Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Seoul Podcast - Live on NYE

I've been crazy busy, so here it is two hours before midnight and I'm just now posting this. So, sorry for the late notice, but, yeah, things have been a bit frantic for me during this last week.

Anyway, the SeoulPodcast is going to be live tonight. It will be Joe, the host along with two guests: me and Aaron Shearin. I decided to stay in tonight because I'm working at an English camp right now. Those are serious time zappers and rather than go out into the freezing cold, I decided to take it easy. Tomorrow is a day off and I'd like not to be nursing a hangover ;)

Here is the link if you want to listen in:


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Saturday, December 27, 2008

김동원, Vocal Wonder, Covers "We Belong Together"

You know life is rough in the S.e.o.u.l. Sometimes you just need to listen to some good music, pour a glass of wine and relax.

So, let me share some more of the wonder that is the vocal talent of 김동원.

Here he is covering another Mariah Carey tune. When he takes it up a notch at the end, it's pure gold!


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Friday, December 26, 2008

Crap That I'll Miss: Accessories - EVERYWHERE

Not much to say except how much I'm going to miss accessory stands. In all the major shopping and fashion areas you'll find carts or stands where they're selling all sorts of fun accessories. This can range from a spot full of hair accessories or something like cute costume jewelry.

There is a spot in the Express Bus Terminal here in Seoul that has EVERYTHING. They have hair accessories, jewelry, purses, socks, sunglasses and, depending on which vendors have moved in or moved out, sometimes clothing.

It's just too much fun. Granted, this is about those rad accessory stands, but I'll miss being able to basically buy an outfit on the street without having to enter a store.

Yes, I have her eyes blacked out because I didn't ask for her permission to paste her face on my blog. Therefore, until I ask her (and the possibility of me going all the way back to Omokygyo station is close to nill.)


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A Shaded View on Fashion

Just helping to spread the word for you ASVOF readers.

Right now, ASVOF is having bandwidth issues, but they're on it. However, in the meantime access ASVOF via this link:

Here is the piece I wrote on Diane Pernet a few weeks back.

A nice lady with a great blog, so if you like fashion and you've not read it, check it out.

Oh, check out this post: Words of wisdom from


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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

So This is Christmas...

Shamelessly copied from Fish Bowl L.A.

Maybe one day we'll get this.

The video ends with a great quote:

"An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind."* - Mahatma Gandhi

*I've seen it quoted a few ways but, no matter the exact words, the gist and meaning are the same.


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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

[Regina Walton's Expat Interviews] Christianity in Korea

Unless something significant happens, I'm on my way home in the next couple of months. However, I've wanted to do a series on religion pretty much since I started this column.

The first in this series was published today. My goal is to just give a bit of information on the people who help us out spiritually. I've never been much into the party scene here, which consists of drinking to excess and a so-so bar and club culture. However, most of the major religions are here and have houses of worship.

I've started with Christianity simply because it's the day before Christmas, but we'll cover as many as we can including, but not limited to, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam.

Christianity in Korea

This is the first part in a series looking into religion in Korea. The first objective is to learn about the lives of the expatriate clergy. The second is to give expatriates a springboard from which to develop spiritually by providing the contact information and service times for their religious services. Feature articles will examine Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and Sikhism. -- Ed.

In the expatriate community it's easy to find a group of friends to drink and party with. However, it can be more of a challenge to establish a spiritual sense of belonging.

Pastor, missionary, scholar Reverend Paul Mooney English-language Ministry at Seoul Cathedral

Reverend Paul Mooney, from Dublin, Ireland, describes himself as a "city boy and a Dubliner at heart," because he was born and raised there.

He first came to Korea in August, 1980 and stayed until 1982. At that time, he was a theological student doing his missionary training in Korea. He had been studying with a Roman Catholic organization called The Columban Fathers at their school in Ireland -- St. Columbans. During that time, he studied the Korean language at a language institute named Myongdowon, which no longer exists.

When asked when he decided to become a reverend, he quickly corrected the question, saying, "I don't know whether people actually decide to become a reverend or if something decides them to become one."

What brought him to the church?

A crucifix at the Seoul Anglican Cathedral [Photo by Matthew Lamers/The Korea Herald]

"For me, it really goes back to the time I was a teenager and I started to feel some way attracted to becoming a priest, for want of a better word ... specifically a missionary. So I suppose, I've had that kind of leaning since I was about 16.

"For me, the funny thing is, I'm actually living half a mile from where I lived in 1980, and I'm working sort of half a mile from where I studied in 1980."

He explained that he came back to Korea after all these years because in his heart, he is more of a traveler. When he left Korea, he was Chaplin of the Mission to Seafarers in Busan. After he left Busan he was in the same ministry in Brussels, Belgium. After Brussels, he returned to a parish in Ireland.

"What attracted me to come back? Well, I was looking through the job section of the Church Times website one day, and I saw they needed a chaplin for the English congregation in Seoul."

He said he had visited York Cathedral a year or two earlier. "It was somebody that had died and it said 'pastor, missionary, scholar' on his (epitaph). I said 'that's what I want to have on mine.' So this kind of makes that possible to do what I feel is my own calling.

"I knew I was ready. The job was there and the job was open. I came over and interviewed and it worked. I'm very, very happy. It's one of the most satisfying experiences I've had, ministering with the foreign congregation here."

He explained that "the word Anglican basically means English, so Anglican Churches are churches that derive in some way or other from the Church of England.

The Anglican Church is located in downtown Seoul beside the British Embassy, across from City Hall. The services Mooney presides over are in English. The Eucharist service is every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. in the church's crypt chapel, which is downstairs from the main chapel. On Sunday at 5 p.m. there is the Evening Prayer.

The church has a Bible study for adults after the main Eucharist service. He added that the church has Sunday school for children. For readers who are not in Seoul, but are interested in Anglican/Episcopalian services, there are English speaking services in Daejeon. There is also a service in Namyangju in Gyeonggi-do which focuses on migrant workers.

"For a start, it's English speaking. The largest, but there is no majority; I would call U.S., which would be closely followed by Canadians. ... They include people of all possible types that you would find within North America."

He said that includes Korean-Americans, Nigerians and other Africans, Filipinos, Sri Lankans, Australians and Europeans. He said Korean nationals also attend.

"Either Koreans who lived and worked abroad for awhile and who like to still worship in English. Maybe they started coming to the Anglican Church when they lived abroad or went to a similar type of church like a Lutheran Church and just find that they like coming to a liturgical Protestant church. And, from time to time, we have a few Koreans who just like to worship in English. I would think because we're a liturgical Protestant church, which is not really part of the Korean mainstream of Christian religion in Korea, we don't tend to have as many Korean-national worshipers as other English-speaking congregations might have."

He also explained that because his congregation is so spread out, that most events take place on Sunday simply because it's easier for everyone to attend.

For more information on Seoul Cathedral:

Pastor-in-training: David Shaw The Onnuri Bucheon English Ministry, Presbyterian

David from Perth, Western Australia, was born in Nottingham, English which he playfully describes as "Robin Hood territory."

He has lived in Korea for almost five years. "I'm a reverend in training, but doing the job. I've done two out of three years in a master's of divinity course here in Korea.

"I'm going to a school called Torch Trinity Graduate School of Theology. I took a year off because I had to marry a beautiful woman. I'm going back next year to finish my study and training," he told Expat Living.

Similar to Reverend Mooney, Shaw described his entry into ministry as not so much a choice, but more as a calling. "When I was about 21, 22 (years old) I went on a short-term mission trip to Africa. We went to Malawi.

