Saturday, 31 July 2010

My Niece is Cute

One of the best thing about the wedding was the fact all but one of my nieces and nephews came to Korea to be at the wedding.  It was awesome!  My youngest niece (by one week) was the star of the show for a lot of the trip: her big blue eyes hypnotized the ajummas to give her free stuff, and she is very outgoing -- but just shy enough not to let anyone but her parents or relatives pick her up (fortunately).  Here, you can see her trying out her Korean (she understood what they meant, too), singing a song, kissing her new Aunty Wifeoseyo (we also call her Imo Wifeoseyo...except with her real name) and dancing to K-pop, as well as enjoying herself at the Morning Calm Garden.



One of the best parts was during the musical "Miso" at the Jungdong theater, which I highly, highly recommend: the cast of the musical spotted her sitting in the second row, and during the whole rest of the show they were sneaking peeks at her, waving at her, and the like.  Nieceoseyo, for her part, was an absolute doll: her mom (who directs plays back home) told Nieceoseyo to wave and blow kisses at the cast members, and they were total goners.  It was so fun to watch.  Even without the "the cast was flirting with my niece" part (they also flirted with my other nieces, who are three and eight, the show was great.

Finally, after the show finished, the cast came up to the Jungdong theater courtyard in full costume for some photo ops... but a lot of the people in the audience wanted pictures of my nieces and nephews instead!  :)

Friday, 30 July 2010

ATEK's Next President

*this is Rob's own Blog, not an official ATEK release.*

Now as I said when I announced my position as ATEK communications officer, I don't want ATEK to take over Roboseyo... on the other hand, this here passes the "if I weren't ATEK's communications guy, would I write about this?" test.

As you may have heard at Chris in South Korea, ATEK President Greg Dolezal's one-year term is coming to an end, and we're taking nominations right now for candidates for the next president.

Last year, the debate between Greg Dolezal and Stephannie White during ATEK's presidential campaigns, hosted by Koreabridge.net, led to a great podcast which ended up articulating a lot of the issues affecting English teachers.

Now, a year later, ATEK is standing on much more stable ground than its controversy-ridden beginnings.  The three-man organization and the Equal Checks campaign have given way to a solid organization built for growth, a growing membership, and a growing number of active officers working in their regional organizations to help English teachers with all kinds of different needs.

Some of ATEK's recent successes include launching the Legal Assurance Program with Kangnam Labor Law Firm, building connections with the Seoul Metro Police Association, ratifying a set of new bylaws that set the organization up for big growth in the future, growing connections with groups like Kotesol, and avoiding the standoffish posture that, while it seems like stuff is getting accomplished, ultimately alienates the people we want to be talking with.  ATEK is making inroads to having an actual place at the table in discussions about the future of English education in Korea, and ATEK has more officers and more support now for the next president than we've ever had before: when Greg started, the number of ATEK officers was much smaller, and the organization was recovering from some bad press, and we're looking for nominations for our next president: a few candidates would be ideal: giving members a choice is important, and the campaign is an important chance to articulate ATEK's next steps.

Any general member can run for president... to become an associate member, go to ATEK.or.kr/join, and to become a general member (which you have to be, to run for president), the e-mail you receive for becoming an associate member will have more information.  Then, once you're a general member, go to the general member discussion forums, and post a comment announcing your candidacy.  For more information, e-mail Russell at officers@atek.or.kr, or Greg at president@atek.or.kr

In my opinion, what ATEK needs now is somebody who can build on the foundation we have: ATEK is working really well as a communication network, sharing information and help with teachers who need it, and gathering information from teachers, to communicate them to those who make decisions that affect English teachers' fates.  People who want to know what foreigners think about Korea are starting to contact ATEK, because it's put itself out there, and buddy, we badly need other sources for quotes about about English teachers in Korea.

Who'll do well?  Somebody who's good with people, somebody who looks before he or she leaps, but who is passionate about improving English teachers' situations in Korea.  A peacemaker and a coordinator will be more successful than a disturber: because ATEK is still a young organization, the decisions made now can have long-lasting effects, and a good president will be careful enough to consider long-term effects of decisions, but also has the drive to take opportunities when they come.

