How to be a jerk on Korea

First I need to reiterate, I love Korea.  I have experienced a kindness here that had been sorely missing from our society for over 30 years.  I remember going to a local bakery when I was extremely young, and the baker giving me a free donut.  That no longer happens.  Just a few years ago a worker was fired from a Tim Hortons donut shop for giving a kid a TimBit (a ten cent item) and yet a Korean baker did just that for me when I first visited Korea in 2007. Still, out seems some significant of humanity is lost in these massively populated cities. Here are some fun examples.

– Put you bag on an empty seat on a subway/in a busy Starbucks
– Complain to your friend on the phone about that rude foreigner who made you remove said bag, in Korean, and think he can’t understand you ;)
– Stop at the top/bottom of an entrance/exit to a subway station with 100s right behind you
– Stand in front of an elevator door and never expect anyone to be getting off
– Be the last person on an elevator, causing the overweight alarm to go off and look around surprised and wonder what you should do/who is going to get off
– Piss in the corner of a subway station
– Walk into someone while you are using your cell phone and be surprised when it happens
– Sit on a subway beside someone, while wearing winter gear and cross your arms
– Rush to a lineup at a subway just so you can be second in line
– Rush to the lineup at the bottom of an escalator just so you don’t have to be behind the big baf waygook
– Rush to get IN the subway car while having a child strapped to your body and use it as a cushion against someone weighing twice as much trying to get off the subway

Dreaming in Korean and a look to the future

So lately I’ve noticed an interesting shift in my dreams.  Korean is becoming part of them.  One might think that it is an obvious thing to happen but it has taken nearly 2.5 years for such a thing to do so.  Maybe it’s because I hadn’t fully accepted my need/desire to learn to speak and understand the Korean culture here.  I have made many Korean friends and been asking more and more questions on their culture and attitudes.  No I haven’t been doing any “horse dancing” in them but I have spoken a little Korean in my dreams.  It is an odd thing to experience I find.  Not bad…just….odd.

Now we are moving in about a week from today.  It’s going to be a very strange move because we have to do it twice.  I am more concerned about my poor cat, who will not understand too moves, let along the 5hr drive south to the new home.  Packing is coming along slowly but luckily it should be better.  It has taken us these many moves (since we left Canada) to slim down on our stuff.  I think this move will last quite a while.  Heck, I already like the temps that are being predicted for our new city.  Nearly 100% in the positives for the next week but Seoul is still hovering around 0m +/- 4C.  Sacheon is about +3degC warmer on average it looks like.  We will literally be moving right into spring weather :D

I read this article on China called “The awakening of the Chinese Dragon” and one quote from it sums up the general Asian mentality it seems.

“You can be rich and enjoy the good life as long as you do not interfere in politics.”

This is going to be Asia’s biggest challenge, regardless of which Eastern country you live in.  That single statement has a serious problems.  See, the whole point of politics is that it represents the will of the people (in a Democratic world that is).  When you have the largest population in the world, your control over them has a finite time.  You cannot stop the inevitable.  You cannot stop them from learning that they can be more free to do as the other countries around the world do.  Trying to keep things otherwise is doomed to failure.  South Korea has been following the West’s concept, with a slight twist.  The people believe they have more freedom now than they did just a few short decades ago.  To some extent this is true but it is a limited perspective.  The amount of debt is insane now.  How can anyone have freedom that is based purely on the debt they accumulate every single paycheck they ‘earn’?  They have not been told the truth about money and this is simply another time-bomb waiting to explode as well.

For me, I can only hope to help educate people and get them more in balance.  Koreans (Asians) are way too left-brained orientated and my goal is to open a school that caters to the starving right-brain that I see.  I have started with my Open Brain House and plan to see this concept grow.

#Seoul Tim Burton Exhibit

So there is a Tim Burton “media” exhibit. I use the word media because there are a few types of visuals on display. First are gates to the Art museum.  They do look pretty cool.

Tim Burton Gates

Then you have the dressing up of the ticket box oh the outside.  A nice touch I think.

Box Office where the pumpkins puke out your tickets after you stuff money down its throat.

Of course the entrance is all dressed up outside too.

Gallery Entrance

Once inside, there is a giant inflatable character plus at work all around.

Giant inflatable character, main hall

We were told no pictures of anything inside the exhibit halls.  This time I decided to go with that.  I can tell you that besides numerous drawing, napkin scribbles, paintings, there were also video displays.  The videos ranged from short small screens to full-scale movies, although, none of the Hollywood stuff of course.  That would be breaking some short Intellectual Property violation or least cost way more than it would be worth.  Still, our was nice to see the artwork.  The early writings of his ideas for movies, and even a rejection letter from Walt Disney Co on one of his submitted children’s books from his early beginnings.  Rather amusing that he ended up working for them years later.

Entrance to exhibit halls

It was worth the trip and 12,000 won.

Tim Burton Batman drawing
Tim Burton Batman shoving me out-of-the-way.
Inflatable character, other side.

