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Saturday, 31 March 2007

Box cutters are for kids

You will encounter many things teaching English in a Korean classroom. For starters, you'll find out soon enough that your students are spies, they love to give you Korean names, they like to make fun of you, they like to watch TV in class, they sleep late due to studying all night, and they'll remember your birthday.

When you're not catching a glimpse of the sunset, you'll also find something very interesting in the pencil cases of many students: box cutters. That's right, instead of a conventional pencil sharpener, most kids use razors to sharpen their pencils or pencil crayons. It's crazy and it caught me off guard when I saw one of my elementary students take one out of his pencil case. That was a long time ago when I first started, so now it's old hat to me. But it is really weird seeing a student hunched over the garbage can, sharpening a pencil by shaving it with a box cutter.

Hey, why let the students have all the fun? If they can have UV light pens, I can too. So why not add a box cutter to my desk drawer? This was already in my desk when I started the job. I now know why it was there...to sharpen pencils! My students have their "pencil sharpeners" in an assortment of colors. Mine just looks like a box cutter (also known as a pen knife in Singapore--thanks lu!).

Would you want your child going to school with this in their pencil case?

By the way, Happy April Fool's Day!

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Friday, 30 March 2007

Emeril Lagasse would love this post

You all should be aware by now that I absolutely love eating barbeque (it's one of the things I'm addicted to and it even tastes good when it's not in Seoul) in Korea. Normally we would stick to galbi but last week we branched out after work for some samgyeopsal. Do you love eating pork? Do you love bacon? If you answered "YES" to both of these questions you will be in food heaven. Last week we went for bbq after work (I have a backlog of things to post about)...one of them was Jessica (remember her with five-time bodybuilding champ, Mr. Seoul?)

Samgyeopsal is the bacon cut from the pork belly. When it comes to the table it is basically thick strips of bacon, but not cured. This pork is then grilled up with kimchi (or other vegetables, like garlic and onions) cooking in the juices that run off to the bottom of the pan. The pork gets super crispy and tasty once it starts cooking in its own juices. Wrap a piece of crispy bacon with some samjang in lettuce and holy moses will you be in bbq heaven. Mmmm....I'm just drooling thinking about it again. ;)

This may not look appetizing at first sight, but give it about 5-10 minutes and I guarantee you will change your mind:

Here are a few sides that came with our samgyeopsal...this unidentified dish is called 돌나물 (dol-na-mul; Sedum sarmentosum; thanks ballsuni!). I could use the help of My Korean Kitchen or ZenKimchi right about now:

These are potatoes...that tasted like potatoes:

Here we are...the copper grill working its magic. Notice the kimchi hanging out in the pan along with some garlic and onions. Samjang is the small red dish (it's highly addictive) and a small dish of seasoning salt and oil that made the seared pork taste even better (someone give me the name of the salt&oil sauce!). Devante got plastered on bottles of soju...hehe

Here's the pork after being seared to perfection...in the words of Emeril Lagasse, "pork fat rules!":

We dined at the 24 hour BBQ place near Omokgyo Station, exit 8. One of the workers there has become a fan of Gdog...everytime we show up, we get some sort of "service" or free item on the house. This time it was bowls of naeng myun for the four of us, along with two bottles of pop:

What would Emeril say right now?

"I sweat pork fat!" -Emeril Lagasse

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Tommy Hilfiger's long lost brother: Tommy Atkins

So we're in Myeongdong and we're starting to get extremely hungry. I've experienced food in Myeongdong a few times already. Fusion omurice at Omuto Tomato and Shinpo restaurant (the post about the happy clappy employees). We decided to go back to Shinpo for a late lunch because the food was pretty good last time. For those in the Lower Mainland, have you tried the Shinpo in Vancouver?

