Sunday, December 6, 2009

Settling Into A Domestic Lifestyle

Now that is a phrase that I never thought I would say, but it would appear that I am somewhat moving into that direction.

I got up and went to the store this morning, then came back and put a stew on to cook. (Seriously... me... cooking stew?) Yesterday I did laundry and picked up the trash left over from this weekend's unexpected get together. The kitchen is clean. The bathroom floor is clean, but I still need to attack the sink and toilet.

Though, as proud as I am of all that, I still can't bring myself to tackle the floor or my room. So, I guess that's the extent of my 'housewifing' around for today. However, it is only 4 pm, so we'll see. I'm attempting to work on some writing, but I might mop later when I need a distraction. And I think I'm most proud of the stew, though I'm still laughing at myself for how excited I was when I got my crock pot. I'm sure my boyfriend has ulterior motives for buying it... namely me cooking something for him with it. (In fact, he's already requested that I cook something this weekend.)

It's so interesting because I've never considered myself 'domestic' or whatever term you want to use. (Even my boyfriend makes fun of how messy my room is... And had to beg me to help clean up his room... which surprisingly I didn't mind doing... weird...) But yet, I'm kind of enjoying some of these chores and am especially looking forward to cooking for him. Even if I still get the feeling that I'm just playing House or it's just a phase. We'll see...

I'm such a dork. I think it's because I'm 25 now... yes, I'm going to blame my age...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Papa

I've decided to take a moment out of my crazy Thanksgiving weekend to remember someone very important in my life. I can't even believe that it's been a year since he left, but the calendar doesn't lie.
For some reason, it hasn't quite hit me that Papa is gone. Probably because I'm still in Korea and hadn't seen him for about five months prior to his death. To me, it still feels like he's not really gone. I sometimes forget and almost slip up and say something about him when I talk to my family. But I always catch myself.

But I worry that the second I step foot back in the US to stay, that's when it will hit me that things are different. And Papa is gone.

But let's not get into that now. I'd rather think about him at the beach in Florida, collecting shells. Or flying a plane. Or dancing the jitterbug at airshows. Or telling me how proud he was of me living in a foreign country by myself. Those are the things that I think about. And how I wish he was still here so that my children could have had the opportunity to have fun memories with Papa Rex, the original Papa, as my sister calls him. ^_^

He encouraged me to write and influenced my love of flying, though sadly, in the past few years I haven't had the chance to indulge that. He gave me a love for history and taught me to respect veterans as well as to learn from them.

He taught me how to fly the Canadian Queen, even though it scared me to the death the first time. He introduced me to the wonderful people in the Oklahoma Wing, that I have so many great memories with. (I'll never forget the funnel cake fights. ^^)

And he's the reason why I stayed in Korea when I thought I was almost ready to come home a year ago. I was ready to just give up when things weren't going so well, but I remembered that he was so proud that I was here, so I kept going and kept trying.

So... here's to Papa. I miss you, but I know you're in a better place.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Drama and Craziness

So, this weekend has been one insanely crazy mess of I don't know.

I haven't heard from my boyfriend for about two weeks and since this is not the first time he's done this, I've decided the best thing to do is to end things. He obviously doesn't have the time for a relationship, and I'm questioning whether he really cares about me. He doesn't know about my accident, he hasn't messaged, emailed, called or anything. I know he's busy, but it takes 30 seconds to send a message. And I've sent him several and received no response. In short, I think this is the best thing for us since he needs to focus on his work and finishing his apprenticeship right now.

Also, I'm working on a huge writing project that will take a lot of time and energy for the next 6-9 months. It's imperative that I focus on completing this since my partner has hired me to finish it and already has contacts who are waiting for a finished product. I spent the last couple of weekends mucking around, and it's time for me to really focus and stop goofing off. And stop wondering and worrying about my ex. The less distractions the better...

Although... there is another distraction popping that I will have to keep under control. Thank goodness that distraction lives outside of Seoul during the week...

In conclusion... there are a lot of crazy things going on right now, and I sort of feel like I'm fighting to keep my head above water. I just had a week off from work and I don't feel rested or anything. And the whole point was to take some time to rest and relax and focus on writing and that didn't happen. Ugh...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Saga of the Could-Be Fractured Nose

Okay, so here's the full story- with pictures- about my nose...

Friday night, Jung Min and I went out for what was going to be a couple beers after I got off work. After that, she decided that she wanted to really go out. I told her that I would go along with it. So we went off to one of our favorite bars near Seolleung Station. We went in, ordered a bottle and settled in. We ended up staying for about four hours. It got late, and we decided it was time to head home. I had to get up for a wedding on Saturday evening on top of all the Halloween party preparations.

So, we get up to leave. A couple of the bartenders were going to walk us out to catch taxis. One of them was a bit drunk and wanted to give me a piggyback ride. This did not seem like a good idea to me because we were in the basement of the building and there were only two ways upstairs: a.) the elevator (which Jung Min was waiting on) and b.) the stairs. So I said no. He said it again. I said no. He said it a third time and I gave in, thinking he would get me up, decide I was too heavy and I would hop down.

He was already bent down, so I hopped on his back. But instead of standing up, he pitched forward and threw me into a door. I lay on the floor for a bit, dazed. My ears were ringing and I felt lightheaded. Then the blood came. I had a giant cut on my nose and it was bleeding from within. Jung Min got me up and rushed me to the bathroom. We cleaned up my face, but I was still lightheaded. I dropped to the floor, because I knew I was going to pass out. After putting my head between my legs for a bit, I felt better and my ears stopped ringing. Jung Min got me up and with the help of a different bartender, I got back inside and laid down in one of the seats. They got me a blanket and some ice.

I'm not sure how long I laid there, but people kept looking at my forehead, which was already starting to swell, and my nose. They sat me up and the bartender responsible started cleaning some of the blood that was leftover on my face and sticking paper towel up my noise. He poked my nose a few times and declared it wasn't broken. Jung Min and the other bartender wanted to take me to the hospital, but I said I was okay. I was just incredibly embarrassed and wanted to get out of there. Fortunately or unfortunately, the bartender responsible was just as eager to get me out of the bar. I think he literally pushed us out because he was worried Bartender 2 would finally convince me to go to the hospital in which case he would have to pay. (Jerk.) Jung Min looked like she wanted to break his nose after the whole ordeal.

Anyway, Jung Min and Bartender 2 got me home. Though, again, looking back it was kind of stupid of me to insist that I go home and not the hospital... definitely could have had a concussion...

And here's how my nose progressed...



This is what I looked like on Sunday. Still swelling... but no bruising... that came on Monday...

Here's a nice shot of the swelling. A light bruise started on my forehead and those actually aren't dark circles under the eyes... those are bruises...

As you can see... it looks better today. The swelling is down, but it still hurts. Bleh.

I went to the doctor on Tuesday and was told that it wasn't broken (but then was later informed that Korean doctors don't believe in hairline fractures. We didn't do a CT scan, so there is a possibility that it is fractured slightly) and there were some lacerations inside my noise as well as some inflammation. They gave me a shot and a day's worth of antibiotics. The swelling is pretty much gone, however I'm still congested because I have a cold on top of dealing with my nose. Yeesh... can't catch a break...

Oh... and still never got an apology from the bartender...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wow

That's really the only thing that comes to mind right now. I can't really go into details because we're still in the beginning... but maybe in a couple of months I can divulge more about this little project.

But anyway... wow...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Korean Cultural Experience: The Host Bar

So, I had a very interesting cultural experience last night with my best friend, who has asked to remain anonymous for this little "social experiment". Let's just call her... Minnie. ^_^

Anyway, after a few years of watching Japanese and Korean dramas and hearing stories about hostess bars and host bars, plus talking about it with Minnie, we decided that we wanted to see what they were really like. Of course, we spent a few months just talking about going without every really doing it. I think we said we would do it for our double birthday party and promised that it would be a secret. We planned to save up a lot of money since they are rather expensive. I think we just kept putting it off because we were both a little chicken...

But then last night at work, I got a message from Minnie, saying that she wanted to go somewhere fancy for a couple drinks. I thought maybe she meant a wine bar. But no. She wanted to go to "that" place, as we referred to it in public, because we didn't want those around us to know what we were talking about. She had even researched host bars and picked out two that she thought were nice and not too expensive.

So, I said yes, albeit, a bit hesitantly, and proceeded to tear my room apart for almost an hour after work trying to find something "pretty" and "sexy" as I was ordered to wear. Finally, around 12:45ish, I met up with Minnie at Samseong Station and off we went to Seollung Station (about one station away) where the bar was located. We had considered going to Apgujong, which is known for its expensive and fancy bars, but decided to stick close for convenience.

