Monday, June 30, 2008

Serendipity DooDah!

Just dorking around on the intarwebs trying to find contact info on my beloved Kim Yong-ik and, lo and behold, the Korea Journal has placed their archives on the web and there are 6 "new" pieces. Three are some kind of retread, so it may be that Kim was starting to coast in his late life. In any case, I'm excited to find them and the pieces are:

"Andy Crown" - Published in Nov. 1987: This is a pretty bad retelling of the "They Won't Crack It Open" story with the US lead cast as a Black Man. Nicely, this re-writing supports my contention that Kim is most effective when least overtly political.

"The Gold Watch" - Published in March 1989: This one is new to me and I will have to read it before comment.

"The School Bell" - April 1990: This is a chapter from "The Happy Days" (1960) published as a short story.

"The Smuggler's Boat" - March 1965: This is new to me, even though it is by far the oldest of the stories found here.

"Village Moon" - December 1983: This is a part (although a quick reading seems to catch some substantial differences) of the play "The Moon Thieves" which was written prior to 1982.

"Village Wine" - December 1983: A new one; a play featuring a US soldier in a Korean style house.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

South Korea - B-Boy Badness!

South Korea r3wlZ the breakdance scene

And it seems pretty much true. Almost any event you go to has some kind of B-boy competition and there are hip-hop dance studios all over the place. Korea is pretty serious on dance and song anyway, so this particular combination seems to make a lot of sense.

From the article:

June 26, 2008 | This summer, the United States is reaching new heights of dance fever as TV shows like Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" and MTV's "Randy Jackson Presents: America's Top Dance Crew" have returned to the airwaves. MTV's runaway hit is considered especially cutting edge, showcasing hip-hop dance groups from across America. But if MTV really wants the best dance crew, it should be looking in South Korea.

"Of the top six or seven crews in the world, I'd say half of them are from Korea," says Christopher "Cros One" Wright, 33, an American dance promoter and b-boy who was recently in Suwon, South Korea, to judge the second annual global invitational hip-hop dance competition, called R16, that was held at the end of May.

Monday, June 23, 2008


He died in a "funny" car crash?

How much analysis could there be?

The Retardation Report

Saturday was all about lunch with Jong Kyu. He took us to a lovely joint in Sintanjin which served duck. Duck upsets my stomach, but I like the taste of it. Since the other option was eel, which the OAF was loath to try, I took one for the team and enjoyed it very much. JK's English is very good and he kept us quite entertained all afternoon.

On Sunday I set out with the OAF and the guy who lives upstairs. They were in search of books, I was in search of DVD's and DVD cases. We all found what we were looking for.

Today I hooked up with my Korean instructor and took her back downtown to the place I'd found the DVDs. It also had a ton of computer and technology shops, but a student had warned me that it could be "tough" if I didn't bring a Korean speaker. So we purchased me a lovely Korean/English dictionary and I decided to go look for a cable for my iBook. While their, which was across from the place I bought DVD's on Sunday, someone started yelling something about "Gayang-dong." Turns out they were yelling it at me as I had, magically, managed to leave my Alien Registration Card there the day before. Losing your ARC is a thing not to do and I was lucky I decided to go back there and look for more computer stuffs. I probably would have discovered I'd lost the ARC when a cop asked me for it...

Not where your waeguk wants to be.

I also bought a nifty printer/scanner/copier and was so happy that I didn't even mind that on the way back the cabbie yelled at me because he didn't like the fact I had said "BPU kachuseyo" and then given him left/right directions that ended up leading somewhere else than BPU. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say, since addresses don't work in Korea and there are no notable landmarks around my Daejeonian Love Pad.

Oh well.... still a grand day.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Damage Done

Some 10 days after the event these are the bruises on the OAF's inside elbow. She still can't straighten the thing out, but we're working on it.

