Naked News of the Day

I've been coughing and sneezing for a few days...

my colleagues convinced me to go to a hospital nearby, to get a shot. Of course, it wasn't going to be in my arm.

It was going to be in the butt-ocks.

The nurse on duty was more embarrassed than I was. I'm sure she had a story to tell her friends and family!

It started at the front desk when I amazed them by speaking in Korean. Not very good Korean, probably very difficult to understand Korean, but still enough Korean for them to understand that I was catching a cold and needed a shot.

Everything I said seemed to amuse everyone in the office.

First, we had to determine if I was supposed to take off my pants completely or not. Then, was I supposed to get on the table or not.

I was on the table, waiting for the shot. I asked, "아파요?" Meaning, "Will it hurt?" She laughed, saying it would not. I'll assume she was laughing at me for using the present rather than the future tense.

Anyway, I reminded her, "조심하세요!" "Be careful!" She laughed again.

She then administered the shot, then slapped my butt and rubbed it. I was going to ask "why" or to say "don't touch like that!" but decided to wait...

She stopped but didn't say anything. I asked, "끝났어요?" Meaning, "Is it over?"

Then it wasn't just the nurses laughing. I heard the doctor on the other side of the curtain also laughing.

I went to the front desk, took a picture of the two nurses then said good-bye.

Unfortunately, for the world and my enemies, there is no video from the visit...

* * *

Speaking of Naked News...

According to the Korea Herald: "After all of the circus hoopla and controversy surrounding the launch of the Korean version of the Naked News franchise, its existence now hangs by a pithy thread as production came to a screeching halt since July 23 - just one month after its inception. The problem? Money."

"Nine of the anchors have yet to be paid for their work during the month the service has been up, while the channel has ceased operations, leaving 260,000 paid subscribers hanging, according to local reports.

"The problem began when management of the Naked News Korea branch requested its anchors contracted to present news semi-nude - in lingerie and bikini tops - to strip down completely for its pay-for-play adults-only version."

I recently commented on a report that 98 percent of Korean workers fired recently are women.

* * *

Facial Massage

After starting the day with a shot in the butt, I ended it with a facial massage at a place in the Jamsil area. It was a free offer for my colleagues. I understand enough Korean that I caught on to what the visitors were offering.

So I got in on it. One of the tough things about not speaking and understanding the language is that I'm sure that I miss out on free stuff and good deals all of the time.

For more than an hour I got my face massaged and got one of those masks put on it. I did ask them to snap some photos of myself. I knew this would be a one-and-done deal for me.

Don't bother asking, I'm not posting the photos online. I will still do some public speaking in America, I'd hate to be speaking at a forum and have one of my critics include the shots in his or her Powerpoint presentation.

* * *

North Korean propaganda, from the South

As I mentioned yesterday, if I believe the South Korean media then South Korea is crumbling.

North Korea apparently has also taken notice:

"North Korean state TV has aired South Korean footage edited to highlight social and economic problems in the far richer South in a rare move apparently aimed at quashing rumors among the North's impoverished people that the rival country is better off.

"Shabby houses in slum areas, the homeless and jobless, and citizens expressing grievances toward the government were shown in 10 minutes of footage broadcast Wednesday night and monitored by The Associated Press in Seoul. The clip was culled from South Korean TV programs and logos of southern networks like KBS and MBC were visible on screen."

Next, North Korea may report that South Korean women in their 50s are suffering from stress. This is in addition to recent stories about the country's low birthrate, kids insulting their parents, Korean males wanting to run away from home.

* * *

I (Still) Believe North Korea!

No matter what the South Korean media says about the seized South Korean boat, I will believe the North Korean version of events. Here's a slightly controversial article I published back in 1997 about North Korea always telling the truth.

I posted it on a leftist discussion group back in 1997. I may still be getting letters from people who want me to know I'm not that great of a guy and that I'm not very intelligent. Those are not the exact words they used, by the way...

* * *

More Golden Arches, not Food Aid

I'll buy a Big Mac meal (or a Southwest Salad) for the first person who can show me a country where there is both (1) hunger and (2) McDonald's restaurants.

I mention that because today's Korea Times has an AFP piece reporting that: "World Falling Short on Emergency Food Aid."

Emergency Food? Can you beat McDonald's when it comes to emergency food? You can eat hot food for $1. In South Korea, I can eat Kimbab and other Korean food 24 hours a day.

The intro to the story: "The United Nations food aid agency said Wednesday it will be forced to cut programs even as hunger soars amid the global economic crisis because pledged donations have failed to materialize."

Governments are always trying to figure out how to feed their people. My suggestions: (1) reduce barriers to agricultural imports (2) welcome companies like McDonald's.

That is, if they really want their people to eat. If not, carry on as before waiting for food drops.



Good news that is also bad

If I took the Korean newspapers seriously then I would have to believe that Korean society has fallen apart.

* * *

Jeon to tackle low birthrate
Anti-Mom Community Shocks Bloggers

Minister for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs Jeon Jae-hee yesterday expressed
her strong will to tackle the falling birthrate and the aging of society.
"When I think about the issue of low birthrates, I feel a flame burning on
my back," said the minister in a press meeting arranged to mark her first year
in the office.
The Korean government wants to do something about the low birthrate. What, mandate that Korean couples listen to Barry White or Marvin Gaye music all night?

After reading what some Korean youngsters have been saying about their moms I'm thinking that the birthrate is already too high...

And what would the fathers who want to leave home have to say if they had their own blogs to vent? Actually, I suspect that some of the kids who were attacking their moms were actually disgruntled fathers...

* * *

School Principal, Couch Accused of Extortion

"Senior figures at a Busan elementary school have been accused of coercing parents into paying them cash bribes, known here as 'chonji.'" The school principal and baseball team coach were engaging in the extortion on a regular basis, according to MBC TV. Some parents said they also offered them meals and other treats, with one parent saying he even bought sex for the coach, showing a bill for 1.9 million won ($1,535).
$1,535 for sex? And he had the bill showing he had paid for it?

* * *

Tips on speed reading commentaries

I'll admit it, I skipped through this Korea Times piece about racism. It is easy to do that with most commentaries. Here's the trick:

* Read the first paragraph. A good writer will set the table for you in that first paragraph.
* Read the first and last sentences of other paragraphs. A good writer will start each paragraph with the key point and the last sentence in the paragraph will wrap up the point and transition to the next paragraph. Of course, some writers are so long-winded that the paragraph may be one long sentence.
* If there's a paragraph that looks interesting then read that one in full.
* Read the last two lines of the commentary. The writer should bring it all together.

Everything else in the commentary is just filler that can be safely skipped.

