Old News

June 20, 2007: UPDATE 2
Well, I'm about one hour away from leaving for Incheon Airport. I got the letter I needed from Yim Bang-wool. Ironically, she wrote the entire letter in almost perfect English (no misspellings, very few grammatical errors) and then she spelled her own name wrong and I had to catch her. I'm thankful to her for being willing to proctor my exams. This is going to make life a whole lot easier.

Apparently the airport that I'm going to (airport code: DLC) in Dalian is also an air force base with MiG fighters. I'll try to get some pictures if convenient.

June 20, 2007
Well, I'm at Yonsei right now, hunting down what will hopefully be the last paper that I need to procure to make Yim Bang-wool my proctor for the NVCC online exams. This whole proctor thing is so dumb. I have to go to all this trouble basically because of my honesty. In reality, since this is another country, NVCC has no way of verifying that my proctor is real, so I could just make one up. However, because I'm honest, I have to go through all these steps. It's an annoyance.

My plane ticket is really strange. It says I depart at 21:45 and arrive at 18:45. So I travel backwards in time. However, the time difference with China is only one hour. I'm going to assume the flight leaves at 18:45 and be there for that, but it's fully possible that I may wait there for several hours because it actually DOES leave at 21:45.

June 19, 2007: UPDATE 3
Well, this is the THIRD update today (I'm trying to get 30 news items on this page). I added a new part to the Documents section (My Passport). It's a tour through my current passport, with all my visas and stamps and stuff.

I discovered this morning that I need an official letterhead from Yim Bang-wool before I can get her approved as a proctor for my online classes, so I went to Yonsei and requested that. She said she can have it ready for me by 11:00 AM tomorrow morning. If she can pull it off, I will be extremely grateful.

I also got a haircut today, because I don't want to go to China looking like a slob, especially when I may be dropping by future workplaces. The haircut is great. The hot shampoo girl even gave my head a massage.

Today, I still need to do a lot of stuff. I need to do my laundry and get my area of the room cleaned up enough so Mijung doesn't get antsy. I need to pack my stuff. I need to get some rough maps from the internet and find out where bus stations are and that kind of thing, so I'm not COMPLETELY lost in China (though some of this will be inevitable).

Fortunately, I got my currency exchange done at the bank today. I got about $200 worth of RMB (Chinese money). That should, in theory, be enough for my trip, if I don't get ripped off too much on hotels.

June 19, 2007: UPDATE 2
Here's the itinerary for my China trip (based on which nights I'll spend in which places). I originally made this itinerary to help me plan where to reserve hotel rooms and hostel beds, but I'm sure my family would love to see it too, so here it is:

Itinerary: Date: Where I Plan to Sleep:
Wednesday  20    Dalian
Thursday   21    Night Bus Ride from Dalian to Yanbian
Friday     22    Yanbian
Saturday   23    Yanbian
Sunday     24    Yanbian
Monday     25    Yanbian
Tuesday    26    Night Bus Ride from Yanbian to Shenyang
Wednesday  27    Shenyang
Thursday   28    Night Bus Ride from Shenyang to Dalian
Friday     29    Dalian

This is my port of entry into China. My flight arrives at the airport in Dalian. It'll come in fairly late, so I may have a challenge finding a hotel. I may end up sleeping in the airport, because I'm a little bit hesitant to go out late at night in an unknown part of China, just to seek out a hotel. All the hotels I could find for Dalian were excruciatingly expensive -- there was nothing less than $30. That's ridiculous. Even Seoul is cheaper than that (where wages are, by the way, about 10x higher). While in Dalian, I will meet my friend from elementary school, Drew Guest, at Shuishiying Fortress. Then I'll get on the bus that evening and go to Yanbian.

Yanbian is one of the main reasons I'm going to China in the first place. This is the Korean-speaking region of China on the border with North Korea. Therefore, my Korean will suddenly come in handy again, and life here will be less difficult than in Dalian. Yanji (the city that I'm touring) doesn't even appear on hostelworld.com, so I'm afraid that as far as reserving a place to sleep, I'll just have to play it by ear. While in Yanji, I plan to scope out some English schools (for a teaching job so I can make money) and investigate Yanbian University and see if it's worth attending (it's about four times cheaper per year than Yonsei, but is it close quality-wise). Then, after a few days, I'll get on a night bus (the kind I can sleep on) bound for Shenyang.

This is where I plan to get my 90-day visa for Korea, because Shenyang has a Korean consulate. I have also made a reservation at a youth hostel in Shenyang. Here is the address of the youth hostel:
Shenyang City Central Youth Hostel
No. 103 Shenyang street,
Shenhe District Shenyang,
This youth hostel is only $5.46 a night. I'm not expecting too much, but at least it doesn't appear to be a total, utter ripoff like the places in Dalian. When I'm done with my business in Shenyang, I'll get on a night bus headed back to Dalian.

Dalian: Part II
I'll basically just kill time and make sure I know where to go to catch my flight. At this point, if I have investigated Yanbian and gotten my Korean visa in Shenyang, it'll be a mission accomplished, so I can spend the last 24 hours relaxing and writing up my journey for this website.

Sphinx-Like Cat Near My New Hasukjip
June 19, 2007
Today is a momentous day! I leave for China tomorrow (okay, tomorrow night, and it's the very early morning right now, so I still have time). However, that's not the most momentous thing -- the most momentous thing is this:


Yes, that's right, on June 19, 2006, I landed in Incheon Airport and came out to Jongno and got really lost, but thanks to the kindness of strangers, was able to find Windroad Guesthouse, my first place of residence here in Korea.

