Wednesday, May 31, 2006

E-mail Hoaxes

If you ever get e-mails that ask you to sign petitions, or offer free things, first check out Hoax-Slayer.Com to see if they are listed. All these e-mails do is waste people's time. I have been a sucker for them in the past... but it is time that people know. The last couple of e-mails that I got were about a petition to do with children in Africa being raped and killed and about a MADD petition. Both are listed on the site.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Not much I can say about it... other than it is on a girl's T-shirt.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Wooil Kindergarten (Yoochiwon)

I work at a Korean kindergarten school. I described it a bit in a previous entry, so I won't give all the details again.

The name of the school is Wooil Kindergarten or Wooil Yoochiwon (that is about how it is pronounced). Wooil's website is all in Korean, but if you can access it and go into the second link on the menu along the top, you can access some little video clips on what goes on in the school. There are five in total. They were all from before I started, but it will give you an idea of what the kindy schools are like here.
The school is right beside a grassy field (with a walking path) that goes through the area. Right now, at the school, there are several kinds of baby birds. I am not sure exactly what they all are, but there are baby chickens, and I think baby turkeys and quails. The chickens and turkeys are in a little cage out front and the quails are in a little heated incubator type thing just inside the entry. There are more eggs in the incubator, which I think are goose eggs.
The English Hagwon (academy/private school) that I work in is linked to the kindergarten. The name is LCC. It is about a 1 minute walk from the front door of the kindy school. I took the pic of the kindy school about half-way to LCC.

My classroom.

Harry, Julie, Brian and Anne.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Nanumui Jip: The House of Sharing

Today I went with my friend Dearbhla to the Sharing House. I think I mentioned it in a previous entry on my blog.
The House of Sharing is a place where several old women life. They were Japanese "comfort women" during WW2. They are Korean women that were kidnapped or conned when they were young, and put into Japanese soldier "comfort camps". They were beaten and raped every day by any number of men. Terrible. They are trying to get the Japanese gov't to publicly apologize and to compensate them. They Japanese gov't has only set up a public fund, 'the Asian Women's Fund' to accept public donations for the comfort women. The women would not accept that, though, and are pushing for Government compensation, since it was the Japanese government that set up the comfort camps.

There are not many of the women left. They say around 200000 Korean women were in the comfort camps (and up to 100000 women from other countries). Of those women, most died or were killed. I think around 200 were registered in Korea as having been in the camps, and of those, only a handful actually went public with it. At the sharing house, I think about 9 of the women reside. They are all in their late 70s or early 80s. The house is in the country. There is the residence, a meeting hall, and a 'museum'.

We got to hear the testimony of one of the women. Lee Oak-Sun is her name, I think. She was on an errand for her boss when she was I think, 16(?), and on her way, she was grabbed by two men, one Japanese soldier and one Korean (this was during the time of Japanese occupation in Korea). She tried to fight them off but could not. She was thrown into the back of a truck where several other girls were already awaiting their fate. They were put on a train for China. Then they were split into 2 groups. Lee Ok-Su was put with one other girl, onto another train. They were sent to a working camp at a construction site. She was resistant and tried to get away. She was then sent to a comfort camp. During her time there, she was stabbed and beaten numberous time. I guess the officers were the most offensive. One stuck a knife in her arm and twisted it to make it hurt more. She was beaten regularly, the blows usually to her face. She was beaten, tortured and stabbed in the foot when she was caught after running away. Running away did nothing, really, as she was in a foreign country with a different language, and no money. She had no idea how to get home. She saw other women being stabbed, and killed.

After the war ended, she still had no way to get home. She moved in with the family of a guy she had met at the construction site. She eventually married him. He was enlisted for the army during the Korean war and ended up somewhere in North Korea, never to be seen again. Lee Ok-Su eventually re-married. She finally was able to return to Korea only a few years ago. All of her family members in Korea are deceased, and they had listed her as dead, which meant that she no longer existed in the system. She had to fight to get her citizenship back and everything. If it weren't for the sharing house, she would have no home and no life.

Other comfort women had other experiences, some maybe better, some much worse. There were comfort stations all over Asia. To see the locations on a map is shocking. Most of the women have diseases from their experiences in the camps. If they got an std in the camps, they either disappeared, never to be seen again, or they were given mercury shots.Many people still say that it is all a lie, that the women are making up the stories because they want money. But is not only in their testimony, but also in the journals and testimony of many Japanese soldiers.

