Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Business trip!

Today I leave on a business trip.

We're supposed to be benchmarking and exchanging ideas with an overseas subsidiary.

We'll also be touring a number of other facilities.

I have to give a series of presentations to explain our end. I've been bustin ass for over a month getting everything prepped.

The joys of working for a conglomerate!

Can you guess where?

Hint: it's far.

Looking at the schedule, there isn't much tourist stuff.  Apparently it's due to austerity measures.

Posting will be light, maybe only one a day.

Wish me luck.

Friday, April 29, 2011

So Many Kinds of Wrong

How to version


So many kinds of wrong


Sexism can be entertaining!


How to increase your monthly income!

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I got in at around 8.00 tonight.

It was nice to see the girls before they were asleep.  We did some shoulder rides, talked about their day, watched some avalanche, tornado and bug videos.

June said I wasn't considering how sensitive they are.  I bit my tongue and didn't bring up how she likes to bitch them out whenever she loses an argument with me.

I did mention how I didn't show them anything that could truly cause nightmares:

The girls and I talked about how they couldn't watch some videos since they could give them nightmares.

What are nightmares?  asked the youngest.

Bad dreams, bad dreams.

June scowled.  I suggested she read this, but she didn't get it.

So the girls and I tended the flowers we bought last weekend as well as the other plants in the veranda.  The new place doesn't have nearly as much space for plants as the last one, but there is very little I can do about it save chuck a pile of kid toys.

They don't really play with a lot of that stuff, so maybe it is time to unload a pile.

I chose many of my plants for their overall 'clean building' traits.  Right now I feel there isn't enough space or light for them to really be effective.

When I get back I'll spend some time going through the stuff taking up prime veranda space.


Spring is definitely on us, as the yearly infestation of earwigs has begun in our building at work.

I have seen them for some time now, but recently their numbers have been increasing. I killed five by the time three rolled around.

So I wasn't entirely surprised when I drank the last bit out of my cup of coffee to find that an earwig had fallen in and was now squirming around in my mouth. 

Down the hatch!

I swallowed that bad boy.  I couldn't spit it out with all the papers spread over my desk. 

Fairly quick death I'm sure. 


Wednesday, April 27, 2011


A popular Western style food chain in Korea is Outback.

Tonight the whole fam went to have dinner at our local franchise.  As June is the card queen, she had a card that gave a 50% discount for today only.

How fortunate that I left work early!

Sadly, as is always the case when we visit our local Outback, we left disappointed.  Outback is expensive, they cook their steaks when they are frozen when the times are obviously intended for thawed meat, and it generally isn't that tasty.

If you haven't eaten Western food in a while, you can convince yourself that it is delicious.  And when there aren't many other options, you may find yourself going to Outback again and again.

Which is exactly the case with this waeg.  Having dinner with the fam was nice, but once again we reminded ourselves of why we dislike Outback, and laughed about how in six months we'd be having the same conversation.

As an aside, tonight there were a lot of young dating couples. I guess they were taking advantage of the discount as well.

Election Day!

Today is the election for governor of Gangwon province.

Anyone who wanted could leave work early if they had no meetings or important projects to finish.

You don't need to tell me twice.  I cancelled an intern meeting and rescheduled a product review.  Right after lunch I was out the door.

I do have a ton of stuff to finish, but I've been staying late for near a week and I did have some stuff to do in town.

Besides, I deserve a break today!

I hit the bank, bought a new shirt, voted.

As an F5waeg, I can vote in local elections, but not federal.

When I got home I took a well deserved nap.  It was heavenly, albeit too short.

I had planned to stay late again tonight, but I can get some of that stuff done at home.  Maybe. And I will be staying late the rest of the week.

June and the girls went to go clean the kindergarten and visit a friend of the youngest.  I don't expect them back anytime soon.

Time to read through these TPS reports.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

you tubin'

The odd thing about living in Korea for near 11 years is how music that seemed cursory takes on new meaning when placed in new contexts.

I'm sure Ed didn't think of some wanker like me when he made the first song.  The rest that follow are what came up random on shuffle.  It worked.


Tonight I stopped at a different convenience store on my way home.  I needed to pick up smokes and some rice wine.

I've been trying to drink a bottle of the stuff near every day.   A report commissioned by the state run rice wine producers of Korea informed me that rice wine contains more cancer fighting farnesol than any other wine ever made anytime anywhere.

Hey, the science looks good to me.  And I'm sure this report has nothing to do with it.

The store I stopped at didn't have my usual brand, Chiak San, so I tried a new, untested variety.

Big Mistake!

I've never come across rice wine that stank like those two bottles.  The date was good, and I can't say for sure if it's supposed to smell like that, but there was no way I was about to drink it.  I poured them down the sink. I didn't want this kind of thing to happen to me.

The smell still lingers in my apartment.

I immediately marched down to my local supa and bought a bottle of my regular.  The clerk had no idea what I was going on about when I asked about stinky rice wine, as he's more of a soju guy.

This batch smells ok, and the date is good.

Time to watch Limitless.

