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This post started life months ago as the third in a series about clashing cultural norms. After more time in Korea and (hopefully) more understanding on my part, it turned into something a bit different…you can read where it all started here.

Here are some criticisms of the UK according to other Europeans:

1. Opaque communications: Our morbid fear of conflict makes our language indirect and gives us a reputation, amongst our continental counterparts, for being dishonest and sneaky. The rest of the English-speaking world, too, complains of the bafflingly high incidence of coded language in British English. For those new to this phenomenon, this handy chart should help:


“I’m Not White and Korea Won’t Hire Me!

This is a touchy subject. At the same time though, it’s just reality.

In the Korean ESL job market for private academies, or hagwons, there’s a lot of negative press. And for good reason. You don’t have to look far to hear of the countless horror stories of bright-eyed, hopeful teachers excited to go to Korea being mistreated in many ways. It serves no purpose getting into the details as I’m sure you’ve heard the same stories that I have.

In addition to the working conditions of some of these schools post-hiring, the recruiting process has left multitudes of people stunned and offended.

There are numerous recruiters and private academies who make distinctions based on ethnicity.

This also is not a new concept. It’s a very unfortunate aspect of job acquisition in South Korea, and it won’t be changing any time in the foreseeable future.

Should Race and Culture be Off-Limits in Comedy?

3 Female Teachers Talk About Dating, Racism, and Safety in Korea

One thing I’ve learned through blogging and vlogging over the past two years is that there are a lot of questions about life as an expat teaching English in Korea.

They are all different and they comes from all ages, races, and backgrounds. Among the questions about food, qualifications, documentation, and who Korean girls like most are those from female teachers inquiring about dating, racism, and safety.

This is a danger zone topic I learned the hard way through my HIGHLY controversial vlog, DO NOT Teach English in Korea if You Are These Types of People.

My Experience of the Hypocrisy of Western Prejudice

A Challenge: RE My Asian/White Couples Post

My last post on Asian/White couples seemed to offend a few people, so in a bid to understand why, I am issuing a challenge to any readers of this blog, not because I really believe my position is infallible, but because I do want to genuinely know if the offence I have caused is justified.  If you can fulfill any of the following, I will issue a public apology for what I wrote on this blog:

Fight The Power

Why have I stopped blogging? Because blogging doesn’t pay. Writing books doesn’t really pay either, but it does pay something, and I decided over the last two months to devote all my creative powers toward using writing to make that something into a bigger and more substantial something that would be sufficient to extricate both myself and my family from Korea. Not surprisingly, we’re all still here.

Letter from Ireland, August 2013

Dunboyne, Ireland
16 August, 2013

Dear Korea

Negativity is an often attractive topic. It’s in our nature to be critical, to find issue with what is at fault, and even when we are happy we still find reasons to complain. This isn’t exclusive to any particular situation or condition, everyone does it in some manner or form. There may be some explanation to it, but that is not my aim today.

I wanted to write today about something which has being an increasing source of bother for some time, and since I am now in Ireland I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on it from a particular standpoint.

How To Fight The Hellos

It’s always confused me, this occasional predilection Asia has for greeting non-Asians with an English hello—I was once helloed as faraway as the Balinese countryside, while riding on the back of a speeding motorbike, by a uniformed schoolchild—and though I can’t speak for the tone used in China, Japan, or other countries, my impression is that in Korea the speaker is generally attempting to alienate you from his culture, to establish that you are a member of a different tribe, to amuse his friends, or to sate a Pavlovian reflex implanted within his consciousness by his television or his elders: when you see a person who looks slightly different, you must say hello in English.

Haps Interview: American Pitcher Shane Youman Reacts to Controversial Remarks



It’s been an interesting 24-hours for Lotte Giants pitcher, Shane Youman. The 33-year-old starting pitcher from New Iberia, Louisiana unsuspectedly was at the center of controversy yesterday, when Hanwha Eagles’ slugger Kim Tae-kyun was asked during an appearance on an Internet baseball radio broadcast about difficulties batting with the Giants’ ace on the mound.

The star Korean slugger replied:

“The Lotte Giants’ Youman is the most difficult player to play against. His face is too black, so it is hard to bat because his white teeth and the ball confuses me when he smiles on the mound. So, I suffered a lot."

He then went on to add, “There’s no particularly difficult pitcher, but when I play against Youman, I screw up because of his white teeth.”

