Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Old Hand!

One of the waegs I work with has lived in Korea for 20 + years.  He came back in the day to marry a fine lady he had met back in the UK.

He speaks Korean fairly well.  He took Korean citizenship and a Korean name long ago.

He's always been a bit distant, not really offering much in terms of insight or advice when I first started working the biz.  We had a bit of a falling out a while back.  We've since mended and are beginning to actually get to know one another better.

One thing I've begun to notice however, is how his worldview is quite . . . unique.

He has held three different passports in his day, speaks half a dozen languages fluently.  He worked academia for a few years but gave it up due to the white tile ceiling.

I like the guy well enough, and look forward to getting to know him better.  But I'm not sure understanding him fully will ever be possible.

Whether or not it was his years here that gave him his rather particular perspective, or the experiences of his youth, I can't say.  I do know that he prefers to speak Korean whenever possible and raised his children purely in Korean.  He has mentioned before that he regrets never having taught them other languages when they were growing up.  When he told me this, I was truly amazed: I spend a great deal of time and energy encouraging my kids to learn English, as I want them to know and be proud of everything they are.

He wrote me an email a few days ago I've been reflecting on.  I should respond tonight.

After cooking dinner and having some Max of course.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I like Homeplus. Not as cool as Costco for price, but a more interesting variety.

Sadly, the closest one is far from the Wonj.

Here we're stuck with a rather small Emart. Emart is generally overpriced. Selection has improved of late in the one in the Wonj, but still a long way to go before it can actually compete with a Homeplus or Costco. I won't mention how Emart enjoys the number one position for shopping centers due to the set up restrictions placed on other (i.e. foreign) shops.

Still, the day will come when this will be available in the Wonj:

Oh, woe my first world problems!

The Rumor Mill!

When things get slow or tedious, or I'm feeling somewhat mischievous, an entertaining distraction is to churn the rumor mill.

In the past, I've started rumors that a North Korean delegation was coming to visit, that snakes were infesting one of the outer buildings, and that a plan was afoot to move the company closer to Seoul despite having just moved out a few short years ago.

The key is to make the rumor believable but doesn't have a direct impact on anyone in particular. For example, I'd never start a rumor that the guy in purchasing is gay. That would be wrong.

So this month I'll just stick with passing around word that a new rest stop is being built in the construction zone a couple of miles up the road. So far people are excited at the possibility of having a new place to eat lunch.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


One thing that has surprised me during my years in Korea is just how infrequently seaweed is eaten back home.

I love that shit.  It's pretty tasty in the thin roasted variety, wrapped around some rice with a small piece of kimchi in the middle.  It's extremely nutritious and abundant.

Whenever I visit the ocean back home, I'm always amazed at just how much seaweed is lying all over the place.  If Korea, all that delicious money would have been ripped clean off every single rock 3 miles out by roving gangs of halmonis in flower print shirts and plastic bathroom sandals. 

I have half a mind to bring some of those halmonis home to pick all that shit up and open my own seaweed processing plant.

Not only could I market 100% foreign seaweed as a luxury item in Korea and Japan, but I could use it to make cosmetics, medicines, and fertilizers.

So: investors!  Line up the money!  I've got the halmoni power, the locations, and the know how to make seaweed a viable business outside of Korea!

Time for coffee.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Taking Stock!

This week I must be highly productive. 

If I were to be truthful, I'd say that I haven't been that productive since coming back from England.  The Gong Show that that trip ended up being, combined with Mr. Jeon's belief that I would use him as a drug mule, topped off with some general malaise and stoopid family horseshit has brought me to a point where I say "I don't give a fuck".

This is not a good place to be.  Projects and reports have been piling up while I do the bare minimum.  I spend too much time reading books and updating my resume.  I've watched quite a few movies.  Maybe I need some time to myself.

I have done some stuff, like organize the staff camping trip, finished off some reports, prepared for all my meetings.  But nowhere near the level of productivity I usually operate at.

I don't find much joy in anything I do. 

I need to change something, and I have some concrete ideas as to what, but I even lack the drive to want to make those necessary changes. 

Every now and then since living in Korea I've hit this wall.  I don't think it's exclusive to living as an expat, as I'm sure many have and will find themselves in the same position.  Every now and then you just find yourself stuck, spinning your wheels, lacking impetus to move.  I do think it is exasperated by living in a place where you find yourself pretty disconnected to begin with; while I am pretty lucky to have the friends and social network that I do, you can never fully escape knowing that you are an outsider, and there will always be a large segment of the population that will barely tolerate you at best. 

