Monday, 12 July 2010
Sunday, 11 July 2010
A Korean girl of 17 is in her first year in hight school. Their American counterparts go to high school at 15 or 16, as far as I understand, but this does not mean Koreans go to high school at a later age. It just has to do with the way Koreans calculate their ages.
Most girl in school wear straight bangs, something many of them will drop once they leave school. Their hair rarely goes shorter than bob and is often tied in to a pony tail in the middle of the head. Since they are Korean they will have the Eastern Asian eye shape and skin colour, small noses, small mouths and heads that appear larger than that of Westerners, dark hair and dark eyes.
All these things are very superficial though, and unless you live here you will not be to tell Koreans from other Easter Asians. Even Koreans can't always tell, but like every country in the world, each person mostly just looks like themselves.
Clothes are much easier describe. School students in Korea often wear their uniforms all day every day. Depending on the high school a girl’s skirt can be anywhere from just above her knees her knees up to a mini a mini. Current fashion is to get it as short and as tight as the school will allow, and some schools will allow pretty much anything. Right now it is summer so she likely will be wearing a white t-shirts to cover everything that is exposed by the silly, to small uniform shirts that they have to wear here. The shirt will likely be completely unbuttoned and flapping open because of the heat. Shoes will be either the standard school saddles of the three stripe flip-flip like, or the current retro style seekers. Many still wear Converse
A great many students here wear spectacles with thickish dark frames in a rectangle shape. I suppose it is just fashion, but I think it suites them well.
Although there are very many absolutely beautiful Korean women, from elementary school through to middle age, do not think for a moment that the typical Korean girl looks like the models, actors and singers you see in photos everywhere. With the help of surgery, a great many of them look nothing like they did in school.
I happened to have taken photos of my middle schoolers leaving school two days ago and noticed this photo. The girls in this photo will go to hight school next year. They will be on he prudish side of the scale, but they will illustrate the look nicely. THe boy in the second photo is wearing the typical specs I mentioned earlier.
It is that time of the year again. Lorries ride around town pumping poison in to the air that will, apparently, kill mozzies, but not us. I have to wonder if the concentration is even strong enough to do anything, and if it is, is it not also strong enough affect us as well?
Photo by strangerbegins
Saturday, 10 July 2010
While waiting for the bus there was suddenly a drop in activity at the bus terminal. I looked up from my book and scanned the scene and noticed a sweet shot of the busses perfectly lined up, all facing the same way. It was just a like sardines in a can.
I took out my camera just in time for a new flurry of activity that interrupted my view. A group of busses came past, with some deciding that parking exactly where I don’t need them would be the best idea in the world. I now hate busses.
Friday, 09 July 2010
Thursday, 08 July 2010
Wednesday, 07 July 2010
When is fashion more important that functionality? When fashion hurts you so much that you have to look stupid to do it. Any benefit that this girl got from her swanky shoes were negated by the plasters she exposed to the world to prevent said shoes from hurting her.
Apart from that she looked quite and sensible.
Tuesday, 06 July 2010
I initially wanted to go to Seoul City Hall to watch Korea play Uruguay in the last 16, but I accidentally heard that they would be using the big screen here at Icheon City Hall to show the match. After seeing the crowds from the previous matches and how you had to fight for a spot, on top of which I would have had to contend with rain and a night in Seoul, I decided to just see what my little city had to offer. I estimate we had somewhere between 1000 and 2000 people. Sure it doesn’t seem like much compared to Seoul, but hey, it was raining and we don’t millions of residents. Fun was had and I slept in my own bed.
Monday, 05 July 2010
On the fhere is a piece of board that slides left and right. This is, in effect, your shutter. You open it, count, close it. High tech stuff. What I haven’t figured out yet is how I know where the next exposure starts. I’ve been unable to find information online, so at the moment I am assuming that the film is just one long exposure and the photos are placed and positioned by the camera. I’m guessing I there will be quite a few overlapping photos on this first one.
On the back you have a quick reference that tells you how long you need to keep the shutter open. 90 seconds when you are inside with the light one. Scary. Because I bought 400 film, I am using the pinhole on my DSLR with the ISO at 400 as a gauge. As of yet I have no idea if it will work. We’ll know when the film is developed.
Sunday, 04 July 2010
쉬즈 아웃 오브 마이 리그, transliterated "Swejeu a-oot obeu ma-i reegeu". That, my deers friends, is supposed to be English. "She's" apparently, is the same as "Swejeu"
Again I have to ask, if someone understands any of that, why then do you need to write it in Korean. If you can't read the English, then surely this will have no meaning to you, so why have it as a name? Sheer stupidity, that is why.
On a similar note, "How to Train Your Dragon" is now just "Dragon" in Korean. Really? Are you telling me there are no other dragon films out there? Are you telling me you were completely unable to give it a Korean name? It is not as if this animation was even released in English, or was it? Sheer stupidity!
(To be fair, Dragon has "taming" written underneath, but quite a bit smaller, and I can guarantee you that almost no one will use it.)
Friday, 02 July 2010
I’m sure few people would disagree with the idea that culture influences language, but not many people ever think about how language influences culture. Think about it for a second. If your language doesn’t even have a word for something, then how do you think about it? You likely won’t, unless you invest effort in to creating a mental picture. As an example, Koreans are not exactly knows for being very sarcastic, or even understanding sarcasm. How could they be if there isn’t even a word for it in their language? How can you be something that, in a way, does not exist? In the same what there are things that is really difficult to explain in English and hence we rarely think about it.
An interesting example that I recently learned about is the Propositive Sentence in Korean [-(으)ㅂ시다]. This is a grammatical structure that, in its formal form, should only be used by a senior towards a junior, or between equals.
My immediate reaction was to wonder how you would go about making suggestions to your seniors, or even asking questions. The answer, I have since learned, is that you don’t. You are expected to just nod your head, say yes and go do your best. You are younger, therefore you cannot be expected to think for yourself with an older more senior person to guide you.
