Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

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

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Night on the Town!

Yesterday I decided that staying in the hive on a Saturday night would not be conducive to my continued productivity over the next few days.  As we've had to extend our stay and the hard work is about to begin, I knew that I should get out, get hammered, and go walkabout for the good of the team.

After browsing the net, I reserved a room in Geylang, one of the seedier parts of Singapore.  Everything I've seen so far has been tidy, clean, antiseptic, beautified up nice;  I figured it would be good to get a fuller picture of the city by checking out what is billed as a scummier part of town.  What I found on the web said that Geylang has plenty of clubs, good cheap restaurants, and a supposedly former red light district that was cleaned up by the police some months back.

It wasn't very clean.  As I approached the hotel, I realized I must have chosen prostitute central, as across from my hotel was a large congregation of women, many of whom tried to latch on to me as I passed.  This was at 4 PM, the night hadn't even started, and droves of women were already out plying their trade.

I had to wait to check into the hotel as there were two couples ahead of me, both men who had picked up girls.  I watched as the girls gave their passports in turn to the clerk, who diligently recorded the information on a separate sheet from the check in list.  Not a bad idea: saves the possibility of trouble later on, but then this did let me know that not only was the street trade tolerated, but that hotels had systems in place to control who came and went when.  I did momentarily think of moving on to a less 'popular' hotel, but as I'd already booked the room I had to pay for it regardless. 

It didn't take me long to realize that most of the women on the street were either older Chinese, Thai, or Malay.  I wondered where all the younger women were.  Leaving my hotel, I stood across the corner ignoring the calls from the girls, and asked an older Indian man:

You want the younger girls, you have to go to the clubs.  The Chinese girls are west.  It's a mix to your east.  Fillipinas and Indian are in the pubs near Orchard.  These girls here are cheap; most of them have kids, are married back home, over 30.  Stay off the street if you want nicer girls.

I thanked him and went on my way.  I wasn't interested in picking up women on the street, I wanted to get out and hit some clubs.  What followed was several hours of drinking in sidewalk cafes, walking down the many side streets stocked with vice.  At one point I let myself get dragged into an Indian outdoor cafe that had Hindi karaoke and a bunch of 40 somethings dancing up a storm.   I struck up an interesting conversation with a guy who was a quarter Portuguese, a quarter Lebanese, half Indian.  His wife was Chinese, and their kids were very cute.  This is a piece of Singapore he said; you should come, bring your wife and kids.  There is always room for different kinds of people here.

The whole time I sat and chatted, various hideously unattractive women came up and sat next to me, offering to let me kiss them for $10, $5, a drink of beer.  Sorry dears, I'm married, but here have a drink anyway, we're having fun tonight.  I didn't add that if I were to cheat, it wouldn't be with some ugly broken whore.

The night ended with me chugging double vodka redbulls in some nightclub and dancing until the place closed.  How I got back to the hotel is hazy.  Looking at my photos from last night, I love one of the toilet (photo will be added later): the sign says Check that the toilet is properly flushed after use.  Keep the toilet seat clean and dry.  Save there is no toilet seat, and the toilet would rank in the top 100 for nastiness.  Ah, irony.

Time for some Raffles beer.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Company Housing!

I've been staying in the company 14 floor boarding house. It isn't a bad little spot save for the wifi. The cafeteria food isn't that bad, and I've been able to save a bit of money over the last few days.

Some of the workers live upstairs, but it seems the floor I'm on is reserved for either managers or visitors. I have a room to myself which is all good

It feels a little hive like, busy drones staying on company grounds back and forth to work. Apparently the rules are quite strict, but I'm showing my usual propensity to ignore the ones that aren't really relevant.

Getting a little stir crazy. I think I may need to go walkabout. . .

Friday, July 27, 2012

So many kinds of wrong

This week's edition: a bunch of short films

so many kinds of wrong









In case you missed it earlier this week, allow me to repost this piece of sheer awesomeness:




Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Innovate Right Now!

Today I found myself with some free time in the afternoon.  I decided it would be a fantastic idea to go catch Dark Knight Rises.

Sadly, the timing was off, and I had to settle for the Spiderman re-imagining as I couldn't wait the 93 minutes until the next showing of Batman.  Ultimately, it was like Spiderman meets Batman, considering the emphasis on tech for his web, but that really wasn't what caught my attention.