I have now lived for one year in Korea, which makes SIX YEARS TOTAL IN ASIA, when you count my first Korean experience from 1988-1990 and my family's post to Hong Kong from 1998-2001. Six years is almost 1/3 of my life.

If any of you doubted me and thought I wouldn't last this long, HAH! Because I did! I will continue to live in Asia. I will create a niche of success for myself here.

I may write a one-year retrospective, kind of like my 90-day retrospective. I'll probably write it when I'm in China and am bored and have nothing else to do. Well, there's not too much time to celebrate -- time to get packing for China. I'll be back in Korea on the 30th, though, so you won't have to miss me too much, friends from Yonsei, friends from Golden Pond Guesthouse, friends from zKorean, etc.

My Chynese Visa with All Private Information Blocked Out
June 18, 2007
Two more days until I go to CHYNA!

I went to the Chynese consulate today (even though it's in the capital, they call it a consulate, apparently). I speculate that they call it the "consulate" because the "embassy" is in Pyongyang. That's just a guess, though.

My visa is pretty crappy. It's only good for one entry, and 30 days at that. It was expensive, too (88,000 won). Chyna gives you less for 88,000 won than most countries give you for free via visa waiver agreements. Well, it'll get this job done.

This afternoon, I'm meeting Wonsungi (screen name) from zKorean.

I have figured out that there is a Korean embassy in Shenyang (halfway between Dalian, my first destination, and Yanbian, my second destination). Therefore, I can get a 90-day visa and take my class with no problem.

Well, I'm at Golden Pond, and everyone is bothering me with questions and irritating me. It's time to get in the shower and get out of this grating madhouse.

June 17, 2007: UPDATE 2
Well, today, we had a guest with an interesting story. He checked in over at the Windroad Guesthouse and went to his room, and discovered that he was sharing the room (which is normal at a youth hostel). The other guy was reasonably friendly at first, and they chatted for a little while, and the guy went and smoked a cigarette.

After the other guy came back from smoking a cigarette, he kicked our guest's bag and just started cursing him out, for no reason! Apparently, this guy was pretty big, which scared our guest (which I can understand).

Our guest asked Windroad to be relocated to another room. It turns out this guy with an anger management problem also attempted to sever someone's headphone cord with a broken bottle.

Our guest was moved to another room in Windroad, but it was right underneath the angry guy's room. Apparently, the angry guy constantly listens to something. It's not music -- it's a set of prerecorded sounds consisting of traffic sounds, gunfire, radio static, and the screams of children. At this point, our guest tried to get a refund from Windroad, because he hadn't yet stayed the night, which they refused to give (I've told you before, the manager, Park, is a sleazebag). So he came to our guesthouse.

Well, Daehangno certainly has some fine characters, doesn't it?

June 17, 2007
Oh well, looks like I'm at the PC Bang again. The hostel was getting noisy, again. First the repairman just couldn't stop asking me questions. Then a guest came from Australia with his Korean friend, who had obviously spent some time in Australia, as well.

I've noticed something about overseas Koreans. Whenever they return from whatever country they were just in (usually after they've been there for a while) they have this need to prove that "I'M IN MY OWN COUNTRY NOW" the minute they arrive back on Korean soil. This girl was no exception. She wasn't mean or evil in any way, just condescending. I called Mijung and was going to ask a question about which room to put our guests into, and what to charge them. Then that girl was like "can I talk to her?" like I can't handle talking with Mijung in Korean. Excuse me? I AM THE STAFF MEMBER HERE, NOT YOU. I don't think that girl was evil or anything. Maybe she's a decent person. It's just that Koreans from overseas have this tendency to cut right through the "inept white guy" and straight to THE ACTUAL KOREAN. Heaven forbid that the Australian guy bring this girl along, and she have no use -- I guess she had to prove that her Korean-ness made her useful for something. Well, I let her satisfy her ego and use my cell phone to talk with Mijung. Now she can feel special. When I take a short trip back to the States, I'll bypass the inept immigrant at the counter, as well.

However, just now, I saw the good side of Koreans, as well. I didn't have a working pair of headphones, and the PC Bang owner said they were out of working pairs to lend out. I saw this guy who was just about to finish using his computer, or so it seemed, so I asked if I could take bring his to my computer. He said sure. Then it turned out he wasn't done yet, and started playing some shooter. I offered to give them back -- I said "as far as I knew, you were finished" but he refused to accept them back. That was kind of nice...

Well, tomorrow is the date in which inactive SDV 100 (one of my online courses) students are dropped automatically if they don't turn in a quota of work, so I will need to work a little bit to meet the deadline. Due to the time difference, I could do it tomorrow morning, but I might as well finish early and avoid controversy. Aside from that, I pick up my Chinese visa tomorrow morning and will try to get a letter from the CELTA center and show it to immigration, but I'm 90% sure student visa extension is impossible. That's a pain, but according to my friend, he was able to simply extend his 30-day stay online to 90 days. They give you only 50 characters to explain your case. I'll just put "Class dates changed. Was 7/27, now is 8/3."

June 16, 2007
Drinking with older people is stupid. I've finally figured it out.

If you're 20 and decide to go out drinking with your buddies who are 22, 30-something, and 32, guess what, it's going to be lame, because all their friends are going to be older than you. In other words, women who are seven years older than you are going to rub your hair, tell you to call them "nuna" (older sister), etc. It's a waste of time. You spend money. In this case, I only spent 4,000 won, but for what?

Then you get drunk, and the 27+ year old women are like "he's so cute" or ask if you're okay.

I dipped out early this time. I can't waste time on that stuff. I need to spend more time around people my own age, not women several years older than me who consider me a "younger brother."

