Recent Blog Posts

All Recent Posts

90% Norway, 10% Bangladesh

Printer-friendly version

by Chris Tharp

Korea, Sparkling!

Some years back this slogan was trotted out for the world to see by the nation’s tourist board, to the snickers of the more jaundiced expats on the peninsula. Over cold mugs of Cass and Hite we shook our heads, rolled our eyes and once again thought: Must they try so hard? CNN International was bombarded with commercials featuring lithe, leggy girl groups strutting through the streets of Seoul, while b-boys twisted, popped and busted moves along the banks of the mighty Han River; Pop star Rain flashed his six-pack abs while lauding the virtues of bibimbap in stilted, awkward English; lasers shot from atop gleaming skyscrapers and fireworks showered over packs of smiling youths who wildly danced, leapt, and celebrated the fact that not only had the Korea stepped into the future, but it was now its new standard-bearer.

And you know what? Maybe they weren’t trying so hard after all. Perhaps they were right. After all, South Korea really is a land of uber-modern marvels. Cutting edge technology permeates the society in a way that I have yet to see matched in any of my other travels–and this includes visits home to America, that great land of ideas and innovation that birthed such luminaries such as Apple, Intel and Google. Smart phones are omnipresent, and as the most wired country on Earth, the internet is rarely more than a spit away. Dirt cheap PC rooms are almost always within eyeshot, and wifi is available in most public places, including the country’s trains and subways. That’s right, you can sap free, high-speed internet out of the air while traveling hundreds of feet underground in an aluminum tube. Crazy stuff. Take that, Japan.

When I first arrived in Korea I was astounded by the modernity–by the buses, reader boards, hi-speed trains, and multicolored neon signs that hypnotized me on my nightly strolls. These people are really riding the crest, I thought. Korea is a twenty-four hour gig, with decked out restaurants, stores, cafes, bars and clubs whose doors are open until the early morning. Some never close at all. The sidewalks pulse with throngs of well-scrubbed young folks sporting straight-off-the-rack clothes, and the streets are full of shiny, new, immaculate cars: Most Koreans don’t do second hand. In these ways and more it made good ol’ Seattle—home to modern giants Microsoft and Boeing—seem positively provincial.

But despite this well-constructed veneer of modernity, you don’t have to look too far to see the older, shabbier, decidedly less-glamorous Korea. There are cracks in Korea’s glistening new pavement, with the old country oozing right back up to the surface. Despite all of the attempts at chic modernity, Korea still keeps one toe firmly planted in the Third World. Dog soup restaurants, while technically illegal, can be found serving up steaming bowls of Fido on sketchy sides streets. The rivers and streams of the big cities turn into superhighways of human shit after a good rainstorm, and the reek of raw sewage often wafts from storm drains, made especially rank during the summer months, when the punishing heat percolates the crappy brew. Impoverished senior citizens scrounge the streets and apartment blocks for scraps of cardboard and sell odd things from even odder locations. The other day I was emerging from a multi-million dollar subway station with LED monitors, glass elevators and the obligatory wireless internet, when there, just ten feet from the exit, sat a ninety year-old woman selling three dead octopuses and a pile of tree bark. New Korea, meet the old.

Where the old school really rears its uncouth head is in some of the local folks’ behavior and practices, both public and otherwise. People ride their motorcycles on the sidewalk and aggressively honk at pedestrians in the way. Traffic laws, while enforced more than before, are still pretty much optional, at least according to the drivers in my home city of Busan. People get drunk as hell, bellow and stagger, puke on the sidewalk and pass out in the street with disturbing regularity. When confronted by the timid police, it’s often the cops themselves who are abused. Men over the age of fifty hock phlegm, spit with impunity and piss pretty much anywhere they please, especially after sundown. Forming lines has still yet to totally catch on, and hardscrabble old women jostle, push, and throw elbows in the streets, subways and markets, with nary an “excuse me” nor a glance of regret.

Yes, rest assured: Rough old Korea is still alive and well, and I’m not sure if any amount of eyelid-enhancement surgeries, Galaxy smart phones, or Angel-in-Us coffee shops will change that. Some habits are just too hard to break.


drunk in korea 2


It was Saturday afternoon and I stood there in the station with two buddies from Busan: Scraggs, who hails from Essex, England, and Johnny “The Greek,” who actually grew up in Ontario.

“We should have gotten our tickets beforehand,” lamented Scraggs in his southern English whine. “They always sell out early on weekends.”

“That’s all right,” shrugged The Greek. “Korean busses are pretty plush.”

“But there’s no bogs on the buses,” Scraggs further moaned. “What am I to do if I have to go for a slash?”

