Koreans we can officially discard: they are efficient and they can’t hold their liquor. They do however study lots.

– Again, Seoul – Soul? Do you really think you are being clever?

– The other day was teachers day here in Seoul. This meant I received 30 cards with messages like this

From the philosophy 101 class:

Dear Teacher. Today is teachers day. You are teacher. Today is you.

From Paul, future hairdresser:

Hi Matthew Teacher. My English name Paul. Very very very thank you. I love you.

Some try to say more than they are able to:

Hi Methu. My name is UnJohng, Methu, very, thank you, teacher, health, please, bye bye

Some just need to be posted so everybody can enjoy:

Today is teachers day. Do you know? So…teacher!

And some seem to overestimate their place in my student – teacher letter hierarchy:

Dear teacher, I love you. How are you? I’m good because UMMMM….Not think! haha. And please my letter is NOT TRASH!

To Shellina

From teacher

That last one was my personal favorite. At first I thought it was to me, but then I realized it was From me and I was supposed to give it back to Shellina, so I sent it to myself…and then I got bored…

I really did appreciate the letters though, I’m glad they can write anything in English. Furthermore, considering Rachel can’t stop laughing anytime I write in Korean I guess that makes my students and I just about square.

– 45 rpm is making me rethink lots of my previously held notions about Korean music…are they an anomaly of creativity or is this the future? I have my own theories, but like every other topic I have in my head it’s being added to my upcoming series of posts.

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Filed under Korean MTV, Links and Random Thoughts, Things to Entertain You, Videos

Maybe Korea Doesn’t Need Acid

The video reminds me of Hunter S. taking a novels worth of mescaline to Vegas. While it made for an interesting read I always thought that it was a terrible decision. Vegas is screwed up enough.

Lord knows there’s enough fluorescent lights here in Seoul.

This video is also pretty fun.

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Gambling with my life

(Updated: 5/7)

I’ve mentioned before a few ways I could potentially die here in Korea, but they were all based around urban myths and fans. Hardly solid facts.

There are plenty of ways I could die in Korea. If I were a gambling man, which I am, I might even wager on some of the more probable ways. That way, my loved ones could benefit in the case of my death.

So, without further ado here are the potential ways I could die in Korea and their odds. A few rules though. The ways must be specific to Korea, so no heart attacks. Also, no myths or legends. Fan death need not apply.

Drunk Old Men – 50/1

They exist in every culture, true. However, here in Korea they take on a life of their own. They burn down buildings and harass foreigners. Dating a Korean girl does not make me a better person in their opinion.

I could definitely take them in a fight, and if push comes to shove I could just run. However, with the proper numbers and surroundings I suppose they could take me down. Or just burn down my apartment.

Which brings me to

Apartment Fires – 25/1

There are no fire escapes in my building, no smoke alarm in my apartment and there are maybe 2 fire extinguishers that are supposed to cover 7 floors. My school caught on fire a few weeks ago and not a single alarm went off. How did I know there was a fire you wonder? When ten fire trucks showed up in our parking lot.

My escape plan consists of me jumping out of my window to a tree 7 feet from my building and climbing down. I find it far superior to my “shimmy down the cable wire outside my window” plan.

Starving to death from too much Korean MTV – 10/1

I don’t have any groceries and I’m hungry. Still I have to watch the new Epik High video that just came on for the 3rd time in the past hour and a half.

Tidal Wave – 250/1

One just took out 7 people on the Western coast of Korea. However, I’m a pretty strong swimmer and Japan blocks most of the really big waves. Also I don’t have any plans of going near the ocean anytime soon. But you never know.

Galbi Restaurants – 100/1

An open burner + lots of alcohol + my face = death

Nuclear Strike – 80/1

I’ve already stated that I don’t think North Korea would ever do anything. At least not until the Olympics are done. I still am within striking distance of medium range missiles, so it has to get mentioned.

(sidenote: in the event of nuclear strike winnings will be paid out in twinkies)

Accidental Shooting – 150/1

Let’s see, Fresh Army Recruits…check

Gun cleaning and drills in the middle of my school yard on a bi-weekly basis…check

Soju…probably not, but you never know

Bullets…same

Disease – 25/1

Not necessarily from Korea, but just the other day China took measures to control the spread of a disease in it’s Eastern areas that had been killing children. I am not a child and I am relatively healthy, but mutations do occur. We share the same continent with India, Laos, China, and even African diseases could make their way here given enough time. Also, I really like chicken.

Nanobots – 300/1

You know nanobots? Those tiny robots they’re tinkering with that will be small enough to fit inside a person brain and potentially cure diseases (say the optimists)? Doesn’t it seem like Dr. Doom should be the head engineer on this program?

