Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

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

Monday, January 31, 2011


As I was leaving Seoul Pub, I saw a white guy / Korean girl couple with their two kids walking down the street towards me.

It made me think of the girls and I smiled.

Until some old drunk guy who was muttering to himself suddenly launches into a tirade at the kids.

Goddamn half breeds!  You have no mother!  mutter mutter mumble fuck.

The kids were both stunned.  The eldest started to cry.

Another old guy running a stand starting laughing: What a crazy old bastard!


Obviously, the old muttering bastard was not right in the head.  As I presume is the same with the asshole running the stand.  It was one of those moments when I saw red.

Dad looked at him, said fuck off, and moved menacingly towards the old guy.  He shuffled off mumbling, almost getting clipped by a taxi as he crossed the street.

Just another day.

updated 3/1:

Watch it all in Korea here:


This morning I found myself bootin' it down to Seoul.

For some reason, people were having difficulty understanding some very basic stuff about the cereal bowl project. 

It's an important project for some reason, although it is kind of small compared to some of the stuff we do.  But I guess it has potential for further orders later.

Despite trying to work it out with them via email and cell phone last week, they still asked that I come down and go over it with them one more time.

It actually only took a few hours to make everything kosher.  After lunch I was free.  Woopdeedoo, seeing as I ended up getting stuck in traffic.  The office is smack downtown.  Driving in that area is rarely fun.

After lunch I stopped off in the 'twon.  Had a beer at Seoul Pub.  It tasted like piss.

Heading out I decided to stop at Costco.  Apparently no one is buying beef for this New Year, what with all the disease madness.  Costco was in full form, offering a nice selection of seafood.  I bought a set pack of four lobster for the in-laws.  I don't want to think about how much they cost.

Now I'm home.  I cooked burgers for everyone.  I haven't eaten a burger in over a year.  I feel gross.

Time for beer.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Today was pretty hectic.

We spent the day moving into June's new storefront. 

There was cleaning, heavy lifting, arranging, organizing.

For lunch I made a pot of kimchi tuna stew and brought it over to feed the gang.  It was delicious.

Finally everything was sort of finished.  There still needs some tweaking, but the main load of it is done.

It didn't help that last night I went out and hung around with one of the Jungs and some of her buddies drinking soju until near midnight. 

But I persevered. 

I tried watching The Green Hornet and was appalled at how terrible it was.  Now I'm writing on my stoopid blog. 

Think it's time to go read some books to the girls. . .

Of Whores and Grad Students

A few days passed before she showed up at my office: stunning, tall, slender and blonde. . . she truly was a beauty.

She came in and asked if she could speak with me.  I motioned to a chair, and before she could get started I said:

Your life is yours: what you freely choose to do to earn a living is not my concern.  What I saw the other night isn't going to affect your grades in any way; you've been at the top of the class since the beginning of term, there is no reason why that shouldn't continue.  I won't mention this to anyone, and I won't expect any 'favors' from you.

I caught her off guard with this.  Working the biz, I guess she had a hard time thinking that someone would let her have something for nothing.  She insisted that she at least take me out for dinner that night.  That's how we found ourselves at Mickey's by seven.

What transpired next was nothing that could fill a letter to penthouse.  I was a pillar of morality and ethical behavior.  I didn't flirt, didn't speak in innuendoes; I did get drunk on her dime though.  As the evening progressed, I started asking her questions on what it was like working the biz.

She was lucky that she had a fairly sizable stable of repeat customers.  A girl like that, I could understand.  The smart and sexy combination that made her was incredibly potent.

She had originally gotten into it to pay for school.  She pulled in about three thousand a week.  She knew she couldn't do it forever, and that the psychic toll was heavy, but she was smart with her money.  She didn't blow it on drugs or ridiculous amounts of clothes.  She said she lived in a modest apartment.  She invested what she didn't need for school into stocks and bonds.

Occasionally she took calls to fill in for other girls.  That was what caused her to show up at my roomates house that night.  Usually a driver came in, checked things out, and handled the cash.  It was his call whether or not the girl would go in.  Most of the guys she slept with as regulars were decent, good looking, professional.  But sometimes she would get someone nasty, hideous, fat.  If things got sketchy, she had a panic button she could push, and the driver would be there fairly quickly.  She never took drinks or drugs offered by her hosts unless she had known them for some time.  She was a cautious girl.

We actually became sort of friends.  She would stop by my office from time to time to chat.  We'd grab a coffee and shoot the shit.  I learned quite a bit about the biz from her.  On a lark I jumped at the chance to work as a driver for a few weeks to fill in for one guy who had messed up a leg skiing.  There I was chauffering around some of the hottest women in town.  It was a great experience, and I made over four thousand for a few hours every night, including tips from the girls.  Unfortunately my grades suffered during that time and I nearly didn't pass.  Luckily I had a great advisor who knew that something was up, didn't ask questions, and let a lot of things slide.

But all good things come to an end.  I graduated and was getting ready to leave town.  That last night was insane: she and a couple of other working girls I had gotten to know showed me around all the strip joints in a 20 mile radius.  They seemed to know everybody, and they paid for everything.  I had decided that I wasn't going to take my pants off, but when one of the girls teased me about being a fag, well I had to put an end to that by going home with one of the waitresses from the last place we hit.