“Maybe lay off the beer this time,” I chimed. “It’s a three-hour ride. We wouldn’t want you to piss your pants. Again.”

“I didn’t piss my pants. It was just a bit of dribble.”

“Dribble my ass.” The Greek smirked. “It looked like a fuckin’ map of Antarctica.”

Scraggs had indeed wet himself during the bus ride from Busan to Gumi the night before. The beer downed at the hof in the bus station, plus the several cans supped on board pushed his bladder to the breaking point. As there were indeed no ‘bogs’ on the bus, he was forced to improvise. He managed to fill two of the big cans back up with a warmer vision of their previous contents, without being noticed by any of the mostly snoozing passengers. But the timing of the withdrawal had been misjudged, resulting in massive leakage, which presented itself as a clearly visible stain of shame on the crotch of his jeans. There was no hiding it, and The Greek and I howled as he descended the steps of the bus into the frigid December night.

We were in Gumi, a windswept town that sits at the base an imposing sheer ridge, about 30 minutes north of the city of Daegu. We were on the road, bringing The Ha-Ha Hole–our standup comedy show–to mostly foreign folks living in Korea’s hinterlands. That’s right, on weekends we sometimes traveled around the country telling kimchee and dick jokes to smoky bars full of fellow drunken expats, where we were paid in cheap beer and, on the good nights, a free hotel room. This was a hobby of sorts–a good way to break up the day-to-day monotony of teaching English conversation to half-dead university freshmen, though it could be said that the ESL racket and stand up comedy are almost the same thing: You gotta entertain the troops, and you know when you’re bombing because it happens a lot.


Gumi, Crumbling!

The night before, we gigged at a watering hole owned by a young English woman and her bleary-eyed, teetering South African husband. Like most expat bar proprietors I’ve met, he freely ignored the warnings and got very high on his own supply. He was a good guy though, despite looking like he had probably killed a man at one point. It was wintertime and freezing, the kind of cold that’s makes your skin hurt. The place was poorly heated and we could see the steam of our breath as we each stood in front of a half-lit Christmas tree and attempted, through chattering teeth, to deliver jokes into the mike. The fifty-person crowd stuffed into the joint was looking to have a good time and was generous in both its drinking and laughter. They were mainly from South Africa as well, evident from the preponderance of bright, blond hair and violent booing when, during an improvised bit, I made the mistake of mentioning their arch-nemeses, the New Zealand All Blacks, recent winners of the Rugby World Cup.

It was a raucous night and we had now mostly slept our hangovers off, so after striking out at the train station, the three of us poured into a taxi and were ferried across town to a forlorn bus depot, where we procured tickets to get us out of Dodge. But the bus didn’t leave for three more hours, so we killed the afternoon with a much-needed soak and sauna, where Scraggs and I marveled at the maelstrom of hair springing forth from The Greek’s back. According to The Greek—whose parents come from the old country—his mother is quite fair, but his father is a real hairball, hailing “from a part of Greece where the Turks were a bit more aggressive with the raping.” The public bath hides nothing, and it was clear that he indeed took after the old man in spades. So after bathing we returned to the bus station relaxed and refreshed and got on board, ready for a safe and happy journey to the city of Suwon, a satellite of Seoul and home to our next gig.


Korean long-distance buses are generally as comfortable as it gets, with plenty of leg room and seats that recline to nearly forty five degrees. They’ve got plentiful heat in the winter and air-con in the summer. The passengers are quiet–usually sleeping the hours away or taking in movies on their smart phones or tablets–and the busses almost always run ahead of schedule. This is due to the diligence of the drivers, who nearly always pilot the things like kamikazes heading straight to the deck of an American carrier. It’s a pure heavy metal roots medley when a Korean driver burns down the road and this driver was no exception: He was a Highway Star Hell Bent on driving Balls to the Wall.

Yeah, the bus was often approaching speeds of Mach 1 on a highway jammed with weekend traffic, but that was no bother: we were all used to it. Sure, he regularly hit the brakes with desperate, jarring stomps. This jostled the bags stashed above and sent our foreheads slamming into the seats in front of us, but not an eyebrow was raised. No one whined, spoke up, yelled or exhibited the slightest outward sign of alarm. We were on a bus in Korea and everything was how it was supposed to be.

My first sign that this time may be different came about an hour and a half into the three-hour journey. I was listening to a mix of PJ Harvey songs on The Greek’s i-pod that he had most generously lent me, since my phone’s battery was long dead. It had been years since I had really rocked to Polly Jean, and I sat immersed, rediscovering all of those great old cuts from Rid of Me and Dry, as well as savoring her newer, more down-tempo stuff. At one point I took a break and looked over to The Greek, whose whole being was focused onto the tiny screen in front of his face. His brow was furrowed and his dark eyes made beams.

