Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Event: Rubber Soul 2010

Rubber Soul (facebook event page here)

December 4 is World AIDS Day.  Starting at 9PM, in Hongdae, at Ting Tings, Club TA, Club FF and DGBD, you can attend parties at all four spots for a 15000 won cover.  All the cover fees go to Hillcrest AIDS center in South Africa.

You can learn more at the Facebook event page linked above, or at the Rubber Soul Blog, here: http://rubbersoulevents.com.

You should go!

The bands lined up?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Congrats a Bazillion to Zenkimchi Joe!

So Captain Kimchi himself, my buddy Joe, had a baby... well, his wife had a baby, not long ago.

I wanted to send out a huge congratulations to him: I'm sure he's busy as all-get-out right now, but he's been posting pictures of the new baby girl, Ji-an, on Facebook and his website.

He also has an interesting post about Korean post-partum traditions: a pair of old coworkers of mine had a baby while in Korea, and they reported that the pregnancy and childbirth advice they got from their Korean friends was almost exactly the opposite of the advice they got from their phone calls back home.  Their conclusion was that you should do whatever the heck your body tells you to do, as long as you frequently check in with a doctor you trust.

Anyway, if you've had a baby in Korea, head on over to zenkimchi and add a comment to the post where he lists the western and Korean post-natal traditions.

And congratulations again, Joe.

Watch SBS Running Man Tonight!

I can't say TOO much about it until the show airs... but a few mondays ago I stayed up really late, to film an episode of "SBS Running Man" run by Yoo Jae-seok, Korea's top TV show host.

So at 5:20 today, if you're in Korea, turn on the TV, and watch SBS's "Running man" to see what I'm on about.

I met Nikhun... nice, very very nice, very likeable guy.  Even though the gesture he's making to the camera is the british equivalent to the middle finger, I'm sure it's unintentional...

Some of the other stars...


And the man himself, Korea's top TV host, Yu Jaeseok.

And also K-blog celebrities Simon and Martina.  I kept photo-bombing them when they tried to take video.  Can't wait to see the results.

See you (or at least you'll see me) at 5:20.  Or thereabouts.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

OK. Lee Hyori gets it this time. 이효리

This is a little after the fact, but something had to be said.

Oh come on Hyori. I like Lee Hyori (이효리). What's not to like? She's cute, she's a super-de-duperstar in Korea, she's really fun in her TV appearances.  She's great, right?  Plus, my "fetish bingo" post about her is one of my most popular posts ever (and the one where I most often have to clean up trolls' comments)

She makes awesome videos and super-fun songs like U-Go-Girl, which is one of my favorite K-pop videos, mostly because Hyori actually seems like she's having fun when she dances, while a lot of the popstars out there seem like they're just playing a role, or going through the paces their trainers taught them (especially live: they're just not having fun.  The farther down the alphabet scale (b-list stars, c-list stars) the worse it is).

She's great, right?  Absolutely... except...

she was on CNN.go on November 11.

and here's what she says, according to the subtitles, starting at: 0.25 or so.

Seoul is a city with a long history.  There are two sides.  Many traces of traditional things on one hand...but it is a well-planned city where you can also see many modern designs.  Koreans are racially homogeneous. It's always been about one culture and one ethnicity.  So we have a strong solidarity above anything else.  And there is the emotional attachment that Koreans call "jeong" which relates to the brotherhood of the race.  This "jeong" is what bonds us tightly and makes us think of one another as a single family.

So... she gets a chance to introduce Korea to the world.

And she chooses to introduce the one-blood myth as the thing that will make people decide Korea's awesome?  I mean, really?  "The best thing about us is that YOU can NEVER be a part of our club!  It's nothing you did; you were just born wrong.  Isn't that great!  Come visit Korea tomorrow!"

As a non-ethnic Korean who plans to live the better part of my working life in Korea, I'm really annoyed by this one-blood stuff.  Really annoyed.  Because while there are many ways to define what Korean society is and isn't, it's one of the few that draws a circle in which I will always be an outsider, no matter how well I speak the language, no matter how dutifully I perform the jesa and the other rites, no matter how many little Koreans (correction: half-Koreans) I bring into the world.    It was a useful myth to generate identity during the Japanese occupation, as well as to help Koreans sign onto Park Chung-hee's development plans... but now that non-Koreans living in Korea have topped the one million mark, and in light of the fact there's NO WAY Korea could have been invaded two thousand times (as it's told) without a little bit of invader DNA mixing into the pure Korean gene pool (p.s.: why is it called the "mongol spot" if Korean DNA is pure?  Shouldn't it be called the Korean spot?)...can we please retire the one-blood myth?