At first we couldn't find it. The only instructions Minnie had were that it was near Olive Young behind Exit 1. Once there, we were suppose to call one of the boys who would give us more directions. However, when we got there and called, he was apparently "busy" and didn't answer.

We decided to wander around and look for it and after about five minutes, we stood in front of the pink and purple sign. It was called "Loveholic" which seemed a very fitting name for a host bar. It was in the basement, so down the stairs we went. At the door we stopped, suddenly feeling very anxious and silly about going in. After about ten seconds of debating, we pushed through the door, deciding that it didn't matter since we were only there to see what it was like anyway.

The bar was about half full with groups of about four or five girls sitting in booths and tables. A fairly attractive guy came up to us and asked if we minded sitting at the bar, since all the tables were filled. The bar was not your average bar. Instead of stools, there were red loveseats on a raised platform, so you could reach the bar. Behind it were several stools for the guys to sit while they chatted with you. The speakers pumped out R&B, KPop and ballads, though not too loudly so you could still talk. On our way over there, the guy asked if we knew what kind of bar we were in... we said that we did.

The bar itself was very girly looking. Purples and reds were everywhere, with sheer curtains sectioning off the bar and the tables for some privacy. The lights were set low. The guys all seemed to be engaged in flirting and chatting at the tables and were all dressed very stylish. And yes, they were all very handsome, though only a couple I would deem hot.

We got situated at the bar and the main host asked us if we wanted to stay here the whole time or move to a table when one was open. We said we wanted to stay at the bar, mostly because it was cheaper than a table. The way this sort of place is set up is that you pay a set fee for the table (or bar or booth) and then order one bottle of alcohol, like vodka, gin, whisky, wine, etc. No cocktails or single drinks. You had to make them yourself at the table with your liquor. Or you could order a beer set.

We settled on a bottle of white wine, which came to a whopping 90,000 won (About $70-80) on top of the bar fee, which was 15,000 won (about $10). It was the cheapest thing on the menu since most of the wines and liquors were anywhere from 90,000 to 200,000 won ($70-150). A table was 30,000 won ($20ish) and a booth was 40,000 won ($30ish) since it had more privacy. Also, since the bottles of liquor are quite big, if you don't finish it, you can put it on hold and come back as many times as you want until you finish it. Behind the bar were shelves filled with half-empty bottles of alcohol with little name tags wrapped around them.

While we waited for our order, we looked around. Next to us was one girl seated with a cute guy in a blazer and glasses with a huge splay of food and whisky. She kept giggling and flirting with him like they were on a date and pouring him more whisky. He seemed a little bored. Minnie and I giggled at this. This was kind of what we expected to see at this sort of bar.

Other than her, none of the others really fit the stereotype that I thought I would see. It was mostly just group of women who looked kind of like us, who just wanted to go out and see hot guys. Minnie said they were probably mostly women in their late 20s to early 30s who were either too busy to date, or were just out for a girls' night.

Anyway, at this point, our wine had arrived, accompanied by a very cute guy name Myung Ho, who was dressed in black jeans with a white button-up shirt and black tie. Though, the tie was loosened and the top few buttons undone. His hair was slightly long with bangs that he swept across his forehead. Oh, and did I mention he had the best smile? He poured our drinks and took a seat across from us. He looked really nervous at first, since he got stuck with the foreigner who couldn't really speak Korean. But he tried valiantly. We went through the usual pleasantries of saying our ages, where we worked (he thought I was a college student), where I was from, etc. He did say I was pretty, but other that, there was no gushing compliments or crazy flirting like I heard or read about in manga. He was the sort of guy that I wouldn't mind meeting out somewhere and hanging out with. If I spoke better Korean, that is...

We talked about what he was studying at university (he was only 23, probably just finished military a year or two ago) and what working at a host bar was like. Minnie asked how it worked with the guys at the tables.

Basically, according to Myung Ho, the main greeter takes the order and then sends over a guy he thinks would fit in well with the girls (or guys if it's a larger group). They talk for awhile and if the girl isn't impressed, they'll rotate and get a new guy. Or sometimes the guy is called to another table after about an hour or so and a new one comes. At this point, he thought Minnie was asking to switch, which she vehemently denied after blushing and said she just wanted to know since this was our first time there.

I then, tentatively asked him in Korean if it was fun working there. He said sometimes. But a lot of times they get weird customers who come in and drink too much, then are all over the guys, or banging on tables, or throwing up and he has to clean it up. He also said that he was studying during the day and working at night, which meant he only got about two hours of sleep a night.

After about an hour, as our wine was disappearing quickly between the three of us. (Yes, you do have to give them drinks. Thus why the alcohol is so expensive.) Myung Ho said they were about to do an event. This involved some of the guys doing dances and a game called the Pepparo game. They did a few dances from some popular songs. One guy did G-Dragon’s “Heartbreaker” and another did “Rainism” by Rain. Of course, they were all good-looking and very talented, so it was fun to watch.

Then came the Pepparo game. Basically, one girl from each table went up with the guy assigned to them. They put a Pepparo, which is like Pocky, in the guy’s mouth and the girl has to bite off as much as possible without kissing him. Whoever has the shortest wins a free bottle of whisky. After a round of Kai, Bai, Bo (rock, paper, scissors) I lost and had to play the game for our table.

We were third. Down to the center floor we went. Myung Ho grinned as the MC announced “Lucky Myung Ho, he gets a foreigner,” to the crowd. As if I needed to stand out even more. ^_^ I was so nervous that I ended up leaving a big chunk and lost miserably. I think the winning girl had a length of about 2 millimeters. How that was possible, I don’t know.

Minnie and I ended up staying until about 4 a.m. which surprised me. We switch through a couple more guys and then realized that the wine had been gone for about an hour and we had nothing to offer the guys talking to us. We mentioned this to the last guy with us and apologized, saying that we would leave soon. He said it was okay, and that was actually one of the reasons why he was staying with us.

“If you leave, I have to go to another table and they’ll make me drink a lot,” he said. We were a little shocked by this, but in the end it was understandable. They work from about 7 pm to 7 am each night and have a lot to drink, so it makes sense that they would want a break. This guy, Seung Hun, was actually really funny and natural. The first thing he said when he came up to the table was that he heard I was from Russia, which immediately got me and Minnie giggling. I had mentioned to Myung Ho that men often thought I was Russian. Shows how much of a pro Seung Hun was.

He and Minnie ended up talking for a long time and he told us about how he was planning to move to New York so he could be a model. Another guy came up and told me that he was planning to move to New York to study dance on Broadway. (And he could totally make it. He was one of the best dancers.)

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by the whole thing. It wasn’t sleazy or anything. The guys that talked to us didn’t seem fake or lay on the charm. (Well... most of them. There was one who declared that I was "gorgeous" as we were leaving. Probably the only thing he knew how to say in English.) It wasn’t really any different than meeting a random guy at bar and chatting him up. Well, other than the part that we were paying them to talk to us. Though there were definitely some awkward moments when none of us really knew what to say or talk about, but the guys always jumped in there with a question or comment.

When we left at the end of the night, Seung Hun and Myung Ho walked us out and got us into taxis to head home. Seung Hun even asked for our numbers. (Though, I doubt he’ll be calling me. ^_^ Probably only asked for it so I wouldn't feel left out.) We think that we’re going to get a couple of our girl friends together and go back for our birthday party. It’ll be more fun with a group of us. ^_^

And thus, the myths of the host bar have been uncovered...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Something a Bit Different

So, as some of you know, I've been working on a book about my first year in Korea for quite some time. But it's been slow going, mainly because I've been unintentionally unmotivated. So, I've decided that I will post bits on here in the hopes that it will motivate me to write and update it more. Without further ado... here is the first bit.... (Just be aware that it's still a work in progress...)
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She stood in the middle of the sidewalk, staring up at the sunless, gray sky. All around her, people rushed passed barely caring to move out of the way for the odd, young foreigner standing in the middle of the wide walkway. Some watched in anxiety as they rushed passed, wondering if she was mentally off-balanced. Others were more polite, and only glanced occasionally to satisfy their curiosity. And still some stared openly, half gawking at the exotic pale skin, blue eyes and red hair, and half wondering why she was staring straight up into the sky.

But the girl stood still, casually taking in the sky and tops of tall buildings as music pumped through her iPod into her ears. She couldn’t hear the quiet, alien murmurs around her or see the endless stares and looks she was receiving. Nor did she care even though she could still feel their eyes on her. After a month in this strange city, she was starting to not notice them.

