Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jinju is better than any other mother f***ing city in Korea

Eat it bitches. I'm going to add some "Kid Sister" music to hammer home my passion for the city.
Just look at it!
That is 척석루. Once designated the greatest pavilion in all of Gyeongsang province. That's one F***ing awesome pavilion.

No in all seriousness. In front of that pavilion is a rock where a lady named Nongae killed a Japanese general, after the Japanese took over the city in 1592. A few nights ago I was walking on this walkway with my wife, and there was a crane sitting on that rock. The crane was just sitting there hanging out. It was pretty cool. The obsidian river reflected the lights on the water and there were two pavilions, rocks, and cranes. Then the crane flew away.
And then there is Wol ah San
Not many cities have so many cool defining aspects. I climbed the left peak in wol ah san yesterday for the third time. That is one helluva workout. My wife and I were gone for two hours going up, and about forty five minutes going down. Lunch/dinner was naengmyeon.
Then there is also some awesome lakeness. Here is a photo from my wedding back in October. How many f***ing Korean weddings have you been too that look this nice?

Jinju is awesome.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Real Life!!! Expressing Condolences With Phrases from a Middle School English Text Book

Sujin: What's wrong?

Minho: I feel like my life is comming apart. I don't know what to do anymore.

Sujin: That's too bad.

Minho: It started with the nieghborhood parties...You know it was nothing big, Valerie just took a few hits from the joint nothing big you know. Hell even I did that.

Sujin: How nice!

Minho: But she couldn't have just one. Then that bastard moved in down the street, Tom. He started making meth in his basement, and it all went down hill from there. The next thing I know it's two years later, she's loosing teeth, and I'm homeless because all of my mortgage payments went up in smoke in her addictions.

Sujin: Time sure flies.

Minho: I think I'm to blame. I should have tried to get her some help. I guess I was in denial. It's just that life can be too real sometimes.

Sujin: What a pity!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Last Week's Trip to Myung Dong

About a week or two ago my wife had a conference up in Seoul. I was lucky enough to have the day off due to the kids being on a school trip, so after I woke up and had breakfast I took the three and a half hour bus ride up to Seoul to have a Seoul fantastic time.

My trip first brought me to Gang nam. Technically I could be called a Taekwondo master because I hold a fourth degree black belt in the art. Strangely after twelve to thirteen years of practicing Taekwondo I somewhat gave it up after arriving in it's birthplace of Korea. The Taekwondo world headquarters, called the Kukiwon, is in Gang nam. Also strangely, after having practiced Taekwondo for twelve to thirteen years and then living in Korea for four, I had never been to the world taekwondo headquarters. So I had a few hours to kill before my wife got out of her seminar and I took a side trip up to the Kukiwon.

Back in America when I was practicing Taekwondo under the tutelage of Grand Master Chung, I had the text book that he had written as a guidance. Throughout the text one can see pictures of Grand Master Chung performing heroic feats such as hanging buckets of water from his skin, getting driven over by a car, and squatting on broken glass while holding a dumb bell with 200 pounds of weight in his mouth. There is also a picture of the Kukiwon. To an impressionable teenager, one can only imagine the mythic qualities that the Kukiwon must have over people.

However when I got there, I found that the place was just an ornately positioned gymnasium at the top of a hill. There were some offices too. There was also a small museum that was locked. The staff was polite and seemed a little surprise that I could speak enough Korean to gain entrance to the museum. The museum reminded me a bit of a martial arts school back in America. It had a lot of Olympic posters and there were a lot of trophies. The museum seemed to tell the story of Taekwondo's journey to becoming an Olympic sport.

I can't exactly say that I was disappointed or surprised by how underwhelming the place was, so I simply tried to make haste to the subway before the rain started. Luckily I found a wonderful little store called "Daiso," where I picked up a tiny umbrella for 3000 won. My wife would later chuckle at the spectacle of me carrying a tiny umbrella that had a dinosaur on top of it. I was to later learn that the thing was for children. Oh well, no harm no foul I guess. I must have looked like a fool, strolling around a posh place like Gang-nam with a toddler's umbrella.

After all of that the day seemed to pick up for me luck-wise. While on the subway, I resolved to simply take the initiative and get a hotel room. This would cut out a lot of vacillating and dithering between me and my wife as to where to stay, or if we should even stay in Seoul. I checked with the folks at the Sejong Hotel. They quoted me a price that seemed a bit high, so I checked a few other places to see that there were no vacancies anywhere else, and I went back to the Sejong. Before my wife could get angry about the price, we went up to the room, saw that it was okay, and we found a wine bottle with a card welcoming a Mr. Nanao Fujimura (I can't remember his real name) home.

It turned out that the hotel staff made a mistake, and so they just gave us the bottle of wine!

The events of the evening unfolded rather nicely.

