Monday, April 27, 2009

OK, Brian, I'll bite. Here's some Yuna for you. 김 연아

Since I'm apparently Brian in Jeollanamdo's main source for Kim Yu-na stuff, I'll give him what he's obviously looking for.

Kim Yu-na performed at the Festa on Ice here in Korea, to entertain her rabid Korean fans and get paid. The show was playing on a television in the restaurant where I had dinner with my buddy, and it was . . . quite a show. Three of the five cheesiest songs I know came on (fortunately, "You Lift Me Up" either didn't make it onto the card, or played while I was out of the room), but the goofiest point came when Kim Yuna did her solo ice dance, wearing a short, flappy skirt, and some dumb, besmitten cameraman did some of the worst camerawork I've seen in my life.

See, when watching figure skating, the long shot is important to see the full skating motion. This one goofball cameraman started perving on Yuna with his camera, aiming way-too-close shots right at her lady bits instead of panning out to actually show what she was doing, and leading to the low point of the night, the extreme close-up of the crotch-shot jump at 1.12. (And for the really pervy of you, in slow motion at 4.20 (heh heh. 4:20). He also can't keep her face in the frame at 3:30...I'm guessing he was operating the camera with one hand, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, there you go, Brian. Hope it was good for you; I prefer the competition stuff.

My buddy Charles was visiting from Canada, and he asked me if Koreans were fans of figure skating before Yuna came along, and whether Koreans were figure skating fans or just Yuna fans. I answered as honestly as I could, and said, "Really, Koreans are Korea fans, and any Korean who's doing well will find a fanbase here, and a bunch of sudden diehard fans of the sport." I have more to say about Korean sports nationalism, and sports nationalism in general, but Korea sports nationalism isn't much different in type than other countries...though it might be different in degree. Especially now that Koreans are doing well in various arenas, I'd say that if you wanted to imagine Korean sports nationalism when living in Korea, think (if you're a baseball fan) of living in an entire country of Boston Red Sox fans. The rabidness, the "we've been through hard times" narrative, exacerbated by the smugness of "look how well we're doing now!"

But good for Yuna. At this point, she could sell her bathwater as perfume in every boutique in Apgujeong, and rabid moms would make their daughters drink it in hopes that some of her star power would rub off on them before the exam.

Roboseyo on the Seoul Podcast

So, I was on the Seoul Podcast last month, and today, in their own separate "It's In the Bag" Mailbag section, co-hosts Jennifer and Stafford have broken down the letter I wrote about Jessica Kim's article.

The post is here.

The podcast is here.

The read-up of my article is here. (It's short)

And until next time, I've decided what I'm going to do about how I feel about The Korea Times' attempt at the "Worst Week Of Journalism Ever" award from last week. It involves more than just myself, and in fact I'd like to get as many bloggers and other public-forum posters involved as possible, but I'll explain what I mean soon.

So if you're also pissed about the articles they printed last week, stay tuned and I'll explain what I mean as soon as I don't have a class to prepare for.

peace out

SparkleDown III and the Lantern Festival


Soundtrack: Love Love Love by Mountain Goats: this song always comes to my mind when it rains.

So Sparkledown III started off by Anguk Station, at a tea room which most of us liked quite a bit: the tea tasted good, and the lady kept bringing free stuff by. Cool.

We decided to move on when the music went from the nice classical stuff to the nice Korean traditional stuff...and then to the compositions on instruments that could best be described as piercing, and don't easily slide into the background, along with vocalists making grunts and moans that ALSO don't easily slide into the background.

It was raining, but we walked up to a Panini place I like (I'll write it up some other time), and we had a nice time there before strolling over to Jogye Temple to see the lanterns, and collecting a couple more people.Then it was to an "India Style" wine/lounge place near what was once Piano Street (the piano keys have all been dug up... I don't know what's going on there, but it sure is dirty right now.)

Anyway, some of the people in these pictures are online personalities, and some aren't, so you might recognize a few faces. The conversation all afternoon was really pleasant, and then in the evening it got a little goofy from time to time, but I think it's safe to say a good time was had by all. We moved on to a favorite bar of mine, and bumped into a coworker of mine, and more laughs were laughed.
And that was Saturday. Thanks to everyone who came out: I appreciated seeing you, and to those who didn't come, you missed out.

Then: Buddha's birthday and the Lantern Festival in Jongno.

But first a picture of Lotte Department Store: I like silhouettes.

Then: the street festival was a proper street festival: it was colder than other years have been, but the turnout was good. The air was clear and the light was somehow balmy, and the rain held off until a few flecks in the evening.