(more on the one-blood Minjok Myth from the Metropolitician, who points out that the one-blood method of encouraging national identity was led by Koreans who had been studying European fascism.  And more again about race-based nationalism.)

"We have a strong solidarity above anything else" -- really?  Because if the one blood thing is true, then North Korea's gotta be included in that solidarity, but most accounts of North Korean refugees don't seem to support that ideal solidarity.  And ask ten South Koreans if they would wish for North and South Korea to be reunified tomorrow, and watch all the backpedaling and equivocations you start to hear.  "It'll be expensive.  It was really hard for Germany.  I don't think our cultures are the same anymore.  Maybe if other countries provided a LOT of aid...  Well, on second thought let's not go to Camelot: it is a silly place."

I'm sorry, but I call bullshit on any one-blood solidarity talk as long as 400 000 South Koreans will come out for a U.S. Beef protest, without seeing at least double that coming out for every protest demanding accountability for North Korea, and the fact they are still operating concentration camps to suppress their own people...(or, in Hyori's one-blood view, "our brothers and sisters").  Didn't hear a lot of "let's reach out to our brothers and sisters" rhetoric anywhere after North Korea shelled that island last week. (More of my posts about North Korea)

And then, just in case we hadn't already gotten the message that Koreans are way more specialer than others, so we should visit Korea and hope to become cooler by association (but really, that won't work, because we have the wrong blood, so we can't be part of the club... but I guess we should still visit Korea to gaze longingly at the cool insiders)... she trots out jung.

Has she updated her views on Korea since 1983?  And is this really what she thinks will win the esteem of CNN.GO viewers for Korea?

Now Jung is an interesting idea - my favorite piece on Jung is from The Joshing Gnome, who wrote "What is Jung and how can we kill it" (part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5) in 2008: one of my favorite pieces of K-blogging, and so good I hope he tells me before he ever takes his website offline, so I can copy his series and host it on my page, wherever that is.

Basically, Jung is a feeling of warmth, affection and intimacy between two people.  It can come out of a lot of things -- it's been used as the reason split-up couples get back together (they're just used to being around each other), it can be used to describe the feeling of kinship that rivals eventually develop, and it can also be used to describe that feeling when you feel like you've been old friends with someone, even though you've only just met them, or the affection by which two old friends can pick up exactly where they left off, even though they haven't seen each other in twelve years.  It's the applicable word for the way you can take one group of five people, put them in a room together for an hour, and they're still strangers, and you can take another group of five people, put them in the same room, under the same conditions, and they'll come out friends for life (cf: The Breakfast Club).  Group B has jung.  The Breakfast Club had jung (and not a Korean in the lot of them, was there?)  Group A doesn't.

Now, because there isn't a word that carries exactly all those nuances in English (or in most languages,) I've been told by Koreans that jung is a uniquely Korean feeling.

I disagree: Jung is simply a uniquely Korean word... but here's another word that doesn't exist in English: "schadenfreude" (feeling happy when something bad happens to someone you hate - for example, the way I felt when I saw this video of Brett Favre)

Now, the fact schadenfreude is a German word doesn't mean that only Germans can feel schadenfreude.  Germans aren't the only ones to go "Yeah!  Brett Favre is really annoying!  That clip was awesome!  Maybe this time he'll stay retired!"  In fact, when I first learned the word schadenfreude, the feeling I had wasn't one of confusion and lack of understanding; the feeling I had was recognition: "So there IS a word for that!"

And it was the same with "jeong" - I was glad to learn the word, because it's a great, useful word that describes an aspect of human interactions in a clean, simple way.  It hits the nail on the head better than any English word I know.