The silent vibrating of a cell phone in her pocket broke her reverie, though she stared down at her pocket a moment before reaching in, as if contemplating whether or not she really wanted to answer. But curiosity got the better of her as she pulled the tiny silver piece of technology from its warm haven. The name Hyun was displayed above a number as the phone blinked green. Shrugging she flipped it open with one hand as she casually pulled her ear bud out of her right ear.

“Oppa,” she said brightly. Several people walking passed glanced back at her at the sound of the Korean word coming from the foreign lips. “What’s going on?” She casually started walking down the sidewalk.

“Better watch who you say that around, Nora. People might get the wrong impression,” a slightly accented voice replied lightly. Nora rolled her eyes and sighed.

“Yea, right. You know it tickles your old, Korean ass pink to have an attractive, young American woman calling you oppa,” she said, ignoring the nervous glances from the few people walking around her who could understand English.

“Young and American you may be, but attractive...I think you should seek a second opinion with that mouth,” he said.

“Hey, you swear way more than I do,” she shot back.

“Yes, but not as I’m walking down the sidewalk talking on the phone.” Nora stopped and looked around.

“How did you know I was walking down the sidewalk?” she asked.

“Don’t you have class at 3 p.m.? It’s currently 2:50 p.m, and I’m surprised that I guessed correctly that you were on the sidewalk. Normally you would just be walking out the door,” he said wrily. Nora shook her head and kept walking.

“You know me too well, Hyun. It’s scary sometimes. Are you sure you’re not stalking me?” she asked lightheartedly.

“Oh, yes, because I can do that with all my free time,” he said sarcastically.

“Speaking of which, why are you calling me instead of working?” she asked brightly.

“Wanted to see if you were free for dinner tonight,” he said. Nora paused on the sidewalk to go through her mental to-do list.

“Hmm, I think I’m meeting up with some co-workers tonight,” she said.

“Please tell me you’re not going out drinking again,” he said, resignedly.

“You can always join us,” Nora said suggestively as she continued walking down the sidewalk, vaguely aware that she did have to be somewhere in a relatively short time.

“Hmm, not sure I’m in the mood to baby-sit again tonight. Especially since that’s what I did last weekend,” he said. Nora rolled her eyes.

“Seriously, Hyun. I’m not that bad,” she said defensively. “You only had to help me home once.”

“Sorry, my idea of a fun night doesn’t include watching you edge closer to drinking yourself to oblivion, especially considering that you didn’t drink before you got here,” he said with a sigh.

“Fine,” Nora whined. “Don’t come. It’s a work thing anyway.” Hyun hesitated.

“Will Ann be there?” he asked. “I want to make sure someone is there to keep you out of trouble.” Nora sighed. Sometimes she felt as though he took the big brother thing too far. They hadn’t know each other very long, but already the young executive had taken the naïve teacher under his wing and adopted her as his little sister.

“I swear, you’re worse than a real brother,” Nora said, picking up her pace.

“Hey, I want to make sure you end up home safe and not in bed with some loser,” he said, joking but concern was still edging his voice.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine,” she said. “Believe me. I don’t want to end up in anyone’s bed any more than you.” Hyun laughed.

“All right. Then enjoy yourself. And make sure you eat a big dinner,” he said. Nora rolled her eyes again.

“Yes, daddy,” she whined as she hung up the phone. Sometimes being friends with Hyun could be a bit smothering. But she couldn’t help but be drawn to him, even though he was five years her senior. Despite his rapidly appearing protective tendencies, Nora always had fun and felt comfortable around him. She found herself meeting him often for dinner or coffee during the week, something that Hyo Son, Hyun’s girlfriend of a year and a half, wasn’t too fond of. She still couldn’t believe that it was nearly a month ago when they met. Thinking about the first time the two met brought a small smile to Nora’s face. Even then they were arguing…

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Week of Crazy

Bleh... so I've had a crazy week...

It started last week. I noticed my sister had a Facebook status message about being shocked from something. I sent her a message asking what it was about, thinking maybe it had something to do with her ex-boyfriend. But then she told me that she was shocked because our real dad had called her after nearly 19 years of no contact. AND he told her that we have an 8-year-old little sister named Haley who wants to see and meet us.

So, that on threw us for a loop. Especially my sister who doesn't remember anything really about our Dad. But I'm dealing with it, and I kind of do want to talk to him and meet our sister. I'm not really sure what to say or anything. Kind of throws life a bit upside down.

In the midst of all this, I tried calling my boyfriend to talk to him and he was busy at work and couldn't meet me. So Thursday I sent him some messages and didn't hear from him. I was out with friends and they wanted to meet him, so I called, but his phone was turned off.

I didn't worry about it, just thought he was in a meeting. Friday comes and I sent him a message wishing him a Happy Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving), but still no reply. I didn't bother with a message on Saturday because I figured he was busy with family stuff. Sent him a message about Chuseok on Sunday and still didn't hear anything. Now I'm thinking something is going on, but I'm not sure what. Monday came, another message and no reply.

By the time Tuesday came around, I'm really starting to worry. The last time I didn't hear anything from him for a few days, his brother had a heartattack. I tried calling, but his phone was still off. By Tuesday night, I'm starting to think something must really be wrong. Either he's in the hospital, his family is in the hospital, or he has decided that he doesn't want to have anything to do with me again... Yea, I had a lot of time to think about the possibly scenarios. I hoped that whatever the case was, that he would eventually call. Especially since everything seemed fine when I talked to him on Wednesday.

Anyway, as a last resort, I sent an email to his work account. Lo and behold, I get a response. He apologizes for making me worry and said that he got robbed and broke his phone in the process this weekend. He'd been so busy at work, he hadn't gotten it fixed yet and was hoping to get it back today.

And since he only had my number in his phone and didn't have my business card, he didn't know how to contact me since he doesn't have Facebook, etc.

Part of me is a bit skeptical, but I have no reason to believe that he would lie to me. However, it is a bit strange that within the time we've been together, he lost his phone, his brother had a heart attack and then he gets robbed and breaks his phone. Anywho, regardless of what happened, I'm just glad he's okay and he's back in contact with me.

So, that was my crazy week... Now, if I would just get my paycheck, I would feel much more at ease...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Emma... as the Prime Minister of Korea?

So, had a funny moment at work the other day that I meant to blog about and forgot. And also, I wasn't sure if anyone would find it as amusing as I did...

Anywho, sometimes after about 8 or so at night, the reporters have me do voice over work since there is no one else to do it and I pretty much have most of the 10pm newscast edited by then. It happens fairly frequently so most of the time they just say, "Emma... dubbing," and I say "Okay, which quote?" Or if they don't speak English, "Dubbing juseyo!!" with a big smile, because they are terrified I'll say no. (As if I could...)

Anywho, the other night I was sitting at my desk editing when Won Young, one of the reporters, pops up out of nowhere and says,"Hey Emma, want to be the Prime Minister?"

Of course, she meant did I want to dub a quote for her package about the new South Korean prime minister. But yet, it still got a good laugh from me and the senior anchor. As it turns out, I got to dub both the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the National Assembly. Which led to a long, drawn out inside joke about how I must be moving up in the world if I'm both the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the National Assembly at 24.

And it's kind of funny to watch the clip and hear my voice coming from the mouth of an older Korean man.

Anywho, that's my little story about how I got to be Prime Minister for about 7 seconds. I have to admit that I like voice over work. It's something that I didn't think I would ever do, especially since I was told during my broadcasting class at JBU that my voice wasn't really made for broadcast... Yea... ouch...

Though, I've been told I sound more professional than whiny now... that's definitely a good thing...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Another Day at Work

I'm sitting at work waiting for the next stories to come through for the 7pm newscast and I felt the need to write something... though at the moment I'm not sure what. I guess I could give an update of sorts. Though there isn't much to update on...

Roommate
My roommate has moved in and things are working out quite well. We get along and sometimes stay up late talking about random, fun things. I felt bad when I got home yesterday. She had completely scrubbed and reorganized the kitchen. It's fabulous and I love it, but as the primary apartment leasee, I probably should have taken care of that. So, from here on out, I'm going to do my best to keep it sparkling. And try and get the landlady to FINALLY come fix the hot water and bathroom light...

Je Won
Things are still going well with Je Won. Though, we still don't get to see each other very often. He called me last night after his 회식 (company/client dinner... always involves lots of drinking... Korean business culture: you don't mess with the 회식) but unfortunately I had fallen asleep about an hour before that and was incredibly incoherent on the phone as I was techincally still asleep (I have a bad habit of answering the phone in my sleep...). All I remember is "Emma, just hang up and go back to sleep."

