Monday, 31 March 2008

I was at the concert

Yesterday I was lucky enough to get an invite to the concert that was held here in Icheon. There were a few well-known artists, but the concert was generally known as the “Wonder Girls Concert”. Every singer/group had a chance to sing three songs and then had to get off the stage. The Wonder Girls were OK, but they are much better on TV. I feel that that is all they will ever be, a music video girl group. Even the lesser rated Dynamic Duo has better stage personalities than the girls.

Everyone, however, was made to look completely ordinary by Insuni. She is a 50-year-old diva who will remind you of Tina Turner in her manner on stage. That she has an afro does help a little.

Insuni was BORN and RAISED IN KOREA, by her KOREAN mother, but she gets the Afro from her Black American father who was a soldier in Korea. What I find very interesting is that many Koreans consider her a foreigner. It seems that if you are not “100% Pure” Korean, then you are a foreigner, no matter what your passport says.

Never the less, I think you should have a look at this woman’s web site.

Ignoring the music all together, I would like to mention our free stuff. It was raining softly and was quite cold outside, so as we entered the stadium, they handed us a blanket, glow stick and a condom rain jacket. Nice and organised, er? I so wanted to get a photo of all the people looking like very big condoms, but alas, no cameras were allowed.

Friday, 28 March 2008

I can see spring everywhere - ^.^ Wohoo!

This whole week I have been walking past little bits of green that seems to pop out dead branches. It is wonderful and I am actually experiencing that spring feeling. It has been a long time since I have been able to say this.

In Pretoria the weather is great, and sometimes a little to great. You don’t get to experience this feeling of change and expectation, at least not at this level. Sure, dead plants turn green and hot rain starts falling, but Pretoria is never really cold during winter.

In Korea, I saw my first snow, and as much as I liked the snowy season, I am tired of the cold now and want to come out of the shower without running for the biggest warmest piece of clothing I can lay my hands on. Every day, I delight in the plants, and farmers, telling me it is going to be better soon.

I have mentioned it before, but I am really happy I am not living in an over crowded, concrete jungle, but in a small “city” where I can walk past natural green patches. It still amazes me how the season’s change effects the face of the worlds around me. I doubt I will get to see all of this in Seoul.


Watch out. In a few months I will be whining about how much I hate heat and humidity.

p.s. 2.0

Students gave me money today. The shop where I got the “toast” yesterday forgot to add cheese. That is one explanation of why I didn’t taste any. I am sticking with my explanation of yesterday though.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

My First Korean Toast

Today, just before leaving school, my co-teacher asked me if I ever tried a toasted sandwich from the place right outside our school. Well known with the students, this place is reasonable priced and thus makes loads of money, selling Dakpokki, “Toast” and now Ice Cream as well.

Since I have never had Korean Toast, I thought I would swing by and pick up a Toasted Cheese. For Toasted Cheese, it was the oddest thing I have had in a while.

I was watching the lady prepare the “Toast”, but was distracted by three of my students who wanted to talk to me and feed me dakpokki. I do not mind the students. At least they are trying. Apart from the formed scrambled egg, everything seemed OK. (The egg is square because it is fried in a form little form)

The “OK” turned to “What the…?” when I took my first bite. What I tasted was far from the plain bread and cheese I thought I ordered. I bit in to Egg, Shredded Cole Slaw with 1000 Island Dressing, Red Peppers and very Sweet Tomato Sauce.

I know there was cheese in there because I saw it, but I swear I did not taste any of it.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

A Korean Wedding

I have heard tales about Korean Weddings. I so want to go to one like this...

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Fruit Salad

Yesterday we had fruit salad at school. Normally you would think that fruit salad is a simple dish of fruit, cut up, and maybe a bit of yoghurt or ice cream.

Here we add tomatoes and mayonnaise. Tomatoes are seen as fruit in Korea, to the extent that you even get tomato flavour ice cream. Quite where they get the idea that putting mayo on the fruit is a good thing, I can only wonder.

Summer is getting closer, and that means Patbingsu time. That is the way fruit need to be served. I'll tell you more when the time comes

Monday, 24 March 2008


Inflation has hit Korea, and it has done so in a big way. Since arriving here, prices have mostly been stable all the way.

