Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas is Always Crazy

As usual, I've stuffed my Christmas holiday with tons of stuff, half of which requires prior preparation. And, of course, I'm working like crazy up until tomorrow.

Roomie and I have decided to have a small get together on Christmas Day at our place. It's nothing huge; just her, her boyfriend, our friend, me and the guy I'm dating. Another friend of mine might stop by for a bit before going out clubbing. We're just planning to have Christmas-y cocktails, with cookies, pie and maybe some cake and watch movies. Not a whole lot of prep, just a trip to Costco and picking up/cleaning the living room/kitchen. However, we've planned to do this Friday morning and afternoon, which will kind of cramp what I had already planned for Friday.

Friday night, I'm covering two concerts for the website, starting at 7ish. Before that, I had planned to go to the laundry mat (which will take about an hour to an hour and a half), go get the rest of Roomie and Best Friend's Christmas presents and go buy The Boy's present (two stops, but they are both in the same area). But now, we're planning to get to Costco around 10 am when it opens, then cleaning when we get back. I don't foresee Costco and cleaning taking too long (maybe 1-1.5 hours for Costco, an hour at most for cleaning) but I can't be absolutely sure that it won't take all morning and afternoon.

Which means, I now have to fit in what I planned to do on Friday sometime tomorrow, just to make sure it all gets done. Plus, I should probably pick up my bedroom a little, since I'll be embarrassed as hell if anyone peeks in there during our party. (It's pretty messy...)

So, my new schedule...

Tomorrow, I have to get up early and go take care of the Christmas presents before I go meet my friend for lunch at 12pm and then go to work. Tonight and tomorrow night, I'm going to work on picking up my room. (Half of which is just dirty clothes on the floor.) Tomorrow night, as soon as I get back from work, I have to go to the laundry mat. Since I get home at 11 pm, there is a high chance the buses will no longer be running when I finish, so I'll either have to walk 20 minutes back home or try to catch a cab back.

I might try picking up the living room and kitchen a bit now and then go do laundry on Friday. Honestly, with two of us, the cleaning shouldn't take longer than 30 minutes, but there is always the possibility it could take longer... And a HUGE possibility we'll be at Costco for a long time, since Roomie's boyfriend is going with us to do some shopping as well.

I'm planning to talk to Roomie tonight about how long everything will take on Friday, because honestly, I really need to do laundry and I don't want to have to do it late tomorrow night. Especially since I can't remember if the laundry mat is 24-hour or how late it stays open if it isn't...

Bleh, I'll just be happy when I can sleep in and rest (Saturday morning). Isn't that what holidays are supposed to be about? Thank goodness our party on Saturday night is all about comfort...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

And feel like it too. The last two days have been below freezing most of the day. I lose the feeling in my toes on the way to and from the office...

But anyway, I was told today that the morning news show found another replacement for the weather girl, so I'm no longer filling in for her. She told me is that the TJ-nim and producer found someone on their own. But a friend told me they actually hired someone to replace the current weather girl last week and had been training her, then told the current girl two days ago that they're letting her go. I really think my company is sometimes sneaky-sneaky, and not in a good way. *knock on wood* Makes you want to refrain from any vacations for awhile...

Anyway, while I was kind of looking forward to doing the weather live, it's kind of nice that I'll have all day Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off so I can enjoy my holiday. Plus, I can go to the 2AM concert on Dec. 26 and not worry about having to get up at 4 am the next day for work (or at all, actually, since I now have that whole day off, too). I haven't told my TJ about it, out of fear that she'll ask me to come in and do morning editing since I won't be on TV. I know that I can always say 'no', but since I don't officially have anything planned during that time, I would probably end up saying 'yes'. (Remember... sneaky-sneaky...) And I'd rather sleep in than make extra money that they probably wouldn't pay me until February...

So, while I was looking forward to advancing my savings, I'm just going to enjoy the time off instead. And for now, I'm focasing on figuring out what to get my friends for Christmas. I think I've got my roommate's stocking figured out, and another friend that just moved here. But I'm having a hard time with my best friend... Maybe a new iPhone cover?? Ugh. I might just revert to cute jewelry...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Birthday Madness

I do believe that December is the month of birthdays and other party nonsense. Of the group of people that I consider good friends, seven have December birthdays (including myself), and at least two in my extended friend group. And four of us are hosting birthday parties in the next two weekends on top of a couple year-end and going away parties spread throughout the month, and the JYP Nation concert... Ugh... between work and my personal life, I think I'm going to start the New Year off dead...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Holidays Are Meant to be Crazy

I finally got my December work schedule nailed down, and the week of Christmas is looking a bit crazy. But I suppose it's okay since holidays are supposed to be crazy, and I'll be making extra money.

For about three weeks I'm covering the morning editing shift on Mondays and Fridays starting today. Unfortunately, I was already scheduled to do the evening shift, which means a 12-hour day with a tw0-hour break in between. I'll only have one other double shift day on the 17th, so this arrangement isn't too bad, other then I'll be coming in three times on my day off for three hours.

The real kicker will start on Dec. 24. I've agreed to cover for the morning weather girl for about two weeks while she goes on vacation. This means from Dec. 24- Jan. 7, I'll be coming into the office at 5:30 in the morning to write my script, do hair and make-up and then give two live weather reports for our morning broadcast. Which means during the first week, I'll be working 5:30 am to 10 pm with a two-hour break for three days, and the second for two days. That equals to five 14-hour days in two weeks.

I'm staying positive and trying not to let myself get overwhelmed three weeks before I even do anything. I get Christmas Day off. I get to go to a JYP concert for free on Christmas Eve. (Technically, I'll be working at it, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it at the same time.) And it's extra money that I can put towards a number of things. A new camera. Or a new net book and external hard drive since I'm terrified my lap top could die any day now from old age. (It's working fine, a little slow, but okay.) Or a vacation. There is a possibility I could lose my Thursday morning appointment forever, but we'll see.

So, in short, my motto for this month is: Stay positive. I'm getting a fun opportunity to do live TV that I wouldn't get anywhere else. And I already had one person recognize me from doing the evening weather for a week. Maybe I'll get more from this. ^_^

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Back in Seoul

So, I'm back in Seoul and back to work. Going home for a week and a half really re-energized me and helped me get my center back. Work is going along much more smoothly and I'm not so cranky anymore. Also, I'm hoping this going to bed early and getting up at 6:30 am thing continues (jet lag, gotta love it). I was very productive this morning and washed all the the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. Normally, this isn't much of an undertaking, but my roommate didn't really do dishes (at all) while I was gone and there was quite a mess greeting me when I walked in last night. She did say she would do them, but I wanted to cook this morning and to do so, I needed access to the stove, which meant washing dishes...

But back to my trip...

I spent most of my time with my parents, sister and little brother, but I got to see extended family on Thanksgiving and some old friends from college. I also went down to Chandler and saw my old high school teacher that I haven't seen in about five or so years. She was excited to see me and I ended up doing an improv lecture/Q&A on living in South Korea. It was fun and the kids asked some good questions. And, not gonna lie, it was cool being treated a little bit like a rock star. My teacher kept mentioning that I, too, was a Chandler grad and proof that Chandler grads can get out of Oklahoma and do great things (not sure how great editing is, but I let her run with it).

But more than anything, I hope I was able to spark an interest in some of the kids in exploring the world a bit more. So many people from Chandler end up never leaving Oklahoma and getting married and having kids right after school without going out and trying new things. So, I hoped that talking about my job and experiences showed them that they have access to a whole world of opportunities. A bunch of them had more questions about what kind of jobs you could have in Korea and what you should study in college to do them, so I think I encouraged a few. ^_^

We also did a family photoshoot. Here are some of my favorites!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bombs Over... Northern South Korea?

So, I'm home in the States and pretty much the leading story on all the news channels is North Korea shooting artillery at an island in South Korean territory. People were injured, fire was exchanged. Watching from a distance, I'm scared. But at the same time, I'm wondering if the conclusions the American news channels are jumping to are right or over-exaggerations. Or if I've lived in Korea for so long that I've become complacent.

