Korea Life Blog
Wednesday, February 02, 2005

South Korean Flag

KLB - Wednesday Morning

Just a quick note: everything is fine at work. I had a heart to heart with Cathy finally and she really doesn't want me to quit. She knows we have a language barrier and that she is sometimes too strict. She has been laying off since then and letting me do what I want.

I went and picked up our new Xbox last night in Yongsan. I bought one with a mod chip, two controllers, surround sound cable and no games. I had burned 5 copied games myself, but for some reason only 2 worked. I think the problem is the cheap disks or the burn speed. I'm going to try again. Fortunately, one of the ones that works is Mercenaries, the game about a war started on the Korean penisula by North Korea. Can't wait to start playing. Julie was just excited the machine's mod chip comes with an SNES emulator so she can play Mario Brothers.

written by shawn matthews   -|link

Monday, January 31, 2005

South Korean Flag

KLB - From Good to Bad to Ugly

Today started great. I skipped off to work looking forward to teaching the kids. Then of course, no sooner did I arrive then Cathy started annoying me again. At 9:55 she started class.

"Cathy, I will start class today. I'm early. Just sit down."

She said OK, but then a moment later continued to start the class. "Take out your books! Hurry! Take out you pencils. Hurry. Hurry!!!"

Later, as I was teaching, she kept zipping around the room fixing the kids' postures and scolding the poor runts over every minor infraction. I asked her to sit down again, and she said "No, that's OK. I'm fine."

I looked at today's lesson in the new book and all it said was: "Page 25-26, story." On the page is a long story about "wants versus needs" that even my C class would not understand. The next page consists of questions that ask things like, and I'm not kidding, "What is the main idea of the passage?" This is what I'm supposed to teach to 6 and 7 year old Korean kids for 2 hours. Forget it. As usual I passed over the new book and went back to English Time, an appropriate book for teaching English to Korean kids, and phonics. I could already see Cathy getting nervous as I did this.

Then, once again, the agency boss popped in. Every other damn day somebody is coming in the room to watch me...the principal, a parent, the agency, it's ridiculous. Why not just put a camera in there and hook it up to the internet so everyone can watch?

It probably wouldn't bother - actually nothing would bother me if Cathy wasn't my assistant, to be honest.

After the ten minute break, Bonnie, the agency woman, took me aside. Rather than say anything like, "Wow, good job," or whatever (I mean, I had these kids dancing on their toes for her) she says, "Shawn. I have to talk to you. We are so behind."

"We?" I replied.

"Yes, this includes me and Cathy. We're all a team."

"You and Cathy are behind? I don't know what you mean."

"With the books we are so behind."

"No we're not. Can you be specific? Show me exactly where were behind."

"I know we're behind. I read the weekly reports and talk to Cathy."

So, Cathy also doubles as a spy and reports everything back to Connie about how I haven't been teaching the book enough and spend too much time on phonics (is that possible?) and English Time. I started to get pretty defensive and I couldn't hold back: "You come here at random times unannounced and you think you know everything that's going on. We're not behind. I can't always teach that book because it's too hard for the kids. However, I think we're doing a great job. These kids are so much better than back in September."

Sensing my anger, she immediately backed off and started to say, "Yes, yes, everything's fine don't worry, I'm not complaining." Then she goes on to say how she wants me to teach there all year because the school really likes me and nobody wants me to quit in March. As we were talking so long, Cathy was forced to teach. You think she could just do that? No. Five minutes later she taps Bonnie on the back and points at the clock, saying I have to go back to teaching! UGH! Bonnie agreed.

So then all that just put me in a pissed off mood in front of the kids. I couldn't even focus on what I was teaching. Meanwhile Cathy and Bonnie stood in the back watching me.