That was until about two weeks ago.
I now have to pay 2500 won to dry-clean my work trousers, up from 2000 won for a 25% increase. The Tuna Kimbab that used to be 2000 won is now 2200 won, and where I used to get four Golden Fishee Breads for 1000, I now pay the same price for three.

Why, might you ask, is all this happening? Partly due to the oil price, partly the bad exchange rate and largely because he price of rice has gone up, which means everyone has to may more for their staple food.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

News of the Week

Free Admission Planned for National Museums
This is one I am not going to complain about, but I can see the point of the private museums.

Import Price Rises to 9-Year High in Feb.
I find it interesting how here they monitor the price of rice. In SA we monitor the price of petrol and the exchange rate, thick in turn gives us reason to worry about the Bread and Milk prices.

Why are they hammering that he is Korean? Are Korean not allowed to be abuse but other are? Montion ONCE that he is

Swiss Cops 'Humiliated Korean Student'
So? He was Korean. Does that make what happened worse? Mention where he is from and then get on with your story. Don't hammer on the fact that he is Korean. This happens to everyone. I don't see you complain when it happens to non-Koreans in Korea.

Language Issues, ‘Human Rights’ Hinder Police Efforts Against Foreign Crime
You have to wonder about this one. Are they complaining because is is not easy to victimise foreigners, or are they indicating that they want to treat foreigners are badly as they treat Koreans?

I was unable to copy the link, so I copied this from

QUESTION: Dr. Retail, now that the Democratic presidential race has entered its long, bloody slog phase, I figured it was time to get a fresh perspective. Can you explain to me what it’s all about?

DR. RETAIL: Why do you bother me with simple problems? Listen, the essential competition in many consumer sectors is between commodity providers and experience providers, the companies that just deliver product and the companies that deliver a sensation, too. There’s Safeway, and then there is Whole Foods. There’s the PC, and then there’s the Mac. There are Holiday Inns, and there are W Hotels. There’s Walgreens, and there’s The Body Shop.

Hillary Clinton is a classic commodity provider. She caters to the less-educated, less-pretentious consumer. As Ron Brownstein of The National Journal pointed out on Wednesday, she won the non-college-educated voters by 22 points in California, 32 points in Massachusetts and 54 points in Arkansas. She offers voters no frills, just commodities: tax credits, federal subsidies and scholarships. She’s got good programs at good prices.

Barack Obama is an experience provider. He attracts the educated consumer. In the last Pew Research national survey, he led among people with college degrees by 22 points. Educated people get all emotional when they shop and vote. They want an uplifting experience so they can persuade themselves that they’re not engaging in a grubby self-interested transaction. They fall for all that zero-carbon footprint, locally grown, community-enhancing Third Place hype. They want cultural signifiers that enrich their lives with meaning.

Obama offers to defeat cynicism with hope. Apparently he’s going to turn politics into a form of sharing. Have you noticed that he’s actually carried into his rallies by a flock of cherubs while the heavens open up with the Hallelujah Chorus? I wonder how he does that.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Even better than the Previous Thing.

I suppose it has been because of the snow on the path and then the school holidays that the Crazy Ridge Racer has been missing in action.

This week has seen her back, and she seems to have pent up speed to get rid of. Se passed me on a narrow road at what I estimate to be about 40-50 km/h. You have to wonder what this stupid woman is thinking. Less than one kilometre at that speed might save you 30 seconds on her day.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

The North Website

I found the web site for the North Korean government and just had to go there to read what it says. I'm sure you have noticed that I post quite a bit on the North, but lets face it, it is just so weird, so amazing, so sad. [link]

This site is, unfortunately, blocked by the South government. I have no idea why, but all I can think is that they are afraid that people might actually read something that they are trying to hide in the South, like the concrete inaction wall the South build between the countries, or that people will fall for all the crap and defect to the wrong way.

