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One Shining Moment: March Madness, Epilogue


By Pablo Harris

3am was the loneliest time for Paul on the deserted streets amidst the hundreds of high-rise condos in Myeongji New Town. But it was there, in those late nights/early mornings, that he always felt a contented kind of loneliness. So he walked down to the Family Mart, dropped W12,000 on a calling card that would give him 47 minutes to call the West Coast and cracked a tall boy of Cass. He walked down to the water and sat on a concrete wall along the estuary of the Nakdong and began to dial.  

Love to Hate Korea: Costco

It’s no secret that Costco in Korea is the epitome of a modern hellhole designed to rip your soul out, divvy it up with a rusty and blunt axe, chew it, then spit it right back at you, so you you put it back inside, then turn around and do it all over again. This place steals so much attention and causes so much heartbreak and frustration, but let’s not forget that all it is is a bloody supermarket!

But why is the place just destined to constantly infuritate me? I blame people. Because, let’s face it, all the ills of the world are brought about by our fellow humans, and Costco in Korea is a perfect example of this.

Yeongtong Just Got Better!

Believe it or not, Yeongtong-dong in Suwon has just increased its position on some quality of life scale somewhere in the world. Previously I was frustrated over the never ending subway works right outside my apartment, but the good news is that they have finally been completed! Celebrations are in process.

A somewhat irresponsible photograph of the lay of the land outside the brand-spanking new Cheongmyeong Station!

A somewhat irresponsible photograph of the lay of the land outside the brand-spanking new Cheongmyeong Station!

morning exercise in the parking lot

Our new apartment is working out pretty well.  I find the location to be much better.  However, it is an older apartment complex and I guess the parking requirements were smaller when it was built.  As a result, cars are parked in the two rows of parking spaces, then two rows are made between the parking spaces.  These cars are left in neutral so they can be moved more easily.

Getting my Knees Dirty on Korean New Year

On Friday night we boarded a bus in Suwon expecting hours of traffic packed in between tumults of snow. We hoped the journey would take less than five hours and, if we were lucky, the bus driver would at least leave the reading lights on, unlike the last time we took the bus.

We knew what was ahead. Korean New Year is famous for the lines of impregnable traffic on the express-way, and for the previous two days, both the weather forecast and my father-in-law had been warning us about the snow that was going to stop the world that existed around us.

Two hours into our journey along the expressway I awoke with a shudder and snort. The bus was cruising steadily along the expressway at an unfamiliar speed, perhaps over 80 kilometres an hour, and we were passing Munmak, thaat perpetual traffic black spot on the Yeongdong Expressway.

Getting the Shot 9: Sinbok Rotary

Getting the Shot 8: On Top of the Tempo

The Shot: This is what a traffic shot should look like… but maybe with a bit more light trails. It is shot from above and at a wide angle as to include not just the but the buildings and the last bit of light fading out into the night.

Chuseok Diary

I’m sitting in the living room after finishing another massive feed. My mother and father in-law are visiting, as is my brother-in-law. It’s kind of a proud moment for me. Today, I’m the man-of-the-house that is hosting the family’s Chuseok get-together. Herself doesn’t really have a big family – only her parents and one younger brother – and the majority of her parent’s brothers and sisters have lived far away for a long time so the family tend to do their own thing at Chuseok. It’s small, but cosy enough in its own way. It’s also quiet, which is also nice especially when I compare it to the frantic Christmases we have back in Ireland.

As I said, I am the man-of-the-house. That being said, herself and her ould won are doing most, if not all, of the work. It’s not because I can’t, it’s more because Herself’s ould won won’t have me doing anything short of setting the table, not that I’m complaining or anything.

Unfortunately, Herself’s parents can only stay a couple of nights before they shoot back to Gangwon-do on the east coast. But, we both could see that they were happy to be here for Chuseok. The change and the journey are always nice I think, and I think that they had less to worry about coming here. Our apartment has more room and is a bit more comfortable than theirs, especially when the whole family comes over for Chuseok. So, while they did have a three hour drive to get here we both could feel that they were very relaxed and happy with the change of scene.

would it give you dusty-bum here?





In Utrecht, they’ve developed a ‘transit accelerator’ to reach rail stations.  It would be faster, but even more, it would make the whole city more fun to travel in.At Pop-up City, they have a video of the accelerator in use.

Via Freakenomics.