As I watched the obligatory PSAs at the beginning of the film, I was surprised how many emphasized innovation.  Most of them were put together by middle schools and were government subsidized.

Don't throw that shit away, improvise.  Innovate.  Find a way to make it work under the circumstances.

This really did hit home, as currently a section of the team is getting a pile of gear sent over from Korea since it would ultimately expedite and make the project work better, since they are well versed in the specs on their own tech, despite the three to four day downtime.  While this ultimately means I will probably have to stay here longer as I wait for them to get sorted I wonder:

I've seen a lot of Koreans who can jerry rig all kinds of shit to make it work.  But that seems to be considered a thing of the past, as now you can simply order in whatever to make it work the way they expect it to and are used to.

What if they rekindled this drive?  What if they could see the same PSA and remember what it is to makeshift, to adapt and be more flexible under whatever circumstances that may arise?

What if they took this lesson back with them from Singapore?  Combined with the last minute art form that is uniquely Korean . . .

Wow.

Bah, maybe I'm just rambling.

Time for sleep.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ace Power!

I should save this for Friday's edition of so many kinds of wrong, but I just can't help myself.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Korean Wave!

After a few more short meetings early on, I discovered I had the morning free, so wasted no time in heading out and exploring the neighborhood going walkabout for a solid couple hours.

Upon entering a mall, I was surprised at just how much Korean Wave I saw.  There was a shop devoted to Korean fashion called 'Miss Korea', a large section of Korean drama and film on DVDs in the main courtyard of said mall, including a large screen playing some random soap opera; but the most obvious example was when I saw a couple of young girls who had Korean names written on their backpacks.  At the risk of seeming pervy, I went up to them and asked where they were from in Korean.  Turned out they were Singaporean who'd had the names of their favorite Korean actresses written on the back of their backpacks.

I suppose the moment would have been more poignant had I allowed the names of some more Korean actresses populate my consciousness, but I've generally avoided filling my brain with that kind of stuff since my teens and really see no reason in beginning to do so now.

Still, it was an odd experience.  I remember watching Arirang on TV late one night my last run through, but nothing was that evident last time.  I asked a few of the Singaporeans when I got back to the office, and they assured me the Korean Wave is alive and well, at least in Singapore.

Over the next few days I'll work it into the conversation a bit more, see if I can get some more on it; it does seem to appeal more to females than males, which would be par for the course considering all the Japanese housewives who went nuts over Winter Sonata a few years back.

Until then, back to filling out TPS reports.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Singapore!

Arrived in Singapore a few hours ago.  Did the meet and greet with some of the relevant people, am now sitting in my hotel room bemoaning the craptacular internet connection.  It'll work for basic internet stuff, but forget streaming and youtube is also a serious pain.

Grabbed a bottle of Singleton at the duty free.  $31 ain't a bad price, even though it is far from the best single malt out there.  As I'll have a lot of work to do in my hotel room over the next few nights, it'll serve for the occasional nip or six.

I also grabbed June some expensive cosmetics, but I digress.

I should be more tired.  I'm resisting the urge to hit the town; I'm told Orchard Street and area can be quite entertaining.  But tomorrow is a big day, so best try to turn in and get some rest.

After a nip or six of Singleton of course.

Friday, July 20, 2012

So many kinds of wrong

Check out youtube haiku for more like this week's edition of

so many kinds of wrong












Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Laptop!

Recently I decided I was tired of using the work laptop when on business trips.  It was probably cutting edge back in 2007-8.  Now, even trying to get it to hook into hotel wifi is at times a chore, and it weighs a ton.  As I was just given a brand new desktop at work, asking for new laptops would have been a stretch.  I decided that throwing out a bit of my own coin for a decent machine would be a fairly sound investment.

I spent a couple of hours on Monday looking through the wares available on the internet.  It was only about a day after I ordered one that the seller informed me there would be a delay of an extra 3-4 days for delivery.  As this defeated the purpose of me buying it now as I wouldn't be able to bring it with me on my next trip, I headed down to my local Samsung Digital Plaza, just across from the Tattoo field and new swimming pool.  I figured I'd go with the local, getting decent after service and a friendly smile when I walked in.

Oddly, I was essentially ignored when I walked in, with none of the typical 'anyonghaseyo' that the staff will usually throw at you from across the store.  As I browsed, none of the staff came forward, except one timid girl who kept a bit of a distance.  In the middle of the laptop section, some older adjusshi busied himself with looking at the news on Naver.  This went on for a solid 15 minutes.  I wondered if it may be a new hands off sales strategy.

