Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Blogging in Japan

The Japan Times often features bloggers. Today's item was on Brent Warner at Konbini Life blog.

Brent has been writing about some of the interesting and unusual items he's found in Japanese convenience stores (Konbini) since June 2006. Some of his recent finds have been Kiwi Flavoured Kit-Kats, the Moist Smoked Cheese Bar and Bikkle which he describes as "Maybe something like TUMS crushed into liquid form and made drinkable. A bit like drinking bones, in a good way."

According to the Japan Visitor blog there are between 40,000-50,000 konbini stores nationwide. They are renowned for selling all manner of easy to eat items, being open 24hrs, customers browsing the "adult" magazines and being able to pay utility bills . We have one at each end of the road, both are less than three minutes walk away. But we have something even better than that. Almost directly outside our house is a small grocery store run by a very elderly couple. They sell real food, they are always pleased to see us and their prices are no higher than the konbini. They are so sweet, their English is getting better thanks to our frequent purchases, in sharp contrast to our still non existent Japanese language skills.

Saturday's Japan Times item was on how Japanese is the number one language of blogs. A story they also covered before, back in April. Technorati calculated that 37% of the 70 million blogs they monitor are in Japanese and 33% are in English. The newspaper article described one lady who has been blogging every day about what she ate for lunch for three years. She blogs anonymously but she would never dream dream of giving a bad review to a restaurant she had eaten at.

Some previous interviews were with What Japan Thinks and Japan Probe.

In other blogging news : I left a comment on Annie's London Underground blog, which was about sleeping passengers on London's trains needing stickers saying "Wake me at station X". I said :

They need some here in Japan too.
I felt really guilty this week when I saw someone fast asleep on the train coming into Shibuya (the terminal station on my line). Everyone else streamed off after arrival, and then we all streamed on.

He didn't wake up, and no one else who got on, bothered to wake him up, so after 4 minutes the train set off again out of town. He was still blissfully unaware 10 mins later when I got off. I wonder how long before he woke up, poor chap.

I have resolved to always wake up any sleeping passengers at Shibuya from now on.

Someone in Washington DC noticed my comment and it was published in the local free newspaper the Washington Express. Thanks to Heather for spotting that and passing it on.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Seven Natural Wonders of the world

There was lots of publicity about the New Seven wonders of the world recently. Over 100 million people voted for their favorite landmark.

The New Seven Wonders Foundation that ran the poll have just started accepting nominations for their next project The New Seven Wonders of the Natural world.

I've nominated The Grand Tsingy of Bamara in Madagascar. We visited this most incredible rock formation of thousands of limestone pinnacles in 2004. This photo does not do justice to the awesome spectacle.

View of The Grand Tsingy of Bamara in Madagascar. 2004

I also nominated Japan's most revered mountain: Fuji-san, which I have the pleasure of seeing from my office window when the weather is clear.

Nominations must be for a clearly defined natural site or natural monument that was NOT created or significantly altered by humans for aesthetic reasons. Physical or natural phenomena like the northern lights, the gulf stream or shooting stars are not eligible.

The nominees must be one of the following: natural site, natural monument,landscape. There are 15 different categories to select from. If you are very keen, you can organise an official supporting committee to make sure your nomination is able to enter the final round of voting by the world at large.

Since voting, which will commence in 2009, will only be available on the internet or by telephone, this is one competition the Koreans will be very keen to enter. What natural wonder of the world in South Korea or Japan would you nominate?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Seoul on the Jubilee line?

As you may remember, one of my interests is the London Underground, so this map caught my eye:

London Underground style map of transit systems of the world

Thanks to a blog called Strangemaps.The caption reads“This playful diagram shows all the cities which have, are building or are planning to construct an urban rail system. It is the opening page of a new book about the graphic design of subway, metro, underground and U-Bahn system maps and diagrams.”

I like the way the six cities in South Korea with subway systems have been represented as stations on what is the Jubilee line on the London Underground Map and Tokyo is shown at the end of the Central line.

Credit for the map goes to Mark Ovenden, author of the book Transit Maps of the World which was published recently by Penguin USA.

Here's the real London Underground map to compare it with :

London Underground Map from TFL website

Geoff used to have a great collection of spoof London Underground maps, until TFL got the lawyers on to him. Luckily there are plenty of mirror sites of the collection. I wonder what TFL lawyers will have to say about this one?

Update: Thanks to a commenter who said:
The "Urban Rail systems" map was produced with the full support of TfL for the "Transit Maps of the World" book, which is why it was sanctioned to use the official "New Johnston" font (one of only a handful of non London Transport sources ever permitted to use it).

And if you want to hear a great story about what a good bloke Mark the author is, read this story at House of Jules about how much trouble he went to, to get a signed copy of the book to one keen fan.

Update 2: Thanks to Annie at Going Underground Mark Ovenden has a special offer for the first 50 people who buy a new copy of the book through amazon ( or .com) - a signed copy of the World Metro Map promotional poster for the book.
To qualify for the signed poster simply email a copy of your amazon sales confirmation to and remember to give your postal address.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

IT Job with Top Investment Bank in Seoul

I work for a prestigious investment bank that is recruiting IT support staff for the equities trading floor in the heart of Seoul's business district. There are two positions open, they require hands-on support of a wide range of business-critical applications and leading-edge technologies. The roles are varied and dynamic, with the opportunity to manage projects and to be directly involved in IT procurement.

Both roles require good technical skills in a Windows desktop environment. Knowledge of Market Data Systems and Linux experience would be an advantage.
The candidates are also expected to be fluent in English and Korean and to have a good education to at least university degree level.

Please submit your resume here. I guarantee a response within 48 hours.
All applications will be treated with complete confidentiality.
Update: These positions are still available.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Matsumoto and Nakanoyu Onsen

Here's a couple of photos from our recent trip to Matsumoto and Nakanoyu Onsen.
This was the view from the window of our room.

view from window at Nakanoyu Onsen, Japan

This is the castle at Matsumoto:

Castle at Matsumoto

Monday, November 19, 2007

Roka Koshunen , Tokyo

This weekend's outing was to Roka Koshunen (Garden). This small park is named after the Japanese writer and philosopher Roka Tokutomi, the pen name of Kenjiro Tokutomi. He lived with his wife in the house in the grounds from 1907 until his death in 1927. She donated the land to the city of Tokyo to be used as a park in 1937.

There is a small museum dedicated to the writer with a display of some of his belongings. Also exhibited are examples of his many published novels and a copy of a letter he received in correspondence from Leo Tolstoy who was very interested to know more about his beliefs.