How can I be sure? Well, I read it in a book, but more importantly, I went to a Korean and asked. She had to think about it, and yes, there are ways around it, but it is not easy and basically just not done. She said that because I am a foreigner I am not actually expected to follow custom that strictly, but the point is still that if you are the junior, then you are expected to just “Shut up and nod, boy. Shut up and nod.”
This would explain a lot about Korean culture, where people often follow what they have been told slavishly. Not only are you, the junior, not allowed to contradict, suggest or question, but the senior assumes that his word is law and therefore it is expected of you to just do what he says. What the juniors think things is not important because they are not even able to voice it. Chaebol CEO/Monarch, anyone?
I know I might be exaggerating here, but I hope that the point is made. We are very quick to ask how people can be they way they are, and why they don’t just open their eyes and change, but in this example, unless you have a decent grasp of English, or some other Western language in which you can naturally state the ideas that contradict Korea’s very un-Western ways, how then are you going to even know that you “should“ change?
The reverse is true for us English speakers. We, for example, are usually not even aware of most of the intricate relationships underlying Korean society, and even when we are, describing them is a complex matter because often we don’t have the language to do it.
Thursday, 01 July 2010
The GEPIK orientation/training is behind us now and I’m sorry to say that it was mostly a waste of time. The whole thing was to short and the lectures were mostly irrelevant to our needs. Apparently this was the first time that the people from the co-ordinater program was asked to arrange this, so fingers crossed it will get better. Only time will tell. The question is, what I would like to see at this that will make me go: “Yaaaaah!”
The very first things that I would like to see is more information on what is expected of us. It’s all well and good to tell us how to teach, but how to teach is worth nothing if we don’t know what we are supposed to teach. There were two presenters from universities who mentioned a) what she things Koreans in general need help with and b) what he needs to see from his students when they walk in to his class, but it seemed noting more than incidental information. Someone needs to say: “Right. This is what we expect from a first grader in Middle School, and from the second grader, and…” They don’t need to tell us how to do it, but again, we can’t do the how if we don’t even have a what. It would seem though the not even the education offices know or understand what we are to do here. We don’t fit in to the Entrance Exam criteria, therefore what we do doesn’t merit the attention the English as a whole does.
The second thing I would like to learn more about is co-teaching. There are people here and there who are working not this, but over all I haven’t seen any of this affect my teaching experience. I have personally tried to get my co-teacher more involved, but it is an individual effort. If I go to my co-teachers and ask them what they think they will generally just say: “Whatever you want”, and I will not be any better off. Both sides need training on how to make this work because at the moment it is only the NTs who seem to have the time and will to do something about it. In the end someone’s time is being wasted and that is time that can been used to do something to help students the way they are supposed to be helped, by teaching them something useful.
Something that was nice was learning who or what the co-ordinators were. It is nice having a bunch of people who are, more often than not, Korean Americans. This provides us with go-betweens who not only speak our language, but is able to speak it our way. They are also capable of understanding our problems because just like we will forever struggle to fully understand those stupid things Korean do, so too will they forever struggle with the stupid things we do. The co-ordinators will go a long way in helping with this.
I am, however, saying “capable”, and nothing more, because we still have to see if that will be the fact. They have skills we have, and their intentions seem good, but will that be enough? The GEPIK co-ordinator leader herself taught for, wait for it, one whole year in Korea. Sure, she is making an effort to further her studies in the field, but that does not substitute for actually experience. What is the situation with the other co-ordinators? I know one teaches part time, but I can honestly say that I am lacking enough knowledge to express anything more meaningful than a question. Also, as an online friend and well know blogger mentions, the Korean American/Australian/wherever, seem to always get caught up in the politics and end up tiptoeing around problems like everyone else. Sure, they might understand and sympathise with our problems, but how effective will they be in a culture where the superior tells the pleb what to think and never the other way around?
(Did you know that there is a special grammatical form/structure in the Korean language for making suggestions or for agreeing with people, and that you are not supposed to use this with your superiors? This translates to the juniors being expected to just sit and nod and never replying unless specifically and directly being asked a question. I am still snooping around to get the full story behind this, so don’t quote me just yet. TOPIK test studies coming in handy already?)
Here’s to another here of the same old same old and here is to hoping that I it will not be so.
Sunday, 27 June 2010
I’ve decided that in order for me to advance in my Korean studies, which stagnated just beyond the point of ordering kimbab, I have to get something to work towards. That something will be the TOPIK, or Test of Proficiency in Korean. As a kind of a public note book I created a new blog which updates on to Facebook for everyone to admire or laugh at my progress.
Friday, 25 June 2010
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Copied from the Korea Times:
By Kim Hyun-cheol
In the start of a new epic for its football history, South Korea made it to the round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup, for the first time in an overseas tournament.
Clumsy, and “In the start?”
Lee Jung-soo scored in the first half and Park Chu-young netted a second after halftime, as Huh Jung-moo’s squad managed a 2-2 tie with Nigeria in its last group stage match in Durban, Tuesday.
He managed to score AFTER half time. That is amazing, and illegal.
The result could have been not enough for a seat in the top 16, but the East Asians outplayed Nigeria and Greece in their Group B competition as Argentina beat Greece 2-0 in Polokwane. South Korea placed second in the group with four points, ahead of Greece with three points and Nigeria with one.
Where do I start? They have a seat? They played Greece and Nigeria at the same time, three teams in on once pitch? They outplayed Nigeria by drawing?
South Korea, which returns to the knockout stage in eight years, takes on Group A leader Uruguay Saturday at Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth, where the team got off to a flying start for its World Cup campaign with a 2-0 victory over Greece on June 12.
Did you even try to make that sentence longer? What am I going to read for the next 8 years, while I wait for Korea to return to the Last 16.