More information on the House of Sharing:
The House of Sharing

Other information:
Sex Slave Victims Bare Their Shame at 'Sharing House' The Korea Times By: Tim MurrayContributing Writer
(Chair, Asian Women's Solidarity Committee)

War and Forgiveness (see the script and the essay on The Korean Sharing House)
Korean Sharing House By: Judith Kampfner, WNYC
My Visit to the Sharing House By: Judith Kampfner, WNYC
Korean sharing house By: Judith Kampfner, WNYC

Saturday, May 27, 2006

a wedding

Today was Cindy (Yun-yi Song) and Tyson's wedding.

Cindy was soooo beautiful, of course.

Unlike the other weddings I have been to in Korea, it was held in a church. Tyson's parents flew in earlier in the week to attend the wedding.

After the vows were said, the newly married couple is required to bow to the parents and then to the guests, to thank them. This is Cindy and Tyson bowing to Tyson's parents... that is Tyson on the floor beside Cindy. What Tyson is doing is a traditional Korean bow; a symbol of respect. When the ceremony was finished, everyone had to stick around for some group photos. Then there was a buffet downstairs. While all fo the guests were busy eating, Cindy and Tyson were getting ready for the traditional Korean part of the ceremony.

Song Yun-yi in her wedding Hanbok, getting her hair done.

And Tyson waiting in his Hanbok.

The traditional part of the wedding is a private ceremony with the couple and the parents. Drinks are poured and offered and there is a lot more bowing. I didn't get to see it, but I have seen performances of traditional Korean weddings. On the table are traditional offerings... cookies, dried fruits and other such treats, and on the right side of the table, a tower of jujubes. The two things on the bottom right of the table are Cindy's hat and hairpin that go with her outfit. If I can get a photo of her in the complete outfit, I will post it. When complete, along with the hat and hairpin, there are fabrics (kind of like a very wide ribbon?) draped over the hairpin and in her hair, and red dots on her cheeks and one on her forehead. There is also a banner type thing that is draped over folded arms. It is quite an elaborate outfit.

Like any wedding, the weddings in Korea are beautiful, but I still don't like Korean weddings. They are much too impersonal. The ceremony is fairly short. Then, the guests head for the food, and then go home. There is no party or celebration after the ceremony. And the buffet meal is always rushed, as there is usually another wedding shortly afterwards. At the church, it wasn't as rushed as the Wedding Hall weddings (basically wedding factories), but there was to be another wedding a while later, so before everyone was finished eating, all of the food and dishes and tablecloths were being cleared out, so they could set it up again. At the wedding halls, the food is kept stocked, as before the guests of one wedding are even finished, the guests of the next one start trickling in. At the wedding hall weddings that I have been to, most of the guests didn't even pay attention to the ceremony... they talked the whole time. Some didn't even watch much of the ceremony. The stayed for a few minutes and then headed for the food.

Lego anyone???

This is what some people do when they have too much time on their hands. Cute.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

a concert

This evening I went to a traditional Korean music concert with some of my Korean friends (teachers at the kindy school). The performance was by SeoYun's professor, playing the gomungo. A gomungo is a traditional Korean stringed instrument, with 6 very thick strings (the kayagum is similar, but has 12 thinner strings). SeoYun studied music in University, and the gomungo was her instrument. The first part of the performance was her professor on the gomungo accompanied by a dansu (something like a recorder/flute) and then by a piri (something akin to an oboe in sound). The second part was a larger group: 6 gomungos, 2 bipas (other stringed instruments), one piri and one daegum (a wooden flute). Very nice.
After the concert, we went to a hof for some food (pig's feet, sausages and chicken) and beer (paid for by the professor) and then we went to another restaurant for some bbudaechigae (a delicious stew with spam, weiners, vegetables, instant noodles, and other things).