When Roka lived there it was a rural backwater, now it is now a small oasis of trees in the middle of a heavily built up area. My photos of the three thatched houses that made up his property didn't come out very well, so instead, here's a photo of a small green insect that landed on me.

Green leaf shaped insect close up shot on brown leaf

To get to the park take the number 23 bus from the bus stop near the South exit of Chitose Karasuyama station on the Keio line out of Shinjuku.

Thanks to Susan Pompian, the author of the book "Tokyo for Free" in which we found the details of this delightful little garden. We shall be following a lot more of her suggestions.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dating and Dating for Dollars in Daegu Nov 24

Another forum on which I often give travel advice about South Korea is Trip Advisor.

Whilst sifting through the hoards of "what should I do in Seoul for 8 hours" questions I noticed an event that may be of interest to anyone in Daegu on Nov 24 2007.

A Canadian lady called Mel is organising a "Dining for Dollars and Wooing for Won" evening at the Moon Hwa Wedding Hall near MBC juction in downtown Daegu. The theme of the evening is speed dating and gambling. The proceeeds go to charity projects in both Korea and Kenya.

She's already raised $600 in her previous fund raising effort for a orphanage.
More details on her website MelsProjects

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Jindai Botanical Gardens

This Sunday's day trip took us to Jindai Botanical garden. On the western side of Tokyo, in Chofu-shi , it was established by the Metropolitan Government in 1961. Over 4,500 varieties of plants are artfully planted in the 425,000 square meter gardens.

These fountains with surrounding rose gardens are in front of the large greenhouse.
Fountains in front of the greenhouse, Jindai Botanical gardens, Chofu, Tokyo Japan.
It is the end of the Chrysanthemum season and Jindai, like Shinjuku Gyeon last week, had put on a spectacular display. This is just one plant:

single Chrysanthemum plant with hundreds of small flowers, Jindai botanical garden, Tokyo JapanThere was also a display of bonsai Chrysanthemums.

Bonsai Chrysanthemum Jindai botanical garden, Tokyo Japan
This rather large hornet was busy pollinating the camellias.

Large orange hornet sitting on Camelia

There are several different routes to the gardens. From Shinjuku we took the Keio Line to Chofu station. We took the number 14 bus from bus stop number 14 at the North exit and got off after 10 minutes at the stop just after the Jindai Temple (one of the oldest in Japan) on the left.

Admission is 500 Yen for adults. Open from 9:30am to 5pm. Closed on Monday, except when it's a holiday when it's closed on the Tuesday.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Chrysanthemums in Shinjuku

We discovered the amazing Shinjuku Gyeon this afternoon. This beautifully landscaped park, just a few minutes walk from the hustle and bustle of Shinjuku, is an oasis of calm and greenery.

We were also delighted to find that the annual chrysanthemum display was taking place.

This, believe it or not, is just one plant.

Chrysanthemums in Shinjuku,Tokyo, Japan, The Ozukuri bed

The hundreds of flowers are teased and shaped using a unique technique to produce this remarkable display.

Chrysanthemums in Shinjuku,Tokyo, Japan. 5 enormous plants with hundreds of flowers. Ozukuri style

The Ichimonji and Kudmono-giku bed was a spectacular display of these two flower varieties.

Chrysanthemums in Shinjuku,Tokyo, Japan

The final flower bed on the route through the park is the Ogiku bed. 311 large flowered Chrysanthemums are planted in diagonal stripes. This style named Tazuna-ue is a speciality of the Shinjuku Gyoen.

Chrysanthemums in Shinjuku,Tokyo, Japan

The display is on until Nov 15. So hurry on down to Shinjuku Gyeon. The entry fee is only 200 Yen and the park is open from 9:00 until 16:30 (Last entry at 16:00). There are three entrance gates the Shinjuku gate is about 10 minutes walk from Shinjuku station.

For those of you unable to get to Tokyo to see it, the New York Botanical garden has a very similar display running until Nov 18th.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Odds and ends on blogging

One new feature from is a long overdue enhancement to allow those leaving comments to be notified by email if there has been a reply.

So, if you leave a comment expecting a reply, you can subscribe and receive any further comments by email without having to go back and check the blog each time. This pretty basic idea has been available on WordPress and MovableType blogs for a long time but blogger just launched it recently.

If you have a blog, the feature is available automatically to your readers if they use a Google account, you don't need to change anything on your blog.

I recently subscribed to It has not brought me any visitors yet, but I've moved the widget up to the top of the blog on the right hand side to promote it. If you see an interesting blog post title there, click to visit another blog in the blogrush network.

I followed one link today and on the blog I visited, Violet eclipse, I saw a link in her blogrush widget to a my good friend Gdog over at The Daily Kimchi. I think that almost proves that relevant links are being generated by their system. I continued following links and it led me to Japanese Penguin which is a blog written by three English language teachers in Tokyo. One of them has the misfortune of being an employee of Nova, a rather large English language school that has very publicly gone into administration last week owing 7,000 teachers several months salary.

I try to keep my blogroll on the right hand side up to date with blogs that are still being maintained. I've said goodbye to several blogs that have stopped posting and added new blogs, particularly on Japan, as I come across them. Check out some of the new blogs added on the righthand side today.

There is no good equivalent of the Korean Blog List for finding bloggers in Japan. The top two blogs JapanProbe and Japundit have sizable blogrolls so I'll be working my way through those in the coming months. RokDrop always has some good links from Japanese blogs in his regular Rok Droplets feature on Sundays. I very briefly considered joining the Yamanote line Halloween party on Saturday evening. Reading about the event afterwards however, I am very glad I did not.

Happy Halloween to you all.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Standup Comedy in Seoul : Nov 11.

A few months ago we enjoyed the first of BH Production's 'Standup Comedy nights'. Thanks to being on their mailing list I can tell you that in November they are presenting another night of comedy at the B1 Lounge in Itaewon.

Don't miss Bryan Erwin and Nathan Timmel for an outstanding night of comedy. Bryan Erwin and Nathan Timmel, two professional comedians in the United States, are being brought over to Korea for a one night only show in Itaewon.

Bryan Erwin's comedic appeal is universally apparent: audiences everywhere can identify with his take on life, or as he puts it, "an ongoing series of awkward, uncomfortable moments." His satirical style has been featured at legendary comedy clubs such as the Comedy Store, the Improv, and the Laugh Factory.

Nathan Timmel is known for his edgy, observational humour unmercifully directed at contemporary culture and politics. Nathan has entertained audiences at numerous comedy clubs around the world, and looks forward to unleashing his act on a Seoul audience for the first time.

Venue: the B1 Lounge, Itaewon, line 6, exit 1. Go out exit 1, turn right at KFC, walk up about 20 meters. The B1 Lounge is on your left.