Conversation with a Boss!

I'm sorry Mr. Cha, but the project you are suggesting is not feasible for reason x, y, and especially z.

Ok Waeg, you just do the project and show me final result by Friday.

Um, Mr. Cha, x alone would make the project far too expensive.

Yes that's good, show me design Friday.

Mr. Cha, the specs on y clearly show it would not offer a solid return.

This Friday 2pm.  This your job.  I invite all heads of department.  Ok.

But Mr. Cha, z demonstrates that no one would buy this stoopid piece of shit even if it were proven to cure cancer, stop hemorrhoids, feed the starving in Africa, end the war for oil, and solve the financial crisis.  It's just not a good idea.

I like your spirit!  Thank you for your hard work.  We talk again on Friday, show me then. Make presentation ppt.  Maybe 30 slides.


Monday, April 25, 2011


One of my coworkers drew my attention to a little gem of news.

Apparently, some talent named Yoon Ki Won ruptured his urinary track when he slipped and fell into a manhole.

Let that sink in.

My guess is that he was involved in a vigorous workout and wasn't watching what he was doing before he took the plunge.

'k, I'm done.

This stuff just writes itself sometimes.

Instead of linking to what my antivirus tells me is a serious attack site, I'll reproduce the Korean article here:

"TV리포트] 탤런트 윤기원(40)이 벌을 헛디뎌 맨홀에 추락하는 사고를 당한 가운데 네티즌들의 응원이 이어지고 있다.
소식을 접한 네티즌들은 “지금은 건강에 문제가 없다니 다행이다” “얼마나 아팠을까” “얼른 나아서 다른 작품에서 만났으면 좋겠다” 등의 반응을 나타냈다.
앞서 지난 21일 윤기원 측은 “윤기원은 얼마 전 발을 헛디뎌 맨홀에 떨어졌다. 이에 요도가 크게 파열됐고 정상적인 배뇨가 불가능한 부상을 입었다”라고 밝혔다.
이로 인해 윤기원은 몸속에 관을 집어넣는 대 수술을 받았고, MBC TV ‘최고의 사랑’에서도 하차하게 됐다. 현재 윤기원의 건강에는 큰 문제가 없는 것으로 알려졌다.
한편 윤기원은 지난해 인기리에 방영된 SBS TV ‘시크릿가든’에서 오스카(윤상현 분)의 매니저로 출연해 ‘미친 존재감’을 과시한 바 있다."


One thing that is comforting about living in South Korea is how I am assured of top quality goods and services at any store I go since many of them are named Hyundai.

Not far from my place is a Hyundai real estate agent, Hyundai tool store, Hyundai flower shop, Hyundai maternity clinic, Hyundai park, and a Hyundai car dealership.

Although I have to admit the Hyundai tofu restaurant does look a little dodgy, I can't speak to their quality as I have yet the opportunity to try them.

I have lived in a Hyundai apartment and swum at Hyundai beach, but I should come clean that some of my household appliances and electronics are made by Samsung or LG, bought when the sale price was too good to pass up.


My wife assures me that not all these businesses are owned by Hyundai, that taking the name is a common practice, but I refuse to believe that a large and honorable corporation like Hyundai would allow such intellectual infringement and chicanery. 

When I die, let me be cremated at a Hyundai facility, and my life will have been well led.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


This afternoon the eldest and I hit the gardening store.

I was hoping to find a nice veranda plant box.  The new place isn't as plant friendly as the last, with not nearly as much light or space for plants.

We bought some soil, a few pansies and daffodils, it being Easter and all; but there were no veranda boxes.

I'll see what I can find on Gmarket later.

When we got home we played junior Monopoly and I cooked dinner: a nice sirloin covered with pepper steak seasoning, mashed potatoes with gravy, sliced carrots and corn, baguette.

This evening I fooled around updating the iPhone, and showed the girls how to make better videos.  They went wild with it for about a half hour.  They're in bed now.

These two songs came up random while shuffling through the 1200+ songs I put on the iPhone.


Even more that they were followed by Rain, Rain, Rain by the Rheostatics.


Today is Easter.  This morning I nearly burst a few blood vessels blowing the innards out of eggs for the girls to paint.

It's what we used to do as kids: make a small hole on either end, then blow carefully in one side until all the yolk and white come out the other side.

The eggs are drying now, after which the girls will paint them again. They went with an abstract expressionist motif.

Things are tense around the house.  June and I had another fight over her cooking breakfast just for herself then offering some kind of quick easy thing for the girls.  She'll often cook a meal just for herself and leave everyone else high and dry.

I scrambled up the eggs, fried up some bacon, made toast with cheese.

I'm trying to lighten up the mood, but June is determined to keep it down by sulking and bitching out the eldest in particular.  She is more of daddy's girl after all.

Time for more coffee.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Change Bucket!

Today June went off to visit some friends.  She got back about an hour ago.

It was mostly a stay at home day.  We went out to wash the car, which was a blast.  Finishing up, we drove over to the bank to get some cash.

My bank card was not in my wallet.

