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Queer Links from the Week: Human rights, Korea, and mistreating AIDS patients

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Not much in terms of news in English other than a Youtube video titled Because I'm Gay. However, I'll try to do a quick summary of the news stories I saw this week.

On January 6th, human rights expert Vitit Muntarbhorn visited Korea and held a forum on the Yogyakarta Principles, which stipulate the application of human rights law as it concerns sexual orientation and gender identity. He specifically brought up issues concerning the military and anti-discrimination laws.

Protests aiming for the resignation of board member of the Human Rights Commission Choi-i-u, who, as reported earlier, has a record of anti-gay rhetoric and behavior, continued last week. Particularly, human rights lawyer Lee Eun-gyeong accuses him of opposing the Seoul non-discrimination charter and worrying about divine rights (신권) over human rights (인권).  

Kim Do Young wrote an op-ed for the Gwangju Dream, writing about how even though it shouldn't matter if being gay is a choice or not, it has genetic determinants and being different should not result in discrimination or violence.

Sudong Yonsei Sanitorium is bringing charges against 60 Minutes Korea for an accusation that they were mistreating AIDS patients. (Remember the protests by the Coalition for Sexual Morality?) I'll try to follow these accusations of libel as they unfold.

In pop culture, Im Seong-han has gotten criticism up to the point of demands for resignation due to the lack of quality in Apgujeong Midnight Sun. Viewers have pointed out other poorly written scenes, including one in Princess Aurora where Natasha is able to pray away his homosexuality at a temple

Neunggasa Temple – 능가사 (Haman, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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 The amazing riverside view of Neunggasa Temple in Haman, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

On the southern banks of the Nakdong River is the scenically located Neunggasa Temple in Haman, Gyeongsangnam-do. As you first approach the temple from the temple’s parking lot, you’ll notice a large granite statue dedicated to Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha). This shrine area is fronted by equally beautiful stone lanterns, as well as a recently constructed stupa.

A sharp left from this ten metre tall statue is the temple’s main courtyard. To your left is the recently built bell pavilion. Straight ahead, and elevated over top the temple’s visitors’ centre, kitchen, and monks dorms, is the temple’s main hall. The main hall is beautifully decorated with Palsang-do murals that adorn the hall’s exterior walls. Stepping inside the rather spacious main hall are a triad of statues that sit on the main altar. Sitting in the centre is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha), who is joined to the left and right by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). Hanging on the walls are a collection of masterful murals. To the immediate left is a mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Hanging to the right, and by the same artist, are two murals. One of these murals is dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars), while the other is the rather long guardian mural.

To the right of the main hall is the Gwaneeum-jeon. The exterior walls to this hall are decorated with various murals dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Most memorable of the lot is the painting of two parents praying for the loss of their child. Seated inside this hall, and all alone on the main altar, is Gwanseeum-bosal. To the left of the main altar hang two older, and unique, shaman murals. The first is dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), while the other pays homage to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). To the right of the main altar hangs an equally older looking mural, no less original in composition, dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King), who appears to be surrounded by protective spirits.

But perhaps the most striking feature to Neunggasa Temple is its amazing location. Rarely will you find a temple located next to a river. Of course there are exceptions like Oeosa Temple, but these are the exceptions, and not the rule. Stepping outside the temple grounds, and hanging a left, you can make your way across a blue pedestrian bridge that you can enjoy some amazing views of both the Nakdong River at one of its wider berths, as well as the crowning Neunggasa Temple on the neighbouring hillside.

HOW TO GET THERE: You’ll first need to make your way to the Changwon Intercity Bus Terminal. From this terminal, you’ll need to take either Bus #705 or #707 and get off at the Masan Post Office stop. From there, you’ll need to board Bus #113-1 and get off at the Namji Bus Terminal. From this terminal, take a taxi the rest of the way to Neunggasa Temple. The fare should be about 4,400 won and the ride should last about seven minutes.

OVERALL RATING: 7/10. Neunggasa Temple is one of the most beautifully located temples you’ll find in Korea. With the commanding view of the neighbouring Nakdong River, it’s a bit of a surprise that Neunggasa Temple isn’t better known. With that being said, and as a compliment to all its natural beauty, the shrine halls, shaman paintings, and the towering Yaksayore-bul statue can only help elevate the temple’s little known reputation. While the city of Haman isn’t that well known for its temples, Neunggasa Temple definitely takes a bit of a bite out of that reputation.


Yaksayore-bul that welcomes you to Neunggasa Temple.


The temple courtyard.


The Gwaneum-jeon at Neunggasa Temple


The consoling Gwanseeum-bosal.


The main altar inside the Gwaneum-jeon.


