Open Thread #14

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This coming Tuesday, I will have been in Korea for exactly 1o years! Any suggestions on how to celebrate it?

Update: If you haven’t heard about it already, 10 Magazine is holding a video contest until the end of May. In its own words:

As a foreigner  in Korea have you ever found yourself criticizing Korea’s publicity efforts? Let’s face it, most of the promotional materials have been made by Koreans, and hence appeal more to Koreans. Well here’s your chance to show the world what  awaits them in Korea from a foreigner’s perspective!

During the month of May, make your own 30-second to 2-minute video about Korea, and if you’re the lucky winner, you’ll win a trip for two to Tokyo, including round-trip air fare on Delta Airlines and two nights in an executive room at the Hilton Tokyo!

See here for further details on how to enter and the prizes for 2nd to 10th place.


29 thoughts on “Open Thread #14

  1. James, congratulations on making it here that long. As far as celebrating, do you have any good friends from your early days in Korea that you keep in touch with? It might be worth getting together with some of those folks and hanging out.

    I have a handful of friends that I’ve known since my early days (I’ve lived here almost four years). When I meet with those guys, sometimes it’s more meaningful than my more recently developed friendships because in a way we “go back.” In some cases, I can chat with some of them in Korean, which I wasn’t able to do three years ago. For me, on special occasions (whether a birthday or just Friday night after a rough week at work), few things beat a good dinner and coffee with good conversation.

    Keep in mind that this is coming from a single guy…I don’t understand the dynamics of how things change for foreign guys who marry Koreans. :)

    On a different topic, are you familiar with the Korean group House Rulez? Like you I’m not a big fan of electronic music, but I really like this group’s stuff…actually I heard one of their songs over the speakers at the gym and I had to find out from the trainer who it was. I recently downloaded their “Hotel Plaza” EP off of iTunes, which I love…and as I type I’m listening to their “Star House City” album. A few predictable tracks, but enough good stuff to keep me engaged. Again, I’m not a huge house/techno/electronic fan, so hopefully my opinion counts for something. :)

    Enjoy your weekend.


  2. Congrats on 10 years!

    Being the narcissist that I am, I made a large (A-0 size) collage of different pictures of me over the 10 years and hung it in my office for the week. Afterwards I had it framed.

    Works for me.

    Congrats again.


  3. Thanks guys. I’ll try to do something special on the day – not sure what yet – but it’s not that big a deal really, and there’s a limit to what you can do celebration wise with 2 young toddlers to look after. By coincidence though, I have one of my best friends coming over from Osaka with his girlfriend on the weekend, so I’m sure I will can get all melancholy in some bar somewhere at some point.

    Hadn’t heard of House Rulez thanks, will try to check them out sometime.


  4. I recommend looking back on the fondest of times you’ve had over the past 10 years by revisiting what you can to see how it has changed. It may be hard to remember all you’ve done, but it may be worth it. As you go back through time (in a way) you may find new things that weren’t there before, giving you new research material.


  5. Go back to the neighborhood where you started your time here, with the oldest of your korea friends (and the awesomest new ones) and have drinks in your oldest favorite watering hole. .. If it still exists. Congratulations!


  6. I saw an article (blog post?) I thought you might like – I’m only halfway through it (it’s a slog, at my level!) but it seems right up your alley – it’s about how Girls Generation aren’t allowed to BE sexual, though they’re required to look sexY.
    Congrats on 10 years!


    1. Oh, it’s a slog for me too, but thanks, and although that makes #5 on my pile of long Korean articles to translate I will translate it and write a post about it when I’m back in June.


  7. Disappointed to see you’re taking a bit of a break, but I understand – I struggle to keep up with blogging at the best of times because of all the other stuff that goes on.

    Anyways, good luck, have fun, and I’m looking forward to your return!


    1. Thanks, and yeah, that’s kind of the problem: I haven’t been spending, well, any time at all on all that other stuff. Time to correct the imbalance.

      Just 3 weeks though, I’m sure it will go by quickly!


  8. As a change from all the cutesy-sexy Koreran girlgroups, here’s Lee Jung Hyun‘s awesome new song Suspicious Man. The music harks back to the techno sound that Lee started out with, and the MV presents her as a film noir femme fatale.


      1. Even better, here’s the video itself ;) But thanks very much!

        p.s Anyone that has ever been wondering how to embed videos in comments to blogs, just put type in (without spaces) [ youtube = at the front of the link, then a ] at the end!


        1. Thanks for that. I had no idea you had your own method for embedding videos. :)

          P.S. Take a look at the comments at allkpop. Some twit says “wow copying 2ne1 style” and gets soundly thrashed by other commentators. :)

          copy 2ne1 style?
          no no no. you should study some kpop there. i know you are probably a 12 year old fan that believes kpop started in 2008.


      1. More developments. Among other things:

        Jung Wook, head of JYP Entertainment, says that the Wonder Girls entered the US on student visas and were enrolled in a language school. JYP then applied for and received O-1 work visas for the girls.