I knew immediately why June had taken it: her dad is in the hospital and needs cash.  He'll need about 300 manners from us.

The doctors think it's bowel cancer.

He's a pretty healthy bastard, hiking up into the mountains every day at 73, bringing home fresh spring water, non smoking.  He drinks like a fish.

The in-laws have been pretty standup, much kinder than some I've heard of.  I like the old guy, but it's complicated.  One day I will tell his story.  But I can't now.

All this went through my head as I headed home to get one of my change buckets.  I use single malt whiskey tubes.  I figure I've got about 20 manners in each one.  I needed smokes and rice wine, and I had only 2 chonners in my pocket.

Maybe it was a sign: stop smoking and don't buy any liquor!  You've got no cash, don't embarrass yourself by walking into a store and paying in coin!  Or better yet, just use one of the credit cards! 

Once at the store, I proceeded to count out piles of coins to pay for three packs of smokes and 2 bottles of rice wine.  I ended up giving more obeggers than I intended, but I did unload a bunch of 50 and 10 won coin.

I came home, cooked spaghetti for the girls, horsed around a bit with them, then set up part III of Star Wars.

Once June was in, they finished up and went to bed.

Friday, April 22, 2011


One of my ongoing work projects is to come up with new toys.  This week I came up with three. 

While working on the third today, I kept coming back to the weird toy I traded from the eldest.  How can I make this more bizarre and add some Korean flavor?

I started by reading up on as many Korean monsters as I could.  That's when I stumbled on this.

Nessie lives!

My rough design is a package of 10 weird buffalo looking things with short horns, gills and fins that stack. I came up with some of the packaging, but it still needs more work.

I haven't decided yet whether to give them one eye or three, but they won't have bare bottoms.

I'll think about it this weekend and finish it up on Monday.

So Many Kinds of Wrong

The PSA edition!

so many kinds of wrong:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hummmmm. . .

Tonight I got home at a little after 7.  The eldest was doing her homework sitting at a table placed within easy view of the TV.  June and my Mother-in-Law were watching some drama.  No one said hi.


At least tell the eldest to sit at the kitchen table to do her homework if you want to watch the idiot box.

Things quickly sorted themselves out when I just stood there and stared.  The eldest went to the kitchen table to do her work.  I didn't say a word.

There was no dinner.  I made a tuna sandwich.  I ate it while reading the news and some articles.  Japan is still fucked from the earthquake tsunami double punch, the world could end at any time, the price of gold and silver are still going up.

The youngest has been obsessed with my ears of late.  She discovered my piercing from years ago.  She dug at it for a bit, claiming there was some goop in the piercing.  We talked about Frankenstein when she drew the book out of my shelf and saw the freaky picture on the cover.  I told her a bit about the life of Mary Shelley.

I found a weird ass toy the eldest had traded at school.  I had to keep this one, it is pretty odd.  I walked the eldest down to the stationary shop and bought her a new pencil case, some marbles, elastics, and some erasers in trade.

The girls went to bed and their mom read them some books.  I took the time to install a slew of camera and video apps for the iPhone.  This weekend I'll play around with them with the girls.

Tired now.  Everyone is asleep.  I'm going to watch 'The Way Back'. 


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bad Father!

Not as bad as this
This morning I realized that my business trip will coincide not only with the eldest's Sports Day at her school, but that I won't be back until after Children's Day.

The eldest has been asking me for over a week now whether or not I'll be able to come for Sports Day.  Parents are expected to come and participate in what amounts to a family event.

My flight also happens to leave on the same day.  I told her I'd try to make it, but right now it's looking pretty grim.

On top of that, I won't be back until after Children's Day.  This day is an important one after which the kids get together and compare notes on what they did, what their parents got them, what cool place they visited.

I better bring something nice home to make up for missing both of those, as I imagine the eldest in particular will be feeling pretty down on her dad.

Time for coffee.


Realizing the need to get out of Korea to preserve the limited sanity he possessed, F5Waeg bought a foreclosed house in what was intended as a high end suburb near Dallas, Texas.

He knew there were few neighbors.  He had no idea who would eventually move in.  But the 30 grand he spent on a home valued 10 times as much wasn't to be passed off when he knew the time had come.

He left reluctantly.  But then most do when they know they have to burst their own bubble with dependents in tow.

There was nothing left for him in Korea.  He had tried hard to make the place his own.  He knew the importance of staying in one place and calling it home.

But ultimately there would never be a home there for him, and his girls would likely become something self loathing.

Shortly after moving into his new digs, the lawn died.  Water was scarce, and wasting it to grow some useless green shit wouldn't do.  He had to install a cistern since the prices for aqua were actually through the roof.

When the great burning came, and most of the houses in his suburb burned to the ground, it was that cistern that saved the home.  But it was far from being a salvation.

The land around was bought up by a subsidiary of Halliburton.  Many of the few neighbors that also lived in the suburb sold out at the same time, and encouraged him to do the same.

