Friday, November 30, 2007

Rodney Johnson on Background Checks of Employees in Asia

Regular readers know that I posted a few things about the academic fakery that goes on as well as recorded a podcast with Mike over at The Metropolitician on the subject: Podcast 31 - Academic Fakery. Just click on the "education" tag to find them.

I went to the McKinnney Consulting website to read some articles on Korean culture by Professor Horrace Underwood when I decided to click around and see what else was there.

Lucky me. I found an article which tells companies outright that they MUST take the steps to verify a candidate's credentials. Now this is geared to foreign companies looking to do business in Asia. However, with all the stories of people who've been caught lying about their degrees, it's something that Korean employers must do too.

The Importance of Background Checks by Rodney Johnson

Asia is constantly at war with fraud and fakes. From fake pharmaceuticals to fake purses, to food that was not meant for human consumption, counterfeit items and fraudulent claims flood the market and threaten to do serious damage to the legitimate businesses that both sell the real items and buy the fakes.

But fakes are not limited to just physical goods. The marketplace for labor is also infested with fakes - fake people. Job seekers, not limited to any job title, industry, or level, routinely falsify their resumes, and credentials. The high degree of fake resumes and fake claims of education and ability have led to countermeasures, in Asia and elsewhere, designed to lower the risks to employers.

Many Asian countries put a high value on learning that has been verified by some sort of standard, certification, or award. Certifications act as a form of verification or proof of the verity of any claimed skill or ability. As such, Asian employees are required to earn certifications and titles or various sorts in order to secure employment and advancement.

However, using certification as a countermeasure against fakes is only half the battle, and going only as far as requiring certification documents has created a situation where fraudulent claims are even easier to get away with. A fake TOEFL or TOEIC score is now attainable for a few hundred thousand won and a few days wait. The price may be high, but compared to the years of study that might be necessary to reach the higher score through legitimate means, it is a bargain. For a few million won, a fake certificate of graduation from virtually any foreign school one wishes can be produced, along with a fake transcript - though it is not likely to be needed.

The missing half of the battle is having the will to find out if the claimed credentials are, in fact, held. The reason job seekers feel free to cheat, is because they believe, with some justification, that no one will ever attempt to verify their claims. The risk/reward profile of this situation creates a strong incentive to obtain fake credentials – the job seeker has everything to gain and nothing to lose. The current situation has created an environment where it does indeed make sense to cheat.

While evaluating true ability and skills of an applicant through a resume is difficult, finding out whether the certifications and degrees an applicant claims are, in fact, real, is much easier. All that is required is the will and ability to check. The cost/benefit ratio for employers to check the backgrounds of their potential employees in Asia is very good - for the cost of a background check great risk may be averted. While checking references, and educational background, one may find out that a potential employee has a criminal record, or was fired from a previous job in the same industry for a problem that could be especially expensive if repeated in your organization.

Ask those who provide your personnel what kind of background checks they perform. Ensure they are doing all they can to weed out fake credentials and false claims on resumes. Finally, if you can't get the answers you need to feel satisfied that your workforce is the one you think you've got seek outside help.

Background checks are inexpensive and relatively painless compared to the potential problems they can help avoid. In the end, it could be the unseen lurking problems which undo all your hard work – problems that could have been avoided with a little attention paid to the personnel who handle your precious money, brand, and customers.

Johnson sums up what I've been saying all along: it's NOT difficult to check. Those that claim that's the case really need to find a new excuse. The effort required is usually a phone call, email or letter. That's not hard at all.


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Seoul Tower Alight

Update: January 9, 2008 @ 8:29pm

Here is a video of Seoul Tower lit up by Kolinka:

I'll be interviewing him for my column in the Expat Living section of the Korea Herald. Stay tuned for that and I'll update this post when it's published.

Update: January 4, 2008 @ 10:15am

I got a comment from Kolinka and he left this link: Namsan 2007-12-30

Check it out!


From the Chosun Ilbo: Click on the pic to go to the news piece.

I missed this one.

I live near Seoul Tower and can view it from my apartment. However, this past week kept me busy, so I missed it.

Seoul Tower was lit up by Alexandre Kolinka to symbolize fire, spring, summer, autumn and winter. How pretty. This is what I get for NOT taking an evening walk up to Seoul tower this week.

However, there are no dates on this event on his website, so maybe it will be up for the whole month?
Décembre 2007 – Séoul, Corée

Installation vidéo pérenne, dont le concept initial évoluera jusqu’en 2010. Le projet a été commandité par la Mairie de Séoul.
I'll make sure to find out.
French lighting artist Alexandre Kolinka's 'Electronic Fire' installation lights up on Mt. Namsan for Seoul's 'Museum of Light' project. The work symbolizes, from left to right, fire, spring, summer, autumn and winter. /Yonhap


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Donations Via Cell Phone

Update 1 (Dec. 26, 2007 @ 11:19am)

I was out this Sunday and I had a chance to snap a picture of one of the holiday Salvation Army donation set-ups. The little black box in the middle of the pink display is a place where you can swipe your T-money metro card to make a donation. Now that's clever.


Pic from the Chosun Ilbo website (click the pic to go to the Chosun Ilbo).

This morning I was clicking around on various Korean newspaper sites when this bit of news caught my eye.

As I mentioned in my post about my new cell phone, Korean cell phone technology is incredibly advanced and you can bank from your phone.

One company, SK Telecom, has made it possible to make donations to the Salvation Army during the holiday season. I think that's great.
SK Telecom will set up a temporary service allowing subscribers to donate money to the Salvation Army through their mobile phones free of charge from Dec. 1 to 24. /Newsis
Considering that I think Koreans need to donate more time, money and attention to various charities, as well as establish a social safety net, this is a great idea. I hope it works and donations in Korea to this great charity increase.


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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Repost: Gusts of Popular Feeling - Horace H. Underwood on Korean and American Culture

Update 1 (Dec. 1, 2007 @ 11:57am)

Well, I'm going to be honest. I reposted this without reading all of the links. It turns out that two of the links aren't correct.

So here they are with the correct links:
Honesty vs. Loyalty: Which is More Important?
Heredity and Environment

Also, while I like linking to things there is always that risk that the link(s) will change. With that in mind I've also uploaded the texts to my 4Shared account. You can access the essays from there too. I just cut and pasted all of Professor Underwood's essays in one file in alpha order.

Here is the link: Professor Horace Underwood on Korean Culture (it's an MS Word/.doc file.)


This is mos def reading for those of us interested in Korean culture and how it differs from American culture.

Horace H. Underwood on Korean and American culture

I found a link to this page in a comment by suddenly susan to this Metropolitician post.

In these articles, Horace H. Underwood the differences between Korean and American culture in a very clear way. They're well worth your time.

Korean Culture: "In" and "Out"
No Men Are Created Equal
Honesty vs. Loyalty: Which is More Important?
Heredity and Environment
Ch’emyon or Social Face in Korean Society


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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Repost: The Metropolitician - Holla Back, Seoul Division?

I'm doing a lot of reposts from other blogs lately. One it's because I'm spread pretty thin right now with life: my thyroid treatment is has turned a corner and is going well, and I'm almost back to my old self but for the thyroid disease ass I've packed on. Also, I'm doing a lot of writing, so there just isn't a lot of time.

However, this post I actually wrote part of, so I don't consider it a repost and more of a collaboration.

I did repost Mike's blog on his arrest. This was essentially because he called the cops on a Korean man who was drunk and disorderly. This man both verbally and physically assaulted Mike. When the cops showed up, the Korean claimed that Mike was verbally and physically harassing HIM, so the cops took Mike in. The man went too as they had to take his statement, but he wasn't booked.