Most of my friends in Seoul have been on Facebook saying things are fine and not to worry. A couple are freaking out thinking that war is about to start. I'm of the mind that the US and ROK are not going to do anything military-wise since neither really wants to go to war at the moment and risk losing everything South Korea has built up. But from this incident and the Cheonan incident, I think we can safely bet that you cannot predict what North Korea will do. And I can't even begin to guess why on earth they've suddenly decided to be so aggressive.

So, I'm hoping that I can get back to Seoul safely, and that my parents don't freak out too bad. But a part of me is silently sad that I'm missing all the excitement... Silly, I know. But it's the journalist side of me...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I'm home in Oklahoma.

I love it.

But it's still odd to be surrounded by a bunch of people who speak English and be able to read everything in the grocery.

I still love it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Leaving On A Jet Plane!

But I do actually know when I'll be back again. December 1st, to be exact.

I'm so ready for this trip home. It finally hit me today that I will be seeing my family for the first time in two years in just two (really want them to be short, but will probably be long) days. And I'm feeling quite accomplished, since my list of things to do before I leave is quickly disappearing. The cable company is coming tomorrow morning. I got my presents purchased yesterday. With the help of my fan, my clothes should be dried and ready to pack by tonight, and I bucked up and called YG today. However, can't cross that off yet, since I'm now waiting on a response, but hopefully I'll get one before I leave for the US. Crap. Probably should have mentioned that on the phone today... I'll call again tomorrow if I don't hear anything...

All that is left to do is to buy some makgeolli, soju and maewasu to take home so that my family can try some traditional Korean alcohol. (Can do after work.) Pack. (Again, after work.) And pay rent. (Can do anytime before Friday.)

I did tell a friend that I would go out with her Thursday night, stay at her place and leave for the airport from there, but after some thinking I've decided not to. First of all, I would have to take my stuff to work with me and then go up to her place. I live in Gunja on the northeast side of the city. I work in Seocho on the south-central side. She lives in Eedae on the northwest side. I have a really large suitcase that I do not want to drag around the city because I'm too cheap to use taxis.

Secondly, I'm running out of money alloted for spending in Korea.

Thirdly, while my flight isn't until 11 am, I really don't want to stay up late or drink the night before I'm supposed to leave. I don't want to miss my flight (since I'll have to leave for the airport by 7:30ish) and I really don't want to uber tired and hungover while traveling for nearly 24 hours. I have an insane amount of transfers to make, which will require me to be alert. Don't believe me?

11 am- Leave Seoul
1:20 pm- Arrive in Tokyo
3:30 pm- Leave Tokyo
7:30 am- Arrive in Portland
1:15 pm- Leave Portland
4 pm- Arrive in Salt Lake City
7:54 pm- Leave Salt Lake City
11:17 pm- Arrive in Tulsa

I feel tired just looking at that...

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's... Over...

The G20 is officially over. *Cue confetti and ticker tape parade*

Well, it's not quite over for us here at work. There are still three more newscasts to go before the end of my shift, which at the moment consists of:
- Two packages (2-3 minutes long)
- 4-6 B-rolls (30-50 seconds)

Today is definitely way more low key than yesterday and the day before. No more reporters running around like chickens with their heads cut off or Boss Lady yelling. Even though we're still reporting, things are calm. Probably because there won't really be any fresh news from now on with all the meetings and such over with. We'll just be re-reporting all the news we put out throughout the day. Thus why I have the time to write this blog.

I'm so ready for this to be over. I really would love to just go home and sleep after work, but I've already promised a couple co-workers that we would go get a couple beers after work to celebrate the end of the G20... bleh...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I think I can physically see the stress permeating the office today. I even had a freak-out moment myself when I got in at 2:06 pm and realized that there is a broadcast at 3pm (once again, no one told me the on-the-hour newscasts started at 3). Luckily, most of the b-rolls for the bulletins are rolling over to the next broadcast, but I've been getting so many random calls to look at packages for today and tomorrow that I'm afraid to leave my desk since there is no telling when the next call might come. Especially since they aren't putting up the cue sheets until an hour before broadcast and I'm not sure what to expect.

Which means I don't know when or if I'm getting dinner tonight. I'll probably have one of the reporters call down to the cafe and order me a sandwich to bring up, if they have a free minute (which most don't). Oi, the stress! I'm so ready for the G20 to be over.

And for the delivery guy to drop off my package from G-Market with my new sweaters... that is if I can find a kind soul to call and speak to him in Korean... I hate having a low Korean speaking and listening ability...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

G20... I love you, but I hate you...

Is it bad that the G20 hasn't even started yet and I'm already feeling the drain? I'm about to start a baek won collection for every time a reporter uses the word 'cooperation'. It's already messing with my super editor skills (*hint* sarcasm).

All I know is, I'm so looking forward to my trip home to the States for Thanksgiving... seriously...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween this weekend. Mine was fun, though not what I expected. I went to a party hosted by someone at the US embassy, which turned out to be more fun than I thought it would be and then headed up to Hongdae to meet up with some friends. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a hold of the people I wanted to meet and ended up hanging out with a friend I hadn't seen in awhile. Somehow in the mix we both lost the people we had originally came to Hongdae with and just hung out alone. I kind of wish we had stuck with the group or stayed at the first party, but oh well. ^_^
The highlight of my night was winning best costume for my 1940s pin-up girl at the first party. I think I had one of the few costumes made by hand and since it was a pain in the neck for a few weeks, I really appreciated the award. It also sparked a new fascination with the 40s retro style and makes me wish I could go shopping for a new wardrobe, but we'll see. ^_^

And here's a picture of my fun costume along with my friend, the Lumberjack.

And now that Halloween is over, I have a crazy couple weeks ahead. Between the G20 and getting ready for my Thanksgiving trip, there is so much to get done. But knowing me, somehow it will all get taken care of one way or another. It just sucks that I have to work so much. But more work = more money, so I should just hush up. Especially since my co-worker was kind enough to agree to work 12 days straight so I can go visit my family...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

G20 or Full Moon?

I think the G20 has the same effect as a full moon on my office today. While filming some promos for our G20 coverage, I noticed PD-nim (who is normally a very serious person) stroking a furry mic cover like an animal. I asked him if it was a dog, and he promptly responded, "No. Cat." (It did kind of look like a Persian...)

He then proceeded to put it on his head like some sort of 80s hair band wig.

And prior to all this, the evening anchor began dancing down the aisle of the office while practicing her lines for the promo, then suggesting to TJ-nim that we put that in the promo to get attention...

I don't know what's going on around here, but I wish it would happen more often...

G20 and Other Things

Halloween is almost here!

But that's not the point of this post...

More importantly, the G20 is almost here!!

That, I am looking forward to. Partially because work will seem so busy that those two days will fly right on by, and partially because it's going to make for some interesting news with all those world leaders here. And I feel kind of special working at a news company and being in Seoul for such a huge global event. (Maybe I am turning into a news nerd...) I hope that it can help Korea step up a few notches on the international stage, but really, who knows. I've heard foreigners talk about Seoul not being ready for it, but one thing I love about Korea is its ability to surprise you. So, I'm going to keep a positive outlook for the G20. Even though the US Embassy sent me an email today warning about possible 'violent' demonstrations...

And after the G20 is said and done, I'm off to home sweet home. I'm really looking forward to my Thanksgiving trip, though I hope I've saved up enough money for it. I keep making lists of things I want to get while I'm there and I'm terrified of over-spending. Though I suppose if it comes down to it, I'm just going to have to cut some things off my list. (Or limit the candy for the office to just 2 bags...)

But I do seriously want to stock up on OTC meds like giant bottles of Advil and other stuff that's hard to get here. (Ladies, you know what I'm talking about...) And maybe get some chili seasoning and Ranch dressing packets. I suppose my list of 'American things' will probably have to wait until I'm walking through Wal-Mart or Target because at the moment, I just can't think of stuff that I can't get here. Probably because I've gone so long without it...

