Monday, June 28, 2010

Korea-Uruguay in City Hall

Went down to City Hall to see Korea vs. Uruguay.  Missed the other games in a public, mob-setting, so I'm glad I went out to catch that one.

As game action goes, Uruguay looked really sharp on the goals they scored, and Korea will rue that goalpost free-kick in the first ten minutes. Uruguay was dumb to lay back and let Korea attack for the beginning of the second half, but the way they scored to re-take the lead made it look like they'd been toying with Korea all along. On the other hand, the Uruguayan goalie was forced to make some pretty tough stops on some very impressive setups...but he did. All in all, Korea put in a good effort, but didn't quite have the chops to top Uruguay; however, they should hold their heads high. They put forth a very respectable showing this year. The crowd was the main reason I went, though the wind went out of those sails after Uruguay's first goal; however, it's still worthwhile to get out and join tens of thousands of Korea soccer fans once every four years: the atmosphere, especially before the kickoff, is great.

And there was barely any booing of the Uruguayan National Anthem! One drunk guy near me was shouting shut up, and a few people booed in the first five seconds, and then stopped: it seemed like they got shushed by people around them who actually knew what sports are for.

The crowds, then:

The station was a madhouse, with police shepherding people to the correct exits, and blocking others.

Because it was dark, and rainy, the photos I took around city hall had longer exposures, and they have a kind of blurry, dreamy quality.  I like that.  The crowd here was awesome during the build up to the game, but as soon as Uruguay took the lead, it started kind of sucking.

These three very nice people are students at the KDI, from central-asian countries.  They invited me to watch the game with them.  I did, until the crowd behind us decided to sit, and told us to sit, which would have meant parking my but in a puddle, which sounds like the opposite of fun to me, so I took off to get more pictures of other areas.




Heres' a video of what the scene was like.

By Gwanghwamun, the cheering section was nicer, the crowds weren't so insane, and the atmosphere was generally more laid back.  In a good way.

Maybe my best crowd shot of city hall.  I didn't have my camera out as much as I'd have liked, because it was getting rained on, and I don't want my camera messed up with water damage right before my family comes to Korea, I get married, and I go on a honeymoon.  That'd, like, suck.

raindrops on the lens: looks nice, unless you're the one who paid for a camera that's getting wet.


after a while, the crowd called on people to stow their umbrellas, which made better viewing but fewer layers to the photos.  I lost my umbrella.  I lost two umbrellas this weekend, and gave a third away.

Gwanghwamun plaza wasn't too busy.

I was lucky enough to be filming when Korea scored... that reaction, and some of these other reactions to some close calls, are worth a watch as well.

Down the sides of Gwanghwamun Plaza was a big display of Korea's world cup history.

I especially liked this frame: I had no idea color film wasn't invented until after 1986.


or that giving birth to opposing players was legal during gameplay.

A lot of people were happy to pose for the cameras.

Some of them gave me  cigarette smelling hugs.  (not these ones, though)]

These next two pictures are cool: I like the way these two young people were totally rapt with the game action.


And the giant poo watched over it all.  and it was good.

Sejong and Admiral Lee weren't as into the game action as the rest.  Maybe the team could have used admiral Lee as a coach.  Except he'd have invented "Turtle cleats", and that might not have gone so well in a game of speed.

Other than city hall proper, the crowd was relatively sparse.  Rain'll do that.

Most of the world cup, uh, fashion, was covered in raincoats... but I caught a picture of this little group.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bwahaha! Youtube Vuvuzela For The Win!

I was poking around on YouTube, procrastinating on wedding prep stuff, when I saw this...

Did you notice it?

Look at the bottom right corner:

If you click on that soccer ball, you can watch any Youtube video with Vuvuzelas droning in the background.

I howled with laughter.  Try it out.  The more relaxing the original video, the funnier the vuvuzela is.  But it won't do it with the embedding.