F5Waeg was broke.  He had decided to be a writer, and what he brought in after ten years wasn't going to see him and his wife move any place nice while still paying the uni bills for the two girls.

Up around his home sprung up manufacturing, smelting, strip malls selling legalized crack and sex toys.  Next to his house was an LG training facility where all new recruits for LG Manufacturing had to pass an eight week physical before assuming their position on the assembly line.

F5Waeg took to drinking more and more Ya! that he had imported from Korea to write the Great International Novel.  He liked to mix it with gin he made in his own still.

One morning while trying to do more than 50 push ups like all the workers at the new LG Training Center, he had a heart attack and died.  His widow sold the house for a bit more than a song and moved in with her LG manager guy.  One of his girls had moved back to Korea while the other was dating someone named Chloe.

His last thought had been I wonder what Willy Loman would do.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Afternoon Stroll!

Today, many of the people who work at the company piled onto a couple of buses and drove out to a mountain forest preserve.

I intended to go, but a last minute call was scheduled for this afternoon.  I also have a huge presentation tomorrow that could use some more tweaking.

I was disappointed.  Participating in club activities is usually a lot of fun.  Yes, it is.

Last spring, we also went to a forest reserve.  We all piled into buses and drove to a provincial park.

When we got here, there were various group activities.  Some decided to go off and wander around, or just hang out by a nice clear mountain stream.

The dinner was at a restaurant with a large outdoor area situated beside a lake.  We all grilled meat, ate year old kimchi stew (yum!), sang badly into a karaoke machine.

Work is eerily empty right now.  I consoled myself by going for a nice walk up in the hills behind work right after lunch.  I felt pretty good when I got back.

The call actually did provide valuable information and made me recognize a blind spot in my presentation, so that worked out.

Back to work.

Monday, April 18, 2011


For the first time in a long while, I was home at the normal hour on a Monday night.

I've always reserved Mondays as a work late night, seeing as I'm usually fairly fresh coming off the weekend.

Tomorrow night is a coworkers club meeting.

All coworkers who want can contribute a manner every month to be a member.

Four or five times a year, we all get together and do some type of social activity.  Tomorrow night we're off to the mountains to hike about and observe spring take hold.

The idea of the club is to bring every one together in a situation outside of the workplace.  The club also offers a gift in case of marriage, birth, or death.

I won't drink tomorrow.  I've got a very important presentation on Wednesday, the last big one before the business trip in May.  This one needs to fly.

Tonight I hung out with the girls and watched as their grandmother taught them how to make sweet rice punch.

I leave you with this; I'm not sure it will be around for long, so tWisTed if you can:

Yi Sun Shin!

Solar Powered Awesomeness!
This morning I spent some time finishing off the design and packaging for a new Yi Sun Shin model turtle ship.

Apparently this lot will be sent over to the US for sale in various toy outlets.

I like the story surrounding Yi Sun Shin.  He was a bad ass that wanted to get shit done, but as he wasn't that adept at playing the political game, his contribution to the country was somewhat stymied by idiotic bureaucrats and power seekers.

Luckily the sheer force of his personality led him to accomplish much despite having to deal with so many working at trying to bring him down.  Also luckily, enough of the people with power realized just what a force of nature this dude was and worked to get him back in position to kick ass.

Koreans love him, and with good reason.  I wish more would recognize this part of his legacy, that he very easily could have been nothing more than a footnote if political winds had blown the wrong way.

Time for coffee.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day Trip!

Today we went up to Seoul to hit the Costco and have a picnic in yang jae forest park.

I dropped June and the girls at the park to brave Costco alone.

Oddly it wasn't that bad for a Sunday.

At the park I was surprised by the large number of waegs. There was a large party of French folks with all their kids.

After eating we sat around and enjoyed the afternoon. Now it's time to head back to the Wonj.

Donkey Ass!

Today the girls went to a nice herb garden about 10 clicks from our house.

They got a chance to wander around outside, enjoy nature, smell shit.

We need to renew the yearly membership as it is about to expire.

They went when I was called in to look over a project that should have been done 3 weeks ago.  June asked me to come out when I was done, but my idea of enjoying nature is seeing it unsculpted.

I'm not happy about being called in.  The designers returned the worst shit I've yet to witness.  It's like they decided to fuck with the design I sent in weeks ago since they know they have mincy dicks and couldn't break a hymen even if they'd had a plastic rod inserted into the shaft of their mincy dicks, so let the world burn.

A quick glance was all I needed to know that I hadn't been working from the draft sorted by marketing, who wanted to sell it with more local flavor.

I knew that too much local flavor would result in the hipsters burning you,  so I altered a few key phrases and passed it on to another waeg that was silly enough to volunteer for extensive abuse.

When everyone was home, we ordered donkey ass for supper.  I put on the Clone Wars for the girls while June watched a drama. We talked about neutrality when they asked whether the cloners were good or bad by saying neither.

I saw a report that said rice wine contains more antioxidants than red wine and is really good for you, based on a study paid for by the rice wine producers of Korea. I felt compelled to go to the store and buy some immediately.  That was two jugs ago.