Methinks I'm going to have to take my largest suitcase...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Without Fail

Here we are, six days before Halloween festivities, and I'm coming down with a cold. It never fails that something unfortunate always pops up before Halloween or my birthday. Last year I almost broke my nose the night before Halloween. One year I got really sick and almost couldn't go out. Another year I really was so sick that I didn't go out. (I had a costume and everything...) And this year. I now have a scratchy throat and my nose is stuffy. Thank goodness I have Monday and Tuesday off so I can rest up and get back to healthy so I can fully enjoy my Halloween parties. Oh, and finish my costume... That would be a good thing...

In other news, I've gone and started yet another blog on Tumblr. I admit, I only signed up because there are several blogs over there that I want to follow. But then I had this crazy idea that maybe I could turn it into a commentary on Korean music, movies and general entertainment. There is always something going on over here, it seems, and I always have an opinion. So, if you're curious, go check it out ---> I only have two posts up right now, but I'm having fun with it. I'll never run out of topics.

Oh and a puppy update! Cheech is finally settling down and not dragging me around the neighborhood anymore. Our walks are becoming more enjoyable. Except for when I have to walk him in the morning and I haven't had my coffee yet... Yea, that's not fun. But luckily I don't have to do it very often...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Life with a Big Dog in the City

I am totally a dog person. Always have been, always will be. And you can imagine my joy when my current roommate and I decided to move in together along with her adorable chou-chou puppy, Cheech. I had been wanting a dog for all three years that I lived in Seoul, but couldn't really handle it with my schedule.

I did think about it seriously. I knew that since I would be home during the mornings, it would fall upon me to walk Cheech in the early afternoon before heading out to work, and make sure he is fed and watered and give him love and attention on my days off while I'm at home and she's at work. But, sheesh, this turning out to be a bit more than I expected.

Playing with him- under control. He's a very mild-mannered dog and easy to play with, so if I need time to work on stuff, I can shut my bedroom door for a couple hours and he's happy and calm. No scratching, whining or barking to get in. He's kind of like a giant teddy bear. Watering and feeding is fine too. But walking. Holy wow.

Even though Cheech is still a puppy, he's about 6 months old, which makes him almost full grown. And chou-chous are fairly large and powerful. I've walked him before when my roommate lived in her old apartment, but he was used to the area and pulled very minimally against the leash. Not to mention, she lived near a good-sized park, so it didn't matter where he pooed or peed. But now, we're no where near a park and Cheech is still getting used to the neighborhood. Meaning- he pulls against the leash like nothing else and I've got blisters forming after two days of one 15-minute walk a day.

While he is well behaved around people and especially kids, it's super aggravating walking him while he's investigating every single smell on the street. Half the time, he's walking me, and half the time I'm dragging him away from something. I do stop every so often to give him some time to investigate, because if I don't, he digs his claws in and refuses to budge. Not to mention, I can tell his collar is half gagging him and I feel bad. But I know that I have to be firm with holding him in check, otherwise, he'll never learn to properly walk on a leash.

And although my roommate says it's okay to not pick up the poo here, I beg to differ. People don't mind little dog poo on the street, but they mind big dog poo. We got lucky no one was around yesterday when he pooed, but today I got yelled at, so next time I have the icky job of cleaning up big dog poo off the street. Especially since he likes to poo in front of restaurants. And I always felt a little strange just leaving it there for someone else to pick up.

But it's still tiring. When I thought about getting a dog before, I thought about a nice little pug, which is more suitable for apartment life than a chou-chou. But my roommate had to go and get Goliath instead. We've discussed the possibility of getting another, small dog for me to take care of once Cheech is acclimated, but I'm thinking that's not such a good idea.

That said, I love my roommate and I love Cheech. Inside the apartment he's a perfect angel. Quiet, well-behaved. He doesn't chew on things or jump on people. He likes to cuddle (or occasionally sit on me). He does shed like no tomorrow, which I'll have to get used to. But I did once own a cat, so it's nothing new. But oi vey, I wish I didn't have to walk him during the day for a couple weeks until he gets used to the area.

So, note to future dog owners out there who live in cities, choose a small dog. They're so much easier to handle on a leash. And I kind of feel bad for big dogs. They love to be outside often and poor Cheech is locked up inside for most of the day with both of us working full-time...

Friday, September 24, 2010

I Need to Study Korean More

I seriously wish I could magically speak Korean fluently.

I spent a cumulative 9 months studying, and I was actually getting somewhere, but then I got so busy that I couldn't keep up with it. And now that it's been a few months since I last studied, I can definitely tell that I've forgotten a lot. Back then, I was close to being able to complete a basic conversation, and now I'm back to totally lost.

More than anything, it's frustrating that I can't do things on my own here. If I could speak Korean fluently, I could call and book the moving company or call my landlady on my own. I wouldn't have to bug my friends to do everything for me.

I really, really want to get better at Korean. But it's going to take a lot of time and energy. I studied Spanish for five years and I can barely speak a word of it, so I hoping that I have better luck with Korean. Sometimes I feel like I'm really stupid when it comes to languages, which is super frustrating. It doesn't help that I constantly get 'But you've been here for three years. Why don't you speak Korean more?'

So, my goal for this year... Study Korean and become semi-fluent. I think I can do it...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

We're Moving In!

The lease is signed and the deposit put down.

That's right, we're finally moving in to our brand new apartment.

We went in to take a second look at the apartment yesterday with New Roomie's boyfriend and he deemed it wonderful. So then we headed down to the real estate agent's office to sign all the lease papers and hand over the first month's rent. Our landlord seems nice enough, but he stressed that we need to pay on time each month and he likes a quiet building. I guess that means no housewarming party. Or maybe we'll just do a really small one with close friends only. I've already hosted two, so it's not a big deal to skip out on one for this place. Besides, as of move-in day, we only have the one couch, so not much room for people to sit just yet.

Anyway, we move in on Sunday, which leaves Friday to call the moving company, cable company and figure out how to get rid of my old couch. Sounds simple enough, it's not really. And I need to tell my landlady that we're leaving on the 26th, so I can get my deposit money back for the new place.

So, life is a little hectic now with all the packing and calling and everything that needs to get done. But at least I know that on Sunday night, I'll be cuddled up in my bed in my new room. I'm just hoping that I can get out of the old place and into the new with relative ease. We'll see how that goes with a pissed off Old Roomie (not my fault she took off to Taiwan without telling me and now she has less than a day to pack up and move...) and a slightly damaged old apartment that I'm leaving behind. Yeesh... I've got a ton of cleaning to do the next couple of days...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Light at the End of the Tunnel

I think we’re finally nearing the end of the apartment quest. We went to look at five places yesterday in our primary location and were pleasantly surprised. None were like the apartment I looked at over the weekend which seemed perfect but was too expensive (and I think someone else signed on it… if I understood the agent correctly) but I think we’ve found one that we can call home.

The first four were all in Gunja-dong in between Gunja Station and Children’s Grand Park Station. They were all great location-wise, being within a 5 to 10 minute walk to my roommate’s university, the park (for walking the dog) and the subway station for my commute. However, they weren’t quite right in regards to quality and size. They were all two-rooms, but either the living room wasn’t the right size or shape or one of the rooms wasn’t big enough, or the washing machine was in the bathroom or the inside was just old and couldn’t be touched up. But pricing had a good range from cheap to slightly over our limit.

By the time we were pulling up to the last building, we had decided that while we didn’t like any of the apartments enough to sign a lease, we did like our agent and felt she was working very hard for us. And then we noticed the building we had pulled up to. The first thing we noticed about the last apartment was that it was a bit farther away. It’s located in Junggok-dong, which is a little north of Gunja Station, almost closer to Junggok Station. Still, it’s only about a 10 or so minute walk to Gunja subway station, 15-20 minute walk from the university and park, and there are several buses that pick up just down the street that run to the university and to subway Line 2 (Konkuk University where I live now).