Anyways, let's get down to business. Shinpo is famous for their steamed dumplings, but this time we decided to try them fried. They were just as delicious, crunchy but still juicy in the middle. Served with a cabbage salad topped with gochujang:

Devante opted for the Teriyaki Udon noodle dish. This was a massive plate of udon with mixed vegetables and lots of chicken. We barely finished this dish!

I am huge fan of naeng myun (ice noodles) but the last time I had some was in the summer. I decided to get some as it would be a refreshing dish after a long day of shopping. The buckwheat noodles at Shinpo were excellent. I really enjoyed this dish.

There's a reason why they're called ice noodles...check this out:

Finally, I have to introduce you to a new friend of mine. It is Tommy Hilfiger's long lost brother in Korea, Tommy Atkins. Hmm...I do see a resemblance of some sort. Do you?

Sugar mamas in Korea...oh so sweet!

Following our trip to Gangnam, we went to another busy shopping mecca, Myeongdong (home to the world's largest Starbucks). There are hundreds of stores lined along narrow streets (which conveniently allows cars to drive on). Remember this fellow? I snapped that picture of him wandering the crowded streets here. Shopping in Myeongdong shows you a glimpse of the enormous population that inhabits Seoul, one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

I'm going to describe some sugar mamas today. These ladies sell caramelized sugar that has been molded into fun shapes. Sugar is melted down in a small tin cup with flames provided by butane bottles. People will buy these random shapes for roughly 1000w ($1USD) each. You will find these ladies (and sometimes men) in Myeongdong and other busy shopping districts, such as Insadong. Now that's what you call profit...selling melted sugar for a buck!

Here's a spy shot from inside one of the many stores in Myeongdong. You must visit this area if you're coming to Seoul. There are lots of stores to check out, but make sure you go early to avoid the crowds (which is almost impossible but we did it!).

One more picture of another sugar mama...I wonder if she has a sugar daddy?

I mentioned how cars were allowed to drive on these narrow streets earlier. It is crazy how these drivers think they're going to get anywhere quickly. It's just an accident waiting to happen trying to avoid the throngs of people:

You have to be careful at times because some of these drivers just creep up on you. Some drivers of small delivery trucks are crazy so you should always watch your back!

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Beggars in Korea...

When we first arrived to teach English in Korea, we immediately noticed something: the absence of homeless and beggars on the streets. Compared to the situation back home in Canada, we were surprised at the lack of homeless people and beggars. However, as we further explored the city we realized that this problem exists but mainly in the busier areas, such as Seoul Station.

In Mokdong, you would be hard pressed trying to find people camped out in parks and in the subway stations. Move towards the inner core of City Hall and you will see people sleeping on the lawns of Namdaemun gate (where I bought my digital SLR...right on the lawns, baby) and inside the subway stations.

Beggars can be found in high traffic areas, either roaming from car to car on the subway or wandering the streets of busy markets. It's very common to see handicapped people going from car to car, with a radio hanging around their necks playing a tune, while holding a basket in front of them. Some are partially "blind" and take their time walking through the cars. I say this because every time I watch them, they open the car doors by grabbing the handle on the first try. If you're blind, how the heck can you reach for the handle and open doors with such accuracy? I'm not saying their fully handicapped, but they are walking with a white cane. Who knows, it could be habit for all I know!

Here are a few candid snapshots...this fellow was stationed right at the exit of a subway station in Gangnam. It's a pretty dangerous spot to be in...imagine the 1000's of pairs of high heels that could potentially step on him:

Let's jump to Myeongdong...you can see many of these homeless and handicapped individuals on the streets. They have either one or two legs missing, so they are pushing themselves on a board with wheels. The most interesting part of this is that they have music playing--powered by a car battery:

These are just some of the sights you will expect if you're coming to Korea. Although there is a fairly high standard of living here, there are always people who still end up falling through the cracks. The government has tried solving this problem in the past but only time will tell if things will change for the better.

Wow, a somewhat serious post for once that wasn't food related. That will change soon, I promise!