By which I mean she's doing no rehab at all, and I'm drinking heavily. ;-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Paper accepted at "ENGLISH and ASIA: First International Conference on Language and Linguistics 2008"

In world-record time the folks at this conference got back to me and accepted my proposal for a presentation on Kim Yong-ik. This is in Malaysia around the time of my birthday and the only possible snag is if BPU will let me get away for it.

Well, I'll quit if they don't, really. This is a paper about a Korean author by the employee of a Korean University. I'm part of the wave, baby! ;-)

And it is pretty inexpensive to get there. The conference is 200,000 won and if I were (unlikely) able to get the whole week off the whole thing (flight and hotel inclusive) would be about 1.3 million won.

Not bad for a vacation and work trip.

ah... the rather poor (I have to start writing these things sooner than the day of the deadline) abstract is here:

Kim Yong Ik: Unimagining “Asian American” Through English

Kim Yong-Ik, a Korean by birth and English writer by trade attempted to avoid questions of empire, orientalization, language and literary theory by declaring autonomy from them. Kim was avowedly anti-political, extra-theoretical, and purposefully resistant to ethnic, political or theoretical placement. Kim publicly argued that his work was not concerned with contested terrains, and purposefully wrote in a dispassionate and narratively simple and concrete style. His writings, antithetically to his confessed approach, obsessively concerned themselves with issues attendant to cultural clash: oppression, the state of the outsider to the state, disconnection, diaspora, and the dream of coming to a “home” that was not contested; a home of ancestral imperials and not imperialists. This tension between language use and content essentially mirrored the tensions that Kim was describing between the United States and Korea.

Focusing on “They Won’t Crack it Open,” (The sole remaining work of Kim’s in print) this paper will discuss the arc of Kim’s individual works, literary oeuvre, career, and life and to what extent his approach gave him the freedom to write, to what extent it clashed with his written work and, finally, to what extent he found himself Occidentalized by his self-aware extra-theoretical approach.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Shaking off Rust?

I sent another abstract out today. For a conference on "Englishes." I have a couple more to send.

Then got an email from BKF that we may have a book translation gig. Not much pay, he says, but that is a big "Who Cares" from my perspective. The first time we get a book published, with our names on the inner-sleeve, we have hopped into another circle of the translating game.

The KLTI folks also sent me a lovely email saying they plan to work with me again. I hope this is true. Since BKF is hard at work at the annual competition the KLTI run for translators (I await the polishing bit in a month or so) it seems like things might be converging.

My next step is to contact Udam Kim in Seoul, and see if I can follow up on my Kim Yong-ik work.

And I SWEAR ;-) tomorrow I join the gym so I can continue to get fit. This typhoon season isn't going to wait on me.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


After waking up at noon (the OAF was ill AND snoring all night long, so we took turns sitting up in the living room), we headed out for a walk.

It was a beautiful day in SouthCentral and we headed to the Community Center, so I could try to hook up with some Korean language lessons. This worked out poorly, but out the door we ran into another instructor from BPU and headed to Starbucks for coffee. He had worked in Japan for 14 years, so was interesting to me in terms of a paper I'm working on, and was pretty entertaining.

Then it was off to take a picture where the OAF had busted herself up and she gave it a thumbs down.

Then off to eat some galbi and a trip to the WA bar...

a slow walk home and the OAF crashed out from her illness. I sit here listening to the lovely chaos of the Korean
neighborhood through my open sliding door.

It could be worse and it often has. ;-)

Sunday's Best: Reason #11 to love Korea

You walk on the mountain trails outside the city and every so often you come across a mini-gym, just sitting there in a clearing. Totally cool.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Slow Blogging Week and my Teaching Schedule


I wasn't very attentive to my blogging as this was finals week here in Korea and all my students were in rare "ohmygodyoumeanIwillgetGRADEDforthis?" form....

As though the previous 14 weeks never happened and the syllabus had been written in Greek. My office mates are receiving the same kind of response, my favorite so far being the woman disputing an absence in week six (now 9 weeks ago) by saying, "remember, I was wearing a red sweater and red hat?"