“Hey Greek, this is awesome. I’m listening to your PJ Harvey file right now. Do you know how long it’s—-”

“Not now dude. I’m in the middle of this.”

“What is that?”

“What does it look like? A fuckin’ game.”

“I know that. What kind of game?”

“It’s a driving game. Take a look.”

He tilted the screen my way and went about clicking and thumbing the controls.

“I’m driving the bus.”


He was driving a large passenger bus on an elevated highway in a generic city. There appeared to be moderate traffic. “Check this out,” he nodded, jerking the bus into a side lane and smashing into several cars, which flipped and spun out of control.

“Yes!” He then plowed through the guardrail, causing the bus to plummet far down to the lower level, which resulted in even more mayhem and destruction–crushing cars, motorcycles, vans, and trucks–until it finally came to a full stop. This just turned the bus into giant obstacle that other vehicles hurtling down the road, in turn, smashed into. It was a rolling snowball of complete havoc and spectacular chaos—all shattered glass, bent metal, fire and thick smoke–depicted with realistic, violent, state-of-the-art graphics. Who knows? The programmers were probably Korean.

He turned to me with a possessed grin. “The point of the game is to destroy as much as you possibly can.”

“Cool,” I said, putting the ear buds back in. “I used to play a similar game at my friend’s place.”

He continued the game and I went back to scrolling through his massive digital library, never once stopping to chew on the fact that The Greek was crashing a virtual bus while riding on a real one. Wasn’t this just a bit odd? A brazen temptation of fate? Evidently not, because I gave it no pause: This is just what people do on busses in Korea.

It happened during the intro to a song by Strawberry Switchblade—an obscure gothic synth-pop duo from the 1980’s that I was amazed he had on file. The driver hit the brakes hard. I felt my whole body sucked forward by gravity. I braced myself with my right arm, and then…


This was felt more than heard.

“Fucking ‘ell!” shouted out Scraggs

The brakes locked and the tires ground against the pavement, screeching for what seemed like minutes, until the bus eventually came to a halt.

“Holy shit.” The Greek turned off his game and sheepishly stashed it.

I ripped out the buds and exhaled. “We just hit something for real.”

All the passengers stayed in their seats, momentarily stunned.

“Ayaya! Aya! Aya!” A fat guy sitting in the back row theatrically gripped his neck in mock pain. I could see won signs flashing in his squinting eyes.

We all sat for what must have been thirty seconds, trying to figure out just what was going on. I decided to check it out for myself, so I got up and walked to the front of the bus, where I was joined by two other Korean passengers.

The bus’s lights illuminated the scene in front of us: A silver, two-door car lay largely crushed. The bus was also significantly damaged. The rear of the car looked like a smashed beer can; anyone sitting there would be liquefied. A man sat in the driver’s seat, partially enveloped by a white airbag. The bus driver was outside, shouting to him.

The three of us in the front were joined by a few other passengers, who like me, now understood the fact that not only had the bus hit the car, but that it had pushed it 100 meters down the road—devastating it in the process–until it came to rest next to the guardrail. They shook their heads, sucked air through their teeth, and exclaimed:

“Oh my!”

“Is he okay?”

“That looks bad.”

“Is anyone else in the car?”

After a minute or two the car’s driver emerged from his seat, shaken, shocked, but apparently unharmed. It was the back of the vehicle that received the brunt of the damage, and you can imagine our collective relief when the bus driver poked his head in the bus’s door and told us that the dazed man had been the only occupant.


Korea’s efficient, modern side was the first to show its face that night, as emergency services were on the scene within minutes of the collision. The police arrived first and directed traffic around the scene. The paramedics were next, who strapped the car’s driver onto a gurney and whisked him away. Bringing up the rear was the wrecking crew, who dragged the totaled car off the road with amazing focus and speed. We marveled at their professionalism: They really had their shit together. I got the feeling that they had done that sort of thing a few times before.

The bus was damaged but driveable, and the driver managed to limp it down the highway and off an exit near the city of Cheonan, following the wrecking truck. He then pulled the bus to an area near the off ramp and told us all to wait for a few minutes; that a new bus was on the way. The wrecking crew deposited the smashed car next to several other dented husks. It must have been a dangerous stretch of highway. Wrecked car storage? Nothing was being left to chance, but what impressed me the most was the pace of the operation. Procedures had obviously been put in place and at this point we’d be able to make the show with time to spare. Bravo, new Korea.

But here’s where the baton gets passed.