Anyway, I asked a friend in the Philippines, Queenie, to sent me some of the stories. Here is one with quick comments from me

Inter-Korean Cooperation Called for

Pyongyang, March 17 (KCNA) -- In order to achieve a signal success in the struggle for national reunification this year the Korean nation should put an end to such acts of treachery as turning one's back on fellow countrymen and cooperating with foreign forces.

Rodong Sinmun Monday urges this in a signed article.

It goes on:

To persist in collusion and tie-up with foreign forces for aggression at a time when the U.S. imperialists are becoming evermore undisguised in their adventurous military provocations to the DPRK is absolutely intolerable as they are treacherous acts of hamstringing the efforts to develop the north-south relations and promote the cause of national reunification and doing harm to the destiny of the nation.

They are always going on about this. Do they even know what Imperialism means? Notice how they accuse, but never provide any kind of evidence at all.

Any cooperation with foreign forces for aggression is little short of a treacherous move to totally negate and scrap the historic June 15 joint declaration.

Huh? What aggression?

The spirit of "By our nation itself" is enshrined by the compatriots as patriotic soul and this has become the spirit of the nation which no one can quell. For the south Korean warmongers to cooperate with foreign forces in their moves for a war of aggression against the north, turning their faces away from inter-Korean cooperation, is nothing but a treacherous act of denying the spirit of "By our nation itself" and, furthermore, reducing the joint declaration to a dead paper.

"By our nation itself", as in hosting this site in Japan, and unable to feed your own people, and forging dollars so that you can use the nice Imperialist money to get food, from other?

Warmonger, the South? Who has he million plus man army here? Who feeds their soldiers before they feed the people?

The acts of pursuing the cooperation with outsiders instead of seeking inter-Korean cooperation should be condemned as grave criminal moves to maintain power and gratify selfish desire in return for undermining the basis and cornerstone for developing the north-south relations and leaving the destiny of the nation to the tender mercy of foreign forces.

What? What outsiders? Do they even know that there is a world map and countries outside of the visible range of Korea? Global village, you cant stop it anymore.

Cooperation with outsiders leads to confrontation between the north and the south, a war of aggression against the north and throws a hurdle in the way of achieving reunification. If cooperation with foreign forces for aggression is allowed to continue in south Korea quite contrary to the need of the era and the aspiration of the nation, this will put the north-south relations in the worst crisis once again and lay a stumbling block in the way of the cause of national reunification, too. Cooperation with foreign forces should never be allowed as it goes against the June 15 era of reunification. Inter-Korean cooperation alone leads to the road of patriotism.

More talking, still not saying anything useful.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Making Out in Korean

I cannot remember how I stumbled on to this little gem, but I did, and I own it now.

Initially, after reading about it, I had a look on Amazon to find the ISBN number and then tried to see if Kyobo Books here in Korea have it. One of the teachers at my school went to see if she could find it, but she was unsuccessful. I took a chance on Saturday at a bookshop I passed in Seoul and they had it.

The little gem is a travel language book called “Making out in Korean.”

Making Out In Korean

The book deals with the slang of the Korean language, but with a name like this, I was more interested in things I would not read in other language resources. I was not disappointed. Here are some examples…

A Korean equivalent of “Fuck!” is 씨발 (Shibal), but an online translator says it is “Shit”. I suspect the Korean Language is more in to insulting that using actual swearing. I do not swear that much myself, but it is always useful to know when others are insulting you.

An great insult/threat is 좆 까 (Jot Ga!). It literally translates as “Penis Kick” Interestingly, the Google Translate says THIS is “Fuck You!” It is suppose to be “I’ll kick your penis”, but I keep on getting this image of a game character, like in Street Fighter, with a special move called “Penis Kick”. I can just imagine him, instead of saying “Hatooooooooget!”, say “Peniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis, KICK!” I wonder what you will say to a woman. Do you say: “I will kick your virgina”?

The book also goes in to phrases like “I am a virgin”, “Don’t worry” and “I’ll be careful”. It them tells you how to say “Take off your…”, and then gives a list of clothing items. It gets even more intimate than that.

I am sure the book is partly a joke, and in that, I think it succeeded.

