Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Maintenance!

Today I scooted over to the kindergarten to meet up with the fam.  Many had come out for the spring maintenance and massive clean.

It started off as a nice day for it, with clear blue skies and a nice warming sun.

There wasn't a whole lot of maintenance to do.  Some of the new dads who have come in this year are pretty keen and have been taking care of it over the last few weeks.  I had to content myself with planting a few shrubs, donated by one of the dads who operates a greenhouse, and mopping the floor.

By the time everything was done, the place was looking pretty spiffy.  Sadly, the yellow dust had rolled in and mucked up the sky, taking away the heat and making the day less cheery. 

We went out for dinner with a couple of the fams.  We had a nice chuckle when one of the wives started yammering on her husband to lay off the liquor.  We'll commiserate later.  As I was driving, I'd kept myself sober all day.  The mom said: look at waeg!  He didn't drink!  Why can't you take a day off?  Not sure where she was going with that, but I just smiled and ate my chicken soup as someone else changed the subject.

Time to watch Spartacus.

Friday, March 30, 2012

So many kinds of wrong

Another random edition of

So many kinds of wrong









Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bullfighting!

When most waegs think bullfighting, images of effeminate Spanish wankers dressed in white tights posing as they taunt and stab stoopid hapless animals come to mind.

What these waegs don't get is that this is simply another example of the criminal historical rewriting committed by lesser nations; in fact, bullfighting is purest Korean culture that had been transmitted to the wider world more than 1000 years ago.

Sadly, many of these cultural artifacts have been bastardized to reflect the pathetic social and cultural insecurities inherent in those lesser nations.  In the case of the Spanish criminals, they corrupted the purest form of bullfighting by pitting a man against a bull to demonstrate their need for supremacy over the natural world.  Even then, often times the bull wins; instead of accepting the truth Koreans realized long long ago about our connection to the land, and the value of a good bull, the Spanish criminals still propagate this most vile and blatant demonstration of weakness on the world.

In time, these truths will be revealed, and all will come to adore and love Korea for the disproportionate contribution the Korean people have made to world history and culture. 



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Where's #&c*i@! ??!

Wake up at 5:45. Shit and Shower. Read. Drive to work.

Do not attend Monday morning meeting. Some of the peeps are cheesed that I've missed four this year, but I'd rather avoid dealing with anyone.

Read and respond to emails.

Review work from last night. Passive aggressive coworker who thinks they are being overworked decided to do more damage than benefit to his share of the project. Avoid thinking what a douche he is. Finish his work, know not to ask to contribute to any project again. Finish initial round of paperwork. Email the relevant.

Meeting on new product. Listen to wannabees complain how they wanted to work on their part of the project a month ago. Ignore. Listen as entire crew misses the boat on big picture. Not so gently nudge in the right direction. Be ignored due to unacknowledged lack of research / work produced. Take notes on ijits.

Email kindergarten to say I can't make it Wednesday for dad's night out. Be amicably reproached for not being sufficiently involved.  Asked if I'll be maintenance this weekend.  Maybe.

Try to collect vital information from another department head.  Get redirected to a different department, which calls the same head I just spoke to.  Get information.

Lunch. Walk. Smoke too many cigarettes.

Read reports from interns. Ignore some requests, fill in others. Email. Send 'accidentally' to entire company to avoid being asked just what I do. Gauge reactions at 2 afternoon meetings.

Dinner. Read industry article while eating. Ignore all around.

Office. Email. Consider making list of things to do, realize a waste of time. Finish fixing coworker's botched passive aggressive fuck you. Play solitaire for 15 minutes. Finish final report. Do not send, let sit overnight. Review tomorrow before submitting. Clock out. 9:14 P.M.

Small room. Rice wine. Must sleep as client will arrive at 10:00 A.M.

Staring.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Straight Forwardness!

you are gay


Many a waeg will complain about the Korean tendency to ask personal or intimate questions concerning finances, marital status, weight, religious persuasion, social and educational background, top or bottom, all within the five minutes of first meeting. Many a waeg will consider this intrusive, bordering on the rude, and repeated encounters of this kind will often sour a waeg against their most generous and benevolent Korean hosts and hostesses.

What these waegs don't get is that Koreans are all about ensuring the most happy fun time for everyone; by asking these questions, they are simply gauging the type and extent of happy fun time you can handle. It wouldn't serve to generate good feelings all around if you were a virginal fundamentalist Christian and found yourself dragged out to a room salon. As most waegs are only here for a gap year at most, and in keeping with the Korean 빨리빨리 attitude, it's best to sort all that stuff out quickly so we can all get on with it.