Well, he followed up with this post, A Few More Words About This and a Very Modest Proposal, which essentially calls for people to document these incidents. Someone seemed not to be sure what he asked, so I chimed in with a comment to clarify. That comment got stuck in the spam folder for the blog (really irritating). Anyway, I guess there is some TypePad spam comment glitch thing. So not being able to override it, he just made it a new blog. I'm there along with some troubling pictures of a foreign woman who was followed home by a Korean man. He broke in and beat the daylights out of her. Also, another woman commented on her experiences here with both the sober and drunken ajosshis (ajosshis = Korean men old enough to be married).

"Holla Back, Seoul Division"?

I've had two posts not make it through the spam filter and their owners contact me and email them in. They also happened to be interesting, as well as supportive of me. I can't control the spam filter on Typepad, and have had my own comments not make it through, at which point, since I am the owner of the blog, I just published them as a post. So I'll do the same here.

These two posts are also from two women in Korea, who channel well the frustrating experiences that foreign women feel here, in a society whose laws are designed to basically cater to the social and sexual freedoms of Korean men. In this way, so do Korean women experience these fears and frustrations – as well as real physical dangers – as foreign women do; the only difference is that foreign women may have a bit of extra leverage as foreigners, or additional options, which often include just leaving Korea.

 News 200711 News1195021391 89850 1 MAs to the commenter who seemed so ready to doubt unless hearing from the proverbial horse's mouth, I can't speak for MissKoco or why she chooses/chose not to blog out her horrible experience for all the world to see. Perhaps, though, I'll venture to guess, it's because of comment sections just like the one see here? "What were you wearing? Were you looking at him in a way that wasn't respectful of Korean culture? Why did you push him, since according to Korean custom a woman who...blah blah...? You don't like it, just leave" and all kinds of other helpful, rogue gallery commentary. Not too hard to imagine why especially women aren't telling their story.

And on the other hand, it's easy to see why only foreign women could or would, if anyone does, as in the case of the American law student who had been telling her story in the expat blogosphere for two years now, and seems to be using the Misuda show to get her story out – GOOD FOR HER, and a brilliant move, if that was an ulterior motive for getting on the show. I myself had contacted her about doing a podcast on her experience, but it never panned out. I think she did her story justice a damn sight better than a mere podcast that would be preaching to the choir – put it out there to the people who need to be hearing about this, turning her horrible experience into something that might have some positive effects after the fact.

Jamilla WinterYet, you know what she still has to fight against. She has heard it, too: "You suuuure you didn't bring this on yourself?" If there's any room for doubt, it seems that in Korea, someone's always trying to crowbar into it and yank. Since she was in her house, and he was an intruder, the inevitable question of, "What were you wearing" and "Maybe you gave him a certain look that he misunderstood" couldn't come into it. Even in Korea, saying "Why don't you follow me home and break into my house to rape and perhaps murder me, baby?" won't fly.

So why doesn't MissKoco blog her experience? Doesn't take Dr. Phil to figure come up with a pretty probable and plausible reason, "Whitey." This whole "I'll believe it only when you have audio, video, pictures, and written affidavits from at least 3 witnesses" attitude is tiresome. The pattern is as clear as day, talked about constantly amongst foreigners, and isn't hard to imagine, given the way foreigners are talked about and (mis)represented in the media.

In other words, people choose, in all their particular and peculiar ways, to NOT LET THEIR NEGATIVE EXPERIENCES DEFINE THEM. So, no matter what you think of my blog, to ME, my blog is my way of coping with things so I can get on with the other things I do in my life here. Getting detained/arrested (whatever) became a bearable experience because I was recording it, because I knew I would blog it. It gave me the sense that I would not have to bear it alone. For others, they may want to keep it off their blog because that isn't something they want to make become a public spectacle, since it was enough to bear by oneself, let alone when your sister was visiting the country, which may have (I can imagine) involved its own kind of pain.

When my father died, a far, far more painful experience than anything an ajussi or "Korean society" could ever dish out, I didn't want to see friends, because I didn't want to break down in front if them. I don't like sharing my moments of true weakness, instants of deep and personal pain, which I'm not the type to blog. Hey, that's me. Others can and do. No one's "right" and there are lots of imaginable reasons how and why people react to being violently attacked in Korea, especially those of us who may lack the support systems that many cultural insiders have access to. So, I leave that to MissKoco – and anyone else in her position – to decide to answer. Or not. In the end, that's her choice, not mine. And the only reason you even know about what happened with MissKoco is because I brought it up as part of my own shit, which perhaps wasn't cool, but you wouldn't even have had the privilege to know about otherwise.

My point is – think about all the many, many women who have had horrible experiences to tell, but which society doesn't want to hear, which society actively discourages from being heard. And think about the stories the media salivates in waiting for, which it will publish without the slightest shred of believablity or journalistic integrity, yet STILL pale in comparison with the ones you never, ever hear and aresimply common and everyday occurrences here.

THAT's why all this is fucked up, in the big picture. Commenter "Nightfall" mentioned the famous quote that a society is best judged by how it treats its prisoners. I would broaden that a bit by mentioning how it treats those at its margins.

Here are the two very astute comments that inspired this post:

From ExpatJane, in response to criticism that I brought this upon myself:

“Is he saying it's JUST Korea? I don't think so. Plus, that's not the point. The fact is stuff like this happens a lot in Korea and this is where he and a lot of others who have to put up with this sort of bullshit are.

I've been extremely lucky. Maybe it's because I've got that "fuck with me and die" look down; I mastered it growing up in L.A. because you can get into trouble if you can't step clear of trouble or repel it when you see it coming. However, I hear stories like this and I've had the drunken ajosshi encounters too. Those experiences happened to me my first year. I'm a quick learner and I AVOID them religiously. It's one big reason I simple DON'T go out where I'll risk running into Korean drunks. Even then, I frequently traveled through the Gwanghwamun/Jongno district of Seoul when I headed home in the evenings from Ewha. I avoided the packs of office workers in suits stumbling out of bars.

He's NOT being paranoid - not at all. I've altered my routes and habits to avoid it, so far, I've been very successful.

His proposal was to record this stuff. I started doing that awhile back. If I get some asshole(s) trying to mess with me, it's amazing how quickly it changes when I whip out my phone and start taking pictures of them (with the phone I have now, video.)

HollaBackNYC has been doing it for awhile:
"Holla Back NYC empowers New Yorkers to Holla Back at street harassers.Whether you're commuting, lunching, partying, dancing, walking, chilling, drinking, or sunning, you have the right to feel safe, confident, and sexy, without being the object of some turd's fantasy. So stop walkin' on and Holla Back: Send us pics of street harassers!"

We need a Holla Back Seoul division...ASAP.”

And from a reader whom I'll just refer to as "C" until I hear otherwise, in response to ghost.yoon's comment:

ghost.yoon said
..."However, the more outside influence gets into Korea , the better it will get. I may not know you too well as an individual, but I hope you stay in Korea as long as possible, despite it's failings. It is because of individuals like you, perceptions will change, leading to greater social change overall. After all, part of my own perception of my own people has become influenced by you and your writings." (November 23, 2007 at 04:36 AM)

Well said, ghostie, bloody well said indeed.

Metropol, I have been reading your blog for almost a year. The breadth and depth of your thinking, writing, and photography make your blog always utterly compelling and entertaining reading, but I think this may be the first time I've felt the real need to comment.