June 15, 2007: UPDATE 2
Okay, I have just gotten a lot done, but it looks like not everything will go to plan. I went and applied for my Chinese visa. If it took four days, I'd be out of luck, but fortunately, they have a one business day rush option, which I chose, and I should have it on Monday, two days before I leave.

The problem is going to be with extending my student visa to cover the CELTA course. The university where I'm taking CELTA won't have a letter for me until Monday. That gives the Immigration Office only two days to extend my visa. I don't think they can do it that quickly, even if it is possible to include this class in the D-4 student visa criteria. So it looks like I'll be doing a quick visa run in the middle of my CELTA course. That'll be expensive, but at least I'm getting this done while I still have some money in the bank and aren't borderline broke.

I got a pizza for the first time in a long time. It was from Pizza School near Dunchon. It was only 5,000 won and while branded a "large" it was more like a medium, but it was still more than enough for a meal. It felt nice to have pizza, and I had been under the false assumption that pizzas here are expensive (Pizza Hut and Domino's are, but not Pizza School). It was a pretty ordinary, decent pizza.

Now I'm headed back to the guesthouse for a nap. It'll take like two hours to get back because Dunchon is on the outskirts of Seoul, if it's even technically in Seoul at all.

June 15, 2007
Well, I'm about to call it a day. I got a good deal of stuff done, even though I woke up super late.

First, I transferred 650,000 won to James Forrest for the CELTA course (so the down payment is now there, and I can get my documentation to show to Immigration). Then I went to Yonsei and talked to Yim Bang-wool and got her to be my proctor (July 2, 2007 -- Yim Bang-wool proctors my NVCC Lifetime Fitness and Wellness exam).

I decided to go look for a place to live for when I come back from China. I first went to Dang li's old place and tried to see if I could get her old one-room apartment, because it seemed like a neat place. Supposedly, someone had just moved in there yesterday, but they had another room -- I asked the price -- 500,000 won a month. That's ridiculous. It was smaller than Dang li's and they wanted me to pay 50,000 a month more for it. At first, the ajumma was like "oh, well Dang li didn't have food included." So I was like "she told me food was included. My friend didn't lie." Then she claimed that Dang li had paid her own electricity and air conditioning, which once again, I didn't buy. So I left that place alone and looked elsewhere.

I searched some hasukjips near Dang li's place (these didn't include an in-room bathroom, but were supposed to be cheaper). In one case, the ajumma quoted 400,000 won, whereas the guy who actually occupied the room said he paid about 370,000-380,000 won. Both amounts are too high for me. Then I went to another one. It was "about 400,000 won" -- the ajeosshi wasn't really sure and had to consult the ajumma, who as usual, is the one who really wears the pants. I said that I might take it if they could do 350,000 won. He said maybe, but he couldn't guarantee it. I left him my e-mail address.

Then I decided "these are too close to Yonsei's main entrance, so of course the prices are going to be high." I set out of Changcheon-dong, the area of my old hasukjip (nearer to Ewha Women's University and the Yonsei KLI). I went into one place that was 360,000 won with meals included. That didn't seem so bad. The room seemed marginally nicer than the room at my old hasukjip, and I understand that prices have gone up a little bit since this time last year, and the old hasuk was an exceptionally good deal. I told her if she could cut it to 340,000 or 350,000 won, I'd take it immediately, otherwise I'd keep shopping and maybe come back. She said she couldn't do that.

I'm glad I waited, because the best news was about to come. I got a call back from some place -- I don't even remember where I'd seen the phone number. Anyways, I conversed with the ajumma on the other end, and she agreed to meet me at the Changcheon Super convenience store. She apparently manages a ton of hasukjip buildings, and showed three rooms! The first one was 400,000 a month (meals provided). That's too expensive. Then she showed me two more. One was a standard room with no meals provided for 300,000 won a month. That seemed to be okay. However, the best one I saw, at 310,000 won a month, I will describe now. It is a standard-sized room with a bed, a desk, and a bookcase, the internet, and a TV. However, it ALSO has cable for the TV (which I tested). Here's what justifies paying an extra 10,000 won a month for it -- IT HAS A VERANDA WITH A SLIDING GLASS DOOR. Yeah, I'm not kidding -- all I need are some curtains and some temporary plywood and I can turn the veranda into a SECOND ROOM.

I fully intend to do so. At very least, I can use it as a second place to sleep. If I have guests over, they can use the main room, and I can sleep in the veranda room. Theoretically, I could even use the veranda room as a bathroom -- have a Coleman portable chemical toilet and a camp shower in there. Maybe I could sector half of the veranda room into a tiny bedroom for myself (for when guests are over) and sector the other half into a porta-john-sized bathroom. Maybe the whole bathroom thing is crazy. Chemical toilets, when well-maintained can be practically smell-free -- just take airline toilets, for instance. However, in order to get high quality portable bathroom equipment that didn't smell, the amount of money might exceed the savings of living in a hasuk room instead of a one-room apartment. I don't know, I'll have to look at prices.

In any case, I'm happy to have found a hasukjip. When you consider that hasukjip food is worth about 50,000 won a month, I'm paying 60,000 more won a month for this hasukjip. Fortunately, though, those extra 60,000 won are going towards cable TV, newer-looking furniture and a cleaner-looking room, and a VERANDA.

Here's your answer.
June 14, 2007
Today I woke up after 3:00 PM and thought "oh shit" because I knew this would have an impact on what I could get done today. I didn't realize that it would have this serious an impact, though. The first thing I did was go to Woori Bank and transfer 650,000 won to James Forrest for the CELTA course. Now I'm pretty much locked in and WILL be a Cambridge-certified English teacher as of August 3, 2007!