There was calligraphy

Free Hugs (this guy really liked his)
and my buddy Charles, the high school pal who's responsible for me coming to Korea in the first place (far left) -- you can thank him in the comments

There was a yoga demonstration that probably led to about 300 men signing up for classes. And after tea and dinner at a Japanese Restaurant in Myeongdong, I pulled out my tripod and took low-light pictures that actually had still frames instead of "he can't quite hold the camera steady" blurs.
played with the light intake to get these different takes on the same place
The lamps at Chunggyecheon (I actually took this picture another day... same stuff, though)

More from tonight:

And the Buddha's Birthday parade snaked from Dongdaemun to Jogyesa, as usual. There were tons of floats, including some that seemed like weird fits for a Buddha's Birthday celebration (a pig on a motorbike with a flame thrower? That brings ME closer to the Buddha Mind, why do you ask?)

And the cartoon Buddha (who reminds me of the Buddy Jesus)

This lady had a high powered fan to keep her gown flowing. She was like a ballerina in a snow-globe.
And the real reason I took my tripod: pictures of Tapgol Park at dark.
I love this park on Buddha's Birthday.

Ya shoulda been there, readers.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Buddha's Birthday Lantern Festival

Hey there. Today's the Buddha's Birthday Lantern Festival in Jonggak.

If you live anywhere, ANYWHERE near Seoul, get your butt down to Jonggak (near Gwanghwamun) and check out the street festival. Build a Buddhist lantern, hang out with the peoples, take pictures, and all that cool stuff.

Seriously, the Lantern Festival is the best day of the year in Seoul, and casts Korea in about the most positive light you'lee ever see it. If you don't believe me, here's my glow-in-the-dark happy post from attending two years ago.

Even more: check out the parade in the evening, from Dongdaemun all the way down to Jogyesa Temple (basically the Westminster Abbey of Korean Buddhism), and after dark, poke your head into Tapgol Park, strung up with lanterns: one of the prettiest sights I've seen in Korea, and nice enough I'm actually bringing my tripod downtown to get better pictures of it this year.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Gaah! (Plus: Backhanded Compliment of the Day)

There's been so much bad writing this week about Korea and expats (mostly thanks to the Korea times) that I haven't had anything to write here, because if I touch on any of the articles that have been written, I'll go into a blithering rant. The worst two of the lot were published yesterday, one of which was an obvious prank, and one of which was by a columnist I've mentioned before, and who now deserves to be tuned out and ignored entirely.

I'm formulating a response that might involve trying to get all my readers to flood The Korea Times with either protest letters, or prank letters...but I haven't decided which yet.

I once wrote that The Korea Herald is crap...but they got nothin' on the times.

Instead, to feel better, read the next post, and come out and have tea with me.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hang out with Roboseyo at Sparkledown the Third, this Saturday.

dscn3080Hey there.

It's short notice, but if you have any free time this Saturday afternoon, it being the weekend before Buddha's birthday, and me being out of town that weekend, it's a good time to hang around Jongno, which is strung up with lanterns all over the place!

On Saturday afternoon, at 3PM, I'm going to be at a nice little traditional tea house near Changdeok Palace, with whichever friends come out, and you're welcome to join me. I really like this tea room, and after some sipping and chatting, I'm going to take a stroll around Bukcheon Hanok village, have dinner somewhere in Samchungdong (depending on the size of the group) strolling over to Jogye Temple (which will be gorgeous with glowing lamps by evening), and down to the lanterns hanging around Cheonggyecheon.

You are welcome to come along for as much or as little of that as you like, and I'd love to see you. So how do you get there?

Go to Anguk Station (line 3), and come out exit 2.



don't trip on the old lady: I almost did.


when you come out of exit 2, you'll have a view something like this. Go straight, and look on your right. It's less than a five minute walk, and if you reach the three-way stoplight, you've gone too far.


There's a little place with plants in the window that looks like this, called "인 Tea Drink Culture" (whatever that means) with a nice lady running it.dscn5007You'll know you're in the right place if the raspberry tea tastes exactly like fresh raspberries.

Let me know if you're coming (you can reach me at roboseyo[at]gmail[dot]com or by searching Roboseyo on facebook), or just show up.

Take it easy, folks, and hope to see you there.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

High School for North Korean Defectors: Field Trip to DMZ

I got an e-mail a little while ago about this video, and forgot about it until rechecking the Hub Of Sparkle e-mail account.

This nine-minute film gives a brief sketch of the young people who have escaped from North Korea, some of whom left their parents behind.

The more you know about North Korea, and the more you know about how North Koreans live in South Korea, the more tragic this story is... for one, the faces of all the students in the video except two, are blurred out, for fear that somebody will recognize their faces and their relatives still in North Korea will be punished.

