Wednesday, 31 December 2008

I'm turning Korean. I really think so.

I have been here to long! I’m turning Korean!

There are many things I don’t like about Korea, just like there are many things I DO like. There is, however, only one thing I hate about Korea. Koreans can’t walk straight.

I’m serious. I mentioned this before and I am sure I will mention it again. For a country with such a dense population, people here have no regard for others around them. When you walk in a relatively busy area then you tend to walk in a straight line, right? You tent to follow some real or imagined line on the ground and stick to it until you have a reason to deviate, right? Not in Korea.

In Korea you walk, veering left and right in a random fashion with no care of who is behind you or approaching from the front. I have found myself walking like this way to often the last few months and it is starting to bother me.

I’m also starting to like the super high, porn star like heels the girls wear, the men don’t look all that gay any more and if something has a cute picture on it then I am more likely to buy it. In the past I would have been less likely. What is happening to me?

Friday, 26 December 2008

Christmas Eve Hapkido Testing

Our belt test was held on Wednesday at 5PM, so we all had to rush from work to the. Starting at 5PM means that if you arrive AT 5PM, then you are already late, and that was me.

No biggy though because it took a long time to organise everything. The students from ALL the classes along with their parents were. Yup, that is what I said, their parents. It seems that the day before Christmas is the big show-of day for the parents to see what their children are up to.

In this country most dojangs are run as hagwans. This is especially true for dojangs with lots of school students. I have to give credit to Master Jo though, if you want to work harder and put more time in then he is always there to help. Anyway, dojangs, being hagwans where you don’t actually learn anything you need for any test, can also be a place to send children just get them out of the house, and I suspect that is why we saw all these parents who can’t be bothered to come during the year to check up. Maybe I am wrong, maybe I’m not, either way, it is just an opinion in the end.

Our test was not really a test at all. Starting with the lowest belt colours, we took to the floor in groups to do a few kicks, punches, blocks and break falls. I made a few mistakes, way to many to my liking. The weirdness of this situation that we knew nothing about was no fun at all, and being first up meant us foreigners had no chance to see what was suppose to happen.

After the kicking and stuff, the Korean colour belts had their chance to break boards. Each student had his little board on which he wrote a message for mommy and daddy. You write a message and then hit the hell out of the board. Nice! One parent for each student would then come to the floor and hold the board. The student would read the message and proceed to break it, sometimes with a little help. It was actually quite cute to see.

I was the only foreigner who broke anything. Master Jo asked me to throw a roundhouse kick at a baseball bat. Breaking a flimsy bat is fun. Likely Master Jo wanted to show his foreigners of a bit and I was perfectly willing to help. This is a business after all, and he does treat us well.

After my “big kick” the testing day was brought to an end because the busy parent had to go catch up with all the thing they usually do, seeing how they were forced to come look at their little darlings for more a few minutes longer than the one hour they expected.

It was a weird experience overall, but not something I would have wanted to miss.

After the testing the students who arrived late and missed their chance got the opportunity to do their stuff. I was stretching when these students took to the floor. As Eddy is normally directly behind me in class when we practice, I never get to see him kick. It was painful to see. AS an example, his roundhouse kick came in at about knee high. This is a kick that should potentially hit someone’s head. Sure, I can’t go that high yet, but at least I can punish our chest a bit. That is what you get for stretching a bit ever day.

Eddy, for some reason, thought he was going to get a blue belt after this test. White to blue in two months? Are you kidding me? He impressed me later when he said that he doesn’t think he is ready for a blue belt and that one more month will do him good. You think? It took me five and I don’t really believe I deserve it. That is why I will be putting in extra work this holiday, so that I can be more deserving of my belt colour.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

How much do I care?

For some reason I never noticed that this old post was possibly from a Korean TV show. Way to teach Global English ;)

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Protect me from evil.

Wahooooo! Two Thousand City finally got some decent snow. It is not that much and it will likely be gone as soon as the sun comes out for longer than five minutes, but at least there was a nice little white blanket over everything. When will I ever get to see something like this?

In other news, Sunday was Winter Solstice. For Buddhists this is a big day. There is a whole tradition in which you eat Donji Patjuk, Read Bean “Soup”, to ward off bad spirits. I was told that this would happen on Sunday past and that temples serve PatJuk to the visitors. Needless to say I had to go see this for myself.

