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Harry Potter: The Boy Who Taught English in South Korea

Koreabridge - Wed, 2014-10-01 12:55
Harry Potter: The Boy Who Taught English in South Korea

Back when you first decided you wanted to come to South Korea, breaking the news about your teaching-aspirations to your family was very emotional.

And it was hard to say good-bye at the airport.But you took the leap, knowing full well that you had no control over whereyou’d be living or what grade level you’d be teaching.You just hoped and prayed you’d be sorted into a good school.When you arrived, your co-teacher helped you get all set up with your new bank account……and apartment.Around your school and in your neighborhood, you’re kind of a big deal.  You’re special. 

But it hasn’t gone to your head. You’ve quickly realized the actual responsibilities that come with filling young, impressionable minds with knowledge. “You’re an English teacher, Harry.”The good thing is, that means you get to teach students all the cool slangyou know but never really get to use at home.Sometimes the lesson goes over really well.And you have kids participating left and right.Unfortunately, you also have days like this:And students like this:But at least those moments are better than when you lose control of the class.Those are the days that make getting out bed in the morning a struggle.So to avoid the chaos and to make things easier, you learn some basic Korean expressions (e.g., how to say “Please repeat” or “Please write it down”).All of a sudden, you’ve unlocked the door.You establish a bond with your students, and you reach a point where you’d do anything to protect them…especially the ones that are your favorites.As you continue to gain experience, you spend less time struggling with instructions, and more time on the subtleties of English, such as pronunciation.School lunches are always a gamble. However, you continue to hope for the best.Usually you’re pleasantly surprised.Other times you’re unpleasantly deceived.You develop the ability to tell when your co-workers are talking about you.Then out of nowhere they invite you to join them for dinner and drinks……where you foolishly try to fit in by drinking too much andeating food that is way above your spice tolerance.Here, you to try to use what little Korean you know with them, sometimes to little avail.Lucky for you, they find your efforts impressive and endearing,and they readily accept you as one of their own.When you’re not in school, you have more time on your hands than you ever thought possible.And you know that if you do nothing but stay in your apartment all weekend,you’ll start to feel like a prisoner in your own home.So you hop on the KTX……or take a death-defying ride on one of the city buses…–seriously, they’re terrifying–and off you go to discover all the wonderful things that Korea has to offer (e.g., festivals, hiking, delivery McDonald’s……and super fancy, magical commodes).It’s during these expeditions, though, that you feel like all eyes are on you.Most of the time it doesn’t bother you. But some days you wish you could just blend in.The culture shock can be quite overwhelming.But, from squatter toilets to people of all ages hawking up loogies in the street,literally nothing seems to phase native Koreans.To chronicle these mind-blowing daily occurrences, and to deal with homesickness……you start a blog.And you become good friends with other foreigners.Thanks to them, you always have someone to turn to when the going gets rough.And together, despite any scaring experiences……you don’t just “come out the other side.” You grow up.And you realize how happy you are to have crossed over from your previous muggle life.To my fellow English teachers, I salute you in yourongoing quest to live and teach in South Korea.And to those who are thinking about joining us, here is your formal invitation:Hope to see you soon!

Korealizations
http://korealizations.wordpress.com

 

 

Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

Living Life The Korean Way

Koreabridge - Wed, 2014-10-01 06:33
Living Life The Korean Way

I’ve been living in Korea for 18 months now, enough time to get over the initial culture shock and to adapt to living the Korean lifestyle. There have been both good things- going out for dinner and getting a delicious, filling meal for under £5, and bad- fearing for your life every time you are on/ near the road because of the crazy drivers.

Here are some of the things I have become accustomed to during the last year and a half in  Korea- the good, the bad and everything in between…

  • Luxury Buses

Our first impression of Korea was pretty good- getting onto the bus to head to Wonju, we were amazed at how nice it was. Comfy, reclining seats with a proper footrest… and check out the leg room!

And not only comfy but cheap- £12 for a 3 hour trip. Even better, a normal hour-and-a-half trip to the capital city is only £6 on the day. Can you imagine getting to London for that price?

The only downside to the buses- no toilet. This is definitely something you have to get used to, and isn’t the best when you get stuck in traffic for 3 hours…bad times indeed.

  •  Sushi

Calling all sushi lovers- Korea is the place for you. The plate pictured above cost under £6 and was just a dream! The pick-and-mix nigri, also pictured, is only 500 won per piece- roughly 30 p. In England, 2 pieces of nigri are often about £2.

It’s been 18 months, and I still can’t get over how amazing it is. The one downside? Too many sushi-comas from overeating the stuff.

  •  Soju
Picture: Wikipedia

Forget about wine and cocktails (unless you’re in Seoul/ want to pay a fortune for alcohol). The favourite drink among Koreans is Soju, a clear spirit which people drink alone as a shot or added to beer.

It takes some getting used to, seeing hikers drinking Soju at the top of a mountain, or downing it on trains at 10 in the morning- but while in England this could be taken as a worrying sign of alcoholism, it is simply the culture in Korea.

But watch out your first time drinking the stuff. Koreans can down Soju like it’s water, but Westerners… not so much. Let’s just say expat stories of their Soju experiences don’t always have the best endings…

  •  Sharing food
Via: patdiye

So, much like Joey from Friends, I’m not a food sharer. Especially with my boyfriend who inhales food so quickly it’s hard to get a bite before it’s all gone! No, I like my meals to be my own, so I can eat how much I want at at my own pace.

But this is pretty impossible in Korea- in most restaurants the food comes in one big dish like soup, or on a barbecue for everyone to cook together and share. And, I suppose I have learnt to share my food… though that’s not to say I haven’t had arguments over who gets the last bite!

  •  Coffee

You know how you go to a cafe, order a coffee and then add a bit of milk? Quite simple yes? In Korea- not so much. Coffee is either a black Americano, or white Latte. Trying to ask for an Americano and just a bit of milk leads to absolute confusion, as I’ve found out on many occasions. And don’t even get me started on trying to ask for a little milk to add to your tea…

  •  Cafes

Leading on from coffee, comes cafes. You know that glare you get from the servers when you overstay your welcome at a cafe- when you’ve only bought one small cup of tea but have stayed for hours? Well, you never get that here.

It seems like it’s the norm to stay half a day in the cafes- bring along study materials, sit back and watch a movie on your I Pad, no one will bother you. The cafes are even open much later here, often until 9 or 10 pm… it’s almost like they want you to stay!

  •  Taxis
Picture: Wikipedia

When our first Korean friend  told us how he went everywhere in taxis, we thought he must be either rich, or a big spender, thinking that we’d never waste money doing the same. Only rich people or celebrities get taxis everywhere, right?

Wrong. Taxis are so cheap and accessible they are the best way to get around. Pretty convenient… but a habit I’ll have to get out of back in England, unless I want to end up bankrupt.

  •  Smart Phones
Picture: Vinith Devdas commons.wikimedia

They are just everywhere. Kids as young as 7 years old have the latest model and use them all the time. Going on the subway is like a smart phone commercial, with everyone engrossed in their phones. Ditto family meals.

It’s no wonder that Samsung had succeeded!

  •  Pizza
Picture: MrPizza

Don’t be fooled when you see ‘Pizza Hut’ or ‘Dominoes’ here- you will not be eating a replica of what you would back home. Pizza here has a definite Korean twist. Want a plain cheese pizza? Nope, they add sweetcorn. Cream cheese is also a regular addition to pizza. But the most popular topping here is potato wedges, which Koreans just love to pop on top. Because Pizza doesn’t already have enough carbs, right?

  •  Lack of Food Restrictions
Picture: Fried C commons.wikimedia

I have to admit- I’ve always been one to smuggle food and drink into places. Cinema, sports arenas, concerts… I want to avoid having to buy things inside which cost twice the price and taste worse.

In Korea, you don’t have to worry about this. You want to take a McDonalds into the cinema? Go ahead. Takeaway pizza into the World Cup Stadium? No problem. It’s amazing! If only they would start doing this in England- finally, I wouldn’t end up with food which is squashed from being hidden at the bottom of my bag…

  •  Animal Cafes

Just the best thing ever. Korea has again been ahead of the times with animal cafes- Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium in London is now hugely popular and the new ‘big thing’, but Korea was there first.

If you’re an animal lover or miss having a pet, there is nowhere better to go.

Just one tip- don’t wear your best clothes if you’re going to a dog cafe.

  •  Driving
Picture: wikipedia

It never ceases to amaze me how Korean people change when they get behind the wheel, from gentle, friendly people into angry madmen. Seriously. There have been times when I’ve been in a car or bus that I’ve felt like I was on a rollercoaster, my stomach flipped that many times.

Oh, and one time, I saw a 5-minute standstill at a roundabout because no one wanted to give way.  A roundabout. Those very things which are designed to keep traffic flowing smoothly. This is how little  Koreans follow the rules of the road.

This incident was topped only by the time I saw someone drive the wrong way around a roundabout. Genius.

  •  Rice
Picture: Wikipedia

So I knew rice was popular, but definitely underestimated the extent of this popularity. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks= rice. You can get rice cakes, alcoholic rice drinks, even pizza bases made from rice.

Honestly, when I don’t take rice from the lunch buffet at school you’d think I had committed a crime by the outraged looks I receive. I’m sorry, I just don’t love plain, dry white rice… please don’t hate me!

Needless to say, if you’re following a low carb diet, Korea might be a tricky place to live. Dr. Atkins would turn in his grave if he knew.

  •  Kimchi
Picture: wikipedia

No article about Korea would be complete without mentioning Kimchi. The food which Korea is famous for, and it is well and truly loved here. Every meal, every day, everywhere.

To put it into perspective- when on holiday in the Philippines, I saw Korean families who brought Kimchi to the breakfast buffet with them to add to their meal. Because a meal without Kimchi is an incomplete meal.

It’s like the English with tea, only, dare I say it, even more extreme.

  •  High Rise Apartments
Picture: wikipedia

Something which you notice quickly in Korea is the lack of houses and the abundance of high-rise apartments. The higher up your flat, the higher your social status. Apparently.

  •  Countryside vs. city

The juxtaposition of city and countryside in Korea is definitely odd. One minute you are in the middle of a concrete jungle, then you drive for five minutes and you’re in beautiful countryside where there is greenery as far as the eye can see.

So don’t underestimate the natural beauty of Korea- it is actually estimated that 65% of Korea is forest land. Good news for nature lovers.

  •  Exercise Equipment

If you ever fancy a quick workout whilst you’re wandering around the city, never fear- Korea is full of small, outside workout machines. This country really gives you no excuses to be lazy…

  •  K Pop
Picture: wikipedia

Imagine Beatlemania at its highest, the most obsessed ‘Directioners’ (One Direction) or ‘Beliebers’ (Justin Bieber). Replace their screaming, adoring faces with Korean faces; that is how Koreans react to K Pop. K Pop mania truly governs Korea, and they want it to take over the world.

  •  Mouth Protectors
Picture: depletedcranium

Don’t worry- there isn’t some contagious disease in Korea which people are scared of. These masks are simply worn if you’re sick, or if the air is extremely polluted.

Still, it was a little disconcerting on the plane to Korea to see 90% of people wearing these. What was this? It was like something out of 28 Days Later! Perhaps I’ll take a mask home with me, in precaution for the next time there’s a swine flu scare…

  •  Hiking Gear

Summer? Yes. 35 degrees? Yes. Koreans hiking up a mountain, covered from head to toe in skin-tight clothes? Yes.

The hardcore hikers in Korea wear the proper hiking outfits, complete with hat, gloves, even a face bandana. Not an inch of skin is exposed to the sun. How they don’t die from heat is beyond me.

The first time we went hiking in shorts and t shirt, we felt practically naked in comparison- and we certainly invited as many odd looks as if we had been.

  •  Bibimbap
Picture: wikipedia

In my humble opinion, Bibimbap is the best thing about living in Korea. A meal which I have not only become accustomed to, but cannot imagine living without.

Simply a delicious, wholly comforting meal- rice, vegetables, hot pepper paste, meat and egg all in a big mix. Maybe it doesn’t sound like anything special but it definitely is. Different wherever you go, but always satisfying!

Hearty, healthy, Bibimbap is happiness in a bowl.

 

So what else have I grown to love in Korea? Many things… I know that I will never get bored of buying novelty socks with cute designs, and I’ll definitely always appreciate the convenience that wherever you are there is always a 7/11 or CU  store on the corner- so practical! 

