Friday, June 30, 2006


I have decided that I want to go to Shanghai for my 7 day vacation (I don't have a full week/two weekend vacation, I have two half weeks around one weekend... unfortunately). I have been looking at prices and such. I will probably go on a Korean tour. The tours are advertised in the newspapers here. The trips include flights, hotels, tours and such, and cost less, or the same as the flight tickets alone. Not sure how that works, but that is the way it is. I am working out a way to do a 3 or 4 day tour and then extend the flight home to a few days later, in order to have some time to explore either more of Shanghai, or to the surrounding towns/what ever. Some tour companies will not extend the flights, as they have small private flights. Another (a 399000 won, 4 night tour) says I have to pay an extra 150000 won to change the flights from the set tour dates. Even then, it is around the cost of the flights alone. Of course, I will also have to pay my own way for the hotels for the extra nights. My boss has been looking, and phoning around for me, trying to find the best deals. I have such a great boss.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Harisu (and others)

My first year in Korea, Harisu was always on TV, hosting programs, or singing. Her first album, Temptation, was released in 2001.

a photo of Harisu from an article about...
Transgender Singer to Do Menstrual Pad Ads

Harisu was born male, but underwent sex change surgery at 23.
Harisu is officially female: she had her ID changed to indicate that she was female.

She's a Lady
You have to admit... she's gorgeous!!

I remember during my first year in Korea,
I was told "there are no homosexualists in Korea."

Also in Korea:

Manufactured Transgender Pop Group 'Lady' Set to Debut

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Korea's last game in the 2006 FIFA World Cup

Well, Korea lost to Switzerland. One of the goals, however, was questionable. The Korean team stopped after seeing an offside call made by the linesman, but not aknowledged by the Ref. During the confusion, the Swiss team got their first goal. Terrible.
This was what I missed, due to a pounding headache, Friday night. I think half of my friends made it into the Seoul World Cup Stadium, as they went earlier. Then the gates were closed due to too many people. So, the rest of the group went downtown.
Chosun Ilbo:
Soccer fans gather to watch a live TV broadcast of the 2006 World Cup Group G soccer match between Korea and Switzerland on a giant video screen installed at Gwanghwamun, downtown Seoul, on Saturday. /Yonhap

BBC News (UK):

A sea of red gathers to watch the match on a giant video screen outside Seoul City Hall in South Korea.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Be The Reds... today at kindy

Some of the Squirrel Class (Korean 6 year olds): My first class this morning was FULL of red. (This isn't all of them.) I think only 2 students in the class were not wearing red.Navigating the hallways between the classes and during my lunch break is often a bit of a chore... with numerous students clinging to my legs or my clothes, or just crowding around me. Some of the Korean teachers say it is as if I am somebody famous.Taking photos is not always easy, when students are continuously trying to get into the photo. It is almost impossible to take a photo of just one student, as other students try to jump in or stick their hands or things infront of the camera. Or, there are still kids attached to my legs and clothes, so it is difficult to have a steady hand. Today I actually had to pick up some of the kids in one arm, and take the photo with the other in order to actually get a picture. But then other students were still pushing or pulling or trying to grab my arm. This is one of the students from the Roe Deer class (Korean 5 year olds). She is sooooooooooo cute!!! (and tiny)

a lucky year for weddings

from CNN's 'Year of Widow' spurs wedding rush

The anomaly in this lunar year is that it includes two first days of spring, one at the very start last January and the other at the very end early next February. Korean fortune tellers say that, in years this rare, water will flow along dry river-beds. Having two springs in a year creates prosperous energy and means it is a good time to get married," said Kang Pan-seok, vice-director of the Korean Fortune Tellers' Association. Kang said the double-spring phenomenon had only occurred 12 times since 221 B.C.

And the rush is on to get hitched this year because fortune tellers call the 2007-08 lunar period the year of the widow.

Japan's fertility rate

Found this article... very interesting.
No sex please, we're Japanese
I think that the fact that Japanese women are working more, and are better educated now, might be a reason that I'd more likely believe. Or the fact that it is just very expensive to raise children.


I am supposed to go to the stadium again to watch the Korean/Swiss game... but might not make it due to a pounding headache. :(
The game is once again at 4am. I'm not sure I'd make it that long, even if I did go. This morning, I woke up exhausted!!

more photos from the last game (very early Monday morning)

a quick nap before the (4 am) game
Korea's team cheering for the team
Jae-Sun (elephant teacher) and I Kelly (English teacher at kindy and LCC) and I

More photos from the World Cup Stadium June 18th/19th.

