Monday, 12 July 2010


If you were accessing this blog via the blogger address, somehow, then you might have noticed that THAT address does not match the blog name. I finally found out that it is possible to migrate between Blogger blogs and everything will now be posted at Obvious name, isn't it?

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Korean High School Girls

Someone on Yahoo Answers asked “How does a typical average 17 year old korean girl look like?” I looked at the answers and thought it would be an interesting question to answer.

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.

Leaving School

Whatcha Doin'?

Poisoned Fun

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

Hidden Sardines

Stupid Busses

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


Random shot in Seoul

A random shot of a wall at Chungmuro, Seoul. I particularly like the hints of the Taegugi.

Thursday, 08 July 2010



I tried to find a Danboro online, but there are not available any more. Imagine my surprise when I saw this little guys. The shop owner was very quick to tell me that it he was not for sale.

Wednesday, 07 July 2010

Suffering for fashion

Suffering for fashion

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

2000 City World Cup

Deu-di-eo! Some photos of Korean at he World Cup.

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.

Getting Ready

Quality Parenting.

Monday, 05 July 2010

Pinhole on the cheap

I was running a few errant in Seoul yesterday. One of those took me by Myeongdong and since that is right next to Chungmuro, my new favourite photography related area, I thought I would go there and look for this little beauty. Behold, the PinholeArt 135-Tiny. It is made in Korea, so no English instructions, but easy enough to put together. Everything you need, apart from film provided with the kit.

PinholeArt 135-Tiny

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.

Fully set up

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

The stupidity continues.

Sometimes I am willing to say "Culture." But sometimes I need to stay "F***ing STUPID!"

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

Shut up and nod, boy. Shut up and nod.

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

GEPIK Orientation 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.