A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Dang

So I only found out yesterday that Muse, Damien Rice, L'arc~en~Ciel, Ocean Colour Scene & The Chemical Brothers are playing a 3 day festival in Incheon this weekend, about a half hour away.

I am left ticketless.

Life is shit...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Nature Calls

I could write a book on Korean kids and dung. But it would just be a thousand questions without an answer to the proverbial WTF?

Literature and collectibles abound (I bought a Dongchimee pencil case at the Dalki store in the COEX) and furthermore, there seems to be a generally-accepted sound affect for evacuation.

Joseph spelled it for me as "buzizic" (buh-je-jic).

That is the dung sound. It was sadly not an isolated case of one boy's madness and class-clownism.

Now I know.

My file is growing.

On another, eventually-related note, Korean kids tend to be very patriotic. Even very young ones have an opinion on the fierce territorial debate between Korea and Japan on the Liancourt Rocks in the East Sea/Sea of Japan, known as Dokodo or Takeshima respectively.

I've been asked numerous times by the children if I think "Dokodo" is Korea's or not. When I respond that I don't care, they are shocked.

I explain my traveler's neutrality to the best of my ability, amounting mostly to "it's none of my business, I'm not Korean or Japanese."

Many other historical sites in Korea are so old and culturally instilled that the kids are shocked that I don't know about them.

"Teacher! You know Mount somethingsomething???"

"Nope."

"!!!"

"I've never heard of it."

Joseph, 13 and so more nationalistic, seemed almost angry that I didn't know about this random, but reputedly amazing Korean mountain.

"Why you don't know?" he challenged me.

"I'm a guest in this country Joseph, I'm not a citizen. Your history isn't mine."

"..."

"Do you know about Gros Morne?" I said tossing some Atlantic Canadian landmarks at him.

"..."

"Bras D'or?"

"..."

"Sable Island?"

"..."

"Kejimkujik?"

There was a beat of silence as if the set-up had been intentional.

"Buzizik?"

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cash or Charge?

Koreans kids love to poke each other, and by extension me, in the arse. See: dung-chip.

Despite the fact that I'm obviously having none of it, they still try and get their shots in when the opportunity arises.

Today, Joseph unleashed a secret move the likes of which has never been seen before.

He calls it Card Slash.

The principal is similar to dung-chipping, but the execution is more like swiping a credit card through a scanner, only the credit card is a karate-chop gesture, and the scanner... well, you can read between the lines.

It's now the shenanigan-de-jour during breaks between class.

Metaphorically speaking, the 5-minute crack between two 40-minute classes must be filled with something— why not a card slash?

No one has yet performed the move on me and lived to tell the tale.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fan 2: Low, Medium, DOOM!

My fan committed suicide last night.

There was a horrible, prolonged screech as the motor choked on its own bits, followed by a final rattling that sounded like a stick across a picket fence, then the unmistakable stillness of death.

It was a hot night to come.

Today, in the interest of not meeting the same end as the ex-fan, I headed to the neighborhood appliance shanty to find a suitable replacement.

There were sales upon sales, and I settled on a sturdy-looking powder blue affair.

When I got it home I checked out the instructions and found many helpful illustrations letting me know exactly what I shouldn't do with my new fan.





Now, I can't read Korean... so I don't know if this is straight-up saying "YOU WILL DIE IF YOU SLEEP WITH YOUR FAN ON!" but the threat is surely implied.

Fan death is apparently a commonly believed urban legend in Korea, that I'm sure every blogger whose ever been to this country for an extended time has written about in disbelief, so I won't waste much time.

The basis for the danger is thinly explained as being either related to carbon dioxide, vacuums
or hypothermia— warn a Canadian that they might get hypothermia from a fan, and you'll find yourself on the business-end of an anecdote about passing out drunk overnight in a snowdrift in Winnipeg, then going to work the next day.

I'm of the opinion that the much more grave and unreported danger is in another helpful illustration:




Let's get it together people—do not stick your neck into the unassembled, but still plugged-in fan motor!

It may seem tempting, and I'd be lying if I said I hadn't considered it when I was putting the thing together. If you saw this sexy thing in action you'd want to get it all up in your neck too. BUT YOU CAN'T, DAMN IT!
Those of you who know me, and might be worrying about my eminent asphyxiation DON'T! because the fan is equipped with an anti-fandeath timer. What it isn't equipped with, however, is a device that suddenly makes it seem like a bad idea to give yourself a rollicking-good throat massage on the ol' oscillator.

