Recent Blog Posts
The second lead in Leesong Hee-il's queer film Night Flight, Lee Jae-joon, is quite a handsome fellow. Born in October of 1990, the only role he has been credited for so far on Daum Movies is as 기웅 in Night Flight.
After a seasonal hiatus in respect of sporting fixtures on weekends and travel trips over the spring and summer it is rapidly reverting to ideal hiking conditions in the Republic of Korea. As the weather cools and the leaves begin to turn and fall I find myself being drawn back to the escapist attractions of the Korean mountains. My return to the rocky tree-shrouded country landscape began on Hangeul Day (national holiday for the celebration of the Korean writing system) at Gajisan, a mountain that narrowly wins the honour of being the highest in the Yeongnam Alps, an area that I had heavily explored during the last winter.
I invited my Korean friend Mia along for the hike and we met in northern Busan at Myeongnyun station just after nine o’clock to catch the number 12 bus to Eonyang, a small town to the east of the Yeongnam Alps. I’ve taken the number 12 bus before and it was equally slow as before as it trundled out of Busan into Yangsan and then snaked its way slowly between the villages that lie north of Yangsan. When we eventually arrived in Eonyang around an hour and a half later our patience for public buses was stretched and we jumped in a taxi. Our taxi ride took us to the gates of Seongnamsa (or Seoknamsa as it should be romanized from the Korean 석남사). After readying ourselves we headed to a car park to the left hand side of the main entrance gate where a path began that would take us along a counter-clockwise route to the peak of Gajisan. As we passed a large group of hikers in the car park Mia immediately almost stood on a snake that slithered across the beginning of the path.
The route begins with a relatively shallow ascent and gradually steepens until the point that trail gives way to slightly more technical, partially eroded, and rocky route. Personally I found the whole route relatively easy but many of the hikers we passed were increasingly fatigued as we passed them. Mia also found the going a little tough and was generous enough to curse me repeatedly for bringing her along. A heap of verbal motivation and my adamance that it wasn’t so severe as some of the other routes in the Yeongnam Alps may or may not have helped. I was also rebuked for falsely advertising the actual peak. As sky gave way to rock and treeline I was vocal in my expression that ‘it’s not far now’ only to clamber upon a false peak with an ascent and a further climb to the actual peak visible another kilometre away.
The final climb brought us to the top of the 1240m peak but this was not even halfway through the actual hike, I chose not to mention this to my friend. At the top of Gajisan, on what was a warm and mostly clear autumn day, we were greeted with an incredible view across all directions. Mountain peaks and receding horizons contrasted with the bright blue sky as far as we could see. After queuing with other hikers for some mandatory photos we began the hike that followed the ridge north before stopping for a snack on one of the notable rocky outcroppings that overlooked the view towards Ulsan in the east.
The undulating ridge trail lasted for a few kilometres before we began the knee-bursting descent. Although not particularly steep it was certainly relentless with few plateaus. The ground was skiddy, the dried and crumbling mud providing a surface that required cautious attention. It was quite a relief to reach the outside grounds of the temple, neither of us had much desire to look inside and we followed the exit road to the main entrance gate and then crossed over to a small bus station. We had decided on our descent that we did not relish the long journey on the number 12 bus from Eonyang back to Busan so we decided to catch a bus from outside the temple to Ulsan KTX station and then take the rapid KTX service back to Busan. At the KTX station we even had twenty minutes to grab some cheap Korean food to fill our grumbling stomachs.