As temples often are, our big temple is located on top of a mountain. The climb there starts out nice and easy, but just when you are nicely lulled in to a false sense of comfort, and at right about the time when you are far enough in to be committed to the course, the path suddenly increases in steepness. I’m talking about 30+ decrees here. What makes it worse is that you can’t see the end and you have to climb blind, so to speak.

Luckily I knew this beforehand as I had been up that road before, but it is never easy. Both on the way to the top and at the temple itself I was surprised to find that almost everyone was female. Seems men are not very spiritual in thin country.

I hung around for a bit, observing things and taking pictures, when I heard a small voice saying “Poo-Rang-Soo-Wa!” (That is one way of taking the French out of my name.) One of the students from my dojang saw me and wanted to say hello. He is still very young so his English is limited to “hello”. His father’s English was much better though and he invited me to have some of the magical red stuff.

The PatJuk was a bit bland, but still tasty. Interestingly, it was not sweet at all. It is nice to eat something that is not laced with chilies. Putting the same pepper paste in everything does not exactly lend your food to variety. I was, of course, given the normal side dished of kimchi and a few other things, as well as rice cake rolled in red bean.

I am now set for the rest of the year. No bad spirits will get close to me. All I have to worry about now is keeping bad children away.

*** My computer started acting up something awful and I decided to reinstall it. I still have to install my photo editing software and hence there are no photos of my little trip to find protection.

Monday, 22 December 2008

What is Korea famous for?

Come on, I know you all know this. What is Korea famous for?

  • For somehow having the oldest civilisation in the world, clocking in at 5000 years.
  • For eating kimchi and other of the spiciest foods in the world.
  • For being the only country in the world with four, count them, FOUR distinct seasons.
  • For having a 100% scientific script.
  • For laying claim to two rocks that, based on the ancient maps and records, arguably belong to South Africa.

Friday, 19 December 2008

If Programming Languages Were Religions

Something posted over at The Atheist Blogger:

C would be Judaism - it’s old and restrictive, but most of the world is familiar with its laws and respects them. The catch is, you can’t convert into it - you’re either into it from the start, or you will think that it’s insanity. Also, when things go wrong, many people are willing to blame the problems of the world on it.

Java would be Fundamentalist Christianity - it’s theoretically based on C, but it voids so many of the old laws that it doesn’t feel like the original at all. Instead, it adds its own set of rigid rules, which its followers believe to be far superior to the original. Not only are they certain that it’s the best language in the world, but they’re willing to burn those who disagree at the stake.

PHP would be Cafeteria Christianity - Fights with Java for the web market. It draws a few concepts from C and Java, but only those that it really likes. Maybe it’s not as coherent as other languages, but at least it leaves you with much more freedom and ostensibly keeps the core idea of the whole thing. Also, the whole concept of “goto hell” was abandoned.

C++ would be Islam - It takes C and not only keeps all its laws, but adds a very complex new set of laws on top of it. It’s so versatile that it can be used to be the foundation of anything, from great atrocities to beautiful works of art. Its followers are convinced that it is the ultimate universal language, and may be angered by those who disagree. Also, if you insult it or its founder, you’ll probably be threatened with death by more radical followers.

C# would be Mormonism - At first glance, it’s the same as Java, but at a closer look you realize that it’s controlled by a single corporation (which many Java followers believe to be evil), and that many theological concepts are quite different. You suspect that it’d probably be nice, if only all the followers of Java wouldn’t discriminate so much against you for following it.

Lisp would be Zen Buddhism - There is no syntax, there is no centralization of dogma, there are no deities to worship. The entire universe is there at your reach - if only you are enlightened enough to grasp it. Some say that it’s not a language at all; others say that it’s the only language that makes sense.

Haskell would be Taoism - It is so different from other languages that many people don’t understand how can anyone use it to produce anything useful. Its followers believe that it’s the true path to wisdom, but that wisdom is beyond the grasp of most mortals.

Erlang would be Hinduism - It’s another strange language that doesn’t look like it could be used for anything, but unlike most other modern languages, it’s built around the concept of multiple simultaneous deities.

Perl would be Voodoo - An incomprehensible series of arcane incantations that involve the blood of goats and permanently corrupt your soul. Often used when your boss requires you to do an urgent task at 21:00 on friday night.

Lua would be Wicca - A pantheistic language that can easily be adapted for different cultures and locations. Its code is very liberal, and allows for the use of techniques that might be described as magical by those used to more traditional languages. It has a strong connection to the moon.