She was talented.

I never slept with any of the working girls, although it would have been fairly easy.  Considering the way we had met, at first I thought it would just cause more problems then it was worth.   And I probably wouldn't have been let in the way I was.

I left for a sweet corporate job in a city 400 miles away.  I thought about her often, that tall slender blonde, but things got pretty hectic and crazy and I never had a chance to go back.  But what came next will have to wait for some other time.


While working on my first post graduate degree, in the final semester I found myself forced  to take a job as a server.

My TA money could cover my tuition and books.  I still needed to come up with living expenses, so I went with what I was good at.

Those were hellish times, trying to carry a full course load, teach a couple of classes, while working splits in an English Pub.

I moved in with a married couple.  The wife knew I was looking for a decent place closer to the school, and offered me their spare room.

Within three days of moving in, she confronted her husband in the kitchen over breakfast while I was reading a rather weighty tome:

We aren't happy together anymore.  I don't love you.  It's time for us to part.

Within three minutes, her boyfriend of two years and his bud had cleared the place of all her shit.

Husband looked like a beached guppy.  I decided that hanging out at the library for a good twelve hours would be a fantastic idea.

He and I didn't talk too much over the next 4-5 days.  It was pretty easy to figure out: she had played me, using me as a bulwark against some of the more nasty shit that could ensue.

She asked me out for coffee to 'apologize'.  She couldn't even bring herself to pay the bill.  Guess I didn't figure too high in her book.

Working full time, I often found myself burning the midnight oil.  I'd get in around 11, read and write until I couldn't keep my eyes open.

Husband guy started bringing whores home.  He heard no sound from my room, usually because I was playing it quiet or because he wanted it to get back to her.

After three or four girls had come over, I decided to fuck with him: I walked out after the driver had left and he was bullshitting the girl.

Later I would realize this was very uncool for her.  I just wanted to mess with him.

Imagine my surprise when I see the top student from one of the classes I was teaching sitting there all slutted up.

I can't make this up.

I mumbled a sorry and retreated back to my room.

They smoothed it out and she earned her wage.

But she knew who I was.

What came next will take at least another post.

Saturday, January 29, 2011



Having been a server, waiter. bartender. . . having someone attempt hard to recruit me for a phone sex company, and having worked as a driver for an escort service. . .and having been an ESL teacher in Korea. . .

I understand exploitation.

And I love fishing.

Blood Shed from Bloodshed Movie on Vimeo.


Seems the fam is still at a kindergarten BBQ.

I had to take the van into the shop: the power steering fluid pump is screwed.  35 manners to change it out.


I ended up taking the first, third and fifth prizes for the shooting contest.  I won the bear, a 10 kilo bag of rice, and some seaweed.  Nice.

I ran off before it all finished.  Excuse: car is screwed.  It was a good one.

I had to stop off at a toy store and buy another big ass bear.  Can't show up at home with only one.  Chaos and turmoil would ensue.  It cost me 5 manners.


I walked home from the car shop carrying the bears.  It's damn cold outside.  Took me an hour.  I'm sure I got more than a few odd looks.

Now I'm home thinking I should get drunk.  I was positively tame last night. I need to loosen up from acting like such a tight ass.   I'm going to get trashy and drink soju with orange fanta.


The Morning After!

The dinner last night was a buffet.  There was singing, and some groups broke off to drink in their rooms.

At about 11:30 a bunch of laughing and shouting was heard outside, with some new guy being forced to run around in his underwear, but then silence.

I drank a bit, but not as much as some.  Me and Mr. Jung got into a bottle of Andong soju he won.  You have to be careful which brand of that stuff you buy.  Some of it is just nasty.  The bottle he had was nice.  We played some gostop and crashed around 3.

This morning some of the guys are looking quite disheveled.  I took a few pictures that I'll save for later. Mwhahahahaha. . . .

But: nowhere near the full on I've done in the past.  Not like I'm going to go there with a bunch of people from work now, am I.

Yesterday I won a bio-friendly clothes detergent / fabric softener set.  I'm also currently owning the first, second, and fourth places in the shooting contest.  This consists of one of those carnival like shooting games with a laser handgun.  Those ducks fear me!  Before I started with the company, Mr. Lee in security owned that game.  The last two years its been mine.  I can tell his kibun is off from it.  I've been warned that next year the game might just disappear because I win too many of the prizes.  The top five get something.  As long as I get that giant bear and some of the rice, I'm good. Last year I took four of the top five.

Looks like playing duck hunt on the nintendo when I was a kid wasn't a complete waste and can have real life applications.  Not to mention those hours playing shooting games in arcades.  Or the hours doing target practice with a .22 and a CO2 pellet gun.

But I digress.

I've made some bodem coffee.  Much better than the stuff the resort will provide.

But no milk.  I'll just have to make due.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Membership training is a normal yearly thing for many Korean companies.

Its more often associated with university and college.

Everyone gets together, plays a bunch of games, eats, converses, blah blah blah.

The point of the exercise is to build team spirit.  And of course to get some exercise.

In the past I'd rather get shot in the face then go to one of these things.  But I've learned to accept it and sometimes actually have fun.

This afternoon most of the company is off to some ski resort.  They've rented an entire building.  We're expected to stay until tomorrow late afternoon.