The building is fairly new with a clothing store on the first floor. The apartment was on the fourth floor and had one of those nifty camera/doorbell combos. The door to the building also had a keypad entry. When we stepped into the apartment, the first thing we noticed was light. Lots of light. There were two big windows in the kitchen/living room area and each bedroom had a giant window. There were no buildings tall enough to obstruct the view, so one side of the apartment has a gorgeous look of Acha Mountain and sunlight fills the entire apartment. And it’s new. Completely new. No one has lived there new. We loved the windows and the layout, especially that the washing machine has its own little cubby hole. The bathroom is a good size with room for us to put up a partition between the shower and sink. And both bedrooms are large enough for queen beds, our clothing racks and a desk.

We loved it. The location wasn’t perfect, but we’ve been looking so long, that we both decided it would be worth it to live a little farther out if we could have a new apartment, for less money, with a quiet neighborhood.

We’re negotiating to see if we can get the deposit lowered for a higher rent. My roommate’s boyfriend should be taking care of that, so for now, I can just sit back and wait. It’s kind of nice to just focus on packing and such without having to run off to real estate appointments every morning. Hopefully things get worked out soon. I’d like to get a move-in day settled as soon as possible. At least before someone takes this apartment, too.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Why Work is Frustrating

I came to the sudden and unsuspected realization yesterday that I actually really care about my job.

I say unexpected because I've always told myself that while I take my job seriously, it is not something that I want to do forever. In fact, it's more like what I do now just to get experience in broadcasting and pay the bills. I've always tried to do well, but I didn't really care to really excel in copy-editing.

But I've noticed that over the past few months, I've become more vocal. Instead of just quietly editing things and not making too many changes to articles, I've begun tearing chunks apart, rewriting and really fact-checking.

On the one hand, I feel like I'm really doing something to improve the quality of the news that goes out on air. On the other hand, work is a bit more tiring and stressful. I spend about 10 to 15 minutes per story on average, if it's a story that has a familiar background or if it's relatively well written. However, a few reporters seem to have gotten a little bit, shall we say, lazy over the summer. And we've been getting into arguments a lot the last few months over facts, grammar, leads and story angles.

Some of the reporters that I've previously had great working relationships with seem to doubt me when I say that I think something is wrong with what they wrote. Half the time, I'm just asking them to double check something because I think it sounds wrong, but I can't read the Korean sources. The other half of the time, I know it's wrong because it's a story/grammar rule/AP style rule that I'm familiar with.

I hate arguing with my co-workers over things like why crazy pastor wanted to set Qurans on fire or whether Joe Lieberman is a Democrat or an Independent. I hate confronting reporters who have been writing for years over unintelligible articles. But at the same time, I don't want low quality stuff going out on air. I want our watchers to understand. And it would be nice if foreigners in Korea would turn to our news program for all the latest news.

I know most of my expat friends make fun of the TV channel I work for. At times, I've made fun of it. Heck, pretty much all of my co-workers and I have talked about much of a joke it is at one point in time over the last year I've worked here. But recently, a good chunk of us have actually starting caring enough about it to try and make some positive changes in quality. I know we can't become CNN overnight. But, hey, as long as we try as least we'll be satisfied with the work we do, right?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Rainy Day in Seoul

What's going on in Seoul, you ask? Here is my answer...


So, unfortunately my new roommate ended up canceling our adventures in real estate land without a translator. I ended up going out with my current roommate as a translator for about an hour, but didnt find anything. All the 2BR apartments in the Kondae area were too small and overpriced. One place that I looked at might have worked size-wise, but it was 2.8 million won per month, which is way out of our price range. Plus, it was old.

But there is a silver lining. New Roommate is going back to the first area we looked, Gunja, today with her boyfriend to check out apartments. And Im planning to look around Childrens Grand Park this week as well. We figured that if we split up and then passed on the apartments we like to the other, well get more ground covered and have a better idea of the apartments in the area. Im confident well find something soon and get settled in. Im already starting to mentally plan how I want to decorate my room. (Crazy, I know. Me decorating insane)

Visa Renewal:

Im FINALLY getting the documents for my visa. After another week of my boss telling me, Oh, right. Well talk about that later, I finally navigated through the Korean version of the web site explaining how to renew an E7 visa. I printed it off and highlighted the documents the secretary needed to get and handed it to her, motioning at her so that she understand that she needed to get those documents and give them to me. There are a couple of documents that Ill get, but once she hands over her documents (which should take one maybe two days tops to gather) Im off to immigration for a 30-minute appointment to get my ARC stamped and hand over my passport for a couple weeks. During which time, my new visa will be stamped in and my passport will be returned and Im good for one more year in Korea.

Work (or Overwork):

I am currently in the eighth day of a (hopefully) 12-day run at work. I was told on Monday that someone would be starting next Monday to fill the open editor position and Im hoping this is correct. Otherwise, Im not sure how many days in a row Ill be working. Its more money, yes, but its hard to stay positive and sharp when you have no day off to look forward to. Not to mention Ive been filling up the hours before work with real estate appointments and lunch dates and not sleeping well at night. Oi I seriously need sleep and some time to spend getting a few drinks with my friends. Life is too tense right now and I need some relaxation.

Fun Interviews:

Sadly, Im not sure if Im still getting my band interviews that I was promised. Band Friend with all the contacts had a falling out with my other friend and now I have no way to contact Band Friend since Other Friend was my link (I don't have Band Friend's phone number). Not to mention, Other Friend was going to be the translator for the interviews and Band Friend now wants to have nothing to do with her. I still dont understand what the conflict was, but Im sad that this means no interview with Guckkasten at the moment, and that our nights of hanging in Hongdae are over. I suppose this means Ill have to start focusing my efforts on infiltrating YGs PR department and get on some sort of press list. Were hoping to cover Tae-yangs upcoming solo concert at the end of September, but were at a loss as to how to get on a press list and get press privileges. So, it is now my job to figure this out, since Im currently the only writer located in Seoul.

Im not quite that confident in my skills, but well see how this goes down. Im just hoping that showing up YG headquarters dressed professionally will be enough to get me a meeting with a press contact (that speaks English, preferably). Though, personal contacts are better I should sweep through my personal network and see if anyone I know can help me first

Oi I seriously wish I could take a nap its only been one hour at work so far and Im fading fast stupid eight days of working in a row

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Nothing Much Goin' On

I should probably write a thorough report on Jisan, but I don't really have the patience right now. But I promise you, there will be a report. I guess this will just be a preview of some fun stuff that should be coming up soon...

1.) The Apartment Hunt Continues:
My roommate and I are starting up the hunt again tomorrow (FINALLY!). This time we are attempting to go out by ourselves, with no English agent or translator. She is convinced that as long as we write down our perimeters (aka 2-3 BR, spacious living room/kitchen, monthly rent, etc.) on a piece of paper in Korean, we should be okay. And if we find something we like, we can then call in someone to translate and negotiate for us. She seems positive, so I'm going to try and follow her lead. At this point, I'm so ready to get out of my current place that I'll probably agree to anything she likes as longs as it's less than 1.2 million won per month. (Especially since she's pickier than me.)

But this whole experience reeks of funny, have-to-write-it-down-and-share. There will probably be a blog... or a book... about tomorrow very soon. Perhaps I should get a friend to follow us around with a video camera and get everything on tape...

2.) Guckkasten and Filmstar Interviews:
I've been told, nay, promised that I could have interviews with these two bands in the near future. I'm friends with someone in Filmstar who said he would talk to his band and get them to sit down for a video interview for my web site ( He is also friends with the guitarist in Guckkasten and is planning to ask them if I can interview them as well. Hongdae Friend has said she would translate and another friend has agreed to video and edit the film for the web site, so everything's good. We just need to set up a date and get it done.

3.) HOME!:
So far, everything is go for my trip home for Thanksgiving. I'm currently waiting for the new copy-editor to get hired so I can talk over the schedule with them before informing my boss that I'll be gone for about 12-13 days at the end of November. I'm super excited since it will be two years since I've seen any of my family. And, I get to eat Mom and Gramma's famous Thanksgiving Dinner and see some friends from college and high school that I haven't seen in 3-6 years.