Time for bed.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


This morning the girls were in the cupboards rooting around for god knows what.

I heard some familiar rustling as they tiptoed into the room carrying what I knew was the last bag of Chippets.

Daddy, are you awake?  Daddy, look what we found.  Daddy, can you make cookies???

CookiescookiescookiesWELOVECOOKIEScookiescookiesCOOOKIEScookiescookiescookiescookiescookiescookiescookiesDADDY CANYOUMAKESOMECOOKIES???

Guess I know what I'm doing after breakfast.

Update: No butter. Maybe we'll have to hit Costco today.

Friday, April 15, 2011


So June wanted to watch some dramas.

I'm not a fan of TV in general, and I find most Korean dramas 1000% lame.

Why don't I like them?  Most of the actors are too plastic and one dimensional while the plots are too hokey and insipid. 

Pretty much 1000% of the same reasons I don't watch most TV in the first place.

In the Korean versions, I find men shout at women 1000% too frequently, people get cancer 1000% too often, and the social roles depicted are 1000% archaic and offensive.

So while June was 1000% engaged in following her favorite soaps, I went to the bathroom and didn't replant myself in front of the tube.

The girls were working on some spatial puzzles on the internet, so I didn't feel bad about not being 1000% with them.

Instead, I wrote a couple of emails, thought about my trip, and tooled around on Facebook. I drafted a list for the interns to finish before next week.

I've had four cans of beer and a bottle of soju.

I'm up way past my bedtime.  Who cares?  Tomorrow I get to teach the girls and round up productive, educational things for them to do.  After I'm 1000% awake of course.


The amount of work I finished today was truly astonishing.

On top of all the paperwork, I also entertained a group from another plant.  The leader was a fair looking older Australian woman.  We had a great time chatting biz.

Right now I feel like I'm not on this Earth.  I do not feel connected to terra firma.

I'm on the end of a five hour Ya! buzz.

Best I grab a cold one and roll around in the muck a little.

Something tells me I won't make it long before sleep wins.

Today the dust was terrible.  I almost killed myself when walking down the stairs and the one with the crack in it split in two. 

I still have a stitch in my side due to the insane acrobatics it took to not land flat on my face.  I'll refrain from making some snide comment about building and safety standards.

June just asked me to drink with her.  Let's see where that leads.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

So Many Kinds of Wrong

Nearly Friday Edition

This is what happens when you watch too much Tosh.0

And whatever you do, don't search Carrot Top on Youtube.

Driving Tips!

How to avoid a pesky red light when you're in a hurry:


One skill necessary for surviving any bureaucracy is recognizing the smell of unnecessary work.

For example, this morning I was asked to put together a 'short' 2-3 page report listing the types of vehicles that we could rent on our next business trip.  This way the powers that be could check it over, decide, and then pay for it from the expense account.

I ignored it. 

At lunch I was told to simply make the reservation and was given one of the company credit cards.

Hehehehe. . . room salons for everybody!

I jest!

Anyway, one secret is to just put off doing most stuff for at least a day or two, then waiting to see if anything changes.

Problem with that is you could suddenly find yourself inundated in a ridiculous amount of crap that needs to be shoveled in a very short space of time.  But the other option is to fill up your day with all kinds of little tasks that are then proven useless and irrelevant when the game plan changes.

I'd rather deal with the former and spend less time cursing out people due to dealing with the latter, which happens with some frequency.

My next post on Bureaucracy! will outline strategies to aid in responding civilly to people who have just told you that the 3 hours you spent creating some bullshit document would have been better spent playing solitaire or shopping on GMarket.

Couple Fashion!

One thing that has been beaten to death in the waegosphere is the Korean fashion trend of couples wearing matching clothes.

From speaking with different people, the phenomenon is actually quite an old one, going back to the early 70s at least.  I remember one older couple that I used to teach back in the day.  They showed me their honeymoon pictures, in which they both wore matching pants and shirts.

I miss them sometimes, they were really nice.  But they've since immigrated to Texas.  But I digress.

When June and I were first married, she broached the subject once on whether or not we would wear matching clothes on our honeymoon.

I said sorry, but I found the whole thing kind of odd.

She actually seemed relieved, saying that she thought it weird too.

But the fashion persists even today, and is considered chic. 

Time for coffee.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Out with the Adjusshis!

Tonight I was called out by some of my adjusshi buddies.  We sat in a chicken hof discussing really important stuff, such as where the pistachios in our order of mixed nuts came from.

I bet one of the other guys 10 manners that they came from the U.S.

We asked the waiter to check.

He looked at the back of the package, and indeed they were American!


I didn't take his money, but I didn't end up having to pay anything for the chicken.

I also hooked up a guy with a good Japanese teacher I used to work with back in the day.  He wants his middle school aged son to learn the lingo.

We talked about language learning in general, and the importance of Chinese.  The talk turned to the problems one of the other guys is having in selling off one of his properties.  No one wants to buy, and even renting it out is a bit of a pain.  I talked about this:


Personal grooming Pro Tip: 

Trim your nose hair!