I am absolutely ENRAGED at the injustice and absurdity of this incident. And to those "I'VE been in Korea since Dangun was a kid, never happened to ME, blah blah, you're not in smallville anymore, blah blah, must be YOUr fault, blah di blah" commenters I say, good for you, pollyanna. Wish I lived in your nice world.

For my part, I cannot tell you how many times I've been subjected to verbal abuse and sexual harrassment from ajosshis - drunk and sober - in my five years here.

My only recourse in all cases (I'm five foot two and weigh about 110 pounds) has been to pacify the arseholes by smiling and pretending not to understand (as on the several occasions I've been screamed at and threatened with violence for being American and being here, and even though I'm not American I have to grant they WERE right about my being here, yes) or by simply getting the fuck away from them as quickly as possible. The second option (getting the fuck away and quickly) was always the right choice (indeed the only choice) in the cases of sexual harrassment, a sampling of said to wit: the well-dressed 40-something ajosshi parked in his stupid shiny black K-cadillac who politely called out to me as I was walking home late one night and showed me how urgently he liked to masturbate (amazing, I couldn't see any penis to speak of, even though he'd pulled his pants down well far enough); the inevitable random drunk businessmen who would sit themselves down at my table EVERY TIME I ate out alone at night in my friendly old neighborhood of Sadang-dong and who would refuse to leave despite my polite-as-you-can-be protestations because they ALL thought I ought to be grateful for their married-man-on-soju company, and i KNOW they left young female Korean solo diners well alone, because THAT would be sexual harrassment; the man who followed me on the street for MILES, even into the fucking SALON where I had an appointment, and where my hairdresser had to call the peelers; NUMBERLESS taxi drivers who have tried to engage me in sparkling conversation - accompanied by descriptive gestures and leers - about sex and my marital status; then there are the laneway lurkers, and the sneaky subway touchers and feelers...) Oh, I could go on.

NONE of the above was ever warranted or invited on my behalf. I pride myself on being sensitive toward and respectful of cultural difference. I have many good Korean friends. I behave politely and conservatively wherever I go in public in Korea. Yet somehow I still manage to get the ajosshis all worked up. Yeah, go figure.

Michael, the cultural life here would be so impoverished without you and your fantastic blog. Don't give up. And don't listen to the wankers who try to bring you down in this comments section.

We readers need you! hwaiting!

And I need you, too, readers! Much love to those of you who encourage and challenge me in the comments. Seriously, knowing I could get this message out there helped keep me calm and sane through what was truly a ridiculous evening.

And I will continue to strive to keep this blog worth reading and produce stuff worthy of myself as well as this fine culture; the way I see it, the only stuff a Korean would want to really read and keep on reading is stuff that displays a certain honesty about life here, which itself comes from being committed enough to stick around when the going gets...sucky.

That is, my friends, what separates strangers from acquaintances from guests from friends from family. I just happen to place myself somewhere between the last two categories. And I don't judge those who choose to place themselves somewhere else, or who even choose to call it a night and go home. As Too Short once said, "Get in where you fit in." I'd add to that, "Or where you can make a space for yourself if there isn't one."

My main guiding principle is, that while you do, and no matter how many mistakes you make along the way, as long as you're making a sincere effort motivated by goodness, people will understand what you're doing.

No matter what I do, I'll always be an American. I don't look Korean, I'm not a native speaker of this language, I wasn't raised here, nor was I educated here. But as a person living here, I live according to its words, its rules, and its laws. But this society, like many others, is in flux, and some things are ambiguous, conflicting, and downright embarrassing, even ACCORDING TO THE VALUES HELD WITHIN THIS SOCIETY ITSELF, BY ITS FULL MEMBERS.

I continue to navigate my life here, which inherently exists at the margins, which by the very nature of the foreigner's constructed and maintained WEIRDNESS here, which continues to place me in bizarre and surreal situations, no matter how hard I try to stay out of the bad ones and enjoy the interesting experiences that the new ones offer.

But I know that no matter how hard I try, I'll always end up in them sometimes. It's inevitable, it's the law of averages. But I can only try to make the negative experiences into something more positive, and try to use my perspective and experiences as something that members of this society - which I define as any one of the interconnected millions of people living in Korea, regardless of skin color, religion, passport or visa status – can benefit from as I continue to strive to leave this world a better place than I originally found it.

And were it not for the privacy-related laws regarding photography in Korea, an American-style Holla Back! might be a good idea. Perhaps as a clearing house for evidence of all these things happening? As a way of documenting and discouraging, perhaps not on the individual level, but in the aggregate?

THAT would make for an interesting site, and for some interesting copy.


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Heels Christ, The Video



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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Repost: seoulsearcher - Corrupt to the Core

Here is a Korean perspective on corruption here in South Korea and how that is fatal to it becoming an international hub. I completely agree.

I took the time to look at some of SeoulSearcher's other posts and they're interesting, so click over and check out what he has to say.

Again, thanks to ZenKimchi for posting this. Otherwise I would have missed it completely.

Corrupt to the Core

Korean newspapers reported the other day that when the father of a tax collector died, more than 100 large wreaths, each costing some 200,000 to 300,000 won (approximately $185-$275), were placed on both sides of the passageway to the funeral home.

Most of the wreaths came from the presidents or owners of small and medium-size companies in the area where the tax collector worked. That was not all. The report went on to say that representatives from those companies and other acquaintances lined up waiting their turns to shake hands with the tax collector, offer condolences and give him white envelops, containing, no doubt, large sums of money.

The line was so long that an envious third-party observer was heard to quip: “why should anyone try and send their child to law or medical school? Tax collectors seem to be doing much better than lawyers or doctors these days.”

What was more amazing was the fact that the tax collector was only a 7th grade government official. That is to say he was pretty much near the bottom of the pile of civil servants rank-wise. And yet, he must have been able to give all those businessmen a big break when he assessed and levied tax on them. The favor obviously was being returned to him on the occasion of his father’s death.

As far as I know, however, there was no follow-up report on the tax collector. The public was merely overawed and marveled at the prowess of the lowly government official, but no one—not even law-enforcement officials or investigative reporters—decided to dig into his job performance to see if there was any wrongdoing.

In any case, if such a low-ranking tax collector could enjoy so much power and influence, one cannot help wondering what would happen to the head of the National Taxation Service under similar circumstances.

As though to illustrate this point, a scandal broke out last month when Jeon Goon-pyo, head of the National Taxation Service was arrested on charges of taking $66,000 in bribes from one of his promotion-seeking deputies.

The very first official duty Jeon performed, according to the press report, was to open a large brown envelope placed on his desk for his eyes only. And he apparently found money in it and pocketed it calmly and matter-of-factly. Later, he denied all charges but resigned from his post anyway.

And then, there are two of President Roh Moo-hyun’s closest aides who had to resign from their posts of presidential secretaries after they were found to have received bribes or abused their power and influence.

To top all those scandals, a chief lawyer of Korea’s giant Samsung business group earlier this month claimed that the conglomerate runs a vast bribery network that covers the administration, the judiciary and the news media. The lawyer, Kim Yong-chul, alleged that he even bribed three high-ranking prosecutors, among others, on behalf of his company. Samsung denied Kim’s allegations and investigations are continuing at this writing.

It is highly ironical that the alleged recipients of the bribes include the man who was appointed prosecutor general by President Roh last month and a former prosecutor whom the President named in August to head the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Some say those scandals came as a shock to President Roh.

Roh and his followers described themselves as “clean and progressive” politicians. In the 1980s and 90s, they took a “holier-than-thou” attitude, waging a “struggle” against what they claimed were corrupt governments led by the army generals-turned politicians.