I may be able to sneak off earlier in the day tomorrow.  But this afternoon I'll join with my department to try and win some prizes.  Prizes are good.  They are giving out stuff for each event you win, and the team that gets the most points by Saturday will get something big.  Prizes are usually stuff like detergent and household stuff, liquor, rice cookers and the like.

We won quite a chunk the last couple of years.  Word around the water cooler is that PR and advertising are out to end our streak.

The ones I'm watching out for are the maintenance guys.  They usually win the things involving brute strength, like the tug of war.

We'll see.

Chocolate Stash!

This morning I was rooting around in the cupboards looking for a thermos.

In the ones on top of the refrigerator I find King Solomon's chocolate stash.

There must have been about 10 kilos of the stuff in various forms.  Chocolate covered cherries, truffles, lindt bars and chocolates, Ritter bars and a tin of Quality Street.

Good God Almighty!

I buy the stuff and stick it up there so the kids won't get at it.  I didn't realize there was that much.  I squirreled away some of it in other places and left a box of cherries on the table before leaving for work.

I won't talk about the liquor stash I found yesterday.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

So Many Kinds of Wrong

Thursday Edition!


I must be getting old, I still like these.

So Many Kinds of Wrong.

Uncensored! NSFW!

The Prodigy - Smack My Bitch Up on MUZU.TV

Bonus: The Big Hit at Sundance!  Must See!!!

Afternoon Scandal!

Word around the water cooler is someone in the sales department is in a world of shit for accepting inappropriate gifts.

The more cynical take on it is that he didn't share which is why he's being called to explain himself.

What do I think?  Thanks for asking!

I've never been in a position to be bribed.  Usually by choice.  My ethical center tells me I wouldn't take a single won.  But then I remember the story told to me by the Korean friend I've known the longest:

He works for a major construction company overseeing purchasing.  He's also a devout Christian and a commited family man.  Back in simpler times he and I would meet up once a month or two.  We'd go to expensive restaurants, swanky bars, and he'd always insist on picking up the tab.

I got angry about this after a while: he would never let me pay.  It made me uncomfortable.

When I told him as much, he explained it thus: he gets offered a lot of bribes.  He has no choice but to take them.  If he doesn't, he'll be looked on distrustfully by his colleagues and peers, since everyone is on the take in some form or another.  If he wants to advance in his job, he has no choice but to look the other way, keep his mouth shut, and take the money.

Since to him its dirty money, he decided to use it in frivolous, free ways, such as always paying for dinner and drinks.

I could get behind that.

Similarly, back in my teaching days, a corporate class I taught would insist on going out for expensive drinks with stunning female companionship and always paying.  They had an expense account amount that had to be used every month for entertainment purposes.  If it wasn't, they risked not only losing the funds, but being seen as not a team player.  They didn't necessarily enjoy what they were doing (ha!), but they had no real choice in the matter.

So what would I do.

When in Rome. . .?


This morning there was an email waiting for me.  This is what the sender had to say:

"Why is it that so many of you f-visa guys are such big apologists for Korea?  I read your blog and the fact that you constantly talk up Korea is a little over the top.  You try to present a picture of balance, but you gloss over too much of the garbage for it to be believable.  Just say it as it is, and cut out the idiotic ginseng and "I'm hanging out with Koreans to improve my life and because foreigners aren't cool" posts.  You talk in your Mr. Happy post how you don't like to be characterized as a loser, well guess what?  Most Koreans do that and will keep doing that for as long as you are here!  Why debase yourself that way?  And why put your children in a position where they will have to deal with that?

I pretty much can guess how you will respond to this, so you can just call me jaded.  I lived in Korea for three years, tried to make a life, but went home when I realized that I would become a socially isolated reject who would always be stuck doing work which would never allow me to make use of all my skills.

Just be real." 

First off, I'd like to say thanks for your email, jaded.  If you have a comment or question feel free to drop me a note.  I won't publish your email address and I may respond if you don't have a serious case of potty mouth.

As for how to respond?

I'm sorry to hear that you felt you had to leave.  I know how that goes.  I've fought with the desire to leave a couple of times myself, when things were really bad due to a large number of factors that would take up too much space to discuss here.  The constant bad mouthing and belittling in the press and from on the street experiences is a big one.  If I wasn't married with kids, I would have left.  A person can only take so much of that before they start to think ill of the people who say it.

What stopped me was the will to not give up and chuck in the towel.  Some may say that I'm a masochist.  But running is the easy way.

One day I will go back, primarily for my children.  I want them to know and understand everything that makes them who they are, and to find a way to be right with themselves, to reconcile the good with the bad.  They won't be able to do that if we leave and never come back.  They won't be able to do that if I trash talk their mother's country and the people in it.  Right now I work on teaching them how to sort out the good from the idiotic.  It is actually a fairly easy thing to do, there being so many clear examples of both.  But then that is part of what makes Korea so interesting, the polarization with things like that.

As for trying to be balanced, I just tell it as it is.  Some days are good, some aren't.  I have some good experiences and some bad.  Just like anywhere, and I guess this is part of my thing: no matter where you are, you're going to deal with good and bad.  Its mostly your attitude that will determine your quality of life in many cases.  The important thing for me is to not become blinded and to keep my perspective open.