"A little thing happened before we left. I was asked to preach before we left. After the service a man came up to me. Never seen him before, never seen him since. And he said, 'God has a word from the Bible for you.' I'm a conservative Baptist. I don't believe in people coming up to me with the whole 'God's word' thing. But he took me to a passage of scripture in 2nd Timothy that basically said 'do the work of an evangelist and a pastor. That's where you're going.' That freaked me out because basically I wanted to be a physical education teacher.

"I didn't think much of it, but later in the same evening, a woman -- a deacon in our church -- came up to me and she said 'God has a word for you.'

"She opened her Bible and gave me the same, identical verses from the Bible."

In his own words, he said he was freaked out, but chalked it up to coincidence.

He said a week later he was boarding the plane and his youth pastor, who didn't know what had happened a week before, had written a Bible verse for every person going on this mission trip. She gave him the piece of paper and it was the same verse.

"For me, I look back on that day as the day when God confirmed his call to ministry. So I did a Jonah and ran the opposite way. I continued to pursue phys-ed teaching, including coming to Korea. And, five years later, I find myself having ministered for two years. So I didn't choose it, it came to me."

He went on to describe his church. He said he works at a church called Onnuri English Ministry in Bucheon. Onnuri is a campus church. They have campuses in Seoul, Seobingo and one in Yangjae.

"I happen to work in Bucheon. We have a congregation of about 30 people. On a good week we can hit 40 or 50. (It's) mostly foreigners, although some Koreans come as well."

Onnuri is a church with about 40,000 members.

"Onnuri is certainly the biggest English ministry in Korea. It has the biggest resources for people who need help with maybe counseling or special needs or Korean lessons. They're the best resource to help people where they're at."

All of the churches have a small group ministry or Bible studies for people seeking those kinds of spiritual activities.

When asked to distinguish his church, he focused on the "core beliefs" that Christians have in common. He believes if those core beliefs are practiced, for example, Trinitarian God and virgin birth, then they're a Christian church.

The service is in Bucheon is near the Sangdong Home Plus in Bucheon. You can learn more about Onnuri's Bucheon English service at and the Seoul Onnuri Churches at

Go to for more information on the Torch Trinity Graduate School of Theology.

By Regina Walton /Expat Interviews

Regina Walton can be reached through her blog

English language services

Seoul Anglican Cathedral

Sunday at 9:30 a.m.

(02) 730-6611

Onnuri Bucheon English Ministry, Presbyterian

For information, including service times and contact information, see for Onnuri Bucheon and for Onnuri Seoul

Jubilee Church

Inter-denominational, English ministry in the Gangnam

Sunday service at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. (Children's Ministry at 10 a.m. only);

Morning prayer from Tuesday to Friday at 7a.m.

Wednesday night service from 8 p.m.

Phone: (02) 569-2293-4

Daeduk Hanbit Presbyterian Church

English service is at 12 p.m. Sunday

Sunday Bible study at 1:15 p.m.

Phone: (042)-863-0725

Seoul Union Church

Evangelical and ecumenical church

Located near Foreigner's Cemetery Park, north of the Yanghwa Bridge

Phone: (02) 333-7393

Somang Presbyterian Church

English service at 1:30 p.m. Sundays

Offers English Sunday school

Phone: (02) 512-9191~6

Community of Christ

Sunday services at 11:00 a.m. English translation is available.


Advanced English discussion club meets weekly

Located near Yonsei University

Phone: (02) 334-7912

Yongsan Baptist Church

Sunday school at 9:45 a.m. and English worship at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Nursery care available

Bible study at 9:40 Sunday morning

Located near the Crown Hotel in Yongsan.

Phone pastor Bill Ecton (02) 796-0284

Youngnak Presbyterian Church

English worship on Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Service Building

At 3 p.m. in the Mission Chapel

Located in Jung-gu, Seoul

Phone 2280-0228 or 011-613-5896


Yeouido Full Gospel Church

For full schedule, go to

Located in on Yeouido Island, Seoul

Hannam International Church

Celebrates Mass in the Franciscan Chapel at Hannam-dong

English Mass at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

French Mass Saturdays at 6 p.m.

German Mass Sundays at 10 a.m.

Italian Mass Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

Spanish Mass Sundays at 12:15 p.m.

Phone: (02) 793-2070

Hyewha-dong Catholic Church

Mass every Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

Phone: (02) 764-0221

Myong-dong Cathedral

Sunday Mass at 9 a.m. preceded by confession in English.

Phone: (02) 774-3890

Yongsan Chapel Community

Mass at Memorial Chapel at 5 p.m. Saturdays and 12 p.m. Sundays.

Phone: (02) 7915-8176

South Post Chapel Mass at 8 a.m. and Catholic religious education at 9:30 a.m. Sundays Phone: (02) 7918-4044

St. Paul Orthodox Church, Seoul

Irregular English service

Phone: (02) 362-7005

English Bible study in Apgujeong

Mostly native English speakers, some Koreans

Near subway station

Phone: 011-359-1317

At 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon
Here is the .pdf version on the article:


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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Crap That I'll Miss: Ordering Pizza in Korean

Last week at my job grades were due on Thursday.* During crunch times like that when it's really about getting it done, I'll treat myself and order pizza delivery. I've got a Samsung credit card which entitles you to a 20% discount off the price when you use it. I call up and, because they have my number in the system, they'll usually start reading off my address before I have a chance to tell them what it is. Sometimes the system is down; there are tons of orders, which means there is going to be a longer than 30 minute wait and they have to tell you this; or you get a particularly jittery person on the other end who hears my accent and freaks out. But usually there is no problem.

From there, I place my order using the menu on their Korean language site. There is no English version, just study Korean and it really doesn't take much Korean to order food as I've been doing it since my first semester teaching here.

BTW, I order Dominos because 1) it's better than Pizza Hut and 2) Papa John's didn't deliver in my area last time I checked. I will switch alliances once Papa John's is close enough, but, for now, I'll just call the one close to me and pick it up en route home. Basically, for delivery Dominos is my only edible choice and beggars can't be choosers. It's pretty good. It's easy. That's it.

I'll miss the little feeling of accomplishment I have after getting through the process of ordering, informing them I'm using my card and asking them what the price is after the 20% discount, and then dealing with the delivery guy and payment. They also have little bright red mobile digital card processors for credit card orders.

I do look forward to ordering pizza delivery in English when I get home though. But the benefit of home is I can just go to a pizza shop and order pizza by the slice. In fact, that's the first meal I had when I was in NYC this February: a slice of white pizza and a slice of pepperoni. Pizza by the slice is very uncommon here :(

* Which is another reason I was livid on Wednesday evening when Mad Nutter decided to not take his medication and instead chose to pester me.


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Crap That I Won't Miss: Korean Websites with "English" Pages

Usually, most Korean business websites have their main site in Korean. This is what all businesses do, so no complaints here. If you're doing business in Korea, of course, the language you're going to use is Korean. However, what's funny is usually their English sites are all investor information (and most of the time it's written so poorly and has so little detail that I seriously wonder who invests based on that scant information). On those pages the companies the products and services but very few companies actually bother to put in links for English speaking customers living in Korea. There are some exceptions. Last I checked, LG Telecom had both. An investor page but with a bit of consumer information which helps their English speaking customers here in Korea, including their foreign language help line, which is excellent. I think for most companies they think it's easier to just ignore the small number of English speaking customers they have in the country and only pay attention to people with money to invest. For the English speaking customers the attitude is let them find a Korean to help them out and be done with it.