I received about 100 emails, which all had to be graded, and since I gave participation credit for visits to my office hours I had about 40 office hour visits. All in one week and that in contrast to the 4 or so that I had for the previous 14 weeks. Students, if they're the future of the planet, we may just be doomed.


My schedule for summer is working its way into a better thing. I have been moved “up” to the English Learning Center and will be teaching an immersion class five days a week for three weeks. Tuesdays and Thursdays will be a bit of a drag.. a class at nine and then another one at one, but that’s a small price to pay. It will give me a chance to get my administrative work done while in my office. On the other three days I will get a chance to go to the gym and work out. The happy days of weight-loss by application of soju are just about over, so it’s time to pull the next card out of the deck.

Later in the semester I will be part of the “teacher training” program. This program gives local teachers who need to teach in English as part of their classes a chance to learn from us (supposedly the pros). I will be teaching reading and writing, which couldn’t be better if I had been allowed to create my own schedule. This should look good on my resume, either for Seoul next year or for the United States the year after.

There are several large empty blocks in my schedule and I note, with horror, that there are two kidz academies still out there. I hope these twain shall never meet (Note - I have already been give one week of kiddies to cover for an instructor who will be on vacation. Crap!).

I will also say that I had underestimated the amount of work that goes into class preparation. Teaching is still one of the easier gigs in the world, but my idea that it was just sauntering into the class and doing a bit of the old “Dead Poet's Society" shtick? That was a bad idea.


It looks like he OAF will NOT have to have elbow surgery which is splendid news. She does need to keep the cast on for another week, which bummed her out, but that’s very little time if everything turns out ok.

We plan to do a cheesy video this evening, so clear your internet-viewing schedule for that thrill-ride.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Rosetta Stone - selling the Korean language, ignoring the country

This is rather odd...

I am trying something I thought would be simple - purchasing and online subscription to Rosetta Stone to aid my Korean language skills...

And RS will sell me such a subscription -- well, except they won't ship a CD to Korea and when you try to purchase an online subscription, you can't use a Korean address for your credit card?


So I sent them a letter...

This is my third attempt to purchase the online version of the Korean language. I am trying to purchase the *online* version. I repeat this because my last contact resulted in an email response suggesting I try to purchase the online version. Which was what I was doing.

I am from the US but live in Korea, consequently the contact info for my credit cards is associated with a Korean address. This seems to be some kind of block for your online registration process, which doesn't have Korea as a country in its drop-down menu for payment.

Is there a way around the fact that you are selling a language product for a country that doesn't exist in your payment scheme?

thanks for your help,


I'll be amazed if it helps..

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tonicing the Troop!

This should be the first of three re-focusing posts that will probably bore my rare readers senseless. Really, it’s a lot like I am there with you! First one is about instruction, second one will be about schedule and the third one about quarterly re-focus.

Having been once through the highly prescriptive “communicative” textbooks, and with three very different classes, I have learned a great deal. Mainly that when I got here I was a pretty sucky instructor. ;-) This was partly due to being tossed into three classrooms with three different books all of which had different approaches and resources. But it is also safe to say that I took the path of least resistance. Now, having spent more time thinking about things I have about 5 changes in teaching style.

1) THE BLACKBOARD - As mentioned before, I’m going back to the blackboard. I started my blackboard work based on a staff-development presentation in the first week. This included a bare-bones outline of the daily class and three sentences:

“In English that means _____________”
“In Korean that means _____________”
“Go Out!”

This didn’t work that well for me, so I gave up on the blackboard a bit and tried to do everything “scampering monkey style.” Which I’m ok at, but it left a lot of things unsaid and working directly from the book can be a pain – it’s easy to lose your place, among other things. So next semester I am going to outline everything (minus vocabulary) in the days’ lesson plan. Even if we don’t cover it all we will know what we should have covered and what might end up on the test.