Once they grabbed power, however, it turned out that they are not any better—maybe worse—than their predecessors whom they so strenuously and contemptuously accused of being out-and-out corrupt leaders and government officials.

The only thing they have proven, however, is the fact that the whole country and a majority of the people, it would seem, including members of the Roh Administration, are corrupt—corrupt, indeed, to the core.

What’s more important, I am afraid, is that so many of our people have become so morally insensitive that they give and take bribes without the slightest sense of guilt.

Their way of thinking seems to be that everybody is doing it so why shouldn’t I? If you get caught in the process, you are simply unlucky. And if, in the end, you are fined or have to go to jail for a few years, you could still come out ahead financially. So after all is said and done, why not take a chance?

And all this, needless to say, has its roots in insatiable greed.

A vast majority of Koreans seem to worship money rather than God, and corruption has long been an established way of life as corporations, large or small, as well as many ordinary citizens routinely bribe government officials in order to maximize their profits or resolve their difficulties with the law.

Corruption, in fact, is so pervasive that even educators and religious clerics are not immune. Many teachers are said to accept white envelops under the table from the parents of their students while monks and ministers receive personal offerings from their flocks, presumably to put in a good word to the Almighty for them.

When the country was relatively poor in the 1950s and 60s, I thought, officials who wielded power and influence from their positions in government took bribes in order to supplement their very meager salaries. However, the habit, once formed, seemed to die hard. Actually, it never died, even after the country got rich.

Since South Korea became the world’s 12th largest economy in the 1990s, we have constantly and tirelessly talked about turning our cities into various “hubs” for Northeast Asia or even the world. But which foreign investors in their right mind would even think about building their businesses or investing in a country where officials are so corrupt that they have to be bribed every step of the way?(emphasis added)

Right now, with the presidential election less than a month away, voters are trying to select a clean and incorruptible candidate to lead the nation in the next five years. But is it possible to choose such an unblemished and perfect leader while the voters themselves are wallowing in the muddy field of corruption? I doubt it.

We also talk so much about our desire to forge South Korea into a “first-class” nation. But it is obvious that we can never achieve our goal, I’m sorry to say, with the kind of official corruption that is prevalent in third-world countries.


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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Heels Christ - Huh?


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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My Friend Got Arrested Last Night!

It's been a long day for me. Ironically, I was in the Ewha Womans University neighborhood last night too. I agreed to do a thesis seminar for the grad students at Ewha tomorrow evening and met with one of the organizers last night to bang out some details.

Little did I know that just down the block some friends of mine would end up verbally accosted with racial slurs and eventually arrested when THEY called the police on the drunk messing with them. Yes, arrested.

Again, "international hub" my ass.

I've got to say it doesn't shock me as much as it simply just angers me how screwed up the system is here in some ways. What's infuriating is people sat back and let this man do this. It also only helps to confirm my decision to put one more year in but then wrap it up and get myself home.

Anyway, here is Mike's account of what happened. It's just fucking ridiculous. Again, this one is best with comments off. Head over to the blog he wrote on this to comment.

The Metropolitician's story of his arrest:
I Got Arrested for Calling the Police


I am using all my energy to not go over to the Dark Side once and for all and write off this country completely. Trust me when I say that I sure am glad you can't choke people with your mind, or do other bad things with the Force – cause things would have been pretty gruesome tonight.

You see, I was ARRESTED today, FINGERPRINTED, and CHARGED WITH ASSAULT. It's now 3:15 AM (this wonderful experience started around 10) and I'm mad enough to punch through a concrete wall. Or at least try.

Img 9115 Copy

Me getting fingerprinted. Congratulations! You're a criminal!

Oh, why, oh, why did you get arrested, you ask? Surely, people who get arrested were doing SOMETHING to end up that way, right? I mean, people who end up getting the pleasure of watching the crazed drunk handcuffed to a railing in the holding cell while being fingerprinted aren't usually absolutely free of guilt, right? I must have been a LITTLE bad, right?

That's why I don't think I've ever been more a mixture of humiliated and enraged in all my life. Because not only was I not doing anything at ALL wrong or unlawful, but I was actually just trying to play upstanding citizen, which got me arrested and charged with assault.

How could this be, you ask? Come on, right? Let me tell the story. And I swear on my father's grave – he died a few years ago and I don't like to talk about it much – what I'm telling is the truth. No exaggerations. I am trying hard not to curse and just relay the events as they happened, as I'm trying to turn this into a positive experience, one that I can process and learn something from.

And also, I am doing this in an act of pure blogging in its original form, since I just need to get this out, and blogging this is cathartic; I feel like pulling my hair out and banging on the wall and screaming, but since that does nothing productive, I'm gonna let off that steam in as positive way as possible. And perhaps this will be a cautionary tale as well, and can concretely benefit one of you if you find yourself in a tricky spot.


Three of us – a model, MissKoco, and myself – went to do some shooting in Ewha and Shinchon. We had two video cameras, my DSLR, a couple lenses, and the mammoth flash in tow, along with extra shoes, a bag, and other things to keep everyone's hands heavy. After finishing up in Ewha, we took a cab down to Shinchon, where we disembarked from the cab and got set up to take the final planned shot (me and MissKoco had been planning this little trip for more than a week and even went location scouting to get angles and test shots) near the entrance to Yonsei
University. It was a specific shot we needed and the "money shot" of the evening; things had been going well, and we had gotten all our planned shots, and this was going to be the slam dunk.

The model is lithe and attractive, and she LOOKED like a model, and what she was wearing was definitely striking. People walked around us politely as we were about to get started shooting (taking a couple test shots, actually), assuming that we must have been shooting something important. We were in the middle of discussing/deciding the first pose when suddenly, the drunkest ajussi you ever saw came right up behind us and started accosting us.

I could barely understand much more than "blaargh blaargh Korean girl, blargh bleegh nigger ("깜둥이 새끼") blather blather fucking American ("미국놈") – you know, the standard drunk ajussi talk. Did I attract his attention? Did I give him a funny look? No and no, as I was literally in the middle of a sentence when he appear behind and to my left side, at which point I rolled my eyes and thought, "Not now, of all times..."

So what to do? We just stood there and completely ignored him, hoping he might just wander off. He just continued his harangue. I then (and so did the model) said very firmly "Sir, please leave us alone. We're working." (아저씨, 지금 일하는 중이라소 좀 가주세요.) The firmest the language ever got was "Please leave." (아저씨, 가세요.) I never once cursed, nor did I yell, or otherwise lose it. I am sort of used to this kind of thing, after all.

Now, we could have just left. Just called it a night and just left. In retrospect, I wish we had. But the entire evening's efforts culminated in this final, unifying shot, and we had a deadline – we had barely been able to make time with the model as it was, and this was for something that had to be done that night, or not ever. It was really a peculiar situation.

So, I decided that maybe we should cross the street to the big, well-lit coffee shop – the brand-spanking new "Beans&Berries" –and wait it out. So we decided to cross rather than take a cab and loop around. At the time, this seemed as good an idea as any, and besides, we had the clothes right and all our equipment out. We were really almost done.

Presently, we're standing at the crosswalk, and the guy was trying to grab my bag, grab me, and was feigning hitting me; he reared back like he was going to kick me once, and once grabbed my label, at which point – the first of only two times I touched him – I brushed his hand off me. I did not push him, grab him, or touch him in any other place on his body. I then raised my voice so that all in the area could hear – there were a LOT of people waiting to cross the street – "I'm giving official warning to you to stop touching me." ("공식적으로 경고합니다. 더이상 만지지 마세요") Something like that – and no, I don't talk like that when I'm mad, but is something I'd had this prepared in my head since I have a rule I've talked about on this site before: when in doubt, it's the foreigner's fault. Or, to paraphrase an old southern quip, "When the nigger starts to win, then we all jump in." Anyway, I wanted there to be no question that I, 1) spoke Korean, 2) was trying to evade a fight, and 3) was not the crazy, drunken, violent foreigner everyone seems to think we are, if you believe the newspapers and other rumors and lies.