I'm sorry, Hyori, but jeong doesn't relate to the brotherhood of the race, or you have to explain why most of my South Korean friends, as well as South Korean media, are trying to distance themselves from North Korea.  It isn't race-based at all, and making it sound like it's tied to Korean blood is ignorant, and wrong.  I KNOW jeong isn't race-based, because I've had classes of Korean students who just didn't get along, who filled hours of my life with awkward pauses and silences (and it wasn't because of their English ability: they were all intermediate) they just didn't have jeong.  They didn't talk together in Korean either, the night we went out for some beers, in a desperate hope that maybe that would get them talking to each other.  If jeong came from being Korean, they should have had it... but they didn't.

(And if Jeong comes from korean blood, will my kids have half-jeong?  Does the country we live in while they grow up influence that?  What about full-blood Korean international adoptees who can't speak Korean? What about ethnic Koreans in China? Do they have jeong? what about kyopos who can or can't speak the language?  What about a missionary kid who grew up in a Korean school and speaks fluently, but has blue eyes?  And when does jeong get passed from the (Korean) parents to the (Korean) kids, and can that only happen while physically in Korea, or while using the Korean language?  Could a non-Korean kid raised in Korea in a Korean family have jeong?)

And this kind of a description of Korean culture -- laced with undertones of racism and exceptionalism -- is badly miscalculated, if this is how you think viewers of CNN.GO will be convinced to like and admire Korean culture.

I like you a lot, Hyori, but you stepped wrong this time.  And I'm calling you out (fourteen days late).  And maybe the Hyori fan club is going to fill my comment board up with hate... but I'll just have to deal with that, because Hyori's view of Korean culture is outdated, and just ignorant, and as one of the people who is marginalized by the myths promoted in it, I WILL stand up and object to it.

I like you a lot, Hyori, and any time you want a private English tutor, just call me: we're the same age, you know.  But I hate what you said, and the way you think about Korean culture (if this is actually how YOU feel about Korean culture) because you're making me an outsider.

And I'm not.

Give Me Something To Read

givemesomethingtoread.com (easy to remember), is a great little website: the text version of "TED Talks" - another website everyone who wants the Internet to actually make them smarter, should have on their feed, or as their default page.  The topics are varied, chosen from reader submissions, some of the articles are longer - more than a blog post - remember back when we read magazines, and had attention spans?  And it's always worth reading - either thought provoking, or compelling, or sometimes even just charming.

Anyway, they have a "Best of 2010" special up, and if you're looking for some great articles, give it a try.

The articles I'm planning to read this week?

"What Makes a Great Teacher?"
"Can You Disappear in Surveillance Britain?" (relevant to Korea, too, where CCTVs have been put up over nearly every intersection over the last half-year)
"What Happened When I Went Undercover at a Christian Gay-to-Straight Conversion Camp"
"Secret of AA: We Don't Know How It Works"
"The Brain that Changed Everything" - how memory works

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I'm Smart, Really!

Hi, Readers.

I'm submitting applications to grad schools right now: I want to get into a Korean Studies graduate program, and some of the admissions people might be visiting this blog to see if the blog really is what I say it is...

So from time to time, you'll see this very post on the front page of this blog, in order that any inquisitive readers from the schools where I'm applying can look at some of my more analytical writings.

And if you want to leave a comment under this, and tell them how smrt smart I am, that would be nice, too.

If you are an admissions official from a school where I'm applying, you may look at this "Best of Roboseyo" page to see some of my better, or more interesting posts.  There are links to some of my favorite posts on the right sidebar.

Also, here are a few of the more extended pieces I've written.  While the writing style is not academic, please consider the content.

Social Commentary
Why do Expats in Korea Complain so Much?
Why do Koreans Get so Defensive?
Links to the full Complaining Expats/Defensive Koreans Series with Ask A Korean!
On Ugly English Teachers and Racist Korean Journalists
Freedom of Speech in Korea
On the (Ridiculous) Portrayal of Foreigners in Korean media
Weddings, K-Pop, Korean Food and Purity: Who Owns a Culture?
Seoul City Should Not Be So Sensitive about Lonely Planet's Criticisms
Student Suicide and the College Entrance Exam
Netizen Bullies Intimidating Foreign Bloggers into Closing their Blogs
North Korea

More of my favorite posts:
Should I come to Korea?
Get your K-blog noticed
Discussing things on the Internet sucks sometimes
Buddha's Birthday Festival is Awesome
The Jesa (제사) for my mother
Korea Needs Kim Yuna
How to Love the Heck out of Korea 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I Loves Me Some Anti-Heroes

Saw a top ten list of "the greatest antiheroes" while rabbit-trailing on the internet today.  And I'll let you in on something:

I love anti-heroes.  Love love love'em.  As you know, an anti-hero is a person who does bad things, but for whatever reason, still has the reader/viewer's sympathy.  Think of my current TV obssession: Dexter
(url: http://www.wallpaperez.net/wallpaper/movie/Dexter-Morgan-1574.jpg)
Yeah, he kills people, but he's such an interesting guy!