Time: Doors open at 5pm. Show starts at 6pm. General seating.

Tickets: 35,000 won, includes one free drink.

Flyer for BH Productions Comedy night at B1 Lounge Itaewon, Seoul starring Bryan Erwin and Nathan Timmel
Here's a clip of Bryan on child birth, he sounds pretty funny.

Bryan Erwin "Me, marriage and birth"

Bryan Erwin | Cild birth

I must find some Comedy clubs in Tokyo!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Seoul City Hall construction site hoarding

These are some photos I took, before I left Seoul, of the hoardings around the construction site beside City Hall. As I have mentioned before, the Koreans build very high quality hoardings around the building sites and put a lot of effort into making them look attractive. The hoardings beside City Hall are particulary impressive.

From a distance it looks just like a normal picture.

Seoul City Hall , construction site hoarding

As you approach you realise it might be some sort of mosaic

Seoul City hall, construction site hoarding, getting a bit closer

As you get closer you see it is made up of small photos.

Seoul City Hall , construction site hoarding from a few meters away

Once you stand beside it you realise how cleverly it has been put together.

Seoul City Hall , construction site hoarding from one meter away showing indiviual photos

The artist has used thousands and thousands of different photos, some of them going back to the 1980's of all sorts of places, events and subjects. The photos do not appear to have been altered in any way, and yet they create the picture you see from a distance.

It's well worth taking a close up look if you've seen it from a distance. I haven't been able to find out anything about the artist or how they did it so if any knows or can find out I would be most interested.

Update: Thanks to Mark for the explanation. It's a Photographic Mosaic. Obvious really! There are at least ten programs available to download to create your own mosaic, and there are also online applications, here's one, so it's not as difficult as I first thought.

Update 2: Thanks to Mr Kim at the Delta Eagle's OC for letting me know it's from It's made up of 6 million images.

Update 3: Thanks to anonymous, the artist's name is Sylver Kang. He used Mazaika software. You may see some more information on his website

Friday, October 19, 2007

Volunteer Tour Guides offered in Seoul

I often visit the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forum website and offer advice to travellers asking about Korea.

Today I saw a posting that I thought deserves a wider audience.

A group of Koreans have created a small organistion to offer Free guided tours of Seoul.

This is from Youngdae Kwon, the organiser's website :

Free Tour Guide in Seoul, non professional volunteer organization, was launched for helping overseas visitors experience Korean culture and customs.

Free Tour Guide in Seoul offers overseas visitors a free guided tour in and around Seoul, which has a myriad of exciting and appealing attractions.

Since we are volunteer guides, our members may not speak your native language perfectly. We can only offer visitors the services at weekends. However, we are full of energy, heart-warming hospitality, and cultural insights. Our latest information ensures that you will have a memorable experience in Seoul.

Even if you already live in Seoul, all overseas people are welcome. We may know about Seoul more than you do!

All you need to do is visit his website, complete the short request form and email it to him at the address on the site.

If anyone does take a tour with Mr Kwon, please let me know how you get on.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Korean news stories

A few news items of interest.
CNN has been running an Eye on South Korea section on their website which has some interesting articles including stories on High Definition cinema , Robots being used to build ships and the head of the Korean Toilet Association, Sim Jae Duck's toilet shaped house that he is building in Suwon.

From the Japan times an item on Korean day trippers going to Tokyo for Disney Land or to catch a baseball match.

Update: another picture of the Toilet shaped house.

More Korean news stories

I wasn't planning on doing more Korean news stories today, but the fact that Korea was mentioned on six pages in the Japan Times seemed worthy of note.

On the front page was the news that the South Korean government has set aside 1.5 billion won to help about 200 ethnic Koreans in Japan who are about to be evicted from a community they developed after being evicted from their homes at the end of WW2. In one Japan's longest running legal cases the Koreans have been fighting for their property rights in Utoro in the city of Uji, Kyoto prefecture. The SK government money has been earmarked to help the farmers retain the land they have lived on for sixty years.

On page 2 was news that North Korea had risen from last place in the annual press freedom survey from Reporters without Borders to second last place. That honour now goes to Eritrea. The Japanese were, meanwhile, congratulating themselves on rising to 37th place. South Korea is placed just behind them at 39th. Iceland and Norway top the league table.

Page 3 was headed by an interview with Shuichi Maeda, a veteran from WW2 who has some pretty grim recollections of his time in the army including his memory of the Korean women at the base.

On the letters to the editor page Vipan Chandra from Massachusetts defends the two Korean leaders. Why?

The Op-ed piece reports signs of progress of Pyongyang problem. I wish I had a dollar for every time we've heard that. As always 'The next few months is a delicate period...'. Does anyone remember a time when it hasn't been so?

In the business and finance section is the news that Microsoft has submitted a request to withdraw a court appeal against an antitrust ruling by the Korea Fair trade Commission. I think they've given up fighting the Korean legal system. There was a photo of of two models showing off new Microsoft products in Seoul that they have not chosen to put on their website.

Like the Koreans, the Japanese are also planning to ban the import of American meat, but only from one supplier who accidentally sent them some from cattle that were more than 20 months old.

And finally on the back page was the news that Seol Ki Hyeon the South Korean footballer who left Reading FC in August, thinks moving to Fulham was the best move of his career. And not just because he can get fresh kimchi just down the road in New Malden. (more from Sky Sports)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Blog Action Day : Recycling in Japan

Today over 15,000 blogs are participating in Blog Action Day. Bloggers around the world are writing about an important issue on everyone’s mind - the environment.

One topic that I am particularly interested in is the recycling of household waste. Here in Tokyo there are not as many categories of recyclable material as there were in Korea. Life was easier in the apartment block in Seoul, we could take everything into the basement and sort into the various receptacles. In Setagaya-ku we have to store up the materials and put out them out for roadside collection on different days of the week. This leaflet came round last month informing us of a new schedule which our friendly local shop owner helped us translate:

Setagaya ku recycling instructions in Japanese

Bottles, cans, newspapers and cardboard are collected Wednesdays. Plastic PET bottles, which have just this month started to be collected, go out every other Saturday but only after they have been washed and had their lids removed. Metals and other items also go out on alternate Saturdays.

Before this new regime started refuse was sorted into two types : burnable and non burnable which corresponded to the two methods of disposal: incineration and landfill. The definitions of the two types of waste were, to my mind, counter-intuitive. Paper and food waste were classed as burnable and went to the incinerator, whereas plastics were classed as non-burnable and went to landfill. Why would you want to bury something uncompostable and burn something that would easily decompose? The answer was in an article in the Japan times last week entitled Clueless policy persists as Japan burns the unburnables.