I vaguely remember answering a question before that... I've heard that talking to me on the phone while I'm asleep can be funny... anywho, I didn't get to see him last night, but hopefully we can meet up sometime this coming week or during Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving). He'll have 3 days off and he's definitely not allowed to go into the office then...

Job and Job-Related Hobbies
The job is going well. Haven't had any particularly bad days or good days. I've been trying to put in a few more days in when possible to help pad the "Emma Unemployment Recovery Fund" which is filling slowly. I'm also making some good friends at work, which is nice. I'm getting the hang of editing and the style here, so that definitely helps.

I'm still writing for May Pang's website and have been talking with some people about making the right contacts. I've got one friend who is going to call some of the agencies for me and get press contacts. I've got another who said he could help me with some networking... I just need to get my business cards made up.

I'm really excited about some of the places I could be going with this, but I have to remember to not let it affect my "real" job. And also to remember the promise I made to my indie rock friends that I would help promote them as best I can.

It's Fall in Korea...
I'm so happy that the cool weather is here. It's such a relief from the humid and sticky summers. And the city is pretty in the fall with all the leaves changing and the weather really nice. Unfortunately, it'll only last until mid-November or so. Then, winter will come roaring in. Though if last winter is any judge, I suspect that this winter won't be that cold.

This coming weekend is Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving and the weather is going to be beautiful from what I hear. My Korean friends will be busy with family and most of my foreign friends are traveling, so I'm looking forward to spending the time just relaxing and enjoying the weather. I might go get some new books or work on my book on the roof.

Halloween!
Yes, I know it's still a month away, but I'm already sending out word for my annual Halloween costume party. It happens to fall on the same day as my friend's wedding, but luckily it's earlier in the day. I'm planning to pull together Tinkerbell and Peter Pan for Je Won. I informed him of this on Thursday and he said he didn't care, as long as he didn't have to wear tights... Let's hope I can make two costumes in time...

And that's about it, I suppose. If something else comes up, I'll be sure to post it. ^_^

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Plagiarism, G-Dragon, 2NE1 and YG Entertainment...Oh My...

So, I'm currently caught on the fence.

The latest story running around the Korean Pop scene is the plagiarism claim that Sony is making against YG Entertainment involving songs by G-Dragon and 2NE1. Now, I'm a big fan of both Big Bang and 2NE1. I like their songs, style, dance, etc. But I'm also a writer. And plagiarism is similar to stabbing a writer in the heart.

One could argue that the songs don't sound that much alike... but the truth is, they do. I'm no music expert, but even I can't deny that there are substantial similarities between some of the original songs and the re-makes. (Though I am of the opinion that most of the re-makes sound better than the originals.)

And YG Entertainment is claiming that with 2NE1's song "I Don't Care" they didn't really know about the Lionel Richie song because he's not popular in Korea. (Which I could almost believe, seeing as I'm American and even I hadn't heard of his song.) G-Dragon is staying silent, which is probably the smartest thing for him to do if he wants to keep his job and his fans.

All in all, it's a bit disappointing. Big Bang and 2NE1 have had a number of hits from their original stuff, and I don't know why their producers would feel the need to borrow melodies from popular American artists. Both have made a name in Korea for being different, and this just kind of goes against that.

But, in the case of G-Dragon, even though he wrote two of the reportedly plagiarized songs, I have to admit that I don't think he is the only one to blame. Wasn't there someone there to tell him, "Ah, maybe you shouldn’t copy that song..." or "Hmm, that sounds an awful lot like Flo Rida or Oasis..."? I'm most certainly not saying that he isn't at fault, but I don't think he should shoulder all the blame. Though from the reports I've seen, what YG and G-Dragon need right now are good PR people to spin this thing in a way that won't send his career to the grave. And to learn from this incident. If they want to use the melody from another song... BUY IT. Suck it up and pay the royalties. Or better yet, DON'T USE IT. Write your own stuff. So, maybe the public may not like it at first, but if you keep trying, eventually you'll grow as a writer and become better.

And in the end, I have to admit that I won't stop listening to either group or G-Dragon because of the allegations. It's kind of like college football. Even if your team is losing, you still support them through the bad times and the good. So, even though YG is losing right now, I'm still a fan.

Here are the songs in question for you to make your own decision...

Plagiarism One- Lionel Richie's "Just Go" and 2NE1's "I Don't Care"
Lionel Richie- Just Go


2NE1- I Don't Care


Plagiarism Two- Flo Rida's "Right Round" and G-Dragon's "Heartbreaker"
Flo Rida- Right Round


G-Dragon- Heartbreaker


Plagiarism Three- Oasis "She's Electric" and G-Dragon's "Butterfly"
Oasis- She's Electric


G-Dragon- Butterfly


Plagiarism Four- Joe's "Ride Wit U" and Big Bang's "With U" (released in Japan)
Joe- Ride Wit U


Big Bang- With U


Sunday, September 20, 2009

ASF Rocked

I loved the show. It was awesome. Seeing a lot of top name groups at once was great, even if we were sitting pretty far back. We had a good view of the entire stage, but it was kind of hard to see the performers. Other than that, it was a good time.

And I got to see BIG BANG and 2NE1! I was so excited to get to see my two favorite groups. They totally lived up to their reputations. 2NE1 crunked and danced up a storm and Big Bang had the whole stadium screaming. I have decided that it is my goal to interview both groups before I leave Korea. I guess I better get working on my Korean, though I know that CL and Sandara are both fluent in English and I think Bom is too. Minzy, sadly doesn't, but I'm sure the other girls would be willing to translate. And I've heard that T.O.P. and G-Dragon have a good grasp of English, so I may not even need to worry about interviewing them in Korean. Though it would be awesome... incredibly scary, but awesome all the same...

And I got to see a bunch of really good new groups like K-OTIC, a fun group from Thailand, and Agnes Monica, an amazing vocalist from Indonesia. Oh, and Show Luo, a really hot singer from Taiwan. He actually got me and Jung Min interested in paying a visit to Taipei to see if all Taiwanese guys are that good-looking.

One of the more interesting acts was a singer named Ruslana from Ukraine. She kind of erupted on to the stage in a strappy, red, dress thingy with Nordic-looking back up dancers who looked like they were attacking the stage rather than dancing. I don't think the crowd knew quite what to do with her, being used to girlish pop acts like SNSD.

Speaking of which, I have to admit that SNSD stepped up their dancing during "Genie". They broke out of the cutsy, choreography and actually through in a bit of freestyle that was borderline hip hop. They still need a bit of work to get up to 2NE1's level, but they definitely are making efforts to mature in the dance department. Of course, they ended with "Gee" which kind of brought them back down to the cutesy level...

Of course, Agnes Monica blew both SNSD and 2NE1 away. She was a one-act show bursting with energy and personality. She got the crowd to join in with her in a stomp routine, right after starting a "Heal the World" sing-along in memory of Michael Jackson. Not to mention, this girl can crunk and dance like nothing I've seen in Asia... other than 2NE1, that is. But her voice is so powerful and soulful. This girl definitely has talent. And she's hoping to break out into the US music scene. I think she'll totally make it. Not only does she sing and dance well, but she writes and produces her own stuff. Something not many pop acts do today.

And I suppose I'll end this post with mentioning the awesomeness that is Gackt. I think everyone should see him live. His showmanship blew all the younger acts away. He started off with "Ghost" doing this crazy robotic dance that was so believeable that I almost thought it was a Gackt robot. And then the big screen on the stage split in the middle and his band appeared in a swirl of fog and red lighting. Course, the fireworks and flames helped add to the mystery and excitement. Yea... it was awesome...

All in all, a good show. It really got me excited about doing more in the entertainment arena. I'm hoping that things with the website really start exploding and I can get into some interviews and real event coverage. There was apparently a press conference that I missed. Oh well. I need to somehow get on some press release list. Got my work cut out for me I guess... Not going to be easy, but I'm up for a challenge. ^_^


Agnes Monica


Show Luo


Gackt from the Festival


K-OTIC


Ruslane


And just for fun... Ho Ngoc Ha, a talented performer from Vietnam

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Visa Run Time!

So, it's official. I'm heading off to Fukuoka again on Monday to get my visa. This one is just a quick run. I fly in Monday morning around 9:30 am (yup...that means I have to get up at 4:30 am to catch my 8 am flight) and come back around 4:45 pm on Thursday.