Now, these days, there are almost TOO many antiheroes - has Vin Diesel ever played anything but anti-heroes?  However, I love a likeable bad guy in a film.  They're just so interesting to watch.  And way more fun than watching perfect, golden boys and girls marching through plots like little, maddening paragons.

Because they always have to make the right choice, they never make any interesting choices.

I don't know exactly where the idea of the Anti-Hero started-- was Odysseus an anti-hero?  What about Titus Andronicus?  MacBeth definitely was, and his wife even more so.  Was it the devil in Paradise Lost?  Lord Byron's Childe Harolde?  Who knows.

Anyway, this top-ten list of "greatest anti-heroes" was fun to me... it includes Tyler Durden, Cool Hand Luke, Tony Soprano, Han Solo, Malcolm Reynolds from "Firefly" and "The Dude" from The Big Lebowski, and a few from TV shows I never watched.

I'm not sure if Malcolm Reynolds is really an anti-hero, though: my favorite line from the whole Firefly series (yeah, I'm a nerd: but I only watched it once through, OK?) was when he said,
"You don't know me, son, so let me explain this to you once:  If I ever kill you, you'll be awake. You'll be facing me, and you'll be armed." I think that puts him on hero turf, not anti-hero.  But that's just me.

I was a bit surprised at a few omissions on their list as well.  Maybe comic book readers didn't catch wind of this list, because Wolverine was nowhere to be seen.

My own favorite anti-heroes?  in no particular order:

Tyler Durden (fight club)
Batman (Frank Miller/Dark Knight version, not 1960s version: re-watch that show.  He's so durn preachy!  Here's a website that's collected all the times Batman lectures Robin in the old TV series)
Alex DeLarge (clockwork orange) - at the same time, one of the most evil, but also one of the most charming and attractive villans out there.  That Kubrick makes us root for him is enough to establish him as one of the greatest film directors out there.  That when Alex delivers the final line of the movie, we go "YES!  Wait!  NO!  Wait... huh?" makes Alex a permanent top-fiver on my antihero list.  I can't believe there are anti-hero lists that don't include him: my only explanation is that the person who wrote the list hasn't seen A Clockwork Orange.
Dexter Morgan (the TV show Dexter.  Season four is my favorite so far.)
Pick a Clint Eastwood Character - other than Million Dollar Baby and Bridges of Madison County, has Clint Eastwood played anything but antiheroes?  My personal favorite Eastwood Anti-hero is Bill Munny, in Unforgiven. (his best line: see 2:00 of this clip)

Anyway, show me a great anti-hero, and I'll hear you out.  Anti-heroes are great.

Tie it into Korea?  How's this: One of Korea's best movies ever, Oldboy, features one of the greatest anti-heroes out there, along with a badass yogi, one of the most greek-tragedy-ish, devastating endings, and one of the most novel ideas for torture, I've ever seen.

Plus, the hallway fight scene, which regularly gets listed on "manliest fight scenes ever" and is sometimes the only non-hollywood, or non-English film on the list, because it's just so dang epic.

skip to about a minute into this clip: it's all done in one take, and in case you doubted that our man Oh Dae-su was the baddest of badasses, yes, he fights the second half of the henchmen with a knife sticking out of his back.

Other Korean movies with pretty sweet anti-heroes?  Pretty much everything else by Park Chan-wook, along with Oldboy - "Sympathy for Lady Vengance" and "Thirst" come to mind.  I'm pretty sure "The Good, The Bad and the Weird" has a good one.  No doubt the "gangster" genre is full of them, but I don't know that genre of Korean film very well.

And in case you disagree with me that anti-heroes are more fun than heroes...

Which of these two songs is more fun?