Meanwhile, ATEK continues looking for people who care about English education in Korea: we have communications positions involving translation and gathering resources to help English teachers, as well as website design and content management.  We have lots of local districts looking for officers in all kinds of positions: social officers to organize events, emergency needs officers to take care of sudden problems that pop up, ethics officers to act as the organization's accountability voice and consciences, and representatives for hogwan teachers, public school teachers, and others.  There are people who have complained that when ATEK says, "We need people to help out," we don't say "We specifically want people with these skills to do this" --- but that's really because there are spaces for what-ever you like to do, and whatever you're good at.  atek.or.kr/officers.  Like helping people? Like coordinating events?  Like sifting through information to choose the most correct and appropriate course of action?  Got law background? Got counselling background? Got a heartbeat?  Atek can find a place where you can add value to the experiences of English teachers in your area, where you can come away from Korea with a reference letter, a better feeling about your time in Korea, and another bullet-point on your resume.

Paper Wedding Done

The good news is, if you wake up really early, you can get all the paper wedding work done in a morning.  Mrs. Roboseyo and I did exactly that yesterday.  The even better good news was that just in case there WERE lines, Jagiseyo (see what I'm doing here?) had cleared the entire day... and then we totally got the afternoon free.  So we went to Wood & Brick, a great bakery to visit in the evening, when their stocks are almost sold out, but an AMAAAZING bakery to visit in the morning, when the sourdough rye is still warm.  We loaded up on good breadstuffs, and had an easy afternoon that involved Seokchon Lake Park in Jamsil, the best Jajangmyeon I've had in my life, and a movie in Myeongdong.

And the paper wedding is done.  We're officially married, all three ways: in a church, in front of a crowd, and in the district office.

The only drawback was that the Korean district office needed a week to send the official certificate, which means that while I got 80% of the immigration work done to apply for my F-2 (marriage) visa, I'll have to go back there with that documents to get the final stamp on it.

Fortunately for Yobo-seyo, the immigration official was very understanding about her work schedule, and said that if I find her back when I return later, Wifeoseyo doesn't need to be there in person, so long as I have all the documents she needed.

Anyway, we saw "Salt" - the new Angelina Jolie movie, which has made me decide/realize two things.

1. Angelina Jolie is the most convincing female hollywood action hero since Sigourney Weaver in the Alien movies.  Who else is even in the running?  Mila Jovovich for Resident Evil, Uma Thurman for Kill Bill (but have you seen "My Super Ex-Girlfriend"? Just about cancels it all out.)  Michelle Rodruigez, but she's having trouble graduating from "Member of the rag-tag group who saves the day" to "Serious headliner"  Anybody I'm missing?  And don't you dare say the Charlie's Angels' ladies.  Michelle Yeoh kicks ALL their asses sideways till tuesday... that's why I said "Hollywood female action heroes"

2. If you're a major hollywood star, and you throw a bone to Korean audiences, they will reward you with SO much love, and probably an extra half-million ticket receipts.  Hugh Jackman, Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Cage: they visited Seoul, and said some nice things about the country and the food, and now Roboseyette absolutely adores them.  (conversely, if you are mean about Korea, you may face a backlash... sometimes with a long memory.  Oprah.)

Then, the big bummer of the day:

I've always said I love that Korea's a really honest country: I once left my shoulder-bag on the back of a chair in a PC room and the next morning it was still there, un-touched, and un-looted.  On the other hand, maybe the law of averages had to exert itself:

After having a really, really wonderful day, in the taxi on the way home, I realized that my wallet was missing.  And it was full of cash - full - after I'd changed almost a year's worth of coin-change into cash this week.  It might have fallen out of my pocket during the movie (which wasn't that impressive - Manchurian Candidate + more explosions, basically), but I'm pretty conscientious about that stuff; I think it might have been pick-pocketed.  Bummer.

Also gone: my Alien Registration Card, my Korean Driver's License, my Korean bank card, my Canadian bank card, and my Canadian credit card.  Some frequent user stamp cards from some coffee shops.  An old student ID card with a really funny picture which I'd kept in there to crack people up (totally irreplaceable).  My costco card. (NNNNOOOOOOOOO!)

NOT gone:
My birth certificate, which I fortuitously removed from the wallet this afternoon thinking, "It's best not to carry this around everywhere"
My passport
My Canadian driver's license
--which is to day, I didn't lose anything that's worse than inconvenient or annoying to replace, except that student card.  Made the phone calls, froze my credit cards - nobody'd tried to use them, anyway, and now I have to ask them to issue me a new Alien Card at Immigration, I guess.  Came out of it relatively unharmed... though a little humbled, a little more cautious, and large payer of the "stupid tax" this month.