Meanwhile, the show must go on.  New products await, reports need to be written, the interns need stuff to do. 

Time for coffee.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Morning After!

Last night was full on.

Apparently I went swimming in both the pools. I also went full on rant about being an expat in Korea and sang a lot. Strangely, this morning I have more friends.

I didn't have to do dishes. But I got chosen as BBQ guy for the 10 pm cook fest.

I had to discard some of the meat as the fat was too yellow for my taste. Cooking was fun. So much meat was cooked that I had to put more charcoal for a second round.

This morning I was asked if I did hair of the dog.  I can abide. One bottle of soju in, someone found an unopened bottle of rice wine. Nice.

I was impressed that no one drank until nine last night. These things usually start early. Maybe folks were worried about the typhoon that never was.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kindergarten Day!

In the rain!

All the families from the kindergarten have come together at a small resort area outside of the Wonj.

We ran the kids ragged playing games. The hope is they'll sleep soon so the parents can start drinking. This is undoubtedly wishful thinking.

I've been studiously ignoring the asshole who used to be in charge of the parents' association. He was voted out last month.

I just had a huge bowl of chicken soup. I must have minced a kg of garlic to help make it.

Everyone was impressed with my garlic cuttin skills. Years in the service industry baby.

Time to go help with the dishes.

Friday, June 24, 2011

So many kinds of wrong

Late Friday Edition!

The state of the youth today

So many kinds of wrong

You Tubin!

Tonight there was a company dinner.

I made it to the fourth stage.

A coworker is passed out on one of my couches.

Interesting conversation abounded. Alexander came up frequently, as did the Unification church, why Koreans make a distinction between Catholics and Christians, St. Thomas Aquinas and the need to reconcile Aristotle and the Neoplatonic World view, and why breeding outside of your ethnic group is good for humanity.

Now I'm listening to this:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Me and my Big Mouth

Sometimes people say all kinds of crap without thinking about it too much.

This blog is a case in point.  I just speak my mind, when I should just sit quietly.

This morning around the water cooler I had a rather interesting conversation with a coworker Park.

It seems that a certain Kang has been the subject of a lot of talk at work.  He's been getting in trouble with various bosses, doesn't genuflect enough, refuses to accept responsibility for his mistakes.  Apparently he's also responsible for food and sundry small trinkets disappearing from all over the building.

I like the guy.  He's got a funny personality and is great to hang out with socially.  My only issue is that his work is spotty: it can be excellent, when he chooses to do it.

Park expressed great concern for Kang.  She worries about his future, and the effect he has on the group overall.  Then she leaned over and confided: you know, he lived abroad for such a long time, this must have affected him.


It's hard to readjust she continued.  Living in America all those years put some unusual ideas in his head, and he probably had some strange experiences.

Now I actually know Kang fairly well.  One night when drunk he confided that he doesn't like living in Korea or Koreans that much.  When he was young he was beat repeatedly in school, most people on the street he talks to only spout out idiotic platitudes and propaganda, his sister was raped and the cops blamed her for it. . . that night he was full on rant mode.

I looked at Park: actually, I wonder too about Cho, Cha, Choi, Kim, and Lee.  They all lived abroad for years as well.  I think we should ignore the fact that they are model employees, since they have been tainted by their experiences abroad and it is only a matter of time before they completely snap and go postal on us.  Don't even get me started on that Koo guy.  He looks like a complete psychopath.  I heard he also likes to chat with men!

I'm glad you feel safe with me though.  I know I was born abroad, but since I've become sufficiently Koreanized most of those crazy ideas have been completely exorcised.  I understand the importance of following the traditions passed down through eternity from the heavenly Korean ancestors.  I'm even wearing hanbok!

Park smiled.  I smiled.  She walked away without another word.

Now, I do believe that stupidity is a universal constant, and I'm hoping she won't hold a grudge against me and that her panties aren't in a knot about it.  From experience, these types of conversation never end well.  You can't win and its best to just smile.  When will I ever learn?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cat House!

Tonight after dinner I put together a couple of shelves for the girls room.

They really wanted to help.  I got them to collect tools and pass screws. 

When it became apparent they weren't really needed, the eldest decided to make a cat house out of one of the boxes.