You have to understand Korean in store service.  Usually as soon as you walk in, someone's on you; in fact it can be quite irritating.  They follow you around, ready to get you exactly what you need now, without giving you time to think about anything.  As I was prepared to lay out about 100 manners on a new laptop, and was looking at the high end stuff, I was surprised that no one came around to ask specifically what I needed, as I did have questions on the specs of a couple of machines.

So I left.  After waiting to ask about a machine that was priced at 120 manners, but getting only timid girl at a distance, adjusshi barely looking up, the young guys all congregating around the cash register, I walked out.

I went to my favorite hi-mart and was jumped on as soon as I walked in the door.  Within 20 minutes I walked out with a laptop that surpasses my current desktop, with an 8 gb USB and mouse thrown in.  Price: 82 manners.  I knew I was getting hosed when I did a quick search on the web with my smartphone where I found the model for about 20 manners less, it is a refurbished model with an upgraded graphics card, memory, and processor.  As I kind of needed it now, I went and bought it.

One consolation is I get to say: fuck you Samsung Digital Plaza Wonju.  You guys suck.  Look at this laptop!  I bought it after leaving your store!  You could have had my money, but instead I gave it to a competitor!  Next time get a sales representative to haul ass when you see an irritated looking customer scanning around for one.

Time for some Max.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dirty Bird - Oversexed Ape!

Last night I got a call from Dirty Bird.  I was kind of surprised, as a while back I said I couldn't extend him a short term loan to help process a visa for a nice Fillipina he'd met during his wayward travels.  He was pretty cheesed at the time, but in the end it seemed I did him a favor: turned out she wanted him to also send her a pile of money to rebuild her parents' house, at which he ceased all contact.  So much for true love.

Dude, why you so bummed out?  Cmon, I didn't call you up to watch you sit around being all mopy and bringing me down!  I'll get us some jagerbombs, that'll sort you out!

Aight, sorry mang.  I'm just a bit stressed right now, y'know?  I've got a pile at work, only a bit of time for home, and I'm worked up over all that stoopid shit about us bad waegs in the Korean media.  I mean, it's 2012!  Didn't they learn anything from our stoopid mistakes?  I guess not, since they've got to make the same ones, or maybe it's all about getting some payback for history.  Whatever!  It's such bullshit!

Dude, you're looking at it all wrong!  It's easier to pick up women now!  You should thank those losers in the media!  Think about it: what kind of man do most woman want?  And I'm not talking marriage!  For that, she wants someone predictable, easy to figure out and control.  Stable.  But when she wants to get her rut on, who she gonna talk to?  Some pimply faced, emasculated nerd who's gonna expect her to bow down, show proper manners, and give it all up for him?  Don't think so.  She's going after Mr. Fun Time, the oversexed ape, who won't expect her to be nothin' but herself, while also seein' to her needs proper.  That's me, mother fucker!  You know what I'm sayin'!  We owe those guys our thanks, even if it is all bullshit!  They're making it easier for us!  Well, at least for me.  You're married and let your wife keep your dick in a jar under the sink, so you're beyond hope hahahahaha.

I was stunned.  It made a twisted kind of sense, and I shuddered. 

Don't be like that dude!  Knowing you're shit isn't such a bad place to be!  At least then you know you've hit bottom, and you don't need to follow all the conventions and rules, since it wouldn't get you anywhere anyway!  Be free, dude, be free!

The night proceeded as a night with dirty bird usually does: drinks, carousing, a good time had by all.  But as I walked home I thought more about what he said.  Would being seen as the oversexed ape actually be more beneficial?  I suppose it is better than being seen as the emasculated effeminate dweeb.

Time for coffee.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Steady!

Hello gentle reader, Waeg here.

Sorry for the lack of posts of late, been extremely busy with work.  I'm off on a business trip to Singapore in a few days, and a lot needs to be wrapped up before I go.

Also, I've been trying to keep it steady, and not react to the waeg-hate that currently seems to be running through the Korean media these days.  Everytime I look at the news, or read other waeg blogs, I see more stories about how depraved, fucked up, and maniacal I am.  That can get to a person after awhile.  It can be particularly trying if you work to help make a Korean company rich.  While this kind of waeg hate does seem to go in cycles in the Korean media, you'd think they'd grow a pair and take their heads out of their asses.  But if you've had the opportunity to deal with retreads, you know this will never happen.