South Korea outplayed Nigeria in attacks with 16 shots, eight of them on target, compared to Nigeria’s 11 shots including three on goal. Some critical mistakes in defense, however, gave up two goals to the Africans, which kept the Taeguk Warriors from claiming a victory they could have deserved.
They could have deserved. That is funny. They could have not deserved it. They also could have many other things.
It was Nigeria who took an initial lead. In the 12th minute, Kalu Uche converted a Chidj Odiah cross from the right to a sharp drive in the center of the box that hit the deep right of the net. Cha Du-ri was standing right behind the Nigerian midfielder, but failed to mark him on time.
However, South Korea leveled it in the 38th in a virtual repetition of the first goal against Greece, which led to Lee’s second goal of the tournament.
And this lonely “however” sentence? I’m already tired of this commenting. You can read the rest of this clumsy article here. I’m not being paid to write decent English, so I al allowed to write the rubbish that I do, but is a news paper that English speaking people read and worse, Koreans use it to improve their English.
“But,” you might say, “an Americano IS a normal cup of coffee.” Not so, my halfwit friend. Many people think the Americano means American, but Americano and American is not the same thing. A “normal” cup of coffee, as we in English speaking countries tend to think of it, comes from a pot and is brewed by dripping water through the coffee grind. Americano, on the other hand, is an Espresso toped up with hot water.
“So,” you say, “why should I worry about that?” Normal coffee is made from light or medium-roasted beans. Espresso, and by extension Americano, is made from dark-roasted beans. Darker roasts produce that very strong, quite bitter taste, while the lighter the roasts give the less bitter, more mild tastes. Lighter roasts also have the more distinctive the taste of the particular bean.
Back to Saturday. You see, it is not easy to find a brewed pot of coffee in Korea. Not one Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, or anywhere in between, had a pot on hand. The solution is to turn in to any one of your general 24-hour shops.
Just enter your local By The Way and head on over to the microwave and boiler. Next to them you should see a selection of coffees and hot chocolates nicely displayed and wrapped in take-out cups. Many, if not all of these coffees will come with an individual tea bag of grind, a packet of sugar and stir stick and that right there, my friends, is not that far of from a normal brewed cup of coffee. Best of all, one of these gems rarely costs you more than a single little Cheon Won.
Go ahead. Run to the GS24 and get us a couple. I’ll wait for you.
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
I was giggling at this song, but my adult students swore that Miss Sexy references the original meaning. I don’t see it. Maybe you can.
Here is a translation of the lyrics:
Your words are laughable
Please don’t butt into my affairs
You’re doing your best
(Blah blah) I’m running nonstop
Your words are laughable
I’ve gotten this far alone
(Blah blah) I’m running nonstop
Chitty chitty bang bang
Did you expect to control me?
(Blah blah) I’m running nonstop
Your words are laughable
Monday, 21 June 2010
Sunday, 20 June 2010
This is a shot of the pool table at Roofers in Itaewon. I was wondering what it would look like with the bright light from the window and the darker objects inside, so I took a few shots from where I was sitting. It’s not a great shot, and nothing to write home about, but I like it.
Today, Saturday, was a relatively busy day for me. I was “roped in” to be a judge at the English Speech Contest at my school. Not strange, but it is Saturday and I am under no obligation to work on Saturdays. I had nothing happening this morning, so I didn’t mind helping. I wonder why the school is so afraid of asking me to help on weekends. Just don’t make a habit of doing it the day before, because I am not going to change two week old plans to help put, you know what I mean?
Just before I left the house for school, I noticed these nice little drops on the Ginko tress outside my balcony. I had to try and photograph the drops. The results were not what I had hoped for, but it is still OK. Hopefully I will get another chance soon.
With summer here there are changes in the sunset for this part of the world. Conveniently, the sun sets in a more visible position, but more importantly, it sets much later and with the summer cloud cover. These things translate in to me seeing spectacular views from the top floor of my apartment building.
This particular sunset is nothing special, but during the coming months I hope to get at least one shots shot to do those sunsets justice.
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
It’s time to freshen up the look of this blog. Why? Because now Blogger has a brand new Template Designer and I wanted to play with it.
Over the next few weeks there will be a few changes as I try out new things. Sorry for the five people who come here to read and look at at my stuff. I’ll buy you a Maijoo.
Tuesday, 08 June 2010
Upon opening my closet this morning, I discovered that I didn’t have a single clean shirt to wear to work today. Out of eight possible shirts, eight were at the cleaners. How on earth did this happen?
I would love to transcribe the mental gymnastics I had to perform to explain to myself how I could be so stupid, but I firmly believe the solution is much more interesting.
Last year, at the North Korea vs.. South Korea match I bought a red “KOREA LEGEND. begin to 2010.” t –shirt, the same shirt that you can now get at E-Mart. It was clean and ready to wear, so my reasoning went something like this…
The ESPN podcast I am listening to right now says the World Cup starts on Friday…
World Cup on Friday, hmmm…
I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO WEAR!
So they think Korea will do OK?
I will just have to wear a gold shirt today…
World Cup…red shirt…clean…World Cup…reasonable excuse…maybe…NO SHIRTS…
“Yes, I know the World Cup starts on Friday and that Korea plays on Saturday. Why do you think I decided to come to school wearing this shirt today?”
My students pulled me in to a game the other day. It took me a few turns to get used to t, but it is dead easy and like many koreans games, perfect for the sadist who likes to punish his or her friends.
Everyone starts with their fists closed and thumbs down. One person call out a number and everyone must immediately lift none, one both their thumbs. The idea is for the lifted thumbs to not total the number called. If they do equal the call, then the caller wins the round and gets to punish everyone, plus they get another turn until they call wrong.