The writer of this article argues in one of the paragraphs that "[t]he racist has a self-loathing of his or her own race and low self-esteem."

Perhaps. Perhaps not. Another explanation that has nothing to do with race: People enjoy using the boot of government to control other people.

Let's look at the intro for just a second:

"The arrest of eminent American Black Professor Henry L. Gates has got America talking about racism and the police."

Editors always want a current news hook for opinion pieces. The author mentions the arrest of Harvard professor Gates--then doesn't mention it or him again. That was the best way for the author to talk about what he wanted to talk about anyway while trying to connect it to something in the news.

"Was the policeman racist or not. In my mind this incident has ignited a question of far more panoramic dimensions. Why are people racist?"

Meaning, what he is saying is not really related to anything in the news. When a writer addresses "panoramic dimensions" then you can be sure there is no real news hook and it may not be relevant to anything specific...

* * *

Good or bad news?

It is not a good idea to spend too much time looking at statistics. As Peter Bauer argued in an essay I read years ago, a cow has more value to a nation's GDP than a child.

During the mid-1990s the Korean government cracked down on Koreans growing abroad. A number of reasons were given: Koreans were draining the nation's resources by purchasing items abroad. Korean companies were suffering as a result. Korean tourists had become notorious around the world. Either the Korea Times or Herald even suggested that Koreans would need government permission when traveling abroad to cut down on "overconsumption."

So I suppose today's story about the decrease in the number of Koreans traveling overseas is good news!

"The number of Koreans traveling overseas in the first half of the year plunged a record 31.9 percent from a year ago due to economic malaise and the weak won. According to a report by the state-run Korea Tourism Organization, the number of outbound Korean travelers dropped to 4.47 million from 6.57 million a year ago."

But this is good news in the sense that you got rid of a hanging fingernail by cutting off your finger.

As the Korea Times continues:

This is the worst growth rate of travelers leaving the country in ten years, the report said. Korea saw negative growth of 41.1 percent in 1998 when the country suffered from the Asian financial crisis.
So, to reduce the number of Koreans traveling abroad the solution is simple: wreck the national economy so nobody has extra cash to go anywhere.

This is the kind of good news/bad news that confuses intellectuals and politicians who spend too much time looking at statistics. A lot of Americans who couldn't wait to get rid of immigrants probably weren't sure if they should celebrate when it was clear the immigrants had left because there weren't jobs.

On the other hand, keeping more Koreans in Korea could
(1) increase the birthrate
(2) get more fathers to leave home
(3) have more kids feeling like slaves to their parents.



What if...

According to both English language papers in Korea: 2 of 3 Men Feel Urge to Flee From Home.

A poll by online recruiter Career said 66 percent of working men in their 30s
and older have felt the urge to flee from their homes and escape today's reality
in the past year due to suffocating economic difficulties. Forty-something men
turned out to have the strongest desire to run away with more than 72 percent of
them saying they wanted to take off, while men in their 30s followed next with
64 percent.

1) What percentage are actually leaving?
2) The survey I want to see is: what percent of their wives would like to see them leave.

* * *

What if....Jon Huer actually made a point?

Regular Korea Times contributor Jon Huer has some haters. I don't count myself among them yet. In the three weeks I have been reading his columns I find myself wondering why (1) he bothered to write (2) I bothered to read.

Writers typically write to motivate readers, to inform them, or to get them to change the way they think. Huer says a lot, but not concisely. The musings don't get to a significant point. He does address many points, but in the way a salesman may approach the door of a potential client and talk without actually knocking on the door.

Today, he writes a "what-if" column about the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates. I'm not saying an opinion writer should always avoid asking "what-if" questions, but I will say that it is the journalistic equivalent of taking a survey and then reporting on the survey as if it were major news. What-ifing when there is an actual case to be addressed is for children and intellectuals.

* * *

Kim Seong-kon of Seoul National University opines that Korea's public education system has failed.

He quotes and notes:

* public school teachers say they can't control their students.
* private institute teachers are much more responsive, even calling when a child is late or absent for class.
* Koreans are beginning do ask: "Why do we need school when hagwon [private institutes] can do a better job?"

1) This should be another bloom off the rose when it comes to those who hail the success of public education in South Korea.
2) In America, it is said to be a right-wing conspiracy or an attempt to keep people stupid by questioning if public education has failed.

Kim concludes: "Such questioning shows that our public education system has largely failed and been utterly defeated by the more competent hagwon. Our secondary schools, which have degenerated into a battlefield for the college entrance exam and ideological warzone between radical and conservative teachers, are insolvent enterprises that need radical overhauling and restructuring in order to survive.

"Although Obama recently praised Koreans' unusual zeal for education, it is undeniable that our public education system is plagued by chronic problems. Hagwon thrive because people no longer trust public education. But the fever for hagwon is not normal. Hagwon entail many serious problems as their primary purpose is monetary profit, not education. We need to resuscitate our moribund public education system that has gone in the wrong direction for far too long.

* * *

75 ways to make your life better

The papers could have done a public service by actually listing the 75 ways.

* * *

I didn't grow up on a farm so one thing it takes some time getting used to in Korea is seeing the actual bodies of the various food I eat. Here's a photo from a "Buy Korean Food" event in Seoul yesterday.

In a related story, foreign travelers have fewer opportunities to eat Korean food at luxury hotels. Of course, the next complaint would be that foreign travelers skip Korea because they must eat Korean food at luxury hotels.

I guess not every hotel can be the COEX hotel. I went there a week or two ago, they had four menu options at 50,000 won each: Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and...Indian?



C-I-L-L my landlord

So the building manager/landlord went into my room twice yesterday. I guess I should feel thankful.

1) The manager/landlord and one of my managers at work went into my room to receive the delivery of my washing machine. It was very nice of them to stay there while it was installed!

Very nice, indeed! I just wish I had known....especially after being told that no one could get into my room...

2) Then, later, the manager/landlord went into my room to leave a package sent from Mongolia. To the best of my recollection I don't know a single person from Mongolia and haven't been in my new room long enough to have told anyone my address. Of course, the package wasn't for me, probably for the previous resident.

I'm expecting my manager/landlord to go back into my room today to retreive the package...

Images by Tyrone Greene ... (Eddie Murphy on Saturday Night Live)

Dark and lonely on the summer night.
Kill my landlord, kill my landlord.
Watchdog barking - Do he bite?
Kill my landlord, kill my landlord.
Slip in his window,Break his neck!
Then his houseI start to wreck!
Got no reason --What the heck!
Kill my landlord, kill my landlord.
C-I-L-L ...My land - lord ...Def!

{Thanks to a colleague of mine who found this on the Internet for me.}

* * *

Bad news!