"Hero" by Enrique Tightpantsonmyass

or "Bitch" by Meredith Brooks?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Man Ban Ki-Moon, He Got My Back.

Ban Ki-Moon has gone on record saying that Korea should scrap the mandatory HIV test for E-2 Visa English Teachers.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tribute to Evan, Kelly, and Matt: People Leave

"A Case of You" by Joni Mitchell: the line "I could drink a case of you, and still be on my feet" is one of the greatest lines in a pop/rock song ever. And other lyrics get quoted in the comments.

I always encourage my students not to ask the question "What's your least favorite thing about Korea" or "What's the worst thing about Korea?" when they first meet a new foreigner:  do they really want to get the conversation off on such a negative note?  And what if the answer to that question is something honest, or savage, rather than just another sideways compliment, the way it's often expected to be answered?

My "safe" answer to that question, for a long time, has been "The language barrier" -- it prompts a "fair enough" kind of reaction, and it shifts the onus from Koreans to "fix" something (for example, if I said "corruption") to me, who should really be studying the language harder.

Not long ago, my answer to that question changed: there's a new "worst thing about Korea" in town, and this is it.

People go home.

On facebook today, I discovered that it was Evan's birthday.  Evan's one of my boys.  Honestly, he's one of my favorite human beings.  He's smart, but humble, he has a faith that is strong but realistic, that gives space for others to be who they are, without sending his own moral compass aswing.  He was a loyal friend to me for about three years in Korea, and he was one of the few of my friends who'd call me instead of waiting for me to call them.  And he always had something good to say, something on his mind, worth talking about.

Evan (on the left)
We never ran out of conversation once.

He's also handsome:

You've read about him here before, at this post (Do Make Say Think concert), this post (Christmas) and this post (his birthday party)

It's been a year of attrition in Roboseyoland: Evan the bum-chin is not the only one who left, either.

Kelly NameChangedForPrivacy, whom you first met way back in 2007, has also flown the kimchipot.

Kelly was another really nice lady: I knew her when we were both WAAAAAY younger, back when I lived in southern Ontario, and she was one of the first Canadian friends of mine whom Wifeoseyo met.  Wifeoseyo was absolutely smitten with Kelly's warmth, down-to-earthiness, and sense of fun.  Kelly's another one who never ran out of conversation: she always had a story or a joke, and while she was ready to laugh at a good one-liner, she was just as ready to shoot down a lame one.

When Kelly decided to go back to Canada to get her teaching career in Canada rolling, well, it was a sad day for me and Wifeoseyo.  We got together and went to see the Rodin exhibit at the Seoul Art Museum by Deoksu Palace, ate the best Kongguksu I've ever eaten, and sent her off to church.

And now she's far away too.

Funnily enough, she and Evan were friends, too: you can see her here at Evan's party.


And last December, my best friend during my time in Korea, Matt, left as well.

This is the guy who not only pulled my fat out of the fire, but taught me how to recognize when my fat was in the fire, and how to avoid getting my fat in the fire for future reference.  He backed me up across South China, in some skeezy streets of Yokohoma, and in a few shady situations here in Seoul, too.  He and I shared some experiences that make great stories - stories of the type where people almost die - and also some stories that aren't dramatic at all, but involve things like grief, and heartbreak, and loyalty, and betrayal, and restoration.  The kinds of stories that bond a friendship for life.

And that's Matt.  He's my brother until I die.

Oh yeah... things got silly too.

And he left Korea, too.

Now I'm glad he's moving on to something bigger and better.  I'm glad he's living out the life plan he'd formulated in his head.  I'm glad he's busy loving the heck out of his fantastic wife (who happens to be another of my favorite people)... but that little, selfish, self-pitying part of me wishes he was still doing those things in Korea, you know?

So you know, life in Korea is good: it's a beautiful country with a bottomless well of things to enjoy, there's so much to learn about this place I barely know where to begin, and wifeoseyo is a stalwart, a wonderful support whom I love more and more...

people go home, though, and it's OK to stop for a bit, and remember them, and say "yeah.  Those were good times."