After a certain amount of time, people learn enough of the language to meander through the Korean version of the site to find what they want. At least, that's been the case for me. However, it's still annoying. This morning I needed to download the HWP viewer for the Korean Word program (yes, it's a word processing program written and sold by Haansoft, a South Korean software company.) I started using a new desktop computer when I got back from vacation in late February. I'd not needed it until today.

I've done this many times before because I've had about three or four computers since I've lived here and I've had computers in my office. Sometimes those computers came preloaded with what I needed, but most of the time they didn't. The viewer is like Adobe Acrobat Reader. It allows you to read documents written with this software and that's key here. Lots of times the Korean writing the document doesn't even stop to think that you've got Microsoft Word and not Korean Word, so yeah...problem. But it's one that's easily solved once you know about this reader. However, the site with software and downloads is all in Korean. They don't even bother to subtitle the download link in English. I muddled through and found it. I also found a good blog link that explains where to find it. So those of you looking for it, here it is.

HWP viewer from Haansoft -- For reading documents in Hangeul

I finally found that hwp viewer again. I'd managed to find it about a year ago, but then the link went dead or just stopped working . . . it would download 3/4ths of the way and then just hang.

Now, here it is:

Unfortunately, for those of you who cannot read Korean (Hangeul) the site has no English. Okay, not precisely true -- in fact they do have English on the website but they don't offer the download for their free viewer -- they only offer investor info. Also, as seems to be the rule in Korea, you cannot link directly to anything in Haansoft's website -- it's all smoke and mirrors using Adobe Flash. It did work for me in the Google Chrome browser however, which was a bit surprising.

Above you can see a screenshot of the website. Hover over the 'Download' button and then click on the 'Viewer' button then you'll see the name of the download with the small image of a floppy disk that you need to click to download -- it's about 50 MB -- worked fine on my Windows Vista.


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Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Dark Knight- Joker Interrogation Scene Spoof

Thanks to Mike and Joe for getting me laughing last night.

This one does it every time:

Last night was not the time for highbrow humor ;)


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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Crap That I Won't Miss: Weird Foreigners

"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names." - John F. Kennedy

Now I won't publish this guy's email or family name, but I will publish this ridiculous email exchange.

Let me give you a bit of background.

Unbeknownst to me, I ended up getting a job at the same school with the guy who inspired this post: Ugly Americans, Young White Men, Korea and Me. I've been there for almost two years at this point. I've not revealed that I'm working with him simply because I never felt the need to do it. However, I was going to after the fact just to update the story. Now due to this silliness, it's happened even sooner.

If you read that post, you realize there is no love lost. None! I basically did my job and just didn't bother.

For the sake of clarity, I will refer to him as "Mad Nutter" and to myself as "Moi" later in this post.

Anyway, my job chose the change the terms of our contracts. I was already seriously considering not renewing simply because the atmosphere had changed, and I was getting tired of the commute. I work in Suwon but I live in Seoul. It's not bad, but it was getting to be tedious for me.

They gave us a deadline to request a renewal. This is standard procedure with them. We request the renewal. They then take it to a committee and we're informed whether they'll extend our contract or not. A little much on the procedure but okay. I didn't bother requesting a renewal. I was done after they informed us of the changes. Then the school did what a lot of colleges and universities do. They dismissed the instructors that had been with them for three years.

Now the rumor I heard was that after three years colleges and universities have to offer you tenure. I don't know if that's true or not. I've never researched it, but I figured that might get thrown out as a reason. It ends up they didn't explain what the reason was, and I don't think any of the dismissed instructors asked. For me it's neither here nor there, as I'm leaving but I do feel bad it was handled this way. After the offers or lack of offers were sent out, I got an inquiry from another co-worker asking if I'd been renewed. I'd explained I'd not asked for a renewal and that was that or so I thought.

Well, no, because tonight I got an email from Mad Nutter saying he wanted the teachers to ban together and take the school to court. I replied saying, since I'd chosen to not to renew that I don't have standing but good luck.

He writes back to say that someone has informed him that people who've been at a job in Korea for longer than two years have special rights. I point out that he's been there for more than two years but I've not. So again, I don't have standing and again, thanks and good luck.

He writes back again to say that if they win, I'd get an offer. I explain I DON'T WANT an offer and my reasons for that. Again, thanks and take care.

He comes back now talking about I'm inhuman because I don't want to know about my coworkers.


You'd think he would have gotten the hint after the first email, but NO! He starts a new email topic asking me am I always like, yeah, asshole, I am.

This goes back and forth. I'm just pissed that this is actually going on. I explain that I thought I'd been pretty upfront. I'd said why I wasn't interested, only to be told I was "bragging". I went out of my way to wish him luck and say "thanks" only to be pestered and insulted.

What a fucking mental case. And, yes, you could accuse me of indulging it. But, I really did figure he'd just eventually move on. He had in the past.

Anyway, I eventually said, leave me alone or I'm taking this to the net. In the course of the emails, I'd asked him a question. He then chose to harp on this question as if it was some incredible error. Basically, it was the bait and switch technique people pull in an argument when they know their original point they've brought up basically is wrong. And his original point was I was inhuman, but no, it's not that I don't care about my co-workers. I don't care about going back and forth with your insane ass.

Guess what? Yeah, he didn't leave me alone. Had he, I wouldn't need to be up writing this crap out. You don't have to read it. I mean, I've described it pretty well...I think. However, here it is: five email threads between Mad Nutter and Moi.

I've eliminated his last name and email. He's also threatened that he's going to publish it too. Oh no! What will I do?!!!

The first email - "job end":

Mad Nutter:


Please send me an email if you are interested in defending against our termination. I have an expert, who says a new labor law in 2008 states that employees have special consideration (and rights) if they have worked at a job for longer than 2 years. Although we haven't rallied together in the past, a collaborative effort could/would see our jobs reinstated, which is deserving. Also, once being reinstated, long term employment is certain. This expert would like to meet with us, for FREE ADVICE and CONSULTATION. If it my deep understand that the decision to terminate us rests on the misbelief that we won't do our homework/reseach about our rights, moreso than having a solid legal right for doing so.

Working together on this matter would make each of our INVOLVEMENT/CONTRIBUTIONS in this matter, minimal.

I appreciate your response and input,



I didn't request a renewal, so I didn't get terminated. I chose to leave.

Good luck

Mad Nutter:

just wanted to keep you updated, cheers,

Moi (and this is where, I admit, I ought to have just not replied):

Thanks but no need since I have no standing in this situation. Best of luck to you.

Take care.


Mad Nutter:

well, if we get reinstated.. you'd have an offer back on the table. And the court case gets settled, in court, in about 3 hours because it is a non-controversial case and the college doesn't really have any ground to stand on. Have it rapped up by February 1st.


I was already considering leaving. Again, you presume too much about people you don't know well.

My choice is more about me and not over this school. Their actions only made my choice much easier. Ironically, I'm actually thankful for them confirming my feeling the school's environment had changed for the worse. I'm not happy with the changes in staff because that's negatively impacted the work environment. I've already turned down other job offers. Even in this scary economy, being unemployed isn't the issue for me right now. The issue is being exceptionally picky about my working conditions if I choose to stay a bit longer.

There is nothing illegal about a jerk being your management chain of command. Maybe their actions are illegal when it comes to workers' rights. That's yet to be determined. Plus, technically, this would only apply to the people who've been under contract for two years. I have not been employed by them for that long.

I do think if they can be held to account that would be good for the sake of current and future employees. However, beyond that, I have no interest in working for them any longer.

Again, I have no need or desire for updates.