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

My Steff Houlberg hot dog experience

A while back we went back to Gangnam (check out their massive underground shopping arcade), one of the busy financial districts in south eastern Seoul. Devante wanted to go shopping and check out some cosmetic items at a few stores.

I've talked about hot dogs in the past (Boston Hot Dog; Costco's notorious $1.99 hot dog & pop) and I've seen Steff HotDogs locations before as they are littered throughout Seoul. Steff HotDog is part of the Steff Houlberg chain that sells the Danish style hot dog. These hot dogs are long, thin red sausages that are steamed and buns that are steamed or toasted as well. I wanted to see what these things were all about. When I'm shopping, I need food. I need energy to keep on going. Hot dogs=energy. Let's get down to business!

Here's the inside of the location in Gangnam. Their menus has items such as the BLT hot dog, barbecue hot dog, Viking hot dog, Steff hot dog, or Garlic Onion hot dog:

I opted for the Chili dog (chili as in hot sauce, not chili chili). I was going to get a set combo but I only wanted a snack. Low and behold, here is what I saw when it arrived. A long, thin hot dog that was covered in onions, hot sauce...and corn (corn is on everything here, especially pizza). It was good but I was still hungry afterwards. My first hot dog experience with corn, sweet! I would recommend giving Steff Hotdog a try, but be prepared to eat afterwards. Order two if you're super hungry. I think I'm going to stick to my 2000w hot dog and pop combo from Costco.

This is what a Chili set combo could have looked like:

Sunday, 25 March 2007

It's that time of the month...again

It's that time of the month again...report card time! Anyways, at the end of every month we have to write progress reports evaluating what my students have been up to for the month. This time instead of filling out forms by hand, they have moved online which is going to be a lot easier. This means new posts will slow down in the next few days as I prepare to do 50+ reports! The internet is my downfall as it's the ultimate procrastinating tool.

Here's something to keep you busy in the meantime. It's a waste basket that can be found inside all Family Mart (and many other) convenience stores. What's the purpose? It's a strainer for dumping out the itty bitty leftovers from instant ramyeon (noodle) cups. That food waste will be recycled, as part of Korea's incredible recycling initiative.

MMMMmmmm...leftover bits of rehydrated vegetables and MSG-laden noodle bits...

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Jeju Cactus Chocolate

Jeju is a volcanic island south of Korea known as the "Hawaii of Korea". It has a temperate climate and is most famous for its oranges, which everyone in Korea raves about. We had a chance to visit Jeju-do during the beginning of our time in Korea. You may remember our "wonderful" hotel room in Seogwipo, our trip to Hyeopjae Beach next to Hallim Park, and our visit to Jeju-si, Central Jeju.

Anyways, Jeju also makes some famous chocolate, one of them known to many as Jeju cactus chocolate. Cactus in chocolate?? Yeah, you got that right. According to one website, "Jeju cactus chocolate is made with cactus powder through vacuum lyophilization (I didn't know what that meant either) of Jeju cactus. It adds nutritive substance to deep and tender chocolate taste."

I've eaten this chocolate a few times now, mostly received as a gift from students and one time a lady from our bank. It's got an interesting flavor that one should give a try. You might not like it, but it's different that's for sure. The taste just pokes ya! Have you tried these before?

Here is an individually wrapped piece...that's a nice looking cactus:

...of course we gotta take a look at the back of this thing too:

The chocolate is made through a 3 layer sandwich process, with the cactus flavored layer (or orange) in the middle. Check out the chocolate making process if you're bored. Anyways, here's the picture you've been waiting for (those are my teethmarks):

The box looks something like this...time to find this in Homever:

When we head back home I will be sure to bring some of these chocolates with me. I will also pack some kimchi chocolates as well!

Friday, 23 March 2007

The Mokdong sunset

My classroom at work is a corner suite with all the amenities: a toilet paper dispenser, white board brush eraser holder, and even enough room for a toilet paper tie (which is now famous--it was recognized as official toilet paper art). The back of my classroom consists of all windows so the transition from day to night can be seen everyday. Some days the sunsets are spectacular. However, they are overlooked when I have the blinds partially drawn sometimes.