Sure, there are some things which take getting used to, but I can safely say that living the Korean life has been pretty good. Now, off to eat some bibimbap…


© KATHRYN GODFREY 

Kathryn's Living
KathrynsLiving.wordpress.com

Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

2014 KOTESOL-KAFLE International Conference (This Weekend)

Koreabridge - Tue, 2014-09-30 22:42
2014 KOTESOL-KAFLE International Conference

"Embracing Change: Blazing New Frontiers
through Language Teaching"

October 3-5, 2014
COEX, Seoul, South Korea

* All new location in the swanky COEX Exhibition center in Gangnam, Seoul
* Big name plenary and invited speakers
* Many other great presentations and workshops to choose from
* A celebration of World Teachers Day (Sun. 5th Oct)
* Mingle and network with up to 2000 other professionals
* Seek out new contacts and job opportunities

Quicklinks

Click here for more information: http://www.koreatesol.org/IC2014

PLENARY SPEAKERS

Michael Long
University of Maryland
Interaction, creativity, and acquisition in the L2 classroom
Michael Long, Center for Advanced Study of LanguageScott Thornbury
The New School
Embracing change – One step at a time
 IC2014 Plenary Preview Video
Scottthornbury.comAhmar Mahboob 
University of Sydney 
Understanding language variation for language teaching
Sydney.academia.edu/AhmarMahboobDavid Hayes
Brock University 
Innovation and creativity in English language teacher education
David Hayes, Department of Applied Linguistics

FEATURED SPEAKERS

  • Angel Lin:   University of Hong Kong     
       Young learners as content-creators: New media in TESOL
       Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL): A new trend for TESOL?
     
  • Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto    IATEFL YLT-SIG
       Recycling, reinforcing, and building on new language for young learners
     
  • Herbert Puchta    IATEFL YLT-SIG   
       Developing critical thinking skills with young learners and teens
     
  • Joe Dale    IATEFL YLT-SIG   
       Combining hardware, software, and mobile technologies to support classroom interaction, participation, distance learning, and success: What really happens!
     
  • Kalyan Chattopadhyay    IATEFL YLT-SIG      
       Assessing speaking of young learners and teens: Revisiting principles and tasks
     
  • Dan Evans    Saint Michael's College     
       The “front tier” of pronunciation: A right-side-up approach
     
  • Carolyn Westbrook    Southhampton Solent University     
       A practical approach to critical thinking
     
  • Fiona Copland    Aston University     
       Changing the debate: Challenges young learner teachers face
     
  • Gabriel Diaz Maggioli    The New School   Preview Video
       Revisiting scaffolding
     
  • Nicholas Groom    University of Birmingham   
       Professional development in EFL: The teacher as researcher
     
  • Stephen Bax    University of Bedforshire  
       Reading in a second language: Some evidence from eye tracking
       Cognitive Processing in Reading Tests and Texts
     
  • David Nunan    Anaheim University     
       Beyond the classroom: The new frontier in language teaching
     
  • Anaheim Webinar: Current issues in online teacher education
    Panelists: 
       David Nunan (onsite)
       MaryAnn Christison (via webcam)
       Ken Beatty (via webcam)
       Julie Choi (via webcam)"   

http://kotesolkafleinternationalconference2014.wordpress.com

Poster(2014.9.5).jpeg 2014 KOTESOL-KAFLE International Conference (This Weekend)
Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

Getting an EMS from Korea!

Koreabridge - Fri, 2014-09-26 15:26
Getting an EMS from Korea! Receiving EMS from Korea has been a huge part of our long distance relationship. Besides seeing his face on skype every night, it is possibly the only joy in this miserable LDR. When he sends an EMS, the package goes from Daejeon --> Seoul (Incheon) --> Singapore (Changi Airport) --> Singpost. The whole process usually takes 2-3 working days, unless its the peak periods like Chinese/Korean New Year then it could take a week. It has taken a week before - unfortunately this one time, Kimchi boy sent it during Chinese New Year and I went crazy and called Singpost like a mad woman everyday to demand them to send me my package. Can you imagine how horrid the package smelled when it arrived at my house? (it contained Kimchi, kept at room temperature for almost a week!!!). Was amazed the delivery man did not suffocate.
Korea Post has ALWAYS been on time, even during peak periods. As usual, Singapore's "efficient" services are always the problem. I know that because I track my packages and Korea Post never fails to get it to arrive in Singapore within 2 days, even during peak periods. Even a big country like Korea can be efficient, why can't Singapore?
Anyway, this time I got the package on time! It was my recess week so I was at home everyday to wait for this to come:


 Fruits, snacks, seaweed... 
 There were even chestnuts!! His mother is really sweet, always grilling seaweed for our family.
Huge Korean pear.
Tofu Chips!
Waiting for EMS can be really stressful because someone has to be at home. If not Singpost will gladly make you collect it yourself, no re-delivery is allowed.

The Singaporean Girlfriend
 

Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

ELT Live#4 - How do students and teachers feel about going online with materials, assignments, and portfolios?

EdTechTalk - Wed, 2014-09-24 16:33

54:57 minutes (25.16 MB)ELT Live#4
How do students and teachers feel about going online with materials, assignments, and portfolios?
September 24, 2014
   

Participants
  

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Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

ELT Live#4 - How do students and teachers feel about going online with materials, assignments, and portfolios?

Worldbridges Megafeed - Wed, 2014-09-24 16:33

54:57 minutes (25.16 MB)ELT Live#4
How do students and teachers feel about going online with materials, assignments, and portfolios?
September 24, 2014
   

Participants
  

read more

Pilgrim’s Progress: A Queer Journey from Korea to America

Koreabridge - Wed, 2014-09-24 13:02
Pilgrim’s Progress: A Queer Journey from Korea to America

 

 

by Ralph Karst

I met Sung-min Song (not his real name) in October, 2009, when she was an applicant to the private all-English high school where I taught English in Cheonan, South Korea.

No—that pronoun switch (his / she) was not a mistake. Keep reading.

That year, our administration had the ghastly idea to have an “admissions camp” where the final round of candidates would meet off-campus at a resort in a wooded area near Cheonan and, over an entire weekend, compete with each other in various academic and social activities to be chosen as one of our school’s 30 incoming freshmen. I and the rest of the faculty (mostly Americans) were none too thrilled at giving up a weekend to participate in a brutal Hunger Games-style culling of desperate 15-year-old Korean kids. I guess our principal figured that the regular Korean educational system just wasn’t putting enough pressure on students.

My colleagues and I did our best to lighten the atmosphere at the camp, trying to keep the activities mostly fun and informal for the 35 candidates (we were only cutting five of them—the kids must have thought their odds were good). We told the kids they were being judged mostly on spirit, attitude, teamwork, and leadership potential. We did trade-up games, building games, tag-team games, writing games, math games, etc. etc. And of course, what Korean student retreat would be complete without the TALENT SHOW! And we all know that the best talent shows are the talent shows were EVERY STUDENT HAS TO PERFORM!!!

I don’t remember much of the talent show, but you can imagine how it went. We had a few violin and cello players, a few wacky gag-style comedy sketches, a few ballad singers, a few K-pop dance numbers. Only one student really stood out—Sung-min. She was a short, slightly pudgy girl with a close-cropped, spiky tomboyish haircut. I don’t remember her clothes during the rest of the camp, but when she took the stage, she was in full hip-hop regalia—cargo pants slug down low with boxer shorts showing, baseball cap worn gangsta-sideways, a few blingy chains and necklaces. By itself, it was nothing too freaky. Hip-hop had been a mainstay of the Korean pop scene for at least a decade. But what I expected to be some cute but clumsy rap routine turned out to be . . . well, I’m still not sure what it was.

The first thing she did was bring up some kind of medium sized cardboard box (or something like that) covered in black. She promptly smashed it to pieces with her face contorted with rage. As she was rending and tearing, she kept stumbling and falling, which only seemed to make her angrier. Then she picked up a cheap Korean-style bamboo flute and started tootling out the melody of Arirang, except she kept screwing up, or the flute wouldn’t sound, and she kept growing more and more frustrated, until the flute went the way of the box—she dashed it to the ground and stomped on it until it splintered. And then she picked up the pieces and mangled them further with her hands. End of performance. Dutiful applause and stunned faces from the other Korean students and the Korean administrators. WHAT . . . WAS . . . THAT?!

The foreign faculty members—well, we were stunned, too, but we were also impressed. Angst-ridden teenage performance art! Didn’t see that in Korea too often! Sung-min’s symbolism seemed rather crude and obvious—she was not only thinking “outside the box,” she was smashing the damn box! And smashing a traditional Korean flute after trying (unsuccessfully) to play to most traditional of Korean songs? She did everything but burn the Korean flag and then piss on it to put out the flames.

And the end of the camp, after the students had left, the faculty held a pow-wow to decide who would make the cut. When we came to Sung-min, just about all of us expressed excitement at the prospect of working with a kid like this. The courage! The audacity! The outspokenness! Our Chinese math teacher, a young woman in her mid-20s, piped in with her high, squeaky voice: “I’m afraid she might break some things at our school.”

So, she made the cut, and Sung-min’s freshman year of high school began. It wasn’t long before Sung-min’s outside-the-boxedness manifested itself in a manner beyond what any of us might have predicted. More or less openly, Sung-min made it known that she was transgender. That is, she felt she was truly a boy in a girl’s body. What’s more, in terms of sexual preference, she was a gay male.

For those of us who had taught in America before, this wasn’t that much of a big deal.  Most of us had had gay students before, and none of the faculty in the school (as far as I know) were intolerant for religious or any other reasons. As far as I was concerned, Sung-min was just another kid in my English 1—Introduction to Literature and Composition classroom. As for her classmates, many of them had spent time—some of them several years—in America or other western countries, so they were a bit more enlightened about homosexuality. Also, they took their cues from us, the faculty. Sure, Sung-min was fairly “out there” to her fellow freshmen, but they accepted her. Hey—books to read, papers to write, labs to do—who had time for intolerance? Things seemed all well and good.

But they didn’t stay all well and good. Perhaps as her talent show performance had augured, she had a hard time staying out of trouble.  She racked up a seriess of rules violations that were fairly minor, but continuous. Dorm rules, uniform rules, lateness and class skipping, etc. We were a liberal, Americanized school curriculum-wise, but we were still a Korean boarding school with conservative Korean administrators who wanted our kids to look and act Korean—all humbleness and bowed heads and clean rooms and NO backtalk. That some of the younger foreign teachers let students refer them by their first names surely rankled the Koreans in charge, prompting them perhaps to compensate with a eagle-eyed attention to dormitory and personal appearance/conduct rules—rules that Sung-min kept running afoul of.

Also, unfortunately, Sung-min turned out to be–at this time–a not very good student.  In my English class, she was fine, but she was just okay in history, and not good at all in math and science. If she didn’t particularly care for a subject, she let things slide to the point of failing. This wasn’t a school where you could pick your special field of interest. You had to be really good at everything, basically. So, right at the end of the first semester, a combination of Sung-min’s poor grades along with a final blow-up involving a super-short, spiky haircut that our director Mr. Choi found abominable, Sung-min quit the school.

Now this is where things got really interesting—and I’m going to go through this series of events fairly quickly so we can get to the interview. Not long after leaving our school, Sung-min, facing predictable pressure from her parents to quit this whole transgender nonsense (she had been outed before the start of the semester—which comes up in the interview) decided to go to the United States—on her own. One way ticket. She flew to New York, and claimed asylum as a person discriminated against due to her gender/sexual identity—and it worked! With some pro-bono legal help, she was granted asylum, lived in a series of New York City foster homes, and attended the Harvey Milk High School in the East Village—a school created as an alternative education program for youth who found it difficult or impossible to attend their home schools due to threats, violence, or harassment due to their gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, or transgender identities. After a year in New York, she transferred to the Putney School, a fairly mainstream small private boarding school in rural Vermont. It wasn’t easy, but she slowly found her groove as a student. During her time there, she flew back to Seoul for the gender reassignment surgery, and flew back and continued his–his– high school life. This past May, he graduated, and is currently a freshman at Tufts University in Boston.

After he left Bugil Academy and Korea, Sung-min kept in touch with me and many of the Bugil teachers, and actually came back to visit us a few times when he was back in Korea on break. (He had reconciled with his family, to some degree.) Recently, in late August, he came down from his hometown of Daegu to visit me in Busan, and we had the following conversation about his experiences. Sung-min requested that the focus of our chat be on what it’s like to be “Queer in Korea,” rather than on the specifics of his journey to the U.S., seeking asylum, and life in New York City and Vermont. Undeniably compelling, that full story will have to wait for another time.

Let’s start by talking about the time you were my student at Bugil Academy’s Global Leader Program.   How did you feel you fit in (or didn’t fit in) at our school?

Well, the administration – they were typical Korean ajoshis in their 40s and 50s, you know, very conservative. In terms of my identity, I don’t think they really though I was serious about it. They probably thought I was just going through a phase or something.  I think the biggest problem they had was the gender expression part, because gender expression isn’t necessarily a gender identity or sexual orientation thing.  But just by not conforming to gender stereotypes, like by growing hair a certain way, being tough for guys, gentle for girls, I think that was what they were having problems with, at first.