I haven't dealt with everything your wrote, jaded, but hopefully this little blurb will help.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Table Tennis!

Twice a week a group from the company gets together and plays table tennis in one of the lounges.

I'm the only waeg who shows up regularly.  I don't go every time since projects or meetings often conflict, but I usually play once a week.

A lot of the other guys want to play me.  I'm a pretty decent player and the only one who plays 'shake hands' style, meaning I use a racket like the one on the left.

Today I was in good form.  I beat one of the better players for the first time.

I did get a little over excited about winning, and dude wasn't impressed.  He'll be out for revenge now.  It was a very fast paced game: I finally broke his serve and found a back hand slice that he had a hard time with.

I like to play and have been playing since middle school.  It's fairly good exercise and it gives me a chance to hang out with some coworkers from other departments that I never see otherwise.  Like most office jobs, making friends and being approachable is important for things to go smoothly.

Space Heater!

It's pretty damn cold.

Luckily our section of the building is pretty well heated.

Still, I'm happy that I brought in my space heater.  Toasty!

I feel sorry for the folks in the general office, who are using one of those huge propane beasts.

The fumes from those give me a headache.

They turn the heat off at 9 pm.  I won't be staying that late tonight.  I should make it a bit colder in my office; helps keep you focused.

Venturing outside is no fun.


This morning a guy selling ginseng products came around the office.

I was annoyed.  I've got work to do.  Why is there a salesman using up my time and messing with my flow?

He was asked to leave after several people called to complain.  Not before he sold some of his wares.

How he got passed the guards is a matter of speculation around the water cooler.

Korean ginseng is world renowned and an important export.  I'm not supposed to take too much of it since I'm hot blooded.  Besides I prefer coffee and Ya! as my stimulants of choice.  Ya! already has some ginseng in it anyway I'm sure the salesdude would be happy to know.

Still, having a salesman show up at work blows.  Its even worse than when the monks show up tok tokking on their moktak asking for a 시주. 

Back to work.

Who Stole the Cookies??!

I came home a little later than usual.  I whipped up some mapa dooboo, chatted with the fam, and prepared to get settled in to watch the new Tron movie.

After finishing off the dishes, I mosied over to the cookie jar. 

It was empty.

3 dozen cookies gone!


Seems both of the girls had friends over in the afternoon.  There were maybe 9 kids and a handful of moms. 

They decimated my cookie stash.  And all the bread.

My left eye began to twitch.

I grabbed a bottle of Dae Po and a beer and hid in my room and watched the flick.  It was pretty good. 

Three DOZEN cookies.

Luckily I have two more bags of Chippets, but it'll be at least 2-3 weeks before I make some more.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


One of my friends met me for lunch to ask for advice.

It seems she's been dating one of her older supervisors, and is somewhat out of synch with what to do.

She claims it's love.  They started dating while he was still married.  He recently divorced, and now wants her to move in with him.

I know a little more about the story than she brought up.  I keep my ear close to the ground on a lot of gossip; this is one of the advantages of being plugged into the ajumma network.  Word in the coffee shop is that this guy is quite a hound, and that his wife dumped him because he got a much younger university student pregnant.  Said woman went off somewhere to have the kid.  Not before writing a rather terse letter to the wife.

Thing is my friend knows about that.  But she doesn't know about the two others before her.

It's a messed up situation. 

Without bringing in everything that I knew, I asked her where she was going to see herself in 5 years, or 10.

Is moving in with this guy going to cause your life to go in a direction that could mess it up, seeing you miss out on opportunities for work or self development that you'll never be able to regain?  You keep talking about getting your Masters, do you think you'll be able to if you move in with this guy?  What if you got pregnant?

Even if you didn't, is it really worth the fleeting passion?  When you're old saying that you lived true to your heart, it won't change the fact that you could be living in hell, or missed out on the chance to meet someone else.  That is the great thing about life, you never know what's around the corner.  Besides, you know that he is a hound.  Do you really think you're going to be the one forever?  Have your fun, but keep your perspective.

Kinda seems like a no brainer to me, but that is love now isn't it.  I suppose it could work out, but she should just walk away and get on with her life.

F-Visa Millionaires!

Jake posted on a topic I haven't thought about in some time: the myth of the F-Visa Millionaire.

Back in the day, I ran my own business.  I got my study room license and went on my merry way, free to choose my clients and make my own hours.

I at first avoided teaching specifically for the various tests: SAT, AP, GMAT, IELTS, TOEFL. . . my philosophy is that you need a rounded education, and if you focus on critical reading and writing, the SAT, AP, IELTS and TOEFL test will be easier to deal with since the foundation will be there.  I'd offer month long intensives for those tests during vacation months, which were always rich months, but my main focus was on the former, of helping students build up basic skills in reading and writing.

I rarely took low level kids.  If they didn't have already basic English skills, what I could teach them was pointless.  I usually specialized in kids who had lived abroad for at least a year.