Usually these types of questions have never bothered me, as I long ago drank the Kool-aid and have come to truly appreciate the sheer delight found in all things Korea.

The average waeg would do well to simply answer the questions in a befitting manner, so they too can begin truly enjoying the sheer awesomeness found on this fine peninsula.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Art!


Today I was supposed to go into work to finish up a massive project.  Instead, I hung out with the girls and did art.

First we worked on a sewing thing.  The eldest got it pretty quick, and demonstrated the patience needed to finish one up.  The youngest kept saying how it was ruining her life, and asking when was dinner.

Tomorrow they want to finish up the sand art.  If I don't go to work, there won't be a chance I'll get my shit done.

Decisions, decisions.

Time for some Max.

Snow!







Both yesterday and today it's been snowing intermittently.   Of course I yelled Spring! and this happens.

Good thing the camping was cancelled.

Time for some Maker's Mark.

Friday, March 23, 2012

So many kinds of wrong

This week's edition: art.

So many kinds of wrong:



RED from RED on Vimeo.






Thursday, March 22, 2012

Camping!

I've taken charge of the camping club again this year.  There is so much more interest that I was able to collect enough cash to buy two ten-people Coleman Weathermaster tents and a cook set at Costco.  

When a bunch of us tried to set up one of the tents the other day, it quickly became apparent that one of the poles was fucked.

I sent a polite email to Costco.  They responded accordingly.

They at first offered a full refund.  I asked if there was any way I could keep the tent and get a replacement pole.  

Within ten minutes, they had agreed to send me an entire set of replacement poles.  Win.  If any other pole gets busted up, there will be replacements.

All Hail Costco, Consumer Mecca!

That was pretty much the highlight of my day.

The downside was peeps bailing on the camping trip this weekend.  It was initially suggested by the group, and despite my warnings on how it would be still quite cold, the enthusiasm at the time was palpable.  Tuesday rolled around, and only three were ready to commit.  This = wasted time on organization, spent searching for appropriate valley locations.

Now I'm in a spot, as I had already requested company funds for transportation and food.  Now I have to deal with bureaucratic bullshit and reschedule.  Lame.

Did I say this yet?

All Hail Costco, Consumer Mecca!

Right.

Time for some Max.

Chipmunks and Yellow Dust!

This afternoon around the smoking corner I saw a couple of chipmunks running around trying to find shit they had buried last fall.  That combined with the yellow dust means spring has finally come to the ROK.

The pussy willows are usually the first sign, and while they've been out for over a week, it's still been quite cold.  But when my ears and throat starting acting up a couple of days ago, I knew that the murky haze filling the sky was indeed the truest sign.

About time.

Time for some Red Bull.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

M!

M and I had been friends for years, that kind of early college connection that could end up in at least a makeout session if the mood, temperament, and amount of liquor is right.  She sold herself as a good straight up Christian girl, a beast I generally avoided due to their lack of perspective and my own general intolerance at the time.

M was different from the standard Christian soldier, having a sharp mind and a sharper tongue, and I appreciated the odd mixture of things that should not be.  She embodied an aspect of Madonna / Magdalene that sets young men rutting, the standard saint during the day and whore at night, yet embodied in such a way that drew more than a gaze from this jaded soul.  It was potent, and I enjoyed the repartee. 

The conversation was often spiced and quick, but then would revert to lame tangents on church and boredom.  I'd extricate myself, and often weeks or months would pass before we crossed paths again.  This went on for years.

I never saw myself being with her, as I courted women who had settled what they were about, who knew their own self worth and pursued their desires.  M was stuck between flesh and communion.  Too many young men get caught chasing that kind of woman, thinking they will be the One.  It's a mug's game, a lesson the more astute learn in high school.  I saw how she played such boys, and teased her about her lack of faith and Christian charity.  After such a conversation, she would avoid me for weeks or months.  This went on for years.

I was on the friend ladder, wasn't interested in being anywhere else, and made no attempt to cross over. 

Until she came back to town after a year in Korea.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Reading Time!

Tonight I promised the girls we'd read some more Harry Potter.  After work, I scooted over to the apartment, made super cheese spaghetti for dinner, then hunkered in to read Harry Potter to the girls. 

We're only about a quarter of the way through the Prisoner of Azkaban.  The eldest wants me to read them faster as she's already read through the first four in Korean.  I'm all about trying to get them to pick up new words however, so slow and steady it is.

Throat is parched.  Laying off the beer for a few days as prime yellow dust season is starting to rev up.