I'm sure that if the late, great Mitch Hedberg had known about fan death, he would have written a good joke about it. He never had the chance. While I'm not saying that fans killed him, I'm also not saying they didn't...

He did write this joke, however, which I'll leave you with:

"I have an oscillating fan at my house. It goes back and forth. It looks like the fan is saying 'no.' So I like to ask it questions that a fan would say 'no' to. Do you keep my hair in place? Do you keep my documents in order? Do you have 3 settings? LIAR! My fan lied to me. Now I will pull the pin up. Now you're not saying shit."

Truth.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Hangeek

I love how endearingly geeky Korean kids can be sometimes. It's one of the few times I can see myself in them.

"Teacher! Minwoo is hacking me!" one child wailed today, when he noticed his answers were being copied.

Later, when I had one on one with Paul, he dropped his head into his book and said, "Teacher... I am exhausted, I have spent all my mp (magic points, for you normals)."

Ha!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Loose belts sink spirits

My sunburn was a big hit in school today. Many of the students suspected arson... though I suppose it's not longer arson if you try to burn down a person. In any case, there were several impressions of me running along a beach in flames.

You should have seen it.

Joey, always a wild card lately, had the strangest comment.

"Teacher! At the beach you wear the heart panty?"

"No, Joey. Shorts."

"Teacher! Roosevelt is wear the heart panty!"

"Roosevelt, as in U.S President Roosevelt?" I had to clarify since he spoke it, mixing the r/l and v/b as Koreans do, making something similar to "Loosebelt." Therein lay his joke.

"Yeah! Every time he go to talk 'ladies and gentleman' thing, belt is loose and his pants fall down and there is the heart panty!"

All curiosities about my swimwear aside, I think he'd been waiting a long time to use that one.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sights

I didn't take many photos on the weekend, since I was mostly caked in mud and I didn't think my camera would appreciate it as much as I did. So here are just a few of the non-mudded times:


The view from the Motel.


Again at night.


Traditional Korean drumming in the plaza.


Drama, as in "I don't want no..."


In keeping with the previous guests, I left my mark on the headboard. Those who know, know.


This lady was decked out in maximum sun protection gear, including the mask with clothes-pins holding it in place. I saw her roaming the beach selling the most random stuff, as you can see: ice cream, along with inflatable devil pitchforks.


The watery, sloshing mud shenanigan pool, looking much tamer on Sunday afternoon.


"UV, whut?" or "Whitey's last stand."


Life's a beach.


Flaving. Mad Flaving.

The Mudening

We're in the car behind the conductor's, sitting room only, so I'm curled away in a tiny alcove between a sliding door and a protruding wall. Riley is stretched out next to some foreign girls whining about relationships. She's reading my (borrowed) copy of On The Road, since I can't concentrate because my arms and feet hurt too much. I stare out the window as the mountains and sky start to get darker. We're on our way back from the Boryeong Mud Festival, and it kicked our asses in the best way.

Flashback to my random meeting of an old high school acquaintance during the Lotus Lantern Festival in May. I asked what I definitely needed to do while I was still in Korea. He told me to go to the Mud Festival.

"What's the Mud Festival?"

"Go and you'll understand."

Designated by the Tourism Department as the best festival in Korea, Riley quickly heard about it too, and we made plans to see what the fuss was about.

So last Friday night we convened in Seoul, stayed over at a friend of Riley's and early Saturday morning we headed down to the massive Yongsan station complex to catch the 9:30 train to Daechon. There were plenty of other foreigners milling around who were obviously in a beach state of mind, so we knew we were on the right track. Not only popular in Korea, the festival is a big draw for international tourists. Riley posted a Aussie video from last year's festival which you can check out for some background.

Anyway we got our tickets for the 3-hour trip (on the cheap, only $10 each) but when a Korean train sells all it's seats it still sells something in the range of 400 more "standing room only" tickets. This means you get to sit, stand, squat or squeeze yourself into any available inch of space not allotted to the fat-cat seat holders. We staked out a spot on the steps to one of the exits. It was a good place, except we randomly had to stand to let on old women hauling orange buckets full of god-knows-what wrapped in black garbage bags. It was hardly like the ironic images of packed to the gills, hanging out the windows and wherever there's footing East Indian train rides, but it was pretty full at times.

