Sunday, 31 August 2008

Look out for the Yellow Belt!

I’ve had an OK weekend, but likely not OK enough to make this post an interesting read.

Friday evening at Hapkido we had evaluations. I was led to understand that, because of my sprained ankle, I would not participate. I was wrong. I lined up with everyone else and we were told that we would follow the list of punches and kicks in on the wall above us. The helpful instructor was calling everything out before we were to do each action, though.

This is all fine and dandy, except I don’t know what any of it means. I doubt I would have understood even if I was able to speak Korean at any decent level. I’ve only been doing this for little under one month. I am embarrassed to say that I still don’t speak Korean. One of the junior instructors was asked to stand next to me and show me what the next move was. That helped a lot. I still made a few mistakes, but I actually surprised myself with some of the actions. I think I am close to nailing the cartwheel. Luckily I didn’t have to do the forward flip. That is the think that messes with my ankle even though I land on my arse more often than not.

Despite what I think of my own performance, I was told that I passed. Now I have a yellow belt. Gone is the lowly white belt. I suppose if the girl at the dojang who is unable to do anything can wear a blue belt, then I should not even wonder about my new status.

***

On Saturday I went to Yongin to convert my SA drivers licence to a Korean one. I am allowed to do it, but I have to leave my SA licence with them. I get is back when I give my Korean licence back. Naturally I refused. An international licence is worthless if I don’t have it with the actually licence. In any case, it is a government issued ID document. I can’t go around giving it to others to keep for an extender period.

I only want a motorcycle licence, so I said that want to apply for that. I was told I am not allowed to because I need the drivers licence first to prove that I the traffic rules. Well, if I just convert it, then I am not proving anything, really, am I. And how does it matter who is in actual possession of my SA licence change this? I am still deciding what I am going to do about this. I want to find out of I can jippo the system. If the Motorcycle licence and the car licence are separate documents, then I can get the converted licence, get the motorcycle licence and then give the drivers licence back. Problem solved! I still have to ask about this one.

***

Today, Sunday, I went to Seoul to the Pixar exhibition(the English site with basically no English). It was good. It’s interesting to see the clay models and concept sketches. They have this interesting contraption called a Zoetrope. This particular one worked with strobe lights, not with slits, but the principle is the same as the one describes in the link. I want one

That is it, nothing serious. I hope to get some photos edited this week. I’ve had problems with my computer and getting Photoshop on, but it is OK now, I hope.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Jobs I would like to do.

Marmot's Hole had a list of weird things they found on the net. I liked this one:

There are men in Guam whose full-time job is to travel the countryside and deflower young virgins, who pay them for the privilege of having sex for the first time… Reason: Under Guam law, it is expressly forbidden for virgins to marry. (Let’s just think for a minute; is there any job anywhere else in the world that even comes close to this?)

I wonder if foreigners are allowed to do that and if you need a special VISA.

I Googled to see what their girls look like. They are not Korean by any means, but good looking enough to not want to do the job. *wink*

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Will this work at all?

After my previous post on SA Rugby, this made me giggle inside. I don't know if this has happened in South Africa before, but in English Football, a Director of Football is brought in when they don't trust the manager any more. The manager effectively gets relegated to coach and the Director becomes the boss. Managers don't like to me overruled however, so this is not usually very effective.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

English comes from the USA, didn't you know.

I don't get it. In a crossword I gave the hint "Where THIS language comes from." All the students knew it meant English; you about 75% of the students seem to think English comes from the USA.

How on earth do they work that out? GERMANy speaks GERMAN. RUSSIA speaks RUSSIAN. The list goes on. It is not exactly difficult to understand, since they all know what and where England is. The amazing thing it that, for England at least, it works the same way in the Korean language.

Another problem is with them being taught American spelling. Why would you do that? I know of only one recognized English speaking country in the world who actually use it, and that is the USA. Not even Canada uses it. In all three grades they had difficulty fitting in "Favourite", despite the writing on the board that tells them to look out for that particular number in the crossword.

My reply to this is that Korean MUST come from Mongolia. It only makes sense. KOREAn, MONGOLIA. Same, same!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

"Rude" poses

It is not THAT bad posing with the displays at a place like Loveland at Jeju, but not every pose will be seen as "OK". What do you think?