Not surprisingly finance and politics were the main drivers. In 1973 the capacity of Tokyo's incinerators was insufficient to handle the amount of refuse being produced. The priority for burning was raw garbage, since it was considered too unsanitary to bury. Plastic was deemed OK to bury, so in order to ease the burden on incinerators all plastic waste was separated and dumped in landfills. By 1997 incinerator capacity had caught up with demand and improved technology allowed refuse to be incinerated at a higher temperature.

Now, Setagaya-ku is one of several pilot neighbourhoods that are switching to incineration of plastic waste. This will reduce the volume of material going to landfill and also provide energy from the heat of combustion. The landfill site currently used for Tokyo will be full in 35 years, and this change will only extend the life of the dump by 15 years.

50 years is all we have in Tokyo until we are swamped in our own refuse. It may sound like a long time, but the problem of waste disposal does not go away. Think of the three R's : Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Individually it may seem like we cannot do much, but every bit helps. For example, if all 12 million blog readers involved in Blog Action Day recycled one aluminium can it would save the equivalent of 3 million barrels of crude oil and reduce landfill usage by over five thousand cubic meters.

What are you doing to save us from drowning in our own rubbish?

Some other links on Recycling in Tokyo:
Pink Tentacle on Cell Phone re-use
Other Items you can recycle from Dumb Little Man
The Azerbaijan view of Japanese recycling
The Kiwi's view of Japanese recycling

Monday, October 08, 2007

Korea Top News

Here's a new website I've just come across Korean Top News. It's a bit like Digg but dedicated to Korean news. You don't have to register to vote for your favourite story, but if you do register you can discuss the stories posted.

They have subscribed to lots of Korean blogs and some news feeds so there are automatically plenty of stories to view. PopSeoul and K-Popped seem to feature a lot, so I'm sure Rain fans will soon find the site and vote stories on him up to the top of the list soon.

It's part of the I choson Networks group which is based in the US and dedicated to Lifestyle, Entertainment and Culture for Korean Americans.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Internet Domain names in Hanguel and Kana

News in today's Japan Times that next week ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, will begin the long awaited start of Internationalised Domain Names (IDN). The AP news story is available here.

The plans are still under review, but once they are approved 11 new domains will be created that read example.test in Arabic, Persian, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Russian, Hindi, Greek, Korean, Yiddish, Japanese and Tamil.

Discussion on using non latin alphabets for internet domain names started in 1996. The Japan times discusses the topic in 2001. In 2003 registration began for partially Japanese domain names in the .jp namespace. Request For Comment 3743 was created in 2004 and work has progressed since then.
The Korean IDN 휴대폰.com which translates as was sold for $36,194 in May 2007.

The technology used in the 13 key domain name directories will not change, instead the IETF have developed PunyCode to convert the new domain names into standard ASCII characters.

The testing document from the ICANN website suggests that the first totally Korean and Japanese IDNs will be :


in Hangul and


which is a combination of Kanji Hirigana, and Katakana.

The whole world will be able to test with these new domains, but just in case they cause any problems to the rest of the internet a 24hr hotline will established to suspend the test if required.

I forsee this development will require new versions of almost all software that validates website and email addresses, which is good news for us software engineers and the rest of the IT industry!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pro Blogger Birthday Bash Prize Give Away

I've mentioned Darren Rowse a couple of times before on this blog. I wrote the Top 5 Korean Festivals and included it in his group writing project. He has been blogging professionally for some time now and runs several well regarded blogs including about blogging.

To celebrate 5 years of blogging he is running a week of competitions open to bloggers, with prizes valued at over $54,000. In today's competition, one lucky blogger is going to win a pair of LG 20" LG USB monitors.

Well done to LG the South Korean company formerly known as Goldstar for producing such great monitors and for those clever adverts of well known paintings with LG products slipped into them. [Which I can't find any to show you right now!]

If you write a blog you have until Friday 8am EST to write a post and link to his site.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Yamanote line station chimes

We've been slowly exploring Tokyo by subway and JR Line railways since we arrived. I noticed that each station seemed to play a different "chime" over the loud speaker after a train arrives. I had thought it would interesting to try and collect recordings of each tune but, not surprisingly, some one has got there before me.These are the chimes for all the Yamanote line stations. The station names are all in Kanji, but if you translate them though google it gets about three quarters of them correctly, (but then the links to the chimes don't work so use the first link). The correct station names are here.

My favourite is Ebisu (Translated as "The god of wealth" on the list). What's your favourite?

Thanks to Gaijin Girl, who wrote an interesting blog on her life in Japan but has just left the country, for the link.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Some Korean Links

I recently put together a list of the 30 top ranked Korean websites. At the time I thought it would be interesting to try and rank the Korean blogs but I couldn't figure out a quick way to do it, so well done to Gdog over at The Daily Kimchi for doing something similar for Korean Blogs.

He has produced a list of the top 46 Korean blogs ranked by their Blog Juice. Top of the list is of course The Marmot's Hole followed by Mike The Metropolitician. In third place, a blog I've not come across before, is Web 2.0 Asia. It's written by Chang-Won Kim who is the co-CEO of Korea's leading blog software company, TNC. It covers lots of new web related stuff coming out of Korea.

The list continues with lots of other well known Korean bloggers, Oh, including this one too! In fact there was only one blog that was new to me in that list Everyday seoul.

I was asked recently about going to teach English in Korea and I was able to point them at this excellent summary of 44 Tips for getting a job in Korea from Chris that I had just read.

If you need to get from Cheonan to Seoul Station on a rapid train Delta Eagle, has all the details.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Japanese Tee shirt slogans

It was about this time last year, after a month in Korea, that I posted an item about Korean Tee shirts, with a photo of my all time favourite: The Convex Magnum Opes.

The Japanese also go in for Tee shirts with English slogans. Most of them are slightly more intelligible than some I saw in Korea, but not much.

This one would have been very amusing on a young lady:

Young Japanese lad with the slogan: Stop looking at my T*Ts you W**Ker

I didn't have the heart to ask the young man what he thought his Tee shirt might be about.

If he was wearing it in Peterborough, England he might have risked a fine, as this chap did for wearing a strongly worded Tee shirt.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Stephen Colbert laughs at the Japanese

Just so that the Koreans do not get the idea that Stephen Colbert only makes fun of them, here he is on a new restaurant in Tokyo :

It's not a place I will be visiting soon.

Link from Keeping Pace in Japan which is another blog on Japan I've recently added to the blogroll.