Apparently successful ‘sharing bicycle system’ in Changwon

I was in Changwon on the weekend and noticed many people on similar bikes.  Changwon has its own ‘sharing bicycle system’ -my previous article article here- and it is doing well.

In my previous post on bike-sharing systems, I suggested that Busan would not be a good place for one due to its steep mountain slopes (I was corrected in the comments and learned that Haeundae, at least, has one).  Changwon is a lot flatter but almost too spread out to be a good place for bike-commuting.

cycling and urban traffic in the news

A few quick links:

Scientific American describes a bike that uses its brakes to boost its speed.

Sharing Bikes in cities around the world; would it work in Busan?

There are many programs in cities around the world that have bikes available to residents to use in that city (Yellow Bike Project search, Bicycle Sharing system, wikipedia).  From Wikipedia:

bikes and urban planning

Sustainable Cities Collective has a post discussing how putting a people on bikes makes them urbanists.

From the post:

The most vital element for the future of our cities is that the bicycle is an instrument of experiential understanding.

On a bicycle, citizens experience their city with deep intimacy, often for the first time. For a regular motorist to take that two or three mile trip by bicycle instead is to decimate an enormous wall between them and their communities.

remove a highway, reduce congestion

At Freakenomics, there is an article about removing urban highways and how that actually speeds up local travel times.  They discuss the Cheonggyecheon in Seoul (and link to this article specifically about the river).

From Freakenomics (the paragraph contains links that can be found at the original article):

auto accidents involving pedestrians? Punish the pedestrians

My wife and I are a mixed-race couple and once,when we were dating, we were walking at the end of the day and she said, “Too many stares.”  I let go of her hand and gave her some room.  Then I realized, she had said, “Stairs.”

In our part of Seoul, there were crosswalks but there were also underpasses and pedestrian bridges.  Quite often, at the sidewalks, the crossing period was much less than the respective green light for automobiles.

I am reminded of all that in hearing a suburb of Buffalo will supply flags for pedestrians to wave while crossing the streets.

Starting around June 14, the village will place buckets containing small colored flags at three Main Street crosswalks that pedestrians will be encouraged to wave to alert approaching vehicles they want to cross.

mayors encourage public transit

In China, mayors are encouraging residents to use public transit.  I think the same applies to Korea and love the public transit options here although I typically drive to work.  I hope I am not described in this Onion news article.

Really, the Scientific American article is worth reading.

Making your own traffic signage

I cannot find it now, but I seem to recall that in Toronto,  someone had added (painted) bike lanes onto a few streets.  Some people were cautiously approving but all were concerned about the uneven widths of the car lanes afterward.

On the other hand, almost everyone is approving of the 600 stop and yield signs that were placed by private citizens in Cranston, Rhode Island.

Some anonymous guerrilla urban planner has planted nearly 600 “undocumented stop signs” in the town of Cranston, RI. A special town government committee has elected to keep all but 21 stop signs and 2 yield signs — apparently, the unknown freelancer put her or his stop signs in places that really needed them.

Driving in China

The news is full of both reports of a 100 km long traffic jam and a futuristic way to prevent such jams.


A traffic jam stretching more than 60 miles in China has entered its ninth day with no end in sight, state media reported.

Cars and trucks have been slowed to a crawl since August 14 on the National Expressway 110, which is also known as the G110, the major route from Beijing to Zhangjiakou, Xinhua News reported.

I must admit I first thought the drivers and their vehicles had not moved for nine days.  I suppose that is possible, but it seems more likely that the trip only feels like nine days induration.  Individual drivers have not been stuck for nine days but the stretch of parkway (get it?  Parkway?  Ha, ha, ha, ha!) has been congested for nine days.

Pay parking is good

Or so claims Tyler Cowan at Marginal Revolution.  He writes an economics column for the New York Times. In a recent post, he discussed free parking and who actually pays for it…everyone but the motorist.

If most parking were pay parking, people would think more carefully about where they were going.  This is true for me, at least.  If I am going into downtown Busan, I much prefer public transit.

Indeed, this is an area where Busan, and Korea in general, might be said to be ahead of the US.  Or at least be seen as a location where the experiment is being carried out.

Safety on the sidewalk

I’ll just start by saying that I like the alliteration in the title, but as I am English I shall be referring to the sidewalk as pavement from now on.

