Monday, 29 June 2009

Pray for Rain

Over the last few days Two Thousand City was really hot, and really dry. Going past the rice fields I was getting worried about the lack of water. Normally you see water in the field until the price plants are at least fully grown, usually until just a few weeks before harvesting, but not at the moment. The ground is moist, but very view field have the shine of water in them.

Why would I worry about this, you might ask? Well, I come from Africa where we always worry about the rain. Maybe not Africans at the equator, but in the rest of Africa we do. Also, if the rice crops are bad it means the rice price goes up, and in Korea that means the price of everything else goes up.

At least we had a bit of rain this morning and there is supposed to be rain for the next week or so. Let’s just hope it will be enough.

Monday, 22 June 2009


Last night one mozzie, one single mozzie, managed to bite me the back of my neck, my bicep, my foot my shoulder blade and my butt. What kind of a mosquito bites someone on the butt? Surprisingly, I don’t find the number of bites the problem, but I am sure we all know by now that a Korean mozzie bite swells up like a spider attacked you and then the bite itches like nothing on earth.

Because of last night’s attack, Korean mosquitoes have been upgraded to #2 on my list of things I hate about Korea. At least mozzies are only a problem in the summer, but Koreans can’t walk straight no matter which of Korea’s four distinct seasons we happen to find ourselves in.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Your Lord might just wake up today.

아마 오늘(목) 교감님께서 오후 1 시경 쯤 오실 것 같습니다.

그래서 내일(금) 오전까지 계십니다. 밀린 결재 부탁드립니다.

좋은 하루되세요.

교무부 최의광

This is a message we received on the school messenger today. The translation through Google was obviously wrong, but still hilarious:

Maybe today (Thursday) 1:00 p.m. sympathetic Lord seems to come about.
So tomorrow (Friday) morning, is up. Payment will be delayed.
Have a nice day.
Gyomubu choeuigwang

“Maybe today (Thursday) 1:00 p.m. sympathetic Lord seems to come about.”

What?! Bha-ha-ha-haaaaaa! Maybe today he will wake up from his coma? Classic!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

New, but oh the headaches.

There used to be a tight dirt road that ran a short distance in Ari-san, the mountain that flanks out school. That’s gone now, along with the scenic climb up the mountain. In return we got a more direct route from my neighbourhood to the centre of town.

The road sports the standard unblemished new flat surface, sidewalks that are still shivering from the feel of new feet, and lines that sparkle when the light hits it right.

However, what you get when you mix the following things together in the same 25 or so square meters:

1. The shortest route to the centre of town.

2. The entrance to both the elementary and middle schools.

3. Lines that seem to be painted just a little bit arbitrarily

4. Traffic lights that flash yellow all the time, instead of changing colour like they were created to do.

5. People who use said light to drive as if they are the only ones on the road

6. Cars parked wherever it seems convenient for the owners, even if it is almost in the middle of a busy intersection.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Friday, 12 June 2009



I cant stop staring at this picture. The good reasons, she is darn cute and does some interesting things. The bad reason, how can a girl that is so skinny be so flabby? Look around a bit. It is really a rare sight to see a Korean or Japanese girl with visible stomach muscles.

Ride the wave.

There is just so much wrong with this article that it will take a day to write about it. Scary thing is that this seems to be the standard for journalism in this country. I am being nice and calling it journalism and not complete rubbish. Whatever. It was fun reading the comments. This was my favourite part:

From the article:

Yonhap News learned from parents and teachers of middle school D in Jangan-gu, Suwon, where a native-speaker teacher from the United Kingdom came to school drunk and caused a disturbance. The drunken teacher began teaching sex education to the students in words they could not understand, saying “the reason I’m not married is I don’t want to have kids like you,” and “Dokdo is Japanese.”