Isn't it right that too many chefs spoil the soup? I want them to just leave me alone and let me teach for crying out loud. I think I will have to quit in March after all - but for the wrong reasons!

written by shawn matthews   -|link

Sunday, January 30, 2005

South Korean Flag

KLB - Reader Mail

I've been getting a lot more mail than usual lately for some reason and have been having a hard time keeping up with replying. Sorry if I have been short with a few of you. Please know that I do read and appreciate everyone's email. I thought I would let you take a look at some recent mail:

Dear Shawn,

I've already decided that I'm secretly in love with you. Your apparent love of Radiohead already means that you're a decent human being. Well, actually--I'm being highly dramatic b/c it's sometimes hilarious to do that (but only if people don't take you seriously). but, in any case--I someday dream about spanking your immensely cute bum. hahahaaa!

grain of salt, my friend.... grain of salt.

okay, so a few things. Firstly--you should log onto friendster.com and check out my profile under "Sumi." I don't want to continue enumerating things on my (most likely) irrelevant list of things I'd like to imagine that you would actually check out. So, these are in random order.... Yes, kimchi is highly addictive and yes--its chock full of lovely sodium. However, unless you have some sort of rare allergy or condition, it won't really effect you--save for the occasional pummeling to your bloated ddonk-bae by Julie (she rocks). You should check out "The Man Who Ate Everything" by Jeffery Steingarten. I'm a foodie at heart. I graduated from the French Culinary Institute in SoHo and worked at 'cesca for a few months on the upper west side. My passion for food is only slightly overshadowed by my love of writing and art and film. I'll be starting my program at the NY Film Academy in February. yay! =) Of course, nothing is really more powerful than a food craving--except when you want to spank someone. hard. with a truly professional-like flicker of the wrist. deft. quick. lovely. that might prove to be more urgent. I would also like for you to watch the movie, "Tampopo," by Juzo Itami. Simply Amazing. One of my most favorite movies. Its about his social commentary about the Japanese culture of food. food as sex, competition, sport, excess, family, power and control, class structure, taboo, etc., etc., etc. And yes, I own "The Way Home." bought it last year. It's a beautiful story--even more beautifully filmed and performed. glad to know that you could appreciate it for being more than, "that's cute."

alright, I can already see that you're starting to back away from this email--hands up--palms out...tiptoeing ever so slowly out the door. well--STOP! I know you want to read more. At least, let's pretend that you do.

I don't like all of the pictures of Korean girls draped over cars, dancing the hoochie-mama in the middle of the street in sweet, sunny moments of the day, and whatever else they do. It truly makes me feel the deepest pang in the heaviest part of my heart. unexplainable horror and sadness fill my emotions and I'm left profoundly disgusted. I can't help my pity. I don't want to pity them, but--understanding the superficiality of the Korean community supercedes my desperate attempts to dissuade these notions of radical feminist female-empowerment. I don't believe that these girls just don't have the same sort of strength that girls in the same type of profession might be able to attain here. They just don't have the guts and balls and, I'm sure, don't see the glory in possessing something powerful and special in their "femaleness." I can only hope that there are exceptions--that I'm totally wrong--that the sometimes-alienating, often-crude, coarse and harsh nature of Korean opinion will possibly change sometime soon. I try not to see these girls as weak. But, being born into even a Korean-American family, as a girl, with female genitalia, and all of the Korean (men's) connotations associated with that...it's extremely hard not to. Even so, my optimism persists through my dissonance. I'm SURE it's really not as bad as I'm perceiving it to be at the moment. I can recognize that Korean feminism has come a long way. But, not neeeearly enough to make me feel comfortable. Neither has their relationship to American GIs...but that's an entirely different chapter I don't want to get into right now. sad.

your friend don is cool as all hell. I know you already know this. but I had to give the man his due respect. the only way to do that was to mention it to you. he's a keeper. it's so nice to hear that there are still lots of decent people out there. I've been through a lot (but who hasn't?), and seen a lot for my time...but I can't help but remark on the good nature that kind people inherently possess. I'd like to think of myself as one of these people. At the same time, I think it somewhat odd and strange for me to make a donation to your cause...for the moment anyway. I'm not exactly sure what this correspondence will bring me, you understand, as it is my very first time writing you. I don't really have expectations. If anything, this email might just be a sounding board for me. Although, I hate the thought of using a stranger to do this. I hope you don't think that this is my intention. I hope you are not offended, but I doubt that your good nature would actually allow this. Even so, my constantly self-deprecating nature makes it necessary for me to apologize to you in advance.

