Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ten off the cuff nice things about Korea

10. Convenience of things. Let's face it Korea is pretty convenient for many things like places to eat, drink, and sing songs. The country is pretty easy to get around, if you can speak a little Korean, and since most people live in cities, many things are in walking distance.

9. Nice public spaces. This one kind of goes along with convenience, but in urban areas there are no shortage of parks, department stores, or just large places where people gather. Summer times in Jinju see congregations of old people just sitting around outside of city hall, just talking and saying how hot it is. In rural areas there is also no shortage of hiking trails on mountains with exercise equipment on it. The exquisite vistas in these areas are great as well.

8. Traditional things. Korea has some pretty nice traditional things. Temples, palaces, many things. Korea has a lot of traditional things.

7. Makeoli and Dong Dong Ju. I can't stand soju, so this rice funky cold medina is the perfect match to a fried onion pancake and good friends.

6. Kimchi. A bizarre food that tastes strange at first, but when you go with it for a few years and then go without it any period of time you miss it.

5. Building projects. Okay, so tearing down old buildings and then building huge white concrete eyesores, that has the word Hyundai stamped on the side can be quite annoying, but as I mentioned before, Korea has a dense population so the overuse of public spaces wears things out, so luckly new things are built all of the time. If you don't want to use the smelly bathroom in the subway station that has the soap on a metal pole, you can always find a new building close by.

4. The occasional Awesome Korean movie. Let's face it, Korean movies can be extremely violent, sappy, or just make absolutely no sense at all, and then some awesome movie will come along, and be the talk of the town. A Korean movie in a cinema can be a great experience, and if it is terrible it isn't Holywood's fault. I somehow felt responsible after I saw the "Watchmen."

3. Korean people. I was listening to David Cross talk about New York one time. He said that every twenty minutes in New York he has to make a decision between looking at the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, or looking at the craziest person he has ever seen. Korea has many handsome men and beautiful women, but it also has strange things happening all of the time. I took a stroll down a gun gang won street in a market one with my girlfreind. A gun gang won is a business that make various health broths. According to one of the signs there was a place that made cat broth for arthritis. We walked a little further and saw a white meaty thing that turned out to be a boiled dog's head. Aside from that I really like a lot of the old people here. I take a bus to school in the morning and share it with a bunch of ajumas who work in a bell peper packing facility, they are always very kind and try to talk to me.

2. The strange Korean experiences that stop surprising you: After seeing a boiled dog's head, a few weeks later my girlfreind and I had some guy arrested for killing a dog with a hammer in broad daylight, in the middle of a neighborhood. Later the guy claimed he was sick and felt he needed soup for health. It also turned out that he stole the dog. If you watch my Jinju travel series 2 video, you can see the roof tops on which we saw this action. (It is at 33 seconds, and is the green painted flat topped roof. )

1. Taekwondo: I wouldn't be here if it weren't for Taekwondo. It is really kind of a lousy martial art for getting into fights, but it can be great exercise and a lot of fun. My 70 year old Tae Kwondo instructor in America has lead a rich and interesting life, doing things as randomas Dancing with Pricilla Presly to judging international competitions, and so I went to his country to live a la vida loca as well.


YongKim said...

Hi there,

It seems that I am the first one ever who leaves a comment on your blog. I was directed to your blog by accident, but ended up reading your whole blog with great interest. I am a Korean now living in Austin, TX. I spent two years of my life in Ann Arbor. Your cultural interpretation of things happening in Korea is quite insightful. I also see things happening here in the U.S. through my own cultural lens. Cross-cultural stuff is always interesting, isn't it?
Anyway, I wish you all the best luck while you are in Korea. Ah... how much do I miss the fall in Korea... :)

3gyupsal said...

Wow, someone who isn't my mom read my blog, nice to meet you YongKim. Sorry for my past posts that may seem a bit mean on Korea. There are some things that should be taken with a grain of salt as well, like the thing I wrote about BOA.

I'd be interested in Korean experiences in America. I knew a few Korean people in America through training 태권도 and their expriences either seemed great or horrific.

I developed a pretty good relationship with all of the Korean people at my 도장 and I always noticed a lot of tension between the school's owner, a Korean master who emigrated in 1970and the masters who he would hire to help run the school. All of them, including his half brother, left due to poor wages.

I too spent a year of my life trying to pay rent on only 8 dollars an hour 25 hours a week, so when I got the chance to teach English over here I took it. Unfortunatly I haven't really done much 태권도 over here, there are generally too many kids.

I'd be interested in your opinion on things in Ann Arbor, and Austin. I miss the fall in Michigan as well, our maples aren't quite the same, but I miss going out to apple orchards and getting apple cider.