The punishment depends on the call. If you call, say, three, and three thumbs are lifted, then you get to slap everyone else's hands. The losers place their palms together as if they want to pray, fingers pointing forward. The winner then slap their hand together over the loser's hands using moderate power. In this case they will slap three times, finished off with one hard slap to a side of the winner's choice.
Monday, 07 June 2010
Today, on my way to the embassy to pick up my new passport, I was stopped by an oldish man who wanted to talk. Not to much of a problem, in fact, he seemed one of those people who are genuinely interested in other countries and how they work. He a’so had right decent English to boot.
He started the conversation off with “Where in the states do you hail from.” Tee-hee. Hail from! I told him I was South African and almost immediately he mentioned Mandela, how he was a great man and how he won the Nobel Prize.
Mandela deserves respect. The way he behaved as president is enough for me to give him my respect and people who have met him says he is an amazing man. Still, unless you are a South African, don’t ever come to me and tell me how great Mandela is and then be completely oblivious that someone named F.W. de Klerk exists.
What takes more courage, to do what is right and fight for something you don’t have, or to do what is right and give up what you have knowing you will face the scorn of your people? Sure, to a certain extent those decisions were forced on him, but he still had the power to resist and let things linger a bit longer. (Do take note though, the country was rapidly changing long before the new government took over.)
Even considering this, Mandela did not sign his own release papers, the ANC did not unban themselves and South Africa did not go from a perceived completely racist white ruled country to a completely free black ruled country on one election. Thing happened before that that was not just dependent on non-white people in South Africa.
Lastly, in fairness to everyone, Mandela was also not the only one imprisoned for his believes AND ACTIONS. There were others there with him, because despite what people believe, one man rarely changes the world alone.
So, please do me a favour and google “F.W de Klerk” and see who the man was who shared the stage with Mandela in receiving the Nobel Prize.
Wednesday, 02 June 2010
I was sitting on my bus in the terminal, bound for Seoul, waiting for the driver to arrive and noticed this on the bus next to us. I don’t know about you, but with summer here and the rainy season just around the corner, I don’t not like seeing tires as smooth as those on the busses I am suppose to use.
Looking at the other tires it does not look like this is normal, but still, someone should maybe tell them that lives are at stake? I tried to find an email address for Dongbu Express (동부익스프레스), but amazingly they don’t have one on their website. Not kosher at all.
Monday, 31 May 2010
If there was any doubt that the spring and early summer air is saturated with pollen then this should clear things up.
A few days back we had very light rain. Light rain does not wash everything away in one fell swoop, and it allows you to see just how much pollen is on the surface of all the things around you. Here you will see the yellow in the edges of the water as it is washed away in to the gutter system. Apologies for not getting closer to the ground. The lens on my 30mm is not macro and thus need to be at least arms length from the subject being photographed.
Another way to see the pollen is to just swipe your finger over something that has been standing outside for a day or so and you will notice the yellow line on your finder.
Sunday, 30 May 2010
I took a friend to Namdaemun to get his lens fixed. We arrived just before lunch and thought we might as well get something to eat in the market. The “two” options were the tried and tested Waegoog favourites, or go see what is hiding in one of the dark side alley.
One thing that I have learned it that side allays hide some amazing food and we were hoping for the same. As you can see we are not the only people with following these ideas. We picked an alley and looked for the restaurant with the longest line. “No idea what they are selling, but there is a line of locals, so it must be good.”
The setup here in interesting. They sell ONE dish and that is it cooking right there, in the open kitchen on the opposite side of the alley from the actual restaurant. Not very hygienic looking, but then, what kitchen rally is? The dish is called 갈치조림 (Two links as explanations)
This is the same women who does the cooking, or at least the monitoring of the stuff on the stove. She also serves the food. Here she is going up the stairs, balancing the food on her head, passing patrons and even positioning shoes as needed. Photos of the shoes next.
If you look closely you will see the 1.5th floor just to her left. You have to crouch to walk in there, but who cares if you sit the whole time?
The shoes, perfectly positioned by the women carrying the food on her head and dodging patrons.
*Images linked to flicker where larger versions are available.
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
This was in my inbox this morning:
오늘(수, 5.26) 공개수업시간에는 학생들이 서둘러 입실하도록 지도해 주시기 바랍니다. 그리고 공개수업 후에는 상담준비(성적 등 자료 준비)해 주시기 바랍니다.
교무부 최의광 드림
And your Google Translate for today:
Today (Wed, 5.26), a public school hours led to a dormitory for students, please hurry. After public consultation and preparation classes (sexual and data preparation), please.
Have a nice day.
Dream gyomubu choeuigwang
Thursday, 13 May 2010
I was asked my adult class about those little packets of Instant Coffee Mix and when Koreans started drinking it. You know, the little sachet containing instant coffee, milk and sugar already? Apparently they have been around for about ten years now.
I’m was wondering because I want to take some back to South Africa because I’m pretty sure we don’t have it there. It seems we like to prepare each cup to taste instead of having to drink the same disgusting drink that everyone else drinks…
Sorry, went off a bit. I don’t drink instant coffee at all, see? I can rightfully claim that I am not a snob because I didn’t drink coffee as a child either. We only had instant coffee in the house and I could never stand the taste. I only started drinking coffee after school when I tasted real coffee for the first. Seems I just have naturally good taste. Back to the story.
Our discussion went on it’s own marry way as it normally does and I was told a few interesting things about Korean Coffee Culture that you will not find in the travel guides. The first thing that came out was that when some of the adults were still dating, coffee was used as a way of indicating whether you liked your date or not. At the end of the date you would finish your meal of with a coffee, but here’s the twist. If you liked your date and wanted to see him or her again, then you ordered coffee for yourself. If you did not like your date, then you ordered milk. WOW! I know you are not actually saying anything but that is not exactly subtle. I suppose it does avoid the uneasy verbal question and verbal rejection of a possible next date.