Clearly, he's pissed I said he was presumptuous, but yeah, that's no surprise.

Email two - "presume":
Mad Nutter:

Are you always like this?


dude, I'm telling you I'm not interested in pursuing legal action AND that there is no need to contact me on it any further.

Yes, I'm always HONEST.

Mad Nutter:

there's been a few fibs. So you can't claim totally honesty.


Okay, I'm going to ask YOU now are you always like this?

I haven't fibbed about jack. You just can't seem understand "thanks, but no thanks", so I went out of my way to explain WHY I'm simply not interested in this.

What the hell? I was nice. I said that I wasn't interested and that I didn't need any further updates and went out of my way to acknowledge that there very well could be a cause of action and thanked you for keeping me posted. (That's more than I can say you did for me when I let you know about there being no substantial rule change for the process to get permission to work at a camp.) You keeptcoming back with more reasons and I keep saying, I'm not interested.

1. I don't want to work for (school's name removed) anymore - including the management and, honestly, the commute.
2. I didn't ask to work for them anymore.
3. I have turned down recent job offers.

So fibs? Please, why would I bother fibbing to you?

Mad Nutter:

Well, it's just more human to want to know if 6 of my coworkers got sacked, I'd wanted to hear about what's going on, how they are doing, etc. Kept in the loop. That's why.

Why would you fib? You have something to prove to people. But that's not what people care about, or what makes people interesting. In literature, it is explained this way. In a world so impersonal, so inauthentic and cold - it's the human characteristics, in others, that people really care about.

You just said you are always honest, and that's kind of impossible so it has to, in itself, be another fib.


I don't talk to any of you on a regular basis. I'll hear about it through the people I have relationships with.

I don't have a thing to prove to you, sorry. You over estimate your importance. You're pestering me. I'm telling you to leave me alone. It's simple.

I'm honest. I want you to leave me alone.
Email three - "question":

Mad Nutter:

how can you ask me a couple of questions and then tell me I'm pestering you when I respond??



Quid pro quo. I didn't ask you anything until that last email, so don't twist it. I'm no novice.

You've continued to pester me for I don't know how many emails simply because I'm not interested in whatever you're going to try to do. I've been clear about my reasons for not wanting further contact but courteous in wishing you luck.

If I've got to deal with this stupidity, I can fire the question right back at you.

So again, are you always like this?

Email four - "irony":

Mad Nutter:


The irony is that in the same email you told me to stop pestering you and then you followed it up with a question.

And you did again in your last email, "continue to pestering me, but since this is so stupid, are you always like this??"






Pestering and answering my question are two different things.

It's really ridiculous that you try to be so smug but have such trouble understanding that basic concept.

Answering a question I've asked you isn't pestering me. Attacking me with your ridiculous theories about my character is.

You asked me a question and I answered it. You then decided to keep it going by saying no, I was a liar because I'm out to impress you. But the point is if you weren't so insecure you wouldn't see me as having denied a job offer as bragging. I explained why I was going to quit and why I don't want to work there. You're so isolated that you assume I need contact with you to stay updated on what's going on with some of the people I've worked with. No I don't need you for updates, thanks.

So I'm going to lay this down.

1) answer the question or 2) leave me alone.

If you chose not to do either of these, you'll have to talk to your attorney about suing me too because I'm about to publish this entire email exchange with no names or emails on the Internet. However, if you push me, your name will be on it too.

This IS a threat. I've been dealing with this ridiculous series of emails for a hours at this point and, believe it or not, I've got work to do.

It's interesting that you're real quick to try to verbally attack me in emails where no one else can see it. However, I'm sick of it. I told you I wasn't interested in what you were doing. I told you why. I wished you luck and thanked you for including me. You accused me of lying and essentially being inhuman because I don't want to discuss this silliness with you.

Sorry man, but that's ridiculous and you know it. Now you're harping on the fact that I've asked you a question but I've also asked you to stop pestering me. Now that I've explained the difference, maybe you get it. If you don't maybe email Noam Chomsky and he can explain it to you.

But ooops, I realized that in my haste to hit send, I'd fucked up and wrote "either" when I meant to write "neither".

So, since one big issue has been him simply refusing to admit he's made an error, this is actually perfect. I get to eat crow and point out that he's loathe to ever do so.

Of course, going through it bit by bit, I realize I was right the first time. Oh well, I proved my point that 1) I make errors and 2) when I do, I'll say so ;)


I hate typos, but this is important to clarify.

If you chose not to do either of these, you'll have to talk to your attorney about suing me too because I'm about to publish this entire email exchange with no names or emails on the Internet. However, if you push me, your name will be on it too.

Sorry this should read:

If you chose not to do neither of these, you'll have to talk to your attorney about suing me too because I'm about to publish this entire email exchange with no names or emails on the Internet. However, if you push me, your name will be on it too.

And that is me acknowledging when I've made an error. Funny you can't do the same.


Mad Nutter:

well, if you tell me to leave you alone and then ask me to answer a question.. and blackmail me into following one of your two scenarios. It's all a little strange.


Moi: that's not strange.


Mad Nutter:

how is that not strange, just because you followed through on blackmail??


I'm on the phone at this point talking to a friend, describing this situation and laughing my ass off. I don't answer. When I finally read it, he's said this.

Mad Nutter:

look for the ENTIRE email correspondence to be posted with your name,


Damn folks, it looks like he's now threatened me! Oh no!!!


Will do...funny what you don't know, again.

And, so far, last email thread five - "challenge" (ha! hard to do since I think I made the threat):

Mad Nutter:

I challenge you to publish the ENTIRE correspondence. I can leave you the dust in any debate, so we'll move on to getting you to publishing the ENTIRE correspondence.



I'm writing it up right now. I'll be sure to send you the link.

Now, go away.


Mad Nutter:

look forward to seeing your name on it,

as a published piece online,

Clearly, he doesn't know I'm already published online with my name...ooops.


Dude, you're an idiot. I have a blog that I've written for awhile about living here in Korea.

I've published it there with only your first name and the dialogue name of "Mad Nutter". Of course, that blog has my blogger handle, but also my real name in certain pieces as I write for one of the papers here. However, I'll make sure to sign my name at the end so it's there. Bluff called...

It's up. Have at it.

Click here: Crap That I Won't Miss: Weird Foreigners

Now, please go away.


Now, I hit "publish" and, as you see above, I informed Mad Nutter that it was done.

The message below was in my inbox this morning, as since this is about publishing the complete thread, here it is.

Mad Nutter:

i don't give in to blackmail.. "choose option 1 or 2 or else". My guess is you'll leave that out.

Someone "guessed" wrong ;)

Signed in frustration,

Regina Walton

P.S. What is hilarious to me is he "challenged" me to do exactly what I said I was going to do...hello? I told you I was going to publish this mess, stupid.

How original.


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Who cares about Hugh Jackman? Just kidding...

Well, not really.

What I do care about is that absolutely gorgeous Daniel Henney is in this movie. I was so happy when I found out he was in the cast. Now I just love having a "wow, he's so cute" crush on him, but I hope the director has pulled out what little acting talent he has. He's pretty to look at, but, acting talent challenged.

Since I really like the X-men movies, I want this to be a fun ride, so let us pray for good acting from even the ridiculously good-looking members of the cast. It's probably nothing to fret over as, even from the preview, it looks like his character just might get taken out pretty early in the game.


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Slightly Annoyed

The news is Oprah has gained weight again. Now that doesn't bother or surprise me in the slightest. What does bother me about this latest media frenzy over her weight is that she's got a thyroid condition. Which one, I'm not sure. It's pretty well known that having a "thyroid condition" can be a euphemism for being fat.