When I saw the papers this morning I thought I would be able to c-i-l-l my landlord. According to the Korea Herald: [S Korean president] Lee prepares to pardon 1.5 million.

That would have been good news because I could c-i-l-l my landlord, then get pardoned for it. Unfortunately, he is only pardoning people convicted of economic crimes.

* * *

Sweet food

I love sweets. Sweet food. Sweet women. Sweet drinks.

Based on the recommendation of a friend I tried 고구마 돈가스 (go gu ma ton ga suh). It is sweet potato pork cutlet. Love it. Only problem is that the place I went in Myeongdong served it with cheese sewed in.


Former Mr. Choi Han-bit makes the cut (literally and figuratively)

Update, from the Chosun Ilbo: Choi Han-bit has become the first transgender individual to pass the first preliminary round of the Super Model Contest 2009 on July 2. "It's just the beginning. I do not live in vain hope. But if I can be happy and I can also do it..." Choi wrote on her blog on Wednesday. Choi is reported a graduate of the School of Dance at the Korean National University of Arts. According to SBS, over 1,200 people applied to this year's Super Model Contest. Only 160 passed the document screening, and only 50 people, including Choi, passed the first preliminary round. The second preliminary round on July 28 will leave 32 candidates for the final round, which will be held in Geoje, South Gyeongsang Province, on Sept. 25.

Previous blog entry

24 million comrades served daily!

* Average [South] Korean Turning Overweight
* N. Korea Opens 1st Fast-Food Restaurant

I predicted more than a decade ago that if North Korea ever allowed McDonald's to open a branch that it wouldn't be long before NPR and South Korean media/intellectuals complained about North Koreans becoming overweight (as opposed to those who eat grass to keep from starving).

I'm sticking by that prediction:

According to the Korea Times: "South Korea used to be known as a nation of slim people thanks to its diet of fruits and vegetables. But the reputation has become a thing of the past as a growing number of Koreans are becoming obese due to the widespread popularity of high-calorie and high-fat Western foods, as well as a lack of exercise."

In unrelated news, N. Koreans who have been eating grass may finally have a chance to eat fast-food. As the Korea Herald reminds us: "North Korea suffers from chronic food shortages, with private analysts saying that about 1 million people may have starved to death during the famine of the late 1990s."

1) Will South Koreans advise North Koreans to stop while they are ahead?
2) I'm not saying I believe that South Koreans are overweight. Apparently some sharp looking people are overweight according to the BMI scale.
3) The Korea Herald reports on the BMI of Asians. Does that mean there are different BMIs based on race or nationality? Would that mean that an Asian person judged by the Asian BMI could be "normal" or underweight if judged by the American or some other standard? I would expect a rush of Asian women moving to America so they could be considered slim just by landing on American soil and later getting American citizenship.
4) What's the name of the restaurant? Dear Leader's Burgers?
5) In addition to opening a McDonald's in downtown Pyongyang, I've also recommended that South Korea and other countries send perishable food to North Korea rather than rice or other food that can be diverted to the military.

* * *

Americans love to sing!!!

I went to a language exchange gathering yesterday. It was a lot of fun. First, we read and discussed an article in English. Then broke up into different groups to study different languages (Korean, German, Japanese). Then, after that, we went out to sing.

Before going out to sing some of the Koreans were telling me how much Americans love to sing. My point: I don't think Americans in America love to sing. But it is probably more likely that an American in Korea will learn to love to sing.

Using the same reasoning, it makes sense to say that Americans love Korean food. Of course, some Americans who have never been to South Korea absolutely love Korean food. But an American who stays in Korea will either (1) already love it (2) grow to love it (3) breakdown and get used to it.

It is the old issue of self-selection. People who choose a place or activity will be more likely to enjoy it than those who don't. Finally, it clicked for them all: Ah, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

* * *

Swing, swing, swing my baby!

I went out dancing Saturday night. I finally have the basic steps down. I have now moved on to stage two: stop looking at my feet. Then, I can move on to stage three: leading my dancing partners. Right now I am still tentative but later I'm going to be the most arrogant swing dancer in history.

Swing Baby by Park Jin Young!

* * *

* Lee Renews Call to Cut Private Tutoring Costs
* Court Rules Against Tuition Ceiling

South Korea's president continues the government's decades long war against private education.

A court in Seoul has ruled against tuition ceilings.

The money quote:

``With public education failing to provide better services than private cram schools, lessons from private cram schools are as important as public education. As such, setting a uniform restriction on hagwon bills goes against freedom of education protected under the Constitution.''

The judge added there are several factors that should be taken into account to determine appropriate tuition. ``Tuition should be set in accordance with market conditions, not a uniform guideline from authorities.''

The court then does what courts often do:
(1) rule so that no one is completely happy and
(2) guarantee that there will be future cases on the issue.

As the Korea Times adds: "But he also said exorbitantly high tuition should be subject to punishment as it may hamper social stability in education."

What is "exorbitantly?" Who will decide that? What happened to the price being set by the market? Based on what the Korea Times reported there will be future cases as government employees try to determine what is exorbitant.



Tips of the day

When you're moving to a new apartment in Seoul...

make sure you ask them how to turn on the hot water.

If you like cold showers then you don't have to worry about this.

If you don't mind just randomly plugging things in or turning knobs on different equipment then you can also disregard that tip.

I was in a bit of luck because I still had the key to the place I was moving out of so there was a happy ending. I felt like a rich man for a few hours, with two apartments within a 10 minute walk.

Which leads to tip #2, which may need to be tip #1: Before you completely move out of a place be sure to ask if anyone will be moving in immediately. If not, keep the key for another day or two until you are settled in the new place...


How not to get your ass beat by the police

The black president of the United States stupidly commented on the arrest of a black Harvard professor in his own home by a white police officer.

Some random thoughts and memories:

* I'm sure most people are still trying to figure out who Prof. Gates is. As G.K. Chesterton once wrote: "Journalism consists largely in saying 'Lord Jones is dead' to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive."

* Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said Gates' arrest was "every black man's nightmare."

Perhaps. But having a criminal in my house is even more of a nightmare. Also, having the president of the United States talk off the cuff about me about something he doesn't know is pretty bad. And getting shot by a cop after I escalated a situation would also be worse than getting arrested.

Anyway, I have had my own dealings with the police over the years:

* Back when I was a college student many many moons ago, one of my brothers and I got stopped by police in Brookline, MA. I remember it clearly: we were returning from a meeting with other students. Less than an hour later we were waiting for a police officer to get a description of armed suspects. We were let go without incident after the officer heard on his radio that they were looking for two dark-skinned blacks. The cop even waved to us a few minutes later when he saw us. I wrote about it in the Harvard Crimson, generating several angry calls from other black Harvard students. I remember one woman in particular was distressed by the article, telling me repeatedly that my article "wasn't helpful."

