Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

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

Monday, February 27, 2012

Rain Man!

Tonight I worked late.  On my way home, I stopped at a gas station that I hadn't been to in some time.  I thought the gas there was cheaper, but I was wrong.

When I pulled in, the adjusshi squinted at me hard and said: you've been here before.  You work at that plastics company.  You don't have your girls with you tonight.

Surprised, I said yeah they're at home.  He then proceeded to do a rainman on everything that transpired the last time I was there. . . two and a half years ago.  In English.  He finished off by asking if I had been away, the subtext being why hadn't I come back to his gas station in all that time.

I felt like saying because the guy a few miles up is cheaper and almost always gives me wet napkins when I buy his gas.  Where's my service tissue?  He didn't give me any, maybe since he'd glanced inside and knew I had about a dozen scattered through the famvan.  I didn't volunteer any more info, but I have an urge to go back and watch. 


Time for some rice wine.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Birthday Party!

Greetings all, Waeg here.  How are you feeling this early Saturday morn?

I'm feelin' peachy, thanks for asking.  Last night was a total stay at home reading a book kinda Friday night.  OK, maybe I did drink a couple of bottles of soju while I was doing that, but that's light weight kinda stuff, mmm?

Today I need to spend a couple of hours reviewing and filing a few reports from work sent late last night.  More will come throughout the weekend, so it shouldn't take too long to review it at one go.  Everything needs to be done by Monday which shouldn't be a problem.

The big action today is the youngest's birthday.  There will be about a dozen rugrats showing up around noon.  They'll be demanding fried chicken and games a plenty.  Last night I finished up the world's sorriest looking pinata which will nonetheless serve as the main attraction.  Inside is a great assortment of candy, chocolate, small games, and stationary.  It's supposed to traditionally have 6 points on it, but I felt that to be a bit antisemitic.  Ours has five.  Just got to make sure the youngest doesn't whack one of the other kids in the head with the stick.  

June has to head into the big smoke for a seminar in the afternoon, so I'll be taking the girls to something properly fun yet educational in Seoul.  Not sure what yet though, need to sort that out.

But first, time for coffee.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

So many kinds of wrong

This week Thursday edition: a motley assortment of some old and new

So many kinds of wrong:

Some Awesome to end off with:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I'm writing this from one of the finest fake goshiwons in Wonju.  How do I know it's fine and fake?  It has it's own shower stall.

At least two of the women on this floor are working girls, or at least I can surmise from the late night traffic.  There is an English teacher from a common hogwon chain two floors down that is 'so happy my boss is finally giving me a decent place to live'.   I shouldn't mock, as I can say he is a real teacher, what with all the website stuff he's set up for his kids and what one of the Jungs tells me from her connections in the EPIK program.  I don't really want to hang out with him though, as he often waxes on about his 15 years working as a musician on cruise ships.

There is an intercity bus driver.  He really digs the changhwa.  I peeked at his recycling outside his door.

I stopped off at home and started another layer on the pinata, which brought the girls out.  I felt bad for giving the youngest a hard time for not really making an effort.  She did come out after all.  But all I could say was: what will you do when life presents you a real challenge?  We talked about rocket science, Einstein, and different types of intelligence.  This was poignant, as on the phone earlier when she asked what I was doing I explained and stated: are we done?  I think we're done.  She hasn't had the same focus the eldest enjoyed when I was still being New Dad.

Tired.  I'm into the bottle of 17 year old Ballentine's I recently received as a gift from clients.  It is good.

Almost ready for sleep.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


This week is the youngest's birthday, and both the girls have been after me to make a pinata.

I figure they got the idea from watching Napoleon Dynamite a couple of times and some of the cartoons I let them watch when we were back home.  The eldest actually tried to make one out of cardboard boxes, but stopped once I showed her a video of how to make one from youtube.

After work I'll stop at my favorite stationary / craft shop and pick up what we need.

This will mean spending more time at home then I have been.  The last few days June has decided she wants to be reconciled and has been turning the aegyo on thick.

This has always been the case when she realizes that I'm getting further away, but the fact that I've told her a dozen times I can't stand aegyo still hasn't sunk in. I suppose it is hard to change and adapt when you've spent a lifetime trying to develop a skill set that will work with most of the local men.

