20 December 2008

NoBody by Wondergirls

I hear this damn song a million times a day. I often post pictures of Korea, here's the sound of Korea. You hear it in stores, you hear it in bars, you hear it when you eat, it's on television, it's everywhere and you can't escape it.

In other news, youtube doesn't seem to want to play on my computer for some reason.

Purple Haze

Staying home and doing laundry this weekend so I don't think I'll have any new pics of Seoul. It's finals week at my high school so my duties are to sit at my desk and hang out until it's time to leave. I have three days of classes next week and maybe a class or two after that, then it's winter vacation which will consist of going into school and sitting around till it's time to go. May or may not have an English camp I have to do, leaning towards may not because no one has told me I have to do one and it's getting fairly late in the game.

18 December 2008

'Free' on-line TESOL course

That's right folks, a free TESOL course through TESOL Global, well for certain values of free anyway. It looks like they've posted their entire course online for perusal, if you want a certificate then you gotta pay for it. Price seems to be fairly reasonable at 81 USD and they claim that it will get you the extra cash from the Korean Government. I've decided to give it a try and I will be sure to post my experiences.

I don't know much about TESOL Global. They're affiliated in some way with the Asian EFL Journal which is where I learned about the above course.

14 December 2008

Advice to New ESL Instructors

Courtesy of The Ramones

Couple Views of Namsan Tower

Already wrote a post on my visit to Namsan Tower here. Took a couple of more shots of it from different parts of Seoul.

From the hill behind Itaewon

From Insadong

Safety, Speed, Satisfaction

13 December 2008


Posted DMZ 02 after I posted DMZ 01 and Blogger decided to switch the order, if you've seen DMZ 01 and you haven't seen DMZ 02 then scroll down.

DMZ Part 01

Went to the DMZ/JSA today and I have several pictures to post, also made a short video of a part of the return trip. What you're seeing is a river that is guarded by the Republic of Korea Marine Corps. Razor wire, guard towers, etc. It's nothing compared to what you see when you get further up but you also can't take pictures of a lot of things when you get further up.

More pictures on the way and more detail on my trip to the most heavily guarded border in the world.

10 December 2008

DMZ Part 02

This weeks trip is a tour of the Demilitarized Zone, one of the most misnamed places on Earth. I booked my trip through the USO which is about half the price of every commercial tour company out there.

To book your trip, I'd advise you to first go to the USO Korea website click on the 'things to do' link which should take you to the tours page. Be aware of the fact that there is a dress code, that citizens of certain countries (including both Koreas) cannot take the tour, that you must make arrangements several days in advance, and that there is a chance that you will be killed or injured as a result of enemy action. The website doesn't look like it gets updated often but the email addresses are good.

As there were large portions of the tour that where my camera could have been confiscated, there are large portions of the tour that didn't get photographed.

The vast majority of my pictures were taken in and the JSA (Joint Security Area) which is the only portion of the DMZ that has the North Korean Army facing the US and South Korean Armies.

The tour is conducted by US Army Personnel on US Army vehicles (a bus). Take a camera and listen to them, they will tell you when photographs are permitted and I would advise you not to take photographs when they are not permitted.

In the JSA, a good rule of thumb is that the majority of the grey/silver buildings are North Korean and the blue buildings are all UN buildings. There are a couple South Korean buildings and at least one of them is grey, don't think I was able to get a pic of that one.

You are monitored by the North Korean Army constantly when you're in the JSA/DMZ. They take pictures and I'm told that they occasionally like to harass tour groups. One con is that now I've got photos on record in North Korea and it's possible that they'll be used for propaganda purposed. I suspect that's one reason for the dress code.

Took the first batch of pictures from the steps of the 'Freedom House' which is a South Korean government building that was built to hold reunions between split up families. It has never been used for that purpose since the North will not allow it's subjects to leave the country for fear that they will defect.

The grey building in the background is a North Korean military building

You can see a North Korean Soldier watching from the steps

The two blue buildings are UN conference buildings where they hold talks

Same as Above

Blue building is on the right of the above picture
The Silver building is the so called 'Recreation Hall' a North Korean Building
(Has nothing to do with Recreation)

Neutral Countries Building
The Silver Section used to belong to Poland and another Warsaw Pact Country, that all changed when they stopped being good communists
(On the Right of of the above pictures)

Second batch of pictures was taken from within one of the UN conference buildings.