The two of them went at it and cut windows, drew and taped decorations, wrote 'love' and 'nabi' all over the box.
cat house
The cat obliged.  She ran through the box, jumped out one of the windows, used another window as a cover for attacking the horrible foot monster.

All very cute and fun.  Everyone laughed.  Even June allowed herself some mirth.

I decided to get into some rice wine.  I drank a big jug and went after the beer I had left from last week.  I thought about watching a movie but it all looks stoopid.  I might end up watching some youtube videos instead.

No comments about the lame ass wallpaper thanks.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Last night when I got home June and I talked about her father. He had left just before we got in.  My Mother-in-Law apparently had to leave with him so he'd go.

He pissed me off when they had a spat the day before. I usually stay out of all that shit, but I saw red when June told him it was time for him to go: he laughed and said he could stay as long as he wanted.

I ended up sleeping on the couch. The girls slept in our room. I was unimpressed.

I've harbored a great deal of disdain towards him for some time.  I used to like the guy. He can be quite funny, is kind to my kids; he used to be a teacher, was thrown in jail during the Park Chung Hee presidency for making off color jokes about el presidente one night while drunk in a bar.  He lost his business a few years back when his partner embezzled all the cash.

I've tried to help out as much as I can, do that 'good' son-in-law thing; always been nice to the guy, looked the other way when he'd steal a bottle of whiskey from my liquor cabinet or some little gadget I'd bought for camping. I'd even slip him an envelope during the holidays.

He's a wiry old bastard who still collects his own water from the mountain and has a pronounced green thumb.

But he also likes to beat his wife. And his kids hate him, but let him be since 'he is my father'.

Despite being in their 60s, the crazy fucker is convinced that his wife is cheating on him. For the longest while he was convinced that it was with the security guard at his apartment; it got so ugly that the guy sued the father-in-law, which the family including yours truly had to pay. He beat the Mother-in-law so badly at the time she required several stitches on her arm and face as well as a brief stay in hospital.

This is why she usually stays with us. He knows he isn't supposed to come to our house, but lately he's been showing up with more frequency. He has also been increasingly hostile towards me.

So I have to deal with this shit. I've been instructed to not get involved, to not say anything, and to not use force to remove him from the premises. Fine. But I will not allow my kids to be exposed to his madness, so he best keep it together.

It doesn't help that June hates my parents and refuses to be reconciled. She stayed with them last year while the girls went to school. June was mad that my mom wouldn't drop everything and drive her into town or the city, an hour or two and a half hours respectfully, when she felt the whim. June claims they were mean to her and didn't do what her parents would, which is sacrifice everything for the comfort of their children.

I'm waiting for the conversation to happen where we talk about how her father steals my shit and just why everyone hates his guts.

Monday, June 20, 2011


pansori seopyeonje
Having been a good worker drone this morning, I decided to watch a movie during lunch that a coworker gave me called Seopyeonje.

He knows I like pansori, and said I'd probably be interested in the film.

Now I feel dispirited and have melancholy all over me.

I'll give it to Koreans: they're damn good at pathos, a particularly deep and enduring variety.

Maybe that's why I find Korean comedy to be general bland and vapid.  I have met some very humorous folk, but they aren't comic.   

I like being surprised from time to time, learning and gaining insights into Korea that I didn't have before.  This film did that. 

If you'd rather be light and fluffy, don't watch this and stick with kitten videos.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go spike my coworkers coffee with something nasty for making the rest of my afternoon unproductive.


magnoliaThe spot we visited yesterday was surrounded by magnolias.  

It was somewhat unusual, since magnolia usually flowers in the early spring, around April. 

The spot we were is at a high altitude, which probably accounts for why we found so many of them.

It was cool showing the flowers to the girls.  I'm sure the ladies enjoyed them as well.

Thinking about magnolias has resulted in me listening to this song a half dozen times this morning:

Time for coffee.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Today the fam and I went and hung out by a clear mountain stream with a waeg buddy of mine and his brood.

We talked about this and that, collected pictures of magnolias and other plants, drank some beers.

To end off the day, we went to 'My Home Vietnam Restaurant'.  It's a place run by a Vietnamese woman and her older Korean husband that I talked about here.

It used to be in Hwangdun-ri, but they moved to snazzier and bigger digs in the Wonj.

You can find them across the street from the Pango Nonghyup supermarket.   The meal was delicious.  I probably shouldn't draw attention to this, or this, but wtf.