When it came to the students, well, you remember a discussion in our English class? Maybe it was The Catcher in the Rye, when the subject was sex, or having sex, and nobody wanted to say “having sex” because they just thought it was inappropriate. So some kids who had lived in the United States for a longer time were better about it, but kids who were just coming from South Korea – they weren’t really comfortable talking about sex, so of course also about being gay or lesbian. But in general kids were better [then in a normal Korean high school]. I remember one kid writing a school newspaper article about gay rights, so I think the kids were better, but the administration was a pain in the ass.

What about the faculty?

Well, mostly you guys were very aware of gender identity and sexual orientation issues.  But I remember the Chinese math teacher, she didn’t even know what [those words] mean. I think it really depended if the teacher was from the United States, or from China or somewhere else.

I think just about all the American teachers there were very liberal and tolerant. We’d dealt with gay students  in the past, back in the U.S., so it was just not a big issue for us.

Yeah, oh yeah. Right. Especially Dr. Newton [another English teacher], who was from Alabama, was totally okay with me—which was  totally un-Alabaman [laughs] , which was surprising! Teachers from the United States were so okay about it. That’s why I stayed at Bugil, mostly, because I was afraid if I went to another school in Korea, most likely the teachers would be Korean, and I would run into the same problems I did with the administration.

Talk about, by way of contrast, your middle school or elementary school experiences.

In elementary school, people just don’t care about gender expression, because they think “they are just kids,” so I didn’t really have a huge problem, and I didn’t know that there were LGBTQ [lesbian/gay/bi-sexual/transgender/queer] people at all.  I just felt I am different, but didn’t know there were people like this, who felt the same way I was feeling.  But in middle school, you start to wear uniforms, and people start to say “You are becoming an adult, and you gotta act like an adult,” at the same time they think you are too young to think about your identity.  And then you start going through puberty in middle school, and middle school kids are very insecure in general, not just in Korea, but everywhere.

Middle school sucks!

Middle school really really sucks! And by then I was having trouble in general with the Korean education system. I couldn’t get used to anything that was available to me in middle school.  As for the teachers, well, I never told about my identity to my teachers so I didn’t really have any problem with them.  But other students, I came out to one of them, and she just decided to talk about it with other kids. She apparently didn’t know that it was a huge thing for me. She just thought, “That’s cool. I’m going to talk about it!” And then she talked about it, and I lost quite a few friends. The next day I went to school, when I would call out to them from a distance, they would just ignore me. Or like when I’d touch them or grab them with my hands they would be “that’s disgusting!” and walk away, and that was really hurtful. That was why I was having so much hope about Bugil Academy, because many teachers were from the United States, and I felt it was gonna be better than a regular Korean high school. I was completely sure that I would fail if I went to a regular Korean high school.

So you had this idea that you would feel more comfortable at a school with foreign teachers.

Oh yeah. I’d read a lot about New York City or San Francisco or Sydney, and it just seemed much better than here. I knew all the teachers wouldn’t be coming from those areas, but I felt it was going to be better.

Korea seems to be on a long, slow path to being open-minded about LGBTQ people.  Beside middle school experiences, what was it like growing up in the general context of Korean culture? Did you have many encounters that made feel not accepted?

Well, on the internet in Korea, when you would see some article about gays or lesbians, or transgender people, you would see a lot of hateful comments. That sort of thing was typical.

What sort of comments?

Oh, you know, “being gay is so unnatural” and “you’re gonna go to hell,” that kind of typical thing. I didn’t really have a lot of encounters like that outside of middle school, because, well, in Korea your life is about middle school, hagwon, middle school, hagwon.

Did you go to church?

No. My family is non-religious. My dad was traditionally Catholic, but he quit going to church when we was 16.

So you didn’t feel that “homosexuality is a sin” religious message?

Not directly.

Speaking of your parents—can you talk about where are with your relationship with them? 

Well, at first when I came out—or rather, when I was outed, when Mr. Choi [the school director] called my mom and said “Your kid is a lesbian!”—which wasn’t true—he was saying there’s going to be a problem if she wants to be enrolled at the school. That was in December, before I even started at Bugil. He said I should sign a confirmation statement that I was not a person from the LGBTQ community, or at least that I wasn’t going to be so outspoken and obvious about it. My mom was really shocked, and didn’t even tell me until my [middle school] final exams were over because she thought it would really effect my GPA.

Why did Mr. Choi think you were a lesbian?

Well, in middle school I had a blog about LGBTQ rights in South Korea, and then I mentioned on the blog that I got in to Bugil Academy. I didn’t think anybody would find it. It wasn’t like a Naver blog or Daum blog, or a huge portal site like that. What I heard was that one of the other student’s parents saw it, and he or she called Mr. Choi, and said “I’m uncomfortable that some kid like this is going to be in the same dorm as my kid.” That’s what Mr. Choi told my mom.  So after the final exam, when I heard this, I contacted all the Korean gay rights organizations—they exist!—and they said they were going to have an emergency meeting about this case.  I felt like they got my back. So I went to Cheonan with my mom to sign that confirmation paper that I’m not gay or lesbian or transgender. And when I was there, my mom really wanted me to say “I’m not a lesbian” for the sake of her, and the sake of the school.  But I didn’t do it—I told Mr. Choi that this was really discriminatory, and that I had called this LGBTQ organization, and they were in a meeting about this, and I not just going to sit here and do nothing about this. Mr. Choi was like, “You’re really rude! You’re talking back to an adult!” And I said, “I’m not being rude, I’m just telling you what I’m gonna do!” and he said, “I don’t think you can do anything; you’re just 16.” And then, when I came out from the room, leaving Mr. Choi and my mom to talk, I talked with Dr. Newton.  He apparently knew about the situation because he was the dean of faculty. So we talked, and I felt even more that coming to Bugil Academy will be better than going to any other Korean school, since the faculty would be really accepting, according to Dr. Newton.  So I signed, “I’m not a lesbian or gay or bisexual or transgender, and I’m not going to be overt about it.”

So that’s how your mom found out about your sexual identity?

Right, so my mom was shocked about it. She wouldn’t talk to me, and she cried all the time. I was really stressed. I didn’t really want to see her, because either she would get mad at me about things like my haircut, or just act really sad and depressed, and I didn’t want to see it. She really wanted me to stay [at Bugil] because my brother went to KMLA [Korean Minjeok Leadership Academy—a top Korean foreign language school] and went to the United States [Oberlin University], and she had a lot of pride about that.  She was really frustrated and we argued every day on the phone, and she would cry every day, and she would say, “It’s just a phase. I know it’s just a phase. You’re gonna come back. You’re not a person like that.” She would even say things like “I’m going to sue the gay rights organization!” Things that didn’t make a lot of sense.  But yeah, she was really shocked.  She didn’t tell my dad, because she thought it would just worsen the situation.

So, then, as you know, I quit the school. And about that time my brother came back from the U.S., and my family went out for dinner and we came back, and my brother was like, “You wanna buy some ice cream?” so we were heading to the convenience store, and he suddenly said, “Are you, like, lesbian or transgender?” And I was like, “Um, yeah!” And he said, “Yeah, it’s totally okay with me. I’m fine with that.  t’s just who you are. I don’t think it’s bad or sinful or wrong, it’s just how it is.”

How old was he at that time?

He was 21, American age. He has a very critical mind—he’s very thoughtful. So I think he thought a lot about that. He went to Oberlin—so he probably met a lot of gay or lesbian students. So they weren’t different human beings to him, they weren’t monsters. They were just other people to him.

Yeah, Oberlin is a very liberal place.

So yeah, he was okay with it. I actually told my dad about my identity two months ago, in June. I had graduated from high school, and I was coming back to Korea, and you know, I couldn’t hide. It was so obvious. I looked different, I sounded different. When I told him, he was okay about it, and that was a surprise, because he was from a Catholic family. Maybe I think Catholics are more liberal in Korea than they are in Western countries. I don’t think he thought about it so much like my brother, but he accepted it as it is, because he’s a very . . . I don’t want to say this, but he’s a simple-minded  person—he just accepts it. “Oh that happened? Then it happened.  Whatever.”  That’s his attitude. That’s what he said:  “If that happened, it happened.  I don’t have a problem with it.” I think he does hope that I can become more like I was in the past, before I was obviously LGBTQ, but he’s still okay with it if I decide to live like this.

And my  mom turned around after I was accepted to the Putney School. She said “I thought you were just being a teenager, and going through a phase. But obviously you took care of your life in the U.S., by yourself, and I think you are adult enough to judge if that’s really who you are or not, and if you still think that’s who you are, then that’s who you are. So she turned around. My mom and my dad told me that my brother actually did a lot of work explaining to them that it wasn’t just a phase, or being a child, and that it wasn’t dirty or sinful, it’s just who I am. My brother told them he wasn’t surprised when I told him I was transgender. He told them he could see it since I was young.

So your brother was really helpful in making them accept you.

Yeah, my dad told me that he asked my brother, “Is it because I let Sung-min hang out with boys when she was really little?” And my brother told him, “Dad, that’s bullshit!” And my dad listened to him, “Oh, that’s bullshit? Okay.” My brother has the biggest voice in my family, because he is the most educated.  So my dad believes whatever my brother says. So he just thought, “Okay, what I said was bullshit.” [laughs]

Did you manage to find some kind of support, or like-minded individuals when you were growing up?

Well, I don’t know how it is these days, because I’ve been in the U.S. for awhile, and Korea is changing every year. But when I was in middle school, in 2008, the gay community was underground, on the internet, mostly on Daum.net cafes. There was an organization—more like a group really—of teenage LGBTQ people. The name of the organization was Rateen, like “Rainbow Teenager.” I think it was just starting out fresh. I met people from there. Daegu [Sung-min’s hometown] is a pretty big city, so I could find other kids who were going through similar problems.

Through the website?

Yes. I would talk with them a lot in a chat room, online, and become a friend on messenger, and then meet them. That’s how most kids back then made a network, mostly through Rateen. There may have been other groups, but that was the biggest one for gay teenagers. There were other gay organizations too, like Chingusai and Dong-in-ryeon (Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights of Korea). They had workshops for teenagers going through hard times. That was another option. There was a web hotline, but it was all underground. I think it still is underground.

Did you ever go to any of these workshops?

I once did, in Seoul. [A Rateen-sponsored workshop.] I told my mom a lie—I was at Bugil at the time. I told Mr. Lee [a Korean assistant director]I was going back home, and I told my mom I was visiting my friend in Seoul. She believed, because many kids from Bugil were from Seoul. I went to that workshop and just hung out with them.

Was that helpful?

It was helpful. I didn’t change any situation, but it was more of a comfort to your mind—there are teenagers who were going through the same thing as you.

You just talked about Korea changing, every year, so fast.  You were back here for the summer—what did you notice, in terms of pop culture, the internet, or just personal interactions?  What do you think about Korea’s journey towards tolerance?

I think the biggest change is people are totally talking more about gay, lesbian or transgender people.  Not necessarily in a positive way to be frank. There are some positive comments about being gay, when it comes to some articles. But as you know, there was a huge protest against a gay march recently in Seoul, and that was the first time that happened. It was probably the 11th or 12th year [of the march], and apparently nobody cared about it, and then all of a sudden, it was an issue. I think it’s coming more up to the surface of Korean society. Of course, many, many reactions are going to be negative at this point. But I think it’s much better than being underground, because if you talk about it, maybe it’s going to get better, but if you don’t talk about it, you’re going to be underground forever.

How long before gays can marry, do you think?

Wow!  [laughs] I have no idea, to be frank.

Well, I never thought they would ban smoking in bars. But if they can do that, then maybe they can let gays marry!

Maybe, yeah! [laughs] What I noticed was that my generation in their early 20s, late teens, they’re much better at understanding what being gay or lesbian or transgender is. When I came out to my friends when I came back or before that, two years ago, I came out to some old elementary school friends.  They were like, “Okay then, that’s not a problem.” They were from Daegu, they had never been abroad, and they didn’t really have a problem. A friend who was at Seoul National University said there was an openly gay person in his major, and nobody there talked badly about him. He’s really popular at school.  So I think it is getting better, so much better, with my generation. When it comes to transgender or gay people in their mid 30s or mid 40s, they had a so much harder life compared to us right now. Especially for transgenders.

Once they get some hormones, they start to change in appearance, and their gender marker (on their ID card and passport) doesn’t match, so they can’t really work at a real job. Han Mu-ji, he passed away a few years ago, but he was the first person to get an officially recognized FTM [female-to-male] gender change, in 2004 I think. He had a really hard life—just delivering chicken or pizza. He couldn’t get anything else. His parents weren’t rich, so he couldn’t go back home—they didn’t support him, or support his surgery. That was the case for most people in his generation. Many kids of my generation, of course they’re not going to have an easy life, but many FTMs or MTFs, they actually get support from their families, they can get the surgeries they need, they can get the gender marker changes, and go onto college as fully male or fully female, and don’t have any problem. Fifteen years ago, you couldn’t imagine it. But now, I know a small handful—maybe seven or eight—of kids like that. It means it’s much better than, like 20 years ago.

