Wednesday, December 13, 2023

As 2024 Approaches…

 Hello dear readers. 

As I sometimes do, December has led me to start thinking back about what kind of a year 2023 has been… and thinking forward to how my (and your) 2024 might go… the whole thing inspired me to create one of those delightful word search puzzles you always see at the end of the year — the words you find in this puzzle will tell you how your 2024 will go! Please share the words you find in the comments!

Love you all! 


What words do you see?

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Seoul Subway Accessibility Check

 A few weeks ago, I went out to meet a friend named Crystal.

Crystal was a long-term expat living in Korea, when suddenly, a spinal problem surfaced that has put Crystal in a wheelchair, dealing with chronic pain, mobility issues, and all kinds of crap that goes with it.

I'd suggested a meeting on Facebook, and then volunteered to be a camera operator of Crystal and Tommy as they worked on a video about navigating Seoul's subway system. We went from Sadang Station to the KTX platform at Seoul Station -- KTX advertises itself as being wheelchair friendly and accessible -- and we decided to put that to the test.

Other than that, I think the video speaks for itself: Crystal and Tommy had good points to make during the trip, and it was kind of shocking for me, moving through places I've navigated many many times, taking  totally for granted my mobility, ability to use stairs, ability to walk a lot without getting exhausted. Give it a watch: skim, or watch minute by painstaking minute as we discover how much harder and slower it is to move through Seoul's public spaces.

Warning: there is one point where there is shoving and cursing, as a bunch of older folks tried to shove into an elevator without letting us off first. If verbal abuse and shouting upset you, skip from 41:00 to 43:00.

Here's the video. It might change the way you look at public spaces in Seoul. It was good to see my friend, but it broke my heart to see how much trouble it was to move around in a wheelchair (the rest of the trip, Crystal reported being refused repairs when wheelchair tires popped or got damaged, and, by the way, Tommy mentioned to me that the experience seen in this video was a totally ordinary day: not remarkably good or bad, for a wheelchair user, and remember that many folks in wheelchairs don't have someone like Tommy there to push them, and occasionally shout "Get out of the way!" for them.

Sunday, July 02, 2023

More on My Oma

 I wrote a very short note at the end of March that my Oma had passed on. Here is a video I sent to my Aunt, to play for her. She saw this video, and it made her smile, so I'm happy about that. It's a bit of a personal message, but you'll notice a few skips where I removed some details that weren't mine to share. I loved my Oma. She was great.

And here is a song I made for Oma, which was played at the funeral with a slide show. I wasn't able to attend the funeral because of the international flight and all that, but I'm glad I got to be present in spirit by contributing this song. Thanks also to my cousin Angela (who is awesome) for putting pictures together for the slide show played at the funeral... not quite the same slide show as the one you see here.

I hope you enjoy the two videos, or at least that they give you a few outlines in a portrait of my wonderful Oma, and maybe even make you feel grateful for people who have loved you... you might have read my eulogy to Oma's husband (Opa), which went up on this blog many years ago. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

My Oma died.

Oma is the Dutch word for grandmother.

I will add more later, but for now... I feel very very far away from my family in Canada.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Roboseyo leaving Weekly Review on TBS EFM, Squeezed Out by Budget Cuts

Hello Roboseyo fans!

I hope you've been well, and happy, and all that great stuff.

It's been an action-packed little while for me (as always?) but there's been one change that I want to talk about.

Starting in Fall of 2019, I began hosting Weekly Review, the one-hour weekly program that TBS Efm, one of Korea's English radio stations, runs in order to fulfill some legal requirement about media outlet accountability.

All fair and fine. It was... a fantastic experience, frankly. I started just a few months before the pandemic hit, and it was a little thing that kept me having things to look forward to, people to meet, things to get excited about, during all the very worst days of the pandemic, when my default would probably have been to become a Howard Hughes-grade shut-in. Instead of letting the days blur together and turning into a toad... I made new friends, deepened old friendships, acquired a new skill, found a lot of joy in hosting a radio show and making the show a place where a big variety of people felt comfortable sharing their views, and did a bunch of other stuff that made me happy, along with scads of laughs and jokes and smiles.