Living in Korea you need to be aware at all times of your surroundings. For instance, an unlikely place for unforeseen danger is the pavement. It is not uncommon in Korea to be dodging people, objects and even vehicles whilst using it.

My initial introduction to the perilous pavements here was my foot colliding with the curb. It took several weeks before my body and mind became accustomed to the marginally higher pavements and I stopped tripping up at just about every encounter.

Bus Rapid Transit systems in China

I lived in Masan thirteen years ago and one thing I particularly noticed was the number of buses on the road.  If there were ten cars, there were eight buses.  I’m mostly talking about public transit buses, so add on the myriad shuttle buses that every hagwon and dojang has.  The roads were already crowded, but everything moved pretty quickly.

Thirteen years later, there are many more drivers (including me) and more private cars (including mine)*.  I would like to see more buses but I do wonder if Busan has reached a saturation point with buses.  More are needed, as I have been turned away from full buses in the past -they were too full to accept new passengers.  Yet,the bus lanes are full of parked cars so the buses are swerving into other lanes.

Koreans in South Africa aren’t taking their medicine?

There are two reports in the news about Korean dancers in South Africa dyeing of malaria.

Spellcheck suggested “dyeing” after I incorrectly

typed “dieing” – surely their word means adding

colour to clothes and such though.  What is the right word?

First, my condolences to the families of Koh Eun-joo and Kim Su-yeon.

Second, how could this happen?  The Korea Herald article (KH is no longer appearing on my browser as a malware site) on Miss Kim is short and merely reports her name and occupation.  The Joongang article on Miss Koh sheds more light.  I don’t like to use such long excerpts from a newspaper article, but malaria is serious business.

“Green” cars? Maybe, with a good paint job.

I have always felt the Jaguar looked good in a dark green.  It’s a beautiful car – and by the total lack of mention of a specific model or year, you can accurately judge my knowledge of cars.

In the Joongang Ilbo, I learned about Korea’s first Electric bus.

The bus has an average speed of 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) and can run 120 kilometers (75 miles) on a fully charged battery.

The 50-seat bus uses three 100-kilowatt driving motors that power a 402-horsepower internal combustion engine.

Hyundai said the bus satisfies all the requirements set by the Ministry of Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs for a transportation vehicle with “zero” emission.

traveling in Busan

I’ve heard many air-defense drill sirens, but this is the first time I’d seen students hiding during them.

The photo kinda fits – the imaginary pilots are traveling somewhere, right?

As previously promised, I rode my bike to work on Wednesday – and nearly collapsed in class, I felt so dizzy and tired.  The route was surprisingly good – I was on a bike path for 11km along the Nakdong River and for a few km along a drainage ditch or sewage ditch or river wannabe – anyway, it had a good bike path.  Later, near the university, I found this sidewalk – for ants, maybe?

Could cable cars be a step ahead for Busan’s public transit?

Via Freakenomics*, I  learned that Tom Vanderbilt is asking for ideas to improve public transportation.  In a Slate article describing Nimble Cities, he asks for suggestions “make transportation in and between cities more efficient, safe, and pleasant.”

Driving to work: it’s so easy

And I hate it.

I live 20 km or 40 minutes from work by car and probably a little more than an hour by public transport.  One of the big problems for me is the nature of the public transport I would have to use: two or more crowded buses or a bus, a roundabout subway ride and possibly a third bus.

One problem is that my university high up on the side of a mountain.  I am from Gangwondo (well, seven years there; it feels like home) and Gangwondo is known for rugged mountains, but I haven’t seen a city like Busan before.  A coworker who’s lived in San Francisco says the steep roads are comparable.

Anyway, I remain interested in alternate modes of transportation but I’m having trouble committing to them right now.

My previous blog had several posts about traffic and transportation.  I saw two articles recently that I recommend and this post seems the right place.

becoming or staying slim

When I visit my hometown, I see giant people climb out of giant cars (or SUVS, mostly).  Here, in Busan, but also in Korea generally, I see slim people and the younger they are – to young adulthood – the taller they are.

While I don’t have any news about how or why the generation entering the workforce is the tallest I’ve seen in Korea (I figure it is the increased amount of protein in their diets), I just read an interesting post about land-use in cities correlated to obesity.  The results aren’t startling, but until a test or two are done, it isn’t really known.

In “Walking and Obesity: the City Life and the Country Life“, Sci reports on a journal article that tracked 10,000 people in and around Atlanta, Georgia.

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.

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