I must admit, I did want to knock the guy out, and boooy was I tempted; but I didn't, and I never laid a finger on him other than to take his hand off me. Again, no pushes, punches, or anything like that.

So the light changes, and we go into the coffee shop. Of course, the ajussi follows us, but we thought that in the blinding light of day, he'd maybe give up and move on, at which point we could just go right back out and shoot for 10 minutes and we'd be done. Yay, right? Wrong.

We occupy the third table in; there is a young couple at the first, the second is empty. The ajussi comes in, cursing and carrying on, at which point the young couple sitting down tightens up, and a silence falls over the first floor. The two girls are at the table, and MissKoco has decided to order a drink, since she felt bad we were camping out there and causing trouble, even if it wasn't really our fault. We were just thinking: we ran across an old, belligerent drunk, so the best place to go was a well-lit place where there would be less chance of anything happening as well as witnesses if it did. Good idea, right?

Well, our favorite person in the world comes up to our table, at which point I stood up and very forcefully told him to leave us alone and to stop harassing the girls. I also did another one of the "official warning" things, which freaked out a lot of the people and caused some people to come downstairs to look. He tried to grab me again, and I barely even touched him as I brushed it off, mostly just stepping back and avoiding him, actually.

The tall, male employee had come out from behind the counter and was trying to get the ajussi to leave, at which point he just plunked down in the table next to us and continued cursing at me. Fucking American this, dirty nigger that, respect Korea, I lived in America so I know you people, where are you from, American Indian,
et cetera. Oh, it was lovely.

But now, he was just the tired, sleepy drunk guy talking and mumbling to himself. Fine, right? But he wouldn't leave, and even though we were completely avoiding eye contact, and he just continued with his one-man show, I knew he was just going follow us out again if we left. We had a true fan.

So I decided to call the police. Public drunkenness, harrassing people, he tried (albeit feebly) to hit me, and causing a disturbance. And the stench of soju was so rank and rancid that it was clear who was the problematic party, right?

So I called 112 at 10:07 and spoke with the operator for exactly one minute and 20 seconds, explaining that there was a drunk guy here harassing people, that he was harrassing and following us specifically, and our exact location. He hadn't done anything bad to us, nor us to him – I just wanted the police to come, find this guy sitting here drunk with the entire 1st floor of the coffee shop all up in arms, and just escort the guy away. He was being a public nuisance, right? I mean, we could have been any concerned citizen and called the police about a dangerous, threatening, or otherwise potentially harmful character harassing people on the street, right?

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Umm, I called YOU GUYS, remember?

Well, they show us, and I figured I had remained calm, done the right thing, stayed in the light, called the cops, and that the cops would do the Korean thing and be like, "Walk it off, sir and don't let us see you again tonight", and we could take our last shot without fear of being harassed. And I had always calling the cops the better idea than letting myself get mad enough to actually lost it, hit a guy, and get into worse trouble. And remember, "when the nigger starts to win, then we all jump in," anyway. Doesn't matter who started it.

So the cops arrive. They listen to his harangue, filled with racial slurs and expletives, then when we're packing up because we've had our fill for the evening and thought our little friend was in good hands, the cop says *I* have to come down to the station. When I incredulously shot back, "Why?" the cop says that the guy is now saying I kicked him.

Of course, that's complete and utter, brown and drippy horse shit, to put a fine point on it. Not only had I had a huge black camera bag in tow around one shoulder, and an SLR with a huge, honkin' flash in it in my hand outside, which would have made it quite a feat of balance to kick him, he would later assert in the police station (the second stop of the evening, not the first) that I had grabbed him with BOTH HANDS and then kicked him hard in the shin, leaving the blue welt that was there, which only the Lord knows how he got. And the Lord also knows that I couldn't care less, since I certainly didn't give it to him.

And I certainly could not have grabbed him, two-handed style, and given him that kick, even if I had wanted to. To get the kind of bruise he had on his leg, I'd have had to wind up pretty good to get some swing into it, not be all right up on the man. And that would have been as obvious a scuffle as hell, anyway, and hey – WHERE'S MY BRUISE? I did taekwondo for three years - not long enough to be frickin' Jean Claude van Damme, but I did enough sparring to get lots of leg bruises from shin clashes, one of the most common injuries in kick-crazy Taekwondo, but you don't get shin bruises by being up on a guy. You need to clash shins in a kick, both people get bruised, and it fricking HURTS.

In short, I didn't kick SHIT. Didn't hit anybody, either. Didn't push nobody, or even use bad language. I was completely and utterly under control, was trying to defuse the situation the right way, and if anything, just wanted to appear as calm and professional as I could for our model, who wasn't enjoying this one bit, and was supposed to have finished an hour ago at this point.

So I go down to the station, he lies his ass off, saying that 1) he had just come up to us with "good intentions" and was curious about what we were shooting and just wanted to be helpful (I was writhing in my chair at this point, since I was sitting in the same room with him), 2) HE had asked the employees to call the police on ME - which was another bald-faced and confirmable lie, since there are records and witnesses and the shorter young lady at the coffee counter had specifically come up to me and asked if I had indeed called the police, which I answered in the affirmative, 3) that MissKoco had been a white MAN (nice state of inebriation ya got there, bub!) 4) and that I had grabbed and kicked HIM.

Img 9114 Copy

Please...spare my intelligence.

What fascinated me was how no one was taking breathalyzers, and they were listening to his ass still. They were treating his testimony – with no witnesses on his side – as the same as mine! And after he was done, he was just allowed to go home.

Me? I was served papers, made to do the red thumbprint on every page, then taken downstairs where the violent crime unit is to be electronically fingerprinted and made to sign what I think was an official record of my arrest and another form asking me whether I wanted the American consulate (embassy?) notified, on which I checked the "no" box, of course.

What gets me is that, on the word of an ajussi so drunk he can't stand, and in his testimony to the cop, he mentioned he's unemployed, has no cellphone, and lives in a boarding house – I was arrested and booked. And it was just his word against mine (oh, by the way, he said that MissKoco wouldn't be called since she was American and you know, her word just isn't that believable). So he's going to just call the modeland ask her for her version of the story, since she's Korean, and despite the fact that she's technically in my party and would tend to be on my side, her word is more valid because Koreans apparently don't lie.

This makes a whole lotta sense, right? So yes, now I get to worry about 1) whether I will be found guilty or not, 2) get to live with this hanging over my head for weeks or even months, I'm told, 3) don't know if this will affect my visa renewal process when it comes time next year to renew, and 4) if found guilty, I might have to pay THIS GUY and then I'm even more royally screwed, since I will have been convicted of ASSAULT. That looks good these days in the Immigration Office, right?

Lovely. I've followed the law all my life, never been arrested (besides a protest in college in which like 500 kids were "arrested" for like 5 minutes), and never hit anyone outside of a Taekwondo dojang or my little brother (sorry about that, little brother!).

So it's 4:33 in the morning now, and I can't sleep, and am still thinking WHAT THE FU*K?! I avoided the fight, went to the brightly-lit place with lots of people, and called the cops. And now I've been arrested, fingerprinted, and booked!