Time to watch the Descendants. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Duc d'O!

For White Day, I received a box of Duc d'O chocolates. The coworker in question said that despite it not being necessarily kosher for females to give a gift on that day, she just wanted to express her thanks for my awesomeness.

It took me all of two seconds to realize that she was actually simply acknowledging my inclusion within the Korean community, by giving me VANK's newest addition to the overseas effort to promote Korea: Duc d'O chocolate.

While the chocolates do indeed embody the sheer deliciousness that the world has come to expect of Belgian chocolate, what isn't obvious is how the company is actually owned by Korean interests who are attempting to propagate the idea that Dokdo is indeed Korean territory by simply making the term as ubiquitous as possible. Combined with the overall program of placing Dokdo ads everywhere, the Duc d'O brand will cause resonance when the tens of thousands of ads currently being planned by VANK and their affiliates reach the unsuspecting housewives of the elite worldwide.

I felt honored and blessed, as I have now truly been accepted into the fold.

And of course, the chocolates are fairly tasty, as it wouldn't serve the interests of the propagandists to have substandard chocolate with the Duc d'O name on it, a valuable lesson learned when Jeju sold substandard wax chocolate chilies and mandarins until the early 21st century. The damage done by that campaign will take years to undo.

Luckily, the future is unwritten. There is opportunity to make things right in the world, thus ensuring Korea's rightful claims worldwide

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Home!

After a pretty intense 4 days in Singapore, during which I nicely balanced work with pleasure, I find myself back in my dear beloved ROK. 

While there are many very cool things to admire about Singapore, such as the balance between natural and urban environment, the cleanliness, the generally congeniality of the population, the fantastic hospitality, seeing multiculturalism done better than many other places, the happy cool vibe you get as you walk down the street, the real smiles and come hither looks from local lasses who are not only looking at you as a cash debit machine, and the general efficiency of the place, it never is good to be gone too long from the crucible that is the land of the morning calm, as the longer you stay away the more your Korean super powers begin to wane. 

I wouldn't want to risk sounding like a negative Nancy on this most holy of holies, St. Patrick's Day.  I'm gazing admiringly at the liter bottle of Jameson's I grabbed at the duty free; I've got a couple of beers into me as a foundation, and soon enough I'm going to crack that puppy wide open before I leave the confines of this little room and wander out into the night.

But there is something to be said about having the ability to ignore spitting and puking in the streets, enduring the not uncommon cold surly scowls of young and old alike who know that all waegs are only here to despoil and rob the peace loving Korean people of their virtue and purity, and having the inner strength to not smack the 5000th idiot to ask if you like Kimchi or Korean girl or mention that you use chopsticks well despite them knowing you've been here for years.  Being able to work at least semi effectively within an environment where the game plan changes at the last minute six times a day allows you to truly develop fortitude, patience, a measured response, and to think on the fly.  All indications point to how you can also get away with being more of a freak or a hardass in Korea, although I did see a punk on the Singapore MRT who was very obviously chewing gum while exuding utter disdain for all around him.

One of the more common things I heard from folks in Singapore is that they are too soft and need to harden the fuck up.  Not sure if a hardened Singapore would be such a good thing, as it seems pretty hard in a lot of ways already, but that's what some of the Singaporeans I interacted with had to say.  One of the more interesting conversations was with an IT designer who had lived in Canada for a number of years, who wished his kids would at least get into a fight every now and again.  I offered to go push them around a bit, but this was met with only a nervous laugh.  Go figure.

Still, the smiles and warmth were a nice thing, and from the business end of things a complete success.

Time for some Jameson's.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Jackie Chan!

jackie chan restaurant

Sunday was a total family day. June and the girls came up to meet me in Seoul. We hit the COEX to do the aquarium and bookstore thing.

For lunch we decided to hit Jackie Chan's new restaurant. What a disappointment. The first obvious thing was how the staff didn't know their heads from their asses. I started to get annoyed as our server stood pretty much at the wait station beside our table the whole time, hovering and taking away any dish as soon as it was empty. If you are really that diligent, why do I need to ask you for two sets of cutlery and a glass of water? Aren't there other things you should be doing?

The food was overpriced, bland, and uninspiring. The only highlight was the mildly amusing spelling errors on the menu: I wondered how effective General Chicken had been during his career, and thought it best to not order the deep-fried Chinken. I was surprised Jackie would be so racist against his own people, but then it isn't unusual to find our worst enemies among those considered brethren.