The new bus arrived, with a fresh new driver. It seemed that the bus company was keeping up its end of the bargain and guaranteeing the rest of our journey with speed and safety. We disembarked the old bus and walked in a line past the first driver, who chain-smoked with trembling hands and stared out into the night, his eyes black pits. He looked like he needed a hot shower, a massage, and about three double pours of whisky. He was traumatized and stank of regret. I pitied him.

Once on the new bus, a policeman boarded and asked if any of us needed to go to the hospital. We all declined. He then passed around a clipboard and asked for contact information of anyone who planned to visit the hospital later. This was everyone’s chance for a payday and about half the passengers bit. The three of us passed. We were fine and we knew it.

The cop bade us adieu and now it was time to get on the road. We had a new bus and a new driver and would be able to make Suwon only an hour behind schedule. After all, the show must go on.

And then he boarded the bus. Him. He sat in the seat, clicked his buckle, and turned over the engine. He engaged the gear, pulled onto the ramp, and gave a quick honk to the new driver standing next to the old bus, who smiled and flashed a ‘thumbs up’ before we poured back onto the busy highway. That’s right: the same driver who crashed the bus would be completing the route. He would go on to nearly rear-end another car and shower us with apologies, but he would see the night out. Of course. This is what happens when buses crash in Korea. There are no debriefings, no reports to be filed, no rest for the visibly shaken operator: just the continuation of work. Suck it up, ajeosshi: you’re finishing your shift. People do not miss work in old Korea. They grind it out. They endure. How do you think the country went from being one of the poorest in Asia to now, where they walk in stride with some of the wealthiest in the world?

Hard fucking work. That’s how.

Sparkling, indeed.

(This essay appears in my latest book, The Worst Motorcycle in Laos: Rough Travels in Asia, available via Amazon and other purveyors of words.)





My Top 5 ESL Activities for Kids

Printer-friendly version

ESL Activities for Kids

If you’re looking for some great ESL activities for children, you’ve come to the right place! I have 5 of my favourite ones that are guaranteed to get your kids engaged, excited and energetic about learning English in your class.


Show and Tell-It’s an excellent activity for kids because they get to talk about something that’s important to them and show a bit of their personalities. You can do it during one entire class period, or space it out over the semester and use it as a bit of a warm-up activity with 1 or 2 students going each day.

Role Plays-Excellent for beginner students, role-plays give students a chance to experiment a bit with the language in a very controlled way. It’s very simple to adapt the difficulty of this activity by adjusting the number of blank spaces students have to fill in.

Running Dictation-If you’re looking for an activity to get a bit of energy into your classes, this is the one you should be using. Everyone loves it-from kids to adults but in order to play it, students really should be able to read and write at a basic level or higher.

Vocabulary Review Game-Vocabulary is a huge part of learning English, especially beginners who are starting at almost nothing. Help your students remember their vocab by playing this fun review game that gets the whole class involved.

Draw a Picture-This fun game is an excellent way to practice body parts, shapes or numbers. Basically, one person looks at a picture, and then describes it to their partner who draws it without looking at the original. The results are usually hilarious!

Try out these 5 ESL activities for kids in your classes and I’m sure you’ll love the result! Happy, active and engaged students having fun learning English =happy teacher.

Need more activities for kids? 

Get 39 of them here: 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities: For Kids (7+). Trust me, it’s going to make your lesson planning a whole lot easier.

The post My Top 5 ESL Activities for Kids appeared first on ESL Speaking.

Jackie Bolen: How to Get a University Job In Korea


My Life! Teaching in a Korean University

University Jobs



5 Ways to Make Your Cinemagraphs Pop

Printer-friendly version

Not just another passing trend, cinemagraphs are here to stay. With apple’s recent release of it’s latest iPhone that includes “moving pictures” you know that cinemagraphs are on a lot of important people’s minds. Flixel has been working with a lot of major companies to create stunning ad campaigns and they are taking the advertising world by storm! So this gets us to the meat of this tutorial and that is “How do I make cinemagraphs that really pop and get people to notice them?”

1. Find the Movement

This is harder than it sounds because it actually is more conceptual than just looking for physical movement and recording it. When you are looking to film or shoot for a cinemagraph you are looking for a specific movement and how that movement adds or subtracts from the overall scene. Therein lies the magic (I am a wizard too!) when you find the movement and how it adds to the scene. This goes beyond isolating the flowing traffic but focussing on a reflection of that movement and freezing the rest. It plays with people’s heads and keeps them interested in the cinemagraph.