So now you’re going to be living in America for the next four years, in Boston, at Tufts University. And you’ve lived in New York, and up in Vermont.  Can you comment about how it feels being LGBTQ in America?

Well, the U.S.A. is really, really big, so I can only speak for New York City and Vermont. NYC isn’t like a heaven. There are hate crimes, even in mid-Manhattan. But you still see gay couples on the street, so obvious, kissing, drag queens . . . I have two MTF friends there.  hey were first friends I had in New York.  One of them couldn’t pass. When she walked around on the street, people would stare at her, because she couldn’t pass.

What does that mean “couldn’t pass?”

It means she didn’t look like a woman. So, I wouldn’t say New York was completely a heaven. It still had certain things that Korea had, like people would stare at you if you looked a little bit different. Especially more so with MTF transgenders because mostly they don’t pass. But for gay people, New York is MUCH more open than Korea, for lesbians as well. They have a very visible community.  Christopher Street, all the gay bars there, Stonewall, the West Village—the historical center of the gay rights movement. And it’s celebrated. Chelsea—gay bars and gay shops—also a huge part of the modern gay scene. Even if you are not in that part of New York, you can still manage to find some kind of organization around you, in Harlem or Queens, it doesn’t matter where you live, you’re going to find something. In Korea, you have to just go on the internet. There is no physical place where you can go, and check in, and hang out. But kids in New York, they always have somewhere to go, and that’s a huge benefit.

What about Vermont?

Well, teenagers are gonna be teenagers, whether they’re in New York or Vermont, especially teenage boys. This might be a generalization, but many people, many gay activists actually admit this, that teenage boys are more sensitive to being masculine than girls are about being feminine.  And for boys, to be masculine, you have to talk shit about gays. If you say you have so much sympathy for gays, if your fourteen, guys are gonna be like, “What are you talking about?!”  Like, even in Vermont, people were from very liberal parts of the country, they would still go like, “Ew, you’re a FAG, hahaha, you’re a HOMO blah blah blah.”

Hell, we all did that growing up, even in my hometown in liberal Massachusetts.

Teenagers are gonna be teenagers. There are always going to be some people like that. I’ve seen a lot of people who say “I’m totally supportive about gays.” And people think I’m straight all the time, because I’m not really effeminate. And then they’ll say something insensitive about gays, something like, “Yeah, I had a friend who came out in high school, and I was totally okay about it, but then I dreamed about him fucking me, and that was really disgusting!” And I was like, “Oh yeah, you’re REALLY supportive about him. Oh well.” That happens all the time.

Did you remember when we watching the World Cup at the bar, and some player was hurt, and my friend yelled at the TV, “Oh, get up!  Don’t be a fag!”

[laughs] Yeah, I heard that!

And then when you went to the bathroom, I told him, “ix-nay on the ag-fay!” Putney School probably had kids from all over America, but still, small town New England can be very conservative.

So finally—about your performance at the admissions camp.  What was your thought process in planning and performing that?

[laughs]  I didn’t really plan about it that much.  My intention wasn’t really to express myself, to make a big symbolic statement, but just to pass through the time, you know?  When I heard there was going to be a talent show, I thought about it, and I was like, I don’t play the violin, I don’t play the piano, I’m not a good singer, I can’t do any magic, but I gotta do something, but I didn’t want to do something too boring or too typical. So I had a bamboo flute, which was like, 5 dollars, so I can break in front of everybody and that’s gonna be totally cool—“totes cray-cray,” you know? But I needed more, some kind of plot, so then I decided I was gonna do something like breaking the box, or frame, something like that. So the plan was, break the frame, then fall down, and then get up, and then I’m gonna play the bamboo flute for a bit, and then break it into shit! That was my thought process. I didn’t intend so much meaning behind it!  And then I did it, and I didn’t see the reaction of the Korean administration, or from the other kids, I just heard the applauding, so I was pretty satisfied. I didn’t know anybody was shocked until I heard it from you, or from Dr. Newton. I was like, “Oh that happened?  I didn’t even know they were shocked. There was nothing to be shocked about!”

So really—you weren’t consciously trying to make a big rebellious statement?  You didn’t think that this was a big weird shocking thing you were doing?  You just thought, “Oh this is a cool idea, let’s do it!”

Yeah, not at all!  I just thought it was cool, really cool. I didn’t know they didn’t like it. They applauded—but now I know they applauded because they had to! Back then, I thought I was totes cool, I was wicked, everyone liked it, BAM! That’s it.

Well, any final thoughts?  What about—well it’s sort of like a cliché—but what about a message to a young LGBTQ person out there in Korea?

[thinks] Well, first . . . this might not sound ideal . . . but don’t come out until everything gets really settled, to be frank.

What do you mean by “settled?”

Like, if you go to college in a different town, or you’re in a place where you don’t have to see your parents every single day.  I know you might want to come out really quick. . . and I know this doesn’t sound like an activist mindset, but you gotta be realistic. I was outed to my mom, and if I wasn’t outed, I wouldn’t have came out to her. I’ve seen a lot of Korean kids having trouble because they came out so early, and their parents would just go like, “I’m not going to do anything for you!” I think a good way to do it, is to just ask your parents, “How do you think about gay people?” And if they’re not really negative about it, then maybe you can come out. You just gotta be really careful. You gotta be playing it really smart.

Yeah—your parents could say their okay with gays, but then when YOU say you’re gay, they’re like, “Uh, wait a minute . . .”

Yeah, that happens. And I also want to say that things are gonna get better.  . . it’s a cliché of course, but things DO get better from my experience, and from other people’s experience.  Especially if you go to college in a big city, you’ll probably be able to find someone you can connect to, and even if you don’t, you can find a community elsewhere. There are always going to be people who are gay. I KNOW it’s really miserable to be in middle school especially, and to be in high school in Korea.  It’s all about conforming to the one ideal person. You gotta conform to your gender identity, you gotta wear a skirt, you gotta wear pants, you gotta do this and that. But that’s gonna be so much better once you graduate from high school, so don’t drop out. But if you do decide to drop out, it’s totally okay, because many of my friends are successful after they dropped out, but they had a plan for what they wanted to do. I want to say, if the school is really unbearable, and if you really have a good plan to go to college, don’t force yourself to be there all the time. I have a friend at Seoul National University—he’s FTM, and he dropped out. I dropped out, but I planned it out, to go to the United States. If you really have a good plan, then follow what you feel. But only when you have a really great plan!

Don’t just drop out and become a street kid.

Yeah, don’t do that!

Well, Sung-min, thanks so much. You’ve had some incredible experiences, and I think you have a lot of courage to make it through to where you are today. I hope you have a great freshman year at Tufts!

It was my pleasure. I hope to see you again next summer, Mr. [Karst]!

 

 


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Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

ELT Live#3 - Mobile Tools and Strategies for ELT

Englishbridges - Wed, 2014-09-24 10:10

 

ELT Live#3
Mobile Tools and Strategies for ELTSeptember 17, 2014
  Download mp3

Participants

Links Mentioned

 

Chat Log Below

  Daniel Craig   I think I'll be joining, but a little tired today. Need a pick-me-up   jefflebow (Admin) We'll do our best to wake you up   jefflebow (Admin) Starting the Hangout in 3, 2, 1....   Daniel Craig   I think my connection is struggling. Hope I'm coming through OK   Michael Griffin   close call, Dan.   jefflebow (Admin) Michael, please feel free to join us:   jefflebow (Admin) just sent the invite   Daniel Craig   You stalking me Griffin?   jefflebow (Admin) http://touchcast.com/   Michael Griffin   I was here to see and hear Ben and Jeff and others. 

Thanks for the invite, Jeff. I think I will just listen tonight.   Michael Griffin   how was that dictionary app spelled? 
Sorry. :)   jefflebow (Admin) Divii   jefflebow (Admin) Google Doc at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Sn4L8tgasSf1qqcjqKad29F1ozWaULSfN1NYdm3JN8M/edit   Michael Griffin   thanks very much and sorry to make you keep so many windows going.   jefflebow (Admin) Go to http://www.socrative.com, click on “Student Login”, enter room 22500.   jefflebow (Admin) https://www.movenote.com/   jefflebow (Admin) http://schoology.com/   jefflebow (Admin) http://dictionary.reference.com/   jefflebow (Admin) https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nhn.android.band&hl=en   jefflebow (Admin) https://itunes.apple.com/kr/app/layar-augmented-reality/id334404207?mt=8   jefflebow (Admin) https://tackk.com/   KEV LANDRY   hi again   jefflebow (Admin) hello Kev. Would you like to join in?   KEV LANDRY   I'll just listen thanks.   KEV LANDRY   missed the beginning again. thanks though   jefflebow (Admin) https://eliademy.com/   Michael Griffin   id also wonder about using an app i usually use for fun and life suddenly turning into an educational space   Michael Griffin   (as a student)   Michael Griffin   i hope it is not too shameful (shameless?) to share a blog post i wrote that is somewhat related: http://eltrantsreviewsreflections.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/why-dont-korean-students-use-apps-for-learning-english/   Durff   Waves hello   KEV LANDRY   reading books has caused us to remember less.   KEV LANDRY   always some drawback to new technology   Michael Griffin   thank you very much   Durff   oo 8amDurff Time?   jefflebow (Admin) http://www.kamall.or.kr/?r=Eng   Durff   cool   Durff   I was at that uni!   Durff   :)   Durff    yeah will be late for my own funeral   jefflebow (Admin) :)   Robyn Ajh   some great resources! Thanks!  


 

Tags: eltmobile toolssmart
Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

Children Banned from (Some) Restaurants and Coffee Shops in Korea

Koreabridge - Tue, 2014-09-23 13:25
Children Banned from (Some) Restaurants and Coffee Shops in Korea

When two restaurants in South Korea were asked to pay damages for two separate accidents involving children who were dining with their parents, some restaurants and coffee shops in South Korea started banning kids from their establishments. As expected, many parents protested. For them, the ban is nothing but a form of discrimination, not a way for restaurants to avoid mishaps and legal concerns. On the other hand, citizens who support the ban are saying that restaurant owners have the right to make new policies concerning their businesses, because children these days tend to be rowdy and ungovernable even in public places.


A sign that says: “Children under 5 years are not allowed to enter.” (Source: Hankook Ilbo)

A couple of times, I have seen little children running around restaurants while their parents are engrossed in their chitchats with other adults. I am not referring to your typical family diner or a fast food restaurant (like McDonald’s) where the little ones can eat and play. I have seen children turn a fancy restaurant into a playground and the parents did absolutely nothing! I recall that time when my husband and I were having dinner at Lotte Hotel World’s La Seine Buffet. Two boys were racing towards the buffet table and almost bumped into me. If I had not seen them coming, I would have accidentally spilled food on the floor! Another incident happened in a galbi restaurant, the one with the big built-in grill that uses red-hot coals. We had just finished our first order of galbi. A restaurant employee was removing the coal from our grill to replace it with a new one when this child, about 3 or 4, approached our table. I swear, she was just a few inches away from getting scalded by the sweltering coal!

I’ve witnessed this hullabaloo not only in Korea, but also in the Philippines. Once we had a customer in Ra’s who ate with her two naughty children. While the Mom was ordering food, the older kid toyed with our straw dispenser and kept pressing it until a handful of straws fell off the counter. The Mom didn’t tell the kid to stop. Instead, she asked her to get some straws for their drinks. She was an obedient child, I’ll tell you that, because she took half of the straws from the dispenser! I was waiting for the Mom to tell her child to return the straws that they would not use, but she just left without saying a word. She didn’t do anything, too, when her children were running around while eating and when the younger kid threw up, leaving a nasty souvenir on the floor for the other costumers to see (and smell). The janitor’s office was a few steps away from where she was seated. The least she could do if she didn’t want to clean her child’s mess was to alert the janitor, so he could mop the floor, but after asking her toddler if he was okay and wiping his mouth and his vomit-soaked shirt, she returned to her seat as if nothing happened. She didn’t even bother to tell her kids to sit down and eat like children with proper table manners do. I had to ask one of our employees to run to the janitor’s office to have the floor cleaned.

“Kids will be kids”, this is what most parents with misbehaving children say, but what if a child scurrying around a restaurant poses a risk to himself and/or to the servers? Would a parent take responsibility for any accidents that may occur as a result of the child’s recklessness? In the case of the two restaurants in Korea that I have mentioned earlier, it was the staff who got the blame.