Monday, June 19, 2006


By the time the game was over, it was already daylight. I got home about 2 hours before I had to work. Kelly had to go straight to another teaching job that she has before the kindy school, and the others all headed to the school (they had a change of clothes there) to get ready for the day. They start a little earlier than I do, as they have to watch the kids as they are arriving.
It was a LONG day. It is not easy dealing with so many little kids (around 350 of them) without getting a good night's sleep. At the kindy it wasn't so bad, as I only spend 15 minutes in each class, and it was workbook day. LCC was a bit more difficult, as I have each class 20 to 30 minutes, and then I have 2 breaks, during which I kept dozing off, while the kids were playing in the room.

Seoul World Cup Stadium

I watched the Korea/France World Cup match at the Seoul World Cup Stadium (Seongsan). We arrived there at 10pm on Sunday, when it became free to enter (before then, you had to have tickets). I went with 8 of my friends (all co-workers at the kindy school). One of them, Kelly, is the other English teacher at the after kindy hagwon. The others speak little or no English. Of course, we were all dressed up for the occasion: red shirts, devil's horns, bandannas, and what ever else we could put together (red earrings, hair bands, etc).
Being that the Korea game wasn't until 4am, we had plenty of time to waste. They showed two matches before our game started: Brazil vs Australia, and Japan vs Croatia. The entertainment between matches, and during half times, was interesting. They had several famous Korean singers performing, each only about 5 minutes. People were still pouring into the stadium right up to 4am when the match started. The place was packed full.
Well... it was a 1:1 draw between Korea and France. Now I am VERY tired, but have to go to work. Yay for me. That's okay. It was worth it.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

the local beggar :P

It isn't the only one... there are a few of them that stick around waiting for the food to fall out (or be tossed out) of the cage. Many people here are scared of the pigeons... they think of them as flying rats. That isn't unique to Korea, though, as I know many people that are afraid of the birds.
When ever I see them... all I think is that if they were in Egypt... they would be food.

Dae Han Min Guk

FIFA World Cup Germany 2006
Korea played Togo on the 13th and won, 2 to 1. They will be playing again, against France, on the 18th at 9pm Germany time, which means on the 19th AT 4AM KOREAN TIME!!!! You can pretty much guarantee the entire country will be VERY tired on Monday!! I will be doing an all nighter with some of the other teachers from the kindy school. We will go downtown Seoul to watch the game on big screens that will be set up. The plan is to meet at 10pm on Sunday to head in, but I am hearing that we might be going in as early as 6pm, because of the crowds that are expected. For the game against Togo, every stadium was full of Koreans all wearing red, watching the game on big screens. I think all of the parks in Korea were also full of red, with big screens set up to watch the game.
In Korea, it is as if the World Cup 2002 is happening all over again. They have the same attitude now, as they did when the games were held here. Everyone is dressed up in their red T-shirts and their devil horns and anything else related the the Red Devils. The Red Devils are all of the fans of Korea's team.
Summer 2002 was an amazing time to be in Korea.

(my dad's creation, 2002)

(Cindy and I during the 2002 World Cup in Korea)


Korea is great for getting things for free. I remember my first year here, I bought a pair of jeans and got a towel set as a gift. "Service" is what they call it. If you buy nail polish, you often get cotton pads as a service gift. If you buy make-up, you get little sample bottles of skin creams and serums. If you buy a box of cereal, often times there are things taped to the box, such as little bowls, spoons, mini boxes of cereal, toys, Korea "Fighting" banners for the World Cup, and any number of other things. I have bought frozen mandu (dumplings) with big plastic spoons or a second bag stuck to the bag. I have a little kitchen magnet towel and an oven mitt that were attached to a bottle of lotion.
Tonight I had a free facial. Every Tuesday in the parking lot of the apartments, in front of my kindy school, there is a bit of a market set up. This past Tuesday, some ladies were handing out flyers and had surveys to fill out. My co-worker, Kelly and I filled out the surveys and signed up for the free facials. Yes, it was a full facial. I guess Kelly does that fairly often... finds cosmetics companies that are advertising, and get free facials. Of course, you can't keep going back to the same one. Then we went for some pizza a Pizza Hut. We had a potato pizza, with a sweet potato cheese bite crust (around the outside of the crust). Not bad.
Then I bought a pair of earrings and got a hair clip as a service gift. And I got a pair of football/soccer ball earrings for half-off because I am a foreigner. Yay.
Yet another person asked if I am Russian. I had actually just been telling Kelly about people thinking I am Russian in Korea. She didn't quite believe me, I think. And then she heard it for herself. Why do people here think I am Russian???

