It's been clear to me for some time that the Korean maternity experience differs radically from the British one. One important respect in which this difference manifests itself is postnatal care - it isn't uncommon for a new mother to spend two to four weeks at the hospital's 'sanhujoriwon' (산후조리원') postnatal/postpartum clinic recuperating in Korea. By comparison, the National Health Service hospital in one British city states the average length of stay in their postnatal beds in 2009 was 1.2 days.

Hearing Test and Urine Sample

Warning:  The second half of this blog entry contains info on certain body parts that might be considered graphic.  Or funny.  Or both.  Either way, it's real.  Can't make this stuff up.  Maybe it's potentially graphic just cause I don't know what those body parts are that are mentioned in the documents below.  I don't want to assume that the subject is okay with all parents and more importantly, their kids.  Please preview before letting your teen read this.

Insurance premiums are gonna be scary!

In Steven King’s short story, “The Running Man”, one of the ways the poor were tormented for the enjoyment of the rich was a medical test, followed by the opportunity to compete in a stressful game.  A lot of the stress came from the knowledge that only those with heart problems were invited to play this game.  Being invited to play the game was sometimes the news intimation a person had that their health was compromised.

Coke in Korea

When the Cruz family of 4 goes out to dinner at a Korean restaurant and we order Coke, they usually bring this out:

One bottle of Coke and 4 glasses

A River Runs Through It

A few years ago $900 million was spent creating a 6km recreational space along a stream in central Seoul. I've visited this urban renewal project 'Cheonggyecheon' ('청계천') and it is quite beautiful, although as its Wikipedia page suggests, it has not been universally welcomed.

Winter's Child

It snowed this week in our part of Busan. It was the first time snow had settled on the ground since I've lived here. South Korea hasn't had an easy winter, but this city's location and our location within it - in the south-west by the sea - mean that it usually rains, if anything. The snow still falls on top of the nearby mountains though, which I have an excellent view of from my office window. Annoyingly, it often doesn't stop it from being bitingly cold, but it's nothing compared to Seoul. Our dog was captivated by what he saw out of the window, and outside our building a group of children, whose school was apparently closed by the weather, bravely tried to scrape together enough of the white stuff to build a snowman. I imagine this was their first and last chance of the season, and it was clearly hard work.

Finding my voice

My Gangwon Notes blog, the best damn blog never to be nominated by 10 Magazine for a best blog award, had a pretty clear focus: Gangwon Province.  Yes, I also mentioned my homeland, Canada, Korean politics and conservation efforts, a few book reviews, but I stayed mostly true to the title of my blog.

I am now in a new location and it is not undersupplied with bloggers (can you ever have enough bloggers?) and don’t intend to be ‘the voice of Busan’. but what do I intend?  Well, I have mentioned somewhere that I am interested in a few things, but I still don’t feel comfortable with the direction of this blog.  I am in a new location, have a new job and am using a new blogging site, why follow the same  path?  Still, I do enjoy blogging and want to write about something.


today. I looked at these articles in Korea’s English newspapers.

Crazy Heart

The part can never be well unless the whole is well - Plato

I suffered from chest pains three weeks ago, which was not particularly anything new, but the weakness in my arm and duration of the pain was - so I decided to go to hospital the next day to ensure the problem wasn’t anything serious. Cue the Korean hospital experience:

T+0 We enter the hospital unannounced
T+1 minute, we fill in my details on a form
T+2 My blood pressure is taken
T+3 I see the doctor
T+5 I'm sent for x-rays
T+6 I'm having the x-rays
T+8 I'm seeing the doctor again

GIFT Ministry in Dongnae (now with free Korean classes)

Every day we face choices, new tasks, new challenges, new obstacles, sometimes new jobs, new relationships, and for many of you a new or different life in a new country and culture different from where you grew up. It helps to have a community around you to help you adjust and learn to adapt quickly, see the sites,  share your experiences and ideas with and to just hang out and relax together. GIFT Ministry (website: is a friendly community trying to help English speakers in Busan make the most of life here.

One new program we are offering is free Korean classes at 2pm on Saturdays for beginners.  These can help make navigating life in Korea quite a bit easier, more efficient and we have an experienced, very kind and helpful Korean teacher who speaks excellent English leading them! Come join and "level up" your Korean :).

GIFT Ministry

Every day we face choices, new tasks, new challenges, new obstacles, sometimes new jobs, new relationships, and for many of you a new or different life in a new country and culture different from where you grew up. Sometimes we need help in adjusting and making sense of things. At GIFT Ministries every Saturday at 10:30am in Dongnae (see the maps below and go to the blue dot in the maps), you’ll find a place where you can connect with other foreigners (and very helpful Koreans) with up to 17 years experience living in Korea who have experienced what you’re going through and know many of the ins and outs of getting adjusted and creating a memorable and enjoyable experience (we also have many useful ideas on teaching effectively, finding jobs, legal issues, etc.). We like to get away from the daily grind and refresh and re-energize ourselves with:

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