Do all South Korean students need English in order to be a success? And why are students learning to score well on tests rather than to actually speak English? Seoul-based essayist, broadcaster, & Los Angeles Review of Books Korea Blog writer Colin Marshall joins Korea FM’s Chance Dorland to discuss the negative consequences of Korea’s ESL industry he describes as a cancer.
Children’s Day and Cinco de Drinko fall on the same day in Korea. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I’d rather just use this time of year as an excuse to have a marvelous margarita. The majority of my friends actually got a 4-day weekend this year! Alas, I am still working Friday, but got a bit of a mid-week repose having Thursday off. I wanted to spend the day recuperating from the activities of the week (it’s exhausting running around teaching this many classes to this many teeny tiny ones!), but the sun was out in full force and I had to make the most of the day.
We had seen the sea parting once, not knowing it would part two more times again by sundown. Some of us (self included) were a little worried about getting seasick on the boat out to Modo Island, so instead of braving the sea we actually ended up having a leisurely morning getting ready (after a well-deserved, post-parting nap!) before heading down the cherry-blossom lined paths and street over to the festival.
This past summer I visited Seoul for a whirlwind, one night only stay after an interview for an MBA program. I wasn’t there for the shopping or the nightlife, but a couple of friends from Busan were up for the weekend so I decided to stick around. We checked out Prost, which I have since revisited and which has been jam-packed and unbearable each time. Up until this weekend I hadn’t really had a wild and wonderful night on the town. Enter Ramie’s and Fountain.
Late last Friday night a mish-mashed group of new and old friends and I boarded a tour bus and took the red-eye nearly 6 hours South of Seoul to spend a weekend in Jindo: the site of “The Miracle Sea Parting” and the accompanying festival. The real miracle was that someone was able to wake me up for our 4 AM briefing and departure from the bus. Once I was up and at ’em, however, I was happy as a clam. We’ll get to those later!
With my new schedule I still hardly have time to breathe. Two and a half weeks into my time in Seoul I was pretty much ready to call it quits with designers who had expressed interest in having their Fall/ Winter 2016 styles profiled on The Toronto Seoulcialite, only to still find no tickets in my new mailbox 24 hours before their shows. Designers (well…people in general) can be fickle and disorganized, so I was ready to spend my Saturday catching up on sleep and Shonda Rhimes. Star (of 87Pages) convinced me to get my ass outta bed at the crack of dawn on Saturday to take in the madness of Fashion Week in Seoul.
We arrived expecting a massive crowd quite early, but the place was pretty empty. It was really nice to take in the first really warm weather of the season with the beautiful, modern architecture of Dame Zaha Hadid’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza where Seoul Fashion Week is held. Stepping out of my taxi there was an eerily pristine moment of calm before the storm in which I got to admire the building and its empty surroundings bathing in sunlight from all angles. I reflect on that moment now, just having found out that Hadid, first woman as well as the first Muslim to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, died of a heart attack only 5 days later on March 31st, 2016.
Chance Dorland & Seoul-based essayist, broadcaster, & Los Angeles Review of Books Korea Blog writer Colin Marshall discuss the attention Han Kang’s English translation of “The Vegetarian” is getting & the spotlight that has slowly begun to shine on South Korean authors.
On the eve of the home opener in Seoul, I figured a good Throwback Thursday would be to good times at the ol’ ball-game in Busan. I’ve been an avid Blue Jays fan ever since I can remember. I have fragmented memories of sitting in my Aunt’s and Uncle’s living room watching a big game snuggled up with my parents. I also remember being down by the SkyDome (yes, it was still the SkyDome in those days and will forever be called the SkyDome in my vernacular) where I think my Mom and Dad bought a few sweatshirts celebrating the victories of 1992/1993 back to back World Series Champs. I wear one of those sweatshirts just about every Sunday night when I Skype my parents.
It’s been two and a half weeks since I boarded the KTX and moved my life up to Seoul from Busan. To say that the transition was a bumpy ride would be an understatement, but I’ve had a lot of support from my parents, my friends back home and in Busan, as well as new friends and colleagues (not to mention superiors) who have helped in many ways (most notably cracking the whip on my landlord to fix my water as well as getting me a sweet new armoire).