I nor my wife got much grief from parents.  In fact phone calls were pretty much limited to changing schedules for this that or the other reason.  I guess I was doing something right.  Occasionaly, there would be one who would complain about this or the other thing, usually demanding a discount.  I would stop teaching those kids.  My prices were fixed based on what I knew was being charged at the hogwons in town.  One hogwon was charging 350 a kid for their 'special advanced class' that was limited to 3-5 students per class.  I charged a bit more and wouldn't take more than 3 students, with at least two in each class, and taught at a higher level.  If they wanted one-on-one I explained that I would have to charge them the price of two kids.  I also had some corporate classes in the mornings and around lunch, and I farmed out 2 other teachers, one Chinese, one Japanese, taking a slice off the top.  I was always busy and I enjoyed my job immensely.

But then sometimes I would take those low levels.  A friend would ask me to take on a couple, and I would for our friendship.  Then I started getting a lot of offers for speech contests.  Whenever there was one coming up, I'd pick up five or six short term students who would prep for that.  Then the requests for the test prep started dominating, and instead of focusing on the core curriculum I had developed for critical reading and writing, I found myself teaching test prep all the time.  Then the copy editing or ghost writing gigs started becoming more and more frequent as well.  I technically have three PHDs.  You want one?  It'll take me 4-6 weeks and cost you 5 mil.  The money was good; I'd be bringing in 4-5 a month when it was slow, usually because I needed some downtime or during midterms, not so much near finals depending on the grades of the kids I was teaching.  But I wasn't doing what I really wanted to, which was to teach.

There is a difference between being a teacher and a test prep machine.  It's a completely different style and focus.  You don't have time for a discussion based class when you're trying to teach how to logically eliminate incorrect answers from a multiple choice section, or how to focus your writing to meet the restraints of the SAT or AP essay.  I love teaching.  Its a worthwhile job that makes you feel as if you are truly contributing in a positive way to society.  But I wasn't teaching towards the end, so when I got offered my current job, I decided to take the overall yearly pay cut for something that promised to be a better and more interesting gig.  And it is.

So millionaires?  Don't think so.  I know there are some guys out there who make 20-25 million a month teaching mostly test prep in top hogwons, those rock star teachers, but that isn't teaching as far as I'm concerned.  And trust me, most of the Korean Ivy Leaguers frown on that kind of job, seeing it as a waste of a good education and perpetuating a system that has ruined a lot of lives.

Take from that what you will.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Reading Time!

Tonight June made some tasty kimchi chigae.  She fried up some fish, marinated some quails' eggs and did the dishes.  I only vacuumed, set the girls up for bed, washed and cooked rice, and hit the grocery store before coming home.

Then we had a spat.  She started going on about the evil ways of colonial Europe back in the day against the poor Native Americans.

I reminded her that humans are what humans do, and Koreans are not exempt from evil ways in the here and now.

She didn't say much to me, but then freaked at the kids.  She yelled and threw a roll of toilet paper at the youngest then sequestered herself in the main bedroom.
I'm thinking hormones.

Why is it always about how Koreans could never be that evil, as opposed to they haven't had the chance for a good long while?

And why is it when she can't win an argument she always takes it out on the kids?

But I digress.

The youngest needed some quality attention.  I held her for a while, talked nice, and read a bazillion books. These are always reliable.

They want me to sleep with them, but I need to plow through a pile of emails and what not first.

Epik Daze!

I'm lucky.

When I did my stint back in the day with Epik, I remember some of the idiocy I had to deal with from clueless, myopic coworkers.

Stuff like the head of the English department claiming I spoke English with a French accent because I had taken a French course in university.  She couldn't carry on a conversation in English beyond some very basic simple stuff, but then went around saying I wasn't suitable as a teacher due to this French pollution.  A single class in university.  Ok.

Being told I was not allowed to discipline the students because that was the job of a co-teacher who never came to class.  I got in trouble on that one when I made a boy stay after class to pick up trash around the school after I caught him throwing garbage out the window in class.  That class was a hell class.  There was a special needs kid in the class that some of the more enterprising kids had taught to yell Fuck You whenever I started to explain directions for an activity. 

A math teacher who lectured in class about how I, like all those from my country in history,  were only there to destroy Korean culture and traditions.  He was openly antagonistic to me my whole year.

The photocopy guy who wouldn't make my copies for activities, or would make me wait more than a couple of weeks for my stuff.  It would often be incomplete, done poorly or lacking in number.  I was told to not touch the machines, but I took to sneaking in at lunch and running off all my stuff before anyone was the wiser.  He caught me once and complained to the principal.  When called to explain myself, I laid it out: I can get it all finished correctly in an hour.  I don't want to bother him since he is obviously very busy.  I got all my copies promptly and done well after that.

And more.  Being a teacher in public school is no picnic no matter where you are.  But some of that stuff was beyond the pale.  At least I had no issues with pay, but of course I didn't renew.  I signed up for the gig because I wanted to see what it was like inside the school, what they taught and how.  I was teaching over 800 students in a month at different schools, which completely undermined any usefulness I may have served.

So now I can say I'm lucky.  I'm out of the ESL gig.  Most of my coworkers are decent, solid folk.  Many of them have lived abroad for varying lengths of time.  While I still have to deal with some idiocy, at least there is more of an effort to make me feel a part of the team, and not some outsider that needs to be contained and undermined.

I'm not Korean!

와 멋지다!
An ironic statement I hear from a lot of Koreans is just how Korean I am.

I eat Korean food, I speak Korean fairly well, I understand a lot of the culture, traditions and history.