The subject of Dabangs (다방, Coffee Rooms. Ticket Café) also came up. Back in the day they were the place to be. That was where you hung out to look for a boy or a girl. They were the places to pass the time with your friend and they were the places to just relax. You can still find them, but now they are very cheap places for poor old people, mostly men, to hang out.
As far as I understand Dabangs are also where you order your coffee with a side order of pretty girl, and apparently these menu items have been around for a long time. This particular menu item is called a Ticket and will give you the services of a personal pouring girl for about 40 minutes.
A funny/weird/interesting/disgusting titbit that came out was that older people used to crack raw eggs in to their coffee. Don’t think I will try that soon. Also, my research shows is that a dabang will not deliver to a Sauna.
The girls not only have “drivers”, but have people who exploit their mental health.
Friday, 07 May 2010
I’m generally pretty thick skinned about being called names and I don’t get upset quickly when people are stupidly racist towards me, but even I have a limit, and when I have an off day that limit is lowered.
One of my classes got to watch their Reward Movie. Usually I start the film, wait a bit for everyone to settle down and there is no further problems. Every now and then the class does not settle down to the extent that I cannot hear the dialogue. At these times I stop the film and wait, not saying anything. It takes about a minute for everyone to realise that they need to settle down before I restart.
One class today did not want to settle down. I actually timed them and seven minutes after stopping they were still going on as if nothing was wrong, with no one even attempting to quiet them down. I was starting to feel for the students who were actually quiet, so I decided to take the noise makers in to the next classroom to do some work as a punishment.
I followed them in and just as I entered in I heard the words 외국인 (foreigner) and 시발 (shit, although I am not sure of the spelling). I can still handle the swearing, but I was obviously being referred to as a foreigner in a derogatory way, by a piss ant student. I will not stand for that.
I told his teacher about it, saying that I don’t want to see him in my classroom again. She spoke to him and she said he was sorry and would like to apologise to me. In Korea, even if you don’t mean it but do make an apology, and the apology is accepted, everything is assumed to be settled. (Remember that when you are in an accident. Don’t say everything is OK or accept any money.) I was still upset about the situation and said that I was not interested in hearing his apology, or not today at least.
Apparently he will be writing me a letter and will give it to me on Monday. I’ll see how I feel about it then.
Tuesday, 04 May 2010
Last week I asked what the vacation/test/whatever days are that I need to take in to account for my lesson planning. One of those days was the field trip today.
Yesterday I had to ask what the plans for the trip was because I still hadn’t heard anything.
The plan was that each grade would go somewhere and that I would stay at school. A bit amazed and for a few seconds I did not know what to say. I had to stay at school, with no students and no other teachers? Really? But I was always allowed to go before this?
I asked if I was allowed to go and was basically told “You WANT to go?” Apparently it didn’t seem possible that I might want to join one of the trips. Whatever!
I asked the around to see who is doing what and decided I who I would like to join. The 1st graders were going to the KBS studios. I can’t name a single Korean drama, almost no Korean films and I don’t have a TV or radio. Needless to say I had little to no interest in going there
The 2nd graders were going to some village dedicated to some Korean poet. I don’t like poetry in any language, especially not in a language I am not even a decent beginner in. Why on earth would I want to go there? I wouldn’t.
I wanted to go with the 3rd graders to Digital Plaza in Seoul. I like digital stuff. I am a part time geek, I am. This is where I want to be. Even if everything is in Korean and I am not allowed to touch anything, I would still like to be there.
Today I arrived at school went to my desk to do something while I waited for the students to start getting on the bus, when a teacher who essentially has nothing to do with me informs me that I need to go because the 1st graders are getting ready? How does HE know I’m going with them and not me, and when was this decided? First I have to stay at school alone and now I have to go somewhere that is only of interest to Korean women and men who want to get in to the business in some way? If I never had a choice, then fine, but I was given a choice and then it is made for me?
I flat out refused to go and said I would rather stay at school. I was not angry. Yes, I was upset, but mostly I was bitterly disappointed. Am I back in the boat where I am the last one to be considered, and then only when I actually remind people that I am?
Just before the 2nd graders left their English teacher phoned me and asked if I wanted to go along. Maybe it was because it was her asking because I went. It was most likely the most boring trip I ever in Korea and it did not help dispel my disappointment at all.
Also, a week and a half after almost having a fight over the dictionaries that I requested two months ago already, I decided to just buy them myself. They will be mine. If I find one page missing or crumpled, one page scratched on, one cover ripped to pieces, I will ban that student, or even the whole table from my class and they will not come back until I have a replacement. My money, my dictionaries, my rules.
Friday, 30 April 2010
I had my first full Beginner Adult Lesson for this year. Most of the students are quite good, one women is way better than she thinks and one women seems mostly useless. Wait, before I call her that or something worse, I have to admit that her English is not the greatest and the stress of having to come in to this class the first time can be really hard on someone.
We were doing a very basic exercise where you would point to a picture with a name and relationship written under it, and ask two questions: “What is his/her name?” and “Who is he/she?” These are pretty basic questions if I have to say so myself. So basic, in fact, that I can actually ask them in Korean.
One student, and I am really trying to credit this to the stress, was just not able to get that when someone asks “What is his name?” the answer should be “His name is…” Not everyone will always get what to do at first, but at one point I was not even sure she was able to read any English. (I refuse teach people that low in English. I cannot be expected to teach at that level when I can’t explain even basic concepts in Korean).
If you think that was frustrating, get this. I decide to mark in her book which part of the dialogue is A and which part is B. I pointed to myself and said “A”, pointed to her and said “B”, pointed to the picture and asked “What is his name?” Remember, the name is written under the picture and I actually pointed it out, again. All I got was a gargle and an eventual “What is his name?”