We left Seoul with dark clouds, and were greeted by relentless, yet glorious sunshine in Daechon-Boryeong. After a lunch of bibimbap (spicy rice and veg) we cabbed it to our awesomely named "Motel Drama" which lucky for us, turned out to be almost directly on the beach. We checked in, suited up, and went to see what was happening on the sand. Across the street from the Drama was an open plaza with a fountain shooting off like a giant lawn sprinkler. A crowd of Koreans were getting muddy in a big inflatable sloshing pool.

No for those of you imaging garden mud, think facial mud. Boryeong is famous for the quality of it's mud beauty products, harvested from a mud plain near the beach. Apparently it's super high in Bentonite and Germanium and other skin-friendly minerals.

The beach itself is about 3.5 km long, and we were on the far right end facing the sea. So as we walked to where the action was at (on the opposite side) we started to see more and more people painted up in grey-green mud. There were more foreigners than I've ever seen congregated in one place in Korea. Mudless, Riley and I were standing out even more than usual, so we made out (ED: ha, Freudian slip? I meant of course, "made our") way to the main-stage area. Past the Mud Wrestling Flats, "Mud Jail" and watery, sloshing mud shenanigan pool (not official title) was a spread of tables with beach umbrellas, buskets (Suicide Kings fans?) and brushes to "self-massage."

We did just that.

I can compare the sensation to applying a mud pack on the face, then putting your face in front of a fan. It was like that, but on your whole body. The cool breeze off the Yellow Sea blew over our muddy bodies and took any hint of stress away with it. It was a glorious feeling.

Now as one with the muddy masses, we wandered in the crowd near the main stage where a band of foreigners played happy, dumb punk-rock covers. In spirit I got Riley to craft me a mud mohawk, but compared to the mud slicked hair of the stylish Korean guys, crafted into dos of impossible anime proportions, it was only an accomplishment to me. In the crowd we met up with Riley's friends who would be staying with us, Deb and Adam from California, and Michael from Ireland. They were fine folks all and we took in the wild atmosphere of the moment.

It was mid-afternoon by now, and in the main area was packed with muddy revelers and hundreds of photographers. They were staked out in the windows of cafes or on the tops of RVs. Many were just wandering the crowds with plastic bags wrapped around their massive lenses. We all had dozens of photos taken of us, and a guy from a TV News crew stopped to ask me some simple questions in English about how I liked the festival and if I found the language barrier a problem (my answer at the time was no, but the tune would change when it was next to impossible to find something for dinner later on). The only thing that totally outnumbered the cameras were the beer cans. Booze sells at convenience stores throughout Korea, and no one (the law included) has any problem with drinking in public. So all around us, burly Aussies, Yanks and Canadians were either drinking soju straight from the bottle as they walked, or carried towers of tall cans of Hite beer. I saw a guy with a full back tattoo of Dali's The Elephants. The beer cans were stacked about as high as the Elephant's spindly-mosquito legs.

All inside the stores, cardboard walks had been set down for muddy feet, and dirty, drunken people left their hand-prints on the drink fridges. When in Rome.

We shared a few beers as our mud dried in the sun. My mohawk was now decidedly faux. As the rest of the gang got Chinese lunch, Riley and I went swimming. It was wonderful to float in the shallows and clean off the first batch of mud and just relax. This was the first time I'd been to the beach since I've been in Korea, so I was relishing the warm water and warm sun. After basking for a good while, we grabbed some Cobra beer (fun at the moment, a bit venomous in after-taste) and rejoined the group. The evening was coming on, and we meandered to our fancy, winding up at the mud spa/not-quite-Jjimjilbang and spent the better part of an hour in the tubs and steam rooms. It was slightly disappointing since the "mud bath" portion wasn't the thick, shallow quick-sand type pool I'd hoped, but more of a mud-water tub. In any case it was more invigoration, and sweat and cool showers before back out into the madness.

We reconvened at the Drama, and Riley and I embarked on a laborious task to find food. Since (obviously) Boryeong is a costal community, seafood was heavy on the menu. Despite being a Maritimer born and bred, I've never been a fan of the pulsating marine life on my dinner table. This would be an obstacle, since the strip near the beach was a veritable Clam-o-Rama, with seafood restaurants packed one right after another, all with tanks outside full of fresh clams, conch, squid, sea slug and/or cucumber, and even the occasional small shark. I'm sure this sound glorious to some, but I wasn't too turned on. Finding an alternative proved a bit tricky since neither of us can read Hangul, and the wait at the only pizza place was close to 2 hours. Defeated and brain-drained from the sun and hunger, we settled on a kindly old lady's chicken cart for some BBQ skewers and ddeokbokki (rice cakes in red pepper paste). After that it was more beer, beach and fireworks before we retired to our one bed room, tossing the second mattress on the floor for 6, slumber party style.