Hopefully, everything goes according to plan and I can finally get everything over with. You don't know how happy I am to finally get everything taken care. Let's just hope my roommate can move in soon. Or at least give me a no soon so I can call my back up person. (Yes, I have a back up person. Hooray.)

So just pray that everything goes according to plan so that I can finally breathe and quit being so stressed out...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Interesting Food

So, I was out with my friend tonight eating street food and I realized that I have never written about food n Korea. Without further ado... I give you all an introduction to food in Korea... with pictures...

My first attempt at Korean cooking. It doesn't look very pretty, but it's tasty (and looks better when you order it at a restaurant. It's called "mandoo guk" or dumpling soup. In a way, it's kind of like the chicken noodle soup of Korea, or at least that's what it tastes like. Anyway, it's really good to have in the winter.

Then, there is "bar food" in Korea. They call it "anju" which basically means appetizer. Often times it's something fried or spicy. Oftentimes we go out and get a couple of different things to eat while we drink. Most bars here make you order some sort of side dish in order to drink there, mostly because soju and draft beer is so cheap.

Something new that I recently discovered is a type of seafood, which is incredibly popular in Korea. It's basically shellfish on a grill that you dip into chili sauce or this kind of salty sauce. At the end of the meal, they melt a bowl of cheese and put some of the leftover shell meat into the cheese. This is best with a bottle of soju which is Korean alcohol similar to vodka but crazy strong. These kinds of restaurants are popping up all over the place in my area. You can't miss them with the giant fish tanks in front of them and tons of shells and crabs in them.

In tune with the spicy stereotype of Korean food, this particular dish is probably the spiciest. It's called "jaeyuk dobap" which is basically spicy pork that you eat with rice. There are a couple of different ways to eat it. Like this, or in "jaeyuk dosambap" which is cooked on a grill at the table and eaten wrapped in lettuce. Either way is tasty. But, as I said, it is pretty spicy.

A post on Korean food wouldn't be complete without street food! This is kind of the fast food of Korea. Mostly it's found in little stalls on sidewalks and they have everything from corn dogs to kimbap to fried shrimp and squid. These particular dishes are "tteokboki" and "sundae". Tteokboki is rice cake and odong in a spicy sauce and sundae is blood sausage. Blood sausage is basically a type of sausage that is cooked with blood. Yes, it sounds and looks a little nasty, but it's actually really good. Sometimes it comes in a stew and is really good.

Street food is really good when you're hungry, but don't want to eat a lot. Or if you're short on cash. These two things together were about 5,000 won total. (around $4) Or if you've been out dancing and want something to eat before heading home.

Of course, there are plenty of other dishes that I want to talk about, but I don't have pictures yet. Kimch-chigae is delicious and my favorite. It's kimchi stew and really spicy. There is also samgyeobsal, which is pork cooked on a grill and galbi which is marinated pork or beef that is cooked on a grill at the table too. Oh! And dalkalbi, which is spicy chicken mixed with vegetables that you also cook on a grill at a table...

Ugh, all this talk about food is making me hungry...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Oh Boy, What a Night...

So, Jung Min and I had an interesting night last night. We started out just planning to go to the bar for a couple drinks but then after hanging out at Ireland for a bit, Jung Min decided that she wanted to try this place that we had heard about.

The basic jist is that it's a bar, but you sit at tables and have to order "anju" or appetizers. And while you're sitting there, people jump from table to table to talk to other people that they find attractive or interesting. In Korea, they call this type of thing "booking club" though this was just a cheap, college form of a booking club. A real booking club is incredibly fancy and expensive and the waiters are the ones to usher girls from table to table so they can talk to guys and get their drinks paid for. Same kind of concept, though basically for younger people.

Both of us had heard about this bar and it's always busy with people lined up down the street to get in. We figured Sunday would be a good night to try it out, since we didn't think there would be much of a line. (There was still one...though not down the street). And we were curious. So, we go in and get a table and the first 10 or so minutes were kind of boring. We didn't think it was anything special.

Then, out of the blue, this guy comes up and in an awkward way tries talking to us. He didn't really speak English that well. And he only came up to us because he wanted to speak English. Anywho, that was really awkward. I think he asked me who my favorite English celebrity was and other sort of junior high questions. Anyway, we got them to leave after he tried asking us about five times if it was okay if he and his friend ordered more drinks at our table (we said we weren't drinking that much or staying that late). And about five minutes later, two other guys came up to us. One of which was really strange and very resilient. His friend was a Katusa (Korean military that works with the American military) but both were too young. So we tried to get them to go away, but they wouldn't. The table of guys over to our left at this time was very entertained in watching us and had been for most of the night.

I left to go to the bathroom and as I walked out, the weird guy stopped me and said that I was "beautiful". I thanked him and quickly walked to my table before he could say anything else. When I got back, one of the guys from the table to our left had ventured over to talk to us. He seemed cool and didn't speak English at all, so he wasn't looking to practice. Though, that also meant he spent more time talking to Jung Min, than me.

He ended up staying at our table for about 45 minutes then went back to his friends. Jung Min and I sat laughing about some of the things the guys said. All in all, a fun night. Awkward, but fun. We've decided that we don't think we'll go back, but might try a real booking club just once.

So that was our unexpectedly amusing night... if only I could speak Korean it would have been more fun...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why Must Life be a Headache Sometimes?

Oi... I just got a phone call from The Korea Times about my pay for the time I was there. (About a month) The secretary doesn't really speak English so all I got was, "Pay on 31. Immigration number? Address?" And then she started asking about my friend's immigration number, which really threw me off. What friend? I have a friend who is starting there and from what he said this weekend they already applied for his visa so I don't know why she would be asking me for his number, especially since she's the one who should be taking care of his visa.

Anywho, it's confusing and I'm thinking I'm probably never going to see that pay, which sucks. But part of me wasn't really counting on seeing it. Maybe someday... I sent her an email in Korean that hopefully she'll understand and will be able to tell me exactly what information she needs from me.

Gah, everything is just bleh right now. I've come to the sad realization that I'm probably never really going to be out of debt. I have $19,000 left on my school loan and about $13,000 left on my parent's loan. And then there is the credit card. About the time I get the loans paid off, I'll probably be getting married which means I'll have a wedding to pay off and then a house. And I'll have to buy a car when I get back to the States.

Plus, for right now my rent went up about $100 and it's looking like I won't have a roommate anytime soon. I'm trying to figure out how to make some extra money, but it's tough when you're an immigrant. Hopefully I can find some online work that I can do at home that will pay to my American account and help out with my loans.

I suppose that I'm just worried about running out of money at the end of each month. I've spent the past three months worrying about every cent that I spend and I don't want to spend the rest of my life living like that.

And on top of that, it sucks that I've gotten to the point where most of what I think about during the day is money. What happened to the time when I was just happy to be working and I didn't care how much I made? I like my job, but I'm always thinking about how to make more money. Granted, it's not so I can buy lots of things... it's mostly so I can pay what bills and loans I do have.

Gah, I'm only 24. I shouldn't have worries like this yet. I'm way too young... If only I could figure out a way to make about 500,000 won more a month, I wouldn't have to worry about anything anymore...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Death of a President and other news...

So this week has been crazy. Newswise, tons happened so Arirang is insane...

* Kim Dae-jung, probably the most well-known Korean president, passed away on Tuesday. We all knew he would go sooner rather than later, but it still has thrown the country for a loop. We're currently in the middle of six days of mourning before his state funeral on Sunday. Meaning: a lot of shows, concerts, events, etc. were cancelled or postponed (including the concert I was suppose to go to on Saturday with 2PM) and it's nothing but constant news coverage about moving the body to lie in state, who is visiting, etc. There is a HUGE memorial at the National Assembly and all over the country and people are really really upset about it.

* Korea was suppose to launch its first rocket into space yesterday and literally about 5 minutes before lift off, the computer system aborted the whole thing. Millions of people were watching and totally confused about what happened. They did discover what was wrong, but it might take a couple of weeks to get the thing ready for launch again. This is perhaps the 7th time they've delayed it. Makes me wonder if anything is going to happen...

* North Korea has been in the weirdest mood. They let the journalists go, they let the Hyundai worker go and now they are opening up the tours again and sending wreaths to the late president's family. (Course Kim Jong-il and Kim Dae-jung were buddies.) AND they are loosening up their borders and making it easier for people to cross the DMZ into the North to work in Gaesong. It's almost like they are doing a complete 180. I mean it's great, but I tend to wonder how long it will last.

And in my personal life, everything is speeding up. I'm still writing for May Pang, and I'm about to start a new writing project that will keep me busy until about Sept. 15. I'm running out of money...again...but hopefully some things will pull through in the next couple of weeks and I'll be okay.

