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About K-Pop in Europe (an interpretation)

As it may not be common knowledge yet, I was teaching Italian secondary school students in Ireland for a month for pocket money while spending the summer here with Herself and +1. It has been fun.

Of course I explained to them that I did not actually live in Ireland, and that I was a resident of Korea (no not North, South). This got a reaction sometimes, and other times it didn’t. The students I was teaching were nice, with a decent standard of English, but I was lucky to have the higher levels, as there were other teachers who were considerably less fortunate. But anyway.


Letter from Korea, May 2013

Suwon, South Korea
May, 2013

Dear Ireland,

I am Ireland. It’s mad. Over the weekend I became a country. In fact, little and humble me is now my country. I’m touched.

Actually, that’s an exaggeration. I’m not the country, I’m kind of representing the country in a kind of unrepresentative official but not so official way. You see it’s on twitter, and because it’s on twitter the non-believers will only consider it as hearsay, while the twitterati will revel and rejoice at this phenomenon. There are other things too but this will undoubtedly prove the most controversial point.


K-Pop: A Secret Weapon of Korea for Future Cultural Domination?

South Korea Food Report 2: The Rising Cost of Kimchi


Korean Food Trends for Korea in 2012

This is a food trend report prepared by O’ngo Food Communications and KoCTA (The Korea Culinary Tourism Organization. Even though Korean food is gaining popularity all over the world, it is not trending in Korea. There are aspects of Korean food that are gaining popularity, but for different reasons than in other parts of the world.

*Disclaimer these are our opinions on food and we are looking at this issue from the idea of the whole country and it is not solely expat focused. Seoul has a 10.5 million Korean people and only 250,000 foreigners. The opinion of the masses can make or break restaurants here.*


The Seven Wonders of Hype

Seven countries are fervently celebrating their inclusion on the new list of “Seven Natural Wonders” of the world. But is this anything more than hype? And is the organization that put it all together out for anything more than making a buck?


On restless Americans, living in a foreign country and settling down

If I had read this New York Times article before I had thought of teaching English in a foreign country (circa late 2007), I would have found the premise implausible at best. Americans voluntarily leaving their soil indefinitely? Americans don’t do that. Maybe they go off for a holiday in Australia, or they backpack their way across Europe. We get a little jealous of people taking a ‘working holiday’ It’s a rite of passage, or perhaps a way to postpone Master’s degrees and starting families. They always come back to the states however… don’t they?

From the aforementioned article:

Driving from central Pennsylvania to Massachusetts, for example, you see an American heartland slowly emptying of opportunity: roads and bridges crumbling even without the recent spending cuts, once-confident businesses shuttered, “now hiring” signs eerily absent.


On AFEK, a conference, and hundreds of years of Korean experience

Arguably, a moth is drawn to a flame thanks to an intense point of light. To say I was drawn to the AFEK business conference like a moth to a flame is not only appropriate, but apt. Although not a F-visa holder, my presence was courtesy of Mike Yates, who heard my interest and sent on the information needed to gain entry.

It’s a different world, to say the least. At the risk of stereotyping, an E-2 might busy themselves with meeting friends, finding a place to drink, or creating and participating in the expat community. That is all accomplished while working a full-time teaching job, dealing with an ever-changing schedule, and otherwise having the deck stacked against them. Few E-2 visa holders reach a point where they’re able to break out of teaching; the picture in my mind resembles a dying city where many want to leave but few actually can.


Re: 12 rules for expat life in Korea

A recent article on CNNGo recently talked about the 12 rules for expat life in Korea. While I found myself agreeing with some of them, living in Korea requires more than drinking like a fish or learning to dance K-pop (yikes!). If you’re coming to Korea to teach, work as a business person, serve the military, or otherwise hold a respectable position in Korean society, THESE are the 12 rules to follow.

1. Embrace the culture’s take on alcohol, but know when to say when. Going to the bar with friends and co-workers is common, and (if the boss is paying) a chance for a superior to show their position. At the same time, know when enough is enough. You need not refuse a drink, but sip instead of chug, and choose beer over soju any chance you get – the latter is four times as potent.


Expat slang, part 2

Since the first expat slang post, a few new phrases of expat slang have been overheard. Add what you know and enjoy!

Keyboard condom (n.) – the thin, plastic-film-like plastic cover found on Korean keyboards. Often taken off the keyboard by Westerns more interested in typing than fighting with a piece of plastic.

I can’t type nearly as fast with the keyboard condom on.

Typing with a keyboard condom is like typing with rubber gloves on.

Hongdae Standard Time (n.) – the hour to hour-and-a-half difference between the scheduled start time and actual start time of a Hongdae concert. See also Itaewon Standard Time; other versions are heard around the world.


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