One day last week during a lesson one of my students had a "TEACHER LOOK!" moment. Everyone turned around and was like "WOOOOWWWW!"...I had no idea what was going on. With the lesson conveniently on hold as everyone rushed to the window, all I hear is "so beautiful" and that's when I clued in they were talking about the sunset. Upon further inspection they were indeed correct. One of the nicest sunsets I've seen in Korea by far. Here a couple pictures to prove that I am not a pathological liar:

Luckily I had my camera handy (it's always handy as you may have already figured out--there I go again lying) and snapped a couple quick photos. This one turned out the best:

That plane in the background is heading towards Gimpo International Airport. Jon Allen from I'm A Seoul Man was on hand for today's opening of the Incheon-Gimpo Airport Railway. So far the pictures look impressive.

One more picture for you here. Notice the difference between the two pictures...a wide angle perspective compared to a shot zoomed in. Photography is fun (taken with my Canon SD400 for those who care)!

Thursday, 22 March 2007

The world's largest boy band

The Backstreet Boys--5 members
New Kids on the Block--5 members
Take That--5 members
'N Sync--5 members
O-Town--5 members
98 Degrees--4 members
Westlife--4 members
The Monkees--4 members
B2K--4 members
Super Junior--13 members...err...13?!

You're probably wondering what's with the list of boy bands. You're also probably excited right now (come on, Take That, Westlife, O-Town--when was the last time you heard those names?) too. Take a look at my compiled list one more time. Do not rub your eyes, do not adjust your LCD monitor, the member numbers are in fact correct. There are in fact 13 members of the Korean K-pop band, Super Junior!

According to Wikipedia, Super Junior debuted in late 2005 with 12 members but about seven months later they added another person to the group, making their member count a lucky 13. One of their members is actually Chinese (hand picked from an audition of over 3000 people). Members of Super Junior have had previous roles in the entertainment industry, through various modeling and acting roles. They have been criticized for lip-synching though (aren't boy bands supposed to do this?) on a live performance TV show (remember Ashlee Simpson on Saturday Night Live and her "acid reflux" or the ultimate lip-synchers, Milli Vanilli?)

The popularity of Super Junior is more prevalent with tweens versus older high schoolers. Through an unscientific survey of my five classes, the elementary students tend to receive my question with more enthusiasm versus the late middle school and high school students. Nonetheless, Super Junior still has 13 members (check out Super Junior's official website--get ready to be wow'd)! I wonder how much money they can really make when pay checks need to be divided 13 times, not including all the other people involved with making their music. What about singing songs? Who gets the most mic time? It must take a while to memorize the names of all the members too. You can get a head start right because here they are (in no particular order of course):

1. Lee Teuk
2. Hee Chul
3. Han Kyung
4. Yeh Sung
5. Kang In
6. Shin Dong
7. Sung Min
8. Eun Hyuk
9. Dong Hae
10. Si Won
11. Ryeo Wook
12. Ki Bum
13. Kyu Hyun

I got the idea to write about Super Junior by...eating at McDonalds! That's right, currently they have a "friend set" that includes two mini Super Junior CDs attached to the lid of your drink. Unfortunately we did not opt for this mega combo but I was lucky enough to find one CD left behind at the recycling counter--score! Here it is:

Here's a Super Junior video...so you can experience what they are all about:

This probably stems from the media, but Korean males are very...how do I say this..."intimate" with each other (remember this hand-on-thigh picture?). They are very touchy and huggy all the time. I have male students that are all over each other in my classes. They also do not hesitate to call you "handsome"...whether I'm eating barbecue, grocery shopping, or teaching, I hear it all the time. I'll have to post about that later.

Want the CD above? You have to order this set first. Only one order of fries between two people? That is just wrong!