Ruby would be Neo-Paganism - A mixture of different languages and ideas that was beaten together into something that might be identified as a language. Its adherents are growing fast, and although most people look at them suspiciously, they are mostly well-meaning people with no intention of harming anyone.

Python would be Humanism: It’s simple, unrestrictive, and all you need to follow it is common sense. Many of the followers claim to feel relieved from all the burden imposed by other languages, and that they have rediscovered the joy of programming. There are some who say that it is a form of pseudo-code.

COBOL would be Ancient Paganism - There was once a time when it ruled over a vast region and was important, but nowadays it’s almost dead, for the good of us all. Although many were scarred by the rituals demanded by its deities, there are some who insist on keeping it alive even today.

APL would be Scientology - There are many people who claim to follow it, but you’ve always suspected that it’s a huge and elaborate prank that got out of control.

LOLCODE would be Pastafarianism - An esoteric, Internet-born belief that nobody really takes seriously, despite all the efforts to develop and spread it.

Visual Basic would be Satanism - Except that you don’t REALLY need to sell your soul to be a Satanist…

Thursday, 18 December 2008

All there is to Korean culture

I’m not sure if it was the Gyeonggi Education Department or our city’s program, but yesterday we were treated to “Korean Culture”. 5000 years of history and all you have to show is kimchi and pottery?

No doubt the program was sincerely intended to show us more about Korean culture, and the whole day was quite fun, but sometimes I wonder if Koreans actually know what their own culture is all about. Do they not realize that watching TV on tiny screens on the bus/subway, playing games at the PC bang all day and boiling it up at the Jimjil Bang or Baths are as much part of Korean culture as kimchi is? Would it not be more useful for us to learn more about the history and use of these? Show me ONE teacher who has been here more than a month who has not heard about the whole history of kimchi. Now that I think about it, they never tell us that chili is a comparatively recent addition.

Would it not be more useful for the Provence to work on setting up language schools to teach us the Korean Language? Would we not learn more about Korean culture if we were able to experience it directly with the use of said language? When one of the English teachers asked if there was a place in town where we could study Korean, we were told that we had to ask our school’s teachers to teach us. Really?! You mean they don’t have their own jobs to do? They don’t have homes to go to? You mean that the Korean English teachers are, by default, also excellent teachers of Korean as a foreign language?

Someone was kind enough to start teaching me Korean. She is doing it twice a week and she is doing it free of charge, but we can’t expect others to do the same. How many of US will teach someone free, twice a week, with no ulterior motives? She is married with children and I have a girlfriend, so no sport will ensue from the lessons, only new language abilities. OK, OK. She is learning how to teach Korean and she is actually learning a lot of English from teaching me, but somehow I don’t think that was her goal.

Back to the “Cultural” Day. We were taken to a kimchi factory to experience making kimchi and dumplings. If you have ever been to an after school cooking class, then you will know you don’t learn much. You get most of your ingredients pre-measured, if not already mixed as well. To make the dumplings we only have to scoop the fillings and fold the dumplings. That was it. To make the kimchi we only had to spread the mix on to the already salted cabbage and we were done. If I was asked to make dumplings or kimchi today I would not have a clue where to start.

The pottery lesson was much better. We started from scratch and made or own, well, rubbish. After we did the basics they took our pots, put the clay on the spinning wheel and basically redid the whole thing. It seems a bit senseless, but without that help 95% of our pots will crack in the kiln. This way most of us get a nice little souvenir.

The biggest highlight was this photo. Not only is the company names White Tour, but there is a Foreign Tourist On Board sign in the window. What on earth is that sign about?

All in all the day was fun and I got to meet up with the old and new faces in town. No doubt next time the whole thing will be much better. This was their first try, after all.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Like, Shoo-WOW!

Dude! How impressive is this! I finished the this blog post just to see that my browser scroll bar is still at the top. This post received 2353 comments!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Dokdo is ours, YEA!

People have told me I am a sarcastic person. I have no idea why they would say that, but I must admit that I like sarcastic humour. Because of that Dokdo Is Ours has been one of my favourite blogs from the very first post I read. This post had me crying with laughter. Unfortunately you have to have been in Korea for a while to truly appreciate the sarcasm here. If not, and you are not American, then imagine everything you think about Americans and apply it to Korea, times two, because Koreans truly do seem to think they are the only place that matter in the entire world.