If you are interested in seeing how I am progressing with my Korean, then have a look at my Blog where I put down what I learned every day. It is something that I make public because the thought that someone might have a look at what I do and see that I am being lazy keeps me going. It is also a good reference for me when I want to ask questions about Korean at school.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Virgin Seekers

This has nothing to do with Korea, but I still loved the term.

Arab/"Muslem" Suicide Bombers are now called Putative Virgin-seekers.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Spring Has Arrived in Full Force

Something that is nice about living in the countryside is that we don’t just feel the change of season, but we actually get to see it. During the last two weeks I have been hearing a few more birds every morning on my way to school. I am noticing that more of the fields are being prepared for planting, and some even have the season’s first saplings. Best of all, the temperatures are terrific. We don’t have to wear, or carry jackets. It might be cool in the mornings and evenings, but it is bearable. I know many people think 15 - 20 degrees are cold, but to me, and may other person, that is perfect weather.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

News of the week

Soompi features a story about a program that was aired over here. The program deals with North Koreans who try to flee to China. There is a disturbing, but powerful photograph. [read]

The first Korean in space will be a women. This from a country where they is still a very big difference in the workplace when gender is concerned. [read]

Tax Cut Proposed for 6% Growth. Don't countries normally aim for something like 3%. I am not economist, but I thought that a to high growth rate causes severe inflation. Also note the line "It seeks to create 350,000 new jobs, down from Lee's campaign pledge of 600,000 and keep consumer prices under 3.3 percent." [read]

People die, get over it, demmit. Just remove the monuments and get it over with. [read]

I cant believe people are still on about this stupid. [read]

More on the Korean Canal. A nice little video to see the whole issue. [read]

My home country's neighbour and my country of residence's neighbour are both mentioned in this article. And the country I lived in before ... [read]

SA's warped idea of Democracy. This is Africa for you. You don't vote for me legally? Then we will get more aggressive, little by little until you do. [read]

And here I walk home at 11pm and pass a lone schoolgirls in quiet back street, without even wondering about what might be just around the corner. [read]

I guess they will ask for an end to the quotas for black students as well? I mean, we cant have double standards, can we? [read]

I cant even believe this site exists, but then again, this is the Internet. [read]

Friday, 14 March 2008

You Mother!

I mentioned last month that 14 March is a special day in Korea. It is White Day. February 14th is for the guys. Girls have to give guys sweets and stuff. In March this is turned around. Now we have to give the gist stuff. A few of the girl students tried to get sweets from me, but since they didn’t give me anything on the 14th, they are not getting anything from me *evil grin*

In honour of that I’m posting this clip. It is not very Korean, but it is still fun to watch. I am sure that if this was a real advertisement, then they would not be swearing like the subtitles indicate.

The White English translation over the White Chinese sucks, but you can always pause in YouTube.

I know this has nothing to do with White Day, but I forgot about it and wanted to add the clip to my Blog.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

컴푸타손생님! Computer Teacher!

While working at my desk in the teacher’s room, I heard one of the teachers call for the Computer Teacher. The fact that Computer is a Korean word does not surprise me. There are stranger lone words here. That they don’t call the Computer Teacher by her name is what drew my attention. There was just a sudden cry of “Ceomputeo Sonsaengnim!” with the last “i” drawn out for effect to form “Sonsaengneeeeeem”.

I think I am going to start calling teachers by their subjects now. It is much easier that trying to remember if it is Kim Su-Gyaong or Kim Sug-Yeong or what ever other Kim, Bak or Ee you can think of.

I already know the Computer Teacher's "name" now, but I think I should find out what Mathematics is in Korean as well.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

China Unintentionally Attacks Again

There has been a lot of talk about the Yellow Dust in recent weeks. All the established blogs wrote about it, my agent told me what it feels like and the US Army site is monitoring the situation. It all sounded so serious.

Yellow Dust is blown up and over from the deserts in North Western China. We are talking thousands of kilometres away, yet is affects us here in Korea. Imagine what people in Beijing must feel like. There the actual desert it getting closer every year.

A few weeks back I watched a program on Discovery. It spoke about the storms that bring dust. They had footage of the storm hitting a town. The footage was awesome, ignoring that people died in that storm. In Korea is much more boring. All we see here is something that looks like an odd coloured fog.