* Shortly after my family arrived in Massachusetts back in 1985, one day we stopped at a bookstore so my father could check on a book. We were parked on the street....a few minutes later, a cop walked up to the car, talking to my mother...

The cop said that someone had called 911 reporting that some black people were parked in front of the bank. As I recall, he said it was his duty to check it out, that he would say he had, and that was the end of it. I suppose we could have gone Gates-crazy on him, saying we had every right to be parked there, etc., that as black people we shouldn't be questioned about where we park legally (or not, I really don't recall that).

* I wrote a few years ago about helping to stop a white guy from beating up his white girlfriend or wife. I remember at one moment hoping the police would show up so they could do their duty...but also being scared to death they would show up at another moment as we (five, maybe six black men) were manhandling that one skinny white guy with his white girlfriend bruised, beaten and crying a short distance away. We would have been shot on sight, then asked questions if we had survived.

What bothered us the most that night is that the cop initially treated us like we had done something wrong and the folks at the hotel weren't much better.

* Parenthetically, a Washington Post columnist (inaccurately) wrote about the rescue in front of the Mayflower Hotel a short time later. Every time I've been part of an organization or activity that has been written about in the newspaper I've wondered how they could get so many facts wrong. As Erwin Knol wrote: "Everything you read in newspapers is absolutely true, except for that rare story of which you happen to have first-hand knowledge."

* A few years ago I had to rush home when the alarm system went off at my home in Centreville, VA. As I approached my home, I called the police and ADT (the alarm system) to let them know I was almost home and would be going inside to check on the alarm...I didn't want to get shot while I was turning off the alarm in my home...

I really should not have had to call to make sure I would not get shot in my own home, I know. But I did call.

I'm more concerned with my safety than I am with making a political or public policy point.

* Two days before I left America earlier this month I was pulled over by a cop in Falls Church, VA. I had gone through a stop-sign trap leading off the main road onto a service road. I guess I should have gone Gates-crazy on him. But it wasn't a good situation for me. Driving a rental. Didn't have the rental car info. I asked for a warning, told him I was leaving the country soon. The cop issued me a warning, wished me well.

* One night when I was out with some other members of the Harvard Crimson, one top editor (who is now somewhat prominent) had a bright idea that we should trash the Harvard Lampoon. Which we did. Very long story kept short, we got caught by some members of the Lampoon. The Cambridge police were called (every Harvard student, regardless of race, prefers dealing with the Harvard rather than Cambridge police), we argued in front of the cops for an hour or so before the business manager of the Crimson agreed to pay for the damages. The cops let us all go after a short lecture.

* I still take my cue from Richard Pryor when it comes to cops..."I'M REACHING INTO MY POCKET FOR MY LICENSE. BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO BE NO MUTHAFUCKING ACCIDENT."


Booker Rising links to the Chris Rock guide to "how not to get your ass beat by the police."

linked by Doctorbulldog, Flopping Aces, Warning Signs, Dissecting Leftism, timebomb2000,


Dancing like it's 1989

Thursday night, my colleagues called me to join them for dinner, drinks, then noraebang 노래방. We wrapped up after 2 a.m.

I pulled out some of my favorite dance moves from yesteryear...

one of my colleagues was mesmerized, after a few more beers he decided to give it a try...

I was casually dressed in a t-shirt, shorts, sandals. Still, I pulled off some of the dance moves.

I don't know if he was wearing his tie when he started dancing, it seemed that he was moving too fast for it to keep up with him. It was agreed that he didn't come close to doing the dance as well as I did. It has been 20 years so I could do them in my sleep.

At about 2:30 a.m. in the morning, as we were waiting for a driver to pick him up and take him home, he continued trying the dance in a parking lot nearby, asking me to do it again so he could follow my lead.

He thought the dance moves were so hip. I didn't have the heart to tell him that the dances are at least 20 years old. If the Running Man suddenly is big in Korea then I'm taking credit for it...



Random scenes in Seoul

Yesterday morning I stopped by to buy some kimbab 김밥 at one of the places that sells rolls for 1,000 won (about $.80, depending on how much the Korean or U.S. government have screwed up their respective currencies).

I stop by there often so of course the woman there recognizes me. Of course, they probably recognized me from the first time I went there...

Yesterday, she asked in Korean if I liked tan mu gi 단무지. I said yes, that I loved it.

As I was trying to pay, she hurriedly cut some up right then, then fed it to me, like I was a 6 year old child...

I could see everyone in the shop watching...

then, I said, "맛있어요!" delicious!

I could see everyone smiling. I'm surprised they didn't start applauding.

* * *

Friendly fights

Saw a funny fight the other day. Two guys in a restaurant were wrestling with each other, knocking over at least one table. I watched, not really interested in getting involved. They could be two friends fighting over a woman or for some other reason, but they might unite against me. The best way to end a civil war is to have an outsider come in and try to break them up.

An older Korean then went rushing over from a different restaurant to yell at them to stop.

Which they did.

They then walked outside. I watched for a minute...they started staring at each other, as if they were ready to fight again...

one of the fighters then handed his opponent his fellow pug a cigarette and lit it for him.

Too bad, I thought, that it wasn't an exploding cigarette. They seemed to talk a little, still eyeing each other before they took a seat. I then left, sure that they started fighting again a few minutes later...

Friends don't let friends drive drunk PSA

I told the story about the rassling match I had seen to a Korean colleague. He said I was right, they could have been friends just having too much to drink, no reason to get involved.

He then told a story from his drinking days (which I don't think have really ended). A friend of his way past drunk was determined to drive home. My colleague tried to get the keys from him but the guy wouldn't listen.

So my colleague wound up and absolutely leveled his friend in the face. That then started a tremendous fight between the two of them. My colleague said he was winning and had his friend on the ground and almost had the keys...

until his body suddenly remembered that it was drunk, at which point he threw up on his friend.

I suggested that would be a great Public Service Announcement...two guys fighting over the car keys, with a friend doing his best to rassle the keys away from his even more drunk friend before throwing up all over him.

Then, the voiceover: "If you drink and try to drive, a friend could beat you up and throw up all over you. So give up the keys."



Korea Fighting!

Years ago I read an article about a man who kept a detailed diary about his life. I think it was 70 years of diaries. Nothing was too insignificant for him to mention.

I remember reading it and wondering, "Yeah, but will anyone ever read those boxes of diaries about him going to the bathroom?"

I guess he often wrote about himself writing...

These days I'm having the opposite problem...

I'm living it up so much that I don't have time to write...

Can you really enjoy life and record it all?

If I had time I would blog about...