We took the train home and got in around dinner. Then I hunkered in to finish some of the specs for tomorrow's trip to Singapore. Today I've got to finish it all then head out to the airport to stay the night, as my flight will leave too early to catch the first morning bus from the Wonj.

Time for coffee.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Birthday!



Tonight I'm up on the big smoke.

A good bud is having his birthday. His SO prepared an awesome meal.

Too bad I'm so tired. I hopefully won't get too sick from this go.

Time for some more Commander.

Friday, March 9, 2012

So many kinds of wrong

Luckily I keep links on hundreds of these stoopid videos so on days like this I can take two minutes to offer you

so many kinds of wrong

WARNING: 4th vid NSFW, crude language and misogyny, despite being a parody. 











Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Left Lane Democracy!

Many a waeg will complain about how Korean drivers will often drive slowly in the left hand lane on expressways and highways.  They wonder why Korean driving schools don't teach how the left lane is supposed to be for faster, throughway traffic.  Many a rant has been delivered on the subject in the finer establishments littering the back alleys of Itaewon and elsewhere.

What these waegs don't get is that left lane driving is the purest expression of democracy found on the planet.  Like other borrowed culture such as Confucianism and nationalism, when Koreans decide to do something, they do it 1000%, thus best.

Reserving the left lane for faster traffic is a form of social exclusion, since only those who drive expensive fast cars with money to burn on overpriced fuel could make full use of the left lane.  By driving in the left lane at 80 km/h, Koreans are simply demonstrating their true democratic beliefs, since everyone should be free to drive there regardless of vehicle type or excessive wealth.  Other countries that follow such foolish road etiquette as reserving the left or right hand lane for faster traffic are simply demonstrating the inherent social inequality within their nation, thus highlighting the hypocrisy of being called democracies.

Eventually, this truest form of democracy will take hold and be spread most widely, using the vehicles of scantily clad female Kpop groups such as SNSD gyrating on stages from New York to Paris, and the amazing dramas of Hallyu which showcase the many talents of Kim Tae hee and Lee Young Ae, both pure and ideal females, as means to draw attention to the purest Korean refinement of foreign culture.  As the above are the truest forms of pop music and cultural imperialism found in the entire universe, their recognition worldwide will soon lead to the acceptance of other pure Korean culture and practices, such as the best form of democracy exemplified in left lane driving.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Go Home Good Drone!

At the end of the day I had a powwow session with one of the COOs.  We talked about the upcoming trip to Singapore.  The pile of work that needs to be done before we go is mind boggling in its scope.

After dinner, he asked me what I planned to do.  I said I needed to head back to the office to put in a few more hours.

He smiled.  You know, you should just go home.  What you didn't finish today, you can do tomorrow, and what you don't finish tomorrow you can do the next day.  In fact, you should give more of your work to your coworkers.  Tell them I suggested it.  You should go home and take a rest.

This floored me.  But like a good worker drone, I did what I was told.  In fact, I'm going to take it a step further: drink a big plastic jug of beer, and while I will do some work on a side project I've got going on, I intend on skyping with the girls and then reading stoopid shitz on the internet.  Maybe I'll even watch a movie.

Who knew life could be this good?

Of course, he could be messin' with me. 

Screw it.

Time for some Max.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lamb Stew!

Today was a total lamb stew makin' day. 

I was kind of disappointed with the quality of the lamb: it was literally 4/7s fat.

The stew turned out pretty good.  I put a huge container of it in the freezer for later.

No drink this weekend.  I'm saving it up for a buddy's birthday next Saturday. 

Time to watch Spartacus.

Soy Bean Paste!

Today I took a walk with the girls.  We needed to hit the bank and buy some veggies.

Downtown, many shops were selling bricks of soy bean paste.

The eldest said it looked gross.  I reminded her that she had seen it more than once at her grandmother's house.

I have to admit some of the bricks looked rank.  But then, maybe the ones with the most fungus on em would be the best: can a good dose of ergot settle on the soybean paste?

No idea, but if anyone can settle that question for me, kudos.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Listen!

Here, the water heater pops.

I know that soon I will need to stand up.

Until that time, I sleep.

Fuck you.

Friday, March 2, 2012

So many kinds of wrong

Grab bag edition 87

So many kinds of wrong:







Obligatory Leap Year post:



So many kinds of awesome:




Thursday, March 1, 2012

Letter from a Long Time Reader!

Hey waeg, long time reader here


Was wondering if maybe you could weigh in on the recent blackface incident on MBC.  I'm collecting data for a paper on the subject, and it would be great if you could write something sharing your thoughts on the issue.  In case you didn't know, Roboseyo and Expat Hell have written about it:


http://roboseyo.blogspot.com/2012/02/blackface-in-korea-again-bubble-sisters.html

http://www.expathell.com/?p=3985


Thanks!