Maybe some long-term expats start to hunker down, and only hang out with other long-termers, because we get tired of the comers-and-goers.  Maybe that's what it boils down to... I hope that I never completely detach from the newcomers, I hope that I never become one of those smirking snarkburgers who makes fun of Johnny two-month and his "You know, I've noticed that Koreans are very competitive!  Especially in school!"... but then, every time another friend goes home, it gets a little harder to invest in then next Johnny two-month that comes along, lest he also leave after twelve.

Is this the sound of an expat turning into a lifer?  Maybe.  Maybe this is why many of the lifers I know mostly roll with Koreans, and the occasional other lifer.

I'm trying not to let that happen: one of my favorite poems in the world is Rainer Maria Rilke's "Be ahead of all parting, as if it were already behind you" -- and I think it's fine, well and good, to have some friends who come and go, as long as you can spot and lock onto the ones who are friends for life...

but it's still sad when someone goes.

Evan: happy birthday.
Kelly: we miss you.
Matt: brother, you'll always have a home wherever I am.

Hope you're all well.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

G20 In Gwanghwamun

F  rom the Nanoomi Party: I liked the bathroom.
There's a lot happening because of the G20.  I haven't been down to COEX, but my favorite iteration of the G20 so far is this one:

The cute older folks holding up signs are cute...




 but I LOVED the stuffed creatures:




Finally, I don't know what this guy's deal was, but I'm sure glad he drove by while I had my camera out.

In other news: ATEK sent out an e-mail recently:

Recently, some of you have received messages from your countries’ embassies regarding the approaching G20 Seoul Summit (November 11-12). These bulletins have cautioned that often, G20 meetings are accompanied by demonstrations, and extra police security, in different parts of the city. Previous G20 Summits have been met with demonstrations in their host cities, including outbreaks of violence.
To begin with, in Seoul, please be prepared for restrictions on pedestrian and driving traffic around the COEX complex around the time of the summit, from November 11-12, and before and after. Also, prepare for transportation delays if you live or work in that area.
Also, at the last major demonstrations in Seoul, the 2008 U.S. Beef/FTA protests, an English teacher was injured during a demonstration, not for provoking the police, but for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, during an outbreak of violence. ATEK would like to alert English teachers in Seoul to use common sense in the COEX area, where the conference will be held, as well as around City Hall and downtown Seoul. Please exercise caution and around large gatherings, or areas of increased police presence.
ATEK has sent communications to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency expressing our confidence that police officers will do their utmost to ensure the safety of English teachers caught up in protest sites, whether out of curiosity or intent to demonstrate.
However, we would also like to inform ATEK’s non-Korean members of parts 2 and 3 of Article 17 in The Immigration Control Act (see source here) which states,
(2) No foreigner sojourning in the Republic of Korea shall engage in any political activity with the exception of cases as provided by this Act or other statutes[1]
(3) If a foreigner sojourning in the Republic of Korea is engaged in any political activity, the Minister of Justice may order him in writing to suspend such activity or may take other necessary measures.
Please exercise prudence in the type and level of involvement you choose, if you attend demonstrations. Do this for your own physical safety, and also because the Immigration Control Act indicates the possibility of consequences for political action: this could put your working visa in jeopardy. Please make informed decisions about participating in demonstrations, and be aware of the situation at demonstrations, even if you are only there out of curiosity, to observe or take pictures.
For more information about your rights, and how to act during an assembly or demonstration, the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) MINBYUN, or “Lawyers for a Democratic Society,” has published two document, titled the “G20 Summit Manuals for Foreign Activists,” and "Demonstrating the G20 in Seoul this November?" which provides information about Korean laws and codes regarding assemblies and demonstrations. If you plan on attending demonstrations, either for observation or participation, we recommend looking through these two documents. First point: do not participate in violence.
If you are not a Korean, please also consider registering with your embassy, to be updated on important news or alerts concerning citizens of your country.
Following are some embassy websites (if your embassy is not listed below, you will likely find it here:
Australia: http://www.southkorea.embassy.gov.au/seol/home.html
Canada: http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/korea-coree/index.aspx
Ireland: http://www.dfa.ie/home/index.aspx?id=44447
India: http://www.indembassy.or.kr/
Indonesia: http://www.indonesiaseoul.org/indexs.php
Nepal: http://www.nepembseoul.gov.np/en/
New Zealand: http://www.nzembassy.com/korea
Philippines: http://www.philembassy-seoul.com/
South Africa: http://www.southafrica-embassy.or.kr/eng/index_eng.php
United Kingdom: http://ukinrok.fco.gov.uk/en/
USA: http://seoul.usembassy.gov/
Other embassy websites: http://korea4expats.com/Embassies-service.html

Finally, just in case you were wondering:

Wifeoseyo's dogs like me.  And I like them.