This morning a coworker marveled at how well I understood the intricacies of how to sell a product to Korean housewives.  I made solid suggestions on product design and packaging.  Wow you are Korean he opined.

I wish I had a chonner every time someone said it; I'd retire.

The issue is that people confuse understanding and respect for complete assimilation and exultation.

This is where they are wrong.

I usually respond by uttering a small laugh and say no only 40%.  I don't mention how if push came to shove, I know that I wouldn't be considered part of the clan.  Nor would I want to be.

It is true that I've changed considerably in behavior and attitude.  You can't live in a place for over ten years without adopting mannerisms, behaviors and in some cases attitudes.

But Korea is a slippery place for the waeg.  I don't know a single long term waeg who will say that they have been completely accepted, even if you take Korean citizenship and invest hours learning the language.  Too many barriers to simple stuff.  Even if you take citizenship, you will run into walls that prevent you from rising.  I know a few guys who have taken citizenship and their stories are interesting.

I can't go to that last extreme.  While I love my adopted country, my home country will always keep a spot deep in my heart.  It is who I am after all.

So I wonder why they say that I am Korean, why they marvel at the fact that I am simply doing what any immigrant or guest worker should: show respect for your adopted country.  Is it so hard to imagine that someone from another country may actually consider Korean stuff worthy to learn about?

That however is the subject of a different post.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cookie Mountain!

Today we stayed home.  It's been snowing most of the afternoon.

We worked on the Van Gogh puzzle some more, watched an old 70's movie called "The Paper Chase", and I baked a cookie mountain.
Whenever we visit the sister-in-law, we hit the homeplus close to her place.  

I usually buy three bags of original Chippets.  You cannot make decent chocolate chip cookies with the garbage chocolate chips you can buy at Emart.

Everyone is feeling a little logey from cookie overload.
It was fun watching the girls bounce off the walls for a while from the choco overdose though.

The girls are about to hop in the bath.  I need to take out all the recycling and trash.  

Then I'm going to read The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.  

That trilogy is great.  I grabbed a copy of it when I last went to Seoul.  Recommend.

Dae Po!

The girls and I started off with making a go at a 1000 piece puzzle of Van Gogh's Starry Night.  This made me think fuck the impressionists.  Try putting together a puzzle of that shit.

After cooking amazing chicken wings and deep fried potatoes, I got into some delicious Dae Po.

When peeps make rice wine, how far down in the vat is going to determine the quality of your drink.

Close to the bottom is your typical makoli.  A little further up you get dong dong ju.  At the top you've got the clear liquor that usually is your sake type of drink.  But this shit is a whole other class of wine, made from dandelions.  Awesome. 

It's usually 1.7 chonners a bottle.  It's 13%.  It tastes great.

After drinking a bottle and a beer, I went out and met some waeg buddies of mine.

We shot the shit and played some plastic darts.  I am a purist as far as my dart playing is concerned, but in the Wonj you make due.

I finished off a game of cricket in 11 turns.  My record is nine.  Not bad.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Skating was a blast.  The eldest is coming along nicely.  She's got some nice moves going on.

It was the first time for the youngest.  My back was killing me after 90 minutes of helping her out.

All in all a good time was had by all.  June hung out and talked with the ajummas while the dads helped their spawn when needed.

We stopped off at the waeg couple's place.  I bought their desktop computer and fairly new washer.  I plan on cannibalizing the computer and the one I have at home and putting all the good stuff into one that I'll use in my man den, while the older crappier stuff will get stuck into the tower that I'll hook up permanently to the TV.  I'll keep it downloading constantly ha! and watch it all on my 42 inch HD TV.

The washer can be used in the second apartment.

I felt a bit like a vulture pawing through and taking the stuff they were getting rid of.  

Now we're home having hot chocolate.  June and I are making chicken wings and fries for dinner.  


Hyperactive Crazed Children!

Despite having just had ten days off and having a bunch of stuff to do, I decided to not go to work today.

Saturdays aren't expected, but some people go in to suck up or, in my case, because there is always a ton of stuff to do.

Instead we're going to meet up with a couple of other families.  We're going to a nice Italian restaurant for lunch, then we're all going skating.

The restaurant makes tasty risotto and good steak.  The great thing is that one of the other families is paying!  Woo!

The kids will be running around much as they are now, excited about the day.  Amplify that by 50 when we get all 7 of em together.

I need to meet up with a waeg couple later to see about buying their computer.  They're leaving Korea and are clearing out a bunch of their stuff.  It's too bad they're leaving: good people.  They've been here years, but have decided to make the move back to start a family and get careers on track back home.  Good for them, too bad for Korea. 

Time for coffee.

An Experiment!

Watch this:

Read this

Watch this:


A Runner!

Fill it up with waeg goodness?
Some people choose to run.  Some choose to stand and sort things out.  I get that sometimes you need to get outta dodge, but I've got an issue with those who just decide to run when its clearly a case of always wanting to take the easy way out.

A few years back I met this nice waeg girl.  She wasn't bad looking, in pretty good shape.  She hated her job because - the horror! - she had to teach kindergarten.  She hated Wonju since it was boring and had little to offer culturally.