Yesterday we had that fog. I did not realise what it was until the evening. Despite the sun, this fog stayed, and when I was walking home, my trought (How do you spell that!!) fell scratchy. I’m not sick, so it must have been something else.

That was when it struck me: “Look at the US Army monitoring system, fool.” Indeed, I had my first experience of yellow dust and it was not nice at all. I can still feel it in my throught (Again!! From now on it will be my left arm pit) this morning.

I know you down there in deep light African, or Indonesia, or wherever, do not worry about this, but remember that when I die, FIVE people will not have my Blog to read any more, so look at the Army site to see if I am safe.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

And the Circus is Back

The new school year is already a week old an no one thought it a good idea to tell me that, similar to last year, Tuesday and Thursday will have a different schedule from the other three. I actually had a change in time initially, but was told that it would be the same all through the week. I even noted that in an earlier post

This morning I was unable to finish my 09:00 class. I thought it was because I didn’t plan my timing right, but I was watching the watch the whole time. As I walked out of the class, I noticed that I had 10 minutes left! Apparently class starts 10 minutes earlier and there is one more period for these two days. Apparently, 09:00 is actually 08:50 now.

When I asked why this is done and here is the amazing explanation. "Some students live in rural areas and need to take the bus." Apparently they only live in rural areas every second day.

I was not the only one not told about this. The teacher whom I teach this class with didn’t know either. I have a suspicion none of the other new teachers know this.

We should check if there is a university that gives a degree in Creating Class Schedules, because this seems to be rocket science.

Monday, 10 March 2008

The Great Mr. Night

I have a second year student who is considered very talkative. He is not disruptive, mind, he just loves to talk.

Every time he sees me he says, in a clear voice, “Good Ebening!” He sometimes struggles with the “V” sound and reverts to the Korean thing of changing it to a “B”. My response is to answer him using the correct time of day, to which he normally repeats what I said in reply.

I think he is doing this on purpose now, but at least he greets me where other student just put their heads down and run past.

I have started referring to him as Mr. Night. He does not know this yet, but he will find out soon enough. He is doing a stint on kitchen duty and greets me every day now. I am going greet him next time with “Good Afternoon, Mr. Night” and leave it to him to figure out what “night” means.

Saturday, 08 March 2008

News of the Week

Festivals Lack Foreign Language Web Sites
Don't I know this already!

Subprime Woes Pull Down KOSPI Below 1,700.
Seems all is not well in the markets of Rice and Kimchi

N. Korea Selling Fake Cigarettes: Report
I hear they are also well know for high quality forged US dollars.

`Two Deputies for President Took Bribe From Samsung'
Makes me think I'm back home.

Koreans Forms Biggest Student Group in US
And this tell you what about your own education system?

I copied this from ZenKimchi...

Kim at Socius in Daejeon has given us a cautionary tale of a Chinese worker in Korea who tested positive for HIV and has been put in solitary confinement.

It’s not only the E-2s that have to go through this new health check requirement. Last week, at the end of my Korean class, the center made all the non-Western women fill out forms for STD tests. We did wonder why they received the forms and the English teachers didn’t.

Then again, yikes on the solitary confinement deal.

On the Border
I would like to see this documentary, but what struck me is how willing the media over here is to post content free in the Internet. If you miss something on TV, the you can see it online a few days later.

Geek in Korea has an amusing way to tell thing. Have a look at this post

Cyworld Pulls Out of Europe
My first reaction was "If it is anything like the Korea version then I can see why it didn't work." The Korean version is the kind of chaos only a Korean can understand. Don't know what I mean? Go to a few Korean site and see for yourself. I had a look at the German site and it actually looks quite nice

S.Africa's Zuma courts white trade unions
What does he think they are? Black illiterate rural people? This is not a disrespectful statement. Black people in rural areas are often illiterate and could not give a damn about politics. They vote who the Big Black man tells them to vote for despite the lies.

Strong unit must replace Scorpions
And with strong we mean "They do what we say and ignore the government's crime and corruption" ?