2) THE BOOKS - I now have a far better idea of the kinds of things that are in the books. This will help me when I get the new set. I should be able to take them home (that would be this weekend for the summer classes) and assess what they have to offer. I will spend a bit more time figuring out which exercises (all the books essentially rotate the same 10-12 exercises, but with different content, from week to week) work and concentrate on them. I’ll also check out the websites and the handouts/tests/homework. Which leads me to –

3) THE HOMEWORK – I’m going to assign a bit more of it this semester and I’m going to grade it rather than use the money system. This will give me more backup if there are problems with grades (in case someone challenges them) and it will give the students just a bit more work in their 2nd (sometimes 3rd) language. The money system is too imprecise a homework payment system for me, since it is easy to apply unevenly and doesn’t have much scalability. Also, I want to separate academic issues (other than speaking English) from behavioral issues. This leads me to…

4) THE MONEY – I will still use the money for in-class English speaking, emails, office visits, and supportive behavior. I can’t think of a better way to do that on the fly. But that will be the limit of it.

5) THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT – I have also been able to find a few things that all the classes loved. These are the clown car things: I act something out; I draw; we have games pitting the men versus the women; even spelling, for money or competition, seems to get the class going. The movie I showed in one class was worth its weight in gold. So I will formally schedule these events into my class and into my lesson plans, so I do not forget to do them.

I think that these five changes will make the classroom experience a lot better for me and for my students. If I’m going to hop up to Seoul next year, I’ll need to have my game a bit tighter than it has been here. The good news (segueing to the schedule post) is that I have some college and university classes on the intersession.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Pics from an Immoderately Long Ramble

Today's walk was so long that I had to stop halfway through to purchase new shoes. Well, since I'd left my sneakers at the Uni and it was closed, I was walking in some old workshoes and they were beginning to chafe. When I suggested it was time to walk balk home, the OAF demurred and went into the 7-11 and in a pantomime that involved her shoes, that mime act of walking against the wind, and substantial arm-flailing she received:

• three phone numbers
• a warning from a cop
• advice that the shoe store was down the street to the "right" (although the woman pointed to the left). A brief bit of my limited Korean separated the gesture from the meaning, and we were off again. We found the shoe-store with little difficulty, and after I dropped 70,000 won on a pair of shoes that can double as athletic and work ones (a thing I'd been looking for for some time) we passed shoe-store after shoe-store advertising 10,000 won shoes.

Stopped at the park/museum/roller rink and had water and a beer. Many many families out, renting little electric-powered cars for their kids. We saw the next generation of Korean taxi-drivers receiving their formulative experiences. Also walked past the croquet golf course and saw some olders playing. Korean social life is nice and outdoors, at least in comparison to San Jose.

Anyway, much of the walk was on the river.

Which means that, as usual, I took pictures of some bird I couldn't possibly identify. I trust the krewe in Texas will round up some of their bird experts and give me the news.

That's it over there on the left and below it is making it's great escape from the evil waeguk.

Crafty bugger.

With incredibly satanic eyes...

Saturday, June 07, 2008

A Quick but Expensive Trip! (And the helpful people in town)

the OAF took a little trip this afternoon.

Over by the market she was walking next to me (mistake one - walk single file in the narrow streets of the market).

I grabbed her shoulder and pulled her in front of me (mistake two, because)

She stepped onto the wood planked deck and it was unevenly cut (mistake three, I guess)

So she tripped forward and put out a straight-arm that would please any football coach (mistake four) but the ground is not that flexible.

Pow... she messed her right arm up but good and let out an enormous holler. She sat there for about 20 minutes trying to will the pain away. I got her a chocolate ice-cream cone, because all women know that helps everything, somehow.

Finally we decided to come back home and enlist the fluent Korean speakers. As we tried to get her up, the nearest people came rushing over to help.. a couple of students, probably. As we were trying to navigate the language barrier, an ajeoshi who had pretty good English came up and told us there was a hospital nearby. They ran down the alley and flagged down a cab and told him where to take us. We got there and some kids (they seemed to be there because an entire family had been involved in a minor car crash) saw the OAF and I limping slowly towards the door. They ran and got a wheelchair and wheeled her in.

