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dear athens,
i tried to write a poem about you at the request of a friend. all it did was make me realize that i’m not a good enough writer to ever eloquently say what makes you so wonderful. i feel like one of the guidestones is sitting on my chest i miss you so bad, so i thought about all the exquisite fall days i got to have there and felt nostalgic…

like for that day we killed a whole bunch of chickens.

an artsy day

first, an anecdote: on monday, wednesday and friday afternoons, i have my rowdiest and generally most terrible class. they’ve been getting better lately, thanks to a talk from my boss about how i have to act like i actually like these kids to get them to want to listen to me. after friday, i think i might be able to stop pretending.

Libel reform; a big deal in the UK

Here in Korea, stating something that harms-financially or otherwise- a business or group, even if it is true, is legally actionable.

The Marmot and Brian in Jeollamando have discussed the issue.  I recall a case a few years back where a hagwon ESL teacher complained in print about his school.  He was then sued.  After a very quick search I was unable to find posts on the story at the above blogs.

In the UK, similar problems exist and were brought to light in the case of Simon Singh and the British Chiropractic Association.  From the Guardian:

Pepero Day

Today is Pepero Day.  Each November 11th, Korea becomes a maniacal frenzy of the purchase and trade of chocolate covered biscuit sticks   – Pepero – which are manufactured, heavily marketed and distributed by one of the largest conglomerates in both Korea and Japan: the Lotte Corporation.

Student’s rights …including to cheat?

UPDATED: A Professor in Florida claimed that a third of his students cheated.  It now appears he has been using the same exam for many years and the so-called cheaters may simply have studied previous exams.  Notes here and here (a video of Professor Quin with annotations from students). From the former link:

The perception of exactly what happened leading up to the midterm has become a point of contention. What is clear is that some students gained access to a bank of tests that was maintained by the publisher of the textbook that Quinn used. They distributed the test to hundreds of their fellow students, some of whom say they thought they were receiving a study guide like any other — not a copy of the actual test.

Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia Now Truly Sacred

Click to view slideshow.

Photos by Peter DeMarco

Pope Benedict XVI traveled to Barcelona last weekend to consecrate Antonio Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia or Temple of the Holy Family.

The basilica is slated to be completed in 2026. When finished, it will become the world’s tallest church at 170m (560ft). George Orwell once said it was one of the world’s most hideous buildings. Today most people would disagree as it is a major Spanish tourist attraction and is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For more info and some amazing video of inside the main nave, take a look at this story on the BBC.  You’ll see that Gaudi’s vision was truly divine.

On the farm

I spent the weekend of Nov 6-7 at the in-law’s farm.  The work was fine, although I was a little stiff and very tired on Monday, but the house was a little dusty and my allergies made me eager to get home.

Click to bigify the photos below.

Here, my brother-in-law is driving a gyeong-oon-gi with my wife and son and a load of bean plants in the trailer.

My son and I love to see the little animals.

hadan rock climbing

got the climbing exclusive this weekend at the new crag with coach kimmerling.

the sun was shining, and everyone was feeling happy.

checking out the crag.

tea fest!

just a few things from saturday’s lovely tea and craft festival at bexco…

lotus flower tea may be the prettiest tea on the planet.

if tea didn’t seem like mysterious alchemy before, this contraption might convince you.


moto’d up to beomeosa, checked out some buddhas, saw some of the fall colors.

holy moly, it was pretty. you could make a donation and write a prayer on a shingle for the roof of the temple.

November- a tough month for Surprises Aplenty

I was nervous and excited about starting Nanowrimo – I knew it is a bit of a gimmick, but I like to write and was eager for the encouragement.  I could probably have managed to keep going even though my weekend hours had been drastically shortened – I should have tried.  I do understand that  a writer can write anywhere, even if there are places he prefers.  I knew being on the farm all weekend would be detrimental to my health – and it was, I am in full allergic agony right now – but i could have tried.


Busan’s Nightlife Renaissance: A Guide to the Pleasure City’s Top 3 Party Routes

Click to view slideshow.

Party people, put your hands up in the air! Looking for a place to go out in Busan? Here’s an article I wrote and photographed for the November 2009 issue of 10 Magazine. Unfortunately the info is a little outdated, and a few of the places like Chen Chen’s, Metro Dart Bar, and Sunset have shut down.

If you want to find out the latest happenings around Busan pick up a copy of Busan Haps or visit their website. Another great source for info is Pusan Web.

Will.I.Am Video Promotes Korean Cool

Is Korea becoming the new Japan? I mean, when I think of Japan I think futuristic cool. Images like Shibuya, Blade Runner, Japanese script, and crazy electronic gadgets, and neon signs come to mind.

Move over techno-trendy Japan. Major US recording artist Will.I.Am chose Korean and Hangul (the Korean alphabet) as the stylish futuristic centerpiece for his new video. First time I’ve seen anything like that. Maybe it’s the G20 effect. Maybe not. Check it out…

What do you think?

Quebec v Korea: encouraging parents to have (more) children

It is well known in the K-blogosphere that Korea has a low birthrate and that could spell trouble for seniors in a few years if there aren’t enough productive Koreans paying taxes.

to increase the birthrate, Korea has, among other things, outlawed abortions.  I guess this will work but Quebec seems to have some more positive ideas.

Quebec is offering cheap day care, paternity leave and financial assistance for in-vitro fertilization.  Whether the province can afford these benefits remains to be seen. CBC link, MP3s can be downloaded: part 1, part 2.

The Little Things

Yesterday one of my fifth graders–we’ll call him Eager Ernest–approaches me and issues a request:

“Uh, Kimchi teacher?”
“Can you tell me where the bathroom is?”