Monday, 25 August 2008

Korean Man Food.

Sure, the clip is a little old and I've been sitting on it for a while now, but I am convinced this is still happening. I have eaten the cut-up live octopus, but not this.

I really think this is a "man" thing. No one can convince me that they actually like the taste. Like the guy in the clip says, it tastes like whatever you dip it in. With that in mind, why cant I just eat a potato with the same sauce?

On a different note, look what has been admitted, just in case you think I am making my "racist rugby" story up. Please read this.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Political Implications

What made me write this post? Read this.

I know many (of the few) who read this Blog knows nothing about Rugby. Those who do also know that South African Rugby is a messed up world of politics.

South Africa won the World Cup last year. Our couch that got use there was one of the most successful coaches ever. His contract was set to expire at the end of the World Cup. He did not actually re-apply, but neither was he asked to re-apply. Why would that be? Very successful and current, VERY current holder of the biggest prize in the sport, and you don't ask him to extend his contract? It does not matter if he wants to or not, SHOULD YOU NOT AT LEAST ASK HIM?!

I am sure I am not the only one to think this was a ploy to give South Africa it's first non-white coach. If Jake White was to re-apply, then how would they be able to justify employing De Villiers as the new coach? De Villiers' credentials were not that bad. He was the coach for one of the lower lever national teams, but he was not fresh of the WORLD CUP VICTORY, was he? He did not make South Africa arguably the strongest team in the world, did he now?

De Villiers was destined to get the job because "it was time to get a non-white in there". At teh start of the international season the Boks had a few games against smaller teams where thy only really impressed on pure quality. De Viliers failed to impress anyone with his coaching, however. The team played well, but did not show teh structure that they would need agains the stronger teams of the world. The real test would be, arguably the second most important compitition in the world, the Tri Nations. We lost the first match badly, we managed to beat the All Black at the second go and then lost to the Auzzies. All of the losses were attributed to lack of structure and direction, something you get from the coach.

We are just busy with our home games for this competition. We lost to New Zealand last week and to Australia last night. The problem is not so much the loosing. These three teams are all very strong and, on the day, anyone can beat anyone. The problem is with the way we lost. In every match the players dont seem to know what comes next. This is because players who are not up to the international standard are being selected, and the team as a whole has no plan. These two very important things come from the management, the coaching staff, the coach himself.

We, the current World Champions will now finish third out of three teams in the Tri Nation, not due to lack of ability, but due to the lack of coaching. We just HAD to have a non-white coach for a South African National team, dispite people saying that he was not up to the task.

I don't know about you, but I define racism as making irrational decisions based on someone race. Saying someone should not wear a certain colour because they are white or black is not racist, it is practical and rational. Picking a National Team coach based on race instead of ability seems a bit irrational though.

I know some people will say that we HAVE to try and force the issue, but Rugby does not work that way. It is a game that requires money. The black players in South Africa, and there are many now, had to go to schools with grass pitches. You can't play rugby on anything else. Grass requires money in this dry country. Then you need to be seen by a decent team. You don't arrive at university and decide to play a game you have never seen before and expect to put people with ten yeas experience behind them out of the team, do you? You need to work your way up, just like the white players do. If you look at the provincial teams then you will see all the black players there already. They went thought the system and now have the years behind them. Quite a few of them have made it in to the national team based in merit, not colour. NON of them walked in expecting to be picked because they are not white.

The same will go for a coach. You have to get the experience. You have to work your way up, and most of all you have to prove you are the best. If you are not the best, then how can you expect to get the top job as national coach instead of the person who is the actually best?

Things like this is why I have little love for my country. We are not allowed to be racist, when you are white. It is perfectly OK to force someone in to a job based on their colour, as long as they are not white. Every year there are talks of brining in rules to force rugby teams to have a certain number of non-white players. I am still waiting for the rule that says the football(soccer) teams must have a set number of white players. Why is no one even mentioning that one?

Friday, 22 August 2008

Redecorating

(If you don't feel like reading then please to skip to the end for the YouTube clip)

The way my apartment is set up annoys me. It is not a small apartment at all, at least not by Seoul standards. I actually have to get up from my bed and walk to the stove to fry an egg. I don't get to do it while lying down. I don't actually live in Seoul, but this is just to compare.