Friday, 07 March 2008


Ever since we did Pygmalion in Standard Eight, I have been fascinated with accents and pronunciation in general. I admit that Mine is not always the greatest, and my Irish accent sound like a Scotsman with an identity crisis, but I still like the subject

In the TEFL course I am busy with, I have just started the module on Pronunciation.

In this module I have picked up a few interesting things that I already knew, but had forgotten about. As Afrikaans is a Germanic language, just like English, many of these comments are directly applicable to it, although the crazy spelling is not an issue.

Stress, as in, the word in a sentence that is stressed, can change the meaning of a sentence completely. In this example we will use “He didn’t mean to kick that dog”. Out of context the sentence can mean anything, but as an isolated sentence, placing stress on a particular word can completely change the meaning.

He didn’t mean to kick that dog.
(Someone else meant to kick the dog.)

He didn’t mean to kick that dog.
(Contradicting someone in an argument.)

He didn’t mean to kick that dog.
(He kicked it accidentally.)

He didn’t mean to kick that dog.
(He meant to do something else to it)

He didn’t mean to kick that dog.
(He meant to kick another dog.)

He didn’t mean to kick that dog..
(He meant to kick something else nearby.)

Isn’t language fun? I wonder if Korean has the same thing.

To point out the craziness that is English Spelling I will include a poem that is attributed to George Bernard Shaw. He is, incidentally, the same man who wrote Pygmalion.

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough and through.
Well done! And now you wish perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead, it's said like bed, not bead-
for goodness' sake don't call it 'deed'!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(they rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth, or brother,
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there's doze and rose and lose-
Just look them up- and goose and choose,
And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart-
Come, I've hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive!
I'd learned to speak it when I was five!
And yet to write it, the more I sigh,
I'll not learn how 'til the day I die.

Thursday, 06 March 2008


Imagine for a moment, two boys, Young Kimbab and Young Kimchi, both about 12 years of age. Imagine Young Kimbab bending to pick something up, maybe even kneeling. Then imagine, if you would, Young Kimchi folding his hand together in a Charlie’s Angels, holding the guns, gesture. You know the pretend pose, bottom three laced, index fingers extended against each other and thumbs simulating the firearm’s hammer? Imagine that for a moment.

There is nothing strange to this, is there? What about if Young Kimbab’s arse is pointed straight at Young Kimchi? I would imagine you are either thinking the worst or nothing at all.

This being Korea, Young Kimbab is in the firing line for a Dongchim (똥침). Young Kimchi is going to take his two extended finger of his and stick it up the arse of Young Kimbab. Yes, that it right, up his arse! Up the arse, as far as the material will allow!

For the live of me, I cannot see the funny side in this. How can sticking my finger up another’s arse be funny? Kinky, maybe, but funny? MY finger, HIS arse. It freaks me out every time I see it.

In case you don’t believe me I took the liberty of typing Dongchim in Korean(똥침) in to Google Image Search and found these on the very first page of results. Scarily enough, there were more that I could have used.

*A friend of mine from the Philippines, Queenie, says the do this there aswell. Eeeeeeeeew!

Wednesday, 05 March 2008

One Night in Incheon

I had to re-post this as it somehow ended up being a copy of Monday’s post. I could not find the original, so I had to rewrite the whole thing and it ended up being very different.

A Korean friend, Jacky, invited me to his birthday party on twenty-ninth of February. He turned “six” this year. Lucky for everyone involved, he saw the sense in changing it to the first of March, a Saturday.

The day started like any other. We used Koreas great public transport for our two hour journey. Try doing that in South Africa, or many other developed countries. I am sad to report that nothing special happened. There were no great accidents, no slip-sliding on snow and no nice scenery (that I noticed).

Incheon seems to be a nice city. I would not mind living there for a year or so. If you have not noticed yet, then let me point it out to you, there is an “N” in the name. We are not talking about Icheon, the small city where I live. This here is Incheon, the city that is big enough to justify its own metropolitan council, separate form Gyeonggi Provence.