2. Isolate the Movement

When I first started shooting cinemagraphs I would say that some of my shots had almost too much movement in them. Meaning that it was hard to see that it was actually a cinemagraph and not just a looping video. Isolating the movement adds to the mystery of the shot. There is a delicate balance here because having too little movement is a lot like telling a joke that nobody gets. You find yourself repeating the punchline over and over again until someone gives and goes “ahhhhhh….” You’ll find yourself doing the same if you isolate an insignificant portion of the shot. You will be pointing out the movement until people finally go “ahhhh…. his arm is moving…” The moving element should be obvious but not overpowering.

3. Edit your Video like a Photo

Whatever software you use to edit your video, USE IT! Don’t just dump your video into Cinemagraph Pro and hope that by tweaking a few sliders will make your cinemagraph stand out. I use photoshop and convert the video footage to use smart filters. Then I edit using the RAW filter. This is pretty much like editing a photo in lightroom but you are working on a video. As of yet, you cannot edit video in lightroom’s development module. At any rate, you want to focus on the photo or the still parts of your cinemagraph. Make it pop! Use rich colours, deep contrasts, and make sure that it looks the best that you can before importing it into Cinemagraph Pro. Then focus on what cinemagraph pro does best and that is making a cinemagraph.

4. When Video Fails use Time-Lapse

I must admit I had trouble figuring out the best times of the day to use video. My head is always thinking like a photographer and video is something completely different with regards to exposure. If the scene is not working for you and the footage is too dark or not dynamic enough, then it might be time to try time-lapse. This will allow you to get longer exposures and create some interesting effects with the movement over a significantly longer period of time. Also cinemagraph is already set up to handle the image sequence. One trick to keep your images looking exactly the same is to edit in lightroom and work on one photo. When you have it where you want it, select the remaining photos and hit “sync” and make sure all the necessary boxes are checked and then hit ok. Check out my tutorial on time-lapse cinemagraphs here

5. Get Close

This is a classic photographic technique that helps draw a person into the frame. A tree may look great with it’s branches moving in the wind but I bet it would great if you got up close and focused on a single leaf. Getting in closer to the subject may not always work but used well it will help make the movement an essential element in the frame and not just something added in the background. Just think of the old photo rule “If you think you are close, get closer” and then see what magic you can create!

Try these 5 tips out and see what you think. The biggest piece of advice that I can give is to try to create the scene in your head first. Then experiment with these tips to try and make it happen. Visualizing the shot before shooting will help you come out with something closer to what you want than just shooting away and hoping for the best.

For more information on Cinemagraph Pro for Mac, Click Here!

Hwamyeong: Wicked Spoon

Printer-friendly version

Wicked Spoon (formerly Wicked Snow) is a great spot with nice decor in the heart of Hwamyeong.  We've checked it out a few times for their Bing-su, but realistically I've been more impressed with their pasta.  Whenever I have a big craving this seems to hit the spot.

Directions: Head out of Hwamyeong Subway Station Exit 1.  Walk straight to the major intersection and continue by crossing the street.  Take a quick right, walk one block, turn left, and just beyond the Davichi Eyewear and before Latte King  you'll see an entry to the officetel.  Wicked Spoon is on the 2nd floor.

This is a chicken and bacon spaghetti with a cream sauce that has the tiniest bit of heat.  Lots of peppers and onions in this bad boy, it's great to share with a friend when you want to be a little less decadent.  KRW 13,000  We had planned on being healthier by also getting the Santa Fe Chicken Salad:

...our salad was chicken fingers.  Neither of us was about to complain!  This "salad" of lightly panko-crusted chicken covered in honey mustard sauce topped with hard-boiled eggs, a little lettuce, and a few cherry tomatoes was KRW 13,000.

This is my favourite dish: a spicy bulgogi spaghetti with a gochujang cream sauce, hot peppers, mushrooms, and onions.  If you like heat then this is the option for you!  It's KRW 13,000 and was worth every penny. 

We had a girls night and ordered 2 bing-su for 6 of us.  The chocolate cheesecake was my favourite - chocolate bing-su is the real deal!  Remember chocolate popsicles?  Imagine those with cheesecake bites with oreo on the bottom and vanilla ice cream on top.  Amazing.  The mango is really tasty too, but I'm a chocolate gal at heart.  Bing-su ranges anywhere from KRW 8,000 - KRW 13,000 but these were both KRW 10,500.

While we were eating the bing-su, some fried chicken showed up - service!  For those of you who don't know, "service" is on the house.  The owner/ manager at Wicked Spoon is so friendly and speaks English so we were happily surprised when this fried chicken dish arrived.  It came with honey mustard and sweet chili sauces, a small salad, and fries.  The fried chicken itself was really moist and tasty.  I would definitely return for it down the line! 