OAF was in substantial pain, but man was that hospital efficient and friendly. We were in and out, with her dislocated elbow back in place, in less than three hours and for about 500 dollars including the pain-killers that I will steal from her ("once again" she notes). And with an appointment for next week.

In comparison to OAF's last trip to the US county hospital, for her crash, this was brilliant. OAF also has a small fracture of the elbow, but they're giving it a rest until next week, when it may need minor surgery.

A health care system that seems to work. Being from the US, I can't figure it out! ;-)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Mad Cowardry...

Night time last Saturday was all about photos. Adam and I headed out to Jungnang-no station and took pictures of a Jinro (soju company) norae-event by the Starbucks down town. I was actually trying to snap a few pictures of food merchants for a project I’m on about, but I also took some snaps of the dancers and singers.

Not at all Gay!

Then it was on to the WA Bar (I needed to use a rest-room and thought it would only be appropriate if I bought a six-dollar San Miguel). We wandered about taking other pictures, but the highlight of the evening was returning past the train station and seeing a mad-cow demonstration. The Mad-Cow thing is a bit of Korean lunacy that is perhaps best explained by the awesome "Ask A Korean!" website - The Korean is far more sensitive to the Korean side of things than I am. I consider the whole thing a massive failure of the Korean ability to think critically combined with a level of group-think that is kind of scary.

But I'm a dick.

Decry The Imperialist Dead Cow Invasion!

In any case, there were candles, several drunk ajeoshis who we stayed far away from, and as at any mad-cow rally, people dressed up as cows, dancing. It was unclear to this waeguk if the cows were intended to be mad ones from the US, or noble Korean cows defending the Land of the Morning Lunacy. Several folks tried to talk to us, but we just smiled and avoided eye-contact. Adam, who is far braver than I, wanted to follow the mob if it marched downtown (as one particularly loaded ajeoshi seemed to be counseling). I was content to snap my photos and lurk off into the night.

Discretion being the better part of valor at that point, and besides I had walked quite a great deal that day an was looking forward to soaking my liver in a tub of soju my feet in a tub of water. So I snapped one last photo of the "Mad Cow Protest" Mascot...That would be the google-eyed cow. I have no idea what the flower is about, perhaps a vague swipe at stinking hippies, and the mouse is completely incomprehensible to me.

All in all a grand day.

Sunday was about taking the OAF to UAM and a gnarly hike in the hills (parts of the trail had ropes strung up on the side of the trail, primarily for people heading downhill). The hike out culminated at a particularly wonderful Korea tradition – the health-club on the hill.

Then down to a lovely barbecue (with $44 bucks worth of Korean Beef, which would barely feed two people – I can see why they want to protect their monopoly!) and off to the land of nod.

Walking somewhere downtown, some evening, probably covered in puke and swigging soju, I was wise enough Not to get something to eat at the illy-named "Gag Hof."

After a night arguing Philosophy

What philosophy do you follow? (v1.03)
created with
You scored as Hedonism

Your life is guided by the principles of Hedonism: You believe that pleasure is a great, or the greatest, good; and you try to enjoy life’s pleasures as much as you can.

“Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!”









Justice (Fairness)






Strong Egoism


Divine Command


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sometimes The Konglish Writes itself..

This is pretty good, from the Muju Firefly Festival

Wondrous experience of fireflies
During the festival, let's start exploration tour to meet wild fireflies in free shuttle bus at Hanpoongru at every 8 o'clock P.M. . You can feel the night sky of clean and clean Muju with hand in hand of children.
How they get the wild fireflies into the shuttle bus is not explained
Folk foods and folklores of the 8 provinces are exhibited, making it look like reckless beating. Especially, the taste of Muju Folk which you can have at Muju traditional Food Booth would be a must-go in Firefly Festival.
Between the "reckless beating" and the tasting of "Muju Folk" I have to admit I'm getting a little aroused..

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Saturday was a big day – a trip to the expo (93) park and then a long evening ramble with ADAM to take photographs. As we walked we passed a car that was still stained by the yellow dust.