I love the photographer side of you. The sheer volume of food pictures is enough to get me off, but I also admire the observations that you make. your open cupboard. the beggar. the ajummas sitting on crates. your friends (eating or drinking things). the silkworms in the box on the back of the moped(retch!) your students and their crazy lessons and homework and artwork.

um. as a professional in the food industry...? buying meat off the TV makes me cringe. but then again, Koreans are obsessed with Spam. We Americans introduced Spam to Korea in the 50's when the war was starving everybody. Koreans are obsessed with salt. Koreans like excess fat in their meat. Koreans love "meat." Koreans have an addictive nature. I think that's why Spam is so much more popular in Korea than in other (mostly) Asian populations. The Hawaiians hold the trophy in Spam addiction. But then again, there are lots of Korean-Hawaiians. In any case--my mommy used to make me Spam and kimchi bokkeum-bap with fried eggs. mmmmmmm!!!!! yes, I'll savor raw Malpeque oysters swimming in a vodka "mignonette," served up in a martini glass and toast with a glass of lovely Chateau Margot...but oooohhHHH GOOOOOD!!! you must try this. lawdy, lawdy! Lawd, have mercy! Hallelujah. Amen. but then again, you probably know about both of these little tidbits I'm attempting to share with you.

mmmmmm.... nummy nummy num nums in my tummy tummy tum tums!! =) heeeeeee....!

eeeeewie. I just read your Nov. 21. ddong-chim is foul, vile, and should never be done or mentioned ever again. but in any case, I thought this to be directly correlated to my feelings on Korean mens' scewed mindset when it comes to women. now. no more. sssshhh!

the pictures of the terrible conditions of those computer game addicted boys were very painful. It's strange how Korean parents would ignore and dismiss that as either nothing or as "laziness," or being "bad," instead of a true cry for help. hm....

anyway, I want to have a drink with you at the ugly bar! I want to see what's inside. =) but, of course, I would need to take at least and hour and a half to doll myself up. yes, I'm that self-conscious and self-deprecating. am I'm such a girly-girl! in a very robust, healthy, sunny American sort of way. not in that waifish, ghostly white, "I'm too weak and slightly anemic" sort of strict Korean way. but in any case--my point is that I'd still be self-conscious...even at the Ugly Bar.

you should buy me a "Pama" Puma-rip off shirt. I would totally pee myself. okay--so there really wouldn't be damp denim involved b/c that's a horrible idea. but--it's freaking hilarious. halmunnee's are obsessed with black pama/Korean Gerry-curl. I don't get it.

okay. what-heifer! <---- That's the former valley girl in me. I was born and raised in Southern California LA/Orange County. I'm one of those rare Koreans that actually doesn't really like to live there. Except for Santa Cruz or San Francisco--Northern Cali.

in any case. the truth is you probably don't care, and probably won't read this. I must admit--I stopped reading after a while, but read off a decent chunk of your blog. I took my time in studying the pictures.

So, I just wanted to thank you. I enjoyed it. =)



I've been reading your blog and it's so interesting. My latest 'obssession' is korea and your blog certainly keeps my appetite satisfied. :) I want to be an english teacher there but i'm not taking up educations...too bad. I'm taking up Communication Arts and i'm hoping to get a few units in education so maybe i could venture into teaching. I just think korea is soooo cool! :) i'm even self-studying the korean language. i can write and read (very slowly) korean writing but of course, i don't know what it all means. :) plese continue writing about korea okay? oh and i read that you've been to the philippines. i live there. :) it might not be the greatest country but gotta love what you have right? :) i'm a fan! :)

Love Lots,

Hello Shawn and Julie,

As a semi-regular reader of your Korealife blog, I was
amazed to do a Google search today on "Malamute +
Seoul" and have your website come up.... so now I am
kicking myself that I was not a more regular reader...

Anyway, long story short, but still a long shot.... my
partner and I are Malamute lovers and would be more
than willing to take in any Malamute rescue
puppy/dog... so, if you are ever in a similar
situation, or know of someone who wants to "get rid"
of a suddenly-very-large-and-not-so-cute-and-fluffy
Malamute, please feel free to contact me and we will
happily take in a new family member. We have a good
house and small but reasonable yard here in Seoul, and
will be moving back to the more open space of
Australia in early 2006.