I wonder if the cycle of the moon might have something to do with it.  The moonlight must hit the peninsula at just the wrong angle every 3 years or so, causing many of the men to completely lose their shit; they can't score a woman, have heavy blue balls, and decide to pin the blame on anyone but themselves.  I can see the reasoning: if those waegs weren't here, that would be X amount of women more who would be available to me, plus they wouldn't have the image of the blue eyed or black skinned devil to put any other ideas in their heads.  This is why we must keep our women pure!  Warn them about the evil foreign bastards, and if that doesn't work shame them for daring to be seen in public with a waeg desecrator!

It is interesting that these same media outlets don't warn of the danger posed by lecherous waeg women, who are also here to take advantage of the poor hapless Korean male. I guess that scenario must be considered OK, since it would be a question of that lucky Korean male learning some of the tricks used by the waeg interlopers, thus being able to better protect their innocent women more effectively.

Yeah, that must be it.

So: keeping my head down, throwing myself into work.  Last weekend I had to come in to meet clients, so that helped keep me away from the media.

I wonder though, how this kind of media attention will filter through to my kids.  Will they start to think their father is a bad man who came over to the pure and virtuous Korean peninsula just to take advantage of the poor helpless Korean people?

So positive. 

Time for coffee.

Friday, July 13, 2012

So many kinds of wrong

Watching these videos will undoubtedly be bad for you.

Keepin' up with the youtubz

so many kinds of wrong

skip to 4:25 of the first one if you'd rather not watch a full 5 minutes of old people singing hiphop.  I sat through the whole thing though; kinda like rubbernecking at a train wreck. You should too.












Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cave Crickets!

Lately around work I've been seeing more diestrammena coreana, more commonly known as the cave cricket, camel cricket, weta, or 곱등이 in Korean. I got totally freaked out one day after coming in from a smoke break when I felt this thing crawling on my neck; I quickly brushed this monster off my back. They can actually jump quite far, which I also discovered as I tried to catch it to throw outside.

I became more uncomfortable while reading up on this freakish bug when I found it is is often home to the hairworm, or Nematomorpha, Gordian worm, or 연가시 in Korean. While not known to infect humans, reading up on parasites led me back to the kimchi scare of a few years back and how more and more people in Korea are walking incubators for all kinds of parasitic nastiness.  I was tested for parasites about a year ago when I was feeling constantly sick, but I came back negative on all counts, so yah me.

It did make me want to see the Korean movie of the same name which came out earlier this year, where mutated parasites take over people and cause them to commit suicide through drowning.  Personally, I think a better story would have seen hordes of parasitic zombies bringing about the end of civilization, but the zombie genre never really took off in Korea and is a bit passe at this point anyway. I will download the new Resident Evil movie once it's available, as I'm a sucker for that post-apocalyptic evil corporation shlock.

Time for coffee.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Letter from an Avid Reader!

Still not gayer than Twilight
This evening I received the following missive:

Hey,

I've been following your blog for few months now. I find it interesting because, well, it's mundane sometimes and it seems to be less shrouded in shit than others.  A little bit of humor, honesty, maybe even some bitterness, but I can see you also care for the people you write about and have to interact with.  In part I see some of my own personality in it.  

I don't live in Korea, but I have had to interact with Koreans a lot the last 4 or 5 years.  I dated one for 2 years, spent time with others and had plenty crash in my house after drinking together on the weekends.  Long winded intro, sorry. I guess my question, or thought, comes about because of my situation.  Being in the states most of the Koreans I have hung out with are from ESL pipeline at my former college (I am 28, graduated Dec. 08) where I first met Koreans, and by way of family members or their friends, have met new ones as they have came over and gone back to the county.  I feel like I have invested a lot of time in being a part time friend almost.  Koreans, for how loyal they seem to be towards former classmates in korea, don't seem to share the same ferocity when it comes to their Migook "friends".  

I have been thinking about coming to Korea to teach, to escape my bullshit job (tax collector) and bullshit life.  But do I really want to trade the few things I have left in America (outside of family) that don't really seem to provide any growth...trade them for a group I will never be accepted by and possibly end living long term in? (I'm a sucker for pretty girls who fawn over me, so who knows what could happen.  I've had enough experience to know it wouldn't be hard.)  