* going swing dancing
* getting treated at the Kkunnori restaurant in Jamsil by two friends who insist I'm the luckiest man alive because I know them.
* then getting treated to an hour or two at the Luxury noraebang near Kkunnori.
* the "call" button in Korean restaurants
* Koreans ordering too much food whenever they eat together
* Meeting with Gong Byeong Ho (공병호) for the first time in 10 years.
* how damn energetic Seoul is
* how much fun it is drinking here. I'm sure you can have fun here without drinking, but it would be like going to Vegas without gambling.
* myself being too cheap to buy a real camera.
* and being too cheap to buy myself a new computer (the good thing is that I'm out cruising Seoul instead of cruising the Internet)
* and being too cheap to even buy a new iPOD.....noticing a pattern here?
* drinking Strawberry soju last night--wasn't much soju in it and/or I'm getting used to the taste of soju
* the centers in subways where you can recharge your phone for free (as long as they can find the rechargers)

From today's newspapers

* the hilarious brawls Korean politicians are having--over legislation. If the nation's security were at risk then I could understand the brawls.
* The government is looking for a new slogan. My latest suggestion: Korea Fighting! As in, Korea fighting Japan, Korea fighting history, Korea fighting for its image, S Korea fighting N Korea, Korea fighting itself...
* the South Korean president told the national assembly he won't intervene in the legislation. I guess he doesn't want to rassle with anyone.
* The hilarious fight I saw yesterday between two Korean friends inside a restaurant.
* Seoul inviting Korean war veterans--a gesture I support, but that goes against those in tourism who don't want Korea to be pictured as a war-torn country
* the smoking rate increasing among Korean men--I wonder if it is really increasing or because the government crackdown has slowed that more are willing to admit it again
* yesterday's solar eclipse...an alert friend sent me a text telling me it was about to happen, my co-workers all risked going blind....
* Koreans are trying to polish their image...but advertising on CNN for a week is a mistake, they should go with Fox News or a different channel that people actually watch.
* the 34th annual forum hosted by the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry...is a 35th really necessary?
* Non-Koreans often complain about some signs not being in English, but Koreans and the Korean government go out of their way to accommodate English speakers
* The Korean government is determined to get Koreans out of their cars and onto bicycles...not sure how the chicks who always insist on wearing high heels will adapt. Plus, the monsoon season might not be the best time to promote such a policy.
* I actually agree with criticism from a Chinese newspaper that the NBA season is too long--the NBA should stop acting like this is the 1950s with teams stopping in different cities different nights, instead have teams stop in different cities for 3 or 4 games a week in one city like baseball.

But then, if I blogged about all of those things then who would read them all?



We are the World!

Politicians constantly tell their constituents that they will fight for them.

I believe these folks!



Chicks in Taiwan

Judo master!





Sri Lanka



Alabama Senate fight


If more Korean women get fired?

Just about every day the Korea Times and Herald have photos of cute Korean women in them. Who will replace them in the pages of the Korea Times and Herald if more women get fired? As I noted yesterday, 98 percent of the workers let go have been women. My recommendation? The politicians who crafted the policy resulting in so many being fired should take their places as models for products.

How long until they get arrested? Not long enough!!!

As I recently noted, some executives were arrested for putting industrial ethanol in food they sold. I noted: "Of course, it seems that NO ONE checks on the stuff sold on the streets of Seoul..."

I haven't been this wrong since 1982!

What will happen to these folks?

The Korea Times reports: 24 Percent of Ice Cream Contaminated With Germs
About a quarter of ice cream and ice at restaurants and drink shops in Seoul is
contaminated with high levels of bacteria that can cause food poisoning,
according to Seoul City, Monday.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG)
inspected 74 ice cream shops, fast food franchises, coffee houses and bakeries.
Among the shops selling ice cream and ice, 18 shops sold products that contained
more than the permitted levels of bacteria such as colon bacillus and
staphylococcus aureus that can cause food poisoning.
I love 팥빙수 (patbingsu) so I would support the death penalty for anyone selling contaminated stuff in it.

The city government also inspected ``patbingsu,'' or shaved ice topped with fruits and red beans, at 24 bakeries and fast food chains. Among those, nine were found to be using bacteria-contaminated shaved ice. In these cases, SMG applied the same standards as for ice cream as it does not have separate standards for shaved ice.

linked by Blogrunner (New York Times)

Korean slang

Slang I've heard from Koreans in the last few days.
Translation, anyone?

멍 때렸어
seems to mean that something "went over my head" or "I was out of my mind for a few minutes" ....(I've been warned not to use this phrase....so I will write it 100 times until I memorize it)

먹을 복이 있다
You seem to be lucky about showing up when it is time to eat.

썰렁 하다
Your joke was so bad that you froze the room.


Show Your Smile

Wonkwang University to Open Smile Clinic

So reports today's Korea Times.

Wonkwang University will open up a Smile Clinic in August. The facility will develop a program that will help find the best-fitting smile for individuals, said Dong Jin-keun, a professor in the dentistry school of the southwestern Iksan-based university.

``In ancient times, a good smile gave off an image of self-confidence and made others feel comfortable, securing a high social status for the family,'' Dong said. ``It is an expression of a person's confidence and consideration, so don't use it sparingly,'' the professor said.

Practicing smiling can lead to visible improvements, with as little as three minutes in front of a mirror every morning being effective. Practicing both small and big smiles are recommended, Dong said.

* * *

Show Your Smile by Kim Gun Mo (김건모), 1994.

Prince, Michael Jackson and James Brown--1983

They say bad things come in threes. I hope Prince is feeling well these days.

Personal property in Korea

Learning the language makes a big difference

In today's Korea Herald, Alecia Widgiz reflects on her time in Korea. She notes:

"The respect for personal property is fantastic in Korea. In Canada you could not leave posters or personal property out over night, because they tend to get destroyed."


When I was first in Korea many moons ago, I noticed that Korean street vendors and store owners would leave items outside over night. The only "security" was a blanket or vinyl covering.

A few days ago I was with a colleague who left his car running with the keys inside. I warned him, but he said, "No problem. This is Korea. Nobody will take it." I was tempted to hop inside to go joy-riding just to prove my point. We came back a few minutes later, the car was still there.

By the way, even though Korean store owners will leave items out over night, I did notice this morning that there are locks on the tanks where live fish and other future seafood are swimming around. So people won't steal fruit but they'll open a tank to steal live fish?

On a serious note, I read a study years ago explaining why people who live in America's inner cities pay more for food than people in suburbs. In addition to a host of other reasons (increased cost of security, hazard pay for drivers in dangerous areas, delivery trucks having to make more stops at mom-and-pop stores instead of one stop at larger department stores), one point was that store owners could not utilize space outside their stores because people were likely to walk off with the items. Once again, innocent people must pay more because of the actions of criminals.