-Donuts and coffee at Mr. Donut.
- Dinner at some famous ramen shop (Eh, ramen was okay, it's always just okay, there is a pretty nice spicy ramen place that I like down in Seomyun in Busan though)

- Shopping
On this point I would like to say a few things. I try not to buy Chinese made garments. Not necessarily because of sweatshops. I'm sure that if you even go to the American Apparel* factory in L.A., you are going to find that stitching together clothes is a pretty shitty job whichever way you look at it. I simply try not to buy anything made in China because I want to support manufacturing in countries that aren't China. That said, I found some pretty good deals on Korean made jeans and shirts. First there was the Buckaroo-TBJ-Andew outlet shop across the street from Woori bank. (This is on the main street of Myung-dong where the first Mr. Donut is. I bought a pair of jeans for 29,000 won. These jeans were Korean made. This was an amazing price for Korea where a pair of Chinese made Levis can fetch as much as 300,000 won.
The jeans I bought were supposedly out of season, that's why they were on clearance, no matter they are pretty cool jeans.

We strolled around a bit after that and found the fabled H and T. This shop made the headlines of a lot of the Korea blogs when it first opened. I didn't find the place to be at all remarkable, but the building that it was in - Noon square, or neon square - had some pretty interesting treasures. On the fifth floor of Noon square there are a few boutique shops that feature the work of local designers. One novelty shop has women's bags and purses made from the seat belts of cars. A jeans shop is up there too, some men's places, one place that sells design t-shirts. If you are in Myung-Dong in Seoul, I recommend skipping H and T, and heading up to the fifth floor. For lunch or dinner go to the sixth floor of Noon-square. I had a burger at, "The Smokey Saloon," the next day. Nice. There is also a Chinese restaurant up there that is owned by Jackie Chan.

After we left the Noon Square building, we headed to a place called New York Hotdog and Coffee.
This place featured something called a "bulgogi hotdog." I had one of those things, it was great, definitely recommend it.

Sometimes it is nice to get up to Seoul. I really wouldn't like to live there but I enjoy visiting it. And that is my last trip to Seoul.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Obama or High Level Cabinet Member to Give Commencement at Kalamazoo Central High School

A rare opportunity for the residents of my home town, Kalamazoo, Michigan. The president may come to give the graduation speech to Kalamazoo central high school. Congratulations to the students to that school for the honor.

100th Post K-pop Extravaganza

First of all I would like to thank my readers for sticking with Fun Times in South East Korea for the past year and a half. I started this blog way back in November of....I don't know I think it was 2008. Anyway I started this blog with the dream of some day getting adsense to work and having thousands of readers come to my blog and click on the picture of the girl from Asian friend finder. I would then take the proceeds from adsense and then and invest them in an index fund and retire in five years. Well it turns out that I couldn't get adsense to work so boo hoo for me.

At any rate this blog doesn't really have any focus, sometimes I get really proud of something that I cooked, take pictures of it and then make a blog post. But since I live and work in the nice little (By Korean standards) town of Jinju, South Korea, I suppose this could be considered a Korea blog. In other posts I have commented on Korean pop music.

I actually find a lot of K-pop to be rubbish. Boy and Girl bands appear and disappear suddenly. Many members of Boy bands sadly find their careers cut short by stints in the Korean military. Others in both boy and girl bands come to the realization that they have no actual musical talent and disappear as well (Nick Khun I'm talking to you.) But there are some acts that I can get excited about.

Recently released "Swing," by Lee Hyori, is gritty and sounds like it has been taken from one of the "Kill Bill," sound tracks. There is an unfortunate case of rapping in it, but if you listed to the song on Youtube you can just skip that part - to be clear I love hip hop, just not in the middle of every damn song.

I was listening to the radio one morning and I heard something that seemed to have Rihanna's Jay Z produced beats, and Rihanna's verbal punctuations of "eh eh," from the song Umbrella, except said as "ah, ah." The singer's voice - in my opinion - carried a lot of the husky qualities of Grammy award winner Adele. This singer is Gil Hock Mi, 길학미, runner up of a Korea idol like contest.

This track, "Fiesta," is also pretty cool. It reminds me a little bit of "Everything But the Girl's," "Missing." Which is pretty cool because for some reason this Spring I have been enjoying listening to nice late 1990's style electronic music. Unfortunatly there is some rapping in this song as well, but it works a little bit better, once again it is like 1990's electronic Britpop.

I would like to thank Miss Gil, or her producers, for making some pretty cool music. She seems to defy recent K-pop by making music that is good on the radio and isn't defined by how she looks. Seriously do you thing that anybody watches K.B.S. music bank, S.B.S. Inkigayo, or Mnet media count down because they want to hear good music? No they just want to see a bunch of pretty boys and girls dance around.*

*I can't deny that I don't like that either, well I like to see girl groups dance around while they lip sync. I also like to make passive aggressive comments about Nick Kuhn.