The older-looking Sanshin mural in the Gwaneum-jeon.


As well as Yongwang inside the Gwaneum-jeon.


A look towards the main hall at Neunggasa Temple.


One of the Palsang-do murals.


A look inside the main hall.


The neighbouring bridge that allows for some amazing views.


A picturesque view of the temple-by-the-river.


 And a view of the neighbouring Nakdong River.

The post Neunggasa Temple – 능가사 (Haman, Gyeongsangnam-do) appeared first on Dale's Korean Temple Adventures.

Leaving Korea: Was it just a dream?

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It’s funny, half way through the year it felt like the longest six months of my life and now here we are back in Canada with Korea appearing as a dream like memory. Were we really there? Did all that actually happen? It seemed never ending at the time and now it seems like it didn’t occur at all!

Were we really in Nampo?

Were we really in Nampo?

But it did. I know that! And you would think that after already completing two years there I would be used to the ‘living abroad and returning home’ scenario. No matter how many times I do it though, it always feels strange and unusual at first! There are so many things I missed about home while away and now that I am here those very things I longed for seem irrelevant and not quite as important as I thought. I find myself wishing I was back in the cement jungle hopping on and off the subway grabbing a 20 cent coffee and pumping tunes through my earphones to drown out the foreign languages squawking around me. What I wouldn’t give to be able to walk out my apartment door right now in fall attire and stroll down to the local Donenu BBQ to cook up some galbi along with drinking a nice bottle of Dry Finishee! I know Graham would second that and throw in an order or two or three of kimchee simmering on the grill.

Now that's a meal!

Now that’s a meal!

Sitting here in our temporary makeshift office back home I now long for so many things Korean it almost makes me forget all those Canadian things I wished for while away. I have come to realize that in order to live for today or make the most of each moment I have to remember both sides of the coin! I can’t always hate where I am and wish for where I want to be. Reminiscing is proven to brighten ones day, but I must also love where I am in the present moment because, no matter where it might be, I am one lucky girl to be there. If I could do that I would definitely have a smile on my face all the time!

So I am going to make a list of loves, both Canadian and Korean, to remind me of all the great things I have experienced and to keep me smiling for days to come! I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions because I cannot keep them even if my life depended on it, but let’s just say this is more of a new mantra to try and repeat to myself every day (… fingers crossed I remember)! Hopefully that will heat me through the cold because that is one thing I do not love about Canada right now! It’s minus 22 with the wind chill and I am finding it hard to smile even inside the house!


Things I miss about Korea:

1. My Students

Hands down one of the best things about Korea is always going to be the amazing students I have the privilege of working with. Here you have some of the most over-worked young people in the world who get up before the sun rises and get home well after it sets attending at least three to four different schools each day and sometimes even on weekends. They are usually enthralled with stories from my childhood where I describe what it’s like to actually be a carefree kid who only went to school from nine to three and then dare I say played with friends or had an afterschool job once I hit high school! Unimaginable to them. Every story is met with gaping mouths and wide eyes. That saddens me, but then I remember how much fun we have when they are in my class and how many of them thrive and continue to strive in an unruly system. They are incredible kids and I miss them each and every day!

My faves!!!

My faves!!!

2. Our Friends

One of the greatest gifts of traveling and working abroad is the gift of friends you would never have had the chance to meet while at home. People from all over the world have become very dear friends to both Graham and I while we were in Korea. They most definitely helped both of us get through some of the not so fun times that come with living in a foreign land. Many of these people you only know for a short time, but it is absolutely amazing how quickly someone can become your true friend and sometimes even your family. I’ve said it many times before, living abroad is like a rollercoaster, some days you are up and some days you are falling straight down, but no matter what you can always find someone who understands and has been exactly where you are. They are perpetually ready and willing to head to a pub for a beer or just go right for the somek erasing all memories from that day! Those people, and they know who they are, are irreplaceable and a single thought of a memory made with them brings a smile to even the darkest of days.

A little Long Island between friends

A little Long Island between friends

Get by with a little help from our friends

Get by with a little help from our friends

3. Traveling

For someone who just cannot scratch that itch, Korea provides some of the best opportunities to travel. Whether it be a subway ride downtown, a bus to a nearby city, the KTX to explore Seoul, or a flight to another exotic place, you are never left without options for things to do and see. Touring Asia is actually quite affordable once you are already over there! Our best deal ever was purchasing a flight to Osaka for $30.00 (one way) which is cheaper than a train ticket from London to Toronto (Ontario Canada)! It always blows my mind how much cheaper it is to travel on the other side of the world! The amount it costs you to travel across Canada would get you at least a few decent trips through multiple countries in Asia.