The good old days that weren't so good

"A system where you can't live but you can't leave is the definition of hell."
--Christopher Hitchens, on North Korea

World disregards N.K. labor camps

That's what Blaine Harden of the Washington Post is saying. It seems that the real point is that the world doesn't know what to do about the N.K. labor camps. Lunactics with weapons are keeping their own folks hostage and they've got a huge army ready to attack a civilized country south of it.

A few days ago there was a different story...about N.K. refugees who had escaped to South Korea talking about missing North Korea. Of course, not enough to return...

This reminds me of the point I've heard from blacks about the good old days of Jim Crow. Again, of course, I haven't heard blacks talking about wanting to return to those days...


Free Food

"Were we directed from Washington when to sow, when to reap, we should soon want bread."
--Thomas Jefferson

* * *

According to the Korea Herald: Korea struggles with rising cost of food

Another headline for the article could be, "Korean farmers benefit from government intervention in agriculture."

Here are my suggestions:

1) Drop trade barriers and quotas on agriculture for a year. Of course, continue with safety inspections. Korea would be flooded with food, cheaper food, from around the world. Again, continue with safety inspections.

2) Work out a deal so that American farmers paid to destroy food and not farm some land to keep prices down instead can ship it to South Korea. But would South Korea accept such "food dumping"?


By the way, here is the table of contents of the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement. It may be the best I can expect when governments agree on "free" trade. Managed trade would seem to be more accurate.


Sections and their page lengths: Agriculture: 25 pages long.
Rules of Origin and Origin Procedures: 105 pages
Textiles and Apparel: 41 pagesInvestment: 35 pages.
Final services: 25 pagesTelecommunications: 35 pages
Government Procurement: 16 pages
Intellectual Property Rights: 34 pages
Environment: 9 pages
Institutional Provisions and Dispute Settlement: 14 pages
Annex (Korea): 60 pages
Annex (United States): 16 pages
Tariff Schedule (Korea): 224 pages

Of course, there are a lot of controls in the "Free Trade" agreement.

Such as: "A person that supplies leasing, rental, maintenance, repair, sales, and disposal services related to construction machinery and equipment must establish an office in Korea."
"A person that supplies automobile management services (which includes used car sales, maintenance, repair, and disposal services) must establish an office in Korea and obtain authorization from the head of the si/gun/gu (municipal authorities) , which is subject to an economic needs test, as appropriate. "
"A person that supplies automobile inspection services that is designated as a “designated repair facility” must establish an office in Korea."
"A person that supplies license plate manufacturing, delivery, and seal services that is designated as a “license plate issuing agency” must establish an office in Korea."
"A person that supplies tobacco wholesale (including importation) or retail distribution services must establish an office in Korea."
"Foreign persons may not: (i) invest in an enterprise engaged in rice or barley farming; or (ii) hold 50 percent or more of the equity interest of an enterprise engaged in beef cattle farming."
"Only a natural person that is a licensed an-gyung-sa (optician or optometrist) that has established an office in Korea may engage in optician or optometry services."
"An an-gyung-sa (optician or optometrist) may not establish more than one office."
"Only the Korea Railroad Corporation may supply railroad transportation services on railroad routes constructed on or before June 30, 2005."
"Only a Korean national may supply maritime pilotage services."
"In order to obtain a trucking business license from the Minister of Construction and Transportation, a domestic courier services supplier must establish an office in the relevant geographic area. Such a license is subject to an economic needs test."
"A foreign person, a foreign government, or a Korean enterprise owned or controlled by a foreign person that intends to conduct marine scientific research in the territorial waters or exclusive economic zone of Korea must obtain prior authorization or consent from the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries whereas a Korean national or a Korean enterprise not owned or controlled by a foreign person need only to provide notification to the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries."
"duties on originating goods provided for in the items in staging category U shall be subject to the following provisions
(1) for goods entered into Korea from December 1 through April 30, duties shall be eliminated entirely and such goods shall be duty-free on the date this Agreement enters into force; and
(2) for goods entered into Korea from May 1 through November 30, duties shall remain at base rates during years one through seven.
Beginning January 1 of year eight, duties shall be reduced in eight equal annual stages, and such goods shall be duty-free, effective January 1 of year 15;(i) duties on originating goods provided for in the items in staging category V shall be subject to the following provisions:
(1) for goods entered into Korea from May 1 through October 15, duties shall be removed in 17 equal annual stages beginning on the date this Agreement enters into force, and such goods shall be duty-free, effective January 1 of year 17; and
(2) for goods entered into Korea from October 16 through April 30, duties shall be reduced to 24 percent ad valorem on the date this Agreement enters into force. Beginning January 1 of year two, duties shall be removed in four equal annual stages, and such goods shall be duty-free, effective January 1 of year five;"
"Cinema operators must project Korean motion pictures for at least 73 days per year at each screen in Korea."etc.


It's a man's world

A reason for young Korean men to have sex changes

'Picking Only Women at Ewha Law School Unconstitutional'

According to the Korea Times, some male students have sued, claiming that Ewha Womans University Law School is discriminating against them because it won't allow them to attend. If I were representing Ewha in the case I'd suggest that due to the wonders of modern technology the men can still go to Ewha--if they have surgery to become women.

* * *

A reason for young Korean men NOT to have a sex change

Women in 30s Feel Greatest Squeeze in Job Market

The powers-that-be have focused their energies, apparently successfully, on helping senior citizens and young people stay employed. The result? According to the Korea Times: "Other statistics by the Korea Labor Institute showed that out of victims of job cuts between November 2008 and May this year, 98 percent were female workers."

Incredible! 98 percent of the people let go have been women.

For once, we can say that government policy truly worked as intended. I can see why those young Korean men are trying so hard to get into Ewha, Korea is clearly a woman's world.

* * *

The answer may be that you're a Korean woman in your 30s

The Korea Times asks today: Why Do You Feel Left Out of Ongoing Recovery?

As cited above: "Other statistics by the Korea Labor Institute showed that out of victims of job cuts between November 2008 and May this year, 98 percent were female workers."

* * *

Low Birthrate Hurts Formula Makers

Now that so many Korean women have been let go from jobs they may start having more babies again...

One thing about journalism is how issues are examined in isolation. Today the story is that Korea's birthrate has fallen. If it rises then the story will be that Korea is overpopulated. Or that the country's social services will go bankrupt in 2050. Or some other form of destruction that never quite occurs. And if the formula makers start making a lot of money then we'd be reading stories about them living the high-life as they rake in record profits.

* * *

James Brown: It's a Man's World!



Weekend roundup

Kim Heung-sook asks: "Who Needs New Bills?"