You can also surf the internet with vuvuzelas at this site: just type in the site you want to visit,

and I enjoyed this remix of Invictus, set in south africa, set to vuvuzela noise.

and of course Lord of the Rings, with great music.

Finally, the vuvuzela has a twitter account.  Here.  It's very well thought-out.

Love the viral jokes.

and just in case that wasn't enough Korea content for you, just so's you know, on the topic of vuvuzelas, now that they've won the group, Argentina are being kinda jerks, and saying that the only reason Korea scored their lone goal in the 4-1 loss to the Argies, is because of the Vuvuzelas.  Just to remind us that bad sportsmanship is an international phenomenon, not limited to Koreans crashing Swiss web servers and stuff. (see final paragraph)

Been Watching Soccer/Football:

So I had to miss the Korea/Argentina game because of something more important: Koreabridge's discussion on workplace unions in Korea - worthwhile if you're an English teacher; check it out.

But the upshot is, I'm glad Korea made it to the round of 16, so that I get to go watch Korea play in the knockout round, and yeah, I'll wear my red horns, and yeah, I'll be mixing it up with the masses in City Hall.  It's an experience unlike anything you've ever had before.  What would it take to get 600 000 or 1 000 000 Canadians gathered in one place?  I can't think of anything, except a broom the size of Saskatchewan.

Because he helped me with the translation request from the last post, I'm totally pimping my buddy's blog: Korean Football.  Go read about the world cup there!

BTW I'm still looking for a few people who can help with English to Korean translations.

A few other thoughts about soccer (as we North Ameracaners call it)

1. It will always be the world's most popular sport, because any poor kid can take four rocks (goal posts) and something resembling a ball, and play a game of it.  The only other sports even CLOSE to requiring so little equipment are basketball and track and field.

2. It will NEVER be popular in North America, the way it is in the rest of the world, until players get penalized, I mean, really penalized, for falling at the slightest contact.  I like the rule suggested by an (american) sports columnist: if play has to be stopped because a player goes down, he has to sit out for ten minutes, no questions asked.  Substitution can be allowed, but he has to be off the field for ten minutes: if you're actually hurt, you need the ten minutes.  If you're not, you get up and suck it up.  As long as jokes like this (see video) are made about soccer, it won't gain traction in the continent of ice hockey, lacrosse, and 'Mercan Football.

3. It also will never be popular in North America because there are too many draws, and too many 1-0 games.

4. It doesn't need to be popular in North America.

5. In international competitions, I root against the USA, not because of the Canadian inferiority thing (that only kicks in when it's Canada vs. USA), but because if Brazil wins the world cup, it's a month-long party in Brazil.  If France, England, Argentina, etc. win it, it'll make that country's sports half-decade.  USA has SO many sports things going on, they don't NEED the world cup, too.  If US wins the world cup, most Americans will go "Yeah! Awesome!  Is Nascar on?" (or whatever their favorite sport is) and forget the world cup next time a baseball pitcher takes a perfect game into the 8th inning, or A-rod takes his shirt off in Central Park, or Terrell Owens comes out of the closet.

6. In the same way that bad horror movies are more watchable than bad movies of any other genre, blowouts are more watchable in soccer than any other sport I've seen.  Spain dismantling Honduras,  Portugal spanking North Korea, Germany handing Australia their jockstraps: a superb team in total control is actually fun to watch in Soccer (as long as they aren't slowing down the game).  In Hockey, the closer the game is, the better it is, and the more evenly matched the teams are, the more fun it is to watch, and blowouts are boring.  Most other sports, too.  In soccer, some of the evenly matched games were actually more boring, because each team just moved up and down the middle, and then took turns failing to penetrate the other side's defense.

Plus, the fact that a two goal game can count as a blowout, means that every once in a while, a team might dominate the ball, but concede a fluke goal or two that ends in a wacky result.  Mistakes are REALLY costly in soccer - it's the anti-tennis (tennis, where you can make dozens of unforced errors and still win).  That it all comes down to one game, and goals are so hard to come by, means that anything can happen.  (Go New Zealand!)