Well, you may have heard about the politics around TBS's budget problems -- as an outlet funded in large part by the government, TBS got in hot water when one of their Korean DJs said a bunch of stuff that the mayor of Seoul and the new President of Korea disliked, and they used their political pull to withdraw TBS's funding. The review show -- required by regulation -- survived even when a lot of other shows were either wholly or partly cancelled, but in the end, they ran out of money to pay a host (me), and I had to say goodbye to a gig that helped me enjoy my life.

On air, for my final signoff, I asked the producer if I could say a few things about the value that an English language radio station like TBS Efm brings to the culture of a global city like Seoul, and they graciously said I could, so just below, is a capture of that farewell address, for posterity, and in the hope that maybe it'll reach some of the ears that need to be reminded what an independent, non-education, non-news radio station can contribute to a local culture, as well as global views of that culture.

I have more opinions about it than that, connected to the idea of reprisals for free speech, the importance of a free press, and where exactly media outlets can turn for funding in 2023, when everybody wants content, but nobody wants to pay (except advertisers, which introduces a whole other set of problems), but I might save those comments for a future post.

For now, I want to say again, to everyone who listened, who appeared on air with me as a panelist, or who was on the other side of the soundproof barrier, in production, engineering, or whatever they were doing... thanks to all of you, for an experience I've enjoyed immensely, and hope to do again.

You can hear my full comments here!

And here's the text of what I said, in case anyone wants to read along.

That is all for our reviews this week! 

I’ve appreciated your insights I look forward to hearing more from you next time!

With that, we’ve reached the end of another episode of tbs eFM’s Weekly Review. Thanks to all of you for listening.

 Listeners, we’d love to hear your feedback, too. Our email address is: tell us your thoughts or say hello!

The team will be back again next week, Saturday, at 9am with more feedback and constructive criticism on all your favorite TBS Efm programs, but I have sad news for any of our listeners who have enjoyed my hosting during my time here.

Loyal listeners have surely noticed the way TBS budget cuts have squeezed out many of the programs listeners love, and that squeeze has reached Weekly Review at last. I’m sad to say that this is my last week as the host of Weekly Review.

For me personally, that's a loss, and for all the team members who've enjoyed working with me, and also for listeners who've enjoyed my hosting, hopefully, or my cheesy jokes by some strange bit of luck, but the greater loss is one that I’ve seen up close as a reviewer here at TBS Efm: strangling TBS Efm's funding has robbed Seoul, Korea, and people from every country who are streaming TBS Efm or listening online of an amazing resource.

As a reviewer, I’ve a huge variety of programs presented by TBS efm, and it's my job  and here’s the bigger picture: TBS Efm delivered a huge variety of perspectives on Korean life and culture, to a global audience, in real time, for hours every day, in a global language. 

A news or education or Korea promotion only station just can’t show the richness of Korean life the way TBS EFM could at its best. We had family stuff, comedy, chat, live music, deep analysis, conversation with listeners from across the globe, not to mention personal interviews with culture and thought leaders both big and small.

All together, tbs efm was much more than the sum of its parts. It was a window into all Korea is, could be, and might become. 

So… I’m not here to talk about the politics connected to the TBS EFM budget. 

I AM here to say Seoul, as a global city, is culturally poorer for cutting TBS Efm adrift.

So if you care that global audiences get to see Seoul and Korea as it really is, through the eyes of creative and interesting people who live here and love it… I encourage you to contact your local representatives, and let them know you’d like them to support TBS EFM.

It’s been an honor to work with the teams I’ve had here, and it’s been an honor to serve you, listeners, these three and a half years. THank you, all of you in the studio and everywhere.

And that’s it from me and from our team today. This has been Rob Ouwehand for Weekly Review. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, be safe, and support Korea’s culture by supporting TBS Efm.