After having said all that, I also believe that, like all other countries, people with the annoying and extreme opinions scream the loudest. I have found many Koreans who do not think this is the centre of the universe and do believe that they can learn a lot from other countries.

Tuesday, 09 December 2008

Sometimes you just have to say: "F*** it!"

The show I am busy downloading was not finished when I woke up this morning. STILL! I did the second best thing and started clicking the "Stumble" button on my browser for a video to look at/listen to while I get dressed. This popped up and had me stop from dressing for a few minutes:

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Monday, 08 December 2008

All I want for Christmas is a broken leg.

Tonight at Hapkido Master Jo reminded us of the Skills Test. I don’t like the term Belt Test or Promotion Test any more because you don’t necessarily get promoted to a new belt, but your skills are still tested. He reminded us because he wanted to let us know what we will have to do. Apparently we will have to do some kicking, punching, self defence, falling and board breaking. He pointed out that only us foreigners, six of us now, would have to do it. He pointed to every one of us to indicate who he was talking about and when he got to me he said I would be breaking a baseball bad with a low leg kick.

My mind said something like this: “WHAT?! EXCUSE ME?! WHAT?! ME?! A BASEBALL BAT?! WHAT THE…?! WHAT, WHAT?!”

At first I thought he was joking, but now I pretty sure he was serious. He even brought out the bat that I would be kicking to prove his statement. He hinted that I might have to do a roundhouse kick to break it, but I am pretty sure that is completely beyond my current abilities. I am, of course, assuming that doing it with a low leg kick is within my abilities.

I am seriously scared to do this and I suspect I will be scared for the rest of the month, but when I do it (positive thinking) I will be able to say “Hello, my name is F… Otto. I can break a baseball bat with one kick!”

I might just have to create a Facebook groups for people like me. It will either be called “I broke a baseball bat with my leg” or “I broke my leg with a baseball bat”

Sunday, 07 December 2008

The Karate Kid with English Radio

For some reason I felt like watching The Karate Kid. Since I started doing a martial art I have started looking at film like this one in a different way. Now I see things I never saw before and I can see who actually know what they are doing. I still have a lot to learn and I am still trying to do the basics myself, but I have learned what they are and what is normal, so now that amazing kick is just, well, silly.

I downloaded with a torrent that had all four films in the series. Since I never knew there was a Next Karate Kid, so I decided to download that as well and watch it. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the next star was a girl, and Hilary Swank of all girls. I was even more surprised when I saw what she could do. She knows how to kick and she sure knows how to throw a punch. That is more than could be said for the first Karate Kid. The film wasn’t too bad, but was just more of the normal stuff. Bad guys trying to pick a fight, bad teacher egging them on, the philosophy teaching with the weird techniques to the rebellious student and the inevitable showdown and dirty fighting by the bad guy. All in all it was OK, but nothing more.


After the film, as I was getting ready to go out to do some shopping, I decided to listen to the new English radio station in Seoul. Since I don’t own a radio and I am in broadband heaven, I just went to the site and started streaming the audio. While there I had a look at the descriptions of the programs.

Oh Boy! The English! True to Korea, they also ignore the rule of capitalising the first letter of a sentence. All in all the English is not bad, but not good either, and if you want to put it on the Internet and promote yourself and an English station, don’t you think you should use the English Speakers who work for you to do a quick proof read?

At least we have a station to listen to now. I even heard a bit of English language Rock the other day.


I don’t have an English Speaker who works for me and therefore no one to proof read my stuff. If you have ever written a blog then you will know that it is not easy to proof your own stuff because you know what you are suppose to say and just don’t see your own mistakes. I humbly apologise for the many grammar and spelling mistakes that I make. I know they are there, but I only see them if I read my posts a week later, and who has time to do that.

Saturday, 06 December 2008

Pineapple Express

I just finished watching Pineapple Express. I am not a movie buff and I don’t do movie reviews. All I can say is I didn’t think is was a great film, but it did what it was supposed to do and entertained me. My favourite two conversations in the film happened just a couple of minute out of each other the go like this:

“Think about a hermit crab, ok? And it’s a shell and it’s like they go from one shell to the next. And that’s what I am. It’s like I’m just a hermit crab, changing shells.”

“Except, if you’re a dick your whole life, your next shell will be made of shit, OK? If you’re an asshole you’re going to come back as a cockroach, or a worm, or a fucking anal bead, OK? If you’re a man, and you act heroic, you’ll come back as an eagle. You’ll come back as a dragon. You’ll come back as Jude Law, OK? Which would you rather be?”