4.) New camera:
I'm in the process of looking for a new digital camera. At first I thought I would get a cheap, used one that I could use until I saved up for a nicer, new one, but I accidentally looked at a really awesome Samsung camera today that I really want. The guy is selling it for 340,000 won (he bought it two weeks ago for about 400,000 or 450,000 won, I think) which is most definitely out of my price range right now, but that hasn't stopped me from seriously considering it. I have about 900,000 won in my moving fund and it's really tempting to pull that out and replace it next month (since I'm working crazy hours the rest of this month) but I'm trying to refrain. There is a possibility he might still have it in 2 weeks when I get paid, but I doubt it. So, I'm just going to have to force myself to be patient and wait just a little bit longer... It will pay off in the end... Besides, my friend is selling her DSLR soon and perhaps I might be able to save up enough and buy that instead...

Anyway, I suppose that's about it for updates/previews/whatever. Hopefully I can get a post up with more meat next time...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Issues With Fangirls

I live in Korea. Koreans pretty much wrote the book on fangirlism and all the craziness that entails. For the most part, my friends and I make fun of them and have a good laugh. It provides a lot of entertainment on occasion. But sometimes they really annoy me.

Especially when they are older fangirls. As in, adult fangirls. Women who are my age or around my age. And occasionally older than me.

Now, I can understand that people who follow music groups or actors or whatever for years can become quite attached to said celebrities. I'm a huge fan of Relient K and have been for about 10 years now. However, I do not have all their names memorized (mostly because they keep changing drummers and bassists). I do not know where they currently live or what their favorite movies or ice cream are. I do, however, watch for when their new albums are coming out so I can buy them. I occasionally read articles about them because I find it interesting to hear what their inspiration was behind certain songs and whatnot. If I'm in the States, I buy tickets to their shows.

I do not daydream about marrying Matt Theissen (the lead singer). I do not cover my walls with their posters. I do not write a million and a half blog posts about them. And should they ever break up, yes, I will be sad, but I will not be upset and lose my will to live. My life will not turn upside down. I will not start petitions to keep them together.

Because no band or music group stays together forever. It's a natural part of life. Even the Beatles didn't stay together and no one thus far is bigger than them. And just because they break up, doesn't mean we have to stop listening to their music. There is no reason to get all torn up about music groups breaking up or one member deciding to leave. It's THEIR choice. Not the fans. Because, now pay attention because this is radical stuff, they are HUMAN. Wow, what a concept! They aren't owned by the fans?

And I think that behavior like that is best left for a bunch of junior high and high school girls. Not adults (aka people over the age of 18). Thus why it annoys me to hear of people I know who are 20 or 24 who are actually getting depressed about some obscure Asian group breaking up that they've followed for years. They write long blog posts about it... and then get even more upset when people tell them to get over it, and say things like, 'no one understands me!' Well, yea, because you're 20-something and you're acting like a 15-year-old...

This might be considered harsh, but I think back to when I was in my 20s. I was working two to three jobs to get through school. I worried about things like car payments and how I was going to pay for my school's volunteer trip to Northern Ireland. Things like what I wanted to do after I graduated and finding jobs kept me up at night. Yes, I did like a few of these Asian groups, but they didn't rule my life. I wasn't learning Japanese because I dreamed of someday meeting them or running off to Japan. It was just a phase. I still had my daily life/future career plan issues that took presence over my hobbies. Because focusing on studying and choosing a career seemed more important in the long run than some group of Asian boys that dance around and sing.

So... in conclusion, I no longer have any patience for people who are over the age of 18 who are obsessed to an unhealthy level with music groups. Seriously. Grow up. Get a life. Focus on what you are planning to do with your life and not some group of celebrities. Because in the big scheme of things... It doesn't matter.

And, those celebrities that you're falling all over yourself to love and support... they most likely don't even give a shit about you. They are going to do what they want to do. This is a business and they are in it to make money and be famous. It's a job. Think about that the next time you want to bawl your eyes out because Hot Boy A has decided to leave his group to pursue something else that may or may not make him more money or fame.

(And just to be fair, I do know there are exceptions to the rule... Some celebrities do care... but probably not many...)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Apartment Hunt

My new roommate and I have officially started our apartment hunt today. We initially wanted something in the Children's Grand Park area, since that's where my roommate attends university and it's still not that far of a commute for me. Unfortunately, our real estate agent told us that for the key money we have, there isn't much in the way of two bedroom apartments in that or the Kondae area, but he was still able to pull through for us and we looked at three apartments near Gunja Station.

A quick note on the key money (security deposit) thing before I continue, since it's something that I myself didn't know, even after living in Korea for nearly 3 years. While living somewhere other than Gangnam might be cheaper in rent, areas outside of the main foreigner hot spots (Itaewon, Gangnam, Haebongcheon, etc.) or towards the outskirts of Seoul, tend to have higher key money. The real estate agent said this is partially because they aren't use to dealing with foreigners and don't really know/understand that we're use to lower deposit prices and are still used to the jeonse system, and mostly because while monthly rent is completely negotiable, it's the key money that's most important because they can make a decent amount off the interest that they keep when they give you the deposit back. Thus, while you can get a brand new, 3 bedroom apartment for maybe 1.2 million a month, key money could run you about 20 million won.

Anyway, so we looked at three apartments today in the Gunja area. At first I thought it would be far from work, it's actually not that bad. It's on the 7 line and only two stops from line 2 and Kondae, so I'm still technically in the same area. I walked it today, and it was maybe a 20-30 minute walk from one area to the other. And it was a nice walk. Clean sidewalks, a bit of construction, but altogether really pleasant. The main difference is the area is much nicer and mostly new. It's more families than college students and the air feels cleaner. Plus, it's near Children's Grand Park, which is a huge park that has tons of fun things to do. (I could see a ferris wheel from one of the apartments.)

Apartment #1:
It was definitely the biggest of the three, but it was also a bit older. The living room area/kitchen was spacious and there was a lot of counter space. Also, it had a good size enclosed balcony where we could put the washing machine and store things. The bathroom was also large, though we would probably replace the shower head. The down side was the wallpaper (which we would negotiate to replace) and the bedrooms. One bedroom was a decent size, but the other two were really small and even smaller. Both of us have queen-size beds, so we were really unsure about whether we could fit the bed in there. If we could, it would take up the entire room and we would have to turn the third bedroom into a study/closet.

Other than that, it wasn't bad. I would have to bring my stove over from my current apartment and we would have to purchase an air conditioner, but other than that, we have everything. They didn't tell us a price, but we assume it was within our perimeters. It had a car park for Mac's car and there was a key pad to get into the building which we both liked. And it was a 2-3 minute walk from the subway station.

Apartment #2 and #3:
The last two were actually in the same building, which was brand new and had just been completed. There were only 9 apartments in the building and so far about 5 of them have been filled. The building was really nice, had an underground car park, security pad for the entrance and was literally a 2-minute walk from the North Gate Entrance to Children's Grand Park. It was only about 4 stories high and the apartments were on floor 2 and 3, plus there was roof access. The roof was spacious and had a great view of the park and the area. It's perfect for having BBQs and cook outs and we were told we could use whenever we wanted. Plus it was a 5-6 minute walk from the subway station.

Apartment #2 had a decent sized living area and we liked the lay-out of the kitchen. Lots of counter space and plenty of room for a table. The decor was very Korean, but it still looked nice. I liked the light fixtures. The bathroom was small, but it had a waterfall shower head, and a fancy toilet with bidet and other options. There was a small laundry room and three bedrooms. But this one had the same problem as the first one. One bedroom was great, but the other two were matchboxes. Both were too small for a queen-sized bed. However, the price was great. They negotiated the key money down for us to 15 million won and the monthly rent was below what we initially asked for.

We really liked Apartment #3. The lay-out was similar to Apartment #2, but the second bedroom could fit a queen bed in it. It was a little weird though, because a sliding door separated it into two halves, and we didn't really understand why they did that. The local real estate agent said it was intended to be some sort of storage closet or dressing room, but it was almost the same size the the room in the front. We looked at it and we think you could fit a queen bed in the back room (which would basically fill the entire the room) and then put the closet and such in the front. If it's my room, there is plenty of space for my TV and closet, plus some drawers. And the agent said we could take the sliding doors out if we wanted, which would open up the room a bit more.