The technology is still many years away, but Korea is ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. Plus Japan, the leader in Nano-technology, is a 90 minute fairy ride away. For all I know I could already be infected with millions of these things. So if this post sucks, blame them.

Delivery Men, Taxi Drivers and Buses – 2/1

I’m actually surprised I haven’t been hit yet. Traffic kills all over the world, but I’ve never been anywhere else like this. Sidewalks are not pedestrian areas. That motorbike behind me just honked and told me to get off the sidewalk.

Traffic lights are optional. While this is sweet when you’re riding in the taxi, they are hell when you’re trying to cross the street. Not even school zones stop them.

And if taxis and motorbikes are the Velocoraptors of Korean traffic, buses are the T-rex. They can’t get you in as many places, but get too close to the curb and you could find one barelling right towards your head.

Now accepting bets

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Filed under Culture, Links and Random Thoughts, The foreigner experience, Things to Entertain You

A completely scientific breakdown of Korean cartoon dinosaurs from the 80’s vs. American cartoon dinosaurs of the 80’s

You know, when you get down to it Korea really isn’t that different from the United States. Case in point: Dooley the Dinosaur.

I’d post the video directly here, but I can’t figure out how to embed videos that don’t involve the words “you” and “tube.” So for the time being check out Dooley the Dinosaur here.

If you’re too lazy to click on the link then let me tell you about him. Dooley, as close as I can figure is a baby Brontosaurus. However, he does not exhibit any Brontosaurus traits such as a long neck or being really really big. Additionally, Dooley has special magic powers. How did he get them you ask?

Peanut Butter and Crack.

Dooley Special powers include, but are not limited to: Flying, time travel, pointing his finger and creating unicorns out of thin air.

Dooley has a special friend with a big red nose. The friend with a red nose is from outer space (says Rachel) and has a magic flying broom.

This reminds me of my favorite, modern American dinosaur “Denver the Last Dinosaur.”

Like Dooley, Denver can also time travel with the assistance of an ancient rock. Denver could also play guitar and skateboard. Denver is totally, more radical than Dooley.

The mathematical equation for Denver’s awesomeness looks something like this:

Denver > Dooley

That’s math. Math = Fact.

I told Rachel about Denver the Last Dinosaur, to which she replied “yes, that’s much more scientific.”

In case you forgot, here is a Youtube video of Denver.

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It’s smart being this hard…or something like that

It’s routine of every foreigner in Korea to make fun of the Korean way of speaking English.  The name of this speaking style is referred to as “Konglish.”  If you look it up on google you’ll get some fun examples.  I also suggest Engirish.com, although that is not strictly limited to the Korean language.

The reciprocal form of this I would call “Engilmal.”  It’s “English” + “Yongomal,” the Korean word for English.  It’s when I try to speak Korean, but screw up because the English language is based on over pronunciation of words, and Asian languages are based more on slight variations of sounds.

Example:  “Dahk Dahk Hae Yo” vs. “Dohk Dohk Hae Yo”

To read those in English, you won’t really get a sense of how they sound, because there exists no English letter that perfectly matches the pronunciation.  Let’s just say the pronunciations are really, really similar.

(I apologize for my computer not having Korean symbols…you couldn’t read them anyways)

Anyways, today in my class I tried to tell my class I was Dohk Dohk Hae Yo (smart).  Instead I mispronounced it Dahk Dahk Hae Yo (hard).

So, in my 3rd hour 6th grade class I told them, very boldly “Matthew teacher is very, very hard.”

Even 6th grader brought up in a society where sex is never taught or talked about (not even by parents) understood the unintended meaning of that sentence.

Classroom order was never restored.

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Filed under Education, Narratives, The foreigner experience, Things to Entertain You

Your Daily Shot of Soju: How many dead babies does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Three…exactly three:

I’ve never really enjoyed hitting on girls at clubs or bars. Many of my friends do though. I have no problem with this behavior; it’s just something I have never enjoyed so I choose not to do. I feel there’s something inherently demeaning in the whole act of hitting on a girl. If I end up talking to a girl that’s great, but it’s not the point of my night.

Once, when I was in Germany some friends and I were drinking at the bar/lounge down below our Hostel when a group of girls, who were on a class trip of some sorts, walked in and started talking to us. They were fun, but out of the 8 or so girls only 2 spoke English. To confuse them my friends and I chose to use cryptic slang. Unfortunately the only slang we could come up with were words like “Stupenduferous” and “Mantastic.” This led to exchanges like this:

My friend: That was a stupenduferous moment.

German girl: Stupenduferous? Is that like stupendous?

