Posts Tagged ‘south korea

27
Nov
08

A Book List and a Note about North Korea

So, since I spend a lot of time on buses, there is a good online used bookstore here in Korea, and Marc left me some of the books he brought with him during his visit in July, I have accumulated a decent number of books while here in Korea.  Here is the list (ones I have completed are crossed out, those I am close to finishing are in italics):

I prefer to read two books at once (keeps me from getting burned out by a book), and I think that my next two will be Frontsoldaten and North Korea: Another Country.  I need to read a German memoir or two from WWII before I go portray one at the reenactment I have in February, and Frontsoldaten seems to be one of the better ones.  As for North Korea: Another Country, well, given that the collapse of North Korea seems on the horizon, I figured I should learn a little bit more about that last relic of Soviet times.

On that note:  Last week, the Chinese moved an invasion force to the North Korean border that is slightly larger than the force that the US sent to invade Iraq.  My friends in the military (including those who are serving here) say this is very significant, if that wasn’t obvious enough already.  It has been almost confirmed that Kim Jung Il is very sick, and possibly already dead and replaced by a double, and the country seems to be destabilizing.  The reason the Chinese movement is doubly significant is that while South Korea has spies in North Korea, China actually has ties with North Korea, and they communicate regularly.  If anyone knows what’s up, it’s the Chinese.  So, the fact that they have seen fit to make such a large and sudden troop movement should be taken as a rather important sign.

On one hand, that scares the bejesus out of me.  On the other, I’m a photojournalist and an opportunist, and if shit goes down, it could be a boon to my career.  If there’s one truism about us press folks, it’s that our priorities are royally screwed up, and I am certainly no exception.

18
Nov
08

My town’s attempt at a sewer system…

Jindo's Sewer System

 

I wish I were kidding.  A few feet below that hole (there are holes about every 6 feet) is a stream that has been diverted to run under parts of the town, serving as a rudimentary sewer system.

24
Oct
08

A Glimpse at my Week

My life has definitely calmed down now that I am only teaching at 3 schools instead of 7 and have been able to thus develop a routine.  I was told by many, many people that after the first 3-4 months, which seem interminably slow, that time really speeds up.  I was skeptical about this, due to the snail’s pace at which my life seemed to crawl for awhile there, but it is definitely proving to be true.  It feels like I go from Monday to Friday in about 3 days, which is good, because right now I’m just counting the days until I go back to the states for my month+ long winter vacation.  For those curious, here’s how I generally look at my work-week:

Monday:  My first two classes of the day are also my worst-behaved of the week.  So, if I can make it through those two without getting too angry, things are good.  Plus, at that school (which I will call GS), the teacher has decided that she doesn’t like my lessons, and so I’m basically a pronunciation monkey for her.  Makes my life easy, so I don’t complain.  Mondays I teach 4-5 classes, and I am usually done teaching by 2 or 3, and my remaining hours (until 5) are spent anxiously awaiting someone to upload the week’s new episode of True Blood, and then downloading it.  That evening, I go home and treat myself to one of my Belgian or German beers that I hoard when I find them.

Tuesday:  On Tuesday I am at my favourite school (which I will call US), and the students there love me and come to my desk to try and practice their English with me, which 90% of the time is cute, and not too annoying the other 10% of the time.  The students there are generally actually interested in learning English, and their pronunciation is the best on the island, in my opinion, so my job there is relatively easy.  Plus, the teachers there are generally happy, so the environment is nice.  The best part about Tuesdays, though, is that by 1:00 or so (and I only teach 2-3 classes), I get to head home, because that school is sane and releases me after I’m finished teaching, rather than making me sit uselessly at my desk until 5.  Tuesday evenings I spend either in front of my computer or out walking, or both.