However, a nasty surprise soon surfaced. I took a taxi to the Chinese embassy, and learned that the place only does visa stuff from 10:00 AM to Noon. Yes, that's right, those folks work two hours a day. Geez, how much lazier can you get? So now I'm going to have to pray that I get my visa in time. Today is Thursday, and I need my visa by next Wednesday. It takes "four days" to approve a visa for China. If that means "week days after you submit your documents" I'm screwed. If it means "week days including the day you submitted your documents" then I should be all right. Damn, I'm cutting it close.

Meanwhile, I'm also cutting it close with trying to renew my student visa. As of tomorrow, there will be exactly one week until my student visa expires. Therefore, I need to get those documents to the Immigration Office TOMORROW.

I hate big paper chases. Working on two visas at once is a huge administrative pain. However, I did get something done today: I visited Yim Bang-wool (Yonsei University Program Manager) and got her to be my proctor for the NOVA exams.

Since there's nothing else to do now, and since I'm in Shinchon anyway, I'm going to work on finding a place to live, now (like, right now -- literally walk around, call people up, and hopefully meet them and tour places this evening).

June 13, 2007
Well, one more week until I go to China. I have a lot to do. My class let out for break yesterday, but there are lots of random tasks that I have to do. This morning, I applied for the CELTA course with James Forrest, the dude that Michael Bowles at the British Council recommended.

I was accepted to the course with little incident. The main problem was actually getting to the agreed place. It took about 30-40 more minutes than expected. Mr. Forrest seems like a really nice guy, and didn't seem to mind at all. He read over my application and the assessment of my English ability and only found one issue. I'm looking forward to the CELTA course. Apparently a lot of my classmates are going to be Koreans who speak English extremely well (well enough to get into the course). Mr. Forrester had a good laugh at my statement on my resume that I have "no accent," since he's from some commonwealth/former commonwealth country.

I intend to apply for my Chinese visa today at the Chinese embassy, and still need to wire the money for the CELTA course to the Shinhan bank account. I tried this morning, but got hung up on some small detail and was basically like "okay, I really have to go, now." I also need to find a place to live for when I come back from China. According to Chunmae, she checked with the hasukjip that used to cost her 250,000 won a month, and they've raised the rent to a whopping 450,000 a month (on par price-wise with most one-room apartments). Needless to stay, I will NOT be staying there. Wow, you'd have to be a real sucker to live in a place that expensive, yet lacking.

Isn't writing someone's name in red supposed to mean you want them to die?

June 12, 2007
Well, today was the last day of class. Class let out approximately one hour early. We got our transcripts. Mine was a 76% (a solid C). Damn, so I guess she didn't do me any favors on the participation. I guess she DID do me favors on the speaking exams, though, so I'm not going to hold it against her. At least she recognized that as westerners go, I am a good speaker. She was a definite 6/10 as a teacher, 5 being average.

I picked up my plane ticket to China from the travel agent today. You can see it to the left.

I inquired with Mr. Forrest about the CELTA course being offered at the International Graduate School of English. The course is 2,150,000 won, so it's 300,000 won cheaper than the one offered at the British Council, and since Michael Bowles at the British Council recommended it, it seems like it's "real." I did a cost calculation last night and figured out that it would cost almost as much to travel to Beijing and take CELTA there as it would to come back to Korea and take this one (unless I'm not allowed to extend my student visa, and have to do a visa run in the middle). Therefore, I'm just going to pay the tuition tonight or tomorrow, and hope they extend. If they don't, I'll end up making a $300 visa run, but even then, it's arguably worth it, because I have business to take care of in Korea, such as:
Meeting my friend Carina from Austria (who came to Korea last summer).
Continuing my online courses, which may not be possible in China.
Getting moved into my own place.

June 11, 2007: UPDATE
Okay, I got an e-mail back from Mr. Bowles. He said the class was cancelled due to lack of applicants. However, he has offered to transfer me to another CELTA course of which I was completely unaware that's also here in Korea. It's even 300,000 won cheaper than the one offered at the British Council! There's only one catch. Instead of starting on the 2nd of July, it starts on the 7th. I won't have a visa when re-entering Korea, so I can only stay for 30 days. I come back on June 30. The course ends on August 3. Therefore, I cannot make the course fit into the legal, 30-day time window, so I'll either need to figure out a way to extend my time, or I won't be able to do this. Back when I first got my D-4 student visa, they voided my C-3, 90-day tourist visa. So basically, yes, I can theoretically do CELTA in Korea, but it will cost an arm and a leg to do so, because either I A) make a visa run to Japan halfway through the course or B) find some way to get a tourist visa from China. Since the area of China that I'm going to be in has no Korean consulate or embassy, I'm afraid this may not be possible without spending hundreds of extra dollars. Therefore, I'm probably going to take the CELTA course in China instead, due to lower tuition costs and not having to make a visa run.

June 11, 2007
Well, I'm in a MARGINALLY better mood than I was in following the racist assault of just after midnight on Sunday. The way people react to it, for the most part, still pisses me off. They say things like "it's a scary world" and essentially react like I'm telling them that I heard on the news that three more soldiers died in Iraq. No one here seems to grasp the significance of a hate crime until I really explain it in full detail to them. It's so frustrating. A few people have acknowledged how bad it is -- Eri was relatively consoling in school today, and Mijung has been good as usual. Mujin has helped me research which martial art to study. Aside from them, it's the same old "it's a scary world" and "hwaiting!" bullshit. Is a hate crime something that has been hyped up in America, that really isn't any worse than an ordinary assault? Is my native culture blowing this out of proportion? Or are Koreans too uncaring about it? In my opinion, as someone raised in a western-style household, a racially-motivated attack is far worse than a random attack on the street.