Oi, got going away parties to go to, concerts, and just plain keeping up with everything. And I want to get things rolling with my book again. So, yea, hopefully I get things somewhat settled or at least under control soon. Bleh...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I hate budgeting.

Just thought I would make that declaration. I hated it in university, but luckily then I had the comfort of calling mom and dad if I was ever in danger of running out. Now, since I'm an "adult" when it's gone, it's gone and I have to magically find a way to make it last or make more. I've got the making more thing under control, it just sucks that I won't get that payment until next month when I would like to get it now. Ugh.

Though, I have to admit that I've learned to make $100 last a long time, however, I may be forced to do something I haven't done in years...call mom and ask for money. I feel so irresponsible for having to do that, but I know that this time it's not necessarily my fault for superfluous spending. It's more like I haven't received a full paycheck since April and have had to make my savings stretch out for a long time, and having to make an unexpected trip to Japan for visa purposes didn't help.

Oh well, this too shall pass. It's all a part of becoming an adult and learning how to live responsibly and not buy things that I don't necessarily need.

In other news... the concert with 2PM and Brown Eyed Girls is coming up this weekend. I love finding random fun things on the internet to do (especially when they're free). It'll be my first Kpop concert and it'll be fun even though I'm not really familiar with the artists.

Gotta go. Meeting some friends in Itaewon. Ciao lovies!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Slave Contracts...or Spoiled Celebrities?

So, the biggest bit of entertainment news in Korea now is the so-called "slave contracts" that entertainers are forced to sign when entering an entertainment agency.

For those not in the know, three members from DBSK have decided to take legal against SM Entertainment, saying their contracts are unfair. The contracts are rumored to last for 13 years, require attending all performances and events that the agency says to (um...duh?) and limited say from the artists in their future career paths. Oh, and that 13 years...doesn't include military service so it is essentially a 15-year contract.

The members also claim that they are being overworked, are not allowed to rest AND that they don't receive an equal percentage of profits. (Though from what I hear, this could be a bit unreasonable because it's said these guys make a lot of money...)

While I'm a bit skeptical about how legit some of their arguments are (money and the amount of time they work...granted they are very busy boys...but they are international stars, what did they expect?) I do think that the authority of agencies over stars in Korea does need to be questioned. Course, not only here, but perhaps in other Asian countries as well. (That's right, Johnny's, you're next!)

Being locked into one company for 13 years is a bit much. Five years would be more understandable. And I do believe that the agencies often don't let their stars have some semblance of a normal life or a say in what jobs they do or don't take. Pop groups are often forced to live together in one apartment (nice apartments from what I've seen) and are monitored pretty much 24/7 by the agency. These monitorings are marketed as reality TV shows, in order to make more money for the agency.

Yea, the stars look all bright and happy to have the cameras there while they're sleeping, eating and practicing, but think about it... would you seriously want to have a camera in your face ALL THE TIME? I'm thinking no...

A lot of agencies don't allow dating and require that the stars tell them where they are at all times. (Which is not such a bad idea for the kiddie stars...but would be annoying for a 20 and up.) Not to mention all the "hush-hush", between-the-lines stuff that the agencies make them do. (Remember Jang Ja Yeon and the "sexual favors"?) Basically, they own these celebs. When the agency says jump, the celebs say "how high?"

I can understand that a lot of the stars are young and do need a short leash, but what happens when they get older? Are they suppose to just let their agencies continue to own them until they are in their 30s and so on? And are they never to be allowed to make their own decisions in their careers, but have some fat, old man who stinks of soju and money tell them what to do? (Okay, so not all agents are old, fat or smell like soju...)

And in regards to the argument that they sign the contract, they are fully aware of what they are getting into...again, most of these guys are quite young when the contracts are made, and have the contract signed by their parents, who we all know don't always think straight when large amounts of money is involved. Even if the guys sign themselves, they are often coming from a pretty tough background where the chance of stardom seem like a miracle.

Heck, if someone offered me a slave contract with SM or JYP right now, I'd probably accept out of desperation (and a secret desire to be famous).

Either way you argue, changes need to be made to prevent these companies from taking further advantages of stars. The agencies seemed to have had free reign for a long time and it's time that someone held them accountable. Granted most stars are okay and most likely are not abused, but I'm sure they would sleep better at night in their over-priced beds knowing that someone out there has their back.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Life at Arirang

So, I've been at Arirang for nearly a month and felt it was time for a little update on how things are.

I feel like I'm getting better at what I do. I get less corrections from the monitor and the anchor, but I do still make some errors. I don't let it get me down. In a way, I see my job as more than just a copyeditor. I am there to help the reporters do their best to present a story. They seem to respect my opinion when I want to change something. And the lead anchor really wants to know my opinion when she asks for it. She says that I'm more than welcome to disagree. And I like it when they point out things that I miss. It helps me to look at the reports from a different angle and try to really make them better.

The people are really nice and I'm starting to feel like a part of the team. A group of the reporters always ask me to go to dinner with them and we talk about random things. Tonight they seemed really interested in finding out about me and where I came from and why I'm here. We recently got two new reporters and they seem really nice as well.

And it's kind of cool working for an international television station. I like it and I definitely think it'll really give me good experience for the future... once I decide on that specifically. But that's for another day to decide. Even though Gramma really wants me to move back to Springfield, get married and start having kids... yea, don't see that one happening anytime soon...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Summer is Fading...FINALLY...

So, I felt the need to update...mostly because it's 2 am and I can't sleep...again.

Life is starting to settle down a bit. Just gotta make it through to September and hopefully money issues will start fixing themselves up. Hopefully...^_^ But I'm still staying optimistic. Just got to get creative with how to make $400 last for four weeks until my next paycheck.

Summer is coming to a close, and I'm looking forward to it. Mostly because I'm happy that the summer heat will go away. I love summer, but definitely not when there is no air conditioner in my apartment. So, I'm batting down the hatches and preparing to get through the last few hot weeks of the summer. Looking back at Summer 2009, it's been fun but tough. There have been some bad times, but definitely some good times. I took some hits (one quite literally, but I won't get into that) but I think I've weathered through them quite well. None the worse for well and all.

In other news, got some fun new Phonebooth videos. They did an acoustic set last weekend at a coffee shop and it was quite fun. Low key and laid back. They played some favorites and did a cover of Oasis' "Wonderwall" which was good. We then went out to a hof and had some good times eating and drinking. I love those guys. Whenever I'm feeling down, they always seem to cheer me up.

And some things to look forward to:
1.) Concert on Aug.22- Going to see 2PM, Brown Eyed Girls and Crying Nuts. I'm not really into any of the groups, but it's free and it should be fun. All are fairly big bands here so it should be fun. We're planning to dress up like high school students so we'll "fit in". ^_^
2.) Asia Song Festival- This one I am seriously looking forward to because I get to FINALLY see Big Bang in concert and 2NE1. There are big groups from all over Asia coming, including Gackt. I will not be ashamed of my silly fangirliness on this one. ^_^ And the greatest part...it's free too! Yay!

So, that's about it. Sorry this one was kind of full of fluff. I'll have something more substantial next time. Anyway, here are some fun videos of Phonebooth.

Friday, July 31, 2009

You Gotta Check These Guys Out

This band are good friends of mine, so check out their first official music video. They are a great band and totally deserve the attention. Their first album is out and they are working on their second one. The song is "Gotta A Chance" and my favorite song. It just cheers me up. ^_^ I'm working on a profile so look out for it soon!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Rock bands are the most fun a rock concerts

So, I had the most awesome opportunity yesterday to go to the Jisan Valley Rock Festival. I was suppose to go on Friday, but an unexpected schedule change put a kink in my plans and I didn't think I could go.

But then I found out that my friends in Phonebooth were going on Sunday, so in a last minute decision, I decided that I would go to Jisan, even though I wasn't one hundred percent sure about public transportation on the way back.

I got down there, met up with my friends just in time for the Asian Kung Fu Generation. I was so excited because I've wanted to see them play for a really long time. I pull out my camera, and discover that the battery is dead. I was soo upset. But it turned out okay. My friends brought their cameras, so I asked them to email pictures if they could.

Anyway, Asian Kung Fu Generation was awesome. They played "Reraito" and "After Dark". I got a little clip on my phone, but I can't figure out how to get it onto my computer. I can send pictures to my email, but it won't let me send video clips. Bleh...