A comment on the site:

I worked for a year at an elementary school, and one day I was surprised to see the head Korean teacher walk into my class and just start talking in Korean, completely interrupting my lesson. I went over to him and he stank of soju something fierce. He rambled on and on for about 10 minutes and then left. I asked my students what that was all about and they told me he was telling them to study hard.

So in my experience, its not the foreign teachers that disrupt class and come to school drunk, its the Koreans.

I am guessing the only real problem here was that he spoke about Laincourt Rocks, not that he was drunk. I am also upset about it because we all know South Africa are the rightful owners of the rocks.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

So this is what the loop is like.

This is fantastic!

Somehow the school’s instant messenger program was installed on to my computer. I have no idea who did it or when, but it was done, and it was working. Previously the program couldn’t display Hangeul, but now it is working fine and I am in the know. You have no idea how positive this is.

Now, every time a message comes up I copy it to Google Translate, get a weird, but usually understandable translation and Bob’s you Uncle. Now I know when someone is looking for their lost keys as well.

Today this message came through:

오늘 교육청에서 공기질 검사가 나옵니다.

혹 수업시간이라도 놀라지 마시길 바라며...

선생님들의 양해 부탁 드립니다.

My modified Google Translate version:

Board of Education Inspector will be checking today.
There will be surprise visits, so don’t be surprised please.
Please take not of this.

I used to think that the Demo Classes were the stupidest things because I thought that was all that was used as a measure of teaching. Turns out I was completely wrong. (Idiot!) Sorry about thinking you are completely useless, Korean Education.

So we say

Last week we started doing English dialogues over the public address system at school. This happens three times a week in the morning. The idea is that students get another fix of English by listening and repeating. All the dialogues have been printed in book form and distributed to the students, but before they did that I suggested/corrected a few things. No one ever asked me about the naturalness of the conversation and obviously only one person did error corrections on it.

Yesterday was the turn of these two dialogues. They just happen to be the two with which I had the most problems. The important Learning Points are in bold:

Dialogue One:

A: Allow me to introduce my friend to you.
B: I’m very happy to meet you. You are as beautiful as I’ve heard.
A: Thank. Good to see you, too.
B: I’ve heard a lot about you.

Dialogue Two:

A: On the right here is my younger brother.
B: He’s cute. What does he do?
A: He is a lawyer. He is really good with words. He never loses an argument.

My suggestions on these dialogues were never applied because there was not enough time or something, which makes me think that none of my suggestions were applied.

You might not completely agree with my ideas, but these were the things I had serious problems with:

Dialogue one is just plain weird. We never actually introduce the friend. Then, what is it with the Korean fascination with being beautiful, and why do they need to complement people on it all the time (see dialogue two as well). It might be that I generally don’t take compliments well, but if you complement me every day about frivolous things then they become empty compliments pretty quickly. Example, my “favourite” teacher told me yesterday, again, that my dress style is great. I wore normal black trousers and a blue shirt, neither one special or modern. After he said it the first time and it being not true, the rest were, and still are just useless and a waste of conversation time.

Then comes the “see/meet” problem. I understand the problem here with the way it is used in the Korean language, but that is why I made my suggestion about “Good to MEET you too.” Lastly there is the truly out of place part: “I have heard a lot about you”. You finish your conversation as lost as you started it, I see.

In dialogue two I have to ask: “Does it matter at all that this is you YOUNGER brother and that he is standing on your RIGHT?” I mean, as a piece of dialogue that is the main focus, surely these things are just fluff that will confuse the students?

Then comes the part that set me off, just for fun, on Facebook: “I AM NOT CUTE! Yes, I know in Korean it is OK to say that, but this isn't Korean and I am not a Korean. Even thought I am not, it is still OK to call me handsome, or even better, add rugged, but I am not a girl. Don't call me cute” In the context of the first two lines I thought the YOUNGER brother, being CUTE, must be about 7 years old. How wrong I was.