The question seems to stumble out his mouth and he nods his head as he says each word the way one does while concentrating on reciting something from memory.

Falling from the rib-breaking tree and hitting every branch

It is no laughing matter that my father-in-law fell from a tree and broke some ribs but there must be some way to work that cliche in.

On Monday, my f-i-l was collecting persimmon, when he fell. Now, he was hurt and seriously to need to stay in the hospital for a few days, but don’t think he fell from a tall pine or maple or the like.  Horticulturists could better explain, but as I understand it, you clip the main growth bud of a young tree and major branches grow instead.  This way you can have many more fruit-bearing branches and all close to the ground.

So, he fell and probably hit a branch on the way.  He went home, and probably went to bed early.  The next morning, he was in great pain so he decided to visit a hospital.  There he was diagnosed with broken ribs, admitted to a room and had his lower chest wrapped.  I suspect he was given pain-killers.

That didn’t take long

I prepared ahead – albeit insufficiently – for November and Nanowrimo.  I’ve had an idea for a novel for some time now and have wanted to try writing it.  I have written short fiction and essays short and long for this blog, a few magazines and my students.  I was ready, I felt, to extend myself…

No point in being wordy now.  It will take an extreme effort of will to continue at this point.

Oh, Nanowrimo, for those unwilling to follow the link, is short for national Novel Writing Month.  The organization is international now, so the name is both cumbersome and incorrect.  Anyway, the goal for Nanowrimo is to type 50,000 words during the month of November.  Quantity is important and quality is not.  This makes sense to me as the first step is a sort of brainstorming, with the expectation of massive revisions coming afterward.

This blog has now moved to…

Backstage Romance: Behind the Scenes at Seoul Fashion Week

Put your backstage pass around your neck and get ready to take a look behind the scenes of Korea’s biggest fashion event.

Story and photos by Peter DeMarco

Click to view slideshow.

A slowed-down acoustic cover tune of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” blares from the speakers as Korean models line up backstage. They are so tall and wispy that they remind you of the blue creatures from Avatar. Munchkin-like minders in black hoods scurry around them unloading bottles of hairspray, tying bows, painting on lipstick, and buttoning blouses. The show is about to start.

Rural Korea on the Jirisan Trail

Click to view slideshow.

This article has gotten quite a few downloads so I’ve decided to write a post about it here. The Jirisan Trail in this article is not the same trail that runs up Jirisan Mtn. It is a newer trail that runs through the villages around the national park.

You can read the online version of this article I wrote and photographed for the NOV 2009 issue of 10 Magazine, or take a look at the tear sheets and PDF version below.

Teaching from the Bottom of the Totem Pole #3:Truths

With just over two months teaching English in Korea under my belt, I’ve come to realize certain truths about my place of employment. A couple are probably native only to my school, but I imagine a few are fairly general as well. Either way, I’m no stingy bastard. In an effort to preserve these truths forever. I’ve decided to share.

In Search of Mother Nature’s S-Line: Suncheon Bay

Click to view slideshow.

If you live in Korea and have never been to Suncheon Bay in Jeollado then you are missing out on one of the best scenic views this country has to offer. These protected wetlands are a must visit for any bird lover or nature photographer.

My article about this amazing place is out this month. Pick up a copy of the November 2010 issue of Seoul Magazine or download the free ebook version. Or you can just read about it here. And special thanks to Suncheon resident and photographer extraordinaire Simon Bond. His great tips and local know-how were essential in putting this article together. Thanks buddy!

Early Hallowe’en festivities

WordPress doesn’t allow video uploading without paying for an upgrade, and Youtube has “voluntarily disabled this functionality [ the uploading of video] on because of the Korean real-name verification law.” *

So, to see the terrified teachers and hear the terrified students at my university, you need to visit creativitiproject.


*I prefer to link to sites when I quote from them, but it looked like the link for my personal page – accessible only after signing in.

busan museum of modern art

today, my friend ashley and i went to the busan museum of modern art, where this austin powers buddha

was gazing into this psychedelic infinite while listening to a clubby version of the soundtrack from the hours.

oh no, a room full of doll hair!

halloween day

after much anticipation, it finally arrived. halloween day!

we carved pumpkins.

every kid put on a rubber glove and got to scoop a few seeds from inside. thank goodness ours didn’t have maggots in it! i carved ours. he had a wonky eye.

Why I love teaching…













And Here.


Say it Ain’t So!

Yesterday I’m scrolling through my rss reader when I come across a post by good ole Mr. Dubs. It seems  he’s decided to call it quits on the k-blogging scene because of some threats he received from alleged Korean netizens looking to rid the peninsula of  ESL teachers who stray from the pack of conformity. In other words, Mr Dubs said some shit they didn’t like on his blog, An Idiots Tale, and now they’ve threatened to rat him out to his employer. Because I can no longer link to the specific post here’s some exerts from the comments he recieved:

I am the member from an organization of concerned Korean to clean up ESL industry…

Fresh Breath

No doubt,  I talk a lot of shit on this blog.  I can’t help it. There’s so many quirky Korean oddities to comment on. However not everything I come come across in the land of soju and shiny suit ajosshis is a mindfuck. Sure, I don’t get the public toilets or traffic lights, but there’s a lot still plenty about Korea that makes perfect sense.

An example?

sound picnic 3 and fireworks fest

took the photocycles to dalmaji hill for sound picnic 3, our last lovely outdoor music fest before the first frost.

it was in this gorgeous amphitheatre. you could see the little islands off the coast of busan receding into the haze.

we had a good time.

ladies’ craft night

busan ladies got it going on. last weekend, we got together to make ipod coozies. i didn’t know ipods needed coozies! i thought coozies were just for beer…

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