After AKFG, we hung out on the picnic mats. There was a big group of people there, and I sat with Kwang Sun and Hye Won. They had some how managed to sneak in a bunch of drinks and food, so we had a fairly good party going on. Pattie Smith was on next and was a lot of fun, though a bit too much politics. It was cool that she was calling out for peace and saying we need to treat the environment better, but then she went on and on about nuclear weapons, etc. But still it was a good time and everyone sang along with "Because the Night" and "Gloria".

After Pattie Smith, we got some food and drinks and headed back in time to catch Jet. Tae Woo was super excited...and Hye Won was already a bit drunk, but we all danced around like crazy. Tae Woo had this idea that he wanted to put me up on his shoulders, so I said okay. Unfortunately, he didn't wait until I was completely on before he went up and ended up dropping me in front of everyone, which was super embarrassing. He wanted to try again and I said no, but I finally gave in again and we were more successful this time. Though he did say that I was a bit heavier than I looked...har har har...

After Jet, we had about an hour until Oasis, the headliner, came on. So we went and hung out by the drink tents and had some cocktails and just talked. Tae Woo wandered over with one of his friends, who was really cute. We talked for a bit and then headed back to go watch Oasis. Oasis rocked my socks off. They were awesome live. Everyone is singing along and dancing and yea, it's hard to explain, but you just had to have been there. Jae Ho already has a little video clip up of all of us singing to "Wonderwall". It was...yea...with the mountains and the music and the friends...Wow. And then they had a giant firework display afterwards. All in all...an awesome show and a night to remember...

Next year, we've decided that we're getting a room at the resort for all three days and spending the whole weekend down there. Oh Jisan Rock Festival...you were great...



Monday, July 20, 2009

First Day at Arirang...and I Feel 5 Years Older

Today was my first at work at Arirang... and I feel 5 years older. It's not a bad thing, though.

Arirang has a really high standard for their work, so gone are the days of just editing and sending it off. I'm not use to broadcast, so I've got to really work to catch up and get myself up to Arirang's standards. It's more than just making it sound good or checking for spelling or grammar mistakes. It's making sure that every sentence has punch and really goes through with meaning. It's reading every sentence a thousand times and going over each paragraph to make sure nothing is repetitive. It's a completely different atmosphere from anywhere that I've ever worked.

So, in short, I'm really excited and I think I made a really good decision and I'm going to gain a lot of good experience. The anchor I'm working has been in the business for 15 years and is a good resource. She's been helping me out and really encouraging me to do my best work. I think this is going to be an amazing opportunity.

And everyone at the office is so professional. I felt a little bit like the college intern today, but I know it'll get better. It's just time to bring in my A game...everyday...for eight hours... But I can do it. Arirang is going to be awesome.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fukuoka, The Weekend of Lost, Rain and Butts...

So, I got back yesterday from Japan without too many mishaps, other than getting stuck in the Busan Airport and getting a bit sick, but I'll get into that more later.

I've been back for a day and I'm still ridiculously tired. I chalk it up to the little sleep I got Saturday night (out of fear I wouldn't hear my alarm clock) and the fact that I have a cold. Bleh. Anyway, I guess I'll give a day-by-day break down of my trip...

Day One:
Nothing too special. I took a non-stop flight from Seoul to Fukuoka and landed about 3:40 pm. A really sweet, little old Japanese couple sat next to me on the bus to the domestic terminal and offered to help me to Hakata Station, since they were heading in the same direction. We talked about English and why I was in Japan. They told me about their trip to Western Europe that they were returning from. Once we got to the station, they pointed me in the direction of my hotel and wished me a wonderful trip.

When I got to the hotel, I was quite tired so I slept for a couple hours. Mostly because it was heavenly to be sleeping in air conditioning. The room was small, but clean and nice. And it had a...wait for it...BATHTUB! I haven't had access to a bathtub in about three years, so I definitely took advantage of it.

Anyway, it was raining that night, so I didn't do anything Friday night, other than venturing out for a light dinner, then coming back and taking a nice warm bath before turning in for the night.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF FUKUOKA:
A nice, clean city. Lots of bicycles, no smoking on the streets, lots of trees. Other than the incredibly muggy, weather, it was nice. It didn't look that much different than Hong Kong or even Kangnam (except for more trees). And it's easy to get around. The people were really nice, and seemed to understand when I kept accidentally speaking in Korean. Oh, and there really are vending machines everywhere.


Day Two:
The day of adventure....
I got up and was greeted by unexpected sunny weather, which I took as a good sign on my way out the door. I planned to look for a shrine and a couple of temples that were suppose to be near my hotel. I ended up not finding any of them, but I did find a fun little market with a bunch of restaurants and little shops. They also had a lot of floats around the market and the city. I lucked out and happened to be in Fukuoka during the biggest festival of the year, Yamakasa.

After wandering around the market for a bit (and nearly buying a yukata...twice) I decided to head towards a huge entertainment center called Canal City, which had a cute little canal running through it. On the way, I ended up finding Kushida Shrine and walked around it for a bit. On the way to Canal City, I ended up on at first glance what appeared to be a cute little street. It ended up being what we call an "ahjussi street" in Korea. Meaning, lots of advertisements for girly clubs. I did find Canal City and did a little shopping for some friends, then headed back to the market for some yummy lunch. I don't know what it was called, but it was good.


After lunch, I went back to the hotel to freshen up a bit, since I was covered in sweat. I really think that Japanese people don't sweat because everyone else looked great while I looked horrible. So, after cleaning up I headed out to a park where there were some castle ruins. I wandered around for a bit, wondering where the ruins were, not realizing until the last minute that I was actually standing on top of them. The castle was never finished and basically was just the wall bit. I took some pictures and then decided to head back towards the hotel to find something to eat, especially since it was starting to rain.

After coming down from the castle, I quickly realized that I didn't know how I got up there or how to get out. I pretty much wandered around for about an hour trying to find the entrance. (See Facebook for related pictures and videos.) There was no one, and I mean NO ONE, in the park and it was dark and kind of spooky. There were huge magpie/crow/ravens everywhere cawing, which made it seem like something right out of a horror flick. I did eventually find my way out though...

I then headed back towards the market area. By this time it was really raining. All I really wanted to do was get to a restaurant, eat and get back to the hotel. I was tired and sweaty (AGAIN). As I'm walking down the street, I noticed an increasing amount of men standing around in kimono tops with sumo wrestler bottoms on. Not a pleasant sight for the most part. As I get farther down, I look down a side street and see a few hundred men and boys dressed this way, so I walk down to see what's going on.

Apparently a big part of the festival is a contest where a group of men run through a course carrying one of the floats, weighting several thousand pounds. So, I stuck around in the rain and watched them practice running up and down the street. It was pretty exciting, and I was happy to see a cultural event. Afterwards, I got some yummy curry udon retired back to the hotel.Day Three:
Home sweet home...

I got up around 6 a.m. and got ready, then headed to the airport. I got there too early and had to wait about 30 minutes to check in for my flight. Instead of non-stop, I had a connecting flight in Busan. I waited a couple hours and got on the flight. It was only about 30 minutes, but it was kind of bumpy. The wind was bad coming into Busan and we had to unexpectedly go back up when we were landing.

I landed and rushed off to immigrations. I only had about an hour to make my connecting flight. I got caught up a little bit at the quarantine station. They detected a fever, but instead of being quarantined, they sent me on to immigration with a little brochure to read. Then I spent about 10 minutes talking to immigration about my visa and then rushed off to catch my flight.

Which ended up being canceled because of weather, as were the three following flights to Seoul. I sat around waiting for about an hour and a half to find out if there were going to be any flights going out. I got lucky and they got me on a flight for 3:30 pm. It was a short, but bumpy flight. I got in safely and by 5:30 pm I was back in my part of town.

So, all in all, a fun trip. I wish I had someone with me. When I head out in a month for my visa, hopefully I can get someone to go with me.

Facebook Pictures are Here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Back into Routine

So, I made it through my first day of work at The Korea Times. It was pretty uneventful, other than accidentally walking in through the back door instead of the front. But it's okay. I think I did okay, but I haven't got any feedback from the guy in charge. Basically, I go in and I edit like crazy and hope that I don't make any mistakes. I think I'm going to like the job, but I do have to be careful because it does have potential to get monotonous. Luckily, they said that I would possibly have the opportunity to write for the foreign community page or at least contribute in some way.

But I think I'm going to like the schedule. It's not that far from my house (definitely closer than Hongdae) and I don't have to get up really early. My day starts at 10:3o am beginning on June 23. And I'm finishing around 5:30- 6 pm. Right now I'm just part-time, which I'm enjoying because I have my mornings to run errands and visit friends. Today I'm thinking about going and getting a haircut. Tomorrow morning I'm going hiking down in Yangjae with my friend Linda and Thursday I'm meeting Se Won and Yong Sang for lunch.