Busin to Gyeongju

Busin to Gyeongju

KTX to Seoul

KTX to Seoul

4. Culture

Part of what I love about traveling is experiencing all the different cultures of the world. It always amazes me to think that right at this moment so many people are living in so many different ways around the globe. I love that in Korea many stores and places of business don’t even open before 11am to compensate for the late hours spent drinking and doing business the night before. Older ladies seem to reach a certain age and give up all their fashion passion for mismatched floral attire combined with oversized visors and terribly permed hair completely transforming into ajummas. My all-time favourite characteristic of Korean culture is the rarity of crimes or violent acts on a daily basis. I have seen many business men passed out on the street with their briefcase and wallet present only to wake several hours later and stumble home with everything still intact. No theft, beating, or any other random act of violence would occur. You just step over the sleeping man and keep going on your way or maybe move him to the side of the road just so he doesn’t accidentally get hurt. Where else in the world would that ever happen?

Ajummas working

Ajummas working

Late night street nap...

Late night street nap…

Honestly now that I am in a groove this list could go on forever, but I will stop there as I am sure you do not have all the time in the world to read it.

Stay tuned for my list of Canadian favourites!

Deez Nuts: On Privilege, Apologies, and Cho Hyun-ah

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Well said! Some thoughts on ‘Nutgate’, the scandal which has dominated the headlines in Korea for weeks.

Originally posted on SWEET PICKLES & CORN:

by Chris Tharp

I have to admit to reveling in the ongoing drama of “Nutgate,” in which then Korean Airlines vice president for cabin service Cho Hyun-ah threw a weapons grade conniption when, on a flight from New York to Seoul, an attendant in first class had the audacity to serve her macadamia nuts in the packet instead of upon a pristine plate. Not content just to dress the offending stewardess down, she unleashed a torrent of abuse upon the whole staff and ordered the taxiing plane back to the gate, where she had the chief purser ejected for dereliction of duty. Almost as puzzling as Ms. Cho’s seemingly cruel and petty outburst is the fact that pilot went along with her demand, breaking aviation safety law in a pathetic attempt to save his own ass. He knew better than to defy HER will. After all, her father, Cho Yang-ho…

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Kathryn's Living

How do you spell muslim?

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Murdoch is a dick, but you probably knew that already. Check out this tweet:

Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 18.32.45

Image skanked from here

Each individual muslim, each and every single one of three billion on this planet is personally responsible for the horrendous acts carried out by the few? Surely, anyone with a primary school level of education can see the utter piffle in this logic.

I’m English, so am I responsible for everything every English person ever does? When England loses a football match, is it my responsibility to educate the football hooligans not to smash up bars? When my government bombs the fuck out of an Afghan village and refers to the dead innocents as ‘Collateral Damage’, am I the one responsible? When BP spaffed up a load of oil in the Atlantic, was it every single British persons’ responsibility to get out there and start cleaning up the seas?

What about when some white dude in the US (and they generally are white, American men that do this) goes on the rampage and guns down innocent people at a school (or a shopping mall, or his place of work, or wherever) are we to blame every single American, all 300 million of them (even his victims) for such an attack?

Whenever these mass killings happen, does the media start asking whether all white / Christian / American men are to blame? Does Sky News, CNN, or even the BBC run a show asking if American doctrine is evil? No, of course not. When the killers look like “us”, they’re individual psychos. When they’re muslim (sorry, Murdoch, I mean moslem), then, wait a minute, aren’t all muslims the same?

And why did Murdoch misspell muslim? Remember Murdoch is an owner of a massive media empire and is likely to know how to spell Muslim. Spelling it in such a way indicates a derogatory attitude similar to someone writing negro, chinaman, queer, retard or and other out-dated racial / derogatory epithet.

Look, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and every other group that kills innocents are complete and utter bastards. But of course, you don’t need me to say that, but we should all look at the things our governments do that most of the media doesn’t cover. Check out Dirty Wars and tell me that the victims don’t have a grievance with the west…

To say that one race, religion, country, or whatever has more complete and utter bastards than whatever race, religion, country, or whatever you belong too is nonsense. There are horrible people doing horrible things all the time. But, you might say, the news is always full of muslims killing people. Well, that’s because in today’s media zeitgeist set up in the post-9/11 world, muslims are framed as the bad guys. It used to be the communists. In the future, it’ll be someone else.

(Cover image skanked from here)

The post How do you spell muslim? appeared first on Monkeyboy Goes.




Learn Korean in Record Time: 12 Simple Tips

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“How can I learn Korean fast?”

Fantastic question! It’s one we hear often. With the growing popularity of K-pop, Korean dramas, and people moving to Korea, more and more people are learning Korean.