...and just a reminder, Mom, this is what I eat at practically every meal at home: scrambled eggs, peppers, broccoli mixed greens, and colby jack.  Just a little reminder that while it would be just as frugal to eat out every night at one of the many inexpensive places in Hwamyeong, I really don't know what is going into my meals unless I make them myself.

Have you been to Wicked Spoon yet?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Picture Prompt: An ESL Warm-Up For Kids and Adults

Printer-friendly version

Picture prompt ESL warm-up

An ESL Warm-Up Activity

Picture prompt is a great ESL warm-up for kids as well as adults that can be used for all levels from beginner to advanced. Show students an image and have them generate questions or speculate about the picture.


For lower level students, this can be purely descriptive:

Q: What do you see?   A: I see a house, a car, and some people.

Q: What color is the car?   A: It is blue.

For high beginner/low intermediate students, have an image which can generate questions such as:

What is happening in this picture?

How does that person feel?

Why do you think so?

For more advanced students, have an unusual image. Encourage them to create a narrative to explain the story. This activity can also be done as a Quick Write.

Teaching Tips:

You can find collections of unusual images online which are perfect for advanced students to create their narratives. If you want to use this as a writing activity with beginner or low intermediate students, give them a worksheet of questions to answer.


1. In advance, prepare an image, either PowerPoint or a picture large enough for the class to easily see.

2. Divide students into pairs or small groups.

3. Depending on the level of the students:

Elicit descriptive sentences about the image. Encourage them to make their own questions to ask a partner.

Have them discuss what they think is happening in the picture, how the person/ people feel and why they think so, etc.

Have them create a narrative about the image. (Unusual images work well for this.)

4. Optionally, have them write their responses.

Like this ESL Activity? 

It’s from this book: 39 ESL Warm-Ups: For Kids (7+). There are 38 more like it. If you want to get your classes started off on the right foot, it’s the book you need! ESL teaching awesome made easy.

The post Picture Prompt: An ESL Warm-Up For Kids and Adults appeared first on ESL Speaking.

How to Say ‘I Love You’ in Korean

Printer-friendly version

One of the first phrases that people want to learn when studying a foreign language is how to say ‘I love you’.

After all, it’s important to express our how we feel about those important people in our lives.

Keep reading to learn how to say ‘I love you’ in Korean!

*Can’t read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 60 minutes!

Standard ‘I Love You’ in Korean

1. 사랑해요 (Saranghaeyo)

This is the standard way of saying ‘I love you’ in Korean.

The dictionary form of the verb ‘to love’ is saranghada (사랑하다). As a ‘hada’ verb, it has a regular conjugation so should be easy to use in different situations.

In the present tense, it becomes 사랑해요. You might notice that the words ‘I’ and ‘you’ have been dropped. You can say these if you want to, making the phrase:

‘저는 (person’s name)씨를 사랑해요’

However, if it is clear who you are talking to, then you can just say 사랑해요.

If you want to conjugate this verb, then you can follow the standard conjugation rules for 하다 verbs:

Korean English
사랑해요? (rising intonation) Do you love me?
사랑했어요 I loved (past tense)
사랑할 수 있어요 (없어요) I am able (unable) to love
사랑하는 사람 The person that I love

Informal ‘I Love You’ in Korean

1. 사랑해 (Sarang-hae)

This is the informal way of saying ‘I love you’. The difference is the polite ending (요) has been dropped. This is used between people that you are close to, such as boyfriends and girlfriends. Therefore, is the most common way of saying ‘I love you’ . This is because you generally only use it when talking to somebody that you are close to.

You can add the words ‘I’ and ‘You’, making the phrase 나는 너를 사랑해 if you want to, but often the context is clear so these can be omitted.

To make it into a question (do you love me?), simply say it with a rising intonation (사랑해?).

Other ways to say ‘I Love You’ in Korean:

1. 사랑한다  (Sarang-handa)

This is the written form of the verb ‘to love’, you might come across it in poems or essays about love if you read enough Korean.

2. 사랑하십니다 (Sarang-ha-shimnida)

This is the highest level of the word, it is used with elderly people who you do not know well (such as the queen).

3. 사랑합니다 (Sarang-hamnida)

This is the formal version of the word, and should be used with people who you do not know, or when talking to a large group.

It isn’t used often because of the nature of the word, but might be used if you are making a presentation or a speech at a wedding.

4. 사랑하세요 (Sarang-haseyo)

This is the honorific version of the word, and should be used when talking to elderly people who you are close to, such as grandparents.

Wrap Up

As you can see, there are many ways to say ‘I love you’ in Korean. When starting out, focus on using 사랑해 and 사랑해요.