*********@gmail.com

Hi *********@gmail.com, thanks for your missive.  I like receiving mail.  If anyone wants to send me one, feel free; the address is in profile.  Cute girls who include photos go to the front of the line.

Yes, I knew about the blackface incidents pretty much in real time, as I browse around the waegosphere on a fairly consistent basis.  Will I write something about the incidents?  Well, I suppose I am, although I had no intention to do so until I received your email.  If you are a long time reader, you know that's not my shtick.

I'm pretty sure I wrote about this once before, but to recap: I'm not about all the stuff you can read on any number of other blogs in the waegosphere.  I suppose I should, since it may drive more traffic, and I am a complete link whore.  But most of what I write about is the boring mundane crap I experience on a daily basis.  Yeah, yeah, this is part of the everyday mundane stuff, but I try to focus on stuff that I do. 

I'm glad there are many blogs out there that deal with current events.  I read them and stay informed.  It makes me happy to know that I can go to a number of sources to check out what's going on in society as a whole.

Writing about it all?  Just not my thing.

If I were to weigh in, it would be to parrot a lot of stuff that is out there anyway: I can't believe this is still happening!  I can't believe how thin skinned some Koreans can be when you talk about Korean culture or society in a slightly negative light, yet stunts like this barely raise an eyebrow!  Does this help you with your research?  I won't touch on the ethics of asking someone to write something so you can use it as a source.

For the most part though, I've worked hard to get to the point where I can't really get that worked up about that kind of shit anymore, at least most of the time.  Sure, I have my moments, but they've become fewer over the years.  Just par for the course of living in Korea it is, and I've gotten to the point where being angry all the time isn't worth it.  I'd prefer to just walk around with smug unstated superiority, exuding confidence and a devil may care attitude, since yeah, that's the way it is.

I jest.  In all seriousness, living your life in a way that will make others change their skewed opinion about you is the prerequisite.  You don't need to be no Gandhi, but getting involved in the community is a must .  I've learned that getting all worked up, talking only about the evils in Korean society, constantly making reference to stuff like the blackface incidents will do jack shit to convince people that maybe some of the opinions they hold are mired in dogshit.  It's mostly about being informed and waiting for the right moment, and when it comes, be succinct, to the point, and able to reference in a manner that doesn't bludgeon your conversation partner over the head.  That takes finesse. 

So I've filed all that stuff away for later.  I already knew a lot about the history of blackface, so I don't need to go reread all the wikipedia stuff about it. 

My girls need a role model who doesn't flip all the time over stoopid shit.  Instead, we had a conversation around the dinner table.  I went to the apartment tonight, and we talked about March 1st and what it meant at the time, the history, the situation, the whole kit and kaboodle.  Then I asked them how many people had been the leaders of the movement.  When the eldest said 33, I asked: what you don't know about number 34?  Maybe it won't hold, but I know that kind of conversation does have some lasting effect at least some of the time.

Time for some Max.

Another March 1st!

Warning: Seriousness.  Return tomorrow or Friday for regular programming.

Tonight I booted it up to the Big Smoke for my weekly seminar.  This one went pretty well.  The drive back wasn't as speedy as I would have liked; the highlight was when I did get it up to 140, two cars blew by me as if I were standing still.  And I bought a couple of tents at Costco, but let's save that for later.

When I got home I filed my report then cracked a bottle of Max.  I dug through ye old archives to see what kind of boring mundane crap I wrote last year.  March 1st is a great chest thumping day for Koreans, and would be a great opportunity for foreigner bashing.  This is understandable if you dig a little on what the day means.

But any waeg worth their salt should be able to pull out the example of Frank Schofield when trying to negotiate a conversation of how the Yanks and everyone else told the nascent Korean resistance movement to suck an egg.

You're welcome.  It's nice to know that not all waegs are complete wank bastards who are only out to screw the Korean people, yes? Nothing wrong with screwing mind, but there is screwing, and there is screwing.  Enough of that.

But shhh.... don't say that too loud.  It goes against the Nationalist agenda, and we wouldn't want them to get their panties in a knot; they might spend all their energy doing something crazy, like founding a group of 'concerned citizens' who would follow around waegs and dig through their garbage in search of anything that might prove all waegs to be less than Gandhi.

Wait a minute. . . 

Never mind.

Let's just finish off that Max and watch ijit videos.