On reflection this is a good hike, it only takes in one remarkable peak and can be accomplished in half a day if you can keep a good pace up. The views from the summit are quite breathtaking, as much of those in the Yeongnam Alps are, if you are interested in the route we took you can check the GPS recording here: http://www.mapmyhike.com/workout/760095549 I am of the understanding that you can turn this into a longer hike that ends in Unmunsa a temple to the north-east although I think you would have to then travel to Miryang to find any suitable transport to any of the respective cities in the region.
|Windy road to Kulen mountains|
|Over not-so-safe bridges|
|To reach the 1000 Lingas in Kulen mountains|
|But the drive was so worth it to see the river meandering through the lush forest in Kulen mountain|
|After focusing on the river for a bit, i was able to see the squarish dark bumps under water. These are the Lingas. |
People are not allowed to wet their feet, walk over or take a bath on the 1000 Lingas- That would be disrespecting the Gods. But there is two fold waterfall downstream that the people can enjoy the blessed water. It was quite surprising to see that despite that fact that there was just a small rope and a small sign saying that people were not supposed to swim there, there was absolutely no one trespassing. The water was crystal clear and tasted good. (You are allowed to drink the water - that is like prasadam/ theertham)
|The holy water from the 1000 Lingas blesses the people who take a bath in the waterfall|
|The larger, and relatively unsafe but amazing waterfall where we had a wonderful bath|
|The rickety bridge experience at Kulen mountains|
N for Not -so-safe bridge
|Roasted Frogs, street food in Cambodia|
|There is lotus all around in Cambodia. I am moving here after I retire.|
|Cute little girl hard at work.|
|Huge Buddha on top of the mountains|
|The temple nicely perched on top of the hill.|
|What a view from the top of the hill|
|Resting place when we reached the bottom|
Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Five: Post a picture of your classroom. Describe what you see, and what you don’t see that you’d like to.
So, this is the classroom I teach in! Er, rather, these are the classrooms I teach in. At my school, the students stay in the same room while all of the teachers rotate throughout the day. As a result, neither myself nor my fellow teachers has a subject-designated classroom. However, every room is equiped with a tv monitor and computer cable, as well as ethernet, so using PowerPoints and the internet on my school laptop for class is no problem. My students and I also interact with the chalkboard quite a bit. The desks and chairs are very lightweight, so they move easily, allowing for relatively quick restructing of class set-up. And a wall of windows overlooking the play yard lets in plenty of natural light during the day, so the kids don’t feel quite like they’re in a dungeon, at least!
While I am grateful to have access to modern teaching technology and classrooms that are big enough to move around in, there is a lot more I wish I had to offer my students. If I were working in my own classroom, a room that was all about learning English, I could create a much more specialized, stimulating environment. I would LOVE to decorate the walls with calendars depicting days of the week and months of the year, a weather board, and posters of basic responses to questions like “How are you?,” complete with pictures, of course. Each class could have its own section of the room, or a bulletin board, where good work could be featured or a new word, displayed. One corner of the room could be filled with shelves of English books, magazines and newspapers, and perhaps a comfortable chair or two. And, scattered around the room would be the many different games and materials I use to get kids engaged and excited about the lesson.
That’s the dream. And maybe when I move to the new school in February that will happen…maybe. For now I’ll try to make the best of the situation I’m in by creating more mobile versions of the above posters/calendars. That way I can take them to each class. The games and activities I create will continue to pile themselves up on my desk and spill out from my drawers. And some day soon I’ll ask my co-teacher about the school budget and how much, if any, room there is for English literature and media. Baby steps!
A California Newspaper Reports in an Interview With Mayor Park States that he "Personally Supported Rights for Homosexuals" while Seoul City Elucidates that "He Was Explaining Korea's Circumstances... Not Expressing Personal Volition"
The newspaper also reported that Park Won-soon had said "I personally agree with the rights of homosexuals. But the Protestant churches are very powerful in Korea. It isn't easy for politicians. It's in the hands of activists to expand the universal concept of human rights to include homosexuals. Once they persuade the people, the politicians will follow. It's in process now." This interview took place last month on the 26th in San Francisco. The newspaper also introduced Mayor Park as a top-contender for president in 2017.
Park's camp asserted that the contents were a misinterpretation. Explanatory materials put out by Seoul City stated "Mayor Park has not directly expressed that he will push forward the legalization of gay marriage, but rather explained the Korean circumstance. During the interview he was explaining the debate in the National assembly over protecting sexual minority rights, and the conflict with the religious world, and how the first Asian country that legalizes same-sex marriage will depend on civil society, which was not an expression of the mayor's own volition.