Img 9111 Copy-1

Welcome to the world of those with criminal records!

And you know what the cop said, in a moment of "let me give you some friendly advice kid" candor?

"You should have just gone home. You shouldn't have called us. Next time, just leave."


And that, kids, is the moral of the story. When you're the foreigner, and you haven't done anything wrong, RUN. Otherwise, all the person has to do it lie, and you're guilty until proven innocent, even if they're a drunk, nearly homeless loser who doesn't even have a single witness to corroborate his lies.

Damn, I'm mad! Damn!

Yeah, this is why I learned the culture and language and came to Korea – to end up arrested, red-thumbed, and booked in a police station in the middle of the night after *I* had called the police on some drunk waste-of-flesh who very well might have gone on to harass OTHER PEOPLE.

The ironic thing? I really wonder if he'll EVEN REMEMBER what happened tonight. I mean, he harrassed us, made a fool of himself, and gave OFFICIAL TESTIMONY while smashed beyond comprehension. He STUMBLED out of the interrogation room. Stumbled!

They just let him walk. And I gotta wait for the judge to rule.


P.S. Just for fun, I recorded the delightful demeanor of this man, who was drunk out of his addle-brained skull and lying so much that I think he either convinced himself that this was the truth, or he just was so shit-faced that he probably tripped over something and bruised himself, then the next thing he remembers, he's standing in front of me, trying to take my camera bag. With me and MissKoco talking, it's partially in English, partly Korean. (Two quick edits in there, made to take out personal names.)

Second, enjoy the special moment he and I were forced to share while I waited to be taken to Seodaemun Police Headquarters – we were stuck looking at each other, twiddling our thumbs. This little gem is all in Korean!

I've also got video of him being a drunk old bag of flesh, but that's for later.


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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Nice Video of the First Snow of the Season


I was leaving my Korean lesson last night when one of the teaching assistants told me it was snowing outside. Now being from Southern California where if you want to see snow you pack the family in the car and drive up to Big Bear Lake, I always get geeked out when it's snowing. So I blurted out "snow I like!" in Korean and ran out to be greeted by rain. Ugh! However, I wasn't disappointed for long because within about five minutes the rain had turned to snow.

It was nice.

Here is a video posted by the folks over at Mongdori. Thanks for the heads up on this ZenKimchi.

First Snow of the Season

Last night Seoul got its first snowfall of the season. I thought about capturing some video of it myself on my cell phone as I was walking home, but then I figured I could just find a better video made by someone else:

I like the song they're singing because when they say "hin-nun-i", which means white snow, it sounds like "hin-dung-i", which means white dog. "Hin-dung-i" can be used to describe a Westerner, and is bit like calling him a cracker. So, you can easily replace the words of this song to be "Beautiful Cracker". ^^

Cute, no?


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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Repost from Gust of Popular Feeling: Cheering on the test takers

I was going to write a post on the cheerleaders that students have when going in to write the university entrance exam, but, oh boy, someone has already done it.

Since I'm all about efficiency, I'll just repost it here. I've turned comments off because if you've got something to say, take the comment and the hit to his blog.

Good job Matt ;)

Cheering on the test takers

I thought I heard some jets flying overhead this evening, but it may have been the sound of 584,934 test takers collectively sighing in relief.

A few years ago I walked by a nearby high school on the night before the suneung, or university entrance exam, and saw several students sitting in front of the school's gate. I didn't have a camera at the time, but I found photos online which depicted the same sort of thing:

I decided to walk by that school last night to see the students at work again, but instead...

I'm not sure why this was. Perhaps the schools chosen to 'host' the test change every year? Cheering for test takers took place elsewhere, as this photo from Myeongdong shows.

There's a more enthusiastic cheering section (complete with drums) pictured in this post. The Joongang Ilbo reported on some new guidelines for test monitors:
Attoday’s national College Scholastic Ability Test, female proctors have been asked not to do anything ― or wear anything ― that might distract anxious students from the difficult task at hand, according to the Education Ministry. Test takers in the past complained that they could not fully concentrate on the crucial test due to the distracting soundof clacking high heels and the smell of thick perfume, the ministry said.
I wonder if the smoke from this presumed electrical fireat a school in Daegu was distracting? If it was just an accident, then wow, what a terrible day for it to occur. The reporters were also out
for the obligatory photos of students being escorted by the police to test sites, and of celebrity test takers (two years ago it was Moon Geun-young, this year it was two members of the Wondergirls).

One of the more worthwhile explorations of test day is the Metropolitician's video from last year.
Honestly, I think this is just great. How I wish my beloved black American community could get the same enthusiasm when our dear students sit for the PSAT and SAT exams.


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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Soulja Boy and Soulja Boy Knockoffs ;)

Two entertaining knockoffs of Soulja Boy's "Crank That".


The kid who starts off on the far right but ends up in the front breaks the dance down!

Thanks to the Hello Negro blog for that one.

Winnie the Pooh and crew:

Thanks to Scotty Crowe for that one.

The original:

Update 1 - Dec. 7 @ 10:29pm

Crank That Kosha Boy


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Friday, November 16, 2007

Cold Weather and Ice Cream

I'm sitting in on the floor in my bedroom on a Saturday surfing the net. It's cold here now so I have the ondol, floor heating, on to keep me and my feline companion warm ;-) I saw this article on the JoongAngIlbo website: Weather frightful, ice cream delightful and it made me think about some of the eating habits here in Korea.

It is true. In Korea hot foods are eaten in the summer and cold foods are eaten in the winter. This is not a strict rule, but it comes from this:

... people believed that they could overcome heat by eating hot food in summer and cold by eating cold food in winter.
Korean Food: Nangmyeong (Seoul government website)

I've been here for awhile, but I still flinch a bit when the temperature drops; the wind kicks up; the winter gear like wraps, gloves, scarves and hats are on; but I see my students exiting en masse from the store on campus eating ice cream. This is very common. I notice the frequency of it now because my office is in a building with a store on the first floor. I have to walk to another building to teach my classes. That means, at least, six times a day I'm entering and exiting past that store.

Since the temperature dropped there hasn't been a day where I haven't seen students with ice cream. It's just an interesting cultural difference in how we think of food. I also know that ice cream is eaten year round anywhere you can find it, but here it does seem to happen more. It's just an interesting difference. It's such a clear difference that my search for an ice cream in winter photo turned up very few options and, yes, I searched in English.

*Note - click over to the article if you want. It's written by a British reporter who'd clearly never been to a Cold Stone Creamery before. That, for me, wasn't all that exciting because Cold Stone Creamery is an American chain, so I know the concept of the business. Plus, it's also a review of a cafe I never bother with, so eh. However, it gave me an idea and, for that, it's worth linking.


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John Mayer's "Say" Courtesy of Perez

Click on the poster to go to the movie's website.

Update 2 (Nov. 26 @ 9:29pm KST)

The "Say" video on ITunes (downlodad it, it's free) ;)

Source: TryJM - Say Video

Update 1 (Nov. 18 @ 9:56am KST - I mean y'all do know I'm usually a day ahead, depending on the hour of the day, right?)

Anyway, it looks like after Perez put "Say" up, John followed by putting up on his site.

Same song. Different jokes.

John Mayer's Blog: Say


John Mayer has recorded a new song called "Say" for the film The Bucket List starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.

I heard about the video shoot sometime around the end of his summer tour. There have been posts on it on the Mayer fan boards for a few weeks. I've just not bothered to seek it out. I figured it would find me sooner or later and now it has.

PerezHilton posted it today, so here it is: World Premiere!