An eruption of negative comments ensued on Korean baseball forums as Korean netizens charged Kyun with making racist statements. The outpouring from fans caused both Kim and the Eagles to immediately issue personal apologies to Youman.

In an exclusive e-mail interview with Haps, Youman gives his take on the comments, the controversy and to baseball life for an African-American journeyman in Korea.

DO NOT Teach English in Korea If You Are...

Teaching English in Korea (or any foreign land) is not for everybody.  I think many people believe it's for them and that it will turn into an epic experience of natives embracing them at the airport, ultra disciplined and respectful students at all times, and a year long toast at the bulgogi restaurant or bar.

Unfortunately, Korea is none of those things.  In fact, for some the reality of it shatters their expectations and they go away disappointed and disillusioned. 

That Is Mannerless Speaking

While standing in line at the new Starbucks in town—why did I even go there? the green tea latte was $6!—and listening to Hanggai in my earbuds, I heard a woman behind me shouting, in Korean, “It’s a foreigner! It’s a foreigner!” I turned around and looked at this woman, who was shouting for the benefit of her toddler, then standing far beneath us. Rolling my eyes, I turned back to the front of the line, but the shouts of “It’s a foreigner!” continued unabated, and I thought, yes, this is it, finally, the moment I strike back, after almost four years of listening to people talk about me as if I can’t understand them, the end is here, this is the turn of the tide.

The earbuds come out.

The Pattern Of Chabyul!

The Site Of The Foul Crime!

Chabyul…or discrimination.

Korea Q&A: Racism, Girl Judo, Meds, CRC, Typhoons

Taking a few to answer some questions and comments I've received from my YouTube channel and blog.  Thanks to those who wrote them into me.

1. Racism in Korea
2. Prescription medications
3. Are there any women in judo?  Is judo expensive?
4. What is typhoon season like in Korea? Is it anything compared to hurricane season in the US?
5. How long does CRC take?

A Rather Enlightening Reaction to my First Article

As a test of my writing ability and see if what I have to say about certain issues interests anyone I decided to post a couple of articles recently on two different websites; and both of which are based in Korea and maintained by Westerners living in Korea.  Both kindly agreed to run them, but the reaction to them was nothing I had ever bargained for.

Normalised into Indifference: MBC etc.

I think I’m normalised to a lot of the larger complaints made about living in Korea. Complaints like ‘Korea is soooo racist’ and other ones, but I’ll stick to the racist thing here because it’s topical. By topical I’m obviously talking about the video of the naïve and innocent foreigners who admitted to MBC about having sex with Korean women, which in turn encouraged further reporting of rumours about someone’s friend who may have overheard something in a Caffé Bene.

I’ve had a bit of time to think about this, but I’ll keep it short as there isn’t really much to say. I have no doubt that all that was said in the video was true. Whether it was reported on ethically and the footage actually involved the aggrieved is debatable.

Racist Bastards!

In the university library there’s this reasonably okay travel book, Korea: A Walk Through The Land Of Miracles, by Simon Winchester, in which the author walks around the country encountering Korean things and Korean people during the 1980s, which is rather interesting for several reasons, as it seems the entire country was encircled by a barbed-wire fence at the time (to keep North Korean spies from nocturnal amphibious landings), and Koreans themselves had to work incredibly hard if they wanted to obtain a passport, while their relationship to gigantic conglomerates like Hyundai sounds a lot like the typical North Korean’s relationship to the state: in exchange for your life, the company will provide everything you need, even your shoes! I don’t have the book with me now but I may post an excerpt.

Genetic Explanation For Racism; Historical Explanation For Nationalism

“Conceivably, racial prejudice could be interpreted as an irrational generalization of a kin-selected tendency to identify with individuals physically resembling oneself, and to be nasty to individuals different in appearance.”

—Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene


Yesterday just before a bunch of us Koreans—I felt included in the group—were going to start hiking up a gorgeous mountain, I ran into a bathroom to take a piss. Urinals always make me nervous even though I use them several times a day, and when I do I always take the urinal that’s up against the wall, distant from the sink, and then twist myself around and lean forward so as to conceal my nethers from prying eyes, even though I think I’ve only ever encountered one random person, in all my long years, who appeared to be curious about the shape, form, and general appearance of my Sejong Daewang.