Conference Table used in the talks

Another Table

Border between North and South
Taken From the Conference Building Window
As an aside, technically I've now visited North Korea since I crossed this border

UN Observation Post #5

OP #5 on the left (Blue Building)
North Korea all around

Monument to the UN forces

UN Check Point #3
And a view of the scene of the 'Axe Murder Incident'

North Korea

This next group of photos is of the North Korean Propaganda Village (Kijong-dong), all taken from UN Observation Post #5

The tallest flagpole in the world with one of the largest flags in the world
(Dry Weight 600lbs)

The Freedom Village (Taesongdong) which is the South Korean village in the DMZ built a flagpole that was taller then the flagpole in Propaganda Village (100m). In response, the North Koreans built a taller flagpole (160m) and put a giant flag on it. The flag does not wave except in the strongest winds.

Another view of the village and Flagpole

Propaganda Village

Constructed by North Korea to show the South and Visitors and Residents of Panmunjeom what they were missing by not living in the 'Workers Paradise' (not to mention encouraging them to defect to the North).

It's suspected that the Propaganda Village is inhabited only by soldiers of the North Korean Army. The North claims that it has schools, kindergartens, etc.

Pictures taken of and around UN Check Point #3

Site of the 1976 'Axe Murder Incident'
And Memorial to Captain Bonifas and Lieutenant Barrett
(The two Soldiers murdered by the North Korean Army)

The round concrete slab under the memorial shows the size of the tree that the work detail went out to trim. As an aside, the VFW Post in Seoul (#8180 Bonifas-Barrett Memorial Post) is named in memorial to the two murdered men. The US Army camp in the DMZ is also named after Captain Bonifas and Lieutenant Barrett, their motto is 'Ahead of Them All.'

Below, we have a few shots of The Bridge of No Return which is where POWs were given the choice of going North or South, once made they could not change their mind and once crossed there was no return. UN Check Point #3 is to the left of the bridge on the near side, the far side is North Korean territory.

The Bridge of No Return

The Bridge of No Return

You can see the steps to UN Check Point #3 on the left side of this picture

Thus concludes my pictures of the JSA. Have a few more pictures that were taken from inside the DMZ.

Mine Field

Mine Field

Mine Field
(Let's just say that it's all farms and mine fields)

I also saw the DMZ Observatory which had a small section where photos were permitted. It just wasn't really possible to get any good photos, more's the pity since there were some great views.

And the Third Infiltration Tunnel which the North dug to infiltrate troops into the South. No pictures were permitted here either, something that didn't make sense to me since it's anything but secret. Follow the link and you can see pictures.

There is an amusement park right outside the DMZ. It didn't seem like a good place to build one to me, but I wasn't consulted about it before they began construction.

And just to prove that the creative use of English isn't solely a South Korean trait . . .

Bog bilberry Liquor

How about a closer look at the label?

Fairly sure that it's a blue berry liquor, not very sure what a 'Bog Bilberry' is, maybe it's something that only grows in the North and maybe it's another example of the creative use of English. You decide.

Grabbed a bottle of North Korean Beer along with some North Korean Soju and went half and half on the above bottle of 'Bog bilberry Liquor,' I'll post reviews of them after I've had a chance to sample them.

08 December 2008

Army Navy Game

Army lost, seventh time I think. Damn it.

03 December 2008

Fisher Space Pen

I carry one of these things on a daily basis and I frigging love it. Writes every time, has some heft, and the grooves give a surprisingly secure grip.

That said, out of the three models I've tried; the first was annoying, the second sucked, and the third is the only one that gets my endorsement.

The 'Bullet' is the cheapest and probably the most common model. I'm not incredibly fond of it because it's a two piece pen and I hate having to take off the cap.

The CH4 'Shuttle' I own has a weak spring and decided to stop working after about three months of use. As an aside, I'm gonna have to dig it up and send it in for repair one of these days.

The one that lives in my pocket on a daily basis is the AG-7, the pen that went to the moon with the astronauts. The one thing I don't like about this pen is that the chrome finish makes it want to slip out of my pocket.

MSRP is around sixty bucks or so, I'm fairly sure I got mine on Amazon for between twenty to thirty dollars.

It's just nice to have something in this throw away society that was built to last.

01 December 2008

Movie Week

So I decided to show my class a movie this week. Went to the local Home Plus and looked over the discount rack. To make a long story short, I picked up 'Charlie Wilson's War' and popped it in.

For those of you that have never seen it before, 'Charlie Wilson's War' contains quite a bit of nudity in the first few minutes of the movie. The students loved it, the Korean co-teacher was not happy.

Lesson Learned, don't show movies that you haven't watched first.

Such is life I suppose

30 November 2008

Taj Mahal Palace hotel

Turns out the staff of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel went above and beyond the call of duty during the attack. I'm more then a bit impressed by the level of service they displayed, hard to even get spare towels at some of the places I've stayed.

Read the article here

28 November 2008

Escape From Seoul

First of all, I was trapped on the bus to Seoul for three hours (usually takes about half an hour) because of traffic. Also lost my hat, I'm gonna miss that hat. Spent a few hours with friends, but the real fun didn't begin until it was time to go home.