There is no magic to language learning. Ask the best language learners, and they’ll tell you that it is because they put in the time.

However, there are things those fast learners do that they don’t tell you. It’s not that they’re hiding these secrets. They either don’t think about their habits, or assume that everyone operates this way.

They use simple strategies that yield amazing results in a short amount of time. Instead of simply adding more time, they make sure the time they do spend is maximized.

In short, the most outputs for the fewest inputs.

Ready to supercharge your Korean study habits? Here are 12 simple tips that you can use starting today!

1. Block Off Time Beforehand

Before you even open a book, decide how much time you will dedicate to learning each day, week, or month. Then, go to the calendar and block off that time. For example, if you’re planning on studying for one hour a day, then block off that time. This should be dedicated Korean study time, and nothing else. No email, text messaging, phone calls, TV, or music. Just you and the Korean alphabet.

2. Have a Notebook Nearby

While you’re focused on studying, distractions will come up. It’s inevitable. You need to send Mom a birthday gift. Your dog is depressed and needs a new sweater to cheer him up. Your spice rack needs to be put in alphabetical order.

As these things pop into your head, write them down and get back to studying. You can handle them once your study session is finished.

3. Build a Fortress

Your study area needs to be sacred. It should not be a place in the middle of the living room with the TV on, your roommates walking past you every 5 minutes, and your phone notifications buzzing non-stop.

Instead, it should be a comfortable and quiet area with no distractions. It doesn’t have to be a separate room, but it should be a specific section of your room. For example, you might want to block off a corner of your room with a desk and comfortable chair that is only used for getting work done. You should not be studying in your bed if it can be avoided. You don’t want to mix you sleep environment with your Korean study environment.

If you live with other people, find a way to minimize the chances of them disturbing you while you’re studying Korean. It could be as simple as closing the door or letting the other people know not to disturb you between certain times.

4. Stock Supplies

You want to make sure that you’re fully stocked up on the necessary supplies so you have no reason to avoid studying. Without question, you will have times where you won’t want to study. In those moments, it’s easy to find other activities that you “need” to get done. Maybe you need a new pen because yours is running out of ink. Or you might need a cup of coffee to help you power through since you didn’t sleep well the night before.

The key to avoiding these situations is to plan ahead and know what might derail your Korean study sessions. Keep a stock of pens, pencils, notebooks, paper, and any other items you might typically use while studying.

Keep your refrigerator and pantry packed with high quality food and snacks to fuel your body for maximum study effectiveness. Avoid high sugar snacks and drinks that will cause your energy levels to spike and dip too much. Instead, stock healthy food and drinks to keep you with a slow release of steady energy. Taking these few extra precautionary steps will help ensure that you learn Korean as fast as possible!

5. Clear All Distractions

This one will be painful for some, and almost impossible for others.

Turn your cell phone off.

Not vibrate, not ring once, but off.

Silent mode will also do, as long as you keep it face down.

Mobile phones are one of the biggest time wasters out there. It will quickly erode any progress you’re making, and it will cause your study sessions to seem ineffective.

Avoid this at all costs!

Some people may need to keep their phones on in case of an emergency. If that’s the case, make sure you set it up so you have the fewest distractions possible. For example, maybe you’re waiting for a phone call about a delivery you’re supposed to receive. In that case, you can set your phone to ring or vibrate. However, turn off all other notifications from social media sites, messengers, and email. Those messages and emails will still be there when you’re done studying, and likely nothing in that department is all that pressing.

This goes the same for any other alarms or notifications you may get. If you have alerts set up on you computer, make sure to turn them off so you can keep focused on your plan to learn Korean fast.

6. Utilize Free Time

If you take public transportation or you carpool, then you’ve got some golden time to help you learn Korean fast.

Instead of playing Anipang, Angry Birds, or Clash of Clans, put that time to use studying Korean.

While it’s true that it may be more challenging to study while standing on a crowded subway or bus, there are ways to utilize that time.

As long as you have enough room to move your thumb to touch your smartphone screen, then you always have a way to keep moving forward with your Korean studies.

One example of this is to use an SRS flash card system such as Anki so you can do vocabulary review while you’re commuting or traveling.

The great thing about using smartphone apps to learn Korean fast is that you can do them almost anywhere. So the next time you are waiting at the dentist office, standing in line at the post office, or waiting for a friend at the cafe, you can get in some Korean study time!

7. Cut and Paste Phrases

Some people like to study vocabulary words by reading sentences containing the word, and then recognizing the word by the context in the sentence.

For example, let’s say you want to learn the word for “subway” in Korean, which is “지하철”.

If you were doing flash cards, you could put “subway” on one side, and “지하철” on the other.