So... here's the choice:

Wifeoseyo
Yobo-seyo
Mrs. Roboseyo
Roboseyette
Jagiseyo

and while The Mrs. has final veto, and I'm giving myself five votes, I'm making a poll: how do you think I should refer to the Mrs. on my blog, now that we're married?

Monday, 26 July 2010

Calling All English Teachers, past or present... Survey

If you are an English teacher right now, or were last year, or were in 1984, there's a survey I'd like you to do...

1. click on this link
http://www.ballotbin.com/voterReg.php?b=15507

2. put your e-mail address in the two boxes.

This step is necessary so that we know we're getting unique survey-takers, not the same ones again and again.

3. After you've entered your e-mail address, the survey website will send you an e-mail with a link, and then it will forget your e-mail address forever.  Another person will get an e-mail saying "hey! another person did the survey!" and that will be it: your address will never be connected to your answers, and will not appear in any kind of database.  Promise.

4. Once you get that link sent to your address, click on it, and fill out the survey.

It asks you questions about your experience teaching in Korea - answer the questions about your entire time teaching in Korea.

5. Tell your friends about the survey.

This survey is being conducted by ATEK (http://atek.or.kr/survey), but you don't have to be a member of ATEK to participate.  You don't have to be a teacher right now to participate, you don't even need to be in Korea to participate: all you need is once, at some time in your life, to have been a teacher in Korea.  We're hoping to get a large enough sample size that the statistics will carry some real weight as representative of the "average" teacher's experience in Korea.

If you had a bad experience, or a great experience in Korea, we'd like you to participate, so that the whole thing's balanced: so don't just do the survey if you've got a gripe; do it if you had a great time, too.

As you know, ATEK, the Association for Teachers of English in Korea, is an organization whose mission is to improve life for English teachers in Korea; ATEK is conducting this survey to better understand the situation of English teachers in Korea, so that we know what the major issues are that affect teachers, and how to better serve English teachers in Korea.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Korean Blog List: Choosing Your New Blog's Name...

From time to time I check up on the Korean Blog List to scan the K-blogs out there and see if there are any that I'd like to check up on more regularly.  This, along with checking the sidebar links of your favorite K-blogs, is one of the two best ways to see what's new in the K-blogosphere.

Even "the big guys" like The Brian Formerly in Jeollanamdo got a lot of their most interesting stories from lesser-known blogs who were closer to the actual issue at hand, and a blogger who doesn't update their sidebars and keep up with what's new, runs the risk of stagnating.  If the newest blog you have in your sidebar links is Brian in Jeollanamdo, Metropolitician, (not to take away from those two bloggers) or me, you might want to revisit your link list, and see what's new.

I wrote at length on "How to get your K-blog Noticed" a while ago, and when people ask me for advice or help, I usually refer them back to that post.  Despite what The Stallion would have you believe, it isn't an exclusive club.

Looking through the new additions to the Korean Blog List, though, it struck me again how important it can be to have a catchy blog name - which names jumped out at me while scanning that long list?  If you want to have a blog people remember, three things to keep in mind when choosing your name are:

1. times and places can limit you.  "Joe's Year in Korea" "Anna in Daegu" - what if Joe decides to stay on for another year?  What if Anna moves to Busan?  Brian in Jeollanamdo is in Pittsburgh now... but he'll have that name, at least in K-blog circles, every time we mention him.  "Seoul2008" probably feels pretty awkward blogging about Daegu 2010, doesn't she?

2. It's hard to switch names after you've already chosen one, so choosing an interesting one from the get-go will help if you hope to become a "noted K-blogger" (whatever that's worth).

3. Sorry if you have one, but there are so many K-blogs that pun on Seoul/Soul and that use "Kimchi" in the name already, that nobody will be able to keep your blog apart from the others anymore.  K-blog readers I talk to still confuse "Eat Your Kimchi" with "Kimchi IceCream" - two very good, very different blogs both of whom have been writing for more than two years each.  There are 12 blogs on the Korean Blog List with Kimchi in the name.  There are 15 blogs that pun on soul/Seoul, including two "seoul searcher"s... I don't think any of them need to change their names, and I like some of those blogs a lot... but if you're starting a NEW blog, just recognize that the Seoul/Soul/Kimchi niche is already saturated, and let me recommend you veer in another direction that won't get confused with a dozen other similarly-named blogs.  Or offer the owner of one of those blogs a fat check to take over their name.