The next day was more beach, less mud. The mud situation wasn't in full tilt until later in the afternoon, so Riley and I rented an inner tube and hung out on the beach— flaving (a Newfoundlander friend's borrowed word for total relaxing). We took the tube and a few more beers to the ocean and floated and drank and just enjoyed complete peace of mind. It was glorious.

Soon, sadly it was time to go, so after some disappointing lunch we boarded the most packed bus I've ever had the displeasure of being on, and rode for what seemed like forever in traffic as backpack zippers chaffed my now horribly apparent sunburns. We missed our 4:30 train, and had to wait for two hours until the next. That brings us back to the opening of the hunched, painful standing room only ride back to Seoul on feet that could barely work, and as red as a bull-fighter's muleta.

It was a fantastic time, with good fun, good weather, and good company. The weekend saw me as both the filthiest and cleanest I've ever been in my life, more so even than mucking about in the slip buckets of my parent's pottery shop as a kid, and being baptized respectively.

Respectable records both, to have broken over two days.

Now I rest on "Constitution Day" with no school, covered in sesame-smelling burn ointment and enjoying what has become a 4 day holiday of pure and unadulterated flaving.

Monday, July 16, 2007

El Scorcho

My feet are so sunburned, I can barely walk. I have to take the day off to recover.

The Mud Festival kicked my ass, but in the best possible way. So fun.

I will write more when my digits are a little less stiff.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Welcome back, Kotter

Children are pop culture sponges.

But when it's not their pop culture they're absorbing the results always have a peculiar bend.

I mentioned Harry Potter (who the kids frequently compare me to... because of my glasses and wizardly forehead?) in my last post, and his influence, naturally, is widespread.

I see lots of kids, reading the books translated into Korean, and telling me about the adventures of Harry, Hermione, and "Lon."

The most peculiar instance of Harry Potter poking up randomly, is in insults unique to one student. If those around him are saying things he doesn't like, he'll exclaim: "Shut up, Malfoy!" though it sounds closer to "Sharrup, Malpoy!"

I've written before about the prominence of E.T., Gollum, Shrek etc. They are the big three. I've also often heard kids use the term "Fiona" (read: "Piona") as an insult, referring to the Shrek character. Many also sing an irritating little alphabet rhyme alone the lines of "A B C D E.T. Gollum, Sh-rek, Gollum, [indecipherable]."

They also make frequent jokes about "Hairy Kotter" since apparently "Kotter" (I don't know how its written in Korean) is a word for nose hair.

J.K. Rowling is a subject in numerous reading comprehension books.

So it goes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Harry Potter & The Hefty Gallows

Today Paul was peeking over my shoulder as I read the Globe & Mail online. He noticed the title of the review for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

He laughed.

"Teacher? Harry Potter does not know English?"

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"It says Order of the 'Phonics.' He studies phonics like us? I thought wizards were genius."

"Fenix, not phonics," I said. "Phoenix is a firebird."

I explained using Google Images.

This:
Not, this:

That however made me think, what if I taught phonics using this:


I think I've had a brainwave, especially given Joey's recent obsession with "the gallows." Last week, he drew a little picture of a hangman's noose on his book and asked, "Teacher, what is name of this place?"

"The gallows," I said sinisterly.

"G.a.l.l.o.w.s." He wrote it out on his fingernails in pencil, so he would remember.

After class he followed me out into the hallway. "Teacher! Let's go the gallows."

He skipped happily behind me singing the word gallows.

"Gallows, gallows, ga-lows!"

Soon, a few more impressionable bystanders were following along, and joining our little macabre parade, not knowing of course what gallows meant, but figuring it must be good from Joey's tone of voice.

I headed down the stairs.

"Teacher, we are going to the gallows?" Joey asked.

"Let's go to gallows!" another said with glee.

"Okay kids, lets go to the gallows!"

"Hurray!" they cried, and followed me out to the sidewalk like I was the Pied Piper.

When they saw that we were actually going to the Crown Bakery, there were moans of disappointment.