As I said, I realise that your September Malamute
encounter was probably a one-in-a-million chance
already, but hey... if there is a Malamute out there
in Seoul looking for a loving home, we want to know
about it!! We have already (in Australia) "rescued"
two Malamutes, both of which have sadly passed on
since (cancer, and snakebite). We have been holding
off getting another Mooty until we got back to
Australia, mainly because we figured that the city of
Seoul was not a place to raise a big dog BUT - if our
current place could still offer a Moot a more
comfortable existance, then we would love to have
another fluffy addition to the family.

Thank you for your time in reading this email - I
realise this must seem a bit excessive, given that you
have only posted a few cute photos on your site, and
almost six months ago at that... but anyway, if there
is even the slightest chance that a Malamute will find
a better home out of this email, it will be worth it.

I greatly enjoy reading the Korealife blog and will
certainly continue to check back even after our return
home - best wishes and, please, keep posting!

Kind regards,

Hi there Shawn!

I'm guessing that you've heard this before, but thank you for posting
your life in Korea online. I've been looking to begin some sort of a
career in ESL in Asia for a while now and you have been a great
inspiration to me. I've just finished reading your entire online blog
today and am seriously considering ordering one of your books. Your
adventures(or is it misadventures?) have been enlightening,
educational and entertaining for me. Thank you for spending the time
that you do posting your life for the world to see. I mean that.

I'm currently in the process of finding my own teaching job in Korea.
As is the case with so many others(it seems), I've decided to start my
own blog. It's mainly for my family and friends to see what I'm
doing, but also to put my experiences on the internet for others to
possibly read in the same way that you have posted your life online
for others. If you're at all curious, the URL is
www.mrcheslock.blogspot.com. Of course, this e-mail isn't meant to
promote myself to you, but to thank you so much for what you have done
for me.

Thanks for all that you've done, whether you know it or not,


Just a note to say I enjoy your blog. I'm thinking about teaching in
Korea and your site is invaluable. Whether I do or don't come to Korea,
though, KLB is a great way to learn about Korean culture.

Skowhegan, ME

PS. Coincidentally, I went to school in Syracuse, so I know well the
upstate NY area that you mention occasionally.

Dear Shawn:

Just finished reading your book, I loved it. I read it cover to cover in three days. It brought back a lot of great and not so great memories of my time in Korea.

Once again, great job and I look forward to the sequel!


My favorite quote from the entire book:

" I took a deep breath and a sip of the hot coffee. A whole world of mystery lay before me, and this was just the beginning. I couldn't remember the last time I felt so excited to face a new day."

A lot of the stuggles people have is that they don't do enough to inspire these types of feelings. They become trapped, bitter and angry at those around them. My mom can't understand why I like change so much...I should share this passage with her and then she'd know. Keep up the great work Shawn and thanks for making me feel good about my Korea experience all over again!


7. (This one is quite funny...)
Hello shawn Mathews,

The first thing I must say is thank you. I found your web page to be extremely informative! I'm planning on taking a trip to makati city. Possibly sometime in may. I will be travelling alone as you did. Except I will be meeting a girlfriend of mine that lives there. I only know her through communicating on the internet from a dating site called asianeuro.com. I am trying to be as careful as possible. So I have been learning as much about her and about where she lives as possible. If you could please, I would like to get your taxi drivers phone# and the # of any other nice taxi driver that you have used. Also if you have any safety tips for me it would be greatly appreciated. I origanally grew up in new york all my life , but now I live in the southern part of jersey. So I think I wouldn't feel to bad being in makati. It reminds me of a bad part of brooklyn were many times I was the only white guy in a 8 mile radius.

I'm curiuos to know, What was the name of the girl on the right in your picture that you were interested in. The reason I ask is because she has a striking resemblance to the girl that I am going to see in may. Also what freaked me out was the fact that the girl that I am speaking to also has a contract with a promoter in japan. And this promoter provides her with a visa and she has also mentioned to me that she has done group performance dancing there as well. Also, What type of enternaining job did this girl have over in japan?