Again, I pointed out that the “question person” is A, me, and the “answer person” is B, her. Same result. This was when I decided to change tactics. I point to the picture again, say “OK, 여기, 이곳.” (OK, here, this.) and ask the question in Korea: “이름이 뭐예요?” (What name?). Amazingly, the looks at me and says “What is his name?” WOW!?
With what I am sure is a flabbergasted look on my face, I give the general “What/I don’t know” gesture and repeat while pointing “이름이 뭐예요?”. Even after other has explained it to her, in Korean, and actually GIVING HER THE COMPLETE ANSWER, I still don’t know what they name of the character in the picture was.
Forgive me, but I have special education students in my classes that are easier to get an answer out of. I will see what happens next week, when she has had time to relax and figure out what is going on his this class. Hopefully I can also figure out how to get through to her.
Monday, 26 April 2010
Twice within a short period of time I found myself defending Korea. Now that calls for a shot of soju!
We are two regular Waegoogs at my Hapkido gym and both of us have been in the country for a while. We’ve not hit the 10 years mark yet, we are not newbies any more. Both of us don’t really like our own countries and both of us can moan like old men about Korea and Koreans, and both of us really like Korea. It is for these reasons that no one should take our moaning seriously. When it comes to the push I’m sure Travis will defend Korea just as much as I would.
A week or so back I met a guy new to Korea. He’s very green and moans about the silliest thing, those things that become insignificant by the time you hit the one year mark. (Go back on this blog and see what stupid things I complained about.) I also met a guy this weekend that has been here for almost a year now and really does not like the country. I’m sure it’s mostly because he doesn’t get along with the people he works with, but still, he is not exactly positive about Korea.
These two men are not really that strange, but what I did find strange was how readily I defended “this miserable place”. Korea grows on you. The longer you stay and the more you understand why the people do what they do, the easier it is to love the country. Basically what I’m saying is, don’t crap on the whole country, and this goes for anywhere else, until you have tried to figure out what is really happening, and don’t blame the whole country because you picked the short stick and ended up with the bible bashing, “Dokdo” promoting, kimchi worshiping fool that makes all other Koreans look bad.
Saturday, 24 April 2010
When you open a guidebook to Korea, one of the first things you will read is that Koreans don’t like to show emotion or that Koreans are reserved. Not so!
Koreas are some of the most hot-headed people I have ever seen, especially when you observe the older people. Sure, Koreans have a relatively high tolerance for many things, as anyone would have living in one of the most highly populated countries in the world, but generally they have no problem showing their emotions. You must be blind not to see when they are happy, sad, upset, angry, or whatever emotion is worn on their sleeve at the time.
Why am I brining this up? Well, today was the opening ceremony for the Icheon Ceramic Festival. Somehow there were two altercations with men in suits pushing each other around. This is an opening ceremony, not Korean parliament. I have no idea what the fights were about, but since there were press cameras capturing every shove, I’m expecting a little something to appear in the news. I’m asking my contacts to have a look see if they can find out what happened.
Other than those incidents, the ceramic festival is basically the same things as last year, except for everything being toned down. This is because of the navy ship that was sunk a few weeks back. Apparently the “mourning session” will be held sometime soon, so that the whole country can feel the pain.
In a way I admire Koreans for feeling the pain of something like losing a navy ship to a possible attack so strongly. It is a sense of unity and loss to the whole. On the other hand I’m also thinking that people need to get on with it. Oh well, Koreans be Koreans and I be my inconsiderate “die if you want” self.
Thursday, 22 April 2010
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
More school instant messages translated with Google Translate
학기초 폭주하는 업무로 정신없으시죠? 용케도 잘 움직여주시는 선생님들 감사합니다. 어리버리한 신참내기 교감이 첫번째 과제수행에 들어가겠습니다.
개끗한 환경을 위해 여러가지로 머리를 짜고 실행하고 있는데 ...
먼저 교무실 정리정돈부터 하고자 합니다.
넘치는 업무로 책상이 늘 비좁았던거 저도 다 겪어본 사람이지요.(치워도 금새 어질러지고..)
일단 책꽂이 위 개인 사물은 다 내려 놓으세요. 책꽂이와 서랍, 그리고 개인사물함(전 학교보다 수납공간이 넉넉하네요)을 활용하시고 늘 깨끗하게 관리해주세요. 부장님들께서 수시로 신경써주세요.
또 책상주변의 박스나 오랫동안 안쓰는 물건도 치워주세요.
좋은 시설에서 근무하는 것 감사하며 한번 해봅시다.
일하시다 어려운점이나 개선할 점 등은 늘 말씀해주세요. 전 그런거 좋아합니다.
To express the spirit of the beginning of work, is it? Oh, well thank you kick the city teachers.Sympathy rookie in the fire will enter the first task was performed.
For a variety of environments gaekkeuthan run and putting his head in there ...
From the office to reduce the first order.
As a desk full of business all the time I've ever worked with people 이지요 bijopatdeongeo. (Take a look on is messing up ..)
Once a bookshelf above it and put a personal thing. Bookshelves and drawers, and personal lockers (all schools would be better than the storage space haneyo) are taking advantage of managing hasigo always clean. Sir aids are often your care.
The desk of the box or even remove it for a long time things are horrible.
Thank you and good facilities will work at it, let's go.
Points, etc. Let's work hard to improve and always let us know. 그런거 I love it.
Thursday, 15 April 2010
Tuesday, 13 April 2010
The public baths slash Jimjilbangs are interesting places with people running around naked and generally doing strange things in front of everyone. In general us western types don’t like walking around naked with everyone staring at our hanging bits and we also don’t really like having other people’s hanging bits displayed to us either. In a Jimjilbang you don’t have much choice though, so you get used to ignoring the people around you. Sometimes, however, it is not all that easy to ignore what is happening.
I was in the unenviable situation where I had to sleep in Central Spa to take the first bus out (just to arrive at my house at 8:00, shave, brush my teeth again, get dressed and leave the house to be at school by 8:30). It was at this particular visit I saw a few things that I feel I need to share.