Yes, this, is a weird email of course.  I leave posts on the site sometimes.  But today, I dunno, I just feel a little shit on by the country and wanted to rant to someone who might understand and seems to be like minded in some senses.  

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

Hi ******** thanks for writing.  I like receiving mail, so feel free to write.  The email is in profile. 

You do have a point that Koreans can be extremely loyal.  I think it may have been Michael Breen who wrote that if you ever find yourself in a 'about to die' situation stuck on top of Mount Everest with only one person, being with a Korean would be awesome as they'd not only share their last smoke with you but would be sure to stay alive until the end.  At least I think he wrote something like that somewhere.  I'm a little tired and don't have the energy to dig up the specific quote, but I'm sure it was close to that.

That said, it is also true that many Koreans will hold blood over all other things.  The irony is that often Koreans will say their worst enemy is . . . another Korean.  Tight knit families can be like that.

But this all avoids the meat of your missive.  You're tired of the routine.  There is a pretty big world out there; imagine waking up when you're 40, 50, doing the same shit you're doing now, or more likely telling the 13th peon below you that's held that job since you were promoted how to do that shit according to the new regs, which of course you are well versed in since you are the person with the gold star next to their name.  Shoot me now.  Escaping from that hell can be very appealing, especially when you're still full of vim and vigor.  

But that's the main gist of it now, isn't it?  Change.  Life seems boring, the routine is soul crushing.  You need something new, and Korea seems a good place to go: far, far, away, free to be something you aren't right now.  But, but.

Be free, or be safe.  It's a hard equation. 

Let's say you come, and you end up staying.  You know you are simply trading one form of monotony for another, so why not stay in a place where you can wander down to the local pub and everyone knows your name?  You can commiserate over the emptiness and injustice of life with someone who really gets what you're saying, man, while bemoaning the stats of the local team and how much of an asshole your boss is.  All without some wanker taking it as an insult against his entire nation and people.  You try to tell him that ultimately you're just like him, just letting out some steam, dude, why are your panties in a knot about this?  But before you know it the cops show up, you're being asked to come down to the station, and why can't you understand our special situation?  

Getting out of your normal routine and taking risks isn't easy for most folks.  Coming to Korea isn't for most people.  But then you do only have one go at it, so decide what it is you want with your time in.  You're smart enough to know that coming here will sometimes be cool, sometimes will not.  But so will being anywhere. Make your decision and throw the dice.

Knowing this, disabuse yourself of the idea that beautiful people are going to fawn over you as soon as you get off the plane.  That Charisma Man thing is so 1990s.  Can you hook up with people here?  Sure.  As easily as you can hook up anywhere.  Depends on what you want and what you bring to the table.  If you just want random hookups, it's easier if you've got game, and without Korean language skills, you're at a disadvantage.  While you may have some exotic thing going for you to some extent, that becomes moot.  I've talked a bit about that here. If it's just about trying to get laid, get your head on straight where you are and work the skill set that will sort you out now.  You don't need to travel half way across the world to get your head into a place where you can challenge yourself.  Just sell all your shit and move to a city you like the name of that's at least 500 miles away.

Yeah, I came to Korea.  I'd rather not be that guy holding up the end of the bar with the witty comment and the pathetic life.   I'd rather have the constant challenge of figuring out just who the hell I am and what I'm doing.  Constantly being on the move, putting yourself in a new situation, has worked for me so far.  Sometimes it is a question of what the hell am I doing here, but I've also got more reminders that I'm supposed to be constantly sorting all of that out.  Convoluted, I know.  Sorry I can't be more specific.  I guess it's more about really knowing you are that outsider, and using it to your advantage by constantly asking yourself the hard questions.  It isn't easy, but that's what makes it more a life worth living.  

Sure, you can do all that back home as well, if you've got the right attitude.  But there is something to be said about the local lasses now, isn't there?

Ha! I jest. Sort of.  

Somewhat sanctimonious, I know, but I just got back from a hwaesik company dinner, and I'm somewhat in my cups and feeling maudlin.  The rain is coming, and I have lived in Korea for a long time after all.

But you want a definite answer?  Screw all that shit above: you should totally come, marry a local, have lots of kids, and help shake things up.

Yeah.

Cheers

Waeg.



Monday, July 9, 2012

Weekend!