I think a field trip is in order.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Great White Hype

The walk from my apartment to school is less than five minutes, but it is my least favorite part of the day.

The sidewalk is narrow and uphill, along the base of the mountain. There is a metal guard rail that follows along street-side and keeps us nice and fenced-in. Normally this wouldn't bother me, but everyday I share the walk with hundreds of high schoolers, taking their afternoon break as I head to work.

It's a great tide of clean, white dress shirt uniforms, and I'm walking against it.

Again, this is something that wouldn't normally bother me, but I find it tiring to have to walk uphill, in the afternoon sun while avoiding eye contact with those who tend to see me as a curious novelty humanoid.

I'm more than willing to say hello or even stop and talk to anyone who would wish, but wave after wave of the same meaningless exchange:

"Hi-eeeee!"

"Hello."

"HAHAHAHA!"

That starts quickly to wear on you.

I hate to complain. Especially on a blog, because... I mean c'mon... but being seen as an oddity, either suspiciously or as novelty, is something that you can't really prepare for.

The worst are those who don't say anything, but as soon as they pass me in silence, burst out laughing.

As a foreigner living in another country and not knowing the language, you sometimes feel paranoid and borderline resentful, assuming that everyone is talking about you all the time. No one welcomes this state of mind, but it sort of invites itself in as the stares and snickers start to gain weight and influence.

I'll regularly be eating in a restaurant, and hear only two words I understand but still be able to delineate the conversation. "Wayguk or waygukin" (foreigner) and "hamburgers."

I imagine the conversation goes along the lines of:

"Oh, a foreigner. And he can eat Korean food."

"Isn't it too spicy for him?"

"He looks like he's enjoying it!"

"What do foreigners usually eat?"

All together: "Hamburgers!"

Just so we're clear, hamburgers are our (North Americans in general) cultural thumb-print on the world. Jughead is North America, Pop Tate's is the globalization that provides him with an unlimited supply of burgers, and Korea is a little kid with its face pressed against the diner window, agape at the masses of beef this freak of nature can pack away.

My friends and I had an old joke about "burger-lust" and how it was an affliction that would reduce the overweight to a state of slavish helplessness, and make them willing to do anything for a hamburger. Wimpyism, if you will.

Joey's long-standing dream is to run off to Canada so he can eat hamburgers for breakfast.

Is this the spark of burger-lust burning in his guts?
Where was I before I got on about hamburgers?

Ah yes, being paranoid.

I'm fully aware that Koreans have no obligation to spare my unknown feelings and make me feel comfortable in their space. My business in their country is my own. I don't belong here. It would be foolish to expect to feel normal in a small town, and I never did expect that. Those who I have a professional or even regular face-to-face relationship with (like shopkeepers etc.) have constantly gone out of their way to make me feel welcome and comfortable. I'm indebted to many people for their goodwill and friendliness. That's not it. It just gets old being a constant object of attention to strangers. After all, it's one of the oldest and time tested comedic set-ups isn't it? Something unfamiliar but in a familiar situation? I must be pretty hilarious to some.

I'm all for self-satire, but every now and then I just kick the days in the arse as they pass me by.

66...

*whump*

"Don't come back..."

Monday, July 09, 2007

Mixed Messages

"Paul, you're so sweet you hurt my teeth," I said mockingly today as he pulled a dumb cutesy face.

"Teacher," he replied missing the joke, "you're so sweet you give me severe diarrhea."

Saturday, July 07, 2007

More than knees the eye

Today Shane and I descended on the COEX for caffeine, hamburgers and giant robots. Robots in disguise to be precise. Apparently the ticket clerk warned Shane against our second row seats, saying we'd get motion-sickness.

EXTREME!

Now, giant robots and Asia go together like coffee and cream, so it was definitely an appropriate venue to see Transformers. Though I sense the Korean audience balked a bit at John Turturro's product pitch, as his character tosses a secretly Decepticon cellphone into a holding chamber and says: "Nokia: gotta respect the Japanese." (Never mind he's then corrected: "Nokia's from Finland.")

On the topic, here's why we should, in fact, respect the Japanese: for allowing the rest of the world to bask in the glory of giant robots of all persuasions (meriting even a titular J-culture mag), but also for their blank-faced, blood-thirsty pink bears.