Marion Barry and those “Dirty” Asians, the Saga Continues


Native English Teacher in Korea Part 3 Ignorance and Racism

I guess you could briefly summarise my feeling of the worth of a Native English teacher in Korea, as someone that should be an inspiration to the students, and someone who is prepared to be inspired by the students themselves and the Korean people they meet everyday, during their stay.  On making this statement I am aware that I maybe guilty on two charges; that of being overly dramatic, and that of being arrogant in thinking that I can be inspirational to them.  I am not one to be dramatic, so I am going to defend myself on this charge by asking a question; if you are doing something (a job), which you go to almost everyday, and spend more time doing than possibly seeing your best friends, what's the point unless you can enjoy it and in a way that enriches your life?  Not everyone can be a doctor, or a marine biologist (my ideal profession), so why not find a way to enjoy and learn the most that you can from your work?

ARKPop Podcast #47 - Who Hurt You?

127:46 minutes (31.33 MB)


The immortal question passed down through all of the rages.

Download Episode 47 (right click and save as)


The Magda Incident from Another Immigrant’s Perspective

It’s an old story; immigrants come into your country, steal all the jobs, drink too much, eat strange smelling food, have sex with all the local women and get them pregnant, do things differently, and then when the economy breaks down they sit around claiming more than their fair share of benefits. Dirty bloody immigrants.

And so a narrative for something like this appeared from Ireland recently. ‘Magda’, who lives in Donegal, is an immigrant from Poland. She survives on government welfare because she lost her job in the recession. She was approached by a Polish magazine to report on how she was surviving in Ireland during said recession. Apparently this publication was running a series on Polish emigrants’ lives in recession ravaged European countries.

So, Koreans are sooo Korean…

The other day I sat through a conversation with a person who referred to Korean people as being soooo Korean. I didn’t ask them what they meant, and perhaps I should have, because it’s the kind of thing that really needs more of an explanation. Why? Is it not absurd to consider Koreans to be anything but Korean?

There is a prevailing thought that I keep encountering in Korea which bothers me. It is the concept that Korean people and people from other countries are so different that their actions must be distinguished as being distinctly Korean. You might think that this is fair, because Korean people do act like Korean people. But what’s the point of making an issue of it? It’s like complaining that the shower you are taking in the morning is sooo wet. Korean people are Korean, so they will act Korean. And, hold on to your hats here because this next comment will blow the roof off, many of them are proud of it! Fuck. Stop the world.

The People -v- The Black Guy on the Bus

Courtesy of The Marmots Hole this piece of ‘news’ came into my world. I’m sure much more has been said and much more will be said.I’m sure much more has been said and much more will be said. If you are really interested I will allow you to spend your afternoon taking in the comments section in the post – there are some wonderful, inteligent commentors to marvel at. All of that aside I want to chime in with my own little tome. These are just a few things I was mulling over as I walked home from work (yes, today in that heat…perhaps I’m delirious) – I didn’t take the bus because I was afraid of ajjoshis, but because I need to lose some weight and I like walking at night during the summer.

ARKPodcast Episode 14 – Graduation Time

148:19 minutes (67.89 MB)

If you haven’t heard the news yet, the past two days have been a sort of “I can’t believe this has happened and the impact hasn’t hit me yet” kind of fog. Bekah (Baby Girl in the middle of that banner pic), one of the founding members of After School, and the former maknae has left the group, the second member to “Graduate”. This episode is dedicated to her and her time as a member.


Let's Talk Busan #100 - Racism in Korea

53:04 minutes (36.44 MB)
Let's Talk Busan#100
January 17, 2010

Racism in Korea, Global Leadership & Congrats on #100

Guests: Grace Ga, Rodney Hollingsworth,  Benson Kamari, Ife Afolayan , Lee Suk Jun
Host: Jeff Lebow

What did we do with France?

  • In France, the president can say “Piss off, you dumbass” to one of his citizen and nothing happens. But when a citizen is yelling at the president cause he is unhappy, then he get sued and has to pay a fine. Apparently, the french revolution abolished the privileges but our new government brought them back.
  • In France, a member of the government can make very racist comments but  doesn’t have to resign his job and can keep on stigmatizing some minorities, cause after all, they are all criminals, aren’t they? You got to admire how good our politicians are in history as they are reproducing some 1940′s techniques when they are rounding up some immigrants and also in their way of talking about them… Ah! The Vichy government left us some very useful teaching!!!!


I'm back to the blog world! Get ready. Now it is Korea.

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