I can't rely on apathetic Korean police officers and uncaring do-nothing onlookers to help me. I need to learn to help myself, because few people besides me grasp the significance of this. When I talk to my other white buddies, quite a few of them have been assaulted like this, at least verbally. One of the Golden Pond Guesthouse guests who's staying here right now had a guy come out of an elevator and physically attack him. Another guy right here in Hyehwa, an English teacher (but a perfectly NORMAL) guy reported to me that he's been attacked TWICE. This is common in Korea. Well, regardless of how your culture downplays hate crimes, know this: if someone attacks me in a racist rage, I have absolutely no problem beating them within an inch of their fucking life. When you are oppressed, YOU are morally superior. If someone attacks me without any direct provocation on my part, they are making an unwritten contract that says "whatever the outcome of this fight is, I accept it."

I've pretty much settled on learning Hapkido. Pretty much everyone I've talked to has said that Taekwondo is not particularly effective in actual combat -- better than nothing, yes, but there are martial arts better designed for dirty situations like that. People have recommended a number of martial arts to me, including boxing, but I'm not really interested in studying something that's either western (come on, boxing, I could do that in the US) or obscure (all obscure names, I automatically forget). Hapkido is a real martial art and pretty renowned for actual self defense.

On to a different subject (because at least I'm now able to think about other things for a small portion of the day) I found out some news today that may change my plans yet again. I have missed the registration deadline for the CELTA course. This is in pretty much no way my fault. The course was announced on May 14, and the application deadline was June 1 (though the application deadline was not put onto the website until a few days before June 1). I was busy with finals and couldn't look, so I missed the deadline, and probably will not be able to take CELTA this summer here in Korea. I have e-mailed Mr. Bowles about it, but I'm not optimistic.

However, that may have been for the better. That course is $2,633.75 by today's exchange rate. When I heard I may not be able to take it, I started looking around, and believe it or not, it's VASTLY cheaper if I take it in China, yet the course and certification are the same. So I may take CELTA in July in China instead. I guess that means I will be staying in China a little bit longer if I go that route (one extra month) but overall I may end up saving money, despite my plane ticket back to Korea on June 30 being a waste. Hey, I needed an outbound plane ticket to show the border guards in China, anyway. So maybe this is serendipity.

Finally, one other notable thing that happened today -- I was sitting down at the Kimbap Cheonguk restaurant, and this BEAUTIFUL girl who's an amazing example of physical perfection walks in. I was, of course, staring. And here comes the surprise: she waved at me and said "annyeonghaseyo, Charles?" Whoa! Who is this girl and how do I know her? I was embarrassed because I honestly didn't remember her. I said "annyeonghaseyo?" back, but left soon after, because my meal was done and I didn't want anymore awkwardness. So yeah, apparently I'm getting famous around here for something (not necessarily getting beaten up -- I don't recall telling those guys my name). However, it's also shocking that you can run into people even in densely-packed Hyehwa again. It's like a small town. I'm worried about running into the motherfuckers that attacked me again. I need to get out of here (actually, I take that back -- I need to get out of here, temporarily, until I become a Master, and can kick some ass next time those guys try to do the neo-Nazi skinhead thing). Oh well, nine more days in Hyehwa and I'll never have to live in this part of Seoul again.

June 10, 2007


Yes, that's right, walking past Core Mart, I was assaulted by two guys who didn't like white people. They said "hey, white person," and when I turned around, one of them started punching me. Naturally, I fought back. The fight only lasted about 15 seconds, until the other one broke it up. Then we sat and argued and I said I was going to call the police. One of the guys ceremoniously took out his phone and dialed 119. Or so it appeared. Police never showed up, so I don't think he actually dialed. I couldn't dial because I didn't have my phone.

We had the most wonderful conversation. Apparently they wanted to beat up a soldier, but those guys are too big, so they picked me. They didn't like my fancy shirt (the one that cost me about $4 from a flea market) and thought I was a rich white bastard. Apparently everything is my whole race's fault. At one point, me and the slightly taller guy were arguing emphatically, and we got up in each other's faces and he punched me, and I punched back. Then they ran off, fucking cowards.

I made a police report, but those guys will never get caught. There was a crowd nearby. I asked people to help and no one did. People just tried to ignore it, and suggested I go home and sleep and forget it.

I have been in Korea less than one year and have already been the victim of a hate crime.


Here is the Mac that I got today (open, in-progress).
June 9, 2007
Anyone who knows me personally should know that whenever I see a computer in the trash, I just have to either grab it, or if I'm not allowed to grab it, buy it for the lowest price possible. The last time I did this, I ended up with a great deal: a Pentium III for 5,000 won that only needed minor work.

However, today, the deal doesn't seem to have turned out so well. En route to Hansot to get a cheap, 1,500 won meal, I spotted a Mac on a trash cart. The garbage man operating the cart agreed to sell me the computer, the monitor, and external hard drive, and some kind of antiquated Sony proprietary external drive all for 10,000 won.

As far as I know, the accessories work fine, and so does the monitor (which is small but made by Apple, has built-in speakers and a built-in microphone). However, the computer itself doesn't seem to be working, which kind of makes the other stuff useless. I get video -- you can see, on the monitor, the startup screen and a mouse cursor. Then it shows a Happy Mac in the middle of the screen. Then there's the disk icon with a question mark. That's when the system halts.

I tried swapping in the hard drive from the external hard drive unit, and that's done nothing. I think the problem is with the hard drive controller on the motherboard, not with the drives themselves. I have tried creating a boot disk on my PC with all sorts of .img files found on Google. Nothing will get this PC to boot into any kind of operating system, not even on a limited, boot disk basis. I think I'm going to quit for today. Maybe I'll have some insight into the problem later. If it is all a failure and I can never get it to work, I've only lost about $10. If I can get it repaired, I'll have a cute little PowerPC 6100 with a 60 MHz processor.