Due to its regularity as a 하다 verb, it can be useful for learning how verbs change in different situations. It is also useful for learning how the 를 and는 particles work. For example 나는 너를 사랭해 (I love you) vs 너는 나를 사랑해 (You love me).

Hopefully after reading this article you are now an expert in knowing how to say ‘I love you’ in Korean!


*Want more Korean phrases? Go to our Korean Phrases Page for a complete list!

Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series:

Korean lessons   *  Korean Phrases    *    Korean Vocabulary *   Learn Korean   *    Learn Korean alphabet   *   Learn Korean fast   *  Motivation    *   Study Korean  


Please share, help Korean spread! 



Bogwangsa Temple – 보광사 (Ulsan)

Printer-friendly version


The temple courtyard and main gate at Bogwangsa Temple in Ulsan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

In the very southwestern part of Ulsan, and next to Tongdosa Temple under Mt. Yeongchuksan, is Bogwangsa Temple. Located in and amongst the small factories and one rooms is this assuming temple.

First approaching from a rural road, you’ll be welcomed to the temple by a beautifully adorned front gate. This gate is elaborately painted with two Biseon adorning the front gates. Both Biseon (Flying Angels) are making offerings.

Once you’ve entered the compact temple grounds, you’ll notice a small garden to your right and the first story of the main hall to your left. The first floor to the main hall is occupied with a visitors’ centre and the temple kitchen. It’s only up a set of stairs to the far right of the first floor that you’ll in fact find the main hall on the second floor of the two story structure.

Around the exterior walls to the main hall are a collection of beautiful murals. The first set, which is the largest, is the Palsang-do set which depict the eight scenes from the Buddha’s life. Above this set, and up near the eaves rather uniquely, are the much smaller Shimu-do, Ox-herding, murals. And spaced between these sets, and decorating the hall’s pillars, are the Four Heavenly Kings, as well as various guardians. Buttressing both ends of paintings are two elaborate paintings dedicated to an all-white Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). One other unique feature to the outside paintings are a pair of side-ward leaning Nathwi. Typically, the eyes to these Monster Mask murals are pointed sideways and not the entire mask.

Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll first notice a large, golden canopy that spans the entire length of the main altar. The triad sitting on the main altar is centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal and Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). To the left of the main altar is a large mural dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint). While to the right hangs a beautiful mural dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). If you look closely, you’ll notice a dongja (attendant) offering Sanshin an immortal peach. The only other mural in this hall is a large guardian mural, which is somewhat unique in its composition.

HOW TO GET THERE: From Tongdosa Temple, you can catch a taxi to get to Bogwangsa Temple. It should take about 10 minutes, or 3.9 km, and cost you 4,500 won.

OVERALL RATING: 4/10. The murals and paintings spread throughout the main hall, both inside and out, are what distinguish Bogwangsa Temple. From the Sanshin mural inside the main hall to the sideways Nathwi, the Four Heavenly Kings that are on pillars, and the sets of Palsang-do and Shimu-do murals, the intricacy and beauty of all these murals will be enough to keep you busy for some time. So take your time and enjoy their mastery.


A look at both the entry gate and main hall at Bogwangsa Temple.


The elaborately painted gate at the temple.


One of the Biseon that adorns one of the entry gate’s doors.


The garden at the temple.


The dual exterior wall paintings on the main hall. The larger Palsang-do murals are on the bottom, while the much smaller Shimu-do murals are up near the eaves.


A painting of Gwanseeum-bosal that adorns the exterior wall of the main hall.


The uniquely painted dual masks of the Nathwi on the main hall.


On each of the major pillars of the main hall are the Four Heavenly Kings.


The elaborate and extensive golden canopy that hovers over top of the main altar of the main hall.


The decorative mural of Bohyun-bosal that’s painted above the entry at the main hall.


The large guardian mural housed inside the main hall.


The beautiful Sanshin mural.


And a better look across the main altar at Bogwangsa Temple.

The post Bogwangsa Temple – 보광사 (Ulsan) appeared first on Dale's Korean Temple Adventures.

How to Make your ESL Classes Awesome

Printer-friendly version

Make your ESL Classes Awesome

I’m sure everyone reading this wants to make their ESL classes as awesome as possible. Any teacher would and even those who are abroad for just one or two years still want to have great classes and help their students learn English. But teaching isn’t an easy thing to do and it’s often the case that foreign English teachers walk into the classroom at their first job with absolutely no training whatsoever.

Help is here! If you want to make your ESL classes as awesome as possible, keep reading for my top 10 tips.