Sunday, June 11, 2006

hwajangshil (WC) (at Club PC)

Another Saturday night in Seoul

I went to a stagette party Saturday night for Sybil (the only one not wearing a black/dark shirt). I had never met her before, but she is a friend of a friend. Due to rain, some of us were thinking of not going out, but in the end decided what the heck, and we all went.
The evening started out at an English pub in Hongdae called The Queen's Head. It took us a bit to find it as it was raining and we had no idea where we were going. We did make it, though. At the Queen's Head, we had wine and food (the menu was limited, but the food was good). Then we headed to a little bar called Liquid where we sat in a corner area on little cushions around a table. We had Sangria and a cranberry cocktail. Both yummy. The waiter wasn't so bad, either!! (Sorry, no pics.)
After we had our fill of Liquid, we headed for another place to haunt. We tried to go to a place called the "Wee Bar" but found that it was no longer there. So, we went to Club PG where it was 10000won for all you can drink. As it was still early in the evening (10ish) the place was completely empty. Not a problem. More space for us to dance. :)
The problem with the place is that it is in the basement and is not well ventillated, so it got very stuffy and hot. Also, the music was a bit louder than necessary, and left all of our ears ringing.
When we all finally decided we needed some fresh air, we headed for BricxX. BricxX in Hongdae is similar but much larger than the BricX in Itaewon. BricxX is all atmosphere and all about comfort.We had shots, Cosmopolitan martinis and an apple sheesha for us all to share (you each get a little plastic mouthpiece for it). Being the women that we are, and that it was a stagette party, we were on a mission to have as many guys as possible, remove their shirts. We started with our young Korean waiter. We picked on both of the waiters and the Moroccan chef, but concentrated our energies on the younger one. He was so shy and embarrassed about it, but you could tell he was loving it. They all were. We managed to get a few buttons undone. :P He very quickly fixed it, though, and the tie went back on.Then 3 guys (2 Irish and 1 Australian) wandered over to our table, probably jealous of all of the attention that the Koreans were getting. They obviously wanted in on the action. With very little coaxing (and an offer of a beer each), their shirts came off. They knew what they were getting into when they showed up at our table.
When the sheesha was finished and our drinks were empty, we decided we needed some more dancing. We tried to go back to Club PC, since we had the wrist bands to get in, but it was already closed. So, we went to The Bar in Shinchon. The Bar is a little bar in the basement of a building. It is a very popular little place. Some of my other friends were there, as well. We got more guys to remove their shirts with no coaxing at all. What's the big deal. They're men. Who cares if a guy takes his shirt off.Once again, it was daylight when we finally decided to call it a night. I got home around 9am. So much for getting anything done on Sunday.
More photos of the evening.

rock, scissors, paper

A perfect way to settle any arguement.
Rock, scissors, paper (also known as rock, paper, scissors, or paper, rock, scissors, etc.) is not just some kids game. It is a serious game. There is even a world championship for it every year in Toronto. Check out the World RPS website where you will find the official rules, strategies, and information on tournaments, among other things.
Rock, scissors, paper is a very popular game in Korea. Children often play it in their breaks,, or when divvying up snacks or what ever. It is a great way to solve disputes in the classroom. There is never any arguement over the results of a rock, scissors, paper game. The obsession isn't just with the kids, either. Even the US legal system sometimes employs this little problem solver. Imagine that! Other big disputes have also been solve with the little game (found on Wikipedia's rock, paper, scissors page):

One high-profile strategic opinion came in 2005 from Alice Maclean, age 11. When rival auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's agreed to play rock-paper-scissors to determine the rights to a highly valuable art collection, Maclean's father Nicholas, a Christie's employee, asked her for advice. As later told to reporters, her strategy was summed up thus: "Everybody knows you always start with scissors. Rock is way too obvious, and scissors beats paper." (Christie's won, with scissors.)

Try your luck with the online rock, paper, scissors game.
For a little rock, scissors, paper humor: Rock, Paper, Saddam

Friday, June 09, 2006

Is that so???

