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You can choose your family, but you can’t choose your friends

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I was thinking recently about the old saying that you can choose your friends and but you can’t choose your family and how this commonsense idea warps when you’re an expat. Living abroad, I find I often haven’t chosen my friends in the same way I did before, sometimes to the point of having little choice in the matter. This was particularly true when I lived in a smaller city fifteen years ago, at a time when there just weren’t many foreigners around. There were people I befriended then who I still count as friends and keep in touch with, while some others I almost certainly would not have become friends with had the potential friend pool been even ankle deep.


Seoul's Salsa Scene in Full Swing

The excitement is palpable, as it always is just before any dance competition.  Upbeat Latin tunes echo through a hall of dressing rooms that buzz with giddy conversations in a number of languages. Inside, flamboyantly dressed men ensure that every tassel of their costumes are in place while their female partners apply thick eyeliner and bright lipstick.  Nearby, nervous teams rehearse choreographed moves a final time before the show begins.

It is a scene one might expect to see in Bogota, Havana, or even New York City.  But this is Seoul, South Korea, an unexpected locale for a salsa competition.  Yet, Latin dance fever has taken over one of Asia's biggest cities and this year's Asia Latin Music & Salsa Festival proves it.

Dancers from all corners of the globe have flocked to Seoul to compete for the $11,000 first prize and refuse to return to their home countries without bringing their best to the stage.

Robert Kelly's Diplomat Interview on North Korea, Syria, and China’s Rise

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Frequent readers know that I am regular contributor to the Diplomat web-magazine. On October 10, Editor James Pach interviewed me, mostly about Northeast Asia. Jim is a great guy, and I think these questions helpfully expand on some ideas I have put on the blog recently, especially my recent piece on reining in US presidential wars powers.


Food and Dranks: The Good, The Bad, and The 무료

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Yet another eventful weekend has passed, and part of me is glad that it’s getting a bit colder so that I (might) have an excuse to stay in. When you emerge from a basement karaoke and the daylight that is 7am hits your eyes, all you can do is send a squinty look to your bros and subtly nod; yeah, I think we just survived that.


A better Hagwon

Some time ago,  I saw a link pop up on my stats and was put in a very good mood from that point on.  I even got my wife to laugh at me while reading it to her.  She finds anyone taking me serious as being seriously funny.

What peeked my interest more though is this, this and this.


Getting Into the Halloween Spirit, Seoul Style

Halloween isn't a traditional holiday here in Korea but over the past decade or so, it has begun to slowly seep into the nation's culture.  In Seoul, decorations can occasionally be spotted in store fronts and costumes can be purchased at super-centers like E-Mart and Home Plus.  Kindergartners go trick-or-treating at their English hagwons and bars offer cash prizes to the best-dressed vampire, cartoon character, or sexy bunny.

There are a number of events going on in Seoul around the 31st (including a Halloween booze cruise and a Freak or Treat Marathon) but if you're like me, you just can't wait until the end of the month to start celebrating.  Check my suggestions below on how to get into the Halloween spirit, Seoul style.


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