Monday, May 22, 2006

More on Egypt... Felucca

When I was in Egypt, I spent two nights, two days on a felucca (November 2/3). A felucca is an Egyptian sail boat. There were 3 French people, a German guy (Milan), an American guy (Mike) and I, plus the two captains and their 11 year old assistant. There was just enough room for us to all spread out and sleep. Sometimes I thought I would roll over the side when they were turning. It was amazing, though, the whole experience. It wasn't the most comfortable place to sit around all day, or to sleep, but the company was awesome. I didn't talk much to the 3 people from France because they didn't speak English and were only there for the first night. The second night, our felucca and 2 others beached at the same place. We had a fire going, and one of our captains had a drum. They were singing and dancing around the fire. There were some Egyptian songs, and then some in English that made us almost roll in laughter the first time they broke out into them. Think the tune of "she'll be coming around the mountian" to the words of "She'll be smoking marijuana when she comes... She'll be sailing on a felucca when she comes... etc." Then they were singing a variation of "In the Jungle": "In the felucca, the mighty felucca." They were also singing some Bob Marley. The younger guys were obsessed with Bob Marley.


I am really excited about the ball on the 3rd. It is pretty expensive, but it isn't often that I get a chance to go to a ball, with a great meal, and all you can drink. It is around $200 (CA) for the ticket, and I spent around $225 (CA) for my dress.
All of us girls that are going went dress shopping in Itaewon on Saturday. That is about the only place to find normal sized clothing in Korea. I was worried that I wouldn't find a dress, but I found one. It is empress style, dark red, satin with crepe on top. I do have to get it altered. This is the first time I have ever had to have anything shortened!!! Unless I wear 6 inch heels, I will have to get it a couple of inches shorter. It is that long.

After an afternoon of shopping, I met up with Cindy and Tyson. For those of you that don't know, or forget, I knew Tyson in High School, and then we worked together at Wonderland in Anyang for 6 months, my first year in Korea. Cindy worked at the front counter of that school. Their wedding is the 27th. They will have a church wedding ceremony here in Korea, and then another wedding in Canada in July. They kind of have to have two weddings, because all of Cindy's friends and family are in Korea, and all of Tyson's friends and family are in Canada. Unfortunately I can't make it to their wedding in Canada. I really wish that I could!!!

Anyway... I met up with them at Gecko's Terrace where they were just finishing up their drinks. We headed up to Gecko's Garden Restaurant (the other side of the street) for dinner. Others were supposed to arrive then, so we waited... and waited... and waited and had a pitcher of Sangria while we waited some more. We starving, though. After an hour and a half, it was getting rediculous. We decided to go elsewhere to eat. Of the people that were supposed to show, most had decent enough excuses. One however, decided to go out for dinner with some other friends first (who goes out for dinner before they go out for dinner???). She did show up right before we left Gecko's Garden, and instead of going with us to a better restaurant where we decided to eat, she stayed there with her friends. The others did manage to join us. We went to Memories, the German restaurant in Itaewon. It is run by a German man and his Korean wife. He makes everything from scratch, even the sausages and salad dressings. The food there is always great, even though the service isn't always the best. After eating, we then headed to the Rocky Mountain Tavern, a Canadian bar in Itaewon. There was a guy there from Sherwood Park, but he knew some of the people that Tyson and I went to HS with. He has a permanent home in Korea. He is a golf pro. He also has a house in Edmonton. He stays in Korea for the season, giving lessons (he makes twice as much here as he would in Edmonton), and then he does a golf tour around Asia. Sounds like a nice life!!!

Sunday I spent a while wandering around Lotte World, at Jamsil station, a couple of stops on the subway from where I live. I did find a couple of pairs of shoes (sandals). Originally I was looking at shoes that were a bit more expensive, but they didn't fit right. Then I was in the Lotte Department store looking around. I found a perfect pair of shoes... perfect except for the price. When I found out they were over $250, I kinda changed my mind about them. Instead, I bought 3 pairs of sandals (around $12 each), 2 that I could possibly wear with the dress (both black, one is more comfortable than the other), and one just because they are sooooo cute and I love them (something like metallic aqua(?) in color). I figured... since I was not buying an expensive pair, I could splurge and buy a couple. :)

I love shoes. I miss my shoes!!!!!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Somehow, on the weekend, I hurt my ankle. It might have just been from walking and running in the sand. I didn't twist it or anything, but Sunday morning when I woke up, I could barely move it. It has only gotten worse since then. Yesterday I headed to the doctor. I don't mind acupuncture, but when they put the needles into places that are already sore, it REALLY hurts!! I had a few needles in each ankle, and a few in my left wrist. I went back for some more again today. It hasn't made a difference, yet. It sucks because I still have to walk everywhere, and go up and down stairs. And, when working with so many little kids, it is hard not to play around with them. I often end up with a bunch of little ones attached at the ankles.