But you know what? I've got a thyroid condition too, Graves' Disease.

Last year, there was a period during my treatment that I was essentially being over-medicated, so I fell into hypothyroidism. All I wanted to do was sleep and that's pretty much all I did. I'd go to class or go to work, but my free time? Yeah, I was out cold.

It occurred to me that something was off when I saw a news report. They were talking about a female golfer and how she'd made some achievement. I can't even remember what her achievement was, but I felt a flash of happiness for her and then started shedding tears of joy for her. I cried! Now, there is nothing wrong with crying, but yeah, that's a bit extreme. I got online, did some research and started analyzing my lab numbers.

It ends up I was being kept on the low end of the "normal" range. I told my doctor firmly to cut it out, roll back the meds and since then, things have been much better. I'm also simply much more aggressive when it comes to changes. If I feel a certain way, I don't let my doctor dismiss it. I stress that I'm the one who has to go home and try to live with this. Therefore, how I feel is just as important as those numbers on my chart.

Initially, I was annoyed with Oprah, because I felt she wasn't putting the emphasis in the right place. The right place, I feel, is diagnosis and treatment. It's also just with talking about it and sharing with people who have thyroid disorders. I learned more about this disease on forums talking to others dealing with it than I have anywhere else. However, I realized that I haven't heard her say anything. I've not read the essay that will be published in next month's O magazine, and I've not read any quotes or statements from her.

Realizing this, I ran a search and saw some ridiculous titles:

What's up with the meanness? This is NOT just about yo-yo dieting. We all know that's a huge thing with her, but this is more than that.

Thyroid disorders are serious and they're hard to treat because it's a balancing act. That's the case if you undergo radiation treatment, which means you're on hormones until you die, or if you're on some other sort of treatment. The goal is to get your hormone levels into an optimal balance. I've gone from not being able to sleep at all, to sleeping way too much. It has affected my weight. I hate it, but I find it's much, much harder...not impossible, but harder to try to regulate my weight. That ranges from exercise to food.

Also, people suffering from thyroid disorders, like those who suffer from diabetes and other diseases aren't really noticeable. You look normal. People think you're perfectly healthy but maybe just a little fat. Or, like with diabetes, you can be in the middle of a serious insulin reaction and the people around you think you're drunk or sleepy. It's frustrating, infuriating and, when serious stuff happens, dangerous.

This seems to be a more reasonable approach:6 Reasons Why Oprah Winfrey Doesn't Have to Weigh 200 Pounds. Granted, she's hawking a diet book, but that's better than being an ass about it.

Anyway, I definitely empathize with Oprah this time. I think the people being rude about it need to just shut it. They also need to maybe, just maybe, try to understand that thyroid conditions are difficult. It's probably not surprising that someone who has a history of weight issues can easily gain weight in this situation.

I'll be curious to see what the article in next month's O has to say on it.

I hope she stops the yo-yo dieting, accepts her body and aims for a healthy body. There is nothing wrong with not being skinny as long as you're in shape.

Huffington Post: Officially Obese: What Does that Mean for You?


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Crap That I'll Miss: Cutesy Crap

Last night I had a craving for gummy candy of some sort. The closest thing I could find in the local store were these:

Mickey Mouse and Friends, Gummi Candy.

This, for a change, is marketed to kids.

ZenKimchi had a post that is MIA for some reason, but I got screen shots (sorry Joe but there is always Google's cache to draw from).


Granted, I never thought of Smurfs when I've seen it. I thought of huge dollops of whipped cream on some decadent dessert that I can't eat without a huge dose of insulin.

But Brian in Jeollanam-do expresses the requisite amount of comic rage: I'll see your Smurf hat and raise you a gay ass Snowman hat.

*cough* ... *laugh*

Good Lord, full grown and good-looking men looking like buffoons to sell ice cream, oh, the virtues of capitalism and consumerism.

However, I will miss the cutesy stuff you see in Asia. I've got to say it's fun being the smug Westerner laughing at this stuff.

It's also fun being the geeky Westerner who gives in from time to time and indulges in it. Sometimes being silly is fun ;)

Last winter in Jong-no after an adjuma (a middle to older aged woman) cooed about what a cute tiger I was.


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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Let me say this very clearly. I don't care that much about the Madoff financial scandal that is filling the headlines.

I do care that many non-profits that invested with Madoff can't fund some great causes because the income from this Ponzi scheme is now gone. I do care that people that invested with him have lost their income streams. I do care that some of these people will be forced to put their homes on the market in what is nothing less than a crap economy.

However, what bothers me is how the SEC and others just didn't pick up on something being terribly wrong. Yes, there were investigations, but they didn't keep digging and analyzing when they couldn't figure it out. The SEC has admitted they dropped the ball on this one.

So some experts knew *something* was wrong but couldn't put their finger on it. Granted hindsight is 20/20 but this quote is from someone who advised his clients to not invest:

Jake Walthour, a principal at the hedge fund consulting firm Aksia LLC, said his firm was hired to investigate Madoff's business dealings by a potential investor several years ago.

The probe raised several red flags, he said. Madoff's returns were "abnormally smooth" from month to month and had none of the volatility usually associated with stock investments. It seemed impossible to replicate his investment strategy or verify his track record.

Madoff claimed to be moving as much as $13 billion in and out of the market every month but "no one on the street could verify it or even see his footprints," Walthour said. "That organization was incredibly secretive."

He only issued simple paper reports to investors, not detailed electronic data streams that indicate how those investments are doing. There were few if any outsiders involved in his business. His auditor was a tiny accounting firm in Rockland County that no one had ever heard of before.

"We decided there are several scenarios here, one of which is, this could be a Ponzi scheme," Walthour said. "None of our clients invested."
The problem is a lot of people did invest.

Another interesting insight:
"There's no Duke Endowment [among the list of Madoff investors]," Hedges says. "There's no Harvard management, there's no Yale, there's no Penn, there's no Weyerhauser, no State of Texas or Virginia Retirement system."

The reason is simple, in Hedges' view. Letting Madoff manage your money "wouldn't pass an institutional-quality due diligence process," he says. "Because when you get to page two of your 30-page due diligence questionnaire, you've already tripped eight alarms and said 'I'm out of here.' " In short, in Hedges' opinion, any sophisticated entity that actually did its homework would have seen the warning signs.
What's that saying that everyone is told not to ignore? "If it's too good to be true then it probably is." This was too good to be true, and people allowed themselves to be taken.

Madoff had a reputation as a Wall Street "insider". He was playing a big PR game. You couldn't just get into the fund; you had to be invited. So there was that cachet of both wealth and exclusivity.

What a great scam! He tapped into people's lowest common drives and pimped his reputation as an insider (he also "helped" the SEC with tips on investigating scams.) It appealed to the lowest of human drives. It invokes at least one, if not more of the Cardinal sins: greed and, for sure, some vanity too.

Consistently higher than normal returns that never react to the market? Yeah...whatever. You chumps.

What bothers me is this. This whole trickle down economics bull crap. When things were going well, there wasn't much trickling anywhere. Except for the charities and non-profits, these people were taking this money for themselves. This money wasn't trickling anywhere except into their bank accounts. The only thing that was trickling down was credit too easily granted. The assets, the wealth, the real property all accrued to people who now might get less return on their investments, but, most likely, they're going to keep their homes, their wealth (in comparison to others) and their income stream. That is if they chose spread their investments to hedge against risk. If they invested exclusively with Madoff, they're in a world of financial hurt right now too. I've not lost my sympathy. However, the more I hear about this scam the more it seems that those who were caught by it simply chose not to get some basic answers.