How to Teach English-Jeremy Harmer

Read this book. How to Teach English is like the ESL Teaching Bible and I actually find it shocking that not everyone has read it. It’s perfect for the newbie because it just gives you the straight goods, minus all the fluff (kinda like this blog?). Plus, plenty of practical things that you can use directly in your classrooms.


It can be kind of tempting when you’re first starting out to think that teaching involves you being the center of attention all the time. This is called teacher-centred learning or teaching. For language acquisition, this isn’t the best way. Instead, get on the student-centered teaching wagon and try to get your students talking as much as possible. I usually do a little 2-3 minute grammar or vocab lesson, quickly set-up an activity and let the student go at it with their partner or in a small group. Then we do a very quick wrap-up as a class. For more details about student-centred teaching see this post over on my other blog: 5 Tips for Making Student-Centred Classrooms.

Mix It Up-Activities

Just because game X or activity Y worked for you last class doesn’t mean that you should use them in the next one, and the next one. There are a million and one things you can get your students doing so vary it up to keep things interesting and engaging. Think about it like this-when you work-out, if you do the same thing over and over, your body will adjust and you won’t make fitness gains like you used to. Learning a language is the same and students need to be challenged with different games and activities in their ESL classes. For lots of activities, look in the menu bar at the top of this site under “adults” and “kids.”

Mix it Up-Partners

Students often end up sitting next to the same person each class but this isn’t ideal for a whole lot of reasons such as errors becoming entrenched, the terrible student burden not getting spread around everyone and it doesn’t reflect real-life where you have to talk to a variety of people. I teach my students twice a week, so the first day I let them choose their partner and the next time I assign them a random one.

Review Often

Languages are learned through repetition and if you do something only once, your students will likely have a pretty difficult time remembering it. Help them out by reviewing throughout the semester.

Use a Textbook

Textbooks are written by smart people, edited by professionals and ultimately published by companies that have been in the business for years. Their plan for how to teach students English is quite likely going to be better than yours, especially if you’re a very inexperienced teacher. Just use the book, but be sure to interject a bit of your flair into it. In my opinion, the best 4-skills English textbook ever written (for high-school students/adults) is 4 Corners. Trust me. You won’t regret using this one.

Professional Development-Do It

The best teachers are those who are engaged in developing themselves professionally. You can do this in various ways such as starting a blog about teaching, reflective practice, or attending meetings and conferences for English teachers. Here’s a post where I talk about this: Professional Development for ESL Teachers-Start your Own Website.

Pay Attention to the Small Stuff

Sure, the big things like designing a curriculum or evaluation are important but you often won’t have any control over that. Instead, what you can control is the small stuff so be sure to get it right. I’m talking about things like eye contact and avoiding a “dead-zone,” making the best use of class time by not doing “fillers,” and not putting students on the spot in a way that can embarrass them.

Avoid the ESL Teacher Burn-Out

It happens to the best of us. We teach too many classes or have really unmotivated students and before we know it, we’re totally burnt out. Avoid it by having very strict boundaries between home and work and also by having hobbies and friends outside of work. And never forget: a bad day at work does not mean you are a terrible person, or a terrible teacher. You can bounce back tomorrow! See this post: Korean University Students-Your Problem is not my Problem.

Graded Language-You Should Use It

I’ve seen plenty of teachers over my years teaching English in Korea who don’t use graded language. They just speak to their students “native-speaker” style and think that their students should either sink or swim. They usually sink, which really isn’t helpful for anyone. Instead, you should try to speak at a level that is just slightly above the level of the students, in terms of speed, grammar and vocabulary.

To Sum It Up

It really is easy to make your ESL classes awesome by following these simple tips. Good luck and leave a comment with what you’re going to do to make your ESL classes even more awesome in the coming week.

The post How to Make your ESL Classes Awesome appeared first on ESL Speaking.

Learn Korean Ep. 79: “Should Have”

Printer-friendly version

Sometimes you need to be a bit creative to find things to do during a long, uneventful day. Keykat and I went to play at the park, but after going on the same slide over and over she started to feel a bit bored. I had a good idea to pass the time, so I thought. But Keykat didn't really like my idea.

This week's video is an intermediate level lesson, so I'd only recommend watching it if you feel comfortable with this level. It's a bit more difficult than beginning level concepts.

Remember that there are free PDFs available for every "Learn Korean" episode, and each contains additional information or examples not covered in the video.

Check out the episode here!

Click here to download a free PDF of this lesson!

The post Learn Korean Ep. 79: “Should Have” appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

 Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean





Syndicate content

Koreabridge - RSS Feeds
Features @koreabridge     Blogs  @koreablogs
Jobs @koreabridgejobs  Classifieds @kb_classifieds

Koreabridge - Facebook Group

Koreabridge - Googe+ Group