An individual connected with Seoul city stated "Mayor Park's words were that 'Maybe Korea would become the first country to legalize it (same-sex marriage)'. He didn't use the word hope. Mayor Park was explaining the Korean situation and was not saying that he intends to legalize same-sex marriage." The individual continued by saying that when Mayor Park saw the article he stated "I didn't say it to this extent."
During the first weekend of October I went to the Lantern Festival in Jinju! To read more about the festival, view the related post here!
- traveling in korea |
- adventure |
- english program in korea |
- EPIK |
- expat life |
- expats |
- festivals in korea |
- jinju |
- Korea |
- Lantern Festival |
- life abroad |
- living in korea |
- South Korea |
- teaching English |
- teaching English abroad |
- teaching English in Korea |
- Things to Do in Korea |
- travel |
- travel in korea |
Located in the south central part of Korea, Jinju is a small city of just 300,000 people. But for ten days a year, nighttime traffic is bumper-to-bumper and walking the streets means shuffling, wading and weaving through crowds of people. Why? The Jinju Namgang Yudeong (Lantern) Festival.
One of the most famous festivals in Korea, the Lantern Festival is deeply rooted in national history. To keep it short, back in the late 1500’s after a (now) famous Korean general defeated 20,000 Japanese invadors with just 4,000 soldiers of his own, the military used lanterns not only as a means of communication between themselves, but also as a way to send messages to their families. Today, the floating lanterns pay tribute to fallen warriors and create an opportunity for international cultural celebration.
Main events of the festival include: a fireworks display (opening night only), wish-lantern hanging (10,000 won), a walk through the student-made lantern tunnel, and a stroll along the Namgang River, which glows with the reflections of massive floating lanterns representing countries from around the world. Additional historic and religious lanterns can be seen on display within the stone walls of the Chokseongnu Pavilion. The festival also offers basic lantern making activities, as well as a “Love Ship” and “Love Bridge” which you can ride/cross for a small fee. Similar to the Andong Mask Festival, food options are limited at the festival site, but it only takes a few minutes of venturing back into downtown to find a host of restaurants.
The Jinju Intercity Bus Terminal is also a mere 5-10 minute walk away, so the festival is very accessible. After arriving in town, just follow the crowds to find your way there. However, be prepared for your personal-space bubble to be burst, bumped, bashed and blasted to smitherines throughout the evening. And don’t worry too much about being able to catch a bus back home. Due to the overwhelming popularity of the festival, intercity buses (seemed to) run more frequently to help keep the madness under control.
I really enjoyed the Lantern Festival, so much so that it’s actually one of my favorite things I’ve done since I’ve been here! Despite the insane number of people, I still had an awesome experience, full of sight-seeing, picture taking, a nice meal with great company, and a low-stress journey to and from Jinju. I highly recommend the festival to anyone considering it in the future!
For more on my time in Jinju, check out the vlog post related to this article!
Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Four: What do you love about teaching?
In the classroom, the teacher has to be able to roll with the punches of the day, and should always be open to responding to the students and circumstances in front of them. By taking advantage of an impromptu teaching moment, however small, new connections with the material can be made where previously there were none.
Today I gave my students mini white boards and markers to use in class. As an avid doodler myself, I was hardly surprised to find more than just writing on some of their boards. But while circling around the room, I noticed one student in particular (whose English skills I knew to be very low) seemed to be doing nothing but doodling. I approached him and began to encourage him to construct a sentence like one of the examples on the board. He obliged with a slight sigh and started to erase the cartoon figure he’d spent a fair amount of time working on. That’s when I stopped him and asked to borrow his marker. Next to his drawing I added a speech bubble and then pointed back to the board. Just like that, his sigh turned into a laugh, his face lit up with a smile, and with a nod began to write.
Unexpected moments like that are what I enjoy most about teaching. One second the student is bored and disengaged, and the next moment they’re in it. It’s part of my job to keep an eye out for such opportunities as they’re passing by, and to be able to capitalize on them. I still have a lot to learn with this skill, but it’s already becoming one of my favorite things about teaching.