Having spent the day in the mountain, time came to help the eldest with her homework.  We got home to find that my father-in-law had come to visit.  He was here yesterday and stayed at the sauna last night.  Still, he didn't get too much in the way of me helping the eldest with her homework.

June asked him why he wasn't at his place and why he was here.  She was cold and frosty.

I have more than a few stories to tell about him soon enough.  I've been studiously avoiding them here.  I have a feeling he'll probably give me reason to tell a few very soon.

I also ignored a call from Dirty Bird while by the stream.

Things could be about to get hairy.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Swimming and Shitmobiles!

This morning June cooked me a nice breakfast: egg over easy, hashbrown, cheese, cherry tomato, slice of rye bread.  I had two thick cups of freshly ground coffee.

Fickle.  One week she rips my head off, the next she cooks me breakfast.


The girls and I were giggling hysterically when I went on about our friskay ki-tay.  What's a ki-tay?  Silly cat.  Nabi was bouncing off the walls while we laughed.  June rolled her eyes.

Today we're off to Oak Valley.  I generally don't like going to Oak Valley.  It's a wannabee posh resort type of place that is overpriced for what it is.  A lot of the nouveau riche from the Wonj head out there and act like they own the place.  But it does have an ok pool when they decide to properly maintain it. 

June enticed me by showing off her new swimsuit.  She hinted that I'd probably see loads of other hot women walking around as well.  She uses that one every time we go, and I'm usually disappointed, but whatever.  We've still got 2 fifty percent discount coupons, and might as well use em.  To amuse myself, I could act all declasse while drinking beer and blinding everybody with my pallor.  To round it off I could pay 1.4 manners for the Oak Valley specialty deluxe spam sandwich. We'll see.

June's driving.  It seems we're getting stuck behind every shitmobile in Korea.  Luckily I'm not driving so I'll just post on my stoopid blog instead of playing Indy 500 and passing everything in sight.

Time for coffee.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pat on the Back!

This afternoon I received a pat on the back from the CEO.  He sent an email to thank me for all the great work I've been doing for the company.

He even had one of my other bosses call me up to pass along the message. 

That was nice.  Feeling appreciated and recognized is a very cool thing.

Now, about that raise. . .


This morning I lost it on one of the cleaning ajummas.  She has often given me a hard time in the past; the last time was when she found a few coffee grinds in a backed up sink.  I dump all my grinds in the trash and then wash out the reusable filter, so some do find their way down the pipe.  It wasn't what caused the clog, but she still insisted it was me that made the problem.

Usually I just ignore her tirades as the misguided rants of a poorly educated crazy woman; she has to deal with a lot of shit, why piss on her and make her life more miserable? 

This morning I snapped.

Last week about 80 people came to attend a seminar at work.  There were a few waegs.

Many were smokers.  They left cigarette butts everywhere.

This morning, the cleaning lady came out while I was enjoying a butt.  She immediately started to berate me:

Why do you leave your cigarette butts everywhere??!  Clean this up!

In response, I pulled out 3 used butts from my pocket.  Wasn't me, I put all my butts in the trash.  It was all those people from the seminar last week.  I've worked here for years, have you seen any butts lying around?

She was unpersuaded.  You have to clean all that up, you and those others made that mess.

This cheesed me off.  I just looked at her and said in a slow, low voice: I'm sorry, but  your job is cleaning lady.  Do you really think I'm going to pick up all those butts?  If I wanted I could bring all the butts from my car and the big ashtray near maintenance and dump them all out here on the sidewalk, and it would be your job to clean them up.  But you know I don't do that.  In fact I go to lengths to show respect for my workplace and the people I share it with by often picking up garbage and cleaning my office space, stuff that otherwise rarely gets down.  Now I suggest you go get that huge pair of tongs you use to clean up shitty toilet paper and do your job.

The last was said with some malice, and she looked as if she had been slapped in the face.  She turned about face and walked away muttering under her breath.  In retrospect, I should have been more cool.  Seeing as this is far from the first time she's come at me for some stoopid shit over which I have no control or involvement, enough is enough. 

I'm pretty sure I haven't heard the last of this.

So Many Kinds of Wrong

Random stuff

WARNING!! Last video NSFW

So Many Kinds of Wrong.

I've ordered a copy of this, although the video will probably disappear soon enough:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


When it got down to it, I didn’t know if going to see K was such a good idea.  I’d known her for years, consider her my best friend, but heading back that way would have consequences. 