The kitchen lay-out was different and not so space efficient and the bathroom was a bit smaller (but had the same fixtures), however, what sold us was the laundry room and patio. The laundry room had full windows on two sides and was very spacious. We could definitely fit the washing machine and a table out there. I have to admit, it's a nice view to have when you're eating. And there was a small patio off the laundry room that could fit a small, 2-person chair. Again, the view was nice. And the third, pocket-sized bedroom could be turned into our study and had plenty of space for our desks. It was a little more expensive than Apartment #2, but still in our range.

We both really liked it, but wanted to think about it and maybe check out another area. I really wanted to just sign the lease today, but it's a good thing Mac was there, because she asks all the right questions and is a bit more level-headed than I am. I get caught up in liking some place, that I often don't stop and think about everything. For example, is living in that building worth giving up the kitchen layout that we want or a bigger bathroom or more evenly sized bedrooms? (At this point, I say yes, but I could change my mind after some careful thought.)

So that was our first day in apartment hunting. Hopefully we'll go out again next weekend and maybe decide on something soon. I don't want to lose Apartment #3 and get stuck with something that's not quite what we want...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cheonan Blasts Off? Say What?!

For awhile now I've contemplated a blog about some of the things I deal with as a copy-editor at an English news program in Seoul. A majority of the writers are fairly good and do decent work, but every so often, I get a few bloopers that either have me laughing or scratching my head.

Not to mention, sometimes they get a little bit lazy and forget to check and re-check their sources, something that especially needs to be done if they translate from Korean sources, since a lot of Korean reporters are lazy when it comes to source checking. So I've decided that this post will be devoted to some of the mess ups I've caught so far.

World Cup:
According to one of our reporters... 180 million people were planning to take to the streets on the night of the Uruguay-Korea game to cheer for the national team. I suppose Korea planned to import football fans from other countries since the current population stands at 48 million... (She actually meant 1.8 million.)

Obama's Visit:
Awhile back, Obama came to visit Seoul and was going to speak at one of the military bases. For an entire day, we announced that he would go to Yongsan base, since that was the location told to the reporter by some obscure source. It wasn't until I spoke with my then-boyfriend who was in the Air Force that afternoon, that we discovered he was actually speaking at Osan Air Force Base.

G20 in Canada:
One of our reporters wrote a piece introducing the G20 summit in Toronto. She wrote that the summit was taking place the first week of June... It actually took place the last weekend of June. A fact that was recorded in every major news source at the time the article was written.

Cheonan Huh?:
We have one reporter who covered most of the Cheonan incident. She's nice, but not a native English speaker and definitely kept us entertained while covering such a dark topic. Here's a few gems.

"... the military plans to start lift off the bow as early as Saturday..."
"... the soldiers that sank off the Cheonan..."
"... the dead soldiers were found in their underwears..."

The President Regrets What?
One reporter recently covered the Sejong City revision bill that was voted down at the National Assembly. Really, the entire article was riddled with mistakes. Instead of quoting the ruling GNP parliamentary speaker Park Hee-tae, he quoted parlimentary speaker Park Hee-tak, and then blamed it on bad copy from Yonhap, a major English/Korean newswire here. (Honestly... I'm a foreigner, he's Korean and I knew the guy's real name and title...)

He then quotes President Lee Myung-bak as saying that he "deeply regrets the decision." What the President actually said, was that while he respects the decision, he finds it deeply regrettable.

The Korean War
The same reporter who entertained us during the Cheonan incident, also provided some fun during the anniversary of the Korean War...

"It has been 60 years since the broke out of the Korean War."
"... many soldiers shared blood during the Korean War." (Meant to say 'shed'.)

Senator Joe Lieberman magically became a Democrat again... and that actually went on air before I came on shift and noticed it. (He's been an Independent Democrat since 2006, which is not the same party.) This wouldn't have been that bad, since the parties sound similar, except the reporter proceeded to argue with me, saying that AFP called him a Democrat, so it must be correct. He even asked if I checked AFP to make sure... I just stared at him and reminded him that I'm American... and thorough copy-editor.

A ferry wreck had 50 missing passengers for half of our bulletins one day, when all of the foreign reports that came out before our reporter even wrote the story said there were only 11.

And of course, there are many, many more mistakes that make me scratch my head or think that some of my co-workers have temporary spans of idiocy, however, these are the ones I remembered or wrote down so I wouldn't forget.

Some of them I put on my very own personal "Wall of Shame" at my desk. All the reporters must walk by my desk at some point during the day, so it acts as a reminder that they should double check their stuff before sending it to me... or else blatantly obvious, silly, or stupid mistakes will be posted for all to see.

Every day brings more news... and more mistakes...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I Think It's Officially Rainy Season

It's slowly, but surely been raining more and more here in the busy metropolis of Seoul. And this can only mean one thing... monsoon season has arrived.

Okay, well, I think it technically arrived a few weeks ago when we had torrential rain for about three or four days in a row, but then it magically stopped and was sunny (and hot) every since. But now it's starting to get cloudy and spit out rain again, which means we're heading towards another downward slope with the rain.

I personally love monsoon season.

Call me crazy, but I love falling asleep to the sound of rain outside my open window. I love staying in all day with the front door open and the rain (finally) cooling down the apartment. I always wear my hair curly, so I don't have to deal with the crazy frizzy, wants-to-curl-but-won't-completely mess. I love getting dressed up in my rain boots and trapezing around the city. (And purposely jumping in puddles trying to splash all the fussy girls around me. Hehe.) Rainy season in Seoul is really not that bad. Of course, having rain boots helps.

I like to think that I was one of the first to jump in on the rain boot trend here. My friend and I scoured the city last summer, looking for two pairs. We saw girls walking around in them occasionally when we went out, but we could never figure out where to find them. And whoever we saw wearing them always seemed to disappear before we could ask where they found them. Finally, we found some at Muji, but they were nearly 50,000 won and had a very small selection of sizes and colors. Of course, this didn't matter to us. We each found a pair that we liked in our sizes, forked over the cash and then proceeded to wear them whenever we could. (Which included cloudy days... The forecast may have said 20% chance, but we didn't want to risk it...)

Of course, this summer, there are rain boots on every corner in every color, every design and every size... and I'm having the hardest time keeping myself from buying a pair in each one. Of course, I technically don't need more than one pair... but Seoul has so many wonderful rain boots this season! And I can't wear the same pair of rain boots every day, can I?

I admit, I'm not a very trendy person or a fashion slave. I'm happiest in jeans/shorts and t-shirts. I don't even buy shoes a lot. (Thank you self-imposed shopping ban.) But I think I'm edging closer to a rain boot addiction. I really want another pair, even though I don't really need one... and it doesn't help that they're everywhere... and so cheap...

But I digress. Well, not really, but I'm sure I've talked enough about rain boots...

So, basically, it's monsoon season again, which means it's time to put up the Converses for a few weeks, and perpetually carry an umbrella. I also love how monsoon season coincides with rock festival season. The two main festivals this year fall right towards the end of rainy season. Meaning there is guaranteed to be at least one or two days of rain for each festival.

And you can bet I'll be there... in my rain boots...

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Saga of the Nosy Landlady

I’ve never rented an apartment in the States, but I’m fairly sure that it’s customary for landlords or landladies to call before popping in to take care of things.

Apparently not so much in Korea.

I assumed that for some reason it was just my landlady, but I asked a co-worker and she said that it was pretty normal for landladies to stop on by whenever or not to call beforehand, since they see their rental property as an extension of their house.

But do they have to do it in the morning? When I’m trying to sleep?

I suppose in their defense, I do sleep in late (about 10 or 11 am) but mostly because I work a night shift and often don’t get home until 11pm and in bed around 1 or 2 am. But, I have lived in this apartment for nearly two years now, and for about the last year, I’ve had this schedule, you would think they would learn to come on my day off in the afternoon by now instead of banging on my bedroom door trying to wake me up at 8 am.