When I first saw the headline, I thought: I AGREE!!! In fact, I don't want or need ANY bills, whether old or new!

I have a dream job now...After a couple of days at work, one of the managers here told me to give him all of my bills, the company would take care of my expenses.

So I say...Who needs new bills!!! Who needs old bills!!!

Her essay is about the new 50,000 won bill. That's about 40 bucks. The next largest bill? 10,000 won. That's about 8 bucks.

* * *

Get a job!

In an LA Times piece trying to guilt California taxpayers and the governor to spend more on higher education in the state, Vincent J. Del Casino Jr. concludes by asking how he should explain spending cuts to his students: "Governor, any good one-liners I might use?"

I've written some speeches for some prominent people over the years, I'll give this one to the governor for free, "Get a job!"

* * *

The next borrowed word? Skinship!

Kwon Ye-mi writes in the Korea Times about Korean words that are now part of the English language. Her list: soju, kimchi, taekwondo, hapkido.

My favorite Korean word: skinship! It is still Konglish at this point, but one day it may grow up to become a word accepted in English.

* * *

That's the way he was!

Walter Cronkite, dead at 92. He retired 28 years ago. A co-worker thinks I'm the grim reaper because I was talking about Cronkite the day before he expired. Well, who knows, with the time difference, it could have happened just as he was passing away.

* * *

Everything I know about Rome could fit on a 3 x 5 index card...

I'm pretty sure that I had heard about Rome by the time I had turned 15...

According to the Korea Times, a 15-year-old has just written a book about Rome.

* * *

Speaking of teen achievements

An America teen just sailed around the world alone.

I'm reminded of the quote (I think by George Stigler) about Lindburg's solo flight across the Atlantic: Impressive. But it would have been even more so had he done it as part of a committee.

* * *

Korean Twitter

Not that I can do much with it now...

anyway, here's the site.

* * *

Breaking Food laws taken seriously

After Samdoo Food was found to have been putting industrial ethanol in their products we didn't just get a press release from PR regretting the error. According to the Korea Herald: "The chief executive of Samdoo Food was arrested and the head of Jeil Food is under investigation by its Criminal Investigation Office, officials said."

American trade reps have complained in the past about Koreans being tough on American food coming into the country. If the Korean government could arrest American farmers I'm sure they'd let more American products into the country.

Of course, it seems that NO ONE checks on the stuff sold on the streets of Seoul...

* * *

Latest Korean drinking custom I've learned

When someone offers to pour you a drink you are supposed to empty your glass before holding the glass for the person.

I won't name any names but one of our administrators/managers is especially good at this. I don't recall her ever saying she has had enough to drink, she quickly and eagerly empties her glass before receiving more...

* * *

Driving Drunks Home Program

Someone mentioned the name but I had already had a few drinks so I don't remember the Korean name.

I think it was Friday night that some Koreans who took me out called for someone to drive them home. The car owner told me that the driver would be there in 10 minutes. About 9 minutes and 45 seconds later a thin Korean man came running to us. Whatever is the Korean word for that program might be a good slogan for tourism...

I've heard about programs where someone else will drive you home and that you have to go get your car later, but the first time I've heard about calling drivers to drive YOUR car home...

It cost 20,000 won, which I guess is about 16 or 17 bucks.

Cheaper than a taxi considering the distance my buddies had to go.

* * *

I guess they were women...

Two rather shapely checks hitting the punching bag outside an arcade. After the story about the transsexual model I can only assume they were chicks. They didn't just hit the bag once, they went at it a few rounds.

One had a two-handed slam that would have done damage to any normal man...

I stood by watching, wishing I could take a photo...

* * *


I was out until late this morning. I got to see sunrise in the land of the morning calm...

The crowd that I saw at midnight was definitely different from the one I saw at 6 a.m.

I should have taken a shower last night, I'm sure my room and clothes all smell like cigarette smoke...

Went out swing dancing where there was no smoking, then hit the bars in Itaewon to increase the chances I'll get cancer from second-hand smoke.

Reminds of an apocryphal story from a friend:

Korean Doctor: You really have to quit smoking
American patient: But I don't smoke.
Korean Doctor: Then you need to leave Korea.

* * *

I'll have more to say about dancing swing, probably after I go again tonight...



Education in South Korea

The Marmot Hole links to an Atlantic Monthly post, Teaching Pays in South Korea.

A few random points from me.

1) Superstar Effect: There are many fields in which a handful of people make a lot of money while most people struggle even though there might not be much of a difference in their talent levels. In Hollywood, there are actors making millions while others are delivering pizzas. A major league baseball makes millions traveling around first class while a minor league baseball player who is just slightly less talented makes much less and travels on buses.

2) Man-Bites-Dog stories: Reporters naturally are more interested in stories about the exception rather than the rule. Some teachers in Korea reportedly make as much as $4 million a year. That's a story. Most teachers don't. Not a story and not worth blogging about, either.

3) Culture: When I was teaching in South Korea many moons ago, I often had parents offer me extra cash and gifts. This was in AFTER-SCHOOL programs. There were no grades being handed out. How many American parents are even suspected of bribing teachers? Seoul has yet another initiative to crack down on Korean parents who give extra cash to teachers.

4) CJL Archives: Here's a piece I wrote nine years ago for the Washington Post about private education in South Korea.


Today's roundup: Can't tell the womens from the mens!

* This chick was once a dude.

* Wouldn't that be something? The sexy supermodel of your dreams may have once been a guy.

* I suspect there are some Korean women wondering if they can have the same surgery to look like the former Mr. Choi.

The woman pictured on the left is now a contestant in a Super Model Contest in Korea. According to the Korea Times: "Choi Han-bit, 23, was among 50 participants selected from a list of 1,200 candidates at the preliminary stage of the contest on July 2. She still has to pass another preliminary on July 28 to be included in the final selection, but if she does, Choi will be Korea's first transsexual super model. A dance major at the Korea National University of Arts, Choi underwent a sex change operation in 2006, and was legally recognized as a woman by a court."

The article also mentions: "In 2005, before undergoing the sex change operation, she appeared in a television show as a man who was disguised as a woman."

* * *

Diet a great success!

I stepped up my diet plan last night, spending quite a bit of time walking around lost last night. I even showed the map (in Korean) to some Koreans who were pretty sure the place was nearby, but they weren't quite sure where it was.

I guess I should feel better. Yesterday when I was out looking for a new place to live I noticed that the real estate agent had trouble finding the location.

* * *

Today's National story of the day

"Teachers Come to Blows in Front of Students"

According to the Korea Times: "Two apparently inebriated high school teachers got into a fist fight in front of the school gates ― leaving onlooking students in a state of shock.The pair, who teach at a school Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province, are now facing disciplinary action after the incident, which occurred at around 6 p.m. on July 7, led to one of the alleged culprits taking time off due to the injuries he incurred, according to the provincial office of education.