To finish off this post, let's watch Ashlee Simpson working her magic. What's with that little leprechaun dance?:

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

The closest thing to sweet and sour pork

There are days when you just don't feel like cooking. Waking up late, or just being plain lazy is the bane of my existence. Anyways, why create a mess in the kitchen when you can order delivery at work? It's fast, convenient, reasonably priced, and for the most part pretty tasty.

I haven't had the chance to eat any sort of Chinese food in a long time. Other than the occasional homemade stir fry, it has been a while since I've experience some Hong Kong style Chinese food or the "Westernized" kind, such as "sweet and sour pork," one of my personal favorites. Hmm...maybe I should get my grandma over here to make me some good ol' home cookin!

The Chinese food in Korea resembles some of the fare I experienced in Beijing. I haven't had much experience eating at Chinese restaurants here as it is can be pricey. One day we are going to experience Jackie's Kitchen, the restaurant chain by Jackie Chan. They are littered all over Seoul. The Carrefour food court had a Chinese dish that I enjoyed. This dish is similar to what we ordered at work recently.

For 6000w (~$6USD), Devante and I shared this massive plate. For all those "ginger pork" fans out there, that is NOT ginger pork. It's in a sweet and sour style sauce. Next to that, we have some noodles (there was a side of black bean-like sauce to go with them), and some "flied lice" with bits of egg and carrot, along with a steamed bun.

We can't forget the side dishes: kimchi, pickled radish & raw onions, a huge bowl of sauce for our noodles, spicy vegetable soup, and some sort of soya sauce flavored dip.

After stuffing our faces full right before work, this was the aftermath:

Time to clean up this mess. How? Grab everything in sight and launch it into the supplied plastic bag. The delivery guy will return to pick up the dishes and garbage. Boy, that was easy. Next up, a power nap in an unused classroom to digest all this food. Get someone to vouch for you and you'll be on your merry little way, muhaha!

Edit: I just found an amusing article by the CBC from Michael Kwan that Chinese fast food is not healthy. Umm...as if other fast food chains are good for you!

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Shopping carts are for kids, not groceries

When we used to go shopping next door at Carrefour, we would just load up a shopping cart and push it right up to our front door. This was not the best policy as you would find Carrefour shopping carts scattered around Mokdong. There is a 100w (10 cent) deposit for the cart, but come on, 100w for hours of fun is totally worth it.

However, with the change to Homever, their shopping cart policy changed. We are no longer allowed to leave the premises with a cart because the parking attendant dude stops us every time. I've managed to outwit him by mumbling random English phrases quickly a few times and running away, and one time I even gave him my watch as a deposit for the shopping cart. Now we just buy groceries in small batches at a time (getting down to the grocery section of Homever involves going underground two levels) to avoid using a cart.

Today we will be talking about shopping carts. In Korea, most shopping carts have seats for your little tikes to sit in. But some carts don't have the seat by the cart handle (that we all remember sitting in). What to do? Heck, just throw all your kids into the mix with the groceries! I've never seen so many children sitting in shopping carts before. They are either sleeping, reading, or doing their academy homework while mom shops. Even when there is a child seat, you will still find kids thrown into the cart--they can't run away if they are in there!

Here are some observations from a recent trip to Costco. Check this cart out...there's barely enough room in there for groceries--two full grown children take up a lot of room:

...look at this little guy, sleeping in the cart because he was up late studying English. I assume they're going to pile items on top of him?

Here's something for you octopus fans out there...let's see you try eating these while they are alive!

Do you have any shopping cart stories?

Monday, 19 March 2007

Cooking hoil for a new toaster oven

Recently we added a new appliance to our kitchen, a toaster oven from Homever that cost only 14900w ($15USD). Now that we have a toaster oven this opens up many doors that were previously closed. Reheating pizza will be a joy in the oven. We can now bake items, such as chicken fingers, cookies, muffins, even banana bread (you'll have to wait and see if we actually get around to making any of these though).