But that's the problem...the hurt. This hurt is what has trickled down. Now that the fall out is negative it's trickle down economics on a massive and worldwide scale! People are loosing their jobs. They're loosing their homes. And, unfortunate et cetera after unfortunate et cetera.

Personally, for now, I'm okay but it's weighing heavy on my thoughts. Do I want to leave Korea now and enter a shrinking job market back home? On the flip side, do I want to stay here and be subject to the swings of the exchange rate? In the long-term I do think things will balance out. However, when I've got to make a firm decision in maybe another week or two, I'm going to have to go with my gut or just flip a coin.

I'm quite upset that the US Congress approved $700 billion to bail Wall Street. But the Senate chose to risk that the auto industry just might fail. Both have been bailed out before, but they make it seem like the auto industry is just the most horrible thing to try to save. Now the Bush can elect to use some of that money to help the auto industry, but the fact that the Congress didn't work overtime to agree to something is just ridiculous. The bankers are doing great. The workers, not so much. The fact that the news is barely commenting on the auto industry now and run this Madoff story every damn hour is also just infuriating.

I don't care that greedy people were invited into an exclusive club and then got ripped off.

Huffington Post: Time to Blame Our Own Greed For the Madoff Mess


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Podcast Picks of the Week - 12/14/2008

You know it's occurred to me a few times that I've not gotten around to doing this. I think it's because I've hit the podcasts that I listen to already and it's a regular cycle at this point.

However, last week I noticed WNYC's Radio Lab had uploaded a new episode. The title of the podcast was "Sperm".

*pregnant (hehehehe) pause*

Come on. The subject matter HAD to mean it was a funny or, at least, an interesting podcast. And, it was.

It started out with a discussion on how sperm was discovered and the initial theories that went with that discovery. The podcast then went on to other stories. All of them were entertaining and often laced with humor.

This American Life hit it out of the park again last week. They dedicated their whole show to one story: Heretics. For those who've never heard the This American Life episodes, they usually divide the broadcast into an introduction and three stories. This time it was all dedicated to the story of Reverend Carlton Pearson. It's just a life that's so far from my own, yet similar in terms of race and culture. I thought the story was both interesting and engaging.


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Monday, December 15, 2008

김동원 Strikes Again

Just to take the levity up a notch, let me share another 김동원 video.

In this one he's covering Beyonce's "Listen".

Sang, girl, sang!!!


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Functional Illiteracy Should be a Crime: Haters on a Rampage

This is funny, infuriating, but also just sad. Be warned. I'm writing when I'm angry.

Now this is pure gossip at this point, but since I'm the person who is the subject of the gossip, it's on.

I heard that some selected people read my recent interview in this month's Groove Korea magazine. What's funny is my scanner has been out of commission for a bit of time now. However, this got me sooooooooooooo pissed that I actually found the software fix to get it running: Standing Out From the Crowd, Groove Korea, December 2008. So thanks, you haters. Also, before commenting, please read it. The people who allegedly read it and who were going off were described to me as black American military wives. Now that really wouldn't matter much but for their race. These would be the people who I would like to think would be happy to see another black American woman who is happy living and working here.

My people, my people - what's with the hate? Particularly when it's clear you can't read. (Yes, I know, if they can't read, they won't understand this rant...but am I really writing it for them? At this point, not really.) I don't know these women and, from what I heard, I don't want to know these women. It was really shocking to hear that they'd taken some pretty negative impressions from what was printed.

So before my rant continues, let me share what I heard. The summary goes as follows. They, or maybe just the loudest and most ignorant of them, said:

  1. If a black person read my interview, they'd think twice about coming to Korea. - Huh?
  2. If I disliked Korea so much, why hadn't I just gone back home? - Huh?
  3. Now that I'd made all this money, I was going bad mouth Korea and take my money and go. - Huh?
Basically, there was a big "wtf!!!???" to all I heard. I think I can now understand what notable people go through when a quote is taken out of context or when there are simply untruths circulating about them. It's simply irritating and, honestly, it's actually hurtful. Where they got those points is simply beyond me. Now I know, I could take the high road and let it pass, but sometimes you also have to speak up.

I won't address the first two points because, really, just read the interview and you can see they're idiots. However, there is one thing I won't let pass. That's the colossal nerve to even talk about money. These morons have no idea how much I make, but let me share this with you. The amount of money I could make back home doing what I was trained to do far exceeds what I make here. The benefit of living here and doing the job I do is the freedom and the free time.

I was also told that these wonderful people were going to email me. I removed my email from the blog months ago because I really feel like if you've got something to say, post it as a comment. I have a thing regarding the Internet. If I can't or won't say it to someone's face, I won't say it online. Ignorant people like this are the exact types I've done this to avoid.

However, let me make this 100% clear, if these haters want to bring it, then bring it for the whole world to see or otherwise, move along.

One question that crossed my mind when I was at the height of my anger was, "Do I really want to bother with this?" Clearly, the answer is yes. I'm essentially calling them out. It's just when I got the report of what had been said I was truly shocked. First, it was laughter but then I just got furious that anyone could seriously get that from what was written.

But that's the thing, if that's what they really thought, I dread having to deal with them because the only way to get that from my interview is if you're 1) functionally illiterate and 2) one of those people who just loves to hate.

Let me use the Wiki explanation of functional illiteracy:

When illiterate, one cannot read or write at all. In contrast, one who is functionally illiterate has a basic grasp of literacy (reading and writing text in his or her native language), but with a variable degree of grammatical correctness and style. In short, when confronted with printed materials, functionally illiterate adults cannot function effectively in modern society and cannot adequately perform fundamental tasks such as filling out an employment application, understanding a legally binding contract, following written instructions, reading a newspaper article, reading traffic signs, consulting a dictionary, or understanding a bus schedule.

Functional illiteracy also severely limits interaction with information and communication technologies (e.g. using a personal computer to work with a word processor, a web browser, a spreadsheet application, or a mobile phone efficiently).

Now they can probably understand a bus schedule, but they, clearly, did not understand a thing written in that interview. Let me just say that READING IS FUNDAMENTAL. Try it.

Anyone who reads and, key concept here, comprehends, that interview can't come away with any of those three impressions.

Let me wrap this up because I do have some well-paid work to get back to ;)

It's funny because it's such a complete 180 from what I actually said and what was written.

It's infuriating for a similar reason. Basically, these are hateful women who lack reasoning skills and chose to get catty about something they, clearly, didn't bother read. What's worse is, if they read it, they lack the skills to comprehend what was written.

It's also sad for that exact reason. Americans have a really bad reputation for being a bit dull and a bit too quick to mouth off (and, yes, that could apply to me in this situation but there is some stuff I'm not saying and won't say except to those close to me). These are the stupid Americans the rest of us are trying to make up for.

Now I know that not everyone is going to agree with or even like me (that's surely the case after reading this). What irks me is just the clear lack of understanding they have. Again, if they read the interview there is NO WAY they can come away with that impression (unless, again, they're functionally illiterate).

They can dislike me, dislike my writing and dislike my blog. They can't, however, get away with saying this and not have me respond. I don't like it when people lie, and when that lie is about me you will hear from me about it.

Next time, be careful who you're talking about, bitches.



And this isn't the first interview I've done here. Back when I was at Ewha, I met a writer from the Korea Times who wrote a few profiles on people here.