First, the Blackburn vs. Man Utd game was on, so there were men sitting around staring at their darling Korean football player, Bak Ji-Sung. Did you know that Korean broadcasting considers, for the purposes of highlight packages, Bak Ji-Sung running on to the field a significant event? This event is so significant that his, make sure you get this, running on to the field, needs to be shown before attempts on goal, or fouls, or whatever. Just in case you didn’t read it the first time, he ran on to the field. That’s it. Nothing else.
Also, did you know that, like children, Korean men think that every time BJS touched the ball there is an opportunity for a goal, and that when he doesn’t score from am non-chance, then there is reason to complain? (To be fair, it was a small minority, but it is more fun to say that everyone was like that.)
The second thing that was just off was when a guy was standing in plain sight, blow drying his gonads for two minutes, and if this was not bad enough, when he finished doing that, he proceeded to blow dry his arse for about 60 seconds.
The third thing was very off was waking up in my bunk at about 2am because the guy next to me is getting in to his bunk is the noisiest way ever, just to assaulted with the sight of his forest of a small bush that hides his jingly jangle. Apparently he did not receive clothes when he checked in. This same guy was making strange sounds throughout the night which naturally makes me turn my head, just to see him sleeping on his side with his little brush in my direction.
I suppose I should mention that the bunk beds in a jimjilbang are all connected with about 20 or so in one row and only a little wooden “fence” separating the people.
As I was cleaning up to go home I had my forth weird experience. There was a guy in the very hot pool, squatting with a very wide stance so that his leathery pouch and arse hole was just touching the water. Why didn’t he just start polishing the wiener right there?
Thursday, 01 April 2010
The “Seoul” Auto Show was this past weekend. I say “Seoul” because it was actually held at KINTEX in Goyang, 45 minutes or so on the subway out of Seoul. (Why can’t we hold the Seoul Motor Show in Icheon? We are only one hour away by bus.)
Last time I was there with my Super Zoom camera. Super Zoom cameras get that Super because of their small sensors. Small sensors are not good for the light conditions inside a building. This time I was all excited about having the better low light performance of a DSLR’s sensor which translated in to better photos of the glossy cars and edited girls. The only way this could have gotten better was if I had a Canon 5D Mark II or some other amazing camera in hand.
Apart from not having the greatest camera, the biggest problem was that more than half the show was car parts and those travel/caravan/car things. Most of the rest was made up of static racing cars.
I freely admit that I was hoping to get a photo or two of a racing model. These girls make it so easy to photograph them. They actually make an effort to look straight at every camera around them, often striking those special East Asian Cute/Sexy poses. I’m not a professional photographer. I don’t get to take photos with model often. Problem was that I saw a total of four, yes, four models, and they were only released at short bursts.
The first sight I had of these elusive creatures was when I was looking for angles on a single seater racing car. I saw the two girls in the background, not doing much, but hey, the car was interesting enough. While taking the photos, the two girls suddenly walked up to the car and struck their poses. Men…wend…mad!
Men with huge cameras and monster lenses as if by magic. Within seconds they were crowding to get shots of the scantily clad, surgically enhanced, make up covered girls. Sure, I would have likes to take a few photos, but I was not going to fight for a shot of a girl. I’m not that desperate for a model, or a glimpse of a girl. I did get one shot, however, because I accidently found myself in a good position while looking for angles on the car.
Just as I was leaving the hall, I first heard the buss and clicking and then saw men crowding like vultures on a carcass. Apparently the models had been released again.
I decided to provide a link to my Facebook Album instead of posting a bunch of large photos here. If you are having trouble with viewing it, please let me know.
Wednesday, 31 March 2010
Tuesday, 30 March 2010
Friday, 26 March 2010
Thursday, 25 March 2010
Last night I thought I would give the second episode of the new season of America’s Next Top Model a look see. I watched the first episode and wasn’t completely irritated, but this one didn’t even make it half way before I stopped watching.
At about the 30% mark they were bringing the girls up one at a time to critique their nude photos. The one girl, gorgeous face, walks up and stands there. They make a comment about her clothes and ask her to remove the skirt, leaving her with just a t-shirt and tights.
What made me gag whas their reactions to her body. Their WOWs and OOHs and AAHs for a girl that looked like she hadn’t had anything to eat in three months were ridiculous. The girl’s hip bones were showing, for Zeus’ Sake! I’ve seen Korean Pop Stars with more meat on their bodies!
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
Saturday, 20 March 2010
I need to double check, but the Korean in the second and third line, text that crosses the pile of poop, says "Who put poop on my toothbrush?"
That's right, people, this is toothpaste. Who says Korea is not obsessed with poop?
There is another version that makes the poop theme a lot clearer, but why would I go with that when I can go with pink checkered poop and a Hello Kitty?
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
A elementary scholar on my left spots me, runs and circles behind me, comes up on by right, looks at me, seems very confused and mumbles to herself, of which I only cats “…우리 학교…” (Uri Haggyo). The Foreign Teacher at their school is also male and blond, you see?
What I find strange thought is that she stayed next to me almost all the ay to my apartment, producing confused mumbles.
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
I might be completely missing something here, but isn’t the main market for K-Pop people from about 10 to about 30? And I might be completely stupid, but haven’t most of the people in this group had to study English at school? At the very least, should all these people not be able to read English, even if they don’t understand anything? Amazing what you can get for thousands of dollars and 10 years worth of study, isn’t it? Why am I thinking about this?
A student gave me the Korean Top 100, K-Pop, remember (wink), and I thought I would use it in class. With that is hand, so to speak, I’m keeping an eye on Soompi for the weekly charts. Now, Soompi is caters for people who might not know Korean, so everything is written with the Roman alphabet. Not so for the songs the student gave me.
