Friday, September 22, 2006

Straight from the Seoul

Annyeong Haseyo!

Sorry for not writing for a while, it's been a month since I last
wrote, and quite alot has happened since!

For the apartment, I've bought secondhand furniture from foreigners
leaving here, including a computer, printer, desk, queen size bed,
rice cooker, microwave, toaster oven, and a washer/dryer combination.
The great thing about this is that I can sell it when I leave, so I
can get some of my money back.

I've also set up broadband cable internet at home, which means I can
now download music and movies for entertainment during the cold dark
winter months ahead.

Work has had it's ups and downs. There wasn't many classes running
during the summer because everyone was on vacation, which meant I
wasn't getting much money (I get paid per class). At one point I had
just about had enough and had started looking for work elsewhere.
Unfortunetly, my work visa will only allow me to work for a public
school (meaning little undisciplined kids), and due to the
conservative (and should I say, racist) nature of older generation
Koreans, prefer not to have an Asian looking foreign English teacher
(or as they call us, Gyopos), opting for a less qualified white
foreigner to teach english!

So, I've had to just resign myself to the fact that Institutions like
Berlitz are all I can really find work in (as they are owned by
International corporations who aren't allowed to discriminate).

In any case, the last month has picked up in classes as more people
are coming back from vacation. I've also managed to find some private
students outside of Berlitz which supplements my income here. So as I
always say, "everything works out in the end!"

However, the upshot of all this is that I haven't really saved any
money since starting work 3 months ago (spent on settling in and
partying), and the money earned is less than expected. So my 1+ year
trip through Asia and beyond will have to be delayed, as I might
choose to work for 2 years here instead of 1.

And as for my love life? Well, jump to the end of the email.


-Be asked at a job Interview "Do you (binge) drink (alcohol)?", and be
hired if it is the case. This is because (binge) drinking with clients
is a standard relationship building activity, and to not participate
could be considered impolite.
-Ask how a Korean person is doing by asking "Did you eat?" in Korean
("shiksa hashossoyo?". This is not taken literally.
-Pose in photos in front of Police booze buses.
-Jokingly invite a policeman to engage in group activities of an adult
nature, after coming to quiet us from our drunken revelry. He just
shook his head, said "no no no, not my business", and made an excuse
to leave.
-Be unfaithful, but it's not OK to get caught (especially if you're a
girl). Infidelity seems prolific in this country, it is estimated that
2/3 of married men cheat with mistresses and prostitutes! Korean men
also don't like using protection which makes things even worse!
-Sing badly at a noraebang (Karaoke room).
-Not hold hands with a girlfriend/boyfriend until 3 months after the
first date; nor kiss until the 6th month (Thankfully none of the girls
I've dated here are like that!).


Gee with all these puns I guess you'ld have no trouble working out
where exactly in the world I am...

Koreans seem to have double standards about waste. For example, they
are pedantic about recycling, they even have special bags dedicated to
real waste only (like food scraps etc) - the rest they expect you to
store in seperate bags depending on the material (paper, plastic,
etc). In fact I once caught my landlord sorting out my rubbish the
first time I put it out for collection because I did not recycle

On the other hand, when it comes to food, they would leave vast
amounts of untouched uneaten food on the table (especially kim chi),
which pretty much gets thrown straight into the rubbish bin! You would
think that, especially with the prevalent starvation of the people of
North Korea just a few miles away, that South Koreans would be a
little more aware of how lucky they are and how precious is the
abundant food they have available at every meal.


Yet again North Korea announces how their missiles will destroy Seoul
and it's allies (while at the same time quietly asking for donated
food, aid and building materials from Seoul). After the last missile
launches, Japan and the US are a little worried. This is why the US
army base in central Seoul is moving further south in Korea, because
Seoul is within reach of heavy artillery fire from the North. But is
Seoul scared? Not at the slightest, because they've heard it all
before! Some South Koreans don't even believe they have the capacity
to produce technologically advanced missiles. This apathetic
blase-faire feeling is evident in how South Korean trade and stock
investments have not changed even slightly after North Korea's