This weekend I bundled the fam into the van and visited the in-laws.  We just got back a couple of hours ago, and I can't sleep despite the insane day I have tomorrow.  A can of magic green potion topped with a can of red bull will do that to a person.

I'm busily working my way through jugs of rice wine to help me sleep.  Two in, and safe to say it isn't working. I busied myself with sorting a better workaround for the electrical issue, as the electricians did not come in and sort out the problem with the leak.  Word is they'd rather just wait and see, which means probably wait until it rains again.  They said they had to let it dry out, but to continue running extension cords throughout the house to juice up the kimchi refrigerator, fridge, coffee maker, and everything in my man den is a pain in the ass.

We went to visit the brother in-law.  He recently moved back to Korea with his Chinese wife.  There was some convoluted story that didn't hold much water as to what actually happened to his jewelry making business in Tsingtao, but his new apartment is pretty nice.

His wife is 20 years younger than him.  She's not a bad looking woman who speaks better than intermediate Korean.  They've been dating for a good five years, so I'd say she's motivated.

She hasn't taken to me much, but I digress.

One of the highlights was watching a movie called 완득이 starring Jasmine Lee, the newest member of parliament causing so many Korean racists to lose their collective shit.  June picked it up at the video store, and I initially laughed at actually renting a movie, but it was pretty good.  Two thumbs.  Need to see more of that kind of thing, but told from the girl's point of view who tracked her dad down to some remote fjord in Norway.  That could be a great movie.

Shut up brain, go to sleep.

No?  OK then, here's some youtube videos and fermented rice.  Watch the second with the sound off at the same time as the first.  In fact, better to read / watch / think whateva else as you listen to the tune once you get about eight times in.  Think that instead of saying 'cinema', he's saying 'cinnamon'.  It's more racist that way.



Friday, July 6, 2012

Electric!

I suspected that I would come to regret writing last week about how happy I was that the rain had finally come, and this morning this suspicion bore fruit:  it seems that massive water damage has occured as the rain found a way in and ran down the inside wall of our apartment, frying the electrical in a good chunk of the house.

When we had no power this morning, June assumed it was in the entire apartment, but when I checked the breaker and saw it had shut off I knew the problem was in our apartment.  I knew it was serious when the breaker would not turn back on.  A quick check of the walls and I found the water stain on the wallpaper near the door to the laundry room patio, and knew this was a serious problem.

Electricians have been in and out of the place all morning; my prediction is that we may have to move out for a few days while they rip the ceiling out to do the repairs.  No gas or electricity for several days.  Just like camping haha.

Let's wait and see.

Time for coffee.

So many kinds of wrong

This week's edition: Start with some ijit fireworks in celebration of various national holidays, follow with a random assortment, end with some 'art'.

so many kinds of wrong












I, pet goat II from Heliofant on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Distraction!

Today around the water cooler the 3-S policy of Chun Doo-hwan came up in conversation.  One of my waeg colleagues asked what it was.

Sex, screen, and sports to distract the masses, dude.

Shouldn't one of those S's be soju?  hyuk hyuk.

Naw, they didn't need to promote that, as the drinking culture had been around for long enough that it was a given most Koreans would drink anyway.  But the government at the time did invest heavily in erotica, film, sports. . .keep the masses distracted and everything will be alright, right? 

It got me to thinking about distraction, and what works today in the Korean context.  Many a waeg on this fine peninsula has done at least some basic reading on just what Korean ethnic nationalism is all about. They are aware of the history of the concept and how it is different from nationalism in general and from many other types of community binding ideology.  They know it was a reaction to big powers, a term borrowed from the Japanese, who were intent on creating a pan-Asiatic identity to facilitate colonial administration.  They may even know the big names in the Korean independence movement who popularized the concept, adding real value by reviving or inventing Korean stories and myths that instilled pride in the people's bosoms.   Some are even aware of how Park Chung Hee made it a foundation of the Korean education system in the 60s and 70s, in response to the North Korean threat and to facilitate the rapid development that was ongoing; this is why you'll often get adult students who will talk about Korea's four unique distinct seasons, how the best rice is from Icheon, and the best apples are from Chungju.   And while some waegs will rightfully argue that this antiquated notion is still quite prevalent, an anachronism in a world that has largely stopped gargling with fascist flavored water, I wonder: are the majority of young Koreans still wearing blinders?