Don't see the connection? Allow me to flip the switch:


Shane and I were wandering through the mall after the movie, and we happened upon a little open air shop, sort of built into a corner. We were drawn in by a display case of strange figurines and shelves of strange plush characters. On closer inspection, we found a good portion of the tiny shop's stock was devoted to the characters pictured above. A hapless little boy getting his ass-kicked nine ways from Sunday by a blank-faced pink bear. On one package I some literature on the nature of their sadistic relationship:

"Gloomy is Pity's pet bear. His height is about 7 ft. He is well trained... except he has a hard time remembering not to attack humans."

I checked out the website (Japanese) as soon as I got home, and even there this (aptly-named) kid is getting the crap beat out of him in animated gifs. The more you click on the it, the more he wails on him. Is there no reprieve for Pity sake!?

Gloomy & Pity are the brainchild of Japanese designer Mori Chack. Here's some more company back-story on the pair:

"Gloomy, an abandoned little bear, is rescued by Pity (the little boy). At first, he is cute and cuddly, but becomes more wild as he grows up. Since bears do not become attached to people like dogs by nature, Gloomy attacks Pity even though he is the owner. So Gloomy has blood on him from biting and/or scratching Pity. The Gloomy with blood is called Chax Colony Edition."

I think this is interesting. Bears are consistently marketed to children as being cute, cuddly and harmless. Gloomy is the first two in spades. But harmless? Bears' biggest detractor, Stephen Colbert would not be wrong in calling this fellow a "Godless killing machine."

Among the subversive cutesy collectibles at the shop, was this:


A big plush bear claw which you can wear on your arm and do wholesome things like wail on your younger sibling with. Presumably it could also double as a neck pillow if you're the milquetoast type.

The star of the sick product show however, would have to be the series of key-chains, each one featuring a unique pose of Gloomy serving Pity his just desserts.

I got the flying head-butt:

So in conclusion, we must respect the Japanese not for their sexy, sleek Nokias, but because they can sell a staggering product line of meaningless baubles featuring a pink bear devastating an unfortunate young lad, all without making us think twice about it.

Also giant robots.
Respect, people.

Respect.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Livar & Young 'uns

The kids have a habit of creating strange nouns out of verbs (and additional nouns) by tacking on -er. The opposite of a killer becomes a "dier", a person in the habit of personal evacuation is a "dunger" etc.

Additionally, competitiveness is bred into them at an early age. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why they are so whiny. Personal competition is so steep, that if anyone thinks that anyone else is getting even the most mundane or slight advantage over them in any situation, they weep sauvignon blanc with gale force. It goes without saying that fighting for grades is a fact of life.

Everybody knows that L vs. R is a tricky pronunciation hurtle for Asian-language speakers.

Now that these three points have been established, allow me to explain why.

A while ago, Paul and I were eating dinner together. He was glued to Yu-Gi-Oh! as usual, but was thoughtfully giving me a play-by-play.

"Teacher! That tough guy is the hero's livar," he announced.

"Livar?"

At first I heard "Li-ver" like "alive -a +er" as in, one in the habit of being alive. All of us for example.

"Li-var," Paul clarified.

"What's a livar?"

"You knoo-ooow!"

"Li-var?"

"Yeah, like... Judy is my livar."

"Huh?"

"Because we are almost the same at speaking English, so we fight each other. LIVAR!"

"AAAAAHHHH... rival."

Finally understanding, I thought it was awfully strange that an 8-year-old boy would have an academic rival. I can understand that competing with someone can be a real motivator, but is it really necessary in grade school?

In Korea, the answer is always yes.

It seems cancerous sometimes...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A rout of hapless stragglers



Seoul Seeking has hit 10,000 page views. Neat.

2 1/2 months to go!

Monday, July 02, 2007

How toast got the Vote

Korean foodstuffs try so bloody hard to express themselves, it's only a matter of time before they get universal suffrage.

It started with poetry on a lassi. Today I read this baffling missive on my bread bag:

"It kneads a dough with the boiling water high temperature and hour from low temperature

and maturing 56 a natural taste deeply and it saves with chewy it is soft there is the recording wall hundred which it will chew it does and a possibility of feeling simultaneously with the bread, the flavor taste is a possibility of seeing and it is a bread."

Finally, the world is awakening to the feelings of the staple foods. Though decades behind in animal rights, Korea seems to be paving the way for this new kind of compassion.

Let us recall the plea for understanding from the bread-lender Ryelock in one of Shakespeare's lesser known works, The Matza of Venice:

"If you prick us, do we not knead?"