If you want to learn Korean fast, it’s best to have a variety of ways to study and identify the word. So you may want to make one card with just the word, as in the above example.

Then you should make another card with an entire sentence, where “지하철” is the only word you don’t know.

If you type in the word “subway” into Naver dictionary, then you come up to a page that looks like this:


Example sentences using the word “subway” in Korean
Source: Naver Dictionary

There are multiple sentences giving examples of the word “지하철”. You could find a sentence where you know all of the other words except for “지하철”. For example, maybe you already know the word “타다”, which means “to ride”.

In that case, you can copy and paste the sentence from Naver. So your flash card may look something like this:

Front: “지하철을 타다”

Back: “to ride/take the subway”

That way, the verb “타다” can clue you into the meaning of “지하철” if you’re not sure of it. Also, you can learn which verbs match up with which nouns. Another win!

8. Write It Down

Imagine this scenario: You go into a store in Korea to buy some mosquito repellent, and think to yourself “If I knew what to say, I would ask the store clerk in Korean”.

Have you had a similar situation?

Or maybe you took action. Possibly you were at a cafe, and you wanted to know the word for “paper cup”, so you looked it up in your Korean dictionary. Then you used it when you ordered your drink.

(Bravo for doing that, by the way. It’s a great way to learn Korean fast!)

Then you thought to yourself “I really need to memorize the word for ‘paper cup’”.

Well, that is the perfect opportunity to write it down! If these are words that you will likely use again, make sure you write them down somewhere or take a screenshot on your smartphone so you can add them to your flashcard deck later.

Then, when you sit down to study, you’ll have a nice stack of useful vocabulary words that you’ll be excited to study!

9. Prepare Phrases Beforehand

During your regular daily routine, think about what kind of interactions you have with Koreans.

Maybe it’s to order your favorite gimbap in the morning.

Or perhaps you often get phone calls from your delivery person when you make orders from Gmarket.

In those cases, you’ve got the perfect opportunity to practice your Korean!

Anticipate those situations, and learn the correct phrase that you will need to say. You can even write it down and read it directly from an index card.

This is helpful even if you already are speaking Korean regularly.

Switching up your routine will also grow your skillset.

Instead of ordering a hot americano at the cafe, try ordering a smoothie with ice.

Or instead of telling the delivery person to leave the package at your door, ask if it can be delivered tomorrow when you get home after 3pm.

Your Korean will improve quickly, and you’ll have a lot more fun using it.

10. Ask For Clarification

Learn this magical phrase to help you learn Korean fast:

“다시 말해 주세요”.

This means “please repeat that one more time”.

One of the common mistake that Korean learners make is to assume they understand what the other person has said.

It usually stems from embarrassment or shyness, but it’s not a good habit.

Instead, it’s much better to ask the other person to repeat what was said so you can get a solid understanding. It may be that your Korean friend has a unique accent, or that your friend is using a word that you’ve never heard before. In either case, you’ll be able to expand your vocabulary and listening ability simply by asking for clarification.

Plus learning Korean is way more fun when you understand what other people are saying!

11. Explain Away

One frustration that Korean learners experience is not being able to remember the correct word for what they want to say at the time they need it.

Or, they try saying a word, but their pronunciation is incorrect.

In either case, you aren’t able to express yourself properly.

Instead of throwing in the towel and resorting to dictionaries and hand gestures, a better strategy is to think of another way to explain what you’re trying to say.

In other words, if the direct route doesn’t work, go for an indirect route.

Maybe you say the word “wallet” (“지갑”), but your pronunciation is off. Rather than get frustrated that your Korean friend doesn’t understand, try instead saying “the place where you keep money, usually in your back pocket”.

Your friend will respond with “지갑!”.

Mystery solved, and you can continue on with your conversation.

How many different indirect routes should you take?

As many as you need to get your point across!

12. Correct Pronunciation

For native English speakers, the “으” vowel is one of the most challenging sounds to make. That is because the sound doesn’t normally occur in English, so we have to make special efforts to pronounce it correctly. Often times we can’t be sure we’re doing it correctly unless there is a native Korean speaker around to correct us.

It’s inevitable that you will make pronunciation mistakes. The key is to make the correction as soon as you can without getting frustrated.

If you use Tip #11, you can always explain your way into the words you’re trying to communicate. Once you’ve identified the word, practice it a few times, and ask your Korean friend to confirm that you are saying it correctly.

That way, you’ll be confident the next time you use that word.

Don’t feel alone on this issue. Koreans have the same situation with learning English. Ask them how they feel about the pronunciation difference between “survivor” and “survival”, and they’ll surely sympathize with your pronunciation challenges!