"The drama unfolded as the teachers arrived back at the school after an argument developed at an event to mark final term examinations, the office said. But the verbal volleys quickly turned physical and a fight ensued at the school gates, the office added. Students who had stayed on campus to study were reportedly shocked, a report filed by the office said. The school is planning to file disciplinary action against the pair after the wounded teacher returns to work. The educational office said both had blamed the alcohol and each other for the incident. "

Unfortunately, there is no video of the incident.

* * *

They can call me as often as they want!

No Night Calls From Loan Sharks

I say that anyone who teaches them English should be sentenced to death.

* * *

Stop breaking the law, assholes!

One of the funnier scenes in the movie "Liar, Liar," was when the lawyer (played by Jim Carrey) shouted into the phone to one of his troublemaking clients, "stop breaking the law asshole."

Apparently there needs to be a line like that in the Korean Constitution. As noted in today's Korea Herald: "Crime surge mars Constitution Day."

"The number of minor offenses in the first half of this year rose by 24.1 percent to 473,936 cases from the 381,716 last year, the National Police Agency said yesterday.

"The greatest leap was in public order offenses, with 92,871 cases identified, a 67.1 percent rise from last year. The number of acts of violence under the influence of alcohol rose to 41,289 cases, a 62.8 percent rise. Traffic law violations also saw a 74 percent rise, from 1.18 million cases to 2.06 million cases. "



Land of the Drunken Tiger

The Korea Times and Korea Herald both report today that the nation's tourism slogan, "Korea, Sparkling," may be dropped.

The "branding chief" says that, and "Dynamic Korea" need to be replaced with another bland name that won't attract anyone. Those weren't his exact words, but that's what will happen.

Has Korea tourism ever had a slogan that would attract tourists? If so, why did they scrap it? It might be better to find something that works, and stick with that.

But with a "branding chief" in place, there is probably always someone under pressure to come up with a snazzy name. The branding chief's suggestion of "Miraculous Korea" sounds more like it is a religious cult.

I would guess cheap airline tickets would probably get more tourists to Korea. Cheap hotels would probably also attract more folks. Cool stuff to do? That's not clear before you get here what would be cool to do. Fixing the situation with North Korea might also help. Unfortunately, there are constantly headlines with North Korea threatening to turn South Korea into a "sea of fire" or some such thing. That is not attractive to tourists.

I'd recommend "Drunken Tiger" (which is also the name of a popular Korean singing group).
Last night I went out with my colleagues. We had great food and drinks before going out singing. I sang Gangsta's Paradise by Coolio in a mix of English and Korean.
I wish I could say some of us got drunk. It would be more accurate to say that the whole company got drunk. I'm not much of a drinker, but I did put away quite a bit of Yogurt Soju. They say it is a girlie drink, in which case I became a full-fledged woman last night based on the amount I drank.
How many are having the Korean soup Heh Jang Guk (해장국), which Koreans have after a night of heavy drinking? I usually get to work about an hour early. I got in about 30 minutes later than usual, I wasn't sure that anyone would be sober enough to open the door.
* * *

Cato Institute, in the Korean press

The Korea Herald reported on a forum held by my former colleagues at the Cato Institute. The Korea Times published an op-ed by Indur Goklany, author of various Cato Institute publications

* * *

WOW! Nice car!

This might help with tourism more than any slogans. Oh, and Kia Motors is launching a new hybrid.

First photo is from the Korea Herald. The second is from the Korea Times.


CJL on mini-speaking tour

Just when I thought I was done with American public policy...

I've been invited back to go on a mini-speaking tour in North Carolina sometime in September or October. I'll be speaking at 3 universities in 2 days.

I will also be going to Boston to attend a conference in Feb 2010.

Here's a taste of me speaking last year.


Job titles, birthday party

My colleagues are debating what title to give me. I've been wearing out the Korean-Language dictionary on my cell to find all kinds of wonderful, lofty titles.

One suggestion from someone with the power to make it happen: 연구소 소장. That is probably pronounced youn gu so so jang (meaning: Head of the Research Institute).

My pay won't change as a result of the title so I won't worry about it.

Also, I'm sure by the time everyone has given an opinion that I'll be downgraded to a lower position anyway once it is time to make the business cards...

* * *

The assistant director's birthday is today. We'll probably all go out to eat, drink, and then sing.

I was starting to get disappointed in Korea. I've been here for more than a week now and I've only gone out to sing once. That's even though I've already met with several groups of people.

I had assumed that I would spend so much in the karaoke places that I should buy karaoke stocks.

I won't be posting any video of myself singing, by the way, thanks for asking in advance, and will delete any such links that are posted here...

The Korean (and Japanese) style of Karaoke is a little different from America. Instead of singing on stage or in a bar surrounded by a bunch of drunken strangers, you sing in a small room with your drunken friends. The Korean word is 노래방 (noraebang).

* * *

By the way, I learned a long time ago not to take out Korean friends on my birthday. I fell for the trick years ago. In Korea, it is customary for the person who is celebrating a birthday to treat friends. That's right...your birthday, you pay. I learned the fact when I was out with friends many moons ago...

I wasn't particularly happy about it at the time when the bill came and they tried to convince me that I really had to pay it. I could understand their glee during the night as they ordered drinks, knowing they wouldn't have to pay. Some of them were trusted friends so I believed them...

Some later tried to slip me some cash but I refused, keeping my pride and not having any other money to spend for a few weeks...


It also has the fastest delivery men...

The Korea Herald bills itself as the nation's number one English-language newspaper. According to my count, there are two English-language newspapers in Korea. The Korea Times has no such claim in its paper so I suppose that it has conceded that particular point. Instead, it claims that it is First in the Nation. First at what?

I've also heard that the Seoul Times is published in English, but I've only seen it online, not at any newsstands.

The Herald and Times use most of the same wire services. They occasionally focus on different stories they almost always write about the same day.

The main differences between the two papers:

1) The Herald is printed on colored paper, the Times on regular white paper.

2) The Herald editorial pages is mostly wire and syndicated columns, the Times uses more local columnists and freelancers in addition to the wire and syndicated stuff.

3) The Herald has a special "climate change" page. That may explain the type of recycled paper they use. I guess they won't go paperless because they are proud of being the number one English paper in Korea.

4) The Herald is 1000 won, the Times 700 won.

5) I called both last Friday to request subscriptions. The Korea Herald showed up in my mailbox this morning for the first time. No sign of the Korea Times yet. The Korea Times may be "First in the Nation," but it wasn't first to my door.