Me: No

This brings me to my sense of humor which is admittedly off, sarcastic, and often times misunderstood.  It’s not so much what I say, but the sheer fact that I’m saying it that I find personally funny.

In the States we could never use off-humor jokes around girls. They were horrified and rightly so. I do not enjoy hitting on girls, but I do enjoy talking to them and, if I get bored enough, saying stupid things around them. I’m more interested in seeing reactions to stupid comments than anything else.

However here in Korea, much like with our busted German slang, I can get away with saying stupid things. Even girls who are fluent in English assume they mis-heard me when I make a comment, accidental or otherwise, that doesn’t fit with what a guy who is trying to pick them up would normally say. I don’t know if talking to girls this way is respectful in that I do not see them as purely sexual objects, or if it’s negative in that I don’t take them seriously because of it. In all fairness, I don’t take anybody at the bar seriously, especially myself.

All I know is that I treat everybody, regardless of gender, pretty much the same. The problem lies in that I am many times a jack ass. These are the realities of the impulsive alcoholic who sub-consciously believes he’s smarter than everybody he meets. If you like me you like me, if you don’t you don’t…now pardon me while I buy a round of shots…you want in?

I guess the biggest problem is when I encounter someone who is confident enough in their English to call me out. In this way I am fully against the continued funding of Korea’s English Education programs.

Visual Stimulation:

I wish I could see things like this when I was in the subway. My days would be much happier.

Piece of pop culture I’m diggin on today:

Happy Birthday to my school. I’m not sure how old my school is but it’s old as hell. Probably not 40 yet. I do get the day off of a school though which affords me opportunities to see boys from the high school next to my apartment sneak out during class to smoke cigarettes behind the bike racks…ah memories.

Piece of pop culture I miss today:

Taco Bell. There’s one in Seoul, but it’s in the Army Base and I have to join the army to get it. Although I would kill for a Double Decker supreme I would not submit myself to army training for one.

 

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Your Daily Shot of Soju: How do you say “Please stop talking to me”

I am the treadmill terrorist:

To be sure, there are many people in South Korea who don’t look favorably upon my presence in their country. To be sure, most people probably don’t care beyond the novelty glance. To be sure, there are always opposite ends of the spectrum and some people believe that it is there duty, as a native Korean, to take me under their wing and teach me the ways of a South Korean.

People are impressed that I can say “Hello” and figure out how much money they are charging me at the grocery store. I speak Korean decently for only living here for 6 months, which gives off the impression that I am extremely interested in learning about the country and the culture, and I am. However, Willy the Taxi Driver is not my preferred language teacher. If speaking Korean means that I am “Super Foreign Friend” to all Koreans, then count this as another reason I am scared to speak Korean to people other then Rachel and other drunk people. Let’s put this reason right between “blank stares” and “responsibility for finding directions.”

A trainer at the gym I work out at regularly speaks rudimentary English. She has a large head. When I am in the middle of lifting heavy objects she decides that is the ideal time to talk to me, I can not escape.

Today I saw a contraption at the gym that I had not seen previously. I am not sure what the point of it is, but it is a long, flat table type thing. At one end are clamps for your feet. In the middle are some handles and levers. Once your feet are locked firmly in place, you push one of the levers and the table slowly rotates you completely upside down. Once you are upside down you face outside of the gym, and if you were to try and do upside down crunches you would probably hit your head. So, as I mentioned before, I am not entirely sure what the point of this is. Terrorist water board training I imagine.

You would think this device would be perfect to escape the trainer girl with the large head, but it is not. After asking me questions and securing my answers, she runs off and tells other Koreans what I told her. The Koreans converse with each other for a moment. Then she runs back over to me, her head looking like it might tip off her neck any moment. She asks me another question. Process, step, repeat. I would prefer water boarding.

Visual Stimulation:

Yubin, the hot rapping girl from the Wonder Girls, makes me almost not like Nas anymore.

Piece of pop culture I’m diggin on today:

Confucian Culture. It definitely has it’s disadvantages, especially as a young foreign person. But if you know an older Korean, when you are with them you are pretty much bullet proof. I happen to know a few older Korean gentlemen who, in addition to being old, have a bit of money/power. I run this country.

Piece of pop culture I’m missin today:

Computer/peripherals compatibility.

South Korea is so advanced that their MP3 players, cameras and phones don’t even recognize my laptop as an operating system. I have to download plugins and operating systems and codecs to even get that little beeping sound that your computer makes when you plug something into your usb. I have this great video of my kids doing the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” rap, but I doubt it will ever make it to this site. If you ever see me on the street though, ask me to show it to you on my phone…it’s pretty sweet.

Just for the hell of it:

P.M. Dawn – Set Adrift on Memory Bliss

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