7. It's amazing how, even with a dozen players on the pitch per side, the stars somehow manage to assert themselves.  Somehow BECAUSE there are so many players on the field, they find ways to shine, which seems counterintuitive - you'd think they'd get lost in the crowd.

8. FC Barcelona have the best jerseys of any sports team I've ever seen.  Messi's fun to watch, but those jerseys are exactly my colors.  I want one.  I'll wear it to the new Manchester United bar in Jongno.

If you see me at the next game in City Hall, say hi.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Call for Translation Help...

Here's the skinny, dear readers: I need a hand.

My fiance's father will do a short speech on the day of the wedding, and my father will do wedding vows in English with me and Hyangju, during the wedding ceremony on Sunday, July 4. Because we'll have some guests who can't speak Korean, and some guests who can't speak English, I'd really like to hand out a program with an English translation of Hyangju's father's speech, and a Korean translation of my father's wedding vows and speech.

I'm sending this out to a bunch of my bilingual friends, because it's if I can find a bunch of people to help, I can just send one or two paragraphs to each person, and it won't be a big burden on anyone.  After I've gathered the parts back up, girlfriendoseyo and I will put them back together.

The translation doesn't have to be 100% accurate - it's a wedding, not an academic essay, so a "quick and dirty" translation will do - and I'll take the English translations and work them together so that they have a style that flows nicely, and Girlfriendoseyo will take the Korean translation of the English parts, and edit them so that they have smooth style as well.

If you help us, Girlfriendoseyo and I will take you out for dinner sometime and we'll eat something really nice, our treat of course, in appreciation.  Or I'll totally pimp your website, or tell my readers to buy what you're selling, or whatever.

If you're willing to donate a bit of your time in exchange for my gratitude, a bit of fame, and maybe a pint or two at wolfhound's, or some other delicious place, please e-mail me as quickly as possible at

Thank you, my wonderful readers and friends.

Wedding Approaching; expect light posting

It's hella hot, and hella hot makes me hella tired, because I don't have an air conditioner.  Meanwhile, I have about 300 emails to write in preparation for my wedding, which is mere weeks away.  Some important hurdles were cleared this week, and we got some big stuff out of the way... but there's always something else.

Anyway, my buddy Abhi asked me to remind you of the fundraising event for two Non-Profit Organizations - the facebook event is here, and it's a battle of the bands on June 26, so not only can you help out some orphans, but you get to go see some sweet live music.!/event.php?eid=126367257393094 

Plus, on the facebook event page, I looked through the list of people who said they're attending, and most of them are very, dazzlingly good-looking.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Web Site Story

Nope, it's not about Korea, but Collegehumor made a video a while ago called "Web Site Story" that's all about our favorite websites.  (Warning: if you're not an internet nerd, you might miss some of the jokes).  Nerdy, but great -- West Side Story happens to be, along with "Singin' In The Rain," my favorite musical (yes, I have a favorite musical.  Deal with it.)  If you want to increase your nerd rating, you can also go through this list of the 100 most iconic viral videos.  You can find out your nerdity rating by counting how many of these videos you've already seen, plus half a point for each video you stop to watch while you go through the list.  My score is embarrassingly high.

One more for good measure: search the internet the same way you watch World Cup Football Games.

recording mp3s

skype mp3 recorder audacity - runs heavy

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Memo to Kumho Rent-a-Car: Get Your Act Together

This is unacceptable. is useless.  Even stranger: the Korean page will open in multiple browsers, even though over 90% of Koreans DO use internet explorer, but the English page won't open in Chrome or Safari or Firefox, though more than 50% of internet users outside Korea use browsers other than Internet Explorer.

In google chrome:

in firefox (aka the world's most popular browser)

frozen like this for five minutes now, in Safari:
Totally unacceptable.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Took a few pictures

Took this picture out a building window on the day I ate pork poop-chute with Zenkimchi Joe.  (I was on TV, too... one of my students spotted me.)