We started our night of celebration in Khan, the “Ancient Pub”. There is one here in Icheon as well. Aska and I are thinking of going there some time. As is normal for any Korean party, soju and Beer was consumed, the former in greater quantities than the latter. Still, there were the obligatory mountains of food and a western style birthday cake. The cake had a number “6” candle, provided by yours truly, as well as thin, free candles that paled in comparison to my immense gift to the Birthday Boy. I am so proud of myself. *cough*

After half the cake ended on Jackie’s face, he proceeded to destroy it further with his cake cutting technique. The Cake Destruction Ceremony signalled the commencement of the true party. In true Korean fashion, everyone had a chance to pour soju for everyone else, and just in case you were not getting enough, then you were sure to get your fill from the drinking games. I know Koreans like to call themselves the Italians of East Asia, because they are emotional, but they are more like the Irish of East Asia, I am sure.

During the course of the night we went to four different places, and at all but one we had food. Let me rephrase that, at each place we had lots of food. How do Koreans eat and drink so much and still stay so skinny. Even the girls were doing their part to rid the world of its excess food and soju.

I mentioned that at one place we did not eat anything. This was the Norae Bang, or Karaoke Room. I am sure they have food there, but we just did not order any. Even thought I still do not sing with other people, I prefer this to the Karaoke we know. Here you are in a private room with your friends and no one else to bother you. Despite this nice setting, I still wonder what Eastern Asia’s fascination with singing is.

Before I sign off on this post, I would like to mention one of the things that always stumps me. Despite what many people think of me, I do not really know how to handle these situations. I do what I feel like at that point and half the time it is not what is expected of me…

During the night I had four girls, count it, one, two, three, four girls, flirt with me. I am not used to this, at all. People have told me that it happens to me, but I think am too stupid to see it. These girls were obvious about it though.

At the first place we went to, two girls asked me to take photographs with them, and as I left, the one used the only English she seemed to know, “I miss you”. Crazy Woman Alert! The two girls were there with men, but I could not figure out the relationship. I indulged them then make like a tree and, um, left? At the second place, a girl wanted me to drink Soju with her. The only way I could “get rid” of her was by doing a love shot. A love-shot is when you drink while twisting you arms, as they often do at marriages in the West.

Then there was the sister of the Birthday Boy. Apparently, she asked about me earlier that evening and all through the night Aska was pointing out that the girl was infatuated with me. Personally, I feel curious would be a better word, but some times I was wondering myself.

Why does this never happen to me in my town. At least here, I have a place where we can go “practice English”. (I have never had a girl alone in my flat, not even a friend, with the exception of my girlfriend, and I intend to keep it that way.)

I cannot finish this post without mentioning Pinky. This dude was dressed in not just a pink shirt, but a pink cap as well. Pinky took every foreigner’s phone number and asked if he may call us to practice his English. I admire his courage and I will gladly help him wherever I can. This is the way you learn English, people.

Overall, it was an enjoyable experience and I learned a bit more about Koreans out for the night.

Tuesday, 04 March 2008

Good Start to the Year

Yesterday was the first day of the new school year and it was not as bad as expected.

We started of with a meeting that I happened to attend. I normally try to avoid then because I do not understand anything and I come out knowing as little as if I had been standing outside listening to my iPod.

A little after the meeting we all gathered in the school hall. This was my first surprise. The greeting of the new students and the introduction of the new teachers went smoothly. This ceremony had no weird stuff or a time wasting. We even managed to introduce ALL the staff to the first years, me included. They introduced me with extra staff, I think. With extra staff, I mean the school nurse and people like that. It would be nice to be in the English Department, but whatever. I wonder why they did not introduce the Kitchen Crew? They work bloody hard back there to feed us all.

The second surprise the removal of schedule my school had whereby Tuesdays and Thursdays started 30 minutes earlier. Now ever day has an extra period. The new schedule will keep me at school until 5pm on four of the five days. I wonder if I they still expect me to come to school at 8:30 am. I should ask about that. The periods will be at the same time every day now, at least, and I still do not work on Saturdays like the other teachers.

Let me not forget the new teachers. Most are young women. Of them, most are OK or good looking (my East Asian preference again) and one of them has a smoking little body. Damn those distractions, damn them to hell! No, wait! Forget I what I just said. Eye candy is never a bad thing, is it?