A local court recently ruled that two restaurants should pay 10 million won and 47 million won to two children, respectively, who were scalded while dining. One child ran into a restaurant employee carrying hot water and another was burned by charcoal fire. (Source: The Korea Times)

According to some restaurant and coffee shop owners, other customers complain when kids make too much noise. A certain Mr. Im, owner of a cafe, shared his thoughts online:

The other day customers complained so much due to a noisy child. If kids are breaking the calm atmosphere, the number of customers will go down. This is why other cafes are also considering adopting a No Kids Zone. (Source: Koreabang)

Foreigners also have something to say about the issue. On Dave’s ESL Cafe you will find posts such as:

I, for one, agree with the restaurants who ban children because I have seen on too many occasions Korean parents who just let their child wander about restaurants without a care about what the child is up to.
I also think it is harsh but until more Korean parents start acting up to their responsibility as parents then tough luck. (Posted by Savant)

Why not simply ban those who disturb others? Sure, I’ve been bothered by kids running around restaurants here, but I’ve also been banned by a table full of drunk ajjoshis.
Ban the action, and those that do it, not the group. (Posted by Captain Corea)

One thing I have noticed in Korea is that it is very common for parents to take their children with them in places intended for adults. I have seen kids in coffee shops, theaters, and even in bars and hoffs. In fact, one of my husband’s friends sometimes takes his two sons with him during drinking sessions with his buddies. Both children are toddlers. Though they rarely misbehave, they toy with chopsticks and spoons, and sometimes spill drinks.

If you frequent coffee shops in Korea, chances are you’d find children in them, too. If you are lucky, you would even see babies, yes, babies in their strollers! Babies in coffee shops won’t probably cause trouble, but wait until they disturb the peace by crying incessantly. Some moms try to pacify them, but some just don’t know what to do.

A woman, together with her two kids, was turned away in a coffee shop where strollers are prohibited. (Source: Hankook Ilbo)

The first time I went to a theater in Korea, I was surprised to see children as young as 2 0r 3 inside the cinema. I wasn’t going to watch an animation movie, so I wondered why those kids were there. As a matter of fact, the movie was not suitable for young viewers.

I have a nephew and a niece who are very young, and they can be pesky at times. They love to eat out, so we just can’t leave them with a baby-sitter when we have family dates. Before going out, we talk to them and remind them to behave properly or else we won’t take them with us next time. The method always works… but kids can’t be controlled all the time. When they cry or start to make trouble in public places, we just don’t ignore them.

Parents are responsible for the way their children behave. Parents should set limits for their children and not tolerate their misconduct.

According to the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRC), prohibiting children from entering restaurants is illegal, because it opposes the rights of equality, but don’t restaurant owners also have the right to protect their businesses from troublesome young clienteles?

What is your take on this issue? Should restaurants and coffee shops in South Korea implement  the no-kids zone?

From Korea with Love
Chrissantosra.wordpress.com


 

 

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I Can't Stay but I Don't Want to Leave

Koreabridge - Tue, 2014-09-23 02:24
I Can't Stay but I Don't Want to Leave I'll be moving soon, and this fills me with some conflicting emotions. On the one hand, my current place is a sort of glorified dorm room, with no kitchen to speak of and barely enough space to do, well, anything. On the other hand, my landlords are some of the sweetest people I've ever met. It's not unlike renting an apartment from your friend's grandparents.

From the very start, the woman who owns the building has been incredibly kind to me. I think she worries about me, since I live alone in a foreign country, without any family nearby. I still remember hurrying to the door, in the middle of unpacking a giant suitcase, to receive a plate of grapes. While it shocked me at the time, little did I know it was only the first of many kind deliveries at odd hours. Homemade kimchi and sikhye, more grapes, pears and even, on one memorable occasion, an extra plate of jajjangmyeon.

Her husband is a bit more intimidating, despite his rather small stature. He speaks with a gruff voice, barking out short statements and scowling, so for a long time I was kind of scared of him. However, as the weeks and months went by and my Korean improved, I realized that was just his style. Every time I left my apartment, he'd ask where I was going, and tell me to go and come back safely. If it was late, he'd tell me to be careful. If I struggled to find my keys in the detritus at the bottom of my purse, he'd get the door open for me.


~*~

While our day to day interactions are nice, it's during holidays that their kind and welcoming attitude really shines. I experience this first back in January, during the Lunar New Year. Unlike the new year in the US, this is less a time to go out with friends and more a time to stay home and eat a meal with your family; it's a bit like Christmas in that way.

Anyways, for various soju and videogame related reasons, I'd  been up pretty late the night before, so my landlady knocking (more like banging. she's surprisingly strong) on my door around 9 AM woke me from a deep sleep. Assuming it was just a package or possibly more grapes, I stumbled to the door in my pajamas, glasses askew, only to have it slowly sink in that not only was she asking me (in Korean) if I had eaten yet, but she was inviting me upstairs to join her family. I managed to mumble something along the lines of “No I haven’t eaten/just a minute please/thank you”.Considering that even basic English is often a challenge for me within 30 minutes of waking up, I considered even that much Korean to be a serious accomplishment.

Still in a blur, I threw on some halfway decent clothes, slapped on enough makeup to keep me from looking like a zombie, and tried to mentally prepare myself for meeting an unknown amount of people who probably didn’t speak any English. Apparently I didn’t gather myself fast enough, though, because my landlord also came down to invite me up. I guess they were worried I hadn’t understood? Or I thought I’d gone back to sleep?

Fortunately, the family was pretty laid back. When I knocked on the door, they quickly ushered me into the living room and made me sit and eat soup with the older daughter and son-in-law and grandson, Shion. Somehow, the kid was the only one whose name I learned. Fortunately, the son-in-law was pretty good at English, so when my broken Korean fell apart, he was able to help out. The food was delicious: rice cake and dumpling soup, fresh fruit, and various side dishes. I think most of the family had already eaten, because they were lounging around watching TV, while my landlady kept pushing more and more food at me. If I stopped eating for even a moment, she would give me a slice of apple or a strawberry on a tiny fork. I guess grandmothers are the same no matter where you go.

As my natural awkwardness in unfamiliar situations started to fade, I began to feel a bit like I was spending a holiday with my own family. A bit too full of food, sleepy, and vaguely watching television as my landlord puttered away at his craft project and the grandson and son-in-law played silly games on the floor.


The polaroid camera must have been a Christmas present.

However, the most surprising moment came when it was time for the family to do the traditional bows and greetings and giving of New Year’s money. I knew what was happening, but as the tenant guest I assumed that I would not be included. I’m not family, and a foreigner besides, so why would I butt in? Wrong! Not only did they push me forward to bow and greet the grandparents (which I managed to do without stammering or falling over), they even gave me some money! I was shocked, and so happy. They sent me home with kimchi and fruit, and a warm feeling of being adopted into yet another family.


~*~

Time passed, summer faded into fall, and suddenly Chuseok was upon us. Chuseok is more or less Korean Thanksgiving, a sort of harvest celebration with lots of cooking and certain food that is inextricably linked with the holiday. Fortunately, this time I was half expecting to be forcefully invited up to join my landlord for a meal, though despite my best efforts I still didn't manage to wake up in time to be ready when he banged on the door. Seriously, who is awake at 8:30 on a holiday. Crazy people.


I wasn't able to fit all the food in the picture.

You know what else was crazy? The amount of food. As you can see, they'd cooked enough to feed an army. Rice cakes, soup, bulgogi, some kind of beef dish, kimchi, various fried vegetables, japchae...I was completely overwhelmed.

Apparently in the months that have passed since new year's everyone forgot that I'm capable of using chopsticks, so I had to undergo the usual volley of questions. Can you eat spicy food? Can you use chopsticks? Do you like kimchi? Yes, yes, and yes. My landlady especially loved the fact that I liked her kimchi. As she explained to me with a laugh, her husband, her son and grand-daughter all don't like kimchi. I managed to get in a bit of a joke there, asking the son if he was Korean, to which his mom replied that he's probably an alien. Apparently my humor is only effective on old people and children. Not entirely sure what that says about me...

After eating more than I thought was possible, we all settled into a comfortable and sated quiet in front of the television, which is when I discovered that my landlord is a minor local celebrity. He makes these amazing sculptures and containers out of folded paper, and the best thing is, the paper he uses is recycled takeout menus, coupon books, and ticket stubs. Apparently this caught the attention of a local tv crew, because suddenly there was my neighborhood on tv, with reporters following my landlord around as he gathered the materials he needed.

This was my favorite.

Want to move in?

A small selection of the full collection.

He must spend most of his time on this hobby, and it's really adorable how proud of his work he is. When he caught me taking some pictures of the collection, he insisted on getting a shot of him sitting in front. He even gave me a small one! I haven't quite decided what to use it for, but I know I'll treasure it.

Well-deserved pride.
Hard at work.

Hard to believe it's made from coupons and train tickets!


I've found a new place to live, but it's not far. It's probably not likely, but I hope I'll be able to stay in touch with this incredibly kind and generous family. I wish it were easier for me to tell them how much I appreciate all they've done for me. I guess it's motivation to get back to work on my Korean studies, huh? A friend suggested I write a letter in Korean, but so much of what I want to say is way above my level. Being so far from family is one of the hard parts about living over here, but if I keep meeting people like this, I know I'll be able to survive.


Teacher Pretty
Middle school ESL teacher, lover of pink, eater of kimchi, addicted to Etude House, expert procrastinator, meeter of 2-dimensionial popstars: Ana. That's me.

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Taking Down Samsung’s No Union Policy: The Samsung Electronics Service Union

Koreabridge - Mon, 2014-09-22 16:40
Taking Down Samsung’s No Union Policy: The Samsung Electronics Service

On July 29th, The International Strategy Center’s Policy and Research Coordinator Dae-Han Song and Communications Coordinator Hwang Jeong Eun met with Sunyoung Kim, the chair of the Samsung Electronic Service Union for the Yeongdeungpo District in Seoul of the Korean Metal Workers Union to talk about the union’s struggle and their trailblazing as the first union recognized by Samsung.

Can you give us a brief background to the Samsung Electronic Service Union?

We started the union because of the harsh working conditions. Sometimes, we might work 12 to 13 hours a day, and still not make the minimum wage. You might come to work on Saturday or Sunday from 8 to 6 PM and come out on the minus. Why? Because you didn’t get paid, but you still had to pay for lunch and gas. You even had to pay for your own training from Samsung. In addition, our work is dangerous, whether it is installing air-conditioning, or climbing a wall, or working with live electricity. Despite these dangers, the company doesn’t provide any safety equipment. We have to wear neckties even when working with moving parts. They force us to wear dress shoes even when working on a roof in the rain. Why? For the sake of maintaining a clean and professional image.

How can a person work 12 to 13 hours a day and not even get paid the minimum wage?

It’s a system based on commission. There is no base pay. You are basically a freelancer. You come in to work, and if there is work you work if there is not then you just stay in the office. However, while a real freelancer can decide whether or not to show up to the office, we have a specified clock in and clock out time. When there is work, we just keep working. In the summer, there’s a lot of work: air conditioning, refrigerators. So, we just keep on working until everything is done. Not only is working such long hours exhausting, it is also exhausting doing so in the summer heat. Sometimes you don’t get home until 12 AM and can’t even rest on the weekends. That’s when we make our money that carry us through the fall, winter, spring when there is little work. In these off seasons we might sometimes just get one or two calls in a day and since we get paid by commission, if we don’t work, we don’t get paid.

You have to at least pull off 5 or 6 jobs a day to make 1.5 million (about $1,500) a month. And that doesn’t include gas, your tools, your training which you have to pay out of pocket. I’ve worked at Samsung Electronics Service for about 15 years. So, in some ways, I am part of the upper echelons of the workers. I made 50 to 60 million won a year on average. So, the pay was enough. I worked hard and worked until late. I also accumulated a lot of know-how and developed relationships with customers. But, I was part of the minority, maybe I fell within the 15 percent of highly skilled and experienced workers. The rest, they are not in the middle, they are all at the bottom. There is no middle in this system. There are those that make a lot and those that don’t make enough. Those on the lower levels make about 20 million a year. That’s why the conditions are so poor.

The commission system pits us against each other. If I finish my work just a little faster, then I can finish two instead of one. The majority don’t have enough steady work. There’s not much one can do, other then parcel out one or two of my assignments to them. The company is unwilling to take responsibility for these workers.

When you are organizing a union, you have to build worker solidarity, but the system itself creates competition among the workers. Did that make it difficult to organize?

If we look at our system, we can see that it breeds selfishness. In the Yeongdeungpo branch, we originally organized 80 workers. But, it collapsed and only 24 members remain. The owner of the service branch planted the seeds of doubt: “Do you really think you can beat Samsung?” “Just do your work properly.” “I’ll give you more work if you quit the union.” “I’ll give you less work if you don’t.” So, 70% of the union members dropped out. When Choi Jong Beom killed himself, it had a huge impact on us. Before, we were just a Kakaotalk (a smartphone messaging application) union, but after his death those of us that remained began to meet in Seoul. So, while there weren’t many of us left, our union grew stronger. While we might be a fraction of what we were in the beginning, we are stronger now than before.

What are your demands?