From the cover of a brochure received at the Queen's Bday Ball. No, it isn't a Korean company.

cute kids

Chae-Yun is one of the students in the Squirrel class (Korean 6 year old... meaning 4 or 5 in normal age). She is soooo cute, and very sweet. She is one of the students that actually pays attention (well... most of the time, anyway). When she sees me in the hall, she always follows me around (like many of the students do). (Her teeth do need some work, though.) He is in the Hippo Class (the younger of the Korean 5 year olds... basically all of them are 3).

kids and their teeth

One thing that I have always noticed in Korea is how bad many of the kids' teeth are. They range from spaced out, to black, to completely metal mouths (fillings). The kids are all so cute... but their teeth leave something to be desired. Once they loose their baby teeth and their adult teeth grow in, for the most part, all is well. I have heard that the problem stems from the fact that Korean women don't drink enough milk, or get enough calcium when they are pregnant, resulting in very weak baby teeth. It could also just be due to the huge amounts of sugar that the kids are ingesting. Everything for kids here is super sweet. They eat a lot of junk food and sweets. They are constantly eating candy and ice-cream and super sweet yogurt drinks. As a rule, the kids have to brush their teeth after lunch at the kindy school, but by they time the start going, their teeth are already shot. It is kinda sad, actually.

This is Andy, a student at LCC. Cute kid, but a troublemaker!!!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Happy Birthday to me...

Well, another birthday has come and gone. It kinda sucks that it was during the week, as most of my friends work and live too far away to have done anything. The kindy school had a cake for me, which I had with some of the teachers after I finished teaching at LCC. Then I watched them make practice runs through a lesson that they will all be giving later this month in front of all of the parents. When that finally finished, some of the teachers and I went out for some shyabu shyabu. I guess it is actually a Mongolian food (that is what they were telling me). I have heard several different ideas of where it originated, though. After we all had our fill (it really is filling), 3 of us went to a noraebang for some singing fun. The others all had to head home for one reason or another (married, kids, parents, etc). Anyway, it was a fun evening.

school bus

Wooil kindy school has several school buses. Here you can see the "Pooh bus", the "Mickey bus", and the "Donald bus". There is also a "Goofy bus". The drivers all carry the nickname of the bus they drive (although I'm not sure they know that). They somehow each resemble their character. It is kinda funny actually, if you actually meet them, or see them. A bit difficult to explain though. I suppose it's kind of like an inside joke. You have to be there.
The buses run for the kindy kids as well as the LCC and Taekwondo and all of the other students taking what ever else is offered (piano, swimming, ballet, etc.???) The drivers also double as swimming and Taekwondo instructors, or maintenance men or what ever other position is needed.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Queen's Birthday Ball

Last night I went with 9 of my friends to the Queen's Birthday Ball, held in the ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul. It was an amazing night. I am so glad that I went.
The entrance to the ballroom:
... yes, that is real grass on the floor!!!

Not only was there grass on the floor at the entry to the ballroom, there was also sod on the tables... in the centre piece and on a plate at each setting. (Not for eating!)
We had table #1!!! The good thing about table 1 was that we were right near the corner, in front of the sculpture garden, so there were no tables behind us. Me and the giraffe:

We didn't win any of the raffle prizes or the spot prizes, but we did win the table quiz contest. We tied with one other table, and so they had someone choose random numbers and we won... we each got a bottle of champagne. Yay. There were also gifts for attending, make-up for the ladies (Chanel) and alcohol for the guys (Ballantines).

The entertainment for the night was THE LIGHTYEARS, an awesome band from England. If you are interested, a couple of their songs can be downloaded from their site.

They were great! Very talented musicians. And of course they are all hot as well. Watching them on stage, other than the great music, the first thing I noticed was a certain set of eyes. ;) Too bad photos can't really capture things like the glow of a person's eyes. ANYway... we were all quite impressed with the band.

We got to talking to them after they finished playing. I think they were quite happy to meet some people to hang out with, to show them another part of the city. It was their first time outside of Europe. The ambassador flew them to Seoul for the Ball. We all went to Itaewon to one of the clubs there for some drinks. Then it was off to a Noraebang (Korean karaoke). Yes, they had been singing all evening, but they were up for some more... a different kind of singing. Less pressure, more just plain fun. And, of course, our champagne helped!!!

John (sometimes plays with the band... bass guitar), me, Chris (piano and vocals) and George (guitar and vocals). The drummer, Tony, decided not to join us and he went back to their hotel for the night. John and George are brothers. They are all really cool guys to hang with. We all had a lot of fun. I think we wore them out, though. We left the Noraebang at around 8:30am, I think!!! 4 hours of Noraebang?

More pics of the evening.