Give it a watch.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Short but sweet: When a Mommy and a Daddy Love Each Other Very Much...

Yay the internet.
I don't think this is how Dad explained it to me back when I was a kid, but if the internet says this is how to make a baby, it must be true.

Hope your weekend was good.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Just funny... Self-Evident Truths in Writing Class

In one of my Writing classes, I just gave a test, and one of the questions was "Identify the problem with this thesis statement" -- we'd spent a lot of time talking about Thesis Statements.

Some of the problems in the thesis statements were things like:
"not specific enough"
"support does not use grammatically parallel form"
"not controversial" (for example: "Exercise is good for you" is not a good thesis statement, because most people would read it and say, "DUH")
"does not take a clear position on the topic"
"uses absolute language, making the thesis difficult to prove"

The thesis statement was:

"There are three reasons all Americans love hamburgers: they are cheap, convenient, and tasty."

The correct answer was
"This thesis statement makes an absolute claim that cannot be proven" - that is, the word "all" makes the claim indefensible, and should be replaced with a word like "some" or "many" or even "most" -- leaving room for exceptions to the assertion.

About a third of my students thought the problem with the thesis statement was
"This statement is not controversial"

Turns out "All Americans love hamburgers" is a self-evident truth. They're Americans, after all.

And all you can do is smile.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bum Economy Got You Down? SNSD, Kim Yu-na and Samsung are here to help

All K-Pop reports:
Kim Yuna, SNSD (Girls' Generation in English) have teamed up to cheer up Korea with...the Ha Ha Song. According to All K-pop,
The Ha Ha Ha Campaign is an online cultural encouragement campaign in Korea to spread hope and cheerfulness.

Now, The Ha Ha Song was a pop song that came out a few years ago, which is really fun in the noraebang. Here's the original: I like the ska tinge.

Samsung previously had the ridiculously popular Kim Yuna do it (singing her own vocals, I bet. Crossover, here we come!) and the nearly as popular, dorky DongBangShinKi (I have a story about them) do the Ha Ha Song too, but as of the 14th, the indistinguishable Girls' Generation get the next crack. They also changed the song a bit, and gave it their own style, 'cause Girls' Generation, they wanna have fun.

And indeed, there's even a separate short video for every single member of SNSD. See if THAT helps you tell them apart.

All the Ha Ha's remind me of this:

Update: Found it!
Looks like South isn't the only Korea that knows the importance of laughter (if it is North Korean as advertised):

after a while this one reminds me a little of the creepy game-show from Requiem for a Dream.

In other news, Hite Stout has another way for you to release some stress: by pummeling an inflatable beer flute with a wooden stick while some cleavage looks on. As with any situation involving cleavage, the always-classy Chosun Ilbo's photographers were there to document it. HT to Brian

There's a joke to be made here, but I'll leave it for someone else to make.

Speaking of Yuna Kim, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it can also be the lamest.

Roboseyo Media Blitz: The Korea Herald AND Times in one day!


Today, I am in two of Korea's English language newspapers.

The Korea Times published my letter to the editor, about that ugly stereotyping letter.

the Korea Herald's Expat Living section is publishing a best-of list I made by compiling the results from my recent "So What Really ARE The Ten Things Foreigners Like About Korea?"

If you're a new reader to this blog, take a look around. I hope you like what you see. I like living in Korea quite a lot, and one way I show it is by learning about Korea and writing about it.

More later, when I have the time to properly update this post.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Looks like James Turnbull was Right: Nudity in Korean Advertising Increases

James, at The Grand Narrative, predicted an increase in racy ads featuring nudity and body parts, due to trends visible during economic downturns.

For example, this one:
While on the subway, I noticed this ad, and realized he was totally right.

Be ready. It's pretty shocking that this would show in a public place...

Gratuitous nudity! Shameless! So many naked people in a single room! What's going on with Korea's public morality?

Can't get it to embed. Follow the link.
 Hint: it's babies.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Best Cherry Blossom Pictures:Kyunghee University

sitting around outside.
late afternoon sun
Kyunghee's main gate
When there's just too much beauty, too many cherry blossoms, how do you come up with any kind of composition?

Easy: photoshop some people into the foreground

stealing a kiss

white in sunlight
same tree at HUFS

this couple was having way too much fun
i love taking pictures of people taking pictures of other people
one of the better shots from the group
you know I went through about 700 pictures to get these best few

that's all. ate at the spanish place in Paju again today. still the best Sangria I've had, no contest.

More about that later.

PS: Post number 550!