Most of the time, they do only come over when something is broken and I call for them to come fix it. But even then, they don’t come right away and they never tell me when. I just have to sit there and wait patiently. Or get woken up the next morning. And sometimes the washing machine breaks, they have to rush over to turn the water off. At 7 am.

Honestly, a simple call involving the words ‘mul’ (water) and ‘setaki’ (washing machine) would suffice. I know how to turn the water off. And then another call giving me fair warning that they are on their way up to fix the water would be great, so I could at least have the chance to throw on some decent clothes before they are pounding down my front door (or sometimes my bedroom door if I’m sleeping particularly heavy that morning).

But today. Today was the most uncomfortable experience.

At 7 am, I am woken by the sound of pounding on my bedroom door. I throw on something decent and rush out to find my landlady sopping up water in the laundry room. She starts saying something about water and such and pointing at the machine. After about 10 minutes, she leaves. I debate whether I should stay up in case they come back to fix the machine, but sleepiness wins and I crawl back in bed, figuring the knocking on the front door will wake me up again.

Just as I’m about to enter dreamland, about two hours later, there is another knock. It’s the landlady’s husband with a new hose for the washing machine. He works on it for about 10 minutes and then explains the problem to me. I step back to let him leave, thinking if he leaves now, I can still get another hour of sleep in.

Of course, he doesn’t leave.

Instead, he digs through my fridge and pulls out some plume wine that’s been in there since April and drinks it. (This was fine as neither my roommate nor I touch the stuff.) At this point, I’m washing dishes, trying to keep busy while he’s there. He peeks in the cupboards, checks out the bathroom and checks the drain, deeming everything ‘good’. Then he sees the grill on my stove and says ‘not good’. He then proceeds to take my stove apart and scrub them in the bathroom with our bathroom cleaning brush that we use to scrub the floors. He’s at it for about 20 or 30 minutes while I bleach the entire kitchen area, including my coffee pot, toaster oven and fridge.

Once done with this, he checks around the apartment some more. Tries talking to me about random things. And then, after an hour, finally leaves. My landlady and her husband are very nice people, but I hate that they always come over unannounced. Some of my other friends here don’t seem to have the same problem, but I suppose their apartments aren’t old and falling apart like mine… Ugh…

Seriously… all I ask for is just one phone call…

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Greenplugged Rock Festival

Why must I start to get sick right before my busiest weekend ever? I seriously hope my throat starts feeling better by tomorrow, otherwise the slough of celebrations going on this weekend (Bliss Anniversary Party, Co-worker Birthday Party, Korea Game 1 in the World Cup Party) and the not so fun (working on Saturday and Sunday) will be slightly unbearable. I blame it on the heat and the fact there is no air conditioner in my apartment...

But anyway, on to more fun things...

I love many things about summer in Korea.

Yes, it gets stifling hot and humid towards the end after rainy season, but there are tons of events and festivals to fill up those steamy summer days.

That's right, it's rock festival season. And I didn't realize it until this year, but there are tons of rock festivals in Korea, which is interesting considering that the country itself is typically a K-Pop, electronic/trance/house music country.

My friend Angela and I hit up the first rock festival of the season, Greenplugged Rock Festival, on May 22 at World Cup Stadium Park and it was quite a good start to the season. It was mostly indie bands, but there were a few big names there. And a lot of the indie bands were quite good.

I got to catch my friends, Phonebooth, play first thing in the morning and it was nice seeing them on a bigger stage with a nice light set-up. They mostly played new stuff, which rocked. The crowd wasn't too big since it was the first in the line-up, but they still got everyone rocking. (Sidenote: I just found out from them that they will be playing on Saturday at Pentaport Rock Festival, July 23-25 in Incheon.)

Next we went over to check out a band that I hadn't heard before, but Angela said that they were pretty popular and would be at some upcoming festivals.They were called Gukkasten (국카스텐) and had a unique sound to them. I know the lead singer sounded similar to someone I've heard before, but I can't seem to put my finger on it. For being one of the early shows, they had a pretty good crowd. And definitely had a lot of stage charisma. I liked what I heard and I'm looking forward to catching more of them at future shows.

We decided to hang out around the main stage for a bit and found a good spot to sit. The next band described themselves as a modern rock band called Buiret. The lead singer and bass player were girls and the guitarist was this guy with crazy blonde hair. They were good, more of a power ballad-type group with the singer having something of an Evanescence-style, however it wasn't quite as powerful. It was interesting because the sound of the music didn't quite match up with the image on the stage. The way they dressed and jumped around, I almost expected more of a punk, Nana-esque sound (props to you if you know that manga/anime/movie). Again, it was good, but probably not something I would listen to all the time. (By the way, my apologies for the shoddy camera work... it's my iPhone and I was too lazy to stand. Besides, I was filming for the music, not so much the image.)

The next band we listened to was probably the oldest band there. Buhwal (부활) has been around for about 26 years and I didn't realize this until we listened to them, but they've written some of the most famous, influential, memorable songs in Korea. As the crowd started singing along with them, I found I recognized them, mostly from remakes by current pop bands or commercials. However, the lead singer was new and younger. Angela said that the group changes their lead singer every few years. I'm not sure why, but may have something to do with keeping younger generations interested. They were fun to watch at the festival, but I'm not sure I would rush out to buy any CD's. They're classic Korean rock, but I like my classic rock more like the Beatles, Billy Joel or Elton John. Classic Korean rock still sounds too "poppish" for my taste.

Of course, there was the usual wandering around the festival grounds. We found a face painting booth and decided to get our faces painted. We then sat down and watched a band called 3rd Line Butterfly. They were okay, but the lead singer wasn't that great. That's about the time that it started raining. Of course, we didn't let that hold us back. We just picked up some panchos and opened our umbrellas and continued circumventing the festival grounds, pausing at stages when we heard something we liked.

Even though the stages were fairly spread out, it was nice because there was no overlap sound-wise and the lay-out of the park made it easy to move around from one section to another. Plus, because there was so much room, it allowed for more stages (about five) which allowed for more bands. It only sucked if two or more bands that you wanted to see played at the same time. However, each stage had a little different time schedule, so you could catch a lot of shows. Also, even though there were a ton of people there, it never felt crowded.

Anyway, after getting some snacks, we settled on a hill near the Sky stage, where they had started in on the hip-hop acts. They had a fun b-boy group onstage when we got there, but the main attraction was a group called Supreme Team that came on after them. They are fairly new, I think the first time I had heard of them was last summer when I went to the Asia Song Festival. Their most popular song 'Super Magic' was used in a Nate commercial and I had been looking for it for months before I discovered it was theirs. They put on a good show and had everyone on their feet dancings and throwing their hands in the air. It was quite interesting from where we were sitting towards the back.

We left soon after that. I wanted to stay and watch Clazziquai, but we had been there for about 6.5 hours at that point, with about four of those hours being in the rain. I was wearing flip flops and my feet were getting cold, as was the rest of me since I didn't bring a jacket. Plus at that point, we had to wait another hour and a half until they took the stage. Angela and I had decided that for Jisan in July we're packing our rainboots just in case. Even if it only rains a little, the boots will help with the tons of mud that always seems to appear at rock festivals. I don't think I've ever seen my feet so dirty. Fortunately, that was easily fixed with a water fountain before we walked down to catch the bus. Unfortunately, I lost my voice the next day, probably as a result of standing out in the cold and rain for multiple hours.

A couple down sides: The location was a little difficult to get to and find. World Cup Stadium Park is huge and actually split up into two parts. We ended up missing about half of the first set even though we gave ourselves plenty of time to get there because there weren't any signs at the entrance to the park as to where we were to go. Also, we only found out as we were leaving that there was a shuttle bus that went from the festival to Hapjeong and Mapo Stations. Would have been a huge help to know that beforehand. Again, a lack of communication in Korean and English, as Angela is Korean and even she didn't really find a lot of info on the shuttle from the website.