These became apparent soon enough.  I lucked out and covered 800 miles in less than three days, expedited by the land. 

K and her man were surprised when I showed so early in the afternoon.  They welcomed me, I shared food, talked of the concert.  I told them what I could of my story, and when K’s man went out she asked:

So how are you?  

It had been awhile since anyone had asked me that.  I was steeled, hardened, everything is fine.

She looked right through me.

She knew, knew I needed time.  The thing we have most in common is intuition, something that can’t be stated in simple terms. 

Take the spare room, stay a while.  There are a lot of people here who would love to see you.   Unless you really need to be somewhere else.

You know, maybe I will. 

I went and bought some beer, food, smoke.  I’d gotten a taste, and liked what I found.  Staying a while was a good idea, amongst friends and those I loved.  I still had a couple of months before the PHD, and here there were books to read, people to see, time to sort things out.

I stayed six months.

What Have You Done to my Smokes?!

On the way to work this morning I chose to hit up the GS25 near my place to grab some smokes.

I've been avoiding the 7-11 as the new guys they've hired seem unable to not have a freak out whenever I go in, going on about being unable to speak English well and seeing foreigners in general.

Our basic interaction always occurs in Korean.  I wonder why is it that many Koreans suddenly can't understand Korean when it is spoken by a waeg, but I digress.

In my half awake state, I was tempted into buying a new type of Dunhill: it promised the nicotine and tar I've come to enjoy, along with a nebulous promise to 'switch' when you press a section of the filter.

Change being predominant in my thoughts these days, what with me thinking too much about what was going through a boss' head on my recent trip to England and being accused of not wanting to work hard by my Significant Other (SO), I foolishly paid 3 chonners for a novelty item.

What can I say?  I've always liked the Dunhills, they serve me well.

As you can see by the photo, the folks at British American tobacco thought it would be a great idea to insert a small round pellet into the filter.  When pressed, it instantly turns a normal cigarette into menthol from hell.  Ostensibly, you can choose to finish off your smoke by giving your mouth that wonderful menthol flavor that your SO will just love to wrap his / her lips around.  They come in a wrapper that provides an air tight seal.

It might be amusing to collect all these little pellets and drop them into someone's drink one night, except they might kill someone and don't really dissolve well in alcohol.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dirty Bird Returns!

Last night I got a call while working late.  It was from the guy we all call Dirty Bird.

Our conversation went like this:

Me: (not recognizing the number) Yoboseyo?
DB: Dude!  Seriously, you going native?  Yoboseyo hahaha!  Hey, Guess who??!
Me:  um, Jeff?
DB: Ha! Naw it's *****, bud!  How you doing?!  Long time no speak!!
Me: (blanching) uh, yeah, hey how are ya. . . 
DB: Dude! Man, my hogwon turned to shit! you remember that crazy number I was with, Ji Soo?  She totally went psycho on me man, trashed my apartment and told my boss I was a perv and probably a drug addict, dude!  Lady called the cops, I had to give some blood work which thankfully was clean!  yeah man, things really fit the shan, you know what I'm saying, so I decided to bug outta there for a while, try the provinces for a while, like you know?  A recruiter told me about a job here in the Wonj, and I thought of the times we had, so guess what?  I'm back!
Me: . . . . 
DB: Yeah dude, it'll be great! Let's catch up!  I'm at that soju tent place, the one with the huge white roof, come on out dude!  Let's get our drunk on!
Me:  impossible tonight my man.  I'm at work see, in for the long haul tonight, and need to be on the lay low after my adventures this weekend.  But hey, glad to hear from you mang.  Call me later aight?

DB:  you have got to be shitting me!  Come on, we haven't seen each other in like forever!  Let's meet up, you can work when you're dead!
Me: No can do bud.  Besides, you know I'm married with kids, fam van driving guy.  I'm sure we'll have some time later.
DB: ah, well bud, I was hoping I could stay at your place a few days, I'm a little light on cash and the school says they'll hook me up with a place in a bit. . .

This is not happening.

Me: Damn, that totally sucks mang.  But the girls are having a sleep over tonight, there are like 10 rugrats running around (which is thankfully true), even my Mother-in-Law pissed off to the jimjilbang tonight.  Why not try that out?  There is a good one called Aqualand, it's pretty cheap. . . 
DB: no prob dude, I'll be quiet.  Just for a couple of nights.  Are you still at XYZ apartment?
Me: yeah sure, but that's seriously a no go bud.  Head on down to the sauna and crash out, call me later.