On our search for some cooking foil, I ran into a similar product that I was hesitant to try. Some of you might have heard of this before and some of you might think it's just plain crazy. It's called "Cooking Hoil" and it's courtesy of our friends at Homever (remember the world's worst goldfish bowl?). Luckily we passed on this unique opportunity and went with the traditional tried, tested, and true product known to many as "cooking foil". Talk about dodging a dodge ball there, huh?

Anyways, for those who are interested in my antics in the kitchen, here are my homemade chicken fingers that were made with the help of our new toaster oven. Just a little FYI when I first turned on the oven for a quick "burn in" test, it started smoking and smelling like cheap plastic. I guess you do get what you pay for! There are no temperature settings, just a timer for the oven and a choice to have either the top element on, the bottom element on, or both.

I cut up a few chicken breasts into strips, mashed up some salted soda crackers to use instead of bread crumbs, added some salt, pepper, and added some basil to the dry mixture. After a quick egg wash the strips were then dunked into the dry mix and fried in a pan, then finished off in the oven.

What would we do without our trusty TFAL pan?

The $15 toaster oven in all its glory--with a pearl blue paint job to boot, what more could you ask for in a toaster oven (real temperature settings would be nice, but that would be asking for too much for $15)?

The final product...

Instant noodles as a REAL snack

Remember back in the day when eating Mr. Noodles (or any other kind of instant noodles) during recess or lunch was "the thing" to do? Rumors of getting worms by eating raw noodles is what we heard from both friends and family. But the stuff just tasted so darn good, especially the bright yellow, simulated "Chicken" flavor, laden with incredible amounts of salt, MSG, artificial flavors, and colors. What was your favorite flavor? Beef? Oriental? Vegetable? Shrimp?

Anyways, in Korea they actually market these instant noodles as a "true" snack, not meant to be cooked in a pot of boiling water. It's found next to bags of chips and not in the ramyeon aisle. I have students eating this stuff like mad, then asking me after if they can drink water. Hmmm, I wonder why they would need water--it's not like this stuff is just full of salt or anything!

These instant noodles can be purchased at any convenience store for about 500w or so (50 cents). Look at the cute animated character...how can you avoid this? Having sampled some the stuff (it tastes pretty decent, especially coming from the grubby hands of a student) I decided to buy my own bag...just for kicks and to post about this on the blog. Hmm...anyone out there want to reimburse me? You can pay me via PayPal!

After giving the package a good couple of smacks, I added the sauce (aka powdered MSG/salt) and gave it a shake, mimicking my students. I ended up finishing most of the bag--and regretted it afterwards after my body went into convulsions.

Ahhh, the memories. Whenever I think of this package my body shudders with love.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Korean musicals: The Last Empress Review

Musicals are not on my top ten list of things to do. The last musical I saw was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, starring the boyhood idol of millions, Donnie Osmond (who misses his talk show Donnie and Marie?)--I was in the 5th grade at the time. Ever since that life changing experience, I cannot go a day without singing the following excerpt from one of the musical's tracks, Go, Go, Go Joseph:
Go, go, go, go
Go, go, go, go
Go, go, go, go
Go, go, go, go
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go
Joseph you know what they say
Hang on now Joseph you'll make it some day
Sha la la Joseph you're doing fine
You and your dreamcoat ahead of your time

Go, go, go, go, go, go, go Joseph you know what they say
Hang on now Joseph you'll make it some day
Sha la la Joseph you're doing fine
You and your dreamcoat ahead of your time

Anyways, to get back on topic, we recently checked out a Korean musical, The Last Empress, with a couple friends from work. This production started in 1995 as Korea's first original musical and has also debuted in New York at the New York State Theater and Lincoln Center, along with London's West End. It has been highly critically acclaimed and seen by millions around the globe. So just what is this musical about? It's about the life of Empress Myeongseong, who according to Wikipedia:
...is viewed by many as a national heroine, for striving diplomatically and politically to keep Korea independent of foreign influence. She was skilled in foreign affairs and diplomacy, and had an ambitious plan to modernize Korea. The Japanese viewed her as an obstacle against its expansion overseas. Efforts to remove her from politics failed, orchestrated through rebellions prompted by her father-in-law, the influential regent, compelling the Empress to take a harsher stance against Japanese influence. She was killed in her residence in Gyeongbokgung on October 8, 1895.