Shane carlson

I stumbled upon your blog and thought it was very interesting... How long have you been in Korea? I always found the summer seasons there really irritating. Too hot, humid and full of mosquitoes, too. But it's good to know that you are having a good time there. I've heard from couple of friends who visited Japan that the students there do the weirdest things to teachers... like a thing called "Kachou" which is putting your fingers against each other and direct them into someone's anus... And it's also weird to see how many people seem to have weird/demented ideas towards foreigners... like "they smell like meat" (popular Japanese myth, I hear) or they are sex-crazed maniacs like you mentioned... one of the arguments I've even heard was that these "foreigners" have a differnet hormone altogether... Go figure... I don't know about those kids, but when I myself was there, I remember that lots of the kids had a pretty good impression about foreigners... They didn't have any of those weird ideas, haha. Well, wish you a happy new year in Korea, though it's very late... haha, it was fun reading your entries.


written by shawn matthews   -|link

Saturday, January 29, 2005

South Korean Flag

KLB - Still Alive

Sorry for a lack of updates lately. I crashed the new computer pretty badly after doing something stupid (installing drivers from a disk that was only needed for Windows 98). Then I just compounded the problem by forgetting how to boot in "safe mode" (pressing F8 during start-up) and deciding to reinstall Windows. Somehow, when I reinstalled Windows, the other copy of Windows was still there. Basically everything was screwed up, but I managed to get to the old files and back them up before doing another install. Now everything is back to normal, but it took a few days to get it that way.

In other computer related news, I bought an external DVD-RW drive in Yongsan. Actually it's an internal DVD-RW drive inside an external case. It's pretty nice. I've already burned a bunch of DVDs and Xbox games from bit torrent files. Man this is a great service: Torrent Spy. If you don't know what to do, you can start by installing this cool and easy to use client: Azureus. Of course, if you enjoy the DVDs and games you should buy them immediately. Being in Korea, it's nice to be able to download whole seasons TV shows like CSI from back home and watch them on the DVD player for free.

We don't actually have an Xbox yet, but we will be buying one in the near future. I'm still contemplating whether or not we should get one, because I know how much time will be wasted. However, I waste time on the computer every day anyway, so what's the difference. I'm dying to play Rocky Legends, the coolest boxing game ever and a few others like Tiger Woods 2005, Star Wars KOTOR2, just to name a couple of the ones I've burned. I hope they work. If not, I understand that in Yongsan, when you buy the Xbox and mod-chip, you can pay 3,000 won for each copied games they install on your machine.

I finished 3 of 4 weeks of the long schedule at work. It started getting stressful this week. Not because of the teaching, but because of you-know-who being so serious and trying to control everything as usual. Oh, well. Only one more week, and then we have a week off for vacation - Chinese New Year. Julie does too. We're going to stay in a rented house called a "pension" in the countryside and relax. No computer, no internet, no TV, no noise, no nothing for a change. Fresh air and barbecue. I will try to get a camera by then, but I'm not sure. Shopping for a camera is pain in the ass here and irksome when you know the same cameras are so much cheaper in the states. Ideally I'd like a camera that I can use to take photos and make short documentaties with - but I may just settle for a decent, small size digital and save for a video cam down the road.

After the vacation, I'll go back to 3 hours/day until March 10 when I have the option to quit. I may or may not quit depending on whether I can get a new assistant - one that makes copies and teaching materials, not roams around the room frowning and and monitoring every action. I'll be really sad to leave the kids. They are a great group.

Well, we're off the the cell phone store. I haven't been able to use my phone in over a week because I used up the credit and haven't had a chance to add more.

written by shawn matthews   -|link

Monday, January 24, 2005

South Korean Flag

KLB - Lunch Blues

Coming off a pretty uneventful weekend. With this TV-out feature and wireless internet I've been pretty much watching movies whilst downloading new ones. As soon as I'm finished watching one, two more have finished downloading - and the vicious cycle continues. I've also been using Nero to back the ones I like up on disk, using the DVD encoder to make VCDs that will play back on our DVD player. You can even add your own custom menus, which is cool. Before starting Meet the Fockers, which I just burned for example, you see a picture kimchi in the background of the menu screen and chapter options. What a modern-day internet pirate I'm becoming! At least I won't be sued any time soon living in Korea I hope. I still think it's important to buy the movies or music that you really enjoy at least. Software, well - I'm sure I would never buy any software anyway, so I don't feel too badly about that.

