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.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A walk in Seoul, Onsu and Bucheon

Last week I was looking for somewhere new to go, so I decided to take a random bus to see where I ended up. Starting from the 'Yeouido Transportation Centre', which is a very grand name for the largest bus stop on Yeouido, I chose a bus I'd not been on before, that was heading south.

The number 261 took me south past Yeoungdeungpo, Mullae, Sindorim and Guro stations. Near Guil we crossed the Anyangcheon (The Anyang river that flows into the Han river) which looked interesting. I walked along the river bank and could hear the sound of drums and cymbals. The noise gradually got louder and louder as I approached a bridge over the river. Expecting to see a large troupe of drummers practising I was surprised to find just a family group of four with three drums and one of the children with the cymbal. They were sitting on a mat under the bridge happily making as much noise as they wanted!
view of Guil subway station southbound platform in the foreground, subway line 1 Seoul
Walking further I heard the sounds of a saxophone. I could not locate the source of the music, but it was another pleasant aural accompaniment. I crossed back across the river to Guil subway station and decided to head further out of town.

At Onsu station [photo] this church caught my eye and I decided to alight and investigate further.
interesting modern church with four glass spires outside Onsu station, seoulIt's certainly eye catching, but there was no information about it in English, so I cannot even tell you it's name.
Walking up the hill behind it I came to the Seoul city boundary [photo,photo]. Crossing the border, I entered Gyeonggi province which surrounds Seoul.

I walked passed the impressive Yuhan college buildings and through a residential area past many churches [church1, church2, church3, church4] . There was a mixture of low rise and high rise buildings and some small industrial units. I crossed the railway on a new bridge and observed the demolition of the old bridge underway [photo].

Walking up the hill the cityscape became much more industrial and the air was filled with the smell of hot plastics and the noise of metal being hammered from the many medium sized factories. I passed a learner driver centre [photo] and again the landscape changed very quickly to residential and again to horticultural [photo]. I followed a narrow lane, surrounded on either side with dense forest, and was surprised to come out into a green valley with just a few sheds and fields of vegetables.

The peace and quiet was unusual and it felt like a walk in the countryside. When a cockerel started crowing it really did complete the picture and I was beginning to wonder how I would get home again.
picture of cockerel, bucheon near seoul
Of course it was not long before civilisation returned in the form of out of town restaurants of a variety of sizes and shapes [photo]. Two spirit posts, which traditionally mark the entrance to a town and ward off evil spirits, [photo] confirmed that I was coming back in town.

Coming around a corner I was greeted by sight of a large tower block complex[photo]. This pattern of development: rows and rows of tower blocks cut from the same cookie cutter mould is repeated all over the country. Is there not a single architect at the Korean National Housing Corporation with an ounce of originality? The good news for the future residents of this development is that subway construction is well underway here with an extension of subway line 7 from Onsu to join the Incheon subway at Bupyeong-gu office [map]. I explored the area a little more, taking in another church [photo] and admiring the Sang Rok school [photo] before jumping on a bus that looked like it was heading in the right direction.

The 23-5 bus took me past an interesting looking amusement park in front of the stadium.
photo of super hero outside amusement park bucheon.
It continued through Bucheon City, past City Hall, supermarkets, malls, department stores, shops, restaurants, tower blocks and churches before arriving at SongNae subway station on line 1. After photographing the urban landscape and adding another photo of the Statue of liberty on top a building to my collection, I took the subway back to Singil and a bus home.

You can view all the photos, along with a few others I took, as a slideshow here.

I thought this idea might make an interesting meme, I'm calling it 'Going for a walk, somewhere new'. So, where ever you are, if you'd like to pick up your camera, go somewhere you've not been to before and write a blog post on it then let me know by email or a comment. In two weeks time I'll gather all the links together in one posting to share with everyone.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The ideal Korean Male ?

From the Chosun Ilbo
Rhee Seung-chul, the head of plastic surgery at Hanil General Hospital, has created an image of the perfect Korean man from the faces of 16 Korean Wave stars.

He put photos of these 16 well known Koreans Kang Dong-won, Kwon Sang-woo, Kim Rae-won, Mun Jeong-hyeok, Bae Yong-joon, Jung Ji-hoon, Song Il-gook, Won Bin, Lee Wan, Jang Dong-gun, Jae Hee, Cho In-sung, Jo Hyun-jae, Ji Seong, Ji Jin-hee, and Hyun Bin into his computer program and came up with this:

Computer generated image of the ideal Korean male
[photo from Chosun site] Does it look like anyone you know?

Jung Ji-hoon in that list, better known outside Korea as Rain, has hit the headlines again today. He had earlier this month disappointed a lot of fans by cancelling all but one the US concerts in his world tour. The only one left was scheduled for 30th June in Los Angeles, but this was also cancelled at very short notice only hours before he was due to go on stage. Poor Lad, after all that publicity he got being spoofed on the Stephen Colbert show. I hope his next tour is more of a success.