Update: Here a video from a blogger who actually tried it out: from An American In Japan

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Eros Museum Seoul

I discovered the Eros Museum of Seoul when I was wandering around the city in the area near the Blue House.

It had just opened its doors to the public for the first time on Aug 21st 2007.
It is on three floors and has a small but interesting collection of artefacts relating to erotic art in Korea, China, Japan and other Asian countries.

As this is a family friendly blog I will not show you the full image..

but there are plenty of examples of Japanese 'Shunga' works on display.
You will have to go to the museum to see the rest of the picture.

The museum is open every day except Monday. Admission is 5,000 won. You may not want to the take the children, unless you want to do a lot of explaining. To get to the museum go to Seoul Selection bookshop and continue walking north towards the Blue House. The museum is on the right hand side of the road. The local bus (number 11) from Gwanghwamun stops fairly close by.
The museum printed the name of their website on the flyer, but while they are paying for the domain they do not seem to be running a website there yet.

When researching some links for this blog post I came across the Asia Eros Museum in Seoul which was opened in May 2003 and was mentioned by the BBC at the time as the first sex museum to open in Korea.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Seoul Fine Arts Competition

On my last day in Seoul I visited a number of museums and events.

The Seoul Fine Arts Competition was interesting. It was only 2,000 Won to get in and I was brusquely informed that it was "Only Korean, no English". So nothing new there. It was in two halls. The first had some modern art pieces which were quite good. In the second hall were hundreds of scrolls of hanguel and chinese characters. Here's a collage of the photos I took:

collage of images of scolls of hanguel and chinese characters

The exhibition started Aug 21st, but I'm not sure if it's still on or not. If it is still running, it's at the Seoul Museum Annex beside the Seoul Musem of History building.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I'm A Seoul Man, In Tokyo

We arrived safely in Tokyo last week and moved into our new house. Today J:COM installed our internet and telephone connection. It has taken a week from first contact. Not quite as fast and efficient as KT were when we arrived in Korea, but just as easy.

The commute to work is quite acceptable: 4 minutes walk to the local station, three stops to Shibuya, then one stop on the Yamanote line. I've barely got time to read more than a few pages of the Japan Times newspaper. I've observed that the total fare deducted from my Suica card for the two journeys is 240 Yen. In the morning both journeys are 120 Yen each, but in the evening the Yamanote trip is only 110 Yen, but the Inokashira line trip is 130 Yen. Strange.

The Koreans will be pleased with a letter to the editor in yesterdays paper from William Wetherall reminding the Japanese how much they owe to their friends across The sea that we still can't agree a name for.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Korean Adventurers

Various people are setting off on adventures of one sort or another in the next few weeks and months.

President Roh is off to North Korea in October. He can't use the expensive new train route, so rather than fly to Pyongyang, he has decided to take the limo and drive there. On the way, he will perhaps see the devastation the recent floods have caused. The summit meeting, will be only the second time leaders of the two countries have met since the end of the Korean war.

Two Kiwi gentlemen, Andrew Douch and Roger Shepherd, are planning to walk the Baekdu-daegan Mountain Range running down the middle of South Korea. They will be hiking from Jiri-san northwards to Seorak-san, over a period of about nine weeks starting in September. They are probably the first non Koreans to attempt this trek. Follow their progess on their expedition blog.

Daniel Martin, currently teaching English in Seoul, has planned a trip by bicycle from Korea to Cape Town, South Africa. Daniel has already cycled from London to Cape Town, and has now found a tougher challenge: "The Axis of Evil (by bike)". He plans to depart from Seoul and cycle to the border with North Korea. Unlike President Roh, he's not planning on trying to cross the DMZ, but will get the bus back to Incheon and fly to China and then on to North Korea. He would like to cycle to the border with China, but how much cycling they will let him do remains to be seen. After NK his route includes Tibet, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya and on through Africa. He is setting off on Sep 1st and raising money for the charity Wild Day Out. I will be following his progress on his blog.

Kevin, The Big Hominid, is planning a walking trip in the US from the west coast to the east coast next year. Check out his blog for more details.

Joe is still trying to leave the country. Meanwhile, Chris Gelken has safely arrived in Tehran, Iran to start his new job.

And today marks the last day of our Korean Adventure. Tomorrow my wife and I fly to Tokyo and move into our new house. I will be starting work on Monday 27th.

Korea has been a fascinating country to live in. I have met a number of interesting people and learnt a great deal about this country and it's history. I hope that, through this blog, I have shown tourists and foreigners living here that there is plenty to see and do.

This blog will continue with posts about Korea; I've still got plenty of pictures and places to share with you. I will also be adding items of interest about Tokyo and beyond as I explore Japan and experience working there.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Top 30 ranked Korean Sites

I spotted a list of the top 20 Most popular Japanese websites on Ken's blog What Japan Thinks, which gave me the idea to do the same for Korean sites.

Following his methodology I downloaded the list of the top one million sites from Quantcast and searched for various Korean related words including Korea, Seoul, Kimchi, any domain ending in .kr and I included the English language sites that I am aware of. I filtered out the adult content sites and came up with this list of the thirty highest ranked sites on Korea.

Update : Thanks to Gdog for pointing out I forgot what is actually THE top ranking korean site : Cyworld!

14252 cyworld.comHome of the mini-hompi
23405 naver.comThe two biggest Korean portals are popular in the US as well by the looks of it.
25986 chosun.comChosun Ilbo newspaper
36657 A huge site about the war
37930 The airline
40836 Dave's ESL cafe. The hangout of a lot of teachers.
47295 Broadcasting company.
49606 donga.comDong-A Ilbo newspaper
55900 commercial site of some sort.
56209 National university
56614 lifeinkorea.comPopular site with a lot of tourist information
56819 korean-war.comAnother war site
57748 worldcupjapankorea.comHasn’t been updated since the 2002 Japan/Korea World Cup, but must have been heavily linked to when it was on.
60731 tour2korea.comKorea National Tourism Organisation
73997 hankooki.comKorean newspaper with English section on the website
77368 koreandrama.orgA blog in English with "Details, Synopsis, Cast and other info of all Korean Drama TV Series"
80311 Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
80773 very high in the rankings
81855 koreatimes.comEnglish language newspaper
83797 koreanfilm.orgProvides a wide-ranging introduction to Korean cinema.
84343 small commercial website
91736 broadcaster
92195's Korean presence
92289 koreadaily.comEnglish Language newspaper
102197 hankooktireusa.comHankook Tires
104207 Another war site
107369 National University
111793 Auction site
123827 trailing MSN
128346 theseoultimes.comThe Seoul Times

Interesting list. The newspapers do well, the war is popular and the only blog is one I've not heard of before! Are there any sites I've missed out?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Korean Clubs and Societies

This may be of interest: Teaching in Korea, Survey if you are interested in giving your opinion to a researcher in the US. There is very short summary of a research article and some questions on that and then about twenty questions asking about how you would rate certain facilities and services a teacher might be offered. She is offering a 1 in 25 chance of winning a 20,000 won gift token for Kyobo Books. I noticed it in the free adverts in the Korea Herald this week.