Best K-blog name I saw on the new additions to the Korean Blog List this time: Blog-gogi. Memorable, clearly Korea-related, clearly a blog.

To everybody who already has Kimchi or Seoul in your blog name: I'm not criticizing you, your blog, or your blog name.  Don't sweat it. In fact, this post isn't directed toward you at all: it's directed at somebody who's thinking of a name for their new K-blog.

As apology, here are links to every Kimchi Blog: I like your blogs!  Keep it up!
ZenKimchi
Kimchi Mamas
Tiffany in Kimchiland
Kimchi and Cornbread
Kimchi Ice-Cream
Kiss My Kimchi
The Kimchi Chronicles
Kimchi with Eish
Kimchi Cheeseburger
Korea, Kimchi, & K-pop
Cats and Kimchi
Kimchi World

and links to every Soul/Seoul Blog:  I like some of these - in fact, some bloggers from both of these lists are among my favorite blogs, bloggers, and people...but 15 is a lot, yah?
Joe Seoul Man
Seoul Man in Tokyo
The Seoul Patch
Seoul Sucking Jerk
formerly Seoul Purpose
Seoul Searching
Seoul Food
EPs Heart in Seoul
We've Got Seoul
Seoul Sounds
JSE Seoul Searching
Deep in my Seoul
The Seoul Searcher
A Seoulful Life
A Soul-less Man

Some of the uniquer K-blog names out there...
Paul Ajosshi
ZenKimchi (nobody mixes it up with anybody else - inventing a new word helps)
The Chosun Bimbo
Gusts of Popular Feeling
Good for Man's Health
Hermit Hideaways

Back from the Honeymoon!

Here's the score:

Spain World Cup: sigh. I watched the game on tape, and they DID deserve to win, but sigh. My dad's Dutch.

W Hotel Maldives: amazing! Amazing! Amazing!

Male: capital city of maldives.  Probably warrants a post of its own.

Coral: mmm.

Photos and videos: about eight or ten gigabytes worth (fortunately much of that is HDMI video) - will go through it, will post some of it, but have a lot to process.

Family in Korea: so so sweet!  My nieces and nephews are pretty awesome, and my brothers and sisters are, too.

The Blog: sorry about the light posting... fortunately I only plan to get married once in my life, and henceforward, I'll be back to my usual self.

Seriously though, that light posting: if you're pretty choked about it, let me know, and I'll send you a refund check.

Pictures: because the internet can be a very public place, don't expect every single picture, either of the wedding or the week with the family, or the honeymoon (especially not the honeymoon) up here... but I'll try to find some representative ones.  Every picture of a loved one's face (other than my own) that goes up here will be posted only once permission has been obtained, so bear with me, and forgive the smaller number.  Jagiseyo knows when I'm taking pictures for my blog, because I'm not including her in any of the pictures, and we've had a few conversations to the effect of "are you blogging right now?" which is a nice way of saying "you're not really present in this moment with me, are you?" and on the honeymoon of all places, I've been mindful of that.

However, I don't begrudge any of my blog-friends posting one or two of the (not unflattering) pictures they took of the wedding, and I hope Joy, from Foreign/er Joy doen't mind me re-posting a few of those photos.

I also certainly hope my friends who took pictures at the wedding send me copies.  Hint, hint, hint.

A few pictures from Joy's page:

Some of my own pictures, and maybe a few from the studio, coming as soon as I can catch up with the eighty e-mails in my "ATEK Communications" inbox...

of course visa requirements come up when I'm on vacation.  Of course.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Still alive, but...

Re-watched Thunderball, the old James Bond movie.

Ate breakfast at a W Hotel.

Narrowly avoided sunstroke.

Saw 40 different kinds of fish.

Life is good in Roboseyoland, but once things settle down a bit more, I'll be back to blogging as usual.

So far, the leader in the "Girlfriendoseyo needs a new nickname" sweepstakes is Selorm (seconded by Kushibo) with "Chagiseyo" - but I'll have to check with the official "updated romanization" whether I'll be using "Jagiseyo" or "Chagiseyo" or something else suggested by someone else in the comments, that's even better.

And now... it's Chagiseyo's birthday, and I have to get some stuff ready.

Stay joyful, dear readers.

Here's my mood right now.
Those who came to the wedding know why.  Chagiseyo's learning the words now.  The three times she's funniest are when she's singing, and when she's half-drunk.