All this is moot however, as there is still a pinata to be made. 

Time for coffee.

Monday, February 20, 2012

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.

Lunch today consisted of eel.  I've come to hate eel, but as a good trooper I tried to eat some anyway.

Noticing that I was picking at my food and focusing mostly on the side dishes, one of my coworkers Shin asked: Waeg, don't you like eel?  It is nutrition well being food.  You are man, you should eat more; it is good for your stamina hyuk hyuk hyuk.

I blinked.  Before I could catch myself, I said: naw, I don't really care for it.  I used to somewhat enjoy eating it, but got turned off it one night when I was 'forced' to eat too much at one sitting.  For some reason, I couldn't really get into it after that.  I'm not sure how it can be good for man, as it's quite soft and mushy, hyuk hyuk hyuk.

One of my other coworkers, who knows that my kibun has been off lately due to family and piles of work, tried to salvage it through redirection: do they eat eel in your country?

I was already in for a penny, so: generally not.  As kids if we caught one we'd kill it right out, as they eat the more sought after fish like trout.  Some have been known to eat eel, but they are generally killed and used as fertilizer.  The idea is that eel lives mostly on the bottom, and should generally be avoided.  I did once catch a huge bastard when I was about 11 or 12; it was well over a meter long and as thick as my arm.  It totally freaked me out, and I got it off my line by cutting its head off with my knife.

While I said all this, Shin looked sullen silent and somewhat put out.  I think he may be sore at me.

Now, I do believe that stupidity is a universal constant, and I'm hoping he won't hold a grudge against me and that his 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?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Morning After!


Saturday, February 18, 2012


This morning I headed up to Seoul earlier for a meeting. Instead of heading back, I've decided to hit the 'twon.

Be on the lookout for a waeg in blue trench coat. It just may be yours truly.

Feel free to buy me drinks.

Friday, February 17, 2012

So many kinds of wrong

No preamble.

So many kinds of wrong

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I woke up and sat on the throne, waiting to take care of business.  Nothing.  

I walk around, get ready, leave.  About half way to work, the spasms hit.


As work looms closer, the spasms are coming hard and fast accompanied by ominous grumblings in my intestines.  By the time I pull into work, my sphincter is buckling under the pressure.  I shuffle across the parking lot and crash into the nearest bathroom, nearly ripping the stall door off it's hinges.  I almost don't get my pants off in time, and as soon as I sit a stream of nasty black watery porridge squirts out my asshole with inhuman velocity.  All I can do is moan in relief as the stream continues unabated for what seems a solid 30 seconds.

Then the laughing starts.  At first it's a few sniggers, then it becomes obvious someone in another stall is trying hard to not let out a good belly laugh.  I should be embarrassed, but all I can do is think, yeah it is pretty goddamn funny.

They leave.  The inadequacy of toilet paper to fully clean up this mess isn't lost on me, but I'm able to clean myself up by using nearly half an industrial sized role of paper.  As I leave the shit splattered toilet, I lower the lid and put the plastic blue bin reserved for used paper on top.  There really should be a biohazard warning put on the door, but at least anyone else thinking of using that stall is forewarned.

I wash up and head for the office.  I feel spent, my steps light and buoyant.  I double check to make sure there isn't any toilet paper stuck to my shoe.

Maybe I should lay off the coffee this morning.  And definitely avoid the fatty pork.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I just got back from the Big Smoke.  I've been asked to run several seminars during the next few months on branding, and this waeg will need to make the run up every week or so.

Coming back ain't so bad.  Roads are pretty open and I can blast along at about 140 the whole way.  Heading in is an exercise in patience, trying not to flip off too many jerkoffs along the way.

There was the obligatory after seminar drink.  I was a veritable saint, limiting myself to two small glasses of beer.  I like surprising myself from time to time.  If things got really messy, I'd see myself to the Rainbow Hotel and head back in the morning.

Tired.  Time enough for a Max though.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chemical Brothers!

Coffee's brewed, work awaits.

