It’s the subtle things

Ever since being in the UK,  I am constantly reminded of the little things that I really enjoy. The place where I’m staying,  the current residents (flat mates) play a local radio station (102.8 Diverse for   The music is in a unique range,  some where between chill out and  dubstep. Not quite hitting either but a rather comfortable middle ground,.   Worth checking them out on their website to listen to them live.

It’s not so much the genre but that is in English. Understanding the words does bring a subtlety that isn’t present in listening to  k-pop.  Don’t get me wrong,  there is a lot of that loan did that I enjoy but it is just that much better to hear music you can understand and then while you are out,  hearing some of the classics you know (like  Phil Collins : I can’t dance,  Lenny Kravitz : Are you going my way….).

I was never really into a lot of online radio stations,  nor am I the kind who likes to RENT songs from Apple/any other online music retailer. is about the only thing I have listened to but it’s not quite the same and it seems they only get away with paying “live” versions of any modern song. I only like  live songs when….. well,  when they are live.

The things you realize while living in a totally foreign environment.

Welcome back to Korea!

Two weeks back home was nice but I definitely won’t do it during the winter time again methinks. Glad I missed the nasty ice storm but still hit this ‘polar vortex‘ buzz word the media seemed to jump on too much. Well, that is all done, I’m looking forward to my double-digit temps that we are getting now. And here we go, I got my typical Korean experiences back.

So, rough start to my morning. First, the hotel driver doesn’t pick me up at 10am like he said. So I grab a taxi at 1015 and will bitch at them for that cost. Not that I suspect it’ll do much….things are that much more difficult for us foreigners here.

Then I find out that my 10:30 bus is sold out. Ugh. Ok, I ask for the next one, 1:20pm. She says it goes to some place in the city I need but not either of the two bus terminals. I hand her my tablet with map and ask where. She is confused and just repeats the name. Ohhh, I am so back home now…..

Ok, so I now need someone who can speak Korean better than me. I Call the free translation help line…..on hold forever. I try one of my Korean friends….no answer, I try one of my foreigner friends who speaks Korean pretty well, no answer. I try my Korean friend who looked after my cat while I was away….no answer. Dafuq is this? No one answering?? I try another foreigner friend who is really good at Korean…..success! He’s home. I hand the phone over to the agent. They speak, I hear her repeat the area again and after a few mins she hands me the phone. My friend tells me she can’t tell him where it is, just repeats the area. I say thanks and try something else.

I hand her my tablet but I already have the map open and the city name typed, I then ask her to type the name she keeps repeating. Map opens up and I know where it is, just didn’t know the name. Geeze. I get my ticket and head to the Starbucks to kill a couple of hours till the bus leaves.

So good to be home again….mostly.

South Korea calls for ‘language purification’ campaign on Korean alphabet day | South China Morning Post

Chung’s remarks come as many Koreans bemoan what they see as a language crisis resulting from abbreviated speech on the internet, adoption of foreign words, widespread use of slang among youngsters and incorrect conjugation of honorifics.

Talk about backwards thinking and a compete pack of understanding of human nature!  Communication will always evolve and change.  Hell, even the Korean language is an evolution itself, yet there are many who refuse to accept change.  This does not mean that slang should be a daily part of legal proceedings or should sweating bree included in a  doctorate thesis, but to try and eliminate it completely…..good luck with that.

But hey, a bunch of people got an extra day off at least.

A couple of Korean experiences for you

Being in Korea, there never seems to be an end to the odd and/or annoying things that you find.  Allow me to tell you about packaging and random phone calls.

First packaging.  After opening chocolate bars and bags of chips a certain way for the vast majority of my life, ot had become one of those automatic skills that you take for granted.  Like how you automatically adjust your body on a moving surface that changes inclines.  You don’t think about standing upright, your body just does it.  It is built in.  Yet when it comes to Korean packaging, you simply can not pull apart the ends like you do on a bag of chips or a chocolate bar.  You can only tear it.


Korean version of a Mars bar

For some reason, Korea has seen fit to use f#&!=+* super glue for their packaging and it gets me every time.  I buy something, try to open it and go “WTF?!”  Then I remember where I am and have to tear it open, not pull.  Super annoying.

Now, let’s talk about random phone calls.  Tell me, if you called a friend but got someone who did not speak your language on the other end, would you stay on the phone and keep asking for that person?  I didn’t think so.  I got a random call today, and answered the phone like I normally do. “Hello?”(clue #1).  The other person said the Korean version of hello (which is different than what you say to someone on the street/in person .  I forget what it means at the moment.)  I said hello again and he asked something in Korean.  I believe it was a persons name.  It kinda sounded like my Korean nickname.  So I said that I only speak a little Korean (in Korean)(clued #2) asked if that was the name.  He repeated the name again and my brain, still being a little slow at processing Korean, made me pause.  Then he said that ‘hello’ again.  I automatically repeated “hello”(clue #3 that you are not speaking to a Korean person and most likely the person you are looking for is not there).  He repeated the name again and I said there its no person here named that.