So this musical was also a short history lesson on Korea. The musical was playing at the Seoul Arts Center in their Opera Theater. It was quite large with seating for 2300+ people. We had seats on the second floor balcony. This was our first foreign musical experience, so that meant subtitles, which were projected above the top of the stage. The musical itself was extremely elaborate with incredible costumes and a wide range of set changes (including pyrotechnics!). I did find it difficult trying to read the subtitles high above the stage, while at the same time trying to focus on the stage below--my eyes wouldn't let me!

The show lasted for 2 hours and 30 minutes (with a 20 minute intermission). Let's just say my butt was pretty darn sore for sitting for so long (being over 6 ft tall and a lack of legroom does not help). Although it was a wonderful experience and a unique visual history the life of Empress Myeongseong, I would've enjoyed it more if I understood Korean. What I should have done was read up about her story prior to the musical, as that would've made following it a lot easier. But nonetheless it was a good experience.

Remember how I posted about how Koreans love posing for pictures in front of backgrounds? Well, here we are striking a pose:

Any sort of camera or recording devices are strictly forbidden inside the theater. However, I think my UV light pen has influenced me to become the ultimate spy. The subtitles were projected at the very top of the stage, where it reads "The Last Empress":

Here is a small video clip of the musical (I told you, my UV light pen is the root of evil). The stage is set as a huge ship and those three men represent foreign powers that want a piece of the Korean peninsula and all it has to offer (another clip will come in the morning):

Here's the other clip as promised:

Interested in seeing the musical? You're out of luck because it's no longer showing, sorry. How did we get to the Seoul Arts Center? We arrived by subway via the green line (line 2) and stopping at the Nambu Bus Terminal station. From exit 5, a complimentary shuttle bus took us to the Seoul Arts Center. More info about pricing and such can be found on the musical's website.

"Whoooooo'ssss your daddy?" - Donny Osmond

Friday, 16 March 2007

All Korean children are spies

If you heading over to Korea for a teaching job, you will encounter a variety of pens, pencils and other writing devices in your classroom. Every kid has a zippered pencil case that holds an assortment of pencils and pens. I've encountered huge pencils that are the size of relay baton, pens that have 10 different colors, rainbow colored markers, flexible pens, and even one kid using his finger to write with blood (similar to that Simpsons episode where evil Sideshow Bob was writing his note to Bart in jail).

However, out of all the pens I've seen, my personal favorite is the UV light pen. Just what is a UV light pen you ask? You may have seen them in movies or your local spy shop, but these pens have special ink that can only be seen under UV light. What happens when parents supply their children with these things? You have kids writing secret notes and messages in class, most likely about their teacher. It's like having a classroom full of mini spies. How do you combat this? You fight fire with fire and buy your OWN UV light pen!

I was looking around for these pens for the longest time and finally found them in a smaller stationary shop. For 1000w ($1USD) you can have as much fun as your kids. At times, I will randomly shine my light on their workbooks in search of hidden messages written in Hangul that I can't read anyways. Have a kid driving you nuts? Draw on their book with this pen! That really gets them going--especially when they don't have their own pen to decipher the message. Joke's on you, kid!

Here's my UV light pen. As you can see, it's all pimped out with the words "project milk" and a few phrases about how wonderful cow's milk is. It even looks like a cow. The UV light is usually built into the lid of the pen:

Here is UV light in action...pretty cool, huh?

...and this is your job for today:

I have never seen these pens back home in Canada. Have you? If you have, let me know!

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