But first, I feel like getting old skool all over me:

Let's end off with some Massive Attack:

Monday, February 13, 2012


After lunch I went for a short walk near work.  A coworker pointed out the cocoon in the picture.

There were actually a few of them about.  A google search seems to suggest that it may be a silkworm cocoon, but I'm not so sure.  I think it may be a luna moth cocoon.  I've spotted quite a few of them around work, despite how the luna moth is supposed to be indigenous to North America.

Time for coffee.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Night

It is Saturday night, and F5waeg once again finds himself staring at the video screen.

He has worked his typical 75 hour week. When he told his wife that he needed to go out Friday night for a mandatory dinner, she proceeded to make his life even more of a living hell as her plans from the week before had been bumped a week and now she couldn't count on him to watch the girls.

"I'll just leave them at an indoor playground while I go to dinner and a movie."

"Um, here's a video of some guy trying to kidnap a girl out of Walmart. Don't leave them unattended."

"OK. Here's some Korean beef for dinner."

No ones eats the beef except the wife. It is her lunar birthday, so no one feels like making a scene, despite how they sent gifts when Facebook told them to. At the last minute she drops the girls at a friends house. She feels they can be left alone. They are 9 and 6.

"My friends all have at least one apartment they own and two nice cars. You are such a loser. Make more money."

He makes 70 grand a year. The banks in Korea won't lend him money since he isn't Korean. All her friends owe money to the bank, this he knows.  He'd like to get things really rolling, but every month for years his contribution has simply disappeared. Every time he asks for an update as to savings, he meets a stone wall.

It is Saturday night. He should go out.  No one calls him anymore.  In front of him is 400 worth of bills. He knows that he has to travel to Seoul three times in the next month, and the 200 in his wallet is all he has for the lot. He hasn't been intimate with his wife in over two months, and he's beginning to look at his coworker in a way that some would deem inappropriate.

"Take out the trash. I feel sick, I can't cook anything. Don't forget the laundry. Stop smoking. Are you really going to drink tonight? The mothers at my kindergarten want you to come visit the students. You should teach them too."

F5Waeg thinks of his girls, and tries to be cool. "Could you make an effort to only eat Korean beef when out please? No one here wants to eat it, and you know how I feel, since they invest their money into vilifying me and in proxy my children."

"I can't believe you would say that on my birthday. You think that but it's not true. You can think that if you want, but I won't. I don't think it's true. I won't think it's true. I can't believe you would say that on my birthday."

She throws a spoon and stomps into the bedroom. She says she will stay at the kindergarten. F5Waeg packs up his clothes and says: Stay. I'll leave. See you later. His only consolation is that she will have to clean the kitchen.

On his way to the office, he knows there will never be peace, and he worries about his children. As he drags his mat and sleeping bag from the famvan, he wonders what he should do.

It is Saturday night.  He has no idea.

Red Bull!

A while back the news that Red Bull was on it's way to Korea burned through the waegosphere like a bad case of herpes.

I was sitting at home working through some final specs on the projects I had to finish last week. Let's just say posting was light due to pressing work obligations and a hellish home life that saw me sleep at the office one night. Must have something to do with the new moon, but I digress.

I wasn't feeling the motivation, and was tempted to use some chemical enhancement and down a bottle of Bacchus D or some Magic Green Potion. Of late, I haven't been a big fan of the Magic Green Potion, as I find it makes me a bit too jittery and the come down is hard and nasty.

Instead, I decided to step out and get some air. Around the corner from my place, I stepped into my local convenience store to pick up a few packs of smokes.

Imagine my delight when I saw Red Bull sitting in the cooler section. When I went back home for the holidays, I must have burned through a dozen cans of the stuff, and came to really appreciate just how awesome it is.

Imagine my further delight when it cost a mere 1.1 chonners. Back home, I was paying up to 2-3 bucks per can. I guess the peeps here know that with Bacchus going at 450 a bottle at the pharmacy, they can't ratchet the price up too high.

I'm almost through my first can and my fingers are flying. The grogginess is now faded.

Time to finish up those reports.

Update: it seems the store had the price wrong, as I've paid nearly 3 chonners everywhere else.  Tried going back to buy up the whole stock at the first place, but their price had been fixed.  Too bad.