The problem, you see, is mostly with my dining table. I don't use it and it is just in my way. I have to walk around it to get to the fridge or my closet.

The idea came too me to ask my school if they will store it in their store room. Then I reasoned that I should include the bed in this. Since there will only be this big desk left in the room that is not well positioned either, I thought I would ask them to take that as well. They agreed!

My idea was to get a small fold-up table to eat on, a bigger one for the laptop, a floor chair and one of those Korean sleeping mats. This way I can rearrange the place easily and I have heaps of space to swing a wooden sword, do push-ups or injure myself while trying to do the splits.

To my amazement the school not only agreed to take the furniture, but basically insisted on buying the new items for me as well. We went to buy it today and it came to about 100 000 won. Shweet! I am really happy about this because I never even hinted at it.

Unfortunately it was raining today, so the "problem furniture" are still in the apartment. Even though I arranged to skip hapkido tonight because of the intended move, I decide not to go anyway. My ankles can do with a rest after yesterday's punishment. Now I have to decide when, next week, we can do the move. I don't really like missing the classes. I pay for them and they are fun.

***

I didn't actually feel like writing a post today, but somehow I ended up writing all this nonsense. My only intention was to post this YouTube clip.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Only in the East.

How much do we love East Asia?

Have a look at THIS!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Nog 'n dag van marteling.

Ek het vandag vroer dojang toe gegaan om my “huiswerk” te doen. Dit was nie so moielik nie, of laat ek eerder se die tegniek was nie moelik nie. Dit het bietjie gehelp met wat volgende gekom het.

Na opwarming het ons tot vervelens toe flips gedoen. Ek het geen idée wat dit regtig genoem word nie. Jy hardloop ‘n klompie tree, buig, sit jou hande op die grond en bring jou voete oor. Behalwe vir miskien twee keer het ek die hele tyd op my agter end geland. The kere wat dit nie gebeur het nie het ek hulp gehad.

My gewrigte is seer. My enlkels is seer. My duim is nog steeds seer van laas week en my nek is seer. Ons kan maar net wonder hoe dit more gaan voel.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Sword Play

So, I went to Hapkido today. It was the second day of the second week. Because I am new to this and have never been very supple anyway, I change my clothed as soon as I arrived and started stretching. I want to start stretching at home as well because there are a few things that require me to be able to split, or something close to it. Problem is, I have NEVER been close to it. I think three times a day will help me along towards this new goal.

After my stretching, we started with the normal warm-ups and mat technique. At one point fell strangely on a silly little fall and had a shock run up my neck. I had to lie, unmoving, for a few seconds just to compose myself. Tomorrow morning I am going to feel it.

Last week we played with the chained (short) sticks, my own name, and that turned out to be an injury session for me. Today we played with swords. It is not easy and again I was confused about what to do, how, and when. This week my training material purchace will be a wooden sword. They are cheap here. Only 10 000 won or so. It would be at least R200 in South Africa, I am sure. Hapkido is more fun than I thought.

Just before we left I was assigned homework. I am to do handstands and balance against the wall. Thirty, he said. I am OK with that, except that I have nowhere to do it. I asked the school to take out my dining table because I never use it. I also asked them to take my bed because it is in the way and gathers to much dust underneath. I am going to get a Korean mattress and sleep on the floor. Lastly I asked if they will take my desk, because it will look funny all on its own. Once this is done I will have all the space in the world to train with weapon and do handstands against the wall.

I’m still waiting for confirmation about putting my furniture in storage. I am willing to pay for the moving. Surely it will not be that much.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Koreans in the Water.

I love the second a and third comments in this post from Korea Beat. I was at Miranda Spa and Pool yesterday. You would not believe the sizes and ages of the men who felt the need to wear live jackets in a normal public pool

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Talk about formulas!

Look at this from collegehumor.

Friday, 15 August 2008

What I learned in my first week

I finally got rid of my Achilles Tendonitis and started Hapkido this week. This is what I learned:

1. Falling is important…

… and I can’t do it yet. Hopefully I will be able to fall like these guys some day:

2. I will not be allowed to take it slow.

I have already used the TahnDoLiGa or EeChulBong, I am not yet sure of all the terms, and I hit myself on the thumb, elbow and behind the ear. My lower back was red from the sticks slapping against it. I did get to hit paper cups thrown at me. That was fun even if I didn’t do it correctly.