The people who learn Korean fast are the ones who put aside set time for studying and make that time as effective as possible.

You don’t have to use all 12 tips all at once. Try one, put it into action until it becomes a habit, and then go onto the next. You’ll be surprised at how much faster you’ll learn Korean by only doing a few small actions over time. And the faster you learn, the more you’ll be able to enjoy putting your Korean to use!

Photo Credit: Guudmorning! 

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5 ESL Games for All Levels and Ages

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As an ESL teacher working with middle school, high school, and adult students, I am always on the lookout for games that are fun and appropriate for a variety of skill levels and ages. Below is a collection of games that I’ve found to meet those standards! If you have any ideas of your own, questions, or feedback, feel free to leave them in the comment section!

1. Dots

IMG_1884Materials: Paper with pre-drawn dot grid, pens/pencils, dice

How to play: This two-person game is a variation on the regular “dot game,” where a grid of dots (with dimensions of your choosing) is printed on a piece of paper. Normally, players take turns drawing one line at a time each. When four lines are drawn and a square within the grid is completed, the person who completed the square “claims” it as their own by writing their initial in it. The objective is to claim more squares than your opponent by the end.

In this version, the objective is the same: to claim the most squares. The twist, though, is that before each person’s turn, he/she rolls the dice. Numbers 1-3 mean they can only draw one line. Numbers 4-6 mean they can drawn two lines, anywhere they like. Additionally, the number rolled with the dice is tied to certain vocabulary words. For example, when teaching adverbs of frequency, a 1 = “always,” 2 = “usually,” 3 = “often,” 4 = “sometimes,” 5 =”hardly ever,” and 6 =”never.” So before drawing the line(s), student must make a sentence that incorporates the vocabulary word. If you want to slow the game down, then you can eliminate the first dice rule. But I think it’s more interesting to leave it in. You could also pair students up into two-person teams. It’s very open-ended, so the vocab they use and the sentences they make should always be within their abilities.


  1. Player 1 rolls the dice.
  2. Player 1 makes a sentence with the corresponding vocab word.
  3. Player 1 draws one or two lines on the grid.
  4. Player 2 rolls the dice, makes a sentence and draws a line or two.
  5. When a square is completed, the player who completed it claims the square by writing his/her first initial.
  6. The player with the most squares at the end wins.

2. English Battleship

IMG_1886Materials: Battleship grid printed on paper, pens/pencils

*Disclaimer* So, I’ve never actually played battleship (and I have yet to try this game with my class), but in theory/my head it should work really well. Also, it may seem complicated, but once you understand it, the game actually becomes pretty repetitive/simple *End disclaimer*

How to play: In regular battleship, the goal is to sink all of your opponent’s ships. You do so by guessing the ship’s coordinates. If you guess correctly, the ship gets “hit” and sinks…right? Right. In ENGLISH battleship, the first step is to speak in a British accent. … Just kidding. The first step is to make a coordinates grid using target language/vocab. When I designed this game, I was planning a lesson on telling the time and talking about daily activities. So, on the horizontal axis, I had seven activities. And on the vertical axis, I made an hourly time table.

To play, students first randomly fill in one square per column (or choose one time of day for each activity). These seven filled-in squares are their “boats,” which their opponent will try to sink by guessing the correct time/”location.” To locate the boat, their opponent asks a series of 2 questions that involve words from the x and y axes: the first question tells them the general vacinity of the boat, giving them a 3-hour timeframe that narrows down where the boat is. Once they successfully find the general location of the boat, they move onto the second question, which is a precise guess at the exact location of the boat; their attempt to sink it. The player who sinks his/her opponent’s entire “fleet” first, wins.


  1. Fill in one square per column, designating your “boat” locations.
  2. Player 1 asks a general question, “Do you eat lunch around 12 pm?”
  3. Player 2 responds “Yes, I do,” or “No, I don’t.” A “yes” means their boat lies in the 11am, 12pm or 1pm windows of the “eat lunch” column. A “no” means their boat lies outside of the 11am-1pm timeframe.
  4. Player 2 asks a general question, “Do you _____ around ____am/pm?”
  5. Player 1 responds with a “yes” or “no.”
  6. Player 1 asks a specific question if their general question was successful. “Do you eat lunch at 11am?” If their general question failed before, they ask a different general question, “Do you eat lunch around 3pm?”
  7. Player 2 responds with a “yes” or “no.” If Player 1’s specific question is successful/correct, they have sunken Player 2’s ship! If the specific question is not correct/unsuccessful, then the ship is still out there, lying in the 12pm or 1 pm timeframe.
  8. Players can ask a specific question whenever they want, but it’s to their advantage to always ask a general question first. Good luck!