At first we were demanding that we be made into Samsung regular workers. Samsung was directing us, training us, so it just made sense that we would be working directly under them. Now our demands are just improved working conditions. Being an engineer, fixing things with my hands, was my childhood dream. But, the company only cares about using us to make money. We want Samsung to appreciate and nurture our skills. That means paying us decently. We are asking for a basic wage in addition to the commission. Ultimately, we want to move towards a fixed monthly wage. Workers get stressed not knowing how much they will make in a particular month. Also, we want people’s skill and experience to be acknowledged. Right now, there is no difference given between a one year or a twenty year worker. They are treated as the same. After the collective bargaining, about 50% of our problems have been solved.

Where is the struggle right now?

When we went back to our service centers after concluding an agreement, the owners of the service centers say they will not recognize the union. They refuse to honor it. Under the agreement, if workers bring their receipts for gas, cell phone usage, for their meals, then the owner needs to reimburse them. The owners refuse to recognize this and just say, “We paid for it already. I’m going to keep paying you as I did before.” So, we are struggling against the branch owners. But ultimately, this isn’t about the branch owners, it’s about Samsung who is directing them.

What’s next?

So right now we have about 1,600 Samsung Electronics Service union members. Previously, we had about 6,000. Many left because they are afraid of what the company will do to them. So our focus will be to organize them. It hasn’t yet sunk in, but people around us tell us we should be proud that we, subcontracted workers, broke Samsung’s 76 year union-free history. I think it is these people that stood in solidarity with us that played a huge part in our victory. Many of them are more experienced union organizers, and we are a new union, so these seniors give us guidance on where we should go, how we should organize workers and the non-unionized centers. On August, we are going to organize the non-unionized centers.

Have things improved?

So according to the collective bargain agreement, the company needs to follow the labor laws. That means that if we work over 40 hours a week, we should get overtime. We are supposed to get paid holidays. And as I mentioned before, the company should refund 100% of the costs of gas, parking, equipment, cell phone, and leased cars. We also won a basic 1.2 million won a month wage. But, the best thing is that the owner can’t unilaterally change work policy: he has to negotiate with the union. They can’t just take us for granted. I mean all this should just be the given.

So what’s still missing?

The first thing is that we don’t yet have a 100% fixed wage. The second one is that the collective bargaining agreement contains vague and difficult to understand wording. We are an inexperienced union and because we rushed the negotiations, there is a lot in the contract that is vague and up for interpretation. That’s what we were struggling for in the 40 day occupation at Seocho and what we are fighting for at the branch level now: a more clear collective bargaining agreement.

How can people in Korea or abroad help?

I learned that there are 10 million irregular workers. In the case of Samsung and LG, they are a world class corporation, but in their pursuit of profit they outsource and sub-contract. This wouldn’t be a problem if they paid decent wages and created a stable system. But that’s not the reality. Companies like Samsung are shiny and nice on the outside, but the inside is different. When I tell people about the working conditions that I face, they ask me, “Are you telling me that there are still companies like that?” I want to tell the world about the conditions we face working in these corporations so that we can stop them guard our rights. I want to be a dignified worker that can proudly wear the company logo on my shirt.

Now because of our struggle, those that install internet for SK, or LG U+ they are also awakening to the injustice of their situation. They are realizing how similar and unjust their work is which does not guarantee a basic wage. I want to let those in Korea and abroad know our conditions so that we can improve them.


solidarity stories
from  International Strategy Center’s media chapter
Home     About    Events    Participate    Resources    The Team

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Korean Convenience Store Food! GS25 Spaghetti & Meatballs

Koreabridge - Mon, 2014-09-22 13:19
Korean Convenience Store Food! GS25 Spaghetti & Meatballs

Some Korean interpretations on international foods are perfectly fine, especially in recent years. The number of burger joints is increasing, and with it, the quality. In this part of the peninsula (in Gimhae, a short lightrail journey back in Busan, the second largest city in South Korea), I can be sitting in front of a hot, delicious plate of fish & chips in about an hour.

The Sherlock Holmes in Seomyeon, Busan. The best fish & chips I’ve had in South Korea.

A good cup of coffee is not hard to find (coffee in general is very, very not hard to find. But, that does not necessarily equal quality).

And then there are international food choices that are… not exactly perfectly fine? I guess it depends on whom you ask and what threshold for “It’s not that terrible” to “dear God, make it stop” your constitution may be located. No matter, one thing that should be universally agreed upon is some of these interpretations are often interesting.

Potato salad on a sandwich, anyone? Thousand Island dressing in a burrito? Corn on pizza? I don’t care what some of my friends said when I bitched about that last one a while ago. They grew up in places where you could only get Pizza Hut and Domino’s. I grew up in New Jersey. Ignorant jokes about my home state can be filed in the comments section.

While 2014’s food selections are better, the choices more robust, it’s still not hard to find something that’s a little not quite right. A great place to start are South Korea’s ubiquitous convenience stores. Whether it’s a CU or GS25, 7-Eleven or Mini-Stop, you’re covered at any time of the day or night.

This one is a block away. This is one of two CU branches in my apartment building. This place just opened up in my living room. Just kidding, I grabbed these three photos from the internet because I don’t feel like going outside and taking photos.

Recently, I had about three hours to kill before meeting friends for Gamjatang (here, in fact. I recommend it). I had just finished work and was hungry enough that the thought of waiting another three hours to eat was not delicious. So, I did what anyone in a similar position would do: I went my nearest convenience store.


And bought this.

GS25’s finest. “Italian” spaghetti and meatballs.

What would I find when I opened up the package, thrust the contents (in their probably not safe for microwave container) into the microwave and zapped them to life? Check out the video at the top of this post to find out, my cherubs.


JPDdoesROK is a former news editor/writer in New Jersey, USA, who served a one-year tour of duty in Dadaepo/Jangnim, Saha-gu, Busan from February 2013 to February 2014. He is now a teacher in Gimhae.

Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

Learning2gether with the Fall Blog Festival

Englishbridges - Sun, 2014-09-21 04:31

mp3 here

Sun Sep 21 Learning2gether participated in the 10-hour Fall Blog Festival

The Fall Blog Festival (FBF) is a one day blog festival event showcasing bloggers, their work, and valuable tips for blogging for reflective practice, work with students, business and other reasons. This event takes place online on WizIQ, on September 21, 2014.  Highlights include: Why blog, background to blogging, influential bloggers, getting started, and best practices and challenges involved in blogging.

Vance Stevens at the Fall Blog Festival Flipping the flip: Organizing students around a wiki and training colleagues to do likewise

Recording: http://www.wiziq.com/online-class/2092922-fall-blog-festival-organizing-students-and-teachers-around-a-wiki

What was this about?

This session demonstrates a wiki developed for my classes over time that colleagues in my teaching context started collaborating with, and how I created a wiki to help my colleagues create their own, in such a way that it modeled how learning can be facilitated through a wiki

This presents a wiki that’s suddenly found traction with my colleagues where I teach. I’d like to talk about (1) how we use it to collaborate on the course we teach in common and (2) because I don’t want to be the constant go-to person for materials they create, how I have started a wiki to train colleagues to put up their own materials, at http://kbzpd.pbworks.com

Some time ago I organized my contribution to teacher training where I work around a blog http://toolkit4learning.blogspot.com. This presentation will be linked from that blog, illustrating some different affordances between blogs and wikis which allow each to work together in blended pedagogical and professional learning environments.

Announcement

Join #learning2gether at the Fall Blog Festival: http://www.wiziq.com/course/53478-fall-blog-festival
Sun Sep 21, 10 hours from 11:30 GMT
Selected events in WizIQ
– noon GMT ELT for Peace with Dr. Doris Molero
– 1300 GMT Susan Hillyard – sharing a life’s work on Blogspot
– 1400 GMT Vance Stevens – Flipping the Flip
The latter is about organizing students around a wiki and training colleagues to do likewise. The session demonstrates a wiki developed for classes over time that colleagues in the teaching context started collaborating with, and how the presenter created a wiki to help his colleagues create their own, in such a way that it modeled how learning can be facilitiated through a wiki
– The model wiki: http://kbzpd.pbworks.com
– Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/vances/fall-blogfest2014
All are welcome. Find connection and time links here: http://tinyurl.com/learning2gether

The above announcement posted at …

Sun Sep 21  Susan Hillyard sharing a life’s work on Blogspot

Click here to access the class and its recording

 

Earlier this week Sun Sept 14 – Learning2gether with ELTAI 2014 Post-conference Webinar

http://learning2gether.net/2014/09/14/learning2gether-with-eltai-2014-post-conference-webinar/

Sun / Mon Sept 14 / 15 IHAQ #16

http://edtechtalk.com/ihaq16-more-questions-about-set-course-or-project-website

http://youtu.be/xAa9qfBn-O4

http://youtu.be/YsGU-H-JNF4

Sep 2-14 ConnectedCourses Pre-Course

http://connectedcourses.net/thecourse/pre-course/

Looks like F.U.N. http://youtu.be/XS3GssVNdXw

Streamed live on Sep 2, 2014 – “You’re not on the edge unless  you’re falling off it” – Howard Rhinegold

Jim Groom, Alan Levine, and Howard Rheingold will talk about the how and why of setting up your blog for Connected Courses http://connectedcourses.net/

 

Ongoing through Sun Oct 5 HSLMOOC14 on WizIQ

Healthy and Sustainable Living MOOC free online course September 1 – October 5, 2014.

The Mon Sep 15 1700 GMT event of Marie-Hélène Fasquel Experimenting with the flipped classroom has been postponed

Because the presenter has moved to Nantes and does not know when she will have reliable Internet

E4.123-0145: Experimenting with the flipped classroom
Marie-Hélène Fasquel
15. 09. 2014 – 19:00h – 20:30h
Zugangslink: http://webconf.vc.dfn.de/flippedclassroom
Info: http://v.gd/MHFflipped

This is part of a series of webinars offered by Saarland Landesinstitut fur Padagogik und Medien (LPM) in various European languages; schedule and recordings here: http://tinyurl.com/aufzeichnungen. If it’s a first time registration, please send along the name of your school, university, institute, etc. to JWagner@lpm.uni-sb.de   

Mon Sep 15 Gaming in Education begins, ends Fri Sep 19

Gaming in Ed, September 15th – 19th, 2014

The inaugural Gaming in Ed conference is a great opportunity for you to share about what gamification looks like in your classroom, library, or household. Conference strands include Game-Based Learning: How to Use Games in Educational Settings, Games & Assessment, Connecting Educators With Game Developers: Make Your Voices Heard, Students as Content Creators & Game Designers, Research on Game-Based Learning, and Professional Development. Share your experience with game-based learning with an audience of game developers and peer educators!

Schedule

A sampling of sessions:

Thu Sep 18 Minecraft as Self-Directed Learning and a Community Development Tool

http://gamingined.com/forum/topics/minecraft-as-self-directed-learning-and-a-community-development

Links to other Learning Revolution Events Sep 17 Mobile tools and strategies

Sat Sep 20 Doris Molero on VenTESOL

http://www.wiziq.com/online-class/2139062-elt-for-peace-with-dr-doris-molero-urbe

 

 

 


Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

An Insider’s Guide to BIFF

Koreabridge - Sat, 2014-09-20 17:18
An Insider’s Guide to BIFF

 
An Insider’s Guide to BIFF    
Printable PDF Version 

Planning Your Schedule

Choosing Your Films

    Read the Guide
    What country is it from?
    Subtitles
    The “Guest Visit

How to Buy Tickets

    On-line Purchase
    Busan Bank Purchase
    Same Day Purchase
    Exchange Booths

By Matthew Sidgreaves 

(with contributions from Sarah Hansen and Michele Bourner)

It’s that time of year again when the Busan International Film Festival rolls into town and for once Busan is truly the most dynamic town around. If you’ve never experienced it then you are missing out. Whether you call it BIFF or PIFF, the film festival is without doubt the number one event in the Busan calendar and there is a palpable buzz and energy around the city. The event is truly international with big name stars, directors and a huge media circus all amassing in Busan. So take full advantage of this amazing opportunity; pick out some films, enjoy and be part of the BIFF experience.

The following guide is aimed at first timers and the casual festival goer. I hope that it helps you get the best out of the festival.

Planning Your Schedule

This is probably the easiest bit because if like me you work for a living there are only going to be certain times you will be available to see films. The opening weekend is when most will do the majority of their movie viewing. It’s possible to watch four or even five films in a day, but this can be extremely tiring. It’s important to not burn yourself out and leave time to do important stuff such as rest and eat.

If you are watching back to back films ensure that you leave yourself enough time to get to the next screen or theater. Fortunately, with the building of the new BIFF Cinema Complex, most of the films are in cinemas that are close to one another.

To get from the BIFF Cinema Complex to the nearby Shinsegae CGV and Lotte Cinemas in Centum City allow at least 15 minutes walking time. Both CGV and Lotte are on the top floors of the stores so you will have to factor in waiting around for elevators. If you are more than fifteen minutes late for your movie you will often be denied entry. 