Well, today started pretty badly but it turned out OK. I woke up on time, but for some reason it took me longer than usual to get out the door. When I was on the train, knowing I would be late, I got a message from Cathy that some Korean teacher from another program would be there at 10:00 to watch my classes all day. Great. I just love how at any given time, someone can come watch me, be it a parent, Bonnie from the agency, the principal (she comes in once a day!) and/or other teachers from other programs. I'm starting to get used to it though. It's not as bad I once thought.

In fact, it turned out I actually enjoyed showing off for this woman. I have all three long classes down to a science. I enjoy teaching them so much now that I lose track of time and have found myself teaching into break times without caring. The kids even moan and groan when it's time to stop. Even then, it's not much of a break for me. All the little girls swarm around my desk and ask me a zillion questions, or draw me on the board, or give me candy, etc. This is actually very weird for me. I have never had so much attention from kids at any hagwon. That I work in a public school, teach the same kids every day, and have such a good spirit while I teach, these things have made all the difference - though sometimes the constant attention drives me batty.

We've been getting along well, Cathy and I, as I've been saying - so much so that today I just laughed off her antics at lunch time. First of all, I asked her and the woman, Sun, who was watching me, if they wanted to eat lunch together. I didn't really want to (I like to relax quietly at lunchtime) but I thought I should ask. I think nobody understood me because they said yes, but then they kept sitting there. So I waited and then asked again. Cathy acted confused and said they had to stay there and talk. Another awkward moment of miscommunication before I hustled off.

I wandered around and ended up buying a sandwich from a bakery. It was relatively warm outside today so I sat down on a bench to eat. Well, Cathy and Sun had decided to eat out after all and had made their way to the restaurant where I usually eat. They were looking for me. When Cathy spotted me (the bench happened to be across from the restaurant) she came running outside saying I have to join them. "Hurry! It's too cold outside."

"No, no, I'm fine," I chirped. I really did just want to relax and eat alone and read the paper.

"No, you have to come in," she yelled from across the street.

"I'm fine, Cathy. It's no big deal. Enjoy your lunch! I bought a sandwich!"

"Shawn, no. You have to eat with us. Come here, please. We want."

"Um, Cathy, I have this sandwich. I'm fine."

"Please, Shawn, you have to come here." She was just unable to comprehend that I actually preferred to eat alone outside on a bench and maybe thought they had hurt my feelings - though trust me, they didn't.

"I'm fine, Cathy."

"Shawn! Come here, please! Don't do this."

Sigh. So, now I'm inside the restaurant with my thick, freshly made, egg-salad, ham-and-cheese sandwich, milk and newspaper, looking like an idiot to every Korean person inside the small place.

"Can I eat this here?" I said. It looked big and tasty and I was very hungry.

"Oh, no!" piped Cathy. It's cold out. You must to eat the hot food." (Koreans don't consider a sandwhich to be a meal, no matter how big and thick it is. That's why the Subway Sandwhich franchises usually do poorly in Korea).

"Well, I want the sandwhich, but OK, I guess. I looked at the menu and under intense pressure (everyone in the place seemed to be hanging on my order) I finally decided on kal gook su , a kind of tasty, piping hot Korean noodle soup which I had there before. As I waited, I realized it was already 12:15, and that lunch would end at 12:30. I also realized Cathy was eating just a 1,000 won (95 cent) roll of kimbap and nothing else.

"Cathy, you told me I can't eat my sandwich and I have to eat something hot, but you're eating kimbap."

"Yes," she said, not getting the connection. I think Sun did, as she kept chuckling. She was eating spicy tofu soup (sun dubu).

Again, I shrugged this off and chuckled myself. Well, the food didn't come out until 12:20, and it was boiling hot. I tried my best to eat quickly, but it was near impossible. You can see where this is going, right? Cathy starts chomping down the kimbap while checking the clock every 6 seconds. At 12:27 I had eaten about 1/3 of my food, but she and Sun had finished all of theirs. Like a punctual, mechanical robot, Cathy paid for the food and stood up and waited for me and Sun to do the same. Lunch time was over, to be sure. It was time to go teach again. Hut, two, three four. Sun followed suit immediately, of course. She's also Korean. I followed too, but much more reluctantly. What a waste of food! Also, I was damn hungry still. It takes a lot of energy to travel so far and teach all day. Argh I sighed as we left, wishing I had just been able to eat my egg sandwich in peace. The big, thick sandwich and milk went to waste.