If I can't fix it soon, I'll probably just throw it out. It's not worth the trip to Yongsan to try to sell the working parts. That'd be 900 won each way, a ton of time and effort spent hauling the thing around, etc. The stuff is all so antiquated, those guys in their little shops with no extra room probably wouldn't even want to buy it.

Oh well, it was a worthwhile gamble. About half the time (maybe more) the PC can be saved to a working capacity. I'll probably do this again sometime.

This isn't my actual ticket (I'll get that on Monday) but it's a voucher with which I can get my ticket. I hid the number so you can't use it.
June 8, 2007


Okay, before you even ask, I AM NOT MOVING TO YANBIAN YET. This is my plan (just a simple mission to see if Yanbian is any good):
Fly to China (barely more expensive than going on a boat). I will embark on June 20 in the evening.
I will hang out with Drew Guest (my buddy from White Oaks Elementary School, we used to manufacture weapons together) in Lushunkou for a couple of days. I'm guessing the 21st and the 22nd, but I still need to discuss it with him.
In the evening on June 22, I will take a train or bus to Yanbian, which is quite far away. However, according to my travel agent (who lived in Yanbian and graduated from Yanbian University) the train is only about 40,000 won each way. I should arrive in Yanbian on June 23. I will be in Yanbian until about June 28 (so I can get back to Dalian by June 29 -- leaving one day of padding to get on my flight in case something goes wrong, because my flight leaves on the 30th).
My goals for Yanbian:
     1. See if people actually speak Korean there. Yes, 60% of Yanji is Korean, but how many of them speak Korean as a native language?
     2. Are there lots of English schools in Yanji? Would it be possible to get a job without relying on Paul's English?
     3. Get a rough idea of the economy. Can I really live on $100 a month? Am I going to get ripped off a lot?
     4. Get an idea of the school. Are the Korean teachers native speakers?
     5. How is the internet? Can I continue to attend NOVA online classes while in Yanji?
     6. Are there television broadcast stations in Korean that are interesting/comprehensible?
After arriving in Dalian again (probably on the 29th) I will just chill for a day, waiting for my flight. I'll get some good pictures for this website, and if Drew is there, I'll see him. Then I'll get on a plane, come back to South Korea, and take the CELTA course. If I really liked Yanbian, I'll return in about a month. If I don't like it, well, it's good that I scoped it out before packing up and moving there.

By the way, the ticket was, for reference purposes, 282,600 won. It was 190,000 won originally, but there is a 92,600 won tax added to every plane/boat ticket by someone's overzealous government.

Level 4 Final Exam Results:
Listening: 72% (C)
Reading: 65.5% (D)
Writing: 75.8% (C)
Speaking: 87.2% (B)
Overall (Final): 75.13% (C)
June 7, 2007
These days, if I just pass them all, I'm pretty content. I'm fairly confident that I got a C this term. If the teacher gives me a 91% or higher on participation, I may get a B, but seriously, I think that's highly unlikely, since in Level 2, I was in a similar situation and didn't get the needed 92% (except that in Level 2, my attendance was perfect, whereas this term, it wasn't). Yep, a C. Well, it could have been worse. Level 4 is reputed to be the shock level. If I can just get a better housing situation next term, maybe I can return to the days of getting B's again.

As for other news, some disgusting person with no manners put their clothes, including their underwear, on top of my toiletries, which includes my toothbrush. I plan to throw all the clothes away, because that's disgusting. You fuck with my toothbrush, I fuck with your laundry. Deal? Is it okay in Korea to put your underwear on someone's toothbrush? Yes, that's right, I'm just going to take those clothes and throw them into a dumpster. When someone was using my razor, I said "this is the last straw." Wow, here's another last straw. There are lots of last straws. It's amazing how forgiving we are.

Anyways, as you can probably tell, I'm grumpy and need a nap. It's really not because of finals -- at least I passed them, even if I didn't do as well as I thought I had. It's just these constant little invasions of my privacy, followed by being misdirected to the National Central Museum by an incorrect syllabus (and wasting 9,400 won on the taxi getting there) have gotten my day off to a bad start.

June 5, 2007
Well, finals are done! I don't really know how I did, but I'm pretty sure I didn't fail any of them. I'll have to wait until Friday to find out.

This morning, the listening exam was seemingly pretty easy for the first half, and was pretty difficult for the second half. Still, I bet I got a C or higher on it.

The writing exam wasn't that bad, either. The vocabulary words were mostly ones I knew, and I spent literally two or three hours with Mijung last night just reviewing the grammar. We'd go over a grammar pattern and I'd try to make like three or so sentences with each one, and she'd correct me if they were wrong, and if any were wrong, I'd try again. I was really happy that she was willing to take the time to do that.

Right now, I'm at an internet cafe, sitting next to that adorable girl from the Family Mart who wears the big, perfectly circular glasses. She's extremely cute, even if she's a year or two younger than me (the Chinese dude who used to go to Sungkyunkwan University who works at Family Mart says she's 20). I think I'm going to find some excuse to talk to her, and get her to add me on Cyworld (like Facebook, but Korean). Hey, she may not be quite as old as I am, but at least she works!

She is from Jeolla, where they speak the weird dialect. However, her speech isn't that hard to understand because the problem is mainly with old people.
She is currently attending a hagwon to get the skills she needs to get into school.
She wants to major in Acting.
She is looking for a weekend part-time job, but does not plan to quit at the Family Mart.

June 4, 2007
Well, I took the reading exam and the speaking exam today. The reading exam wasn't too great, but I think I passed it. All the possible answers were so close together. The speaking exam wasn't so bad. The teacher said I passed when I asked her, so I'm not too concerned.