Monday, November 08, 2010

Nanoomi Party... Rocked!

So on Saturday night, I got in trouble with my wife.

I stayed out way late, and didn't have the consideration to call her and let her know where I'd be, or what I was doing.

Poor form, Roboseyo.  I cooked her pancakes the next day, and we biked around Samchungdong on our new bikes (more about that later) and things are all cool now...

But the party I was at...

oooh boy.

So Nanoomi.net is a website called a "bridge blog" - a blog attempting to bridge the cultural gap between the English language and Korean language bloggers in Korea.  They're affiliated with Tatter & Media, a group that syndicates a lot of power bloggers in Korea, and helps them connect with the kinds of promotional materials companies like to offer to bloggers, now that they've figured out that blogs have influence.  So if Samsung is looking for a super sexy, curly-haired blogger who likes dumb youtube clips, in order to give him a really sweet digital video camera, they'd be able to say "Oh. You should call Roboseyo, and give your free stuff to him!"

I contribute to the Nanoomi.net meta-blog, which is a kind of a who's who of the K-bloggers you've been reading on my sidebar.  I think it's a great, and actually a very important project: anything that's on its way to building understanding across the expat cultural divide is worth it in my book.  Once the blog is going strong, group translation will be the next step.  Awesome.  You can read about the party here, at Lee's Korea Blog (one of the people I met for the first time: looks way different than I expected), the first blogger on my sidebar to write about it so far (though it was mentioned by one of the co-posters at The Marmot's Hole: Mr. K himself attended as well).

Check out a write-up of the event, with tons of great pictures, at "my jimin story"

Now, it's a funny thing when bloggers get together: we go around the circle:

"I'm Rob.  I'm Matt.  I'm Mike.  I'm Anna.  I'm Simon and this is my wife Martina." and so forth.  And everybody nods politely, with slightly glazed eyes.  Then we go around the circle again:

"Roboseyo.  Popular Gusts.  Metropolitician.  Indieful ROK.  Eat Your Kimchi," and everybody goes "aaaAAAAAaaaaahhh!" and the party's on.

Who was there?
ooh boy... the ones I saw were...
and those are just the ones I spoke to/recognized.  Many of them, I met for the first time.

The author of the book "secret diet"
Indieful ROK
Seoul SubUrban
Mental Poo
The Marmot (and Robert Neff, one of his co-posters)
Lee's Korea Blog
Seoul Eats
Gusts of Popular Opinion
Fatman Seoul
KT Lit (Korean Literature in Translation)
Eat Your Kimchi
Paul Ajosshi (who performed magic tricks for some bloggers' kids who came)

... and if I missed you, pipe up in the comments!
sorry Stafford.

I liked most of them quite a bit.

And of course, there was trouble... started by yours truly.

Did you know my first Korean nickname was "troublemaker"?

It's true.

There were a few I wish had been there, and you know, I had to put up with my nemesis, Dan Gray, from Seoul Eats.  We even traded insults for a while.  Then we settled down and chatted: had an illuminating conversation.  Did you know his nose looks that way because of an inherited family genetic defect?  It's true.  I'm not just making that up right now.  He's also the only person in his extended family who snores at a volume below 60 decibels (55 decibels) because of this time when he was 23 and a little girl beat him up by punching him in the nose.  All true facts.  Serious.

So check out Nanoomi.net.  It's got an interesting thing going, it's building momentum, and I think it's going to keep getting better.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Sorry about the light posting

I know: the first death-knell of a blog is usually posts that start with "Sorry for the light posting"

don't worry, readers, I'm still in it for the long haul... thinking about what direction the blog will take next...

and things have been hectic.  I started my first Korean language class this week...

but this was just too awesome not to post:

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Cartoon about Hagwon

from @tsbray on Twitter, this is a flickr series that's an awesome portrayal of the hagwon life, as viewed by a student:

go see it on flickr: here's the first panel.


Here's the flickr page where you can see it all.