        He admits that the girls did not have US health insurance after January, because they were no longer registered with the language school.


  9. Guys, I have committed an epic fail and have waited too long to apply to graduate school in Korea this year. Now I need some help maybe finding a teaching gig. I know a little about it…enough to know to avoid Dave’s ESL Cafe. Any suggestions on agencies/websites to visit? I’d like to try and go back to school as soon as possible, but at the moment that is looking to be the fall of 2011…which is a long ways away. Thanks.


    1. Sorry to hear that, but on the plus side my wife happens to be a recruiter (1 of a team of 3 cool women), and I can assure you is a particularly friendly and reliable one at that, who actually looks out for the teachers she places! If you’re interested, send her an email with your resume and details of what kinds of job(s) you want and where etc., and she’ll get back to you pretty quickly. Her English name is “Heyya,” and her address is . Good luck!


      1. James, the vote is in and you are declared the man!!! Seriously, this is very good to know. I have to really think about this being my next step and prepare myself a bit before I go on and commit to a job (and brush up on actually teaching english). That being said, having been a reader of yours for nearly two years now I feel that I could definitely trust your wife in this process. Can I send this stuff to her to get a feeler of what would be possible for me? I assuming all of these jobs would hagwons? Thanks again. I definitely owe you one!


  10. I’m two days late with this, but May 18th was the thirtieth anniversary of the beginning of the Gwangju Democratization Movement.

    The Gwangju Democratization Movement (Hangeul: 광주 민주화 운동, Hanja: 光州民主化運動) refers to a popular uprising in the city of Gwangju, South Korea from May 18 to May 27, 1980. During this period, citizens rose up against Chun Doo-hwan’s military dictatorship and took control of the city. In the course of the uprising, citizens took up arms to defend themselves, but were ultimately crushed by the South Korean army. The event is sometimes called 518, in reference to the date the uprising began.

    During Chun Doo-hwan’s reign, the incident was represented as a rebellion inspired by Communist sympathizers. But after civil rule was reinstated, the incident received recognition as an effort to defend democracy from military usurpation. In 1997, former presidents Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, as well as 17 others, were convicted and subsequently pardoned for their “connections with the December 12, 1979 coup, the Gwangju Uprising, and slush funds.” By 2002, a national cemetery and day of commemoration (May 18), along with acts to “compensate, and restore honor” to victims, were established.


  11. I saw this video on YouTube (I subscribe to a channel called koreanpride2 since that E.Via video Shake), and I thought it was suitable discussion for here.

    Ali featuring Hong Soo Ah – Hey Mister

    Now, I found this song to be catchy and funky, but as you’ll see when watching the video, I wonder how much that’s down to the actress (Hong Soo Ah) pretending to sing, and dancing in the video, in place of the entirely unattractive Ali. I began asking myself (perhaps as a consequence of reading this blog!) whether I’d still enjoy the song if it weren’t for the video.

    I guess others might agree with me?


    1. Confess I hadn’t heard of either before watching the video, but now that I have I think you’re rather too harsh on Ali! (that’s her in the glasses and afro, right?)

      Either way, if you haven’t done it already then I’d say a simple test would just to be if you still like it with just the audio? Like Mellowyel points out in her “Thoughts on K-pop Vol. 1: So Addictive” here though, it’s true that Korean music in particular seems heavily geared towards being performed, to the extent that “a lot of k-pop songs would not be as appealing to listeners if they were never performed” and many songs are “made to be performed and watched, not sung and listened to”, so it’s quite natural and perfectly reasonable for music videos to have a BIG impact on our appreciation on them.

      Having said that, I’ve found that while a song’s music video certainly influences the images and fantasies etc. that come to mind when I listen to just the audio, the quality and creativeness etc. of the video doesn’t mean Jack if the song isn’t good enough on it’s own. I can’t think of any music videos I’ve watched more than once or twice, where I didn’t like the music, nor songs that I didn’t like that have subsequently come to like once watching the videos. In contrast, I can think of very many – The Brown Eyed Girls’ Abracadabra for instance – that I first heard on the radio and liked, and came to like more once seeing the MV.


      1. You’re right, I guess I’m the opposite (video gets me hooked on the music). With “Hey Mister”, “Shake”, “Abracadabra” and even “Gee” and “Genie” I would have turned the music off had I not watched the video alongside it. None of that music appeals to me on a pure auditory level, as, trance (e.g. Above & Beyond) does. The performance aspect, as you suggest, leaves a heavy imprint in my brain that I remember whenever I listen to the music again. I don’t need to watch the video for “Shake” to enjoy the music, anymore. Doesn’t stop me watching the video though ;-)

        As for Ali, yes I am being too harsh. Afros and glasses/sunglasses (especially oversized ones) turn me off, by way of explanation.


  12. I am the only person who thinks there is something a bit incongruous about a video competition to promote Korea where the first prize is a trip to Tokyo?


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