I was complaining last week that I'd not seen a copy of the magazine The Groove, so it was fortuitous that I should pick up a copy at The Wolfhound on Sunday. Their website had not mentioned that it was free. I initially dismissed it as not that interesting or relevant, but closer inspection revealed the short articles were not that bad. The interview with Peter R Brown, animator of the TV series who lives and works on the show here in Korea was interesting.

The small ads yielded a huge range of clubs I never knew existed here. I hope these will be of interest to some:

The Seoul Vegetarian club. They meet twice a month to check out veggie friendly restaurants. Non-vegetarians welcomed too!

MeetInSeoul "Come and hang out with a large free all volunteer social group. No membership fees, just pay for your own cost of the events (movies, dinners etc). "

Friendship club Their purpose is to meet at a bar on Saturdays and meet new people.

Conservatives Abroad. For supporters of David Cameron back home, they host social events, fundraisers and possibly public speakers from London.

American Women's Club They meet at the Hyatt hotel once a month.

The Australia and New Zealand Association They also meet at the Hyatt once a month.

Seoul International Women's Association They meet once a month at the Sofitel.

The British Association of Seoul They meet once a month at the Seoul Club.

Career Women in Korea They meet once a month at the New Seoul Hotel.

Suwon Scuba Club A dive club close to Osan Air base and Camp Humprehreys. They teach PADI courses and run regular tours for fun dives to the East Sea. The club also has a major social element.

Seoul Stich and Bitch They meet twice a month for a crafting get together in Haebangchon in Seoul.

Yongsan Kimchi Hash House Harriers Join them every Saturday at 10am if you like running walking and trekking through Seoul. There is also a SouthSide HHH group.

Korean Movie club They show Korean movies with English subtitles on a 120inch screen at a venue near sinchon station.

The Club Italia They host a lunch every Sunday for 15,000 Won. All welcome.

The International Hikers club meets every Saturday.

These groups also had adverts, but no webpages. For contact details see The Groove Website.

The Sinchon Toasmasters club are looking for members keen to improve their public speaking.
Fusion Art, seeks members involved involved in various arts for regular meetings.
Mostly over 40,This club meets once a month for lunch and consists of people mostly over 40.
Seoul Board Riders, for surfers keen to discover Korea's secret surfing spots.
The Canadian Women's Club meet several times a month.
There are also four different football clubs, two Rugby clubs and a Korean Cricket Association.

I hope you can find something you are interested in if you are short of things to do.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Free Furniture in Seoul

The Korea Bloggers meetup last night was a resounding success. I was delighted that so many people showed up. There was Jes, ExpatJane, Matt, Daeguowl, ZenKimchi; the bloggers; Derek, Suzanne, Joon, YoungDoo, Bill, Vicky, Stephanie, Isaac and David from flickr; and Kurt, Henny, Torento (sp?) and Joe who were friends of the aforementioned. I was delighted to meet you all. The photographers amongst us were very busy taking photos all evening, so if you check out some of the members photos you may recognize a few people.

In the excitement of so many people I completely forgot to mention the fact that we have some furniture to give away before we move out. We have offered it to several people, but no one has committed to taking it away yet.

Update: All the furniture has been found a home.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Various items of interest

Some things I found recently:

Brendon Carr, regular commenter at the Marmots Hole, has started Korea Law Blog including insights into getting a job, and setting up and running a company in Korea.

One of Stafford's co-workers, Grant, has just arrived in Seoul to teach ESL and started a well-written and interesting blog A Year in Seoul.

James Tunbull has started The Grand Narrative which looks interesting too, and not just for the pictures of Jang Sin-Yeong.

The creators of Galbijim have started a new blog called Korea Beat. They claim to be "The web’s only spot dedicated to Korean news articles translated into English!". I found them from a picture in the blog Asian Off Beat.

Danny Kim has just started Techno Kimchi. His goal is "To focus on the social dynamics, cultures, and economics behind the rise of Web 2.0". His Korean blog Taewoo's Log has about 5,000 RSS subscribers and 4,000 daily visitors, so he must be doing something right.

I mentioned tonight's K-bloggers meetup in the Korea Images group on flickr. That led to a comment about the 24hrs of flickr, Seoul meeting. 7pm Aug 23rd in Gangnam. It is being held to celebrate the launch of the book 24 hours of Flickr which I mentioned back in May. You can join members of the Flickr team for an evening of fun. They will have copies of the book and other "fine Flickr schwag" on hand.

News Update: Mike "I've battled a hoard of attacking ajummas for a pair of shoes" Hurt, of the Metropolitican maybe coming along tonight.

I've heard stumbleupon talked about a lot recently, mostly on, so I signed up recently. It's another social bookmarking site. It's simple to use: sign up, select a couple of categories, and install the toolbar. It can get quite addictive to keep clicking the 'Stumble!' icon in the toolbar to find new sites that others have recommended. Almost all the sites it has linked to have been interesting and relevant.

This site may be of interest to ESL teachers and travellers looking for a place to stay and a chance to meet like minded people CouchSurfing. I discovered there are nearly 1,000 members in Korea so if you are travelling around the world and looking for a couch for the night with a friendly local, check out this site.

I tried to start a meme 'Going for a walk, somewhere new' last month. Thanks to Daeguowl for his walk. Other bloggers who've been for a walk include Robert, The Marmot, who has continued his theme of Churches of Korea with a trip to Jeondong Catherdral Jeonju. He has produced some excellent photos of all the churches he has visited, I hope he publishes them as a book, as several others have suggested.

Diamond Geezer blogged about a series of walks around East London documenting the landscape before the builders move in for construction of of the 2012 Olympics. [See his comments on their website for a good laugh.] It would be fascinating to see the equivalent photos for the area of Seoul before the facilities for the 1988 games were built.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Finding out what's on in Seoul

Finding out what's on Seoul has been a bit of struggle at times, so it's ironic that just as we are about to leave I find out about two events magazines that might have been useful. The item in the JoongAng daily brought to my attention two English language magazines ROKon and The Groove. Both have been running for several months now, but I've not seen them for sale anywhere. They both have websites: ROKon where you can download the latest issue and The Groove which has a calendar of some events but does not offer a download.