DB is hurt, but there is no way I'm going out tonight, and not a chance I'm letting him know where I've moved.  He dropped it before I had to spell it out for him.  I asked him where he would be working, some major chain that has sprung up like stank mushrooms on every block, in a location that has just been built up.

Dirty Bird is pure chaos, bringing insanity and destruction wherever he goes.  I'm sure at some point I'll see him, and while not surprised he's broke, I'm sure he can afford a few nights at a sauna.  If need be I'll give him a few manners, but there is no way I'm letting him into my apartment.

Something tells me things are about to enter the weird.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Afternoon Beers and Darts!

Sunday afternoon I met up with an E1 buddy for what started off as brunch.
We hit the Big Rock Brewery in Gangnam.  The brunch there is pretty good.

We ended up staying until a little after 6, playing darts, drinking beers, shooting the shit. At first we were fairly evenly matched on darts taking two games each, then I proceeded to thoroughly kick his ass.

June and the girls only called twice in that whole time.  Not bad.
It was a pretty nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  I didn't feel bad that I wasn't with the fam.  Sometimes you need man-time.

My buddy talked a bit about needing to publish several articles as a condition of his latest contract.  He needs to put out three in the next couple years.

We talked about Ha-Joong Chang's newest book, along with emerging economies and China acting like a bully.  Then we commiserated over a buddy of ours who found out his girl of 6 years had cheated and stole from him.

On the way home, I had some more train beers.  Train beers are great.  It was near nine by the time I got home.  I went immediately to bed after chatting with the eldest and feeding the cat.  June insists we keep the door closed at night to keep the cat out, and wakes up with a start whenever the door is opened.  Nabi has jumped on her a few too many times.

Time for coffee.

Where's Jin??!

Saturday started off rather innocuous.  We all met in Gangnam and started off with beer and Jagerbombs.  The conversation was light.  Then Jin showed up.

Jin's been having a hard go.  He quit the company to get what promised to be a better job.  Within six months his department had closed and Jin found himself out of work.

His girlfriend of 6 years dumped him, instead shacking up with the head of Jin's old department who had simply been moved into a new position.  Then a couple of weeks back his father passed.  As the eldest son, he needs to look after his mom.  She's broke and since he has yet to find another job, he's dealing with a pile of stress.

He was quiet when he walked in.  Some of the others plied him with beer and shots, which seemed to loosen him up a little.  He became more jovial, and even started throwing some barbs around.  I've always liked this group, since there aren't many thin skinned folk among them; teasing and taunting is fairly common and done in jest and fun.

As Jin became more animated, Min became darker.  The soju, whiskey and beer were flowing fast at this point, yet no one seemed to notice that Min sat there a black hole sucking in all the joy.

He'd always had a thing for Jin's ex, and has been cold towards Jin since the split.  Why I have no idea.  What I heard later was that when Min started throwing little quips the mood definitely soured. 

I wasn't paying too much attention, being at the other end of the table sharing war stories.  When the table went crashing down, all conversation ended.

I'm still vague on the details, but it seems something was said about useless dangling bits of flesh.  Tempers flared.  A table was thrown.  The two were restrained and then Jin stormed off.

Some tried going after him but he had melted into the crowd.  Everyone knew the details of Jin's life, and an urgency grabbed a number of people as they tried calling him, then called friends to see if they knew where he was. 

Everyone was pissed at Min.  He was nonplussed, a complete dick, and when pressed went off on a tirade about how useless Jin was.  Several of us told him it was time for him to go, which he wisely did.

Things came to a head when a text message was received by Ju Yeon about an hour later.  Jin said he loved them, but it was time for him to know the river.  He was by the Banpo bridge.

We quickly piled into taxis and sped down to the Han.  We thought the worst.  We all got out of the cabs and ran around yelling out his name.  When we found him we didn't know if we should get mad or laugh.

He was sitting on a mat surrounded by snack food and soju bottles.  We did the only thing we could do: got some mats, beer, soju, and sat down.

We drank until sunup, a dozen of us, laughing in a way that mocked life and death.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Grilled Cheese, Hashbrowns, and Train Beers!

Today I'm off to the big smoke. I'm meeting a bunch of former coworkers and gangster types.