Now it gets better. Walking back to the school, Cathy started mumbling in Korean that we have to hurry. Sun and I kept walking a regular pace. Perhaps we would be 15-30 seconds late. Then suddenly Cathy burst into a sprint, leaving us behind. She ran all the way to the building and up to the classroom. I just chuckled again and shook my head. "She's so worried about the time," I said to Sun.

"Almost all Korean teachers are like that," she said. And I guess that's the point of the matter. She's just the way and I have to accept it or drive myself nuts letting it bother me.

Upstairs Cathy was panting and yelling, "Time to study," to the kids, half of which hadn't arrived yet.

Class B was plain awesome. Sun was taken aback by how excited the students were in class. It really is amazing. Almost every kid (especially the girls) wave their arms about wildly in the air no matter what I ask. They are doing so well. About ten minutes before the end of class, one of the girls' parents came in to watch too. She sat in the back and kept laughing out loud as I asked kids questions like, "Do monkies eat kimchi chigae?" (answer "No they don't. They eat bananas.") etc. After class the woman told me in pretty decent English that she was curious why her daughter loves my class so much and that now she knows why. Sun heard this too. I was glad she was there. Now I'm sure she will tell "Bonnie" from the agency all this at the meeting they had to go to later in the day.

Just waiting for Julie to get home now. I've prepapred our dinner: tuna ssam - (tuna, garlic, kimchi, rice, chili pepper sauces and fresh leaves). After we eat, we're going to watch Meet the Fockers and a Sex and the City Season 3 episode.

written by shawn matthews   -|link

Saturday, January 22, 2005

South Korean Flag

KLB - Saturday Morning

Either I'm getting old or my job schedule has really set in. I keep falling asleep at 12 or 1 on Friday night and popping out of bed at 8:00 in the morning. It would be great if this were the middle of spring or fall, but this is winter and it's damn cold out lately and there's not a lot to do. Julie has to get up too, as she has to go in for some meetings today at her job. So, looks like I'll be sitting here using the computer until afternoon.

I had a great week at work. Probably the best week I've ever had. In other words, I had "the passion," as Cathy might say. It's been surprisingly fun teaching phonics and conversation and the kids are making so much progress. Students who knew basically nothing before are now able to recognize sounds and spell words thanks to me skipping the stupid new textbooks and opting to teach mainly phonics. Cathy seems to have calmed down too. A lot of the parents have been calling up or stopping by to tell us how much their kids (mostly the little girls) like the class. Plus I've been giving the kids strategic homework assignments where they have to go home and tell their mothers what they learned today and/or practice a conversation with them. The parent then has to sign their notebooks. Brilliant.

Last night Julie and I couldn't stop laughing as we watched Team America, which I downloaded off E-donkey. Great movie. I had wanted to see it in the theater, but I think because of the N. Korean /Kim Jong-il satire, it won't be released in Korea. I couldn't wait any longer.

The TV-out function on the computer is great. I never could get into movies (besides porn) on the computer before, and forget it when there are two people watching. But what do you do when you want to see something that takes too long to come to Korea (and not all films make it here)? Well, now I simply search for the file, click, wait a few hours (sometimes a few days for something obscure) for the file to complete, then plug the computer into the TV. Presto! DVD quality new releases with Dolby surround sound. Nice!

written by shawn matthews   -|link

Friday, January 21, 2005

South Korean Flag

KLB - The Corporation

The Corporation. It's a three hour documentary about the darkside of your every day "friendly" corporation. If you haven't seen it, you should. Why? Because you know we live in a world of sickening corporate madnes, where enough is never enough...and you know that's bad, but you're not exactly sure why. Now you will learn why. Hopefully you believe you can make the world a better place by educating yourself, that is if you're not to the point of steely cynicism. I donated a little to their site and to these people and I also bought the book. The money supports independent film making and also various grassroots organizations.

written by shawn matthews   -|link

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