Sunday, May 25, 2008

creepy sculptures

These sculptures are up in Ilsan. I saw them last year but didn't have a chance to take a picture. Then a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon them again.They still look just as creepy as they did the first time I saw them. I think if I were a little kid, they would probably give me nightmares!!!!!(click on pictures to see larger view)

Monday, May 19, 2008


Would YOU shop at a place called STUPID CHAR'S?????Where they sell "Ordinary Char's Clothes" (men's wear).Or how about EEEK???Both of these shops are in Apgujeong, in the Rodeo area.

Korean Education falling behind?

This is kind of shocking knowing the push they have to learn and study and get educated. They start studying at a very early age, as young as only 2 (at which point some schools are teaching them to start to write etc). Only last week, my kindergarten class had to take a big test. A 1.5 hour long test!!! With reading, writing, vocabulary, grammar, etc. Ridiculous!!!!
Once they hit elementary school (and often before then), they are sent to private schools after school to study more. Once they are in high school, many go to private schools and study until the wee hours of the morning. One math/etc hagwon that I used to live near had classes until 1 AM. The students then had to be up and back at school before 7:30 or 8 in the morning. They get homework from regular school as well as homework from the hagwons.
High School is often said to be the hardest as the competition to get into a good university is very tight. They base everything on which university they get into, with Seoul University being the best in the country.

Korea Near Bottom of the Class for Education
May 16, 2008
Korea ranked high among world countries in higher education achievement but near the bottom in quality.
In the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2008, published by the International Institute of Management Development in Switzerland, Korea is ranked a poor 53rd among 55 nations in terms of university education meeting the needs of a competitive economy, one of the indices that indicate quality levels.
In contrast, the country ranked fourth in the percentage of population that has attained at least tertiary education for people aged 25-34. That brought Korea's overall ranking in education competitiveness to 35th among the countries surveyed, down six notches from 29th in 2007. The country's ranking in education competitiveness has been yoyo-ing from 44th among 60 in 2004 to 40th in 2005, to 42nd among 61 in 2006 and 29th of 55 in 2007.
Competitiveness rankings were given according to compatibility with a competitive society, qualified engineers available in the labor market, and knowledge transfer between companies and universities.
Korea ranked a high fifth in scientific infrastructure, up two notches from last year, and top in patent productivity, a gauge of patents granted to residents or research and development personnel in business, fourth in business expenditure on R&D, and fifth in total expenditure on R&D out of GDP.
The country came 14th in technological infrastructure, down eight notches from 2007, due in large part to lack of sufficient technological regulations and cyber security. Korea ranked the lowest among 55 nations in the IMD survey on whether technological regulation supports business development and innovation.
( )

game addiction

Every now and then there comes some sort of news article to do with the results of game addiction in Korea. People can even die as a result of game addiction. This one is horrible. I can't imagine ever even considering leaving a baby at home alone!!!! It's an older article but for some reason has been viewed a lot recently.

Infant Daughter Dies as Parents Play Online Game
June 14th, 2005 Chosun Ilbo
A thoughtless couple in their 20s who left their four-month old daughter at home while they played Internet computer games at a nearby PC café have been booked by police after the child died.
According to Incheon Police Station on Tuesday, a 29-year-old man husband identified by his family name of Yu and his wife put their four-month daughter in the bedroom of their home and went to a neighborhood PC café at around 4:00 p.m. on May 24 to play the online game "World of Warcraft.
Time flew by as the couple lost themselves in the game, and when they returned home at 9:00 p.m., their daughter was lying on her stomach, dead of suffication.
The couple told police, "We were thinking of playing for just an hour or two and returning home like usual, but the game took longer that day."
Police said an investigation turned up that the couple, who wed last year, used to play "World of Warcraft" whenever they had time.
Police said, "It's unfortunate, because the tragedy could have been averted if the couple had just left their daughter with Yu's mother-in-law, who lived upstairs from them... We booked the pair on criminal charges, judging that when you consider the situation, they were responsible for their daughter's death."
Major U.S. online game producer Blizzard, which grew famous with the game "Starcraft", produced the game to which Yu and his wife were addicted, "World of Warcraft." The game allows multiple players to form teams to fight battles and enjoy various adventures.
(Lee Yong-su, )

Friday, May 09, 2008

Lantern Festival

This past weekend was a long weekend - May 5th was Children's day. Next weekend is also a long weekend - May 12th this year is Buddha's birthday. Every year to celebrate Buddha's birthday, there is a week long festival. This past weekend was the beginning of the festival. Sunday was the big day with all sorts of activities from traditional performances and traditional arts and crafts to temple food tasting.Once in Insadong, we wandered around a bit and stopped to check out one of the performances - a form of Lion Dance. Really cool. [For something really cool, check out some of the clips from the World Lion Dance competitions - AMAZING!!! Check out how they mount the poles that they dance on.]Kinda cute. They even had the lions stalking and pouncing on a little toy rabbit. I could SO see my cat in the actions.
I missed out on the lotus lantern making but did get to make mini lotus flowers. I finished just as it started to rain.[at the temple gate]
I went over to the local temple to wander about for a bit.[golden Buddha - there are 3 of them][carvings on temple doors]They had 1000 (+?) lanterns in the shape of a lotus flower in front of the temple (and basically covering the entire area).[I LOVE how it looks like a rainbow lantern tree!!!]I love the lanterns!!![traditional Korean music and performances]
Then it was off to watch the parade. It is a huge parade, usually lasting around 3 hours (7-10PM) and is followed by a concert and dancing in the streets.The street was lit up with giant balloons.As the parade was starting, there were people handing out free things such as little plastic fans (advertising some company or another) and little collapsible plastic candle lanterns. I got two as the first one didn't have a candle, and as I am a foreigner, there was a search on for another one. :)For the most part, it is a Buddhist parade with monks, and throngs of people carrying all kinds of lanterns.Many (most) were dressed up in the traditional Korean clothing - Hanboks.There were giant lit up floats of Buddhas, dragons and such.[Buddhist symbol][a pagoda that grows and shrinks][Chonjang Chonwang, Guardian of the South]
A few of the groups were International Buddhist groups - Thai Buddhists, Cambodian Buddhists, Tibetan Buddhists, etc. I always enjoy the parade. It would have been much nicer, though, if the weather was more cooperative. It was windy and cold with bits of rain now and then. Kinda put a damper on the enjoyment. Oh well. I loved it all anyway. :)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

spring flowers

From an evening walk after teaching in the Yongsan area.(alongside the national museum in Ichon-Dong)