If you're a John Mayer hater the comments are so rude that, at least, you'll get a kick out of that. There is something for all of us ;)


Here is the iTunes link: Say


P.S. A special goodie for those with the attention to read to the bottom of this post ;)

Click here.


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Paris In A Hanbok

Okay, the last Paris post for awhile, I promise.

I think these are some great photos. They're from Paris' visit to Seoul last week. They show Paris in a hanbok, which is traditional Korean clothing. The type she's wearing is still frequently seen at formal events like weddings. In fact, the one she has on is REALLY pretty. I think the hanboks for women are some of the nicest traditional formal wear I've seen, really.

I'll be getting myself a nice formal one before I leave, just so I can go all out when I return to the States and finally throw that "I've Finally Left Korea, But Korea Will Never Leave Me" party - complete with soju, anju and kimchee.

Paris Hilton in Hanbok (top) and with co-stars of MBC-TV's variety show ‘Infinite Challenge’./photos captured from the People magazine website.

Click on the photo to go to the Chosun Ilbo article.

Now where are the Bey in a hanbok photos?


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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Music Shopping: "As I Am" by Alicia Keys

My copy of "As I Am" while waiting in line to be rung up at Hot Tracks in Kyobo Bookstore, Gwanghwamun, Seoul.

I usually don't blog my music purchases here. I blog that on MySpace. However, I'm so excited about this one!

As I wrote last week, Alicia Keys' new CD was set to drop on the 12th. The 12th back home is the 13th here. I also caught her Good Morning America performance on TV this morning, so I was inspired by the music PR machine to run to Hot Tracks to buy the CD before my Wednesday evening dance class. While I was there I also picked up my fountain pen that I'd sent in to be repaired.

Right now I'm ripping "As I Am" to my PDA and I'm listening to it. So far, so damn good.

I just had to share 'cause I'm a geek. Okay, it's past my bedtime. G'night.


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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bey, Paris and Korean Fashionistas

I knew it. I knew it.

One thing that is predictable here is how easily people follow when it comes to fashion.

Now don't get mad and shoot the messenger. The same thing happens back home in the West too, but the level on which it happens here is pretty amusing. As the FMS blog shows, the Korean sense of fashion is most definitely improving here, no doubt. But in comparison to other places where it's much more about how you put it together than how many label products you're wearing, South Korea, or, at least, the fashionistas in Seoul still have a bit of progress to make.

Some of my own friends lean much more on price and brand names than they should and are shocked when I pick up something that doesn't have a label on it or is moderately priced. I've had the "I thought that was low quality or wasn't good" discussion a few times over a meal or coffee with friends when we're showing off our new purchases. Needless to say, most of the time, I coax them over to my way of thinking and they'll have a similar product a few weeks later.

For me, it's never been about price, trendiness or the label. I'm from L.A. and I just can't vibe with that sort of mindset as I grew up in a place where a lot of people are ruled by it. For me, it's very much about taste, fashion and your own personal style. That also means I'll buy the labels too if it works for me. In fact, it's well known that I'm essentially exclusive to MAC Cosmetics because they make colors with all shades of women in mind, but also because of their commitment to helping improve the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS. However, I won't knock a lesser priced brand if they have colors, shades and products that work for me too.

Anyway, here is an article from the Chosun Ilbo that talks about the fashion and shopping furor inspired when Beyonce and Paris Hilton came to Seoul last week.

Superstar Visits Spur Fashion Fuss in Korea

Though the stars flew out of Korea on Sunday, the apparel that adorned Paris Hilton and Beyonce Knowles while they were in the country is just taking off. Arriving a day before the pop diva, Hilton donned Fila brand clothing and accessories at all her official events, faithfully carrying out her duties as a Fila spokesmodel.
Rumor has it that the gold and pink padded Fila vest that Hilton was wearing on her arrival and during her press interviews nearly sold out in Korea over the weekend. Dubbed the "Hilton vest," the mid-W100,000 (US$1=W913) vest is likely to be the "it" fashion item for some time.

Hilton's Samantha Thavas bag with the number seven sewn on top was designed by her sister Nicky, and Paris -- famous for not wearing the same thing twice -- carried the bag with her more than once, apparently displaying her affection for her sister.

With its vivid color and shiny material, the bag has already become a popular item in Japan. It can be purchased online or through unofficial importers and many Koreans are hustling to snap up this "affordable" bag, priced around W200,000 to W300,000.

Beyonce’s fashions are no less popular than Hilton’s. The jeans that accentuated the songstress' voluptuous thighs were House of Dereon, a brand Beyonce set up with her fashion designer mother Tina Knowles. The jeans aren't yet available in Korea but her visit prompted a deluge of queries on the Internet as to where they might be found.

The shiny handbag Beyonce carried to offset her modest outfit of jeans and a simple shirt on her first day in Korea was the Marc Jacobs' Stam bag. It's available in Korea for around W2 million to W2.5 million depending on the material. Beyonce’s Stam bag was made of snakeskin and is said to cost about W10 million. Importers say they've been getting three to four phone calls a day since the singer's visit from people asking about the bag. The costly price has the bag off official importers' lists for now.

This is, of course, great for FILA Korea, Nicky Hilton, Marc Jacobs and the House of Dereon. I won't knock it too much because that means there will be a bigger range of products available here and that's great for me too! I just think it's funny because it's not surprising at all that there is a rush to copy for the sake of being trendy.


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Saturday, November 10, 2007

North Korea Thanks the USA

No, they're not North Korean - this is from the MBC TV show called 고맙습니다, "thank you".

This is interesting and it's so rare that I'm going to give it its own post rather than updating the original topic.

A few days ago a North Korean ship was attacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia. The US Navy had a destroyer in the area and came to help: Whaaa? Koreans repel attack off Somalia.

Well, since there is just no way to spin it negatively and it would make them look like asses if they didn't say thanks, North Korea has thanked the US for its help. Okay, that IS a negative interpretation. Maybe it is a new season in North Korean - US diplomacy and it's sincere. I hope so.

N.Korea Thanks U.S. for Help Against Pirates

In a rare show of gratitude, North Korea officially thanked the U.S. for helping the crew of a North Korean cargo ship hijacked by pirates off the Somali coast last week. The official Korean Central News Agency said Pyongyang thanked Washington for helping the crew of the Dai Hong Dan take back control of their vessel from pirates, calling the case “a symbol of North Korea-U.S. cooperation in the war against terrorism.” The remarks are a further sign that the North is determined to improve ties with the U.S., as the disablement of its nuclear facilities is going smoothly and it is expected to be removed from the U.S.’ list of state sponsors of terrorism soon.

The news agency reported the sailors’ battle against the pirates in detail. According to the KCNA, seven pirates disguised themselves as security guards for the North Korean vessel while it lay at anchor off the Somali capital of Mogadishu. All crewmembers were detailed in the pilothouse and engine room. The pirates fired gunshots and demanded US$15,000 in cash, but crew disarmed two hijackers and exchanged gunshots with the rest. With the pilothouse taken by pirates, crewmembers sailed on into international waters using emergency steering gear and a compass while continuing to fight the pirates.

The U.S. destroyer James Williams and a helicopter came to the aid of the North Korean vessel, the KCNA said, and some 20 hours after the attack began, the hijackers surrendered. In the fight, one pirate was killed and six North Korean sailors were injured. A medic of the U.S. warship offered treatment to injured North Korean sailors.
You're welcome.


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Friday, November 9, 2007

Damn You, John!

Update: January 4, 2009 @ 12:30pm

Ha! Over a year later, 2 Girls 1 Cup has come back to haunt me. This time, there is nothing gross and no gagging. There is only friendly banter in a FB thread. But that thread gave me this link. (thanks Jeff.)