“Hmm, maybe the anal bead might…depending on who it belongs to.”

“It belongs to me!”

“Then, the dragon.”


“I can’t do this. I’m sorry, man. I can’t do this. I’m infected. My shits all fucked up. I need medical attention.”

“What do you mean you can’t…? I thought we just got all pumped up. What was that all about?”

“Dude! Ted is a fucking murderer! I can’t fuck with him! I’ve got a wife man. She’s going to be out of jail soon. I want to fuck her. I want to have sex with her. I am NOT going to wake up murdered tomorrow!

"Cold weather we're having."

Because we love talking about the weather!

Keep in mind that it is even worse on the motorcycle.

Friday, 05 December 2008

What bored people do at school.

The examinations are next week and it is Friday. There is no way I am going to do anything productive today. Even some of the Korean teachers are showing films to the students or just letting them study for the tests.

I am spending my time looking at clips on the Internet. This one reminded me of Korea. Something weird happen very fast and before you know what happened it’s in the past. When you look at it in slow motion detail you will either say “WOW!” or “What the…!”

Thursday, 04 December 2008

Sit back and enjoy.

The lyrics might be on the sad side, but MAN, is the music go00ood!

While inserting/listening to the first clip, I though of a second song. I found this clip from the very early days and though it wan nice.

It is quite appropriate for the gloomy winters day we have today. If they could change it to Cape Town Dreaming or even Pretoria Dreaming then I would know EXACTLY what they are talking about, but apparently California is not such a bad place in winter.

Wednesday, 03 December 2008

They want to turn me in to an Ajuma!

Another teacher in my town mentioned that she had to go to a training thing at our education office round about the middle of December. Today I was told that I had to go there on the 17th, so I’m wondering if it is the same thing.

Here is the kicker though. We have to go make to Kimchi and Mandu. I am sure they do actually want us to enjoy the experience and they don’t just want to force “Korean Culture” on us, but I am also sure they will not let this chance go my to take photos that show how they forced us to make kimchi we relish the opportunity to learn “Korean Culture”. It will likely be nice, but my cynical side can’t help but wonder about the possible extra reasons.


I finished the year’s last work with some of my classes his week. The last test went very quickly in the one class, so I asked them if they wanted to watch a few YouTube clips or a DVD. With ten minutes to go YouTube was the obvious choice, so I decided to show them a WonderGirls / Epik High song that a friend sent me a few weeks ago.

Deciding that funny music videos was to be the mission for the day, I type “funny music video” in to YouTube’s search box and let rip. You would be surprised how many hits you get on Korean songs. This weird thing came up. The students were not able to tell me if it was originally released like that or of it was dubbed by someone else.

Tuesday, 02 December 2008

Scary Movie - The classroom version.

This whole week I have been showing my students this clip. I take about two minutes out of it just to make it more useable and the effect stays the same.

I was surprised when one of the girls started crying. We are talking 1 in 500 students, but she is middle school after all.


Here is a maze game that challenges you to solve a maze by reaching to a red box without touching the walls.  It is very easy to install and use. It also provides compatibility with all Flash enabled browsers. You can easily customize it. You can  Download it from

When you are finished you might want to have a look at this clip as well as this clip.

Monday, 01 December 2008

School Classroom Signs

For some reason you don't really see a lot of Korean on sites like and Engrish Funny, so I like to alert people to them when they some up.

The Two-th grade is funny, but I think I might be able to equal it. The first is from my own school, where we, apparently teach the art of flying:

The second come from a Elementary School where I attended an open class. This school is lucky enough to be teaching the next generation of X-Men:


* Brian left a comment about his schools Feeding Facilitie. "It is spelled with a 'y', you fools. How are the little beasts ever going to learn English like this? " ;)

* Sue had a cool sign that was ACTUALLY cool. I WANT one of those. She sent me this comment:

When I was given my first tour of my school I noted the 'Stack Room'. Of course it was the store room where you stacked things.....makes sense in a Korean way! I pointed out that its called a store or supply room and so the sign was changed.

Then I saw my grotty old classroom (before my new hi tech English classroom and library was built) was called the English Zone (pronounced Joan). I saw this sign in other schools too. I said I definitely didn't want my new rooms to be called the English Zone so I got a beautiful sign calling it the English Dept!!! It was always nice when they actually listened to me.