But, it was a great start to a fun festival season. Some other bands that played: Crying Nut, Super Kid, The Koxx, Windy City, YB, Outsider, Vanilla Unity, etc. I think there were seriously close to a 100 bands over the Friday and Saturday of the festival. While a bit pricey (55,000 won at the gate for one day, 88,000 for two) it was totally worth it with the sheer amount of bands there... and all the free stuff they gave away. (Free Vitamin Water all-day... plus face-painting was free, and everyone got a gift pack with a free Starbucks mug, pancho and water.)

Up Next: Report on Time to Rock Festival from June 5 and Jisan Rock Festival (July 31- August 1)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Eat for the Camera!

I just realized that I never did write that blog about the filming… and now I have a blog about the Greenplugged Rock Festival that I want to write as well.

I guess first things first… the filming…

I have to admit that filming the travel show was a lot more tiring than I thought it would be. And I still don’t quite understand why, since we didn’t actually do a whole lot of on camera work. For me, it was mostly walking around and asking what things were and wh

at people were doing and then eating… a lot. And yet, and the end of the first two-day shoot, I was utterly exhausted.

Day One: Jirisan

I started my first day at 4 am. I had to meet the crew at 6 am at my office to head out to our destination and since I was up until 1 am working on a radio script, I decided to just get up early and pack instead of staying up later. Needless to say, as soon as we set off on our four-hour drive down to Jirisan, I passed out. As did my translator, Jun-soo. Of course, not before chatting a bit and getting to know each other some.

Once at the mountain, the camera guys made us get out of the van on the two-lane highway so they could get some shots of the van driving up the road and a pretty little creek. We then arrived at the little restaurant/lodging house where we were filming. The first hour or so involved a lot of just me walking up the little road to their house and looking at the scenery around me. (I was told to look excited… not a whole lot of excitement to be found in staring at trees.) And then I got up to the house and had to ask the couple in Korean what were the giant swatches of leaves spread out on the ground and what they were doing with them. I had no idea what they were saying, but the director told me to just nod and say things like, “Ah,” and “Creyo,” and such. This went well, until the woman said she would make me lots of good food in Korean. I had no idea, and they didn’t know she would say it, so my response was, “Ah.” There was a couple seconds of awkward silence before someone yelled, “Kamsahamida!” from behind the camera. We all started laughing and went through the shot again, this time with me being more prepared with my responses.

After this, we waited for the food to be prepared and then moved to a large living room where a table was set up. I was a little nervous about them filming me as I ate, since I tend to be a bit of messy eater, but it turned out to be okay. I was told to focus on the food and the couple, so I didn’t notice the camera to my right side. It was kind of awkward. I had to ask them questions about the food (sannamul- basically leaves from the mountain that are used as side dishes and in bibimbap) in English, then my translator would yell it in Korean from behind the camera. They would answer in Korean, then she would yell it to me in English. And then they had the woman feed me several of the sannamul. At first it was okay, but then she fed me a couple of lettuce wraps and put a little too much food in it. And of course, I had to eat bibimbap… which to say the least, is not my favorite Korean meal.

After the eating wrapped and the crew got a chance to eat, we headed up the mountain so they could film me collecting sannamul with the couple. They told me to chat about how it reminded me of my mother’s garden when we lived in Oklahoma. (I hated it. Mom made us weed.) Then, we were done and back on the road heading to the next town where we would stay for the night. We stopped and had some delicious bulgogi (I think the area is famous for it) which was very welcomed after a lunch with nothing but leaves. Once at the pension, Jun-soo and I bid everyone good-night and crashed in our room, despite the producer trying ever so hard to get us to stay up and drink with him and the crew.

Day Two: Seomjin River

Our second day of filming dawned bright and early… at 7 am. We all got dressed and packed the van up, only to realized as we started down the road that someone left the back of the van open and my backpack and some other bags were now strewn about the highway. Once we got that cleaned up, we headed to a maesil village that sat on top of a really big hill and looked over the river. It was really quite beautiful to look at early in the morning. There was more walking and looking around at the trees and flowers. Then walking through a maze of kimchi pots full of fermenting maesil (maesil- a small, plume-looking fruit that is green. It’s suppose to help with tummy problems… ended up upsetting mine…).

After that, we headed down to the river where they filmed me talking to a fisherman who scraped the bottom of the river for jaechap (jaechap- tiny, little clams/cockles). It was a lot more interesting being on the boat and I naturally had a lot of questions to ask the man. The camera guy definitely didn’t have to tell me to look interested this time. And I was use to the translating arrangement by now. The fisherman even let me try getting jaechap… though I kind of sucked at it.

After this, we headed up to a restaurant to film me eating jaechap. Jun-soo and I ended up taking a nap while waiting for the food to be ready. This time went much quicker and easier because I didn’t have to ask questions. The ahjumma at the restaurant just talked about all the food and pointed at dishes when she wanted me to try them. Then I had to say how it tasted and if I liked it (which for the camera, I did). I honestly didn’t really like jaechap because it was too fishy-tasting for me. The director said it was because I’m foreign. I said it’s because I don’t like fish… and most foreigners like fish.

After this, we drove about an hour to a different part of the river. There sat an oyster boat with an oyster diver. I knew immediately this was going to fun because as soon as we were introduced, the diver was teasing me in Korean for not being able to speak Korean. We filmed more shots of me walking up to the boat and asking what he was doing. Then he invited me on board and for the first time the whole trip, I understood what he was saying and responding accordingly in Korean.

We all got on the boat and he told me about diving and the oysters (which were called cherry blossom oysters). I asked a lot of questions. Then he dove in and proceeded to stay under for a couple hours while we all sat bored onboard. Jun-soo and I discovered that little crabs were getting sent up with the bags of oysters, so we began chasing them around the boat and throwing them back into the water. One of the camera guys thought this was entertaining so he followed us for a bit. Then we watched the diver’s assistant for a bit while he cleaned up the oysters and packed them up. He fed us a couple of raw oysters, which were good, but a lot more salty than I’m use to. Jun-soo said that they just went out of season, which is why they didn’t taste as good right now.

Eventually, the diver came up and we filmed talking a bit more. Then I had to eat another raw oyster with him. After docking, we loaded up and headed to his house, where there was going to be a full blown party. None of the restaurants in town were serving oyster, so he said for the show he would invite several of his friends and co-workers over and have an oyster-grilling party. Again, tons of fun. The best way to eat grilled oyster is to wrap it in kimchi. Sooo tasty. Of course, there was the necessary feeding of me and then me shouting, “Masshisoyo!” I think about five or six ahjussis took turns feeding me bites of oyster.

After this, we loaded up into the van and began our long, four-hour drive back to the city.

And the next day I got food poisoning.

Day Three: Gongju and Flower Gardens

The following weekend, we set out for one more day of filming. We were headed to a flower farm in South Chungchong Province. However, upon arrival, the owner wasn’t there, so we headed over to film in the city of Gongju where there was a group of famous tombs from the Baekje Dynasty.

Of course, there was more walking and looking around. We went into a museum and they filmed me looking around the artifacts, then walking around the tombs. We then headed over to the flower farm again.

This time, we did food first. By the time we got back, the food was all spread out on the table. I felt like I was looking at a series of centerpieces, not my meal. The owner explained that eating flowers was very healthy and he got the idea from hearing about restaurants that served edible flowers in Europe. Now, Koreans are really into eating flowers. It was interesting to find that each flower had a very distinctive taste. One tasted very citrus-y, similar to a lemon. While some were pretty bitter and others tasted like lettuce.

I ate peonies and gladiolas in a salad and on a dessert sandwich with a jam made from flowers and nuts that tasted really sweet and similar to peanut butter. We then had… more bibimbap. It was better than the sannamul, but still not a fan.

Afterwards, I walked around the garden with the farmer as he explained the different kinds of flowers and had me try them. He was really funny and kept me entertained. Once we were done, we loaded into the van and headed back to the city once again. I finished off the night eating Chinese food. I wasn’t hungry at all, but I still ate. I came to regret this the next day when I woke up with yet another massive stomach ache…

All in all, a fun experience. My episode airs on June 22 on Arirang TV. I’m anxious to see it, but a little nervous at the same time. I saw clips of it while doing voiceover work and it was a little embarrassing seeing myself on TV…