In case you are still wandering what I’m talking about then let me explain. TahnDoLiGa or EeChulBong is the Korean name for Nunchaku, the two short sticks linked by a chain or rope. I thought I would only start playing with stuff like after I had a level or two behind my name. Apparently I was wrong. Wonder when we get to play with the wooden swords and staffs.

3. I suck at rope jumping/skipping.

I can do the basic hopping and swinging, but even that is not always up to par, so when I’m expected to run and do turns and all kinds of other crap, you can see where it gets embarrassing.

It doesn’t help when someone thinks that by repeatedly showing you WHAT to do, at normal pace, you will necessarily know HOW to do it. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to figure out what to do with your hand when you need to do strange move with a rope?

4. I suck even more at handstands and anything related to it.

I hit the floor every time when I attempted a handstand. I really need to practice more, but not on my hard floor at home.

5. This is twenty times more fun than gym.

It might even be more fun than that, because I don’t like gym at all. One of the reasons for doing this, there are more, is to get in shape. I would love to have, if not a six pack, at least the side lines again. I am not that far away and I am not that old yet to think it will never happen. The Hapkido will take care of the fitness and much of the cutting and shaping, but with a push-up here and there and a crunch or two, I should be back in some kind of shape in no time. (Just in time for winter vacation on the beach)

6. Those silly little mini busses that zip around everywhere are part of the service for many Hagwons.

Strictly speaking I’m not at a Hagwon, but it is thought of as the same category of institution. The dojang I attend is about 20-25 minutes’ walk from my place, so the owner comes to pick me up. Every day I sit in the bus with children from all over town who attend his dojang. I find it quite amusing. When school starts I will take the later class and, hopefully, not be with the middle school children any more. I suppose I can start going at a later time next week already. I will consider it this weekend.

Who wrote the Bible?

After the piece in the Qur'an, I watched this piece on the Bible.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

The Qur'an

Here is an interesting look at Islam and the Qur'an. It is not a promotion of Islam and if anything, it is a criticism. No matter how you see it, it is still something that I feel most people will gain from by watching it. If you plan on watching, then please keep in mind that the it is a one hour forty minutes program.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Coreanity.

In 1949 Adidas, formally Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik, was registered by a Korean man named Adolf Dassler. Mr. Dassler decided to combine the first parts of his name and surname to create the registered company name, giving us Adi + Das, or Adidas. This was a moment to be remembers as Korea’s most famous clothing brand was born.

Despite other countries in the same climate zone and many countries on same latitude, Korea has managed to be to only country in the world to have four distinct seasons in one year.

Even though a South African company is the biggest supplier of paper to Europe (last time I heard so I might be wrong), Korea actually has the best paper in the whole world.

Korea, with its lack of coffee plantations, produces the best coffee in the world, because instant coffee with powdered milk and sugar already added is better than real brewed coffee.

Purely because Japan has more money than Korea to lobby the United Nations, Korea, by international law, owns Dokdo. Let us not forget that said –do(island), is in fact not a –do, because you cannot independently support life on it.

Korean sport is the best in the world because one Korean swimmer won a gold medal at the Olympic Games.

So says a man whom I see at least once a week. The list goes on in what I have started calling Coreanity, although I am thinking of calling it Coreanism. If any of these statements seem strange to you then you are not alone in thinking than.

This man is just one of many who seem to treat Korea as a religion in that no proof is needed for anything. If you believe it then it must be true and if anyone dares to say anything to the contrary the Big Ginseng Man in the sky will smite you till you are deader than a, a, something Korean, because something Korean that is dead will be deader than anything any other country can, um, be dead.

A translation of the world according to Taiwan, but note what THEY say about Korea..."Claims to have invented the world"
(Image linked from Muddled Yam)

Monday, 11 August 2008

...and be your own brain.

 

The shirt reads:
"TAKE TO TREND GENDER"
"HAVE YOUR SENSE HNT"
"BE YOUR OWN BRAIN"

Sunday, 10 August 2008

I want it still make a noise.