Friday, February 10, 2012

So many kinds of wrong

This week's edition: I am the liquor

so many kinds of wrong

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bear Soup!

Today for lunch we went to a bear soup place, or 곰탕집.

One of my coworkers became rather irritated that I kept calling it bear soup; he pointed out that it isn't bear but in fact is made from oxtail.

I explained that back in the day when I was first learning Korean, one of the first words I learned was the word for bear.  One day when out walkabout, I came across a restaurant selling what was purported to be 곰탕.  I was surprised and entered and ordered a bowl, and waited excitedly for my steaming bowl of bear goodness to be placed in front of me. 

I remember feeling somewhat gypped that there wasn't really that much meat in the bowl.  It was tasty, but I still felt there should have been more than just a few gristly pieces of fatty meat.  

Later, while talking with students, I shared my experiences of eating bear soup.  It was tasty, but I really expected there to be more delicious bear meat.  I asked them if there were many bear farms around.

This of course was met with great mirth and bemusement.  It was gently explained to me that it was not in fact bear, that eating bear was nearly unheard of, although many Koreans have valued bear's gall bladder for medicinal purposes for centuries.

I've continued to call it bear soup, since it sounds better to say I ate bear than oxtail.  It is all about how you dress it up after all.

When I taught English, it made for an excellent example to share with students on the contextual meaning of words.  It was always good for a few laughs in class.

Time for coffee. 

New Moon!

Yesterday was the first full moon of the new lunar year.  June and the girls went to Maeji village to participate in the festivities.

I stayed home and had a fitful sleep.  I really wanted to go as the village usually puts on quite a show, but I knew staying home warm in bed would probably be a smarter move. 

I did eat some nuts and some 5 grain rice at lunch.  They were good.

This morning I'm feeling a bit better.  I'm hopped up on cold and sinus meds I brought back from home.  June gave me a hard time for not taking out the recycling yesterday despite how I came home exhausted and crashed.  Apparently she's mad that we went on vacation and didn't come home early when she asked us to. 

I have a meeting in an hour to discuss the particulars of the Singapore trip in March.  I also have two new products that need to ready by Friday.

But first, time for coffee.

Monday, February 6, 2012


The last few days have really sucked.  Chest pain, sinuses all messed up, coughing, runny nose. . .

I almost went to the hospital on Saturday, the chest pain was that intense.  It has gone down somewhat. 

If it isn't better tomorrow I will go. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012


The experienced long term waeg will have read dozens of peeps talking about the mainly old grandfathers who wander the streets of Korea collecting cardboard. Some of them will use simple pull carts and walk from business to business collecting used cardboard boxes, while some get more tricked out and drive around on ATVs pulling trailers.

They don't get paid very much for hauling all that weight, and I've heard over the years that they are either doing it to get out of the house or are dirt poor. If the latter, they'll usually seek work as taxi drivers, but when that fails them they're out there slogging through picking up stacks of corrugated paper. I'm told there is some civic consciousness attached to it, since this way they are still being productive and giving back to society, having come from a time when working hard actually meant that, not the hardly working that seems to be the case today.  This is also why a lot of old people will go out and farm vegetables, but I digress.

While out walkabout today, I saw two old guys going at it at an apartment complex not far from home. Apparently one dude was trying to grab a bunch of cardboard his relatives had saved for him, but the complex guard was having none of it. It seems the apartment complex can make a little money off selling the odd old washer, broken up furniture, and stacks of cardboard. The guards will keep it neat and clean in one of the maintenance buildings then sell it off when it gets big enough. The old guy collecting it was setting a dangerous precedent, and was being rudely told to piss off. He was having none of that and was yelling back while loading up the cart, which was being unloaded in turn by the younger guard. I would have found it somewhat comical if I didn't see it as being kinda sad.

Being old sucks, especially if you need to keep doing work that like just to survive. I'd guess that this guy was not rich judging by the way he was dressed and the way he spoke, but I've been wrong about that kind of thing before. Still, why all the fuss over some old bastard collecting a bunch of cardboard instead of staying at home sitting on ass?
Time for sleep.