30 Days of my new Korean-focussed blog and some major changes in my life!

Well, I said I’d give up all Social Media and focus solely on setting up this new blog for 30 days and I have done just that.  I also said that I would have one new post each day.  This was a little tougher than I thought but sometimes old habits of ‘being busy’ creep back.  Despite a 3-day lack, I made sure I made up for it and even wrote one post in advance!  So I consider that a win :)

Now that I have all my old and new content here, I can focus on expanding my connections and seeing where it will take me.  I still plan on being loosely affiliated with other social accounts but I no longer plan on utilizing them as much as I did.  To be honest, that one single revelation I had about “if you aren’t adding to humanity you are just part of the noise” made a big impact on me.  To this end, I have now enabled all kinds of social sharing, so that my posts can be read by those who don’t read a lot of blogs but I don’t plan on being on them extensively.

Now, that being said, time to update everyone on some changes that are happening very soon for me.  I am moving.  My wife accepted a contract in the very most southern part of South Korea (Sacheon).  This is going to be an awkward move.  Mostly because her current contract ends on the 23rd but the new one doesn’t start till the 1st.  That’s quite a gap of time where we are literally in limbo.  We are fortunate that the new contract recruiter has free storage for our belongings.  This alleviates some issues but the next question is, what about us and our cat?  Still working on this part.

Now, as for the place we are going, well not much can be said about it.  It only has a population of 114,000 and it on the southern coastal area of the country.  I had to go down to that area once and I did like it a lot.  People are significantly less in a rush compared to Seoul.  I would even consider driving there without too much worry.  Driving in Seoul?  Not without armor plating because I’d be sure to run the vast majority of idiots off the road.

I previously mentioned that I was considering University here.  This idea has been scrapped.  Korea has zero mechanisms for ‘adult admission’, especially adults with no prior university education, unlike Canada.  They will not budge on this and the Government has never considered this at all.  This is one, of many, areas where South Korea’s education system fails miserably.

So, I turned to online courses.  Of course, I will would like to attend KAIST.  Their course looks really good and they have a heck of a reputation, despite the number of suicides last year.  I found Open University in the UK.  They seemed to have a decent certificate course that was reasonable in fees as well as course material.  So I emailed them, told them of my situation (Being a Canadian who is currently in South Korea) and got told:

Due to government restrictions on higher education study in some countries, modules that have been approved for worldwide study are not necessarily available in all countries.  For example, in some countries students are not allowed any ‘contact’ with the distance learning provider during their studies; the definition of ‘contact’ taking any number of forms including online tuition.

The modules required for the T12 are not available to students resident in Canada.

Well, that just sucks.  Kinda defeats the purpose of calling yourself a ‘open’ university and brag about being ‘online’.  Yet another failing of educational advancement in modern times.  So, now I am hunting again to find someone to take my money(within a reasonable amount, not looking for some stupid $50k/year program) and be accredited.

Visit to a LED Art display

I read about this LED art display and decided to check it out.  As always, the subway ride provides a form of amusement for me. Today some ajoshi was telling at a sitting passenger because she was sitting when older people were standing.  None of them were caring but this guy decided to speak up.  Even the other ajoshis were telling him not to bother because they didn’t care. He wasn’t even looking to sit, he was just walking by and got bent out of shape.

Korea can be a land of contradiction for me. They practically legislate respect for elders but could care less for cleaning up after themselves in a restaurant.  My mother always taught me to clean up.  I learned that “leave a place cleaner than when you arrived and you’ll always be invited back” while I was in Air Cadets.  Here they parents coddle their children and third leads to a compete lack of respect for people they don’t know.  This is definitely a culture clash for me.

Despite there’s being foreigners here fort many years, done of the older generation are stunned. They just stare unapologetically. The middle agers are obviously nosy and crane their necks to sees what the “waygooks”(foreigner) is buying today at the supermarket.

Back to our trip. I like visiting new places, even if its just a new subway station. Each station here has its own character. This one is no exception.



Can you realm that we are near a palace? :) We are also near the Blue House. Korea’s version of the US White House. Also, it is no surprise that a $4 coffee is $6 in this area. Not so much torus but more just high Trent when right beside a palace. Good coffee though.


Ok, the LED art display was a bust. I mean it was nothing a special. Just some computers running through a projector for most of it. The other party was kinda cool. We weren’t stopped to take any pics. Oops.




To be honest, there was more skill in the subway art tthan in the art gallery. Heck, I saw more skil in some of the art things for sale in the coffee shop! Here’s a vid I took of the last one.


Hard to see but that little screen has a hand with drumming fingers playing.

After that disappointing 5 mins, we decided to try some of the other art galleries in the area. Only mildly better really.


Sequins, sequins and more sequins.


The wired frame piece was the only really cool thing I saw.

I really should put up some of my own art. Sooner of the stuff I saw was down right sad. No real though into it, I have seen 6th graders do better.

Well, so much for this day trip.