3. Slap the card

IMG_1730Materials: Flashcards with vocab words, as many as you like (though a minimum of 8 is best)

How to play: Print the vocab words onto flashcards and laminate them (the cards will take quite a beating after just one game…you’ll see why in a second). Divide students into groups of 4 or 5. Groups of 3 are ok, but not ideal.

With the cards lying face up on the table, students try to be the first person to hit the correct card upon hearing a given word. The “given word” might be the same word that is printed on the card, it could be an opposite, something that is related/similar to the word, a word that starts or ends with the same letter, etc. At first, the teacher is the one calling out the given word. But, once students get the hang of it, it works great to hand them the reigns and let them take turns calling out the word. Of course, when they are the “word caller” they don’t get to participate in the slapping. The person with the most cards at the end wins.

This game worked really well with all of my students (middle school, high school, and adults). They all go crazy over the competition/speed aspect.


  1. Lay the cards face up in the middle of the 4-5 person groups.
  2. Call out a given word.
  3. The student who slaps the card first, gets to keep it.
  4. Eventually allow students to call out the words.
  5. The person with the most cards at the end wins.

4. Jenga!

jengaMaterials: Jenga blocks, vocabulary/sentence sheet

How to play: Number the Jenga blocks 1-54, or however many blocks there are. Each block corresponds to a specific word or sentence written on a separate sheet of paper. When a student successfully removes a block, they must say the corresponding word/sentence, or create their own sentence. If your students have limited vocabulary or ability, feel free to double or triple up the words/sentences (e.g., numbers 1-5 belong to one word, numbers 6-10 belong to one word, etc).


1) Number the jenga blocks. 2) Create a corresponding vocabulary/sentence sheet (doubling/tripling up words, if necessary). 3) Play Jenga! Remove a block and say the corresponding word/sentence.

5. Tennis Vocab

GIF-Cats-watching-tennis-matchMaterials: None!

How to play: In pairs, students take turns firing off vocabulary words within a specific category or theme. The person who gets stumped or takes too long to come up with a response, loses. The winner gets a point. Most points over all, wins. You can do this with general vocabulary categories, or put a twist on it (e.g., gender opposites in family vocab [I say brother, you say sister; aunt, uncle; mother, father; etc], sinonyms or antonyms).

After students have played one-on-one for awhile, arrange them into two bigger teams for a “face-off.” Students still compete one-on-one, one pair at a time, but their performance/score goes towards that of the overall team. If need be, you can put a time limit on them as well (30 seconds or a minute). The team with the most points at the end, wins.


  1. Separate students into pairs.
  2. Give them a category or theme (family, clothes, feelings, food, colors, similes, opposites, words that start or rhyme with ____)
  3. When they get stumped or falter, the other person gets a point. Most points at the end, wins.
  4. Combine students into two large teams for a face-off.
  5. Same rules apply as before.
  6. Time limit optional.





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How to Improve Your Korean Listening

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This week we have a new Q&A episode, and I talk about how you can improve your listening skills in Korean.

If you have any questions of your own, feel free to send me a message either through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google, or anywhere you can find me, and it might be featured in the next episode. Your question can be about anything - Korean-related or not.

How to Improve Your Listening (Q&A #9)

And are you just starting to learn Korean, or want a solid review of the basics? Then my book "Korean Made Simple: A beginner's guide to learning the Korean language" is the book for you!

You can check the book out on my site here, or find it directly through Amazon and most online retailers.

Or if you've already started learning Korean and want to take your skills to the next level, check out my second book in the series, "Korean Made Simple 2: The next step in learning the Korean language."

You can check out the sequel here, or find it directly through Amazon and most online retailers.


 Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean





Deez Nuts: On Privilege, Apologies, and Cho Hyun-ah

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by Chris Tharp

I have to admit to reveling in the ongoing drama of “Nutgate,” in which then Korean Airlines vice president for cabin service Cho Hyun-ah threw a weapons grade conniption when, on a flight from New York to Seoul, an attendant in first class had the audacity to serve her macadamia nuts in the packet instead of upon a pristine plate. Not content just to dress the offending stewardess down, she unleashed a torrent of abuse upon the whole staff and ordered the taxiing plane back to the gate, where she had the chief purser ejected for dereliction of duty. Almost as puzzling as Ms. Cho’s seemingly cruel and petty outburst is the fact that pilot went along with her demand, breaking aviation safety law in a pathetic attempt to save his own ass. He knew better than to defy HER will. After all, her father, Cho Yang-ho, is the chairman of Hanjin, the conglomerate that owns Korean Airlines. Hyun-ah was  backed up by serious, hard power. If she was so willing to bounce the purser over a nut discrepancy, what fate could await a pilot who disobeyed a direct order from Her Highness? Knowing his place on the strata of Korean social power, the pilot bowed down his head and turned that plane the fuck around.