Today, in less than an hour and a half, I wrote up a six- or seven-page list of all the types of people you can find at the Yonsei KLI. If only I'd spent that effort and efficiency on studying, I'd be an A-student. :-) I will add it to the "Documents" section of the site, or you can access it here. Warning, if you go to the KLI, your type will be on the list, and you WILL be offended!

Why are you laughing, butthead?
June 3, 2007
Final exams for Level 4 start tomorrow. I'm not particularly concerned about tomorrow's. Maybe I should be more concerned. All I have to do is the following:
Memorize all vocabulary words relevant to the stories we've learned during this half of the term. I've done most of this already, so I'm not too concerned.
Re-read said stories. I need to be familiar with their contents so I don't have to tediously re-read them during the test, when time is limited.
Memorize the order of each story, because the test often asks you to sequence stories. It's dumb, I know, but I just want to get a good score.

For the speaking test, really, there's not a whole lot I can do to prepare. I guess I'll just gather together a list of five useful pieces of grammar and try to use them tomorrow. I probably won't, but the psychological benefit of going in feeling prepared may allow me to speak with more ease during the exam.

I can't wait until these things are over. The hardest tests are going to be on Tuesday, I'm afraid (listening and writing -- the former is just plain difficult, and the latter requires lots of memorization to get a good score).

By the way, today, I found some good Engrish.

You know how I LOVE this mentality...
June 2, 2007
Well, the finals for Level 4 start the day after tomorrow. I estimate I have about 100 to 200 more words left to memorize, which is completely, 100% feasible if I don't slack off. However, I also need to memorize grammar patterns, re-read the stuff in the reading book, etc. I didn't do the tapes this time, either, because they're just too damn hard. All I'm going to do for listening comprehension practice is to listen to five hours of radio and read and re-read the practice listening exam transcripts. We'll see how I do.

Tuesday afternoon, no matter how I did on the tests, I will be swept by a wave of relief and free times to get the OTHER things done that I need to do, like the work for my online NOVA courses, applying for the CELTA course, etc. I need to find a hasukjip or one-room.

Corn Flakes
June 1, 2007
Wow, it's June now. I came to Korea last June. That means it's been almost a year now! I'm stressing as usual about the finals, but I think I'll pass them all. On listening, I'd have to get less than a 51 to pass, and all the other tests, I could go even lower than that. However, I'd like to finish this term with a B, which is a slightly loftier goal.

As for my living situation, seriously, today, I hit (another) last straw -- SOMEONE HAS BEEN USING MY RAZOR. EXCUSE ME?! Yes, there were little black hairs on it. That's fucking disgusting. I already knew someone was using my washcloth, and the bar of soap that Mijung had designated as mine, well, Mujin admitted to using that...directly. Now someone's using my razor, GEEZ. As soon as finals are over, I need to get over to a hasukjip or one-room and just go ahead and put down a deposit to reserve it, already. This lack of privacy isn't worth any small amount of savings. I mean, come on, MY RAZOR? To make up for this lack of privacy for the last six months or so, I'm going to have to get an extra fancy place -- probably a one-room, with its own bathroom. I want to be able to just veg in my place for a week and not even walk out the front door. That's real privacy, this isn't.

As for other news, I had my first bowl of cereal in probably five or so months. I bought a box of Cornflakes for 1,750 won and had a couple of bowls with some milk made from powder. Actually, neither milk or cereal is stiflingly expensive here, so I don't know why I haven't done this before now.

Don't Even Ask
May 30, 2007
Today we had ANOTHER listening practice exam, and I passed this one too (73%). Therefore, it wasn't that bad. Aside from that, I had a big night with the guests last night. You know, because I don't go out and party enough. Geez, I really, really need to get my own place. I'm unable to refuse a night of partying, yet it doesn't particularly enhance my life in any way.

Anyways, I'm seriously considering cutting back on the time that I put into this site, and re-budget that time to another site that's in Korean. I'm in Korea, and people here can't read English very well. They can if they REALLY TRY, but they have to be forced, whereas a Korean site...well, they'd become addicts, then get their friends hooked, too. I'm not sure yet how to go about making the new site. Should it be on a separate GeoCities account? Should it have a domain name? When should I start producing it?

If I had a Korean website, I have a feeling that I'd make a lot more Korean friends, which are the type that stay in Korea...not leave after three months. People reading this website could still look forward to occasional updates, or they could go to the Korean site and at least look at the pictures.

Me on a Rice Paddy

Sunday's Fireworks Display

May 29, 2007
The computer just crashed and I lost all my work so I have to do this post from scratch, again! Darn it! Okay, well, here are the latest notable things:
Today I got both my NOVA textbooks, so I can start actually turning in assignments for those online courses. Fortunately, I don't think I've missed any deadlines yet.
I really have to move out of this guesthouse. Mijung is great and it's not her fault, but yesterday we had this Indian/British citizen asshole who, not realizing that I was an American, said to someone else "I don't like Americans." This was after I had personally gotten that guy a room (the staff wanted to say we were full, but I clarified that he only needed one day). He claimed he was joking. Yeah asshole, you're lucky I don't beat the shit out of you. Then, this morning, I woke up at before 7:00 AM to find myself in a room with FOUR people, who were already awake. I knew all of them, but geez, that's real private. Therefore, today I asked Chunmae if she can give me the address of the 250,000 won a month hasukjip. If it's full, I'll look around elsewhere too. I'm really tempted to go back to my old hasukjip, except that I don't like the old man there, because he was an asshole about the internet. Seriously, though, I need to get out of this one, because the commute, the two-way bus fares, the lack of privacy, the constant distractions by customers (most are well-meaning, but ANOTHER drunk night spent with friends won't help your studying) combine to create a pretty poor studying environment. Plus, a hasukjip always provides two meals a day, and sometimes food around here is pretty scarce, so I end up going to a restaurant, which ain't cheap.
Yesterday I went with Mijung to Mijung's dad's farm. It was a cool place. He fixed up some kind of a steel trailer or container or something and lives in it temporarily (I think he has a real house, too). It was pretty cool, and the farm was cool as well. I tried to get a picture with me, a rice paddy, and a culinary dog farm (the neighbors', of course) but Mijung strongly objected.
There was a nice fireworks display on Sunday for the Daehangno Festival. I think it has something to do with the universities, like Seoul National University's medical school. I got the fireworks picture from the Golden Pond Roof.