Took this picture in a gardenny place near Ilsan, when I was out with the In-laws-to-be.

Also, took this picture at HUFS one night: they were setting up for a big festival.  The hanging umbrellas are a neat effect.


They also strung a walkway up with colored yarn.  This was a little inconvenient (especially for tall people), but it looked cool.

Took this picture at Tapgol Park during the Buddha's Birthday Lantern Festival: bumped into Chris in South Korea, and was wildly entertained by The Lady in Red (who's my second favorite K-blogger's Other Half right now, topped only by Girlfriendoseyo, of course).  Buddha's Birthday remains my favorite Korean Holiday, and the best party in downtown Seoul.  I've written blissfully about it before.

and I took this picture at the Chunggyecheon with my friend Kelly NameChangedForPrivacy, on Erection Day (haw haw haw)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pride Parade in Seoul

There's a Pride Parade in Seoul this weekend.

From 11am-6pm, around the Cheonggyecheon area, you can check it out.

Here's the Korea Queer Culture Festival website.

Here's the facebook page for the event.

Here's the facebook page for the group.

Here's a brief look at acceptance of Queer culture in Korea (diagnosis: still pretty weak), from Popular Gusts.

And an article from 2008's Pride Parade, on OhMyNews (English).

and Kiss My Kimchi's write-up of the 2008 Parade

Concert Fundraiser... Mark your Calendar: June 26

Got a letter from a buddy of mine, who planted trees with me on Arbor Day (April 1) - a great experience I was too busy/lazy to post, but which was sweet: we went to Kookmin University, and planted trees on a path they'd closed, in order to reclaim it as forest.

Well, he's now planning a fundraiser concert for an orphanage in Suwon, and a North Korean refugee center in Ansan.  Worthy, worthy, worthy causes, both.

The event, called "ROK Concert-Fundraiser: Bands Battle with Molotov Vibrations" is a battle of the bands at Club FF in Hongdae, on June 26 - mark it in your calendars!  The Facebook page is here, and I really think you should go.

My buddy Abhi told me about it, and he's a seriously stand-up guy.  If you live in, or near Suwon, you want to be on his mailing or phone list, because he cares about helping people, and he knows places and ways that YOU can help people, too.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Rain's Bum Joke Bombs... but Congrats Anyway

Former Kpop/current Hollywood star Rain, owner of the most preposterously self-congratulating album cover I've ever seen:

Was voted "biggest badass" for "Ninja Assassin" at the MTV movie awards... and his acceptance joke TOTALLY bombs.

"They told me I was nominated for the bad ass award, so I've been working out.... (crickets chirp, two fangirls scream) why so serious?"

But we shouldn't be too hard on the man.

It was a noble effort, but his delivery was off: he would have gotten a better laugh if he'd turned around and lifted up his jacket tails or something.  This IS an MTV crowd, after all.  Frankly, I sympathize: delivering a joke in one's second language, especially a verbal joke (bad ass award - our man is PUNNING on national television!) is hella hard.  Good attempt at a recovery, too, with the 'why so serious'?

Anyway, congratulations, Rain.  Sorry about that flubbed punchline, but I hope you have lots of success, and more opportunities to show off your sixpack in Hollywood movies.

And in case you think Rain don't do funny, I refer you to the Stephen Colbert/Rain dance-off, in my opinion, one of the high points of the show, and of Kpop relevance in America.

Caption Contest: weirdest burger poster I've seen.

This poster is so many kinds of surreal I don't even know what to say about it... so I'll leave it to you, my readers.


Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Wedding Hall Wedding...Why?

I'm actually torn here, because what I really want to do in response to Jason's post about wedding hall weddings is to sit somewhere with a beer in my hand, nod knowingly (and a bit defeatedly) and say "Yeah, man.  I hear ya."  On the emotional level, I'm sitting right there with Kimchi Icecream, feeling that weird taste in my mouth.  On another level, given that I'm about to marry a Korean, I've thought a lot about Korean weddings, and I do want to look a little at this wedding culture stuff.