Seoul Selection, a monthly magazine edited by Robert Koehler of The Marmots Hole, provides 100 pages of reviews, articles and photos of cultural events and social activities. It also includes a calendar of what's on. A weekly email newsletter is available and they have recently added the ability to to download a PDF of the magazine. These three magazines and the three daily English language newspapers provide the mainstay of printed news of what's on in Korea.

SeoulStyle used to have a calendar of events but sadly it stopped being updated in Dec 2006 after the owner moved to Hong Kong. The site is still for sale, if anyone is interested in taking it on. Seoul Steves have started a similar events calendar but while it is not extensive yet, it shows great promise.

The Joong Ang often prints photos of events from the previous day. A good example was the picture of crowds queueing to buy railway tickets for the Chuseok holiday. Residents will know that this holiday date, which falls on 25th September this year, is when the whole of Korea is on the move visiting family members. To ensure you get a train ticket for travel during that period you have to book tickets as soon as they go on sale. It's a shame they did not think to mention it the day before. [And while we are on the subject of trains, what happened to the website It used to be an English site where you could look up all Korean train times and book tickets. It's been replaced with a new version that looks very flashy, but only does Korean. I attempted to email them to ask what happened, but all the Email addresses listed on the contact us page bounce with the message Bad connection (io timeout)!]

The Korea National Tourist Office website has a good list of upcoming festivals and events and there is a emailed newsletter that highlights two or three forthcoming events that you can subscribe to. There is also a list of some of the cinemas in Seoul, but the majority of their websites are Korean only. The one notable exception is Dansungsa cinema in Jongno Seoul. The Korea Herald and Joong Ang daily write a weekly summary of the movies that are showing, but they do not print any showtimes. Mark of Korea Pop Wars pointed me in the direction of Cine21 (Korean) which has a list of all currently showing movies and where they are on.

Update: The Expat-Advisory website offers a regular newsletter of what's on in Seoul. Subscribe here.

Maybe one day TimeOut will come to town and cover everything to do with 'What's on in Seoul', but until that time you will have to hunt around, or learn Korean to figure it out from the local resources.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Korean Internet communities

The Ministry of Information and Communication introduced a new law to force Korean Internet users to identify themselves by their real names when posting comments on Korean electronic forums.

This rule was implemented at the two largest Korean portal websites on July 1st 2007 Naver and Daum and has, just this week, been applied to 21 more sites with more than 300,000 visitors per day. All users have to enter their names and resident registration numbers when using the service to post comments. The law was proposed to try to prevent the increasing spread of anti social and abusive comments being made by portal users.

However, as the Korea Times reported yesterday, it seems these measures have not been entirely successful. The hostage crisis in Afghanistan has given rise to a number of offensive postings by some Koreans. "Terrible postings continue to inundate our news pages or bulletin boards." Daum spokeswoman Jody Chung said to the Korea Times reporter.

Now, I don't know exactly how Naver and Daum work, but they are commercial enterprises out to make money. When one signs up to use their services I assume there are some 'Terms and Conditions' (T&C) that one agrees to. I have joined a number of similar forums in the past and in all cases there has been some sort of clause about undesirable behaviour on the forum that would cause the account to be closed by the forum moderators. For example I have belonged to the CIX conferencing system for many years and the 'Acceptable Use Policy' is quite clear that I could be thrown off for posting indecent, obscene, offensive, abusive, disruptive,libellous or defamatory comments.

So what is the situation with these undesirable postings on the Korean portals? It seems these users have not had their accounts closed and they continue to upset the rest of the portal users with their remarks. Are the portal T&Cs not specific enough? They need to rewrite them. Are these posts only offensive to some? In that case maybe the portals need to be enhanced to allow the functionality of a killfile whereby you can setup a list of users whose posts you do not wish to see.

With the requirement to enter one's registration number it would be straightforward for Daum and Naver to build up a blacklist of users that have been banned. These users can then move on to the other sites, that have not been forced to implement the requirement yet, and spread their undesirable opinions to a smaller crowd.

The pros and cons of the right to free speech and censorship are some of the biggest topics for discussion on the Internet where anyone can spout their opinions to the world from behind a keyboard. As the ministry has discovered, just trying to prevent anonymous postings does not really solve the problem.

Related reading : Nameless in Cyberspace. An 8 page paper from the Cato Institute on proposals by the Supreme Court to limit anonymous communications on the Internet.
Free Speech and the Internet Links to websites that concern themselves with the issue of the free flow of information on the Internet.
People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy. A Civil organization dedicated to promoting justice and human rights in Korean society through the participation of the people. They are strongly against the real-name validation scheme.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Another K-Bloggers Meet up Aug 5th

Due to popular demand I have arranged another Korean bloggers meet up.
Sunday August 5th
from 6pm onwards
at the Wolfhound, Irish Pub Itaewon.

Jes from Deeper Shade of Seoul, Expat Jane and Joe from ZenKimchi are coming so far.

Everyone is welcome, bloggers, commenters, lurkers and your friends and family. We'll have a drink or two and a laugh.

To get to the Wolfhound : go to Itaewon subway station on line 6. Come out at exit 4.

Turn 180 degrees (as the man is doing above) and walk round the corner of the crossroads.

Then turn immediately first right, going down the hill (avoiding the yound lad with the puppy).

The Wolfhound is on your right after about 50 meters. The pub is on 2F and 3F, we will be on 2F on the sofas to the right of the bar, I hope unless someone else bags them first.

I'm looking forward to meeting a few more of you.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Five things you did not know about me

A long, long time ago Gdog tagged me with one of those blogging memes. I hadn't forgotten, I've been saving up my response until I had an announcement to make. It's not quite as dramatic as Cat announcing she was pregnant, but read on down to number 1.

5. I'm a Sucrologist. It's not as painful as it sounds, it means I collect sugar sachets. Yes, those little paper packets that most people don't even notice. When I first went to the U.S. with my family, aged eleven, I noticed that each restaurant, diner and hotel we visited had their logo on the sugar packets. In some places they had themes like ships or presidents etc, so as we travelled around I started to collect them and I've been collecting ever since. I've amassed over 5,000 I'd guess. Sadly I have never got around to collating, labelling and presenting them so they remain in numerous sticky envelopes and shoe boxes in the attic. I have corresponded with several collectors over the years since my name was listed on another collectors website and I've exchanged sachets with some of them. These days I'm trying to kick the habit and no longer do exchanges, but if I see a sachet I don't have in my collection I still can't help myself.

4. I practice Iyengar Yoga. The Bat has been a keen practitioner since before I met her. She eventually persuaded me to try it, and after going to many classes and yoga holidays, I now find it has become a part of my life. I've not tried to find any classes locally in Seoul, because no one can match my guru John Shirbon back in Tooting.