Zach (left) and Me (right)
May 26, 2007
Well, I finally met Zach today! For the thousandth time, this is NOT the dude I knew from Hong Kong International School, so PLEASE don't ask. I know this Zach from zKorean's online forums (he's MeeNam on there, and is quite knowledgeable about the Korean language). He lived in Jeolla for two years as a Mormon missionary. We ate lunch and bummed around some malls. He's getting married soon, which is why he came to Korea (his fiance is Korean). Anyways, just thought I'd update you all on that, especially since many people who visit this site are from zKorean.

Some crafts that Mijung made recently. Hey, I needed a photo to make this article more interesting!
May 22, 2007

Okay, Never Mind

Well, in their usual fashion, my plans have changed again. Paul's English said it will take about a month to approve my visa, and they need my diploma, which will take probably another 10 days to get from Fairfax to here. That's about 40 days total. I can't wait that long just to find out if I have a job or not (I may get to the end of that wait period and be rejected for my visa). Therefore, on to plan B: GET CELTA CERTIFIED! Here's the new plan:
Finish this term at Yonsei, then take a nice little two-week vacation in Japan or China. I will lose my Korean student visa (temporarily) but will get a tourist visa for Korea at the consulate in Japan, so I may re-enter for 90 days.
I return to Seoul around the end of June. This way, I can take the KLT (Korean Level Test) on the 30th, just as a progress check, and then enter the CELTA English teacher training course on July 2.
I will graduate the CELTA course with a very formidable TEFL certificate.
At this point, the road forks. I can try again to find a job in Yanbian, I can continue at Yonsei, or I can do something completely different. I need to find out some things about other countries' visa laws first before I make any definite plans. However, it looks like I'll be taking the CELTA course.

As for other news, I got my detailed KLPT scores back today. I got a 115/200 (57.50%) on listening and a 185/300 (61.67%) on reading. Now, let's just suppose that my listening is shot, and I cannot improve it anymore -- I can still get a 350 if I can just manage a 235/300 (78.33%) on the reading! This is a momentous occasion. I am closing in!

May 21, 2007
Today, I'll just write another basic summary of my day. Sorry I don't have any cool pictures. If you want to see a new picture, go to Photos -> My Korean Class at Yonsei University. I uploaded a scan of one of the newspaper article-based handouts that I made (Oneureui Hwaje). Yes, that's right, we're dissecting newspaper articles now.

So here was my day:
I stayed up most of the night quizzing myself on vocabulary words and writing up my newspaper article on a 180-kilogram gorilla that went on a rampage at a Dutch zoo. I also completed my first piece of NOVA course work (for Lifetime Fitness and Wellness -- "Introduction Letter"). Yes, my classes have started now. I still don't have my textbooks, but that should be all right -- the classes are done with a checkpoint system, and the next "checkpoint" is nice and far away.
I slept about 2.5 hours. This is about the borderline for sleep being worthwhile at all. I think it was worthwhile. I was fatigued at the end of my day, but I survived.
Mijung woke me up because Professor Choi had brought a congratulations present for me passing KLPT Level 3 -- a case of MREs (US military rations)! However, I don't like receiving gifts, as you all might be aware (okay, most of you probably aren't aware). However, the MREs are tasty and I thank Professor Choi for his thought. He bought the case of MREs in Namdaemun on the black market for 40,000 won (because a customer asked, I wouldn't be so tactless as to ask). I had a beef roast with vegetables MRE and it was pretty good -- very filling, too.
I need to get studying now. I'm almost to a KLPT Level 4 -- just 50 more points. I have about four months until the next testing. I really ought to be able to pass the next one, and if I don't, I'll be kicking myself! So it's time to get studying!
Okay, one more thing, and this is kind of sad. Dang li left today. She was a good friend, and it's really too bad that she went. She's now in southern China, I'd expect. That's nowhere near Yanbian -- probably at least 1,000 miles away, so I doubt that I'll get to see her when I go to Yanbian. If I ever go back to Hong Kong, maybe I can swing through her place and visit her, but it's probably never going to be like when she lived in Shinchon and we could just hang out after school. On Friday, I helped her pack up some of her stuff and mail it to her residence in China. I also helped her clean out her apartment a little bit. I got a bag of candy, some Chinese tea, a few notebooks (I'd been running out of paper), a can of coffee (which someone else will drink, because I don't like coffee), and probably some other stuff too that I forgot to mention. She even offered me some pillows! I probably would've taken them, too, except that I'm possibly going to move, soon, so I can't take on too much extra bulk. Anyways, it's too bad that she went, because she was a fun person and a good friend. It's an unfortunate fact of life in a country like Korea (a come, get your money, and go type of country) that any foreigner you befriend will probably leave a few months to a few years later. It's happened before, and as long as I live here, it'll keep on happening. You can make Korean friends (and I have quite a few), but the connection with non-Koreans can be very strong because they can completely, 100% sympathize with what you're going through. Anyways, Dang li, I miss you already!