I do admit that most of the dialogues are fine with a few spelling mistake that comes from just one person checking. I am lucky to be in a school with three, yes THREE, English co-teachers who can all have full conversations about anything that interests them. Only one of them has slight pronunciation problems, but even that is nothing to cry about.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

What dreams are made of.

We were talking about sleep and dream in advanced conversation class today and the students told me about an interesting Korean expression. When I checked it with my co-teacher before writing about it she added a related expression.

The first expression is 개꿈이다, or 개꿈이요. This one is used to refer to dream as a Dog Dream, a dream that means nothing, a dream that is worth nothing.

개 = Dog, 꿈 = Dream.

The second expression is 돼지꿈이다, or 돼지꿈이요. This one is a Pig Dream, a dream that is good and valuable.

돼지 = Pig, 꿈 = Dream.

Tuesday, 09 June 2009

Great service for all

Wherefore are so may “non-essential” services in Korea open until close to midnight, but banks and service centres are closed on Saturdays?

I do understand that the service centres are also open until who knows what time, but if everyone is working at those same times, then it doesn’t really matter if they are open, does it? Banks have the added annoyance of closing at something like half past four AND are not being open on Saturdays. Quite a few people don’t work on Saturdays, so would this not be a logical time to be open?

This is bothering me now because I had to take my iPod in for repairs. Luckily I had Monday off because of the school’s anniversary, but what if I hadn’t? I don’t live is Seoul so that I can just pop on over to get things fixed. It would have taken my months or serious effort to get it at the service centre.

At least they will send the device to me instead of me having to go fetch it.

Friday, 05 June 2009

A successful day comes to an end

Last year, for some reason, the school suddenly put the special education students in my classes. It seems they attend most subjects with their own class group, but then they are taken out to special education for some. English Conversation was one of those classes that they skipped. To get back on track though, one girl was really excited about having English with me took a liking to me.

Because this girl’s classroom is right next to the office she comes in and greets me at least once a day. Every now and then she will have learned a new English word or phrase like “How are you”. The fact that she completely sucks at English doesn’t seem to faze her once bit.

I use to give her a sweetie every now and then, but decided that with the number of times she comes in to the office she will have to start earning her treats. Currently I’m working on her counting. Today I had her count all the way to ten without anyone helping her. Did I mention she was special education?

She got her reward but was not satisfied and asked for a bit more of the bread that I was eating. Having had some already, I thought it only fair that she would have to do something big for more bread.

It took her almost fifteen minutes, running around the office, asking anyone who would listen, what the numbers were. After letting her suffer I sat her down and wrote the approximate pronunciations using Hangeul. Normally I don’t like using Hangeul, but with her it is just about the only way to let the stuff stick. While she was enjoying the second treat I asked her to say it again, fixing small pronunciation problems, but for the most part she was still OK.

And there we go people. The best part of my day was making a middle schooler count from one to fifteen. As my reward I get to go home, change my clothes and go work on more blisters trying to learn basic sword strikes.


As part of my Google Map if my town I indicate the way we go to get to Express Bus Terminal in Seoul. If there is something interesting to see along the way I will make a note of it and today I thought I would hunt down the name of that big gothic looking silver cathedral thing. Turns out it is called은혜외진리교회, the Truth and Grace Church. I wish I could find a photo of it to show you but I cant find anything on the internet, and I am tired of looking. Their web site, but nothing, but I did find their description of the church. I copied this interesting part:

The denomination which our church belongs to is designated as Jesus Assembly of God There are several denominations in Christianity and each has its own characteristic.

Therefore, everyone can belong to any denominations according to one's faith line and live a religious life. But, there is only one thing to consider when one chose a denomination. It is that one should choose the orthodox denomination which teaches, believes and acts according to the Bible.

The denomination, Jesus Assembly of God, which our church belongs to is an orthodox denomination which confesses the faith on the basis of the Bible and many churches belong to our denomination throughout the country.

Basically, you are allowed to belong to any denomination, but if you ever want to avoid hell then you had better belong to THIS denomination.