There are also four other locations that are showing films this year: two of the locations, the Sohyang Theater and the Community Media Center, are very near to the BIFF Cinema Complex. The other two are the Haeundae Megabox and the Busan Megabox located all the way across town in Nampodong, so play close attention to the screening venue when selecting your films. You don’t want to suddenly find out that you have to get from Haeundae to Nampodong in 15 minutes! Even getting from Haeundae to Centum City in a short amount of time can be quite a challenge. The subway is the best option and is usually quicker than a taxi. There is also a shuttle bus service available that runs every 10 minutes from outside the Megabox building in Haeundae to Centum City and the BIFF Cinema Complex. How long it takes is totally dependent on traffic and it also makes stops at all of the major hotels, so don’t rely on it if you are in rush.

Choosing your Films

Choosing the right films is the key to having a good festival. A lot of excellent films will be shown, but there will also be plenty that will leave you bewildered, bored or even suicidal! So doing your research, for the most part, is going to pay off.

The BIFF program can be daunting. This year’s program boasts 314 films from 79 countries with 98 world premieres and 36 international premieres. So how to choose?

Read the Guide

There are short synopses of all the films on the BIFF website: http://biff.kr.  There is also a BIFF Ticket Catalogue, which is available from all branches of Busan Bank. The catalogue should be available on Monday, Sept. 22 or a PDF version can be downloaded from the website here: http://121.254.228.195:8081/api.link/3d_baLkXGbrFRQ~~.zip


The write-ups often can differ greatly depending on the reviewer or translator; not all were created equal. Most of the write-ups are decent and give a fair reflection on what the movie is about. However, in the past, there have been some reviewers that have written massive spoilers giving away important plot lines and even the ending. Unfortunately, there is no way this can be avoided, so it’s up to you if you still want to see it. Also, there are times when the synopsis and the actual movie you end up watching seem to bear absolutely no relation to each other, but that’s part of the fun of the festival! It’s also worth comparing the on-line site and the ticket catalogue because sometimes they can have two entirely different synopses from different writers.

What country is it from?

Some countries just seem to have a proven track record when it comes to film making. Any film from a Scandinavian country is always a solid bet; most of the time you are pretty much guaranteed hilarious, bizarre or just plain depressing. Countries with a successful domestic film industry, such as Iran and India, are also always worth consideration because production values are normally high. If you’ve never seen a Bollywood film then this is your perfect opportunity.

Korean movies are, of course, the most widely represented at the festival. They can also be some of the hardest to get tickets for because Koreans like to watch Korean films! With so many Korean films showing there will be a myriad of genres to choose from; from the melodramatic to thought provoking and sometimes quite shocking films. If you’ve ever seen any of the films from Korean heavyweight directors such as Park Chan Wook (Oldboy), Kim Gi Duk (Pietà) and Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercer, Memories of Murder) then you will know that Korea produces some of the finest films in world cinema today.

Japanese movies can be quite a mixed bag. But what they do excel at is the screwed up, bizarre and just plain weird! It’s a genre of movie that is quite unique to Japanese cinema and can be quite the experience. So if you find yourself reading the synopsis of a Japanese movie and end up saying, “What the Heck!!”, or words to that effect, then go see it. For fans of animation and Japanese Anime there are usually several films showing. From the family friendly to head scratching disturbing, so choose carefully if taking the kids! (And also note that children under the age of 6 will not be permitted into screenings.)

When it comes to European and North American movies there is often the advantage that many will have already been shown at other film festivals such as Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Toronto and Sundance and therefore will have already been reviewed in the industry press and on websites. It’s best not to read the full review though, as it may contain spoilers; usually scanning the introductory paragraph and conclusion will suffice. The BIFF guide also tells you which films were in competition and the winners at these other film festivals. Tickets for these films are often in high demand, but most have multiple screenings during the festival week. However, many of them, especially the English language films and many of those from established film making countries, such as France, get wide releases after the film festival season has finished, so there is often the chance to see them later.

This year’s festival has a special “spotlight” on films from Bangladesh, Iraq and Lebanon because films from these countries have been ignored in the past. There is also an “In Focus” category this year which is showcasing “Georgian Women Filmmakers” and “New Turkish Cinema”.  The fact that the film festival organizers are highlighting films from these countries hopefully means that they have been selected carefully, so they might be worth considering.

Of course there are a ton of other countries I haven’t mentioned, so don’t only go by what I’ve mentioned above. The key is to go with your gut when reading the synopsis and trusting in the person who wrote it. If it seems good, then it’s worth trying to see.

Subtitles

If you are watching a film that doesn’t have English dialogue then make sure it has English subtitles. The vast majority do, but there are always a few that don’t. If a film has the letters “KK” or “KN” next to it on the schedule, it means there are no English subtitles.

The Guest Visit

The guest visit (coded as GV on the schedule) is a unique opportunity to hear the director and sometimes the actors speak about the film after it has finished screening.  It usually involves the director talking about their movie and then a question and answer session with the audience. Personally, if there is a guest visit for a film I’ve chosen I will try my best to see it, as it can help explain, clarify, enhance and at times, totally change your perception of the film you’ve just watched. However there are a few provisos to a guest visit that you should be prepared for:

Beware of having no English translation, especially for Korean movies. Sometimes they will ask if anybody wants an English translator, so take advantage if you can.  Usually though, either the director speaks English or there are both English and Korean translators who do alternative translations. Some translators are absolutely brilliant at their jobs, but there are others who are just plain terrible. Even if there is no translation, it’s sometimes worth staying, you can always leave if you have no idea what is going on!

Beware the “Over Zealous Korean Film Buff”! Guaranteed there will be at least one at every guest visit you see. They will spend minutes rambling on giving their own personal analysis of the film, often at the bemusement of the director, without really asking any questions at all, but if they do it will normally fall into the next category.

Beware downright stupid questions from the audience. The festival audience are usually a very knowledgeable and amiable bunch and quite different from the cinema goers you get at your regular Korean cinemas. However there will always be the dumb question, it can be quite funny and embarrassing in the same instance!

Finally, guest visits seem to be added and be cancelled frequently. Visit the Notice section on the BIFF website for up-to-date information on the GVs: http://www.biff.kr/artyboard/board.asp?bid=9611_05

How to Buy Tickets

Once you have your chosen your films then the fun starts: Trying to buy the tickets.  To maximize your chances you have to be available to buy tickets on the first day they go on sale and at the first moment they go on sale. Tickets for some films are sold out in minutes and for the opening and closing films often seconds.

The opening and closing film tickets go on sale at 2 p.m., September 23.

All the other tickets go on sale at 9 a.m., September 25.

 For purchasing tickets the day they go on sale and up to the start of the festival, your two best options are to buy them online or to buy them in person at a Busan Bank branch.

On-line Purchase:

This is by far the easiest, quickest and best method. BIFF uses the on-line Korean portal Daum.net to sell their tickets. http://biff.movie.daum.net/.

***NOTE***
In the past number of years, to buy tickets online you MUST have a credit card. It can be international or domestic, but it MUST be a credit card. Check cards may not work. Also, if you’re using a non-Korean credit card, be aware that the payment will be processed slower than a domestic card, so using a Korean credit card is best.

On the ticketing website, look to the right of the page and you will see two options: “Native Resident Ticketing” and “Non Resident Ticketing”. For those of us with Alien Registration Cards, it is possible to sign up as members and use the “Native Resident” option, however the registration site is all in Korean and you will have to use the Korean ticket purchase portal if you choose this option. The “Non Resident Ticketing” sales site is all in English and no pre-registration is required, so it’s much easier to just use the “Non Resident” option.

You need to enter your e-mail address and a 9-digit PIN when first entering the site and any subsequent visits thereafter. You MUST remember the email address and PIN you use in order to access your tickets throughout the festival. There is no confirmation email sent, so it’s on you to remember what information you use to access the site.

Tickets for the opening and closing films can only be bought online—and they sell out in roughly 45 seconds!! So, you have to be online, ready, and fast with your mouse to get them. There’s usually a team of 4 of us trying to get tickets for the opening and closing tickets and most years we end up with a couple for the opening and a good amount for the closing. If you fail to get tickets in the first minute of sales, don’t despair yet. For the opening, keep trying the website right up until the day before the festival. People will return tickets and if you're online when they're being returned, you can win. Your other option, which I've used many times in the past for opening night and closing night tickets, is to show up at the theater around 5:30 or so and buy tickets off scalpers. You'll pay more than the 20,000 per ticket, but you'll get your ticket. Closing film tickets are much easier to get, relatively speaking. Just keep visiting the ticketing website regularly and chances are you will get lucky.

When it comes to actually purchasing the tickets for the rest of the festival, you are going to need your wits about you. But there are several tactics you can use to increase your chances of success:

The first thing you should do is make a list of your movies by CODE NUMBER. The code for each film can be found on the screening schedules immediately after the showing time and can be found below the film summaries. It’s a three-digit number and it’s what you’ll want to use to book your films—not the film titles. Also, after entering the code number in the code box on the ticket purchase website, ensure you click the “Search” button on the site. DON’T hit Enter on your keyboard as this defaults back to the opening movie and it will show as being sold out.

Once you’ve made a list of the codes of the movies you want to see, I recommend the following:

1. Purchase the tickets for films shown on the weekend first. These are the tickets that sell the quickest because for most people, it’s the only time they have free. There are also two national holidays this year during the festival which will also create high demand. The first is the first Friday, October 3 and then other is the following Thursday, October 9.

2. It’s stating the obvious, but try to purchase the movies you want to see the most first; if they happen to be on the weekend then good luck. If they are showing on a workday, especially during the daytime, then you probably still have a good chance of getting them if you drop them down the list a little. Not always though! I’m usually left unsuccessful and disappointed about not getting tickets for at least one of my top choices every year. Note also that the films in the “Gala” section also sell out really quickly, so if you have your heart set on seeing one of those, it should be at the top of your priority list.

3. If there are two or more of you wanting to see the same movie then pool your resources. You can only buy two tickets per film at a time, but if planned correctly you can vastly increase your chances of success by deciding who is buying what. Divide up your list between you. If there are some movies you both really want to see then both try for these. (See the next point).

4. If there are more than two of you buying, don’t be scared of buying too many tickets for the same movie. You can always return any excess tickets and get a full refund before the festival starts. If you return them after the festival starts you are charged a 1,000 won fee.

5. Have back up movies. Purchase them last, but it’s better to have tickets for something if you don’t get your first choice.

5. Be prepared for the on-line ticketing system to hang and sometimes crash. If nothing seems to be happening after selecting your movie, then start again.

6. If you get to the “Select your Seat” screen, then you are halfway there. However, especially on the first day of sales, hundreds and sometimes thousands of people are trying for the same movie and there might be someone else selecting the exact same seat as you. For whatever reasons, Korean buyers seem to go for the seats at the front and middle first, so by choosing seats further back or aisle seats you will increase your chances, but if the system hangs after selecting your seats, somebody beat you to the punch!

7. If you get to the payment screen this usually means you’ve succeeded, but not always. Be very careful entering your credit card details. Make a mistake here and you have to start all over again.

8. If you don’t get your tickets not all is lost. Many people cancel their tickets before and during the festival, so it’s always worth clicking through your films you missed out on whenever you have the time. For some reason a lot of these returns are made late at night, so try then. It’s also worth looking at the schedule again and seeing if there is anything else that appeals to you.

NOTE: Tickets for all films are available for on-line purchase up until the day before the screening of the film. This also applies to returning and refunding tickets. If you wait until the day of the film you will not receive a refund. (If this does happen, see the “Exchange Boards” section below).

Busan Bank Purchase:

The Festival has only relatively recently offered online ticket purchases, so in the past, all tickets needed to be purchased through Busan Bank (at a teller, at an ATM or via phone banking). Some BIFF ‘old-timers’ prefer buying their tickets via a Busan Bank teller to risking using online purchasing (in previous years, the online ticketing was TERRIBLE. Since switching to the Daum ticketing portal, though, it has become significantly more reliable!). If you’re more comfortable buying tickets from a person, much of the advice in the “On-Line Purchase” section stands.

1. Make a list of your codes and write them in order of priority.

2. Again, you can only buy two tickets per film at one time. If you need to buy more than 2 tickets, repeat the code lower in your list. Sometimes the teller will notice the repeat and refuse to sell you two more, but more often than not, that ruse works.

3. Once you get to the teller, give her your codes, cross your fingers and hope that (a) she wins on most of your shows and (b) her computer doesn’t crash (in the past, crashes at the bank were the norm).

4. You will have to pay for your tickets in cash and once they’re issued. Credit cards are not accepted.

 If you failed to get tickets to the films you wanted to see in the madness of first-day sales, don’t despair. There are other ways to get tickets.