The Expo Park was slightly down at it’s heels and virtually empty. It has been in town for 15 years now, and since the management does not change any exhibit in any way, it’s a bit of old news for most of the town. The OAF and I, however, are naïf, and it was an excellent way to spend a day. We took the subway downtown and as I took of walking the OAF set up a continuous stream of high-pitched chattering. I’m beginning to think that this is, batlike, how she finds her way around. We got to the park after a 15-minute walk and entrance, for whatever reason, was free.

The OAF attacked the Alienzzz

We padded around a bit looking at the odd statuary and “must have looked George Jetson-Style-Futuristic back in the day” buildings. Several things were closed, but we finally chanced into the “Enertopia” building. It was showing a 3-D movie about global warming, but we were about 20 minutes early. This gave us a chance to walk around the downstairs exhibit, which was a dark and trippy thing that somewhat reminded me of what the old Monsanto Exhibit at Disneyland had been like.

The exhibit was putatively themed something like, “light” but it seemed more like a fairly blatant advertisement for nuclear power and outer-space exploration. That and crazy aliens made of neon.

Then it was up to the movie. This was in Korean, but that made absolutely no difference. Like all 3-d movies, the authors came up with every possible excuse in the world to toss in unlikely 3-d scenarios. I was particularly fond of the mosquitoes whose stingers (in the post-apocalyptic word of global warming) could punch through glass. The tornado section of our little show had a lovely effect of a pitchfork coming at us business end first and then stopping precipitately when it got partially embedded in a bit of broken fence. With its tines still vibrating at us threateningly, we only had a moment to calm down before the water tank came howling at the screen and obliterated it. Nice!

Unfortunately, this was a no camera area, and my camera doesn’t have that magical 3-d lense. I should have got a Nikon.

The "Drunken Zombie Skeleton" was a kid's exhibit.

We staggered out and to the “Re-unification Plaza” which had been the North Korean entry at the fair. It was rather ragged and sad and, unaccountably, included a wing representing marriage styles of the world as well as African tribal masks.

Then it was down to the very empty cafeteria for some bulgogi-soup and a walk back to the bus stop, but with a break for dancing (see what I did there?) and for the OAF to see some French painting.

Apparently it was the 7th Annual New Dance Fest in SCKo and I snapped the following photos:

This woman looked pissed off all day, played the man, and here performs the delicate but robust, "bitch puhlease!" plie.

And since break-dancing was invented in Korea:

Monday, June 02, 2008

iPod Winnology

I should just say that I love the big-assed intertubes in Korea.....

Over the last three days I've grabbed all of the Black Adders, the entire Jam discography, and the entire Elvis the Prophet discography.

I suppose that makes me a criminal....

yeah.. man.. I'm dark.... dangerous... criminal... (separated from my music and DVD collection at home!)

Food Porn

Friday morning BPU had it's culinary arts show. The theme was food of the world and I stopped by to take a few snapshots. The presentation was remarkable from the enormous breadcastle on entry,

to the simplest anju laid out just so.

And the "decorated crab" (about to attack part of Tokyo, if I read the remainder of the layout correctly).

There was also the excellently hideous as some kind of turkey thing was turned into a chihuahua who had lost a bitch-fight with a blowtorch

And, of course, as inexplicable as anything, the need for every public display of talent in Korea - the mighty diorama!

And two fish who were pining for the fiords..

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Why I Left..

EIWME notes (regarding his own departure):

If you’re ever feeling down or unappreciated, here’s what you do: tell all your friends you’re moving in a few week’s time. If you have friends that are worth a damn in the first place, they’ll band together, keep getting you drunk night after night, and make you wonder why you’re ever moving in the first place.

(But the female friends won’t sleep with you. No matter how much you beg and plead.....
And the last part is true for certain. But I didn't have one goddamned friend (maybe BKF?) who kept me drunk night after night.

My friend's all said goodbye in the only Korean they knew, "sayonara."