Hopefully I will be able to walk normally again by the weekend. I have some shopping to do. I need to find a ball gown. I am going to the Queen's birthday ball on June 3rd in Seoul, put on by the British Embassy. It is a very formal event, obviously. I am not sure how lucky I will be at finding a dress, though, as the options for normal sized people in Korea are limited. I might have to have something made. Either way, I don't have much time to get it all together. The ball is in two weeks!!!

Sunday, May 14, 2006


I spent the weekend on Hanagae Beach on Muuido (an island to the west). The beach was used in a Korean drama that I had seen the last time I was in Korea. There is a western style house to one side that was built for the drama. It also has the largest tidal flats on the island. For more info, check out Tom's blog.
Getting there was a bit of a trek. I had to go to the airport, hop on another bus, then a ferry, then another bus. The island bus driver told me to get off at the wrong place. I had no idea where I was, other than it was not where I was supposed to be. I wandered around for a while, and then stood around waiting for the bus to return. The bus is supposed to be around every 20 minutes. I waited a lot longer than that. A Korean family was in a little garden to the side. They asked me if I was going back into Seoul, because they were going home. They offered to drive me home. I said I was going to the beach, so they went back to what they were doing. When they were leaving, they decided that they would drive me to the beach, since the bus had not yet returned. Very nice people. A man, his wife, their daughter and her puppy. They live near me in Seoul, but have a garden on the island. They go there once a week.
In all, I think there were 24 of us , all foreigners. We had several little huts on the beach (on stilts). The guy renting out the huts wanted to put us up in the huts under the trees, away from the beach. He kept making excuses, but I think it was because they were trying to paint all of the stairs and frames of the huts on the beach. It is still the off season, so they are trying to get everything ready for the summer season. Because we demanded to stay on the beachfront, the front row still has to be painted. The huts were basically just a little room that slept about 3 or 4 people. Blankets and pillows were provided, that was it. It was comfortable with 3 of us in a hut. 4 might have been a bit crowded. The floor was heated, which was great.
Saturday was a bit overcast, and the wind off the sea was quite cold. We were almost all bundled up. A bunch of the guys decided to play a bit of a game of touch football. I decided to sit in my hut to warm up a bit, and wait for the others to arrive.
We all piled into a little restaurant on the beach for dinner. One table had seafood (clams and such) and the rest of us had samkyeopsal. Kinda like bacon, but cut thicker, and not smoked. You cook it yourself on a little grill in the middle of the table. Once cooked, you just take what ever piece you want of the grill, dip it in the sauce, and with onions or garlic or what ever else you want that is provided, wrap it up in a lettuce leaf, then stuff it all into your mouth. Yummy!!!
After a great meal, we had a fire going. Somehow, a bbq half drum appeared, and they were finding burning material from who knows where. It was great to have a bit of heat. A few people got quite drunk... some getting sick, others doing stupid things. Things such as almost jumping in the fire, and disappearing without telling anyone, sending everyone on a hunt to find him. He was found waist deep in the water, just standing there and yelling. At least he is okay.
After most of the group headed off to bed, we found a Korean guy that had been at the restaurant earlier. He brought us a bunch of drinks (we had run out and the shop was closed) and sat with us. He spoke no English, but was great fun. I have his hat. I was wearing it, and then when the rest of us were heading for our beds, he just said goodbye and left.... forgetting his hat. That's okay. I needed a hat anyway. :)
If he wants it back, he'll call. He has my number.
Today was basically a day of sleeping on the beach. It was quite a bit warmer today, so it was great. Even putting on sunblock several times, my legs and feet and my nose are a bit red. I love the beach... I love the sea... I love the sun.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

blood type

In Korea, they seem to base a lot on blood type. Each blood type (A,B,AB,O) is supposed to have different characteristics from the others.
The idea originated in Japan in the late 1920s, and later spread throughout Asia.
A friend of mine was was talking about guys. I guess she met a new guy, but then she found out that his blood type is AB. Her ex-boyfriend was type AB, so she won't date the new guy.
There is even a movie here, a romantic comedy, that has to do with blood type: My Boyfriend Is Type B (B형 남자친구).
Look around on the net and you will find tons of things to do with blood types and personalities.
Check out "Hey, baby, what’s your blood type?"