Same Day Purchase:

The festival holds back 20% of all of the tickets for same day purchase—EXCEPT for films showing at the Haeundae Megabox and Nampdong Busan theaters. This is great for those that are not free when the tickets go on sale on-line. However, you need to be up very early to be there when the box office opens to have a chance at getting the films you want to see.

This year, same-day purchase box office locations are at the ground floor (likely outdoor) box office of the BIFF Center and the outdoor Shinsaegae Box Office. They start selling the held-back tickets at 8:30 am. On weekends and holidays, I recommend being in line by 7:30, especially if you want to buy tickets for more than one show. Earlier is much better, though. At 7:30 there will be large lines, but remember, there are hundreds of films being screened each day and the people in line can only buy 2 per film—the chances of everyone wanting to see the same films are low-ish.

That being said, if you’re not an early bird there will still be tickets available for something on the day. Large boards are set up outside and inside all the main screening venues telling you what is available. (They cross out movies as they are sold out). However by this stage you are often getting the dregs of the festival, although you might stumble upon a gem!

Exchange Booths

The absolute last option for scoring tickets the day of the screenings is the ticket exchange booths that are set up outside every theater. A BIFF rule is that you cannot get a refund for a ticket on the day of the screening, but stuff happens and sometimes people end up with tickets they can’t use. Look for volunteers camped out at little tables in front of white boards. If someone has a ticket they want to get rid of, they bring it to the volunteers who record the title of the film (almost always in Korean) and the code on the whiteboard. If a show you want to see is on the board, talk to the volunteers and pay them for the ticket. They will then send a text message to the person who left the ticket who then goes to pick up his/her money. It’s a neat little system-and sometimes you can get lucky!

One final point: Respect the volunteers. The film festival would never happen if it wasn’t for the scores of volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure that BIFF is a success. Most are university students who are looking to interact with foreigners and give their résumés a little boost! They do a fantastic job and as said, without them there would be no festival. So if things aren’t going your way, try to keep this in mind.  

Please note that all of the above purchasing information is based on previous years' festivals and therefore could be subject to change. I also take no responsibility if you pick a bad movie! Enjoy your festival.

About the Author:

I saw my first BIFF film in 2002, the only film I saw that year. Since then it has become a bit of an obsession, to put it mildly! For the entire ten days of the festival I spend pretty much every spare minute I have watching films. The amount I see each year varies, but it’s usually in double figures. It can be tiring and other commitments in life often take a back seat, but it’s also an amazing privilege that such an event is held here in Busan. Being able to see so many films from so many different countries is quite staggering. For the rest of the year I rarely place a foot in a regular movie theater, so when BIFF comes around I take full advantage of this unique opportunity afforded to me.

Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

ELT Live - Mobile Tools and Strategies for ELT

Worldbridges Megafeed - Thu, 2014-09-18 13:01

58:46 minutes (26.9 MB)

 

ELT Live#3
Mobile Tools and Strategies for ELTSeptember 17, 2014
  Download mp3

Participants

Links Mentioned

Chat Log Below

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ELT Live - Mobile Tools and Strategies for ELT

EdTechTalk - Thu, 2014-09-18 13:01

58:46 minutes (26.9 MB)

 

ELT Live#3
Mobile Tools and Strategies for ELTSeptember 17, 2014
  Download mp3

Participants

Links Mentioned

Chat Log Below

read more

Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

Friendship

Englishbridges - Wed, 2014-09-17 06:38
Forum Category: Social - Love, Dating, Friendships Discussions

 

READINGS

Good Friends Are Good for You

http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/good-friends-are-good-for-you

Just Between Friends

http://www.ohio.edu/research/communications/Friendship.cfm

Research: Human friendships based on genetic similarities beyond the superficial
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/research-human-friendships-based-on-genetic-similarities-beyond-the-superficial/2014/07/14/8aea04fe-0ab5-11e4-8c9a-923ecc0c7d23_story.html

The Importance of Friendship
http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-importance-of-friendship/0001381


5 Things You Can Learn About Friendship From Oprah and Gayle
http://friendship.about.com/od/Friendship-In-Culture/a/What-You-Can-Learn-About-Friendship-From-Oprah-And-Gayle.htm


Friendship Quotes
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_friendship.html
http://www.quotegarden.com/friendship.html

 

VIDEOS

Can Men and Women Be Just Friends? | The Science of Love (subtitled)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsFJFfegkj4

The Importance of Friends for Women Over 60
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvyNyZqUa4M

 

Discussion Questions

  • Who is/are your best friend(s)?  Why are you so close? In what ways are you similar or different?
  • What do you think are the most important ingredients of a lasting friendship?
  • How long does it take to become a ‘best’ friend?
  • How would you categorize your different groups of friends?
  • What are the most enjoyable or meaningful things you do with your close friends?
  • What’s the difference between old friends and new friends?
  • Do you enjoy the process of making new friends? Do you think you make new friends easily?
  • Do you argue with your friends sometimes? What about?
  • Have you ever been betrayed by a friend?  Have you ever betrayed a friend?
  • What do you remember about your elementary school friendships? high school? university?
  • What do you think is different about friendships among men, among women, and between the two?
  • How does having a boyfriend or girlfriend affect your friendships?
  • How would you describe the difference in your feelings for friends vs. your feelings for family?
  • Do you think there are cultural variables to friendship?  How is friendship someone from your culture different from a friendship between someone who is not?
 Link to Sites/Articles: Good Friends Are Good for You
Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

Hanging Out in Hyehwa

Koreabridge - Wed, 2014-09-17 04:10
Hanging Out in Hyehwa Once the center of Seoul's art and music scene, Hyehwa is a neighborhood bursting with creativity and youthful energy. The area is situated in the northeastern part of the capital and is also known as Daehangno, a nickname derived from dehag, or "university," because of its close proximity to a number of learning institutes.

Over the past decade, Hongdae has garnered the reputation of being Seoul's SoHo, lessening Hyehwa to a mere a notch in the history of the city's culture boom. Today, it remains off the radar to most tourists and is even overlooked by locals. Nevertheless, it remains to thrive as Seoul's theater district- with over 80 independent theaters showing performances on a daily basis- and is brimming with diverse, inexpensive eateries, eye-catching cafes and greenspaces to boot. The neighborhood, while seemingly typical on the surface, is one of surprises. It just takes a bit of digging to discover them.





Caffeine is an essential component to the start of any day and the best place to get it in Hyehwa is b2project. Part cafe, part gallery, this cozy space is a haven for both coffee lovers and design aficionados. Enter the first floor, place your beverage order and take in the cafe's tasteful decor. Colorful paintings adorn the walls and quirky lighting fixtures hang from above, while miss-matched chairs and tables create a comfortable environment for studying or reading a book. Before you go, take a look at the gallery downstairs, which features an array of modern Scandinavian furniture. If you've got money to burn, you can purchase the wares on display, which start at a whopping one million won ($1,000USD).



Now that you're properly energized, follow the signs up the hills to Naksan Park, one of my favorite places to get a bit of fresh air in the city. The park itself offers some incredible views of downtown Seoul from the city's fortress wall, but the real highlight is the collection of sculptures and murals that decorate its paths that wind into the low-income residential area of Ihwa-dong.



The urban art, a beautification initiative of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, is unique in that rather than being a contrast to the dilapidated buildings that line the streets, it blends so that it appears as if the installations and paintings are at one with the spots they occupy. In my opinion, the decrepit characteristics combined with the personalized art make this part of the area far more charming than the affluent but sterile neighborhoods south of the river.



Wind your way back down to Hyehwa Station for lunch. Hidden on a side street in a renovated hanok is Zzimmani. This quaint yet modern restaurant serves up tasty Korean fare and offers some fantastic lunch specials. Everything on the menu is good but the moksal barbecue deopab (BBQ rice bowl), a mound of steamed rice covered in juicy, charcoaly meat and greens, keeps me going back on every visit to the area. The entrees are served with loads of fresh unlimited banchan (side dishes), which include a chicken salad, atypical of a Korean spread. An added bonus is the ridiculously cheap price: each set costs about 7,000 won ($7USD)!



Zzimmani's duenjang jiggae (bean paste soup) with fresh and healthy sides.

No trip to Hyehwa would be complete without shopping. The neighborhood is cluttered with cheap clothing shops, most of which carry the same trends sold in Dongdaemun, but are far more organized. The downfall is that many vendors won't allow you to try on their wares before you buy them, but it's worth asking, anyway. Whenever I visit Hyehwa, I make a trip to 10x10, a multi-store that sells just about everything. The focus of the shop is on design and many of the lifestyle products for sale, which include clothes, bags, jewelry, candles, kitchenware and stationary, are designed by Korean artists. There's even a florist and gift-wrapping center in case you're shopping for someone other than yourself. But where's the fun in that, right?





My favorite 10x10 products have to be the travel goodies... everything you could possibly need for your next trip is here!
If you happen to visit Hyehwa on a Sunday, make your way toward Hyehwa Rotary for a taste of the Philippines. Many Filipino expats gather here, usually after mass at Hyehwa Catholic Church, to congregate, pick up hard-to-find snacks from the motherland and gorge on specialties such as pork adobo, lumpia (egg rolls) and pancit (Filipino noodles). The Filipino Market is small and the seating for the food stalls is limited but I've always been one to love sharing a table with strangers and this market is no exception. I also had one of the vendors hand-feed me one of her famous empanadas on a previous visit, a testament to the warmth and hospitality Filipinos are known for.



(Photo)
As the sun begins to set, street performers abound and one of the best places to see them in action is outside Hyehwa Station, Exit 2, or Marronnier Park. Recently renovated, the park is a nice open space that often hosts free performances and concerts. Weeknights are a bit calmer and the location is a peaceful place to relax after a long day of wandering.

There's no shortage of nightlife venues in Hyehwa and my all-time favorite hangout is Jazz Story, an obscure music bar. Shrouded in metal work, it seems as if a very talented and creative blacksmith had a heyday with the interior of the palce. Yet, for as industrial as the metal intends the bar to be, velvet-covered chairs, shelves of vinyl records, and clusters of candles create a cozy, romantic atmosphere. Drinks aren't anything to write home about, and there's a 5,000 won ($5USD) cover, but the live music performed by Jazz Story's house band every night of the week beginning at 8:30 (or 8 on Sundays) is more than worth it.





A newer favorite is Mix & Malt.  Opened only a few months, this homey bar uses fresh ingredients- many of which come straight from their garden- to concoct some of the best cocktails in the city. In addition to the classics, Mix & Malt also has some signature and seasonal specialties on the menu, like the Elderflower Mojito (11,000 won, $11USD). Presentation is also superb. Because so much effort is put into each drink, they take a bit longer than usual to make it to your table, so be prepared to wait. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to entertain yourself, from board games to a shuffleboard table. On the second floor, there is a fireplace... a feature I will definitely be returning for in the fall.


Mix & Malt's Elderflower Mojito and Hibiscus Mojito... perfect flavors for the summer. (Photo: Mix & Malt)
After a few rounds at Mix & Malt, you can easily catch the last train at nearby Hyehwa Station, or hail a taxi, as there's always one passing by. Either way, it's certain that you won't be gone for long. Hyehwa has that effect, and with the increasing trendiness of areas like Hongdae and Itaewon (and as such, increasing crowds), Hyehwa is convenient, enjoyable and comfortable alternative hang-out.

More Information (See Map Below)

b2project Address: Seoul Jongno-gu, Dongsoong-dong, Dongsung3-gil 6-6 (서울시 종로구 동숭동 동숭3길 6-6) Telephone: 02-6369-2900

Naksan Park Address: Seoul Jongno-gu, Dongsung-dong, San2-10

Zzimmani Address: Seoul, Jongno-gu, Myeongnyun 4(sa)ga, 117 Telephone: 02-744-6262

10x10 (텐바이텐) Address: Seoul Jongno-gu, Dongsoong-dong 1-7 (서울특별시 종로구 동숭동 1-7) Telephone: 1644-6030

Hyehwa Filipino Market Address: Seoul Jongno-gu Hyehwa-dong 58-2 (종로구 혜화동 58-2) Hours: Sun 9am-5pm Payment: Cash only

Marronnier Park Address: Seoul Jongno-gu Dongsung-dong, 1-124

Jazz Story Address: Seoul, Jongno-gu, DongSoong-dong 1-138 Telephone: 02-725-6537 Hours: Daily, 5pm-late

Mix & Malt Address: Seoul, Jongno-gu, Changgyeonggung-ro 29-gil, 3 (종로구 창경궁로 29길 3) Telephone: 02-765-5945 Hours: Mon-Thu 7:30am-2am; Fri-Sat 7:30pm-3am; Sun 7:30am-2am


Disclaimer: The above information is accurate and correct as of September 17, 2014.
Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching, unless otherwise noted. Content may not be reproduced without authorization.


Seoul Searching
www.MySeoulSearching.com

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by Dr. Radut