There is nothing quite as unsightly and distracting as seeing someone with a forest growing out of their nose.

One of the guys working in sales really needs to invest in a trimmer.

I mean cmon, you're in sales, deal with it!

Every time I speak with him all I can do is look at the quarter inch of hair poking out of his nostrils.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011


For dinner tonight my Mother-in-Law cooked up some miniature octopi.

It was delicious.

I ate it with rice, kimchi, and bean sprouts.

Octopus is very high in taurine, one of the main ingredients in most energy drinks, although people say there is no proven energy imparting effect in taurine.

Still, my own studies have led me to believe that taurine does add a kick, but then I'm no scientist.

Many people say that octopus is 'good for man', and oysters also contain a lot.  Maybe the extra energy boost does put some extra lead in your pencil.

Now that I feel like I'm a walking Korean TV food show, bring on the beer!

The Korean Lesson!

Lately at work several coworkers have been offering Korean lessons for some of the waegs.

It was actually my idea.  I was totally keen on it when I suggested it last November.

Things haven't really worked out time wise the last couple of months.  I've been swamped, and have zero time to spend on taking the lessons seriously.

I feel bad.  My Korean isn't nearly fluent enough.  I can muddle through most stuff, understand what is mostly being said, but my speaking is rough and unrefined.  I could definitely use some help, and that some of my coworkers have been willing and able to help out is seriously cool.

What, you thought this post was going to be about Quincy Black and the kind of Korean lessons he received?

Get your head out of the gutter people!  Damn, I wonder about you lot sometimes. 

Nothing so exciting to see here, move along.

Time for coffee.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Afternoon Tunes!

Gettin' work done, playing it real loud in the headphones:

Actually paid money for that last album.  Good buy.

Some extras

Pink Flaminogos!


This morning the weather was nice and the skies fairly clear.  I opened up the windows to my office to better enjoy the day.

At around 10:30, a swallow flew in and smacked into the wall next to my desk. 

It was temporarily dazed, so I picked it up carefully with a broom and dustbin and carried it outside.

Within a few minutes it came to and took off.

Have a nice day.

Waeg Hunting!

Saturday night I got pretty hosed on Jameson's.

After drinking my way through 2/3 of a bottle, I went out roamin' downtown Wonju.

I was waeg hunting.

I had heard much about this elusive creature called the waeg, also known by the moniker of migook.

The downtown area doesn't have much going for it in terms of night life except low end room salons and cheap whores. All the areas around train stations in Korea are usually a good place to start.

The best place to find the corrupt and dirty waeg, according to the newspapers and TV shows I watch.

From last Christmas: Santa's little helpers

So I approached some of the girls.  Not that I would ever actually partake of their charms;  I felt compelled to chat, ask prices, ask where all the waegs were. I discovered most of the girls won't even talk to a waeg, and will actually tell waegs to piss off, they don't want AIDS.

So I wouldn't find many waegs round these parts.  The girls will not accept waeg business unless the waeg is willing to pay 4 times what a Korean would, the girl is butt ugly, and the girl needs to desperately pay off that credit card bill.  

I praised them for their virtue and continued on my hunt.

What school do you go to?
 After wandering around a bit, I found myself walking Rodeo Drive.  This is supposed to be a cool spot, similar to Texas Street in Busan.  The perfect place to find the carousing, hell raising waeg.

It was pretty dead.  Usually after midterms or finals you'll see a lot of college kids show up though, so my timing wasn't the best.  The waeg himself is a hunter, and with slim pickings on the ground, he wouldn't waste his time down here.

Most of the waegs I have met prefer to check out other areas.  When I first started hunting the waeg in the Wonj, the downtown was far more vibrant, and you could count on bagging a good 30-40 waegs.

You had some great stories for around the water cooler on Monday, let me tell you!

Now folks seem more compartmentalized, hanging out in areas that are pretty far apart.

Seeing a large congregation of waegs in one place is rare.

Last night I did not see a single waeg.

Next time I'll try the area around Lotte Cinema.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Today was a total stay at home day.

I made grilled cheese sandwiches, played cards, read a bunch of books, and showed the girls how to make videos with the iPhone.

They had a great time with that last.

June made dinner.  It was pig, rice and vegetables.  It was pretty tasty.

Then came bath time.

During their bath they used up two entire bottles of shampoo to make bubbles.

I wondered why they were laughing so much.

I walked in and the bathroom was full of suds and bubbles.  The entire floor, sink and tub were covered with a good 4 inches of the stuff.

June expected me to punish them.  I thought it was pretty funny.  When I was a kid I got in trouble several times for doing the same thing. 

Two bottles of shampoo is two bottles of shampoo.

Guess that'll teach me for showing them the power of bubbles and leaving them alone for 45 minutes in the bath.

After they cleaned up, I made them stand in the porch with their hands over their head for 15 minutes while I pretended to be stern.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Coming to Korea, getting married and having kids has rendered me more sedentary than I've ever willingly been.

That's why I've gotten used to the kimchi.  It's hard to make comparisons when you don't get out much.