Wedding and honeymoon photos later, once the huge mass of them (two different cameras) get processed.


Until then... Joy wrote up a nice little post about my wedding, which you can read. Thanks, Joy. I'd also like to take this moment to publicly thank Chris in South Korea for the photos he privately sent me of the wedding. Chagiseyo loved them, and sends along her thanks, too.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Got married. More later.

A few things about the wedding:

1. my wife is just awesome.

I'm trying to think of a new nickname for her, now that she's no longer girlfriendoseyo... I'd gotten used to girlfriendoseyo, and liked it (fianceeoseyo and betrothedoseyo didn't really work), but with the new upgrade to "Wife" status, I think it deserves a new nomenclature, and Girlfriendoseyo 2.0 isn't going to cut it.

2. My family's in town.  It's AWESOME having my family in town.  To a person, my brothers, sisters, in-laws, nieces, nephews, parents and steps are top-notch human beings, and I love having them in my life, and I really love combining the things I love about my family with the things I love about my life in Korea:

seeing my new wife laughing with my sister.
seeing my new wife playing with my nieces and nephews.
seeing my nieces and nephews take her hand as they walk along the chonggyecheon, as naturally and unconsciously as if they'd known her and hung out with her since the day they were born
the funny variety of reactions as different kids find different things they like and dislike in the dishes of food put in front of them by waiters in Korean restaurants
everybody turning into butter when my nieces say "kamsahamnida" to them
walking through the winding back alleys
my nephew sidling up to me and asking me how to say "You look pretty" in Korean, so that he can tell the lady in hanbok what he thinks (an my niece calling all the ladies in hanbok at the traditional show "princesses")

3. If you have the chance, get out to the Jung-dong theater and see the show "Miso".  It's described as an opera, but that's a huge misnomer: when people say "Opera" it stirs up associations of pretension, dry snootiness, and long, boring performances that make grey-haired people nod their heads they way they do when they swirl their wine glasses.  In fact, this show was captivating, for everyone from my dad, approaching retirement age, right on down to my two and three-year-old nieces, who always had something colorful to look at.  The show's almost entirely nonverbal, the costumes are fantastic, they incorporate really skilled demonstrations of most of Korea's traditional performance arts, all into a colorful, funny, charming adaptation of a Korean folk tale.  So yeah, drop the thirty to fifty thousand won to see the show: it's worth it.  Every member of my family had a great time.  This is the same theater where I saw this show, which was amazing... but Miso is even better.  By about a mile.

Now I'm showing my family around Seoul for a week, before my folks head home (they're going home in stages: my brother yesterday, my sister + 3 kids and brother-in-law today, my other sister, niece, and parents on Friday), and then on Saturday Wifeoseyo and I will head out on a honeymoon.  It's been great.

4. I've been overwhelmed by the support and goodwill my friends have put forward.  Honestly, my wedding was on July 4th, so I expected a number of my American friends to go, "Geez; bad choice of date... It'd've been nice to go, but I have an Independence Day party to attend"... but instead, almost every person I invited, showed!  It was humbling and amazing.  The wedding venue actually had to set up extra tables for the dinner, because so many people came out.  Plus, I was worried that when they do the traditional photo of the couple with all their friends standing behind them, that Brideoseyo would have WAAY more people on her side, than I had on mine... but it turned out that we were pretty much balanced.  Sweet! 

"You really do like me!"

5. Because the wedding was on the Han River, on July 4th, we got to look across the river and see a fireworks show during the after-party, in the air over Yongsan army base, due to the independence day festivities there.  Did YOU have a spectacular fireworks show on YOUR wedding night?... I mean, an ACTUAL fireworks show?

Yah, I didn't think so.

Pictures... when I have the time.

Continue to expect light posting until I get back from the honeymoon.

And thanks for coming! (if you came)
and thanks for not coming! (if you didn't come.. because we were overflowing as it was...though I still wish I could've seen you)

Friday, 2 July 2010

Family Arriving...

It's getting close, dear readers. On Wednesday night, my brother rocked into Korea, yesterday we walked around so much I got blisters on my feet, and today the rest of my family shows up.

So expect light posting from now until I return from the honeymoon:

I'M GETTING HITCHED!  I'll put up updates where I can, and I'll publish the final chapter on Korean weddings and who owns a culture when I can... but don't expect a whole lot for a little while.  Maybe some pictures.  Some awesome pictures.

so... see y'all later.

and be excited for me.  I am.