I was too embarrassed to post it way back then because I think she actually took ONLY the positive things and didn't write a very balanced piece. But now, it only supports my point, so here it is: [Who's Who in Seoul] ‘Make the Best in Life’

A funny video I got in response to this issue:

Oh yeah, this one is classic:


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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hipsters: trend or just a fad?

Okay, this is just a repost of an article by Jean Oh from the Korea Herald's Culture section.

This is a good article about the growing pop culture and fashion scene here in Seoul. What's funny is I'm seeing a lot of familiar faces in the pics. Yep, it's time to leave Seoul ;)

Hipsters: trend or just a fad?

Type in the word "hipster" and Naver's dictionary spits out the definition: "a person in the know, a well-informed person, a follower of fads." Then follows it up with a couple of alternatives: "jazz performer, jazz aficionado."

Hard to say that Naver has hit the nail on the head, but the appearance of "hipster" on this popular Korean internet portal site hints at something that becomes more obvious when you hit the streets of Seoul.

In small but growing numbers, trademark skinny jeans, Converses and vintage flannels pop out from the crowds. Add to that the recent introduction of "NYLON Korea" and "Dazed and Confused Korea" to the domestic magazine market, and it gives rise to the question: Are there hipsters in Korea?

Before delving into the current status of this nation's youth culture, the term "hipster" requires clarification. Taking its roots from the 1940s, when it initially referred to jazz enthusiasts, the word "hipster" is believed to come from a derivative of "hop," slang for opium.

Now, it serves as a somewhat ambiguous catchphrase used to describe the young and the hip. Today's hipster is into things that are cool, new and not mainstream.

In the recent past, cool meant fixed-gear bikes, skinny jeans, Converses, vintage flannel and the so-called "international hipster bible" Vice magazine. Whether any of this still holds true remains to be seen and proven.

Hipsters have been ridiculed and criticized for their lack of identity. They have also been upheld as trendy young people who do not deserve the bad rap the media sometimes gives them.

Good or bad, it looks like the legions of hipsters are growing, spreading through the internet and through the global proliferation of reportedly hipster-friendly brands like American Apparel, UNIQLO and Converse.

Has it reached Seoul?

Dos A Dos art director Kim Young-bin at the 7th Dos A Dos Party[]

Dos A Dos

"I am not a hipster," says Dos A Dos founder and director/artist Oh Suk-kuhn.

Dressed from head to toe in vintage, including his 1,000 won cardigan, Oh is the force behind Dos A Dos, a party known for attracting an exciting and unusually dressed crowd - think swimsuits and guys wearing dresses.

And he does not seem to be too fond of hipsters.

"I don't like hipsters," artist Oh states firmly. "I'm too creative to be a hipster."

When asked if they come to his party, he answers, "Of course, lots of hipsters come. When we first started out, it was a sort of meeting of music aficionados and fashionable people. And then hipsters flowed in and I am not too crazy about it."

What about "real" hipsters? Oh pauses: "A real hipster is someone who has their own distinct and clear-cut color."

Oh is quick to separate himself and his Dos A Dos members from the crowd.

"I do not think that we are like those current New York hipsters who follow that which is hip, thoughtlessly," he elaborated.

It is hard to know what group Oh is a part of. A staunch devotee of vintage, "I can't wear new clothes," he explains, Oh was once a middle school kid who went to rock concerts and watched guys head bang to death metal. By the time he entered high school, Oh was donning skinny jeans.

And after spending about three years in England studying photography, he came back home to find, to his disappointment, that no one was listening to electro music.

"I was so frustrated that I started a party in a small space with a Korean friend from London," he said. "The first sort of official Dos A Dos party was in September 2006."

To his surprise, it drew a good crowd. From there on out, he and his members held seven more. The last Dos A Dos was in October.

But what initially started out as a fashionable and artistic gathering of the like-minded grew into a party that drew 400 to 500.

The 29-year-old founder is not too thrilled about the overwhelming turnout, citing a change in partygoers, a theft and issues with the current venue as obstacles to his vision of Dos A Dos.

Whether or not he means hipsters when he says, "people came with a different attitude," is unclear. But Oh believes that hipsters are here to stay.

"I think hipsters will continue to appear."

Nylon, Dazed and Maps

According to Oh, the publication of domestic versions of magazines like Dazed and Nylon came as no surprise.

"They knew that it was time," he said. "A lot of things had already shown up. Street brand mags, (multicultural space) Daily Projects and Dos A Dos. So, of course, Nylon and Dazed came."

The original London-based Dazed and Confused and the U.S.-based NYLON have made a name for themselves for their unique approach to fashion, art and music. And now they have entered the Korean market.

Dazed and Confused Korea kicked off with its May issue and NYLON Korea with its September issue this year.

"Magazines like Nylon and Dazed don't show the trends of the masses," said Nylon Korea editor-in-chief Ketherine Koo. "It is for those who want to create their own style. They want something new all the time."

"We want to make a magazine for real hipsters," explained editor Koo. "But it is a mass market ... We hope that hipsters, at this point a minority, will lead the culture of the masses and that we will be, in turn, a medium that appeals to them."

The 38-year-old editor-in-chief maintained a positive outlook on the future of Korean hipsters.

"Right now, I think there a lot of young people with a hipster mindset and that they are increasing in great numbers," said Koo.

Dazed and Confused Korea editor-in-chief Annie Kim adopted a more conservative stance.

"Aren't they just one part of society?" Kim asked. "Like two or three, three or four out of 10? I think it may be exaggerated."

"There are hipsters though," the 33-year-old editor-in-chief continued. "It definitely seems to have increased. Kids who have just graduated, university students and contributing editors and people I meet seem to have that disposition."

When asked if Dazed and Confused Korea was a hipster magazine, Kim answered: "There is that inclination, but if you mean 'hipster' as in 'street-based subculture,' then we may have hipster-like elements but our magazine is upscale."

Yet, oddly enough, there is no official term for this group of Korean hipsters.

"No, there are no terms for trendy kids in Korea," said Kim.

Ryu Do-yeon, CEO and publisher of "maps" magazine, suggested "skinny tribe" and "BigBang style" as potential catchphrases for those who wear skinny jeans or subscribe to the flair of the hit Korean boy band.

Ryu, who first started out with an online magazine when he was 18, has now been heading his own domestic fashion rag for about two years now.

The 24-year-old publisher covers obscure musicians and artists, targeting "stylish people in their 20s, to help them dress up more."

In addition to artistic layouts, "maps" sports a hefty set of street shots featuring hip Koreans decked out in animal print skinny jeans, stylishly assembled blends of American Apparel and Comme des Garcons and, of course, vintage.

"I wanted to show Korean style to Koreans and to those overseas," said Ryu of his street section.

When asked if he thinks his magazine caters to hipsters, he answered: "You can say that it does. And you can say that it doesn't."

A collage of Dos A Dos party-goers and DJs[Kang Min-goo]

Daily Projects and Your Boyhood

According to publisher Ryu, fashion-forward people are the rise, and the boom in select shops serves as a result of the desire for "something new."

Among the slew of select shops that have hit Seoul, Cheongdam-dong's Daily Projects emerges as a pioneer in the world of fashion, due in part, to its executive manager Lee Jung-hee.

Educated at Parsons, Lee masterminded the Daily Projects' event that was part of Seoul Fashion Week's Generation Next, causing a stir in October. Her high profile participants included prominent fashion expert, Diane Pernet, who screened "A Shaded View on Fashion Film" in Korea for the first time, and Danish designer Henrik Vibskov, who presented during fashion week.

"I invited him (Vibskov) here," said Lee. "I went to Denmark to meet him. I was like, 'Yo, do you want to come?'"