I find that I'm already getting into routine. I wake up around 7ish or 8:30ish even though I set my alarm for 9:30 am. Today, I was pretty productive and cleaned up the apartment. (Mainly because I was woken by my landlady having a heated argument outside my window and I couldn't go back to sleep. Probably because I feared she would come up to my apartment next for something and I at least wanted to greet her with a sparkling clean apartment. Luckily it never happened...)

So, life is okay for now. I'm glad I'm kind of easing into the job because I know once I go full-time, life will be a balancing act between work, studying Korean, keeping my apartment clean (which is really hard with my dysfunctional kitten), and my after-work appointments, not to mention keeping up with my friends. I can already tell that I'm not going to be able to see my friends a lot, but that's what you have to do when you work 7-days a week just to pay the bills and hopefully save up some.

But, yes, that's life as of now. On June 29 I get official word if the Times is going to officially hire me and have me sign a contract (which I'm not worried about). Cheers everyone and hopefully next time I'll have something a little more exciting to write about.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Nervous First Day

So...I leave for my first day of work at The Korea Times in about 30 minutes. I'm incredibly nervous because I have no idea what to expect. I was hired without an interview or editing test, so that has me a little worried. I'm not sure what they are expecting from me. All I can do is do my best and hope that it is enough. And hope that at the end of the week and a half of part-time work they want to keep me on full-time. I haven't heard anything from Arirang yet and I'm not sure if I will. Though, I think that after today I should hopefully have a better idea of what to do if Arirang offers me a job.

But yea, I'm really nervous so wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Got a Job!

So, The Korea Times offered me a job today. I'm excited. It sounds nice. But I'm also torn because I really want to work for Arirang, and I'm still waiting to hear from them. If I get an offer from them too I don't know what I'll do. Here's a breakdown of the two jobs:

Korea Times:
- Full time job
- All benefits (healthcare, pension, etc.)
- I know what I'm doing.
- Salary is negotiable (but probably won't be that high)
- Hours are 10:30 am to 5:30 pm.
- 6-day work weeks (Sun-Fri)
- Three day weekends on rotation.
- Not many days of vacation.
- Large paper, but not the best English newspaper in Seoul.
- Would most likely have to quit my job in Bundang.
- Sponsors visas.

Arirang
- Broadcast writing, which I'm not use to, but would be a welcomed challenge.
- The largest English channel in Korea and has offices in several countries.
- Has a great reputation.
- Part-time (work week rotates, Mon-Wed some weeks, Thurs-Sun others)
- Pays the equivalent of $20 an hour.
- Hours are 2pm to 10 pm.
- I have time for more privates, but schedule is constantly changing.
- Can probably only teach in Bundang 2 weeks a month.
- Sponsors visas.
- Probably no healthcare benefits.
- Probably easier to get time off for holidays.

So, I'm in quite a pickle if I get an offer from Arirang. I have to admit, I partially want to take the job because it would sound cooler to say I work at a television station. But I would probably make more at The Korea Times. And I like finishing at 5:30 pm. I don't know. We'll see. I might not even get an offer from Arirang. We'll see. Just keep praying that if it comes to that I'll make the right decision...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Get Healthy!

As of late, I've decided it's time to make some lifestyle changes in order to become healthier. I've been having trouble sleeping at night and I think some of that is due in part to my nighttime habits right before I go to bed. So, here are some of the things I'm planning to do...

1. No more soda!
I didn't realize until Monday, but I drank A LOT of soda. And most of it late at night, which most likely was causing me to stay up late. So I've completely cut it out. No more soda at home and no more while I'm out at dinner. It's water and juice from here on out. And surprisingly, it's been really easy to refrain.

2. Exercise
This one is a little harder. I tried running a couple weeks ago, but the weather is getting hotter which makes it difficult to get motivated. But I've started doing some little exercises around the house. Running up and down my stairs for cardio and my lower body (which I will have to watch because I don't want my thighs getting too big), daily push-ups, crunches, leg lifts (helps with abs), etc. My friend told me to join a gym and go once a day for an hour, but I can't really afford that. At this point, I don't want to lose weight, just maintain what I've lost and get toned.

3. Cut back on smoking
Yes, I know. I smoke way too much, so everyone can stop telling me. I think this is also what's keeping me up at night. So I'm cutting back and setting achievable goals (i.e. only allowing myself to buy one pack every 3 days, then once a week, etc. When I'm out, I'm out.) Hopefully soon I'll be able to cut it out completely but I don't think I can do the whole cold turkey thing. All my friends who have done cold turkey ended up starting again a month later.

4. No more naps!
I end up taking a couple hour-long or two-hour long naps because I don't sleep that well, which in turn makes me not tired at night. So no more naps.

5. No more snacking!
I don't keep snacks in my house. And I'm no longer buying ramen for dinner. If I want to eat a quick meal, it's going to be salad. Kimchi chigae is still in because it's healthy, but cutting down on the carb intake and sweet intake. No more chips, ice cream, candy, etc.

And I'm sure I'll think of some more things, but that's what I'm starting with for now. Yay!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Prejudice in Korea

So, for those of you reading this back home (which I think it is only those from back home are reading this...) there are a lot of complaints from foreigners about prejudice in Korea, especially against English teachers. Mostly in the form of visa regulations for the E-2 (English teaching visa). Last year they added a criminal background check, drug testing and HIV testing. This upset A LOT of people and they are still complaining about it today. Most call it an invasion of privacy. I have heard some legit complaints from a couple of my former co-workers, namely that when they brought in their medical test results, the envelope was unsealed and therefore anyone in the office was free to look at it. But for the most part, I don't see what the big deal is.

Criminal Background Checks: You have to do this for just about any job in the U.S. I did it for my job as a daily reporter. Whatever.

Drug Testing: Again, I think a lot of jobs in the U.S. require this. Most of these people in Korea are working with kids. While people argue that weed is harmless, the fact remains that it's a drug and it's illegal. Especially if you're in a foreign country. Parents in any country are paranoid about drug users, get over it.

HIV Testing: This I don't really have an opinion. I don't think people who have AIDS or HIV are bad people or they are going to "infect" everyone so it is a bit ridiculous that they are going to base an entire judgment of character on one medical problem. But, then again, I don't have HIV so naturally I have no problem taking this test.

I do agree that they should probably make these regulations for the F-4 and F-2 visa holders who are planning to teach children. It is a bit unfair that just because someone has Korean ancestry they are automatically exempt. Especially when I've heard some F-4 visa holders brag about it.

But I will argue that if you look at the U.S.'s regulations for foreign workers, the visas are much harder to get. I've had students who are high level executives for Microsoft and had to go through background checks, medical checks, etc. just to get a visa to work at Microsoft in the U.S. Hell, I've got a perfectly normal, educated, non-druggie, productive-to-society friend who was recently kicked out of the U.S. and told that the best way he could get a work visa was to marry an American.

So I don't really think that Americans have the right to complain about visa regulations when our own country has the same if not stronger regulations. They cry out for equality. Why not try making equality in our own country first before running off to a foreign country and demanding that they treat us the same or better? How do you think the immigrants from Latin America feel?

I've been in Korea for a year and a half and not once have I faced any sort of prejudice because I'm American, white or an English teacher. I got my E-2 visa without problems. And I got my E-7 visa without any problems. I did have some issues with my Korean company but that was because of cultural miscommunication. They just didn't know any better, and I didn't know any better, a problem easily fixed if we take the time to research and try to understand. (Probably won't happen, but whatever. It's not like I, the ever powerful American, will completely re-educate Korean culture or Korean business culture that's been around for thousands of years. Doesn't make it right, but does make it hard to undo. Trying never hurts though, just don't complain when you fail because it's an uphill battle the whole way.)

If foreigners are sick of the media attention, then maybe they should refrain from doing things that give you that attention, like oh...refraining from doing/selling drugs while in a foreign country? Or going to work with children when drunk or high? Stuff like that doesn't fly in the U.S. so why the hell would they think it flies in Korea? It's commonsense, people...

Sorry, I guess I kind of got on a soapbox there. I guess I don't really understand what all the fuss is. But then again, I've always been a law-abiding citizen (excluding some speeding tickets) so I've got nothing to worry about. Ugh...it gives me a headache, but it seems like the majority of people here disagree and tend to attack those with similar opinions to mine...Oi vey, just go back to the U.S. if you hate it here so much...