That was the longest random phone call i every had.  Usually when they hear English, they just hang up.  Not this guy though.  He wanted to hear a definite “아니요”(no in Korean, pronounced ah-nee-yo).

So there you have it.  I have taught you about Korean packaging and how to say “no” in Korean to a person on a random phone call. :)

I just ordered my first pizza over the phone in #Korea! (Update)

There are many things you need to learn before you can call a place and order food.  Sure the basics of what to call the food you are order, and where you life along with how much will it cost.  There is always the unexpected questions that throw you for a loop because you simply don’t know what the person said or the person said it too fast for you to catch.  Luckily this was not the case here.  The guy seemed to understand a bit of obvious English (“delivery” for example, even though I looked up the word, I have a healthy distrust of Google Translate at times for context).

The other thing you need to know is your address.  This can be a challenge because Korea is poised to switch from block addressing to street addressing.  Block addressing is kinda neat.  Each city block is given a number and each building on that is given a number as well.  So you could be block #100 and building #2.  Pretty  easy once you know it but too limited with all the growth that Korea has been experiencing for the last 50 years.  Old houses going down, new building going up tend to mess with this addressing system it seems.  Now Korea is switching to a more modern street address.  Street name, building number on that street name.  Just about every building now has a new address on it but not everyone is using it.  This will take some time because of the plethora of GPS devices.  Every taxi has one.  Just about everyone with a car has one.  It is surprising how little the Koreans know about having to get around without knowing where they are going.  With street addressing, this will probably be easier as all you have to do is find the street and then it’s a matter of just watching the numbers go up/down as you drive.

Well, I was able to give my address to the guy in Korean so my pizza should be here in 30 mins.  It’s a little exciting that I can now order food (basic stuff, it’s not like there’s much you can add to a pizza order, unlike other places with tons of options).  So this is more than me just being slightly lazy, it’s is a good test of me being able to interact in a foreign country…even if it’s just to order pizza :)

I’ll update the post if when the pizza gets here ok :)


Holy Crap!!  That was fast!  No soon had I published this post than the guy arrived minutes later!


Something that is pretty cool about Korea.  You always get a drink with your pizza (or chicken even!) when you order it.  It is a weird world here when you go to a restaurant and there is nothing to drink but water at times.  Most have now added drinks (pop, soju) now and it seems they extended this idea to delivery food as well.  Fine by me.  And delivery cost of the pizza is the same as if you went to pick it up.  This ‘regular size’ , 24cm pizza, with the cute little stubby 245ml can of Coke, costs about $10.  The blue container is sliced pickles, there is a packet of Parmesan cheese and a packet of hot sauce.  I’ll use the cheese and coke, but the rest is not useful to me.

Learning #Korean in #Korea

When I was in Canada, I was simply stunned at the number of immigrants that simply refused to learn English.  There are whole communities that never leave their area and never speak the language.  I find this attitude to be the ultimate insult to the place you are living in.  I mean, you wouldn’t go to a friend’s house, use his TV, toilet, fridge but never speak to your friends would you?  Yet there are people who do this.

So, since I am here, I am trying my best to learn the language.  It is not easy.  Oh, not because the language is hard, certainly there is a challenge there without question.  What I mean is that I have to learn English in order to learn Korean.

“What did you say?!”

You heard….errr….read that right.  I have to learn English in order to learn Korean.  Why do I say that?  I say that because as a native speaker, you rarely get into the technical details of a language of any significant depth yet that is what many books on other languages do.  Take this example:

어더 is attached to a noun to form a predictive verb.

– Practical Korea, my study book

What the heck is a predictive verb?!  Sigh….Google time.  Wikipedia should be fine.

There are two competing notions of the predicate in theories of grammar.


Theories?!  THEORIES!  You mean this term, which I don’t ever recall hearing in high school, is not even a FACT?  Great, so not only do I have to learn English, it now seems I must learn English theory too before I can begin to learn Korean.  This is not my day…

Lets try another site.

Every complete sentence contains two parts: a subject and a predicate. The subject is what (or whom) the sentence is about, while the predicate tells something about the subject. In the following sentences, the predicate is enclosed in braces ({}), while the subject is highlighted.

Judy {runs}.
Judy and her dog {run on the beach every morning}.

University of Ottawa

Well this is certainly a hell of a lot better and easier to understand yet my brain is still mush over the first explanation.  I guessed this is just not the day for reading comprehension for me….

Eager #Koreans

Some Koreans are extremely eager to use their English.  As I was making my way back to my place, I stopped in a store to grab something to drink.  I greeted the Korean store worker in Korean and he said ‘hi’.  As I walked past him he said something in English that I couldn’t understand.  I obviously looked confused so he repeated it.  Then he said something else, in English but didn’t get it.  As my brain slowly grasped the sounds, the last thing he said was “PGA”.  Then immediately I knew what the horribly accented English sentence he said.  “I am future Golfer.”  Obviously he is a beginner at English, despite looking in his early 20s(maybe late teens at best) because right after you learn ‘hello, my name is…’ you usually get into jobs.

Wow, it’s amazing the skills you have to learn beyond the language itself.  I tried to mention the language-exchange club that I run but I guess that was too much for him to grasp.