In many ways I am a lucky bastard.

I'm married to a woman that I still find hot eight years in.  My kids are awesome.  I'm doing work I mostly enjoy.

But I've always had the happy feet.  I like moving about.  I like seeing.  I like getting out there. 

There is only so much to see in a single place.  I'm not really in a position where I can just pick up and go.  I'm not really able to be free.

Detractors will say: then you shouldn't have gotten married.  You shouldn't have settled.  You should have kept walking when you had the chance.

Right now I'm glad I didn't.  I've become richer by being a father and a husband, and truly understanding what it means to be other.

But I will walk again.  I give it 10 years max.  Hopefully I won't develop too many health problems related to sitting on ass, and I'll be fit enough to carry a pack as I did in the day.  I may have to leave sooner if I know that's what it'll be.


After running errands, June took the girls to an indoor playground so they could run around. 

Today was supposed to be a bad yellow dust day, so best if they stay someplace indoors.

I decided to use the time alone to grab a nap.

Bad idea.

I slept for a couple of hours.  When I woke up I was neither refreshed nor rested.  I've been in a foul mood since.

The only solution is to lock myself in my man den and get drunk.

Yeah that'll help.


This afternoon I ran around doing errands with the eldest. 

I had a pair of sunglasses repaired, hit the grocery store, and stopped at a book store.

I had ordered some books at that store about 3 weeks ago.  They were supposed to call me when they came in.

Imagine their surprise when I showed up.  Apparently I had taken too long to pick them up so they sent them back.


I was slightly perturbed.  I usually buy books there so I can support a local business.  I guess I'll just order them through the internet from here on in.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Today I was a busy little bee.

I burned through a fair amount of paperwork, contributed to two different meetings, and finished a solid chunk of a project.

At around 4, I found myself running out of steam and becoming easily distracted.  Coffee wasn't working, and I decided to avoid the magic green potion.

I ended up reading several Wikipedia entries on meteors and impact events.

I've decided to download all the meteor themed movies I can find and watch them this weekend.  Feel free to add suggestions in the comments.

It's girls' night out and June is out on the town with her ajumma buddies.

I'm going to play the monkey game and then some junior Monopoly with the girls.

More later.

So Many Kinds of Wrong


So Many Kinds of Wrong

Tune for Two (2011) from alfa primo on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spicy Fish Soup!

My Mother-in-Law just called.  She insisted I come home right after work today since she made a really delicious spicy fish soup.

She used red snapper.  I love red snapper, particularly raw.  I also like spicy fish soup.  But I exclaimed she shouldn't have spent that much money.

She said she traded some of her kimchi for it from some other grandmother in the market and not to fret.

She wanted to thank me for fixing the TV and showing her how to work the new remote.  Now she can easily watch any of her dramas whenever she wants.

I do wonder what she does during the day.  I know she often hangs out in the sauna with some of her halmoni buddies and wanders around downtown. 

Back to work.

Update: the soup was delicious, but red snapper is not the best fish to make into a soup.


The youngest went to the dentist today for the first time.  She says it really wasn't that scary or painful.  That's good.

The dentist said that she hadn't done any lasting damage to her jaw or teeth when she took her tumble.  But she will be without one of her front teeth for the next year or so.

Her face looks like it lost a fight with a concrete wall.  Nasty.

Happily, she seems to have bounced back (punny!) pretty quickly from her fall.  She's upbeat and positive. 

Doesn't hurt that one doctor said she'd have to eat some ice cream every day. 

I'll have to make sure the tooth fairy brings her a chonner tonight.


This morning I was a bit late leaving the house.

June insisted I give her a vigorous seeing to.

Bless her soul.

After, I marveled at the amount of feces I can excrete from my body.

That done, I sat at our new kitchen table to enjoy my first coffee. I love that table.

June brought up the topic of money.

She knows I work so hard, and she is very thankful.  She is also very grateful that I am being so understanding about her needing to quit her job.

But money is tight.

I had told her about the night classes I had been offered a couple of weeks ago.

She hinted at them.  I sat speechless.

She didn't say anything more.  I playfully slapped her bottom as she walked into the kitchen.

For the record, I don't think she planned that conversation to happen when it did.  When you're married with kids and both working, you make time when you can for all that stuff.

It was bad timing.  I blew it off.  When I got to work I had an illuminating conversation with Mr. Sung about the intricacies of the new company intranet, and the value and usefulness of the new approval processes for various types of projects.

We both think they suck.

Time for coffee.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Blood Donation!

Today I received a text reminding me that I could go to the hospital and donate blood. I get one every six months.

Things have changed in the ROK.

Back home, I used to donate pretty regularly.  There was a group of us that would go together and have a race to see who could fill the bag first.  I often came in first.

When I first came to Korea, I tried to donate a couple of times.

I was flat out refused.  They said they didn't take blood from waegs.

I remember at the time it really pissed me off.  What did me being a waeg have to do with the quality of my blood?

Finally in about 2006-7 things began to change.  The Red Cross in Korea started accepting blood donations from waegs.