I am ready for this new year, yes I am. Let us see if I manage to teach someone something this time round.

Monday, 03 March 2008

Fan Death

We find a strange affliction under Koreans. It is something called Fan Death.

Fan Death is when you go to sleep in a room with the doors and windows closed and way wake up dead. No, wait, you do not wake up, that is the point.

I only heard of this when I came to Korea, and I haven't been able to find any non-Koreans who believe in it. I asked a few people about it and got some interesting answers:

Over MSN Messenger...
Otto says: Have you ever heard of people who die because then leave the fan on when they sleep?
Korean Online Friend says: Yes, in summer time? Why?
Otto says: Do you believe it?
Korean Online Friend says: Yes, it happens.
Otto says: OK
Korean Online Friend says: Why, you don't believe it?

Few Minutes later on MSN
Canadian Teacher says: Hahahaha.
Canadian Teacher says: I just asked my teacher, or a English teacher. He said "it's proven science. It's not myth"
Canadian Teacher says: WOW

Later that day during conversation...
Otto: Do you know fan death? What is it in Korean?
Korean A: There isn't a real name for it, but it is something that means "death from lack of oxygen"
Otto: Oh. Ok. So, is fan death true?
Korean A: Um... Yes!

After explaining the meaning of fan death...
Korean B: Yes, I know it. Actually, a friend of mine died from it.

I decided to do my own armature research using this questionnaire with people I know. A few online friends asked Koreans they know as well.

Fan Death:

When someone dies from using an electric fan while sleeping.

Please check all the answers that you think are correct….

1. Fan death happens in:

  • Summer
  • Autumn
  • Winter
  • Spring

2. Fan Death can only happen in a room with the windows and doors closed.

  • Yes
  • No

3. Fan Death can happen in a small apartment with the doors closed.

  • Yes
  • No

4. Fan Death is caused by:

  • The fan dropping your body temperature
  • The fan taking the air away from your face
  • The fan using up the air in the room

5. An air conditioner can do some of the above.

  • Yes
  • No


The results were amazing. About 90% of Koreans seem to believe this. It supposedly happens in summer because that is when people use fans. Most people do not believe that the air conditioning can do the same thing, but some do. Lastly, most seem to agree that it must be a room. A small apartment, like mine will not work. Interesting, because my apartment is the same size as the room I grew up in.

Let us look at the results a bit closer. Body temperature drop? Personally, I get under the blankets when cold and everyone I know will get under the blankets when things get cold around them.

The fan takes the air away from my face and suffocates you? WHAT? How is that possible. Surely that will happen when I am awake as well?

The fan uses up the oxygen in the room. Ooooo-K. Fans do not use up oxygen or produce carbon dioxide. They circulate the air, nothing else. Secondly, and again, why only when I am asleep? If the room is completely sealed then the fan is not your problem, the room being sealed it. YOU are using up the oxygen.

I have two close friends who are Korean and I am dying to ask them. I keep on forgetting.

Here is a Korean YouTube clip that tries to make a case for it. It asked all the same questions I did and gives the answer, "There is no proof; you just have to believe it."

If anyone has ever tried to incriminate a fan on video, then this is it...

Saturday, 01 March 2008

News of the week

First off, some cute Engrish.

Birthrate Rises for Second Consecutive Year.
Isn't it interesting how an increase in the birth rate makes the news here?

The oldest photographs taken in Korea have been found. I cant really figure out how old they are, but I don't really care. The photographs are interesting enough without that information.

Good to know about Korean Banking for Expats, Part One and Part Two.

More on the Canal Debate. This time some arguments on the damage it will case. It is a bit one sided, but still interesting.

As expected, Uncle Kim didn't show up at the philharmonics. The only people who showed up are were the well fed privileged of Pyangyong. The rest of the country is still saying: "Philharmonics? In our country? Well, if Uncle Kim says a new super size swimming pool is needed, then it must be so."

Speaking of the Weird North, have a look at this guy, and more specifically, the second video clip.

Looks like things will be a little less comfortable over here. At least we in the South still have food.