Before leaving, I had to fix my computer and help June reorganize the kids' toys and the plants. Then I made the girls some grilled cheese sandwiches and hashbrowns. They were quickly dispatched.

Now I'm on the train. I like taking the train: you can chill, see some great sights, and enjoy train beers.

The bus isn't as enjoyable due to the lack of a washroom, although if you have a sympathetic driver he will pull over for you to take a quick slash. Otherwise, make sure you have a 1 liter bottle handy and sit in the back.

Tonight is probably going to get messy. I've got some ephedrine and some Bacchus D; I'm in for the long haul.

More later.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fly Hell!

At lunch today a coworker showed me a rather impressive collection of carnivorous plants growing on a mountain side behind work.

He thought they were sarracenia, but those are generally native to North America.

One of my other coworkers told me they are generally called 'fly hell' (파리지옥) in Korean. 

There were several dozen of them on the mountain side.  My take was they needed to eat more, as we were surrounded by black flies. 

We also saw a couple of deer, but they didn't stick around for photos.

So Many Kinds of Wrong

Levittown edition!

Intro de Weeds from Alexein on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cat Care!

Tonight I trimmed Nabi's claws.  She loves to play.  Like many cats, her idea of play is to claw the shit out of your hand, foot, face.

The Mother-in-Law loves her.  They hang out all day.  When I get home the Mother-in-Law tells me everything, including what Nabi played with, how much she ate, the size, quantity and frequency of what she left in the litter box.

The Mother-in-Law calls Nabi 'little shit offspring', gives her a playful whack, then strokes her while laughing.

I've had to break up a couple of fights between the girls over who gets to hold her for how long.  I have to watch the youngest as she has tried to see if Nabi can float in the bathtub and climb down off the highest bookshelf.  Reminding the youngest that Nabi is indeed a live creature that should be treated gently as she's still so young has finally begun to take root, as the youngest no longer tries to feed her glitter glue.

I like that cat, although my initial assessment is that she ain't the smartest knife in the drawer.  The only one who is still ambivalent is June, whom Nabi seems to enjoy jumping on in the middle of the night.

Time for some Max.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sick Christmas Tree!

Moving to our new apartment has wrecked havoc on my veranda garden, since really we don't have much of a veranda.

One of the most obvious casualties has been the tree I bought last Christmas.

Look at that pathetic example of a tree.  I moved it outdoors, gave it fertilizer, cut off quite a bit of the dead and dying, but still it hasn't bounced back.


I'm thinking it didn't take too well to the move.  But then I haven't had much success keeping evergreens indoors.  The last one did last three years before it became a shadow of its former self, but I'm disappointed that this one went so fast.  It looked so healthy until we moved.

Not much sun and the move probably did it in.


My others plants have mostly been alright, although they don't seem as vibrant as before.  I guess I'll just have to move again. 


Coffee has come a long way in the ROK.

When I first got here, what passed for coffee was Blue Mountain 'tea', a watery concoction that cost 6 chonners a small cup, or the powdery cancer inducing slop that you could buy from the ubiquitous coffee machines for a few bek won coins per paper cup.

You were hard pressed to find real coffee in any of the shops in the Wonj.  Every time I went up to Seoul I'd drop 5 manners for 2-3 one kg bags of something decent that I'd carefully horde and measure out, eying the calendar to see when I'd make my next run to the big smoke.

One time I thought I had scored the mother lode when I found a bag of beans in the black market downtown.  I scoured the city for a grinder, eventually settling for a piece of shit hand cranked job that was obviously designed as a decoration.

It all proved futile.  Inside the bag were pieces of beans leaves branches and god knows what else.

I tried to drink it, but gave it up.  It was more suited for dyeing clothes than drinking.

Now on every corner there are cafes, franchises and independently run shops, rotisseries that import beans from around the world.  Most people still drink the instant stuff for convenience, and it can have its time and place.  I still grab the bulk of my coffee in Seoul, as the price of the stuff at Costco reminds me just what a bunch of gangster price fixing sharks the Emart peeps can be.  I like to fine grind beans.

June's been after me for years to buy an espresso machine.  Frankly I prefer the stuff from a slow drip or a bodum.  The best cup is made outside in the early morning while camping, using a small paper filter and poured slow.  Pure Awesomeness.

I drink 2-4 huge cups a day.  Each cup is about 600 ml.