I have been refused one time since then, after I had been camping up in north Gangwon province.  Apparently you can contract malaria in the areas closer to the DMZ, so if you've been up in that area in the last year they won't accept your blood.

But now I'm good.  So I'm off to the hospital tonight to make my donation.

I hope the nurse is cute.

Kindergarten Drama!

The youngest goes to a cooperative kindergarten in the countryside.  It's small, and the parents are involved in every aspect from hiring to education planning to maintenance.

There has recently been more drama.  There was an all parents meeting the other night where tempers flared and lines were drawn.

The class below the youngest's has only 6 students in it, while hers has 9.

Once a class graduates, we need to take on more students to pay for the daily operations.

The parents of the other class do not want to take on more students.  They like the student to teacher ratio just the way it is.  This means that everyone else will have to pay more tuition so that this class of kids can enjoy more attention from the teacher.

Voices began to be raised.  How is this fair?  The parents of the kids in the youngest's class stated that when it was our turn to take on extra kids, we did since this is what is needed.  It isn't cool to expect everyone else to have to pay more so that your kid can have an advantage that won't amount to much anyway.

The situation began to be heated.  The teachers have too much to do, they can't focus on taking care of the kids was their biggest argument.  The ratio of teachers to kids is already less than 6:1.

Finally one father of the group above the youngest's stated: we should just leave things the way they are.  To bring two sets of parents into this would not show our kindergarten to be as good as we all know it to be.  It wouldn't be fair, it could upset their kibun.

more of this
I pointed out that the entire groups' kibun had already been upset due to the self centered attitude of a small group of parents; this prompted several of the moms and dads to work at calming me down.

I get his point, and paying 4 manners a month more isn't going to break me, and there is merit to keeping the kindergarten small; but that a small group of parents would have no issue imposing this on all the group is problematic.  There was no room for compromise.  The message is their precious little snow flakes are more important than all the others.  And almost everyone went along with it.


I do wonder how this is going to play out when the next group of kids needs to be recruited.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Letter From an Avid Reader!

This morning I got this letter from what I would describe as an avid reader:

I wonder how your wife and her family would feel knowing that you look down on them the way you do.  I don't buy that you actually work in conceptual design, but pretending to have a job where you 'create' poor English slogans to put on products to dupe Asians is in bad taste at the very least.  It demonstrates simply that you are just like all the other asshole white people out there who come over to Asia and look down on your kind and generous hosts.  Your wife and her family welcome you warmly, and you respond with mocking.  You sir, are nothing more than a neocolonial ass.

Dear xxxxxxx,

Actually, this isn't the first time I have been reproached for this.  I would recommend you reread my post on what I do, and think about what it means.  But since so many people seem not to get it, I suppose I could spend a few minutes clearing it up.

Yes, I will admit that I am white, good guess, although I consider myself more pink than anything.  I don't get this white thing, when most of the Caucasians I see are actually more of a light pink than anything else.  But I digress.

When I originally took my job, the main thing I focused on was how so many waegs seemed to complain about the terrible English on products.  Can't 'they' even hire someone to copy edit?? was a common statement.

But what if it turned out to be other waegs who were churning out these products?  The reaction would generally be that it showed how politically incorrect those waegs were, taking the piss out of the local population.

But if you are one of those who thinks this way, who starts from the assumption that most of the people you see wearing those shirts, using those notebooks and what not, need to be educated and protected from being exploited in that way, well what does this say about your view of Asians?  Who is the one underestimating whom?

Also, if you are one of those who would go out and buy some crap product with English on it just to look cool without having an idea what it means, what does this say about your priorities in life?

So by creating this kind of stuff, and readily admitting that I do, hopefully a few more people will be forced to look in the mirror and examine just what exactly informs their perspective.  Or at least pick up a book and study more.

Sadly, this probably won't happen, since anger is far more nourishing than the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom.

Do Koreans sometimes wear clothes with ridiculous English slogans on them?  Definitely yes.  Just like white people who get dumb tattoos of Chinese characters that say ridiculous stuff like the idiot above. 

If Koreans want to just look cool by wearing something with ridiculous English on it, maybe they should reassess their love of the language and reconsider the role it should play in their lives.

But to think that all Koreans are easily duped and taken advantage of by the white man, well, who is really being the neo-colonial bastard?


Last night,  I got home and was greeted by the scarred face of the youngest.

She had been running along at the kindergarten, not really paying attention to where she was going, and fell into a hole.

She lost one of her front teeth.  Her lip is a nasty swollen purple mess and she needed a few stitches around her eye.

Holy crap.

We gave her lots of attention.  I made her some banana milk.  I didn't say anything about needing to watch where you were going.  I'll save that conversation for later.

Poor girl.  This is the second time she has needed stitches.  The first time was a playground accident.  She's rambunctious, full of life and has very little fear.  These are not bad traits in themselves; she will need to learn to not let them rule her though.

She totally takes after me, while the eldest is much calmer and focused like her mom. 

Go figure.