Koreans seem to like the idea of knowing that their food was alive and happy once. You will rarely see a photo at a butcher of what the meat is suppose to look like when you buy it. Even at restaurants you will often see photos of the happy cattle and pigs that you are about to eat. This is a photo of a huge banner at a butcher that I pass quite often.

Saturday, 09 August 2008

When I First...

After frowning over the English, sit back and let your mind go...

Friday, 08 August 2008

Canned Good.

What can you say about someone who brings a can of maze/corn to a coffee shop?

Thursday, 07 August 2008

Junior Zebra

The t-shirt says: "As the child of a white mother and a black father, I got called Zebra and Oreo Cookie in school"

I am not usually politically correct when it comes to race because I feel people need to grow up and not get on their little black horses about every little race related remark or name, but this one goes a little bit to far. I know that few Koreans understands what the shirt says, and I know that quite likely it was not meant as an insult, but still, it is not very nice. It's funny in an evil way, but not nice.

The really scary thing is that this is something children here will likely say to a child of black and white parents. The one boy in my school is naturally darker than the other students, therefore his nickname is "Black". Other students never let a chance go by to point this out to me.

Wednesday, 06 August 2008

Why study English?

Watch out for the swearing at the beginning

This clip is interesting because it touches on Korea's obsession with “learning” English. I’m saying learning, because many a student studies for years and take tests to prove their proficiency, but is unable to hold a conversation.

I have often wondered about why most Koreans feel the need to study English. Although I have not explicitly asked the question, I have heard, through conversation, most of the answers in this clip.  (Please watch out for the searing in this clip.)

 

Common answers to the question “Why study English” are:
"In Korea it means power."
"I want to go to America."
"It is the international language."
I would like to discus my personal feelings in these three answers.

1. In Korea it means power.

From what people tell me, I can see how this might be true. If you “know” English, then your job opportunities are increased immensely. Unfortunately, knowing English and speaking is not the same thing. There are various proficiency tests to prove you are capable, but there are also many Koreans who pass these tests and are unable, or unwilling to speak English.

I have heard that the Korean Air crew swap around when there is an English Speaker in there service zone. The crew member who can actually speak English will then serve your zone. To get into Korean Air, you have to have passed TOEFL. According to international law, or at least while I was a flight attendant, you have to be able to speak English if you want to work on International flights. Being an international flight, you will likely have Non Koreans onboard. In an emergency, you need to be able to tell people what to do and what to expect and you will do this in English if they are not Korean.

Part of this “knowing” English, but not speaking it, is that many people are unable to understand any non-American accent. Sure, my parents have no idea what Ali G is saying, but give them a week and they will be fine. Leave them in England for a month and they will often not even notice the accents. Point is, the accent will hinder them, not stop them.

For someone who doesn’t care about ever leaving Korea for an extended period of time, there is no practical reason at all to study English apart from an employer’s baseless requirement. If it is possible to live in South Africa, with 11 languages, and never have to speak English, then surely it is true for Korea where 98% of the population is Korean?

2. I want to go to America

The reason I hear most for going to the US is to study. Korea cares more about the status of a university than the actual competence of the students. If you get a degree from one of the big three universities here, then you are well away and if you get a degree from an US Ivy League School then you might as well have been touched by god himself.

Point is that you go to the USA not to create a life there, but to get a degree so that you can come back to a country where everyone speaks Korean. Sure, this reason is marginally better for me, but the end result is still that English was only a means to an end. Once you come back you might never need English again. In that sense, this is almost the same as Answer One.

3. It is the international language.

This is a little more to the point, but no one seems to grasp what the point of an international language is. English is considered the international language of business, not THE international language. You are able to do business all over the world if you are able to speak English. Sure, Mandarin Chinese has more speakers, but Chinese business men don’t go to Africa and expect people there to speak Chinese. They go there and speak English. Very few Africans are first language English speakers, but most in the cities can, at the very least, handle themselves in the language. Chinese is the biggest language in terms of FIRST languages.

So, again, unless you are planning to travel without a tour guide or do business outside of Korea, then what is the point of this statement?

 

In this clip the one guy said "Swimming". That might be the best answer I have heard in a very long time. You want to become an international swimmer? Well, most people in the world don’t speak Korean, so get your act together and learn a language that many people do speak, even if it is not as a first language.

*This is a question, i feel,  that can be equally applied, with similar answers to many countries throughout the world.