Time for a cuppa.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Camping 1.3!

This weekend's camping extravaganza was awesome.  The spot I had chosen was not very populated and quite beautiful.  The weather was brilliant.

Most of my coworkers and interns don't know the first thing about camping, but they didn't do so badly.  

I'm sure next time they'll be better at it.

Many of the activities we had planned never happened, which I'm sure was fine by everyone.  I had a chance to hike, fish, snooze, and be camping guy.

I learned one of my coworkers plays a mean finger slap guitar.   He started to show off after one of the women picked it up and started strumming out tunes.  That was fun.

I'm sure everyone had a good time, except when I made them work.  They did tuck into it when I gave them something to do, no half assed mockery of work was seen.  A few of the guys became saw crazy and cut up several thick logs with my hand saw.  They made for a nice fire.

I didn't catch any fish.  Maybe next time.

Now I'm back at work.  I really don't want to be here.  I'll get over it.  Too many things to do to spend the time daydreaming.

Time for coffee.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


I've been out camping with peeps from work for the last couple days.

Today I watched some adjusshis catch a pile of what looked like sunfish.

They called them piri; I'd never heard of it before.

Two guys with lave nets covered most of the current while three others banged and lifted up rocks in the stream.

The biggest one they had was about 7 inches. Not bad.

They invited me to eat some spicy fish soup with them, but I was still full of burger and cola.

I'd like to try that kind of fishing though. Certainly got results.

Friday, June 3, 2011

So Many Kinds of Wrong

Hunting edition!

So many kinds of wrong

start at 1:55

Moose big

Bonus: red neck shows how to gut a deer, well!

Bonus Deer Revenge!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer Vacation!

Yesterday I booked my summer vacation for August.  My company is actually quite good, giving vacation corresponding to time put in.  What with the business trip and the extra time I've been putting in for the myriad projects I've worked on since last year, I can take a little over three weeks this summer.  Win!

I've planned to do a lot of camping, fishing, and to take a wood working course.

My grandfathers were a structural draftsman and a carpenter / cabinet maker respectively (the last having built the house he raised his kids in), while my dad is an engineer.

I'm sort of the odd one in my family, as most of my uncles and cousins do similar work.  One of my cousins is a sort of big shot musician, but all the rest do engineering / metalworking / manual type work.

Lately I've had the urge to go out and build shit.  Playing with power tools and making cool stuff sounds like a great way to spend some time.  What can I say?  I seem to come by it naturally.  You should see my dad's workshop.

Pretty much as soon as I had filed my vacation dates, I received an email from one of the offices in Seoul asking if I can organize a 2 week seminar for their new employees and interns.  The dates correspond with my vacation.  They'll pay me an extra 300 manners plus expenses to do it.


The pay ain't bad, the work is manageable, and two weeks in Seoul. . . I'd still have a week to myself.  But damn, I have been looking forward to some time in the woods and playing carpenter.  I want to make a nice solid 4-5 person bench to go along with my awesome kitchen table.

Lately when I've gone camping I've felt pretty good when I get back.  Getting out of the city and working with my hands, organizing and setting up a campsite, it's been fun.  I haven't felt hugely motivated to stare at a computer screen since coming back from England; I'm figuring it's burnout.  The wood working course and time in the woods would probably help a lot.

I've got a couple of days to sort it out.  Let's see what happens.

Time for coffee.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Welcome to Costco.  I love you.
Last night I had to make a run to the Yangjae Costco.

I needed to pick up a pile of stuff for the camping expedition this weekend.  We're going out with some coworkers for a camping bonanza.

I have zero time the rest of the week, what with work and family stuff, so off I went.

I ended up getting home around 11:00.  Still feeling pretty tired now.

The cat was the only one to greet me when I got in.

I unpacked everything and then watched an episode of Tosh.0  Getting bored with that show, as their attempts to push the envelope are proving lamer with each subsequent episode, kinda like the Lady Gaga effect.

I had a moment of panic this morning when it seemed that the camping trip would be canceled.  That was thankfully quickly put to rest.  I'd already spent over 40 manners buying food and gear, and if canceled I'd be eating pork and snack food exclusively for the next few weeks. 

It would be nice if a Costco were built closer to the Wonj; I end up spending about 3.5 manners on gas and highway tolls every time I go.  Rumors have surfaced over the years that one may be built in Yongin or Yeoju, but I'll believe it when I walk through the doors.