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 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'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.