Did you ask what kind of classes you'd be teaching before coming over?  No?  uh, did you look up to see what Wonju was like as a city before you decided to transplant yourself over here?  Yes, there are 300 000 people, but did you look up to see what was there?  Not really?

This woman pulled a runner.  She left Korea, got her visa canceled, came back to work in Incheon.

I can't get behind that. 

When I read that some pretty boy Korean wanna be man actor was signing up for the ROK marines, I was at first sceptical.  It looks good on paper for him later after all.

I've had more than a few conversations with adjusshis who bemoan how the younger generation always wants to take the easy way out.

But he is going to do it.  Its more than what the majority would do.  I know there will be at least a few that will help kill whatever brainwashed zombies try to take these mountains.  I think he's awesome.

I respect some of my older coworkers / supervisors for a similar reason.  I work with three hardcore military veterans who bring a lot to the table.  One of them was a female career soldier who now does PR.  Another was a marine.  The third was a commander on a navy corvette in the West Sea.

Not only did they do their time, they rose up when the call was made.  That speaks to their character. 

I can support that 1000%.

Friday, January 21, 2011

So Many Kinds of Wrong

This guy made a series of videos asking for a million dollars and put it up on the Youtube. 

The last vid is this link.  He got his million.  Dude probably would have kept at it for some time, so mystery millionaire should have waited so we could have some more entertainment.  Although some of the internets are saying its all a publicity stunt.

Should I be saddened at humanity, angered that I didn't do it first, or give a golf clap?

So Many Kinds of Wrong because I'm probably doing it wrong by actually working for a living when I should try to come up with some snazz idea:

Kinda reminds me of the million dollar homepage.


The girls and I all need new passports.

I hate dealing with that stuff.  It's a pain in the ass.

I filled out all the forms and mailed them in. 

The only issue so far has been trying to convince the photographer of the true size of the passport photo I needed.  He didn't seem to understand and gave the wrong size.  He got mad when I told him he had to do it all again.

Waste of time.  How hard is it to understand the metric system? 

Anyway, taken care of so far.  Hopefully there won't be an issue with the embassy.

Back in the day my passport was very colorful with all the different stamps.  I had two of them like that. 

Now its fairly bare.  But I have no regrets.  Not many at least.  Most of the time.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Tonight I got in at the regular hour.

We had dinner, tooled around with some playdoh, read some books.

I promised the girls we'd go skating on Saturday.  They've been waiting all week for it.

After they took their bath, they went to bed.

I heard the youngest out in the kitchen sharpening pencils.  She likes it when they're all ready to go.

June passed out around eight.

I started watching Never Let Me Go and got depressed.  I didn't realize before watching it that I had read the book a couple years ago. 

The movie was too morose for me, so I decided to save the whole thing for later. 

Instead I watched The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with English subs.  It was good, but the changes from the book were somewhat disappointing.

I finished the dishes and now I'm going to bed.  I'm pretty wiped.


Shameless Plug!

Looking through my iPhone photos I was reminded that I'd been meaning to put this up for awhile.

A good Taco place in the Wonj can be found not too far from the main hospital downtown.

The second photo is from the main intersection nearby.  If you walked up the small slope you'd find Gidok Hospital straight ahead from where the photo was taken.

Tasty stuff.  The owner speaks better than passable English for the Korean challenged.


The Water Cooler!

At the water cooler this morning, I had a chat with one of my Kim coworkers. 

It seems that the government is asking people to limit their travel during the upcoming New Year's holiday due to fears of spreading foot and mouth disease.

He's as pleased as punch.  He hates driving during the holidays, as most sane people would.  The roads become insanely congested, and a one hour trip can easily become a three to four hour hell ride. 

He usually jumps on any legitimate reason to avoid making the trek to the south.  Two years ago he thought he had a good one with the birth of his youngest child, but what in fact happened was that a slew of relatives showed up at his place instead. 

Listening to him rant about that was hilarious, although I completely sympathized as well.

So this year he's going to take a page out of my book and go to Bangkok, i.e. stay home and become a vegetable.  Life's looking pretty sparkling to him right now.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Random Tunes!

As I was cooking some of these came up random. Now I feel like watching some of the vids, lucky you.

No Thyme!

As I prepared to make my lamb stew, I discovered that I was out of thyme.

This was a crisis.  My lamb stew needs thyme.  I thought for sure I had an unopened bottle of the stuff.

I've been meaning to add it to my veranda garden.  Thyme isn't something that you can just run out and buy at the local convenience store.  You can order it online, and find it in Seoul, but not easily in the Wonj.

So I used rosemary and paprika.  Made it with tomatoes, onions, a pile of garlic, potatoes and mushrooms.  Threw in a half cup of red wine, a half cup of chicken stock, salt and pepper.

It needs to simmer for about another hour, but damn, it smells good already.  Let it sit overnight and reheat and that's gonna be a fine stew.

Business Dinner!

What started out as a typical tour turned into an entire afternoon plus dinner affair.

We hit one of the nicer Chinese restaurants in town. It was a damn fine meal.

I got home about 30 minutes ago. The guests went back to Seoul.

I checked out the lamb. It's nice and soft and will undoubtedly make a great stew. I'm making it now while having a gin and tonic.

I'll finish the stew up before hitting the hay.