I got to Yongsan Station just in time to miss the last train to Incheon on Friday night so I hopped the last train to Guro which is on the same line and in the right direction. The 'fun' started when I arrived in Guro and found that I couldn't get any of the ATM machines to take my card. For some strange reason, Korean (and Japanese) Banks lock up their ATM machines when it gets too late so you're forced to use the private machines that charge enormous fees, none of these machines would accept my card.

So, to recap, I'm trapped in Seoul without enough cash to get a cab ride home and I can not get the machine to spit out any more cash. Luckily, I met up with a drunk Korean guy who was also headed to Incheon and he agreed to split the fare and the night was saved.

The moral of this story is, don't miss the frigging train. If you do, don't let your store of walking around money get too low.

Found one instance of 'Creative English' that night.

No clue what this is supposed to mean
anyone have a clue?

Went to Dongdaemun the next day, good place to go if you want to buy clothing, bad place to go if you want to do much else.

Got a couple pictures of the gate below.


And the back

On Teaching

Some people like to either give their students, or allow their students to pick English names. I think this is a bad idea for the following three reasons.

One: They'll expect you to remember their names. I have almost two thousand students, the most I see them is once a week.

Two: You'll have two hundred 'Harry Potters' and another hundred assorted names.

Three: They types of names that have cropped up in a guy I knows' class include; Adolf Hitler, Rapist, SEXOR, etc. While amusing to hear a ten to seventeen year old say some of these things, it still isn't worth remembering them all.

A girl I know said something about bringing up their colonialist past when the Japanese would assign new names to people in places and how she didn't want to be seen as an outsider who came and reopened all those old wounds. Me, I doubt that my students would have any clue about any of that.

27 November 2008

New Razor

"The Barber Pole" Hefty-Long (Handled) Classic
MERKUR - Solingen

My new razor arrived the other day after a month in transit. Got into the whole double edge 'grandpa' razor scene when I heard that using them would cut down on the number of ingrown hairs I'd get on my face. As I hate getting ingrown hairs and as I'd have cheerfully killed to eliminate them, I gave it a try. First two razors were cheap Chinese Silo Razors, they worked out well so I decided to upgrade to a Merkhur Hefty-Long Classic (seen above) and I'm glad I did. First thing you notice about this thing is the weight (4oz), second thing is the quality. I have every confidence that this chrome plated brass beast will outlive me.

Purchased along with a few other things from classicshaving.com which has good service and is willing to ship to Korea. Shipping is reasonable despite the fact that it takes forever.

Learned about a site called Latinum which is a podcast that will teach you Latin. Hattip to 'The Marmot's Hole' (one of the best site's on Korea and run by a hell of a nice guy).


23 November 2008

Another Weekend, Another Trip to Seoul

Gyeonghuigung Site
Situated between the Seoul Museum and an Art Museum

More on that

Cool looking Building, I have no idea what it is
and only a vague idea where it is

Isn't this thing supposed to be in Seattle?

Ducati, looks like a Ducati Sport Classic
first bike I've seen that wasn't Korean or Japanese
Seen at Seoul Station

Beondegi (boiled Silk Worm Pupa)
the only thing worse then the taste is the smell

USB memory machine
would (more accurately could) have been a used schoolgirl garment machine in Japan
No, I'm not joking . . . Really

Closer Look

Near the Korea Tourism Office
And it will haunt my dreams forever

There's a reason I've never gone to any of the assorted Disney Hells

And what post would be complete without more examples of the creative use of English . . .

In their defense, they did get it spelled right on the door

Made by Bururu
Ashamed to admit that I'm at a loss as to how to make fun of this

Still looking for a tee shirt I saw that had the slogan; "I'll Show You Who's The Boss, Kate Moss." Yes, this is a real tee shirt that's been seen in Korea and yes I wish to find a store selling them.

Agricultural Museum

Went to the Seoul Museum and the Agricultural Museum today, pictures were not allowed in either museum but I got a few in the Ag Museum before some old lady told me to stop.

Agricultural Museum is on line 5 and it's across the street from Seodaemun Station. Seoul Museum is a few blocks further up the street.

The Agricultural Museum is sponsored by Nonghyup the farmer's bank (also my bank). The Seoul Museum is sponsored by the city of Seoul (I think). Admission to both banks was free, Seoul Museum usually charges but it's free on some Sundays.

Neither Museum was great, both were worth a walk through though.

The Entrance


First half

Second Half

I have nothing to add

Would have been nice to have a little detail

He's at least twice as good as irrigation

Don't laugh, Irrigation is important

But less then half as important as king what's his name