Check it out:

- The best video clips are right here

See what you started Mayer?

Okay, John posted this video yesterday.

2 Guys 1 Cup

It's a parody of a very popular video on the Internet right now. The video he and his buddy Sherrod Small are making fun of is incredibly gross. I'm NOT posting the link. If you really must see it, email me and I'll give you the direct link. The website everyone says go to is buggy to say the least.

However, I will post the challenge and me, being an idiot, doing the challenge just out of sheer morbid curiousity and guilt from laughing at all the other reaction videos I'd watched.

The challenge:

Me meeting and suffering through the challenge:

And, funny me, okay? ;-)

Just to be clear, this is not be reacting to John and Sherrod's parody. This is me reacting to the 2 girls 1 cup video. Two guys eating frozen yogurt from the same cup...strange, maybe, but that's the point of the parody. However, gag reflex inducing, not.

John and Sherrod, see you in February, and I'm going to kick your asses.

Update 1 (Nov. 10, 2007 @11:57am)
Oh, update! Yes, I usually put updates first, but this one I think you have to see only after you're well versed in what this crazy 2 Girls 1 Cup thing is all about.

These two posted a response to John and Sherrod's parody. It's hilarious:


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Why is Harjeet a fuckwit?

The most awesome "Killer Pink" photographed at Hongdae and posted on FeetManSeoul.

Okay, I'm writing a post about Paris Hilton's visit to Korea for my other blog when I had the misfortune of reading this crap.

Why Are Paris And Beyonce In South Korea?
By: Harjeet Mander on Thursday 08th Nov 2007

Paris Hilton and Beyonce Knowles are both in South Korea, but what are they doing there together?

According to reports the heiress is in the country to film an advert for sportswear brand Fila.

Her schedule is jam packed with autograph sessions and TV appearances, before she presumably jets off the save the elephants in India? Her words not ours.

As for bootylicious Beyonce, well she's hit the far east to play two shows on Friday and Saturday at the Olympic Gym in Seoul. Will she adhere to their strict dress code? We hope not.

To see photos of Paris and Beyonce sipping cocktails touching down in South Korea click here

This is my thing, Harjeet, either you've NEVER been to South Korea or you haven't been to South Korea in the last 10 years.

It's common knowledge that young and fashionable Korean women will run around in mini-skirts in the freezing cold just for the sake of looking good. If anything, there is an unspoken dress code of suffering for the sake of fashion or for the sake of looking good. The one time I matched my girls, wore heels and ran around Seoul, my feet were in hell for the next few days after that silly decision.

So let me ask, what dress code are you talking about Harjeet? Actually, let me be more specific, which damn Asian country are you talking about? They're most definitely NOT all the same.

Just in case you question my knowledge, here are some links:

김소연의 드레스 - 뭐가 야하냐?
Street Styles: Sporty + Sexy = Spexy?
The Hanbok Minidress!

Harjeet, do your research before writing such stupidity or else be ready to get clowned.

Okay, enough said and off to finish that blog on Paris.


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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A duet by two of my faves: Alicia Keys and John Mayer

Alicia and John got together and recorded a duet. Maybe one day I'll blog about how I had tickets to the Alicia Keys show when she was playing Seoul and my car gave out on me on the highway. That sucked, but dealing with my car was easy. They're good with that stuff here in Korea.

Anyway, her new album As I Am will be released on November 12th and the PR machine is going strong.

Perez Hilton has their duet up and here is the link.

Alicia Keys and John Mayer: Lesson Learned



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Dona nobis pacem

This is a cute I idea that I heard about when Mimi left a comment a few days ago.

I figure why not?

Here is my peace globe:


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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Are You SERIOUS?!!!

Thanks to my trusty LG-LB2800 DMB cell phone, I'm actually plugging into more Korean broadcasts. At home, I'm strictly a CNN International gal because cable companies are only allowed to carry one English news company (don't ask me why.) The rest of my news is gathered from the Internet. However, with my phone and my commute which consists of a 30 to 45 minute bus ride out of Seoul to Kyonggi-do, I've got time to tune in. Now I find myself firing up my phone and tuning into Korean TV or radio instead or reading or listening to music on my PDA. In fact, I got first hand confirmation that the new Korean pop group the Wonder Girls really do suck because I saw a performance, if you want to call it that.

Anyway, on Friday I was on the school bus heading back to Seoul. I was listening to Arirang radio and heard a story about officers in the Korean military who'd faked Philipino degrees to gain promotions.

What the hell?

Anyway, the reporter said that the military claimed there was no way to check this information. This is the same lame excuse used in the other degree scandals. What the hell do you mean there is no way to check?!!!

You find the school's phone number, pick up the phone, you call the school, you ask for the registrar department and you find out the process for verifying whether someone did or didn't graduate from the damn school. If you don't want to speak to someone, in this day and age you can find that information on the school's website. Again, as I've written before, no legitimate school wants people running around claiming they're graduates when they're not. It's up to employeers to verify this information, period.

Granted, it's best if people don't lie, but Korea is very much a one chance only society in some ways. If you fail the entrance exam or have a bad day when you take whatever test it is you have to take to get a job or even an interview, you're screwed. As a result of this, one strike situation, the temptation to lie is a very serious one. That's going to take Korean society changing and allowing people to move in or move up in different ways. However, that's not something I'm willing to theorize about at this point. That's up to Koreans to recognize and change.

Just don't give me this b.s. that you can't verify credentials. It's done all the time, except in Korea, it seems.

AFP: SKorea's fake degree scandal spreads to military
Wake T-Rex: Lovely Just Lovely, Korean Military Officers Fake Filipino University Degrees

JoongAng Ilbo: Fake degree scandals hit the military


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Friday, November 2, 2007

Music Video: Ledisi "Alright"

If you've read my B-Boys in Korea post you know I have much love for Ledisi.

I first saw her when I lived in San Francisco. It was only a few months before I took off to Korea, but during that time I'd wrangle my friends up and drag them to her shows.

It was a great time and she puts on a great show.

I've been following her ever since and remain a loyal fan.

She has a new album out: Lost And Found

This is the new video for the single "Alright".


Yep, everyone's has a MySpace page. Here is hers: Ledisi's MySpace


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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Word Choice

The title of this article is interesting:
Drug and Sex Party Organizer Busted.

It makes it sound like it's just going to talk about swinger parties. Look, I came to Korea after living in San Francisco for years, so I'm not naive by any stretch.

The article is talking about those sorts of parties but the story is also about high priced prostitution. Basically, the person arrested would offer one million won (US$1=W910) to women to take drugs and have sex with him.

However, prostitution isn't mentioned at all. Why not? If the price is near $1,000 it's too steep of a price to be called that? I'm curious.

Drug and Sex Party Organizer Busted

In October last year, a 38-year-old office worker identified as Kim posted a message on a website looking for a one-night stand for W1 million won (US$1=W910).

A 24-year-old nurse named Kim and a 22-year-old aspiring writer named Jang answered Kim's message. The women took amphetamines and had sex with Kim at a motel in Seoul and were paid W1 million each.

On Sunday, the Seoul Prosecutors' Office said it arrested the office worker and 41 women who joined him in drug-fueled sex parties that he arranged on the Internet.

Among the arrested were women who took part in "swapping" sessions, in which they and their boyfriends and lovers had sex with other partners, prosecutors allege.
Kim's sexual partners also included two college-age siblings, prosecutors said. Most of the partners were women in their 20s and included college students, office workers, private English teachers, nurses and dancers.


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