Wednesday:  Wednesday I am back at GS, which is rarely pleasant as the teachers always seem very angry and stressed.  The students are my worst-behaved and their English is the worst, so my job there can be relatively stressful sometimes.  But, my afternoons I have no classes, so I spend that time working on my various websites, or on editing photos, etc.  Plus, after that day is done, I only have two days left in the week.  I theoretically have a workshop for the middle school teachers that day in the afternoon, but it only happens about half the time.  I teach 3-4 classes on Wednesday, plus the occasional workshop.  Wednesdays are cooking days, so my evening is usually a mix of cooking and cleaning.

Thursday:  Thursdays I am at GN, which is a decent school.  I love my co-teacher there, and like US, the teachers and students are generally in a pretty positive mood, so it’s a comfortable environment.  Some of my students there are good, some are bad, though the ones that are good are really good, so that’s nice.  I usually teach 3-4 classes on Thursday, and they’re almost aways all in a row, which can be hard, but I’m usually done by 2:30 at the latest, and then I go home.  I teach a workshop for elementary school teachers at 4pm at another school, and so I go home and surf un-censored internet for an hour or two before I have to head out again.  The teachers in that workshop are pretty low-level, which is a challenge, but all my previous experience has been with teaching adults, and the teachers are nice, so it’s usually fun.  Thursdays I almost invariably eat at the street-stand sandwich place in town, where they know me so well they start making my sandwich as I walk up to the counter.

Friday:  Friday is, well, Friday, so it’s almost always a good day.  Fridays I am back at US, and I usually only teach 2 classes, so I’m done by 11:30.  I usually stick around until lunch at 12:30, as a free meal is welcomed, and US has the best food of the three schools, but if I need to head out earlier to catch a bus or something, I can.  Because I am finished so early, and my days at US are so easy, Fridays almost don’t feel like a work day, which results in my weekends feeling almost like a three day weekend.

So, in short, Monday sucks, but then Tuesday goes by like a bullet train, Wednesdays suck but then Thursdays are okay and I spend them looking forward to Friday, then Friday is almost a non-workday.  So, really, it makes things go by rather quickly.  I have mostly been sticking around on the weekends, though I was going to head up to the province north of here to check out the foliage this weekend, until the weather called for rain and clouds there.  Maybe next weekend.  Sometime in November I need to make a trip up to Seoul to hit the expat store and an expat bar or two (I now have a ring I wear to fiddle with in class, and if I go to a bar by myself, I just switch which finger it’s on and the men mostly leave me alone – haha), but in general, I’m trying to stick around town more, since with the economy the way it is, I need to save my money.  I am still going to do the Trans-Siberian on the way home, but I may cut my time in Europe a little shorter than I originally planned, unless the economy rebounds.

Anyway, this entry is long enough, so I’ll stop now, especially since I’m cross-posting it to Waygook Next Door.

24
Sep
08

A Rather Unsuccessful Day

I will finish unpacking today.  I will, I will, I will.

I still have no working stove. This is getting old, folks. How hard is it to find a piece of gas-line tubing in a country where everyone has the same goddamn stove?!

I missed my meeting this afternoon, that will determine where I am going to continue teaching and where the new teachers will be assigned, as well as how the workshops will work now.  I really, really wanted to go, so I could have some say in how I am going to be used, but about 50 yards out of the school gate (the meeting was across town), the scootercycle ran out of gas.  I hadn’t been paying attention to the fuel gauge, because I had just been using the bike to toodle around town, rather than driving around to the different schools (longish distances), recently, and so I hadn’t really been thinking about it.  The nearest gas station is about 1/2-3/4 of a mile from where I was, and I had to push the goddamn bike the entire way.  Sure, it rolls, but it weighs quite a bit more than one would think, and it took me about 30-45 minutes to get it there.  By the time I did, I was totally sweaty and gross, and so went back to my place to take a shower.  By the time I got out of the shower and got re-dressed, it was already past 3, and the meeting had been at 2pm.  Even if it was still going on, it was not worth the effort to attend, at that point, for the last few minutes of it.  Other than the meeting, I had the afternoon off, so I just decided to make an executive decision and stick around the apartment for the remainder of the afternoon.

So, here I am.




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