It's been a pretty good day, although I did miss out on an afternoon. Comes with the territory.

Computer Monitor!

June's monitor finally kicked the bucket.

It was a monster that she'd been using for years.

I'd been trying to convince her to get a new one.  This morning I came in early and spent an hour looking over the wares at Gmarket. 

I ordered her a Samsung LED monitor.  Something BX2331.

Samsung do make good TVs and monitors.  I've been pleased with the one I bought a couple years back when my own beast died.  Can't say the same for the DVD drive I bought a couple years back.  It ended up going into the shop three times, and once they didn't return the CD that had been in it.

These days I rarely use CDs.  It's all USBs or secondary drives.  I have a 500 gig and 1 terabyte drive for storage.

I need a new computer, but that will have to wait.  I had a chance to price some on the weekend, and I think suffering for another 6 months with mine will be worth it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Tomorrow night I'm planning on cooking a nice lamb stew.  Later this week we'll have a lamb masala.

I grabbed a nice big chunk of the stuff while in Seoul on the weekend, along with some hard to find spices. 

One thing that you can't find in the Wonj is a lot of ethnic or multinational food.

There is a Mexican taco place, a couple of very nice Italian restaurants, a Thai place. . . but they are far and few.  Buying ingredients is pretty tough too, although there is one 'Asian Food' mart that sells some spices and what not.

Seeing as I enjoy most Korean food, it isn't a huge issue.  Combined with monthly trips to Costco, I work out a good balance.

Still, seeing all that diversity in certain areas of Seoul is cool.  Fresh fennel bread is always a treat. 

Lamb's gonna be good.


Later this week I have to give a tour to a group from Japan.  We went and visited them last year and now its their turn.

I'm in charge of showing them around.  My Japanese sucks.  I'm going to need to borrow a couple of staff from the advertising and market research branch.

I don't mind doing these tours, and luckily I can put a couple of interns on it.  They can handle preparing some of the particulars, and tours pretty much go by the book anyway.

I did find out that I'll have a business trip in mid April.  I need to have a tentative plan ready by the beginning of next week.  I'll be going with the CEO and one of the COOs.  Something tells me that one is going to be a bit stressful.

An Old Flame!

This morning I logged on to Facebook for the first time in a week.

I needed to get a contact number for one of my old coworkers.

I found a friend invite from an old flame from back in the day.

We had dated for years.  The breakup was pretty messy.  I heard she had married and moved to France.

I am curious.  There were times when we were great together, and I consider her to have been a great friend.

But I deleted it.  Considering the circumstances, its for the best. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Milk Choco Taste!

After cruising around the net this afternoon, I was saddened to see just how much the Cereal Killer was found in various forms and guises.

I had to come up with something different.

Milk Choco Taste! on one side, Keep the Healthy Polyphenol! on the other.

Alter the picture of the baby, color it up, maybe change where the word polyphenol shows up and we'll be a go.

The team loved the initial draft.

Not my best showing, but fairly ok for the time being.

I did upset a coworker in the process.  Basically I have to remind myself that we're not all on the same level and people can't read my mind, and I shouldn't make assumptions about what's going on in theirs.

I forget that sometimes: I can be rather skewed in my view of things.  Guess years in the biz have taken their toll.

The Daily Grind!

I spoke hastily earlier: there was actually a ton stuff in my email.

Reports to check, new projects to start, a whole new line of cereal bowls that will given away by a major cereal company.

For the cereal bowls, I was thinking of the punny the youngest made a couple of weeks ago: I'll call them the cereal killer.  We're supposed to make a run of 15000.

It may be a bit too obvious.  The trick to coming up with a good project design is to make it seem like it was done completely through misunderstanding.

I'll let it stew for a couple more hours while I work on a graphic.  It might work.

The Office!

This morning is back to work.

I am in some ways glad to be back.

Everything seems business as usual. 

Luckily there isn't a huge pile of work waiting for me.

So far.

I haven't plowed through all my emails yet.   Found a couple of things there already.

A new guy will be starting in a couple of weeks.  Another waeg.  I met him during the interviews and he seems alright.

Time for coffee.

Livin' in the Big Smoke!

When we first got married,
June strongly suggested we move to Seoul.

You could make more money there and we can have more of a life.

I was against it.  I knew that despite the opportunities that were available, the overall loss to quality of life wouldn't be worth it.

I'd rather breathe clean air, see a lot of trees, bike through rice paddies.  Guess I am too much of a country bumpkin.

The co worker I met tonight reminded me of what I could be missing out on if I lived in the big smoke.

But in terms of my girls, I think seeing more of the green is worth it instead of being surrounded by concrete grey. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Quiet Night

Yesterday was great.

Got to see several people I hadn't seen in quite some time.

We went to Evergreen restaurant in Itaewon and had some tasty Indian food.

Then there were a couple of drinks and a hookah at Bedlam.

We went back to my buddies place, shot the shit, and watched some Ricky Gervais.

I was asleep by 11.

Not a bad night at all.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Morning After!

Poker night was a blast. I ended up as the big winner. I know have the most comprehensive collection of Max bottlecaps and matchsticks on the peninsula.

I'm figuring I should put the lot on

I'm glad I didn't drink that much last night. But I did go to bed at around 4.

Rested up for tonight though. We'll see what happens.