Lee's multicultural space, complete with a cafe where one can pore for hours over a serious collection of reading materials - including the U.K.'s "Dazed and Confused," "i-D," and "Monocle" - and two floors worth of hip brands like Band of Outsiders and Bless, also showcases art.

"For some reason, we attract the younger public," said the 34-year-old executive manager.

When asked if she thinks the hipster trend has hit Korea, Lee answered: "Yeah, definitely. They are fashion masters."

"Young kids, like Japanese kids, starve themselves to buy something," she said. "I see that here too. (They) use all their cash on clothes and eat ramen."

Fashion journalist and photographer Hong Suk-woo, who previously worked as a buyer for Daily Projects, agrees that trendy items like fixed-gear bikes have been infiltrating Korea.

"Yes, there is a bike trend here," said Hong, 25, who runs his own fashion blog, "Your Boyhood" ( "I thought that was new. Is this not just a trend? Is it a culture? I still haven't sorted it out. There are a few fixed rider crews though."

"I think it might have lasting power," he said.

Hong, whose blog is currently posted as a link on "Face Hunter" (, agrees that it looks like the hipster movement in Korea is influenced by globalization.

"Just looking at people's clothes, it seems similar," he said. "But it is where it originates from that matters."

"Korea is good at receiving trends," he continued. "However, now, clubs, DJs and bands are holding experimental performances. That seems to be different from what was happening two or three years ago."

"The year 2008 could be a turning point," said Hong. "Corso Como, Nylon, Dazed have come in."

Add to that the presence of American Apparel, UNIQLO and Converse, and it looks like some form of hipsterdom has entered Korea.


Dos A Dos founder and director-cum-artist Oh Suk-kuhn is currently showing his works at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Gwacheon as part of the "2008 I AM AN ARTIST" exhibition. For more information call (02) 2188-6000 or visit

For more information on Dos A Dos go to

Check out Hong Suk-woo's blog at, "maps" at, Dazed and Confused Korea at and NYLON Korea at

Daily Projects is located in Cheongdam-dong. Select shop opening hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The cafe is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. For more information go to or call (02) 3218-4072, -4075.


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Friday, December 12, 2008

아침식사 (Breakfast) With a Twist

This is not nor will it ever be a food blog.

Well, I don't think so. I enjoy food. I love to cook but I'm a bit intimidated by deep food analysis because there are some excellent food blogs out there.

This morning, however, I just HAD to snap a picture of what I had for breakfast.

It's a soft cooked fried egg, on top of kale which was boiled with red pepper flakes, garlic, onions, mushrooms and red bell peppers. Yes, that green thing sticking out to the side is okra. I always try to add okra aka lady fingers. I do that the last 10 minutes or so of boiling or else it's a slimy mess.

All of this delicious wonder I placed on a bed of rice. I seasoned it with a bit of truffle salt because truffle salt goes well with eggs. All in all, it was a pretty good breakfast. I'm now washing it all down with a warm cup of green tea.

Kale for me is a substitute for collard greens. Collards are a staple in black American Soul food. I'd learned from my mom to prepare greens in a healthy way, so no worries. The okra addition was something my mom usually did too, so it wasn't a twist on heart attack on a plate.

I got the egg idea from the Orangette food blog. She went to Zuni Café, which is a restaurant in San Francisco and was one of my favorite places to eat in the city when I lived there. (It was walking distance from my apartment when I lived there. Man I miss that city.) At Zuni she had a dish prepared with toast, boiled kale and a fried egg. I stole the egg idea and tried it for breakfast.


Thanks Orangette and the chef(s) at Zuni Café for the inspiration.

What was interesting to me was how many people don't normally cook greens or know how to cook greens. Here is the NY Times food blog Bitten's post on how to cook kale. They use the Orangette post and picture for inspiration. Here is how the blog starts off:

As far as I can tell, kale has two identities: as hippie food, like granola, and as foodie star, though in that world it’s more likely to come steeped in bacon fat than paired with barley.
Really? When I think of kale, I think of it boiled in a mix of other greens or how it's used in Asian food.

But really, they don't know how to cook kale in worldly NYC? Hmmmmm, maybe I'll reconsider my plans to move there ;)

Sauteed kale? Too tough.


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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Deep Glamour: Glamourous Gifts

I mentioned it before, but when I got to interview Diane Pernet, I also wrote something for the Deep Glamour blog.

Now with it being the holiday season, they asked me and some of their other contributors for gift suggestions. And, gasp, they published my email verbatim in a piece about "glamorous gifts"...complete with an error I'd made in the email (ooops.)

Click over and check it out. I can't bring myself to repost it here because there is an advert for Tom Ford's fragrance and it's near obscene.


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Another "What the Hell?" moment: No Deal!

Well, as I said, in the "Choices, choices" post below, I'm pretty close to deciding to pack it up and move on. I didn't renew at my current job. However, fearing that inertia would win and I'd then change my mind and want to stay, I applied for a few positions.

I got a couple of interviews and decided to go. It would just make me feel better for some reason. I got a job offer yesterday after 5pm. The offer, which was extended via email, had a letter attached that said I had until December 12th to let them know of my decision. Don't you know I just got a call from the person in charge of the department saying they'd not heard from me. I just looked at my phone. That call was around 3:10pm. I just looked at the email. It was sent at 5:45pm last night.

I explained that in the offer it said I had until Friday to let them know. She says she was unaware that the offer said this and it must have been a mistake. First, I'm sort of amazed that every person they extended an offer to was like "oh wow! Yes, yes, yes!" but it's not the first time I've been the odd one out. Second, I guess a minor error on their part means I have to be rushed into a decision. She starts pressing me about how if I can give her a "percentage" then she can start lining up some of the people further down the list if need be. I'm sorry but this saying hasn't gotten much traction here in South Korea, "Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine!" However, it ought to.

I'm sitting here thinking "dammit, today is Wednesday and I've not even had the offer for 24 f&$king hours! Is it really THAT serious that you must press me right NOW?!!!" I'm thinking this is completely crazy because Friday isn't that far off. On the outside however, I keep my cool and just ask her when would be a good time to let them know.

I was thinking it would be fair if she said tomorrow sometime. I get my little 24 hour window and I'd be happy. However, she said today by 5pm! I point out that she's basically given me less than two hours to make a decision. She gives me some malarkey about pressure from her school. This is b.s. and I know this.

Plus, I have another job interview tomorrow. That's how I know this is b.s. because the interview is with another department at the same school. I just wanted to go through another interview because I felt it would help me make up my mind about this particular institution by giving me a feeling for the place in general. Also, it would help me think about staying or going in general. I mean watching the news on what is now a confirmed worldwide recession and the unemployment and underemployment reports that go with it is scary.

She's doesn't let up on the pressure. I remembered that in the interview she come off as a bit confrontational, and I see this was not a one time thing. This is simply her management style. Basically, if I accept, this is what I've got to work with. I realize she's helping me make my decision right now because if I do stay the last thing I want is to work under yet another heavy handed Korean academic who is in serious need of management skills. Also, the fact that she couldn't be bothered to review the documents sent out on her behalf rubbed me the wrong way. Usually, once something like this is revealed I've found it's not just an anomaly. It's a reoccurring theme - management makes a mistake but the workers are the one put on the burner for it.

So, here is to another moment where the person I'm dealing with completely lacks empathy and skill at dealing with others. Her need to push me into a decision made her look like a first-class ass. A year of dealing with her, hell no. That was more than enough to help me make a decision.

Decision made: my answer "no, thank you." Then she asks if I want to think about it.

Um, no deal!


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