Of the ten songs in the, urm, Top 10, only three groups/artists have actual Korean names. The others all have names that are supposed to be written using Roman, but of course, none were.
Three quick things about the Korean sounds.
“Ae” is like the “E” in End.
“Eu” is a bit like the sound you make when you are hit in the stomach, like “Uh!”.
“Eo” is like saying “Ah”, but with your mouth rounded
1. Kara, the arse dance girls, became 카라, not to big a problem, except that students shorten the Ah’s to almost nothing so that it almost sounds like Karra
2. 2AM stays the same. I’m still amazed it doesn’t change to 투에이엠 (Too Ae-ee Aem)
3. CNBlue becomes씨엔블루 and that sound exactly the same with Shi Aen Beulloo.
4. SNSD, is actually an abbreviation, in English, of their Korean name. They are also known as Girls Generation. Strange back and forth between the languages going on with them.
5. 민경훈 (Min Kyung-Hoon). Pure Korean here, mate.
6. T-Ara turnes to 티아라. Suposedly they want you to say the name as if it was written Tiara. Good idea in the air, bad idea when printed.
7. 4men is 포맨. This one made me Laugh Out Loud (LOL, for those who still don’t know what that means). The Korean sounds like “Poh Men” Poh? Really?
8. 김종국(Kim Jong Kook). Lay that Korean on me, baby.
9. U-Kiss becomes 유키스, sounding like Yoo Keeseuh
10. Untouchable is now 언터쳐블, Eonteochyabeul. Not too bad, but hands up, students, who knows what that means.
This happens all over the world and I can’t say I like it anywhere, in any language. I am always hearing about how proud Koreans are of their language and how hard they works at learning English, general life contradicts this idea all the time.
On the plus side, I have found a few nice songs in that Top 100, and a few snappy stick in your head songs as well. Demmit!
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
Tuesday, 09 March 2010
I took my recently discovered shortcut home through the elementary school. Through this shortcut I have found that many of the middle school students play football and basketball on that field instead of walking further to the middle school.
As I passed a bunch of my students they all greeted me. One buy skipped in my direction, yes skipped, and shouted “헬로 우리 티처!” (Hello Uri Teacha) Uri us Korean for ‘our’. How nice.
Friday, 05 March 2010
Via Travis H.
Saw this link above (link) the one you posted and thought I'd crunch some numbers myself. While the foreign population rose 2% from 2008-2009, "violent" crime rose 18%. Robbery was the big one, almost doubling from 133 to 260. To put that in perspective, .03% of foreigners committed a robbery. Furthermore, 0.22% of foreigners are thieves. "Other" crimes (not specified) rose 8%. It is interesting they did not break those numbers down further, since the 5,551 crimes not specified represent more than 2/3 the total 7,812 crimes committed (speeding tickets anyone???).
Overall, 0.89% of foreigners committed a crime (notice the decimal points on these percentages), giving a "criminal" rate of less than 1 per 100,000. That number would drop further given that one "crime" does not equal one person, one person likely committed several crimes.
The FBI considers "violent" crime to be murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. But no figures for murder or rape were cited, though those two terms were cited in the second line of the article. Theft is a property crime.
Just for reference (not to be compared to my "criminal" rates, which account for number of criminals per foreigner) the US crime rate in 2008 for all crimes (violent and property) was 3,672 per 100,000. Violent crimes were 454 per 100,000.
The US murder rate was 5.4 per 100,000, between Turkey and Kenya. South Korea was 2.8 between Switzerland and Finland.
Thursday, 04 March 2010
"When walking past a foreigner's house, there was a unique odor foreigners carry. That is how I fathomed out whether a foreigner lived in the house," Baek was quoted as saying by police. Full article here.
Maybe it was because they didn't smell of kimchi and garlic. Oh! The apartments smelled of deodorant. Funny stuff.
Did you know that Koreans naturally don’t have a sweat smell? That is why deodorant is so difficult to find here.
Thanks to Christopher for turning me on to this one.
Wednesday, 03 March 2010
우유급식 희망조사서를 학생들 편으로 보낼 예정입니다.
꼭 학부모님께 동의를 받아서 작성해 오도록
학생들에게 얘기를 해주시고, 금요일까지 급식실로 가져다
주시기 바랍니다.....선생님들의 많은 협조 부탁드립니다.
Hello .. is geupsiksil.
Students Hope Survey of milk feed is expected to send other side.
Write your parents agree to come to you
I'll let the students, through Friday, bringing to geupsiksil
..... Please ask teachers' cooperation.
Survey of milk feed? Really? No, thanks you.
"Look at all the Waegoogs. Look at all the things they do. We love Waegoogs...who can read and understand Korean."
You have to wonder what the point is of the photos of foreigners. Are they trying to impress Koreans? Do they think more Koreans will go there because whities go there?
If, maybe, they are trying to show us Waegoogs that is is for us, then would a spot of English not have been more effective?
Aaaaaaaah. Korean Tourism Advertising is almost as good as K-Pop and Konglish.
Monday, 01 March 2010
From the Hangeul it seems that F.CUZ is suppose to be a play on Focus. I can see what they are trying to do, but maybe they should use a name that does not need to be explained. Better yet, maybe use something that is not Romanized as "Pokeojeu" and sound a lot more like Picachu, the animation character. =D
The really funny side, for me at least, is that Cuz, in South Africa, is short for Cousin, and is used like Dude, or Bro.
It means that to me it look like their name is a play on 'F***, Cuz!"
(F***, Dude!" , "Holy S***!" , "Oh My God!" and such)
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Apparently Yuna's Hole is now a matter of public consumption. Now, now. No jokes about how you would be willing to do the eating.
I suppose it is Tour le Jour's way to celebrating Kim Yuna's Olympic Gold with this bagel. It is actually quite clever and just me being a dirty old man, but hey, who's going to stop me?