3. I have a secret ambition to be an abstract impressionist artist. I can't paint or draw, but that does not seem to matter these days. Every time I see some of the stuff that goes by the name of art I think to myself "I could do that". I even have a "stage name" prepared. I plan one day to write a book about how an unknown artist, who hasn't actually been to art school, made a great living selling works that look as if they've been done by a child with one arm : based on a true story!

2. I'm a member of the London Underground Railway Society. When I moved to London I became fascinated by the history and operational details of the "Tube" network that I used to get to work every day. I bought books, visited the London Transport Museum and became a member of the LURS. This group of mostly elderly men gather for monthly meetings on topics such as the Jubilee Line upgrade, the Piccadilly line extension to terminal 5 and many other delights. I can't attend the meetings these days, but I still receive the monthly magazine Underground News.

1. I've got a new job in Japan. I've been job hunting for over five months and my resume went to all the investment banks in Tokyo. After many telephone and video conferencing interviews I got a job offer last month. It's for a permanent job, which is going to be a bit of change after being a contractor for the past 15 years.
For those of you reading my blog since my retirement email sorry I'm not coming back for a third time, though I did have several interviews there.

My "Gap Year" is almost over and I'll be going back to work soon, I am just waiting for the work visa. What this means for this blog I've not decided yet. I plan to continue blogging, but I may not have quite so much time.

In the spirit of the meme, I'll nominate Matt at Gusts of Popular feeling, Daeguowl at Kimchi For Breakfast, and Stafford at The Chosun Bimbo. If you'd like to tell us five things about yourself, consider yourselves tagged. No obligation, no hurry!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

K-Bloggers Meeting up Sunday 22nd July

Thanks to Aaron for a logo:

Tomorrows get-together for drinks is confirmed. Sunday 22nd July 2007, Starting at 2pm.
I don't know how long it will last, but I don't have anything else to do tomorrow so it could go on till late evening.

I had a wander round yesterday and the "Western Bar", "Odyssey" (I'm not sure which part is the name and which is the description) looks like a suitable venue.
It's right outside Yeouido Subway (line 5) station Exit number 5. It's on the second floor above Dunkin Donuts.

So far confirmed are Gdog of The Daily Kimchi, Daeguowl of Kimchi for Breakfast, Stafford of The Chosun Bimbo, Aaron of Idiot's Collective, Joe of ZenKimchi and GI of Guano Island

If anyone else reading this would like to join us, please come along, the more the merrier.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

K-Bloggers meet up

Gdog's announcing his last day in Korea has spurred me into suggesting something I've been considering for a while : The idea of a meetup for bloggers in Korea.

So here's my idea:

What : A casual get-together for drinks.
When : Sunday 22nd July 2007, Afternoon continuing until whenever.
Where : To Be Decided. I'm thinking of a Cafe / Bar / Restaurant type place in Itaewon , Seoul. If anyone has any suggestions please let me know. [Unless everyone would like to come over to a bar in Yeouido?]
Who : Bloggers, Commenters, Lurkers, Friends, Family. All welcome.
Why : Get to meet the faces behind the names, and as a "Good Bye Korea" party for Gdog and Me.

So, Leave a comment or drop me an email if you are interested so I can estimate numbers and see if we need to book a place.

I mentioned it to Daeguowl and he too will be there.

I am off on a house hunting trip in a few minutes, so nor more blogging from me until I return on 19th July. More details on my return.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Korean Blogs round-up

I met for drinks with Daeguowl of Kimchi for Breakfast during the week. I got the 461 bus down to his neck of the woods and snapped a shot of the "Always Funny Chicken" shop, which I'll post later.

We selected a bar called "The Beatles", it had about as much atmosphere as a meeting of the local undertakers union, so we moved on to a branch of the Millers chain of bars which was much more popular with the locals. Unlike our friends back in England, where smoking in enclosed public spaces has just been banned, we were soon enveloped in the fug of cigarette smoke. Over here the Koreans have just announced the opposite: Smoking is to be banned at bus stops by September and in the Seoul parks by 2008. Anyway, we had a great evening discussing our careers, the Koreas, friends, families and, of course, blogs and bloggers, so I thought I mention a few that we discussed.

Last week I celebrated the first anniversary of this blog, which reminded Gdog that he had started blogging just a few days before I did last year. Expat Jane also celebrated her blog's first anniversary with a background colour change to pink.

ROK Drop revealed some very respectable statistics about his blog. My blog did not make it into his top 5 referring sites. So, if you could all "Do The Korean Thing" and click this link to his blog, say 4 or 5 times, perhaps I can make the list next month. [if I make it to the top 5, I won't be promising to appear naked on the blog like Mr Angry , but if you think of a suitable stunt you'd like me to perform, do please let me know.]

Phil at London Korean Links also had some stats to share. The number of spam comments is causing him problems in spite of introducing the requirement to register before being able to leave a comment. I got fed up with's anti spam feature, so I turned off the 'word verification' option on the comments a few months ago and I have been very lucky and still not received any spam comments so far, touch wood.

My blog's stats took a huge leap from the usual average of 40-50 visitors per day to 400 on July 2nd, thanks to a one line posting by Robert at The Marmot's hole linking to my posting on The Ideal Korean Male. In that posting I also mentioned Rain's cancelled concert, more details and discussion over at PopSeoul.

Kevin, the Big Hominid, had some equally respectable statistics about sales of his book 'Water from a skull' and celebrated the fourth year of blogging. If you want a good laugh read his crisis at 40,000 feet post.

Feet Man Seoul has all the details on going for a pedicure, or 'padicure' as the sign at our local nail salon calls it.

Mike in Busan has an excellent shot of one of those crazy Korean motorbike drivers, this one was transporting a six foot tall potted plant on the back of his bike. His earlier shot of a lady with an iguana on her head still makes me smile.

Lost Nomad had some excellent shots of a life and death struggle between a snake and a toad he watched on one of his fishing trips. Richardson, meanwhile, had a photo of some attractively high kicking soldiers (North Korean I am assuming).

The Bat and I went to see the Transformers movie as did 75% of the cinema going public in Korea. We didn't join the Metropolitician's gang but, like Joe and Gdog, we both really enjoyed the movie.

The other Joe, of ZenKimchi fame, has some great news. The police have declared that he is not guilty of the libel charges raised against him by the hagwon owner from hell.

I'll end with that happy news, and I wish all the Canadian readers a belated Happy Canada day for 1st July, and all the American readers a belated Happy Independence Day for the the 4th.