I'm type O. Want to know what that means???
Type O
Type O Blood people are said to set the mood for a group and to take on the role of creating harmony among its members. Their image is one of taking it easy, of being peaceful and carefree. They are also thought to be big-hearted and benevolent, and they tend to spend money on others generously. O Types are generally "loved by all." But, they also, surprisingly, have a stubborn and strong-willed side, as well, and tend to secretly have their own opinions on things. On the other hand, they have the
flexible, adaptable side of readily accepting new things. They are easily influenced by other people or by what they see on TV. They seem to appear level-headed and trustworthy, but they often slip and make big blunders inadvertently. But that is also the point that makes O Types lovable.

Monday, May 08, 2006

my tokki

Tokki loves to stretch out after running around bit. She is so funny. I only let her out in my living room. When ever I am walking, she is right under my feet; kinda as if she is chasing my feet. Also, she likes chasing her towel, where ever I drag it. Not sure what the purpose of the chase is, but she seems to enjoy it regardless.

One way to reuse jumbo cereal boxes (not easy to find in Korea):

{Mom... remind you of anyone???}

pine anyone???

Something that I have no desire to taste, what so ever. They seem to enjoy the taste of pine here. A lot of the toothpaste brands here come in pine flavor.


I tried to use a pine flavored toothpaste once. It reminded me of climbing the trees when I was younger, when my hands would end up covered in sap, and then I would try to eat... the taste of pine/spruce sap is HORRID and not easy to get rid of.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Friday night out

Friday afternoon, there was a LOKO football team fundraiser BBQ on the roof of Kieran and Dairin's apartment building up in Ilsan. Ilsan is about an hour and 45 minute subway ride from where I live. Not exactly nice trip. The BBQ started at 2 and we were there until who knows when, eating and drinking, and eathing and drinking. When it finally started to rain (long after the sun had set), a bunch of us headed to Soul Train, one of the local foreigner dance clubs. On the way, we picked up two Korean guys that spoke almost no English. Funny guys. They kept saying they were going home, and then they would all of a sudden be standing there again. They were soooo drunk. When Dearbhla and I finally left the bar, the two Koreans were passed out on plastic lawn chairs right outside the building, infront of a little convenience store.
We tried to wake them, but they wouldn't have it and just went back to sleep. At least they were under an overhang, and not right in the rain.


I miss Egypt very much. I wish that I were still there.
I loved the desert the most, I think. The sand of the Sahara is so fine, so soft. In a way it was like walking on warm snow... the top can turn into a bit of a crust, so if you walk lightly enough, you can walk on top of it.

Friday, May 05, 2006


My footprints in the sand of the Sahara Desert in Egypt, at the edge of the Great Sand Sea.
(taken in October 2005)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006



Well... Last week, I was out walking and decided to get a hair cut. It was decent... and cheap: around $10 (CAD). So, today, I decided I wanted color. I went into the same salon, and wanted something similar to what I had, which was brown, red, and blond streaks. They said they could only do two colors, not three. So I said just add red and blond streaks to what I had. I wanted a fairly light blond, and a dark red. I pointed at the streaks that I had before. They discussed it for a while and kept combing through my hair, looking at the different layers, and thinking. They were very nice. The girl that cut my hair before kept apologizing for not speaking English. She tried to explain things to me the best she could. I think she is around my age. The other is a bit older. They started by putting the blond streaks in my hair and then put brown dye everywhere else, to make it all the same color. They left that in for a while, then washed it out and sat me back down to put the other color in.
Anyway... to make the story short, my hair is not brown with pink streaks. Some of the streaks underneath are basically a dark shade of flourescent pink.
That is okay. I didn't really mind. I kinda like it, actually. Just kinda funny that I got something totally different from what I asked for. I paid 60000won for it (maybe... $65???).