Friday, February 3, 2012

So many kinds of wrong

Random assortment

So many kinds of wrong

From the Weird part of youtube:

Here's some awesome to end off with:

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Thanks to the Marmot, I learned that Girls' Generation were on Letterman. 

I actually liked the video.  For someone who generally despises this kind of band, it actually made me hang the Taegeukgi from my window.

They shouldn't have lain on the floor.  Party girl needs to learn to lip sync better.  Emo, Girl Next Door, and Sweetheart get thumbs from this waeg.  Party Girl is 'hottest', but Sniper has raw intelligence that makes it understandable why many guys go for her.  The opening bit with the dudes bagpippin' to a mostly Korean audience was gold.

Made me think of this:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Self Hate!

Today over coffee I had a conversation with a coworker I think is rather cool and interesting, but that I've had an off and on relationship with over the last few years. Sadly, for the last while she seems pretty down and full of self doubt and self loathing.

She's set to have plastic surgery done on her eyes soon. I've told her I think she's wasting her time and money, as she looks fine just the way she is. She talked about how she is planning on moving to California within the year, a chance to start again and maybe get things right.

This kind of made me mad. Look, I don't know why you think going off far away is going to make things suddenly better; just get right with yourself and all will be right.

She scoffed: you're not an Asian woman. You don't know what it's like.

A dead silence enveloped us, all sound muted within our immediate vicinity. I sat still for a moment, then said:

You're right. You have the luxury to hate yourself if you want. Go with it if it serves. I'm ascribed the duty to hate myself for being a white male. That I've 'taken advantage' of my colonial right by marrying a woman of color and 'take' a salary based solely on my 'birthright' is the narrative that I'm supposed to listen to. That I'm supposed to behave a billion times better than any of the assholes in this room just to prove that I'm 'sensitive' and attuned to the neocolonial dialogue is the cross that I have to bear. But you know what? I've met more than a few self hating peeps in my time. Ethnicity, religion, background, ultimately these didn't matter, since even though they were all different, they shared the same symptoms of the same disease: lack of confidence, lack of will, lack of self. Fuck that noise. Get right with yourself and live your life.

Easy for you to say. I have to go back to work. With that she left.

I picked up my trash and went back to my office. On the way, I wondered what it would take for her to see what I was trying to get at. As I was feeling rather boorish, I thought a pile of good sex and some LSD might sort her out. That or living on the streets and learning to appreciate life for what it can be. How can you help someone will?

I let it go and went back to work.


Today I was able to scoot out of work a bit early since I had to get my car inspected.

It is only every two years, and only costs 2 manners.  Until they tell you what you need to get repaired that is.

The famvan is in rough shape.  I know what it needs, but I keep putting it off since the damn thing still runs.

Two new tires, new windshield, new sliding door, and that's not even counting the rust damage that has caused a nice hole in the driver's door.  The innards are all doing well as I've had most of the parts replaced within the last two years.  Still, to do the minimal they suggest will run me about 60 manners.  I'd love to just junk it and get a new one.

Suppose I should forgo the trips back home if I really want to get a new car, but I got this thing where seein' the family makes it a trip worth taking.

I was impressed with how much more streamlined the whole inspection process is.  I remember back a few years how it ran more as a gong show than anything else.  Now it's far more efficient, with monitors everywhere as the dudes tell you exactly what you need to get done over a loudspeaker.  I filmed the whole thing so I can just show it to the folks at my favorite car shop.

Time for some more Daepo.

Cut Men!

Recently, Bathhouse Ballads wrote about one of the worst curses Korean teenage boys  have to endure: circumcision.

I loled.  I remember back in my teacher daze when male students had undergone the operation.  Their discomfort and embarrassment would either be met with sympathy or outright laughter depending on my mood and how I got along with the kids.

This has got to be my favorite name for a hair shop ever.  I like to keep it in mind while working on various products, as a baseline for the kind of thing I should be creating.

I have to admit that I've never been there to get my hair done.  I prefer either the nice adjumma near a place I lived at years ago or visiting the shop across the street from her.  The woman at the latter is a cutey who often brushes her ample bosom against the back of my head or shoulder while doing the job.  Whatever keeps em coming back for more, right?

Time for another Max.