I keep hoping it's not the case.  Things certainly have changed in my 12 years in country.  While I definitely still see idiocy near everyday, I also see more critical personal reflection.  Or at least that's what I'd like to think it is.

Maybe it's just the red wine talking; the Homeplus express was having a sale after all.  But I'd like to think that these embarrassing notions of group identity are on the way out, being replaced by a vision that will serve Korea and the world better.  I'd like to think.  As a protip, it's easier to think this if you stop reading the papers, avoid large congregations of Koreans, and make decent friends; add some liquor occasionally into the mix and you're home free.

In any event, if any of you out there have some old Korean porn from that era, do share.  Purely for academic purposes of course. Email is in profile.

Cheers.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dirty Foreign Men!

If you've been keeping up on Korean news and the waegosphere in general, you're well aware of the nasty piece of sexist and racist tripe that MBC tried to pass off as a current events show not too long ago.  If you haven't seen it, here, enjoy:

Update: the film has been removed, undoubtedly due to bullying from MBC; however, you can still see it here and here

I wrote about this earlier (in fact most of the 'lost in trasnlation' and 'Me and my big mouth' categories are about that kinda thing).  I couldn't really bring myself to get really worked up about it at the time, since I see it as just par for the course of living in Korea: as a foreigner you're going to deal with this so deal with it.  Yet I couldn't help but realize today that the last few weeks my behavior has definitely been short with some of my more trying Korean coworkers - the type who have obvious difficulty even contemplating having a conversation with a waeg, yet alone have one that doesn't end up in pointing out how un-Korean you are or how hard you're trying to become Korean by eating kimchi or using chopsticks well.

I've brought myself to the point where I say: at least I don't have to put up with the 'Korea has four distinct seasons' line I used to get when I first came to this fine peninsula; everything is alright!'.  I still occasionally worry about my children's future if they stay here, or how it affects my wife being married to me.  I know June occasionally goes hyper-Korean on me, saying if I was more Korean I'd do this, or how she wished I would sometimes do that;  I try to remember that she's dealing with her own shit being married to a waeg and all, and let stuff slide off.  All this sliding off however, is really starting to take a psychic toll.

This was why I really enjoyed reading the latest post over at Gusts of Popular Feeling.  Click the link, it's good.  The video that goes along with deserves to be reposted:



Thanks Matt.  Definitely food for thought. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Parking!

Early Sunday morning, I listened with some small glee as the guard adjusshi spent a solid 6 minutes reproving some asshat over the apartment intercom for blocking the roadway into our apartment with their car.  I thought it was great that the guards were getting more medieval on idiots who park wherever they hell they want; the same guards love to glue big warning signs on unregistered cars when they stay in the parking lot for more than a day or two.  The way I see it, more than a few repeat offenders deserve public embarrassment of that sort.

When he was through I decided to go rubberneck while ostensibly going to the store.  When I got downstairs, I saw that it was the woman who drives the gold Matiz; she often parks her car temporarily across from the door while she goes in to get her infirm aged mother.   It's a flat, easily accessible spot at the bottom of an incline that is fairly easy for her aged mother to climb in and out of the car.  Three times over the last couple of weeks, some true assholes have come along and parked their cars along the curb next to the door, thus making it impossible for anyone to get by. I know this since I heard her trying to explain this to an irate driver last week, who had had to wait a good four minutes for her to move her car.

Parking along the curb is considered OK; still, you've got to wonder what goes through a person's head when they just say fuck 'em, I'm going to park here and block traffic since that Matiz shouldn't be there anyway.  Let them get shit on.  And a shitting it was, as the guard did not mince his words about how terribly irresponsible it was for the owner of license plate 7653 다 (gold Matiz) to park where they did.

I'd be the first to blast the Matiz driver as well if I didn't know the score.  No one should even dare barring me from a prime spot next to the door dammit!  But I've seen her helping her mother into the car.  The old woman can barely walk down the steps out of the apartment.  The fact that the woman in the gold Matiz actually shows up at all and tries to take the woman out for whatever is a cool thing, and then to deal with being told you're a bad person to the entire apartment block must be a hard pill to swallow.

I wrote a letter this morning explaining the situation to the guard.  After getting it checked for grammar and spelling, I plan on dropping it anonymously onto his desk when I get home.  Just wait for him to go out and fold boxes or some shit.

Time for coffee.