So before I intellectualize the whole thing and give reasons and justifications, I just want to take a moment to recognize.  Yeah.  It's way different, and jarring, and often quite off-putting.  A spade's a spade, and a Korean wedding hall wedding looks weird to Western eyes.

Soundtrack: Marry Me, John, by St. Vincent

(Photos of one Korean wedding) (Another) (Another, from Busan Mike)
(let's not forget that other countries can go a bit overboard with weddings, too.)

Photo by these guys... who seem to do a good job, if you look at their samples.  Hope you don't mind my borrowing!

Ask The Expat also has something about weddings.

But in Korea's defense, here are some of the points that have come up in talking, a lot, about weddings.  Fact is, most Koreans I've spoken with agree with many of Jason's complaints about wedding halls, and I've spoken with quite a few, because I have an article about wedding culture I like bringing into class.

Catching Up: Cheonan Memorial

A few weeks ago, on the weekend of the Cheonan boat tragedy funeral, I wandered around City Hall.  I took a nice picture of this couple:

and then I came across the Cheonan memorial by City Hall.

I haven't commented much on the Cheonan sinking here: I usually don't get THAT political at Roboseyo, but here are my basic thoughts:

1. I'm glad the South was so rigorous in investigating and proving it was a North Korean torpedo: without that rigor, we're in "emotional retaliation" territory instead of "strategic response" territory.

2. I wish China would just get on board... but given that half the North Korean refugees will be heading for the Chinese border if North Korea ever collapses, I can see why they're trying to maintain stasis.  China benefits from the existence of North Korea because it's a buffer between them and the US "proxy state" South Korea, and also because if international attention is on North Korea, it's less on China, and whatever they've got going on in the East-Asian theater.  As long as North Korean concentration camps are running, there's less outrage to go around for China organ harvesting political prisoners and stuff.

3. The best response South Korea can do is... explained better by blogs like One Free Korea or ROK Drop than me... but if South Korea gets back into the information war - dropping satellite cellphones, air-ballooning pamphlets and broadcasting radio signals, cellphone signals, and anything else they can into North Korea, to break the citizens' isolation from the truth, that'll hurt the North more than any military strike could; after the failed currency reform mess, the people are close to the limit, as far as I can tell from here, with the blogs and newspapers I read.  A military retaliation would galvanize the public against an outside enemy, and increase the military's influence, both bad things.  Leaving North Korea to fester, and leaving that bloody revolution to brew, looks weak, but it's the most strategic move if we ACTUALLY want change in the North.

4. Yeah.  Jon Stewart was out of line.

Anyway, I took some pictures of the Cheonan memorial by City Hall.  It was really sad: most of the soldiers who lost their lives were younger than 24


I can't remember what Canadian/Western public memorials are like (this memory of Princess Diana's memorial came to mind), but I think it's sweet and interesting that Korean memorials are covered in post-it notes that people write to the dead.


Photos of the excavation, the soldiers, and the President attending the memorial, as well as photos of US Military personnel helping Korean military folks with the excavation and investigation, were also on display.


Quick, quick, what's that song?

I'm exactly in the middle ground with K-pop, where I like it enough that there'll be about five songs a year I really, REALLY like, but not enough to read every K-pop blog, watch ALL the videos (still too much chaff, sorry), learn the names of ALL the Wonder Girls (one or two is plenty), and know all the latest hit songs.

But then something like this comes along, which I like, and I NEED to know who sings it.

So, the first reader to tell me the name of the singer, and the song, wins a toaster.

My favorite Korean music remains the '80s folk song stuff, and this: 그대 그리고 나 is my latest Noraebang show-stopper.  Lovely lovely song.

Matt Strum is the winner of the "name that song" contest, identifying the catchy song as "Lupin" by Kara.  Here's a picture of Lupin:

And here's the video.  The song's durn catchy, isn't it?

(shekshi denseu [섹시 댄스] warning)