This story quickly went viral and is still being covered worldwide. Part of it is the absurdity of the narrative: Such a brouhaha over nuts, really? The whole affair seemed so silly and random, but the bullying behavior of the central antagonist colored it with a much darker hue. It shone a light on the seeming untouchability of the 1%, that not only do the uber-rich have all the money, but they consider themselves above the law. This especially tapped into the zeitgeist here in South Korea, where people have been watching the families of the nation’s chaebol (conglomerates) act like modern day aristocrats for decades now. Enough was enough, and it didn’t take long before liberals and conservatives alike were calling for Cho Hyun-ah’s head on a pike.

There is more than just the will to punish bad behavior going on here. We love a good villainess and are very willing to cast Ms. Cho in that role. Throughout my lifetime the media has periodically turned its lens onto those out-of-touch, wealthy women that we love to hate, fire-breathing female figures who live in diamond palaces and run roughshod over the help. Remember Leona Helmsely, aka “The Queen of Mean”? Zsa Zsa Gabor’s infamous slapping of the traffic cop? Or the racist outbursts Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Shott? Cho Hyun-ah is just another notorious woman crowned with the time-honored title of Megabitch. The fact that she’s Asian only ratchets it up to another level. Now she is no longer just a Megabitch, but a fully-fledged Dragon Lady. I haven’t seen a real-life Dragon Lady elicit such levels of vitriol since the days of Imelda Marcos. I wonder how many shoes Cho Hyun-ah owns?


None of this should come as too much of a surprise. After all, Ms. Cho’s English name is ‘Heather.’ Heather Cho. Anyone who grew up in the 1980’s can testify that pretty much any girl name Heather was considered to steeped in venom. This notion was so widespread at the time that they ended up making a hit movie about it. I wonder how Ms. Cho came upon that name. Did she choose it herself? Or, more likely, was it assigned to her by an English teacher who knew what made her tick?

Teacher: So… Hyun-ah. What English name would you like?

Hyun-ah: Hello teacher… I want to be called ‘Sunny.’

Teacher: ‘Sunny?’ Hmmm… let’s see… Oh, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news. That name’s already taken. We’re just going go ahead and call you ‘Heather,’ m’kay?

One thing I like about Korea is that if you’re a public figure and you really fuck up, you have crawl out in front of the whole nation and perform a giant mea culpa. There is no stonewalling, no subterfuge, no hiding behind layers of lawyers and publicists. You are forced to put one foot in front of the other and hike the walk of shame in front of a battalion of camera-wielding journalists, where, voice a-trembling, you repeatedly whisper ‘I’m sorry’ into a wall of microphones and then bow. I think this ritual of public contrition plays an essential role in a person’s rehabilitation while also serving the public’s need to stick the offending celebrity in the pillories and launch volley after volley of virtual tomatoes. Cho Hyun-ah did this just days after the whole incident went public, and something about it was immensely satisfying. There she was, in her stylish black jacket and grey scarf, strands of loose hair rakishly blowing over her seemingly makeup-free face, while she mumbled her apologies in a barely-audible sigh. The rest of us sat there smugly while she choked down spoonful after spoonful of steaming, fecal-flavored bibimbap for all the world to see. I was absolutely enraptured and never wanted it to end.


What’s even better was that her dad, Cho Yang-ho, apologized too. One of the richest men in the nation hauled himself in front of the cameras and confessed his heartfelt regret that he didn’t do a better job in raising her. I was both impressed and dumbfounded. Here we had a father taking responsibility for the behavior of his grown, 40-year old daughter, basically admitting to the fact that he had overindulged her growing up, recognizing that this may just have some bearing on her actions today.

Can you imagine if this happened back home? If the parents of our most awful citizens came forward and apologized on behalf of their spawn?

“On behalf of our family and the whole nation of Canada, I’d like to offer my most sincere apologies. It’s time I faced the fact that my son Justin is indeed a malignant, no-talent puddle of shit. We are very sorry for encouraging him to go into music, but even sorrier for having him in the first place.”

“We’d like to express regret for buying our daughter Paris a Caribbean island for her 8th birthday. We should have just gone with the pony.”

“Perhaps I shouldn’t have paved the way for Jr. to go into politics. It wasn’t prudent of me do to so, since it resulted in two illegal wars and a gutted economy for the benefit of his cronies. I’d like to apologize, but… screw it, let’s just keep blaming it all on the negro.”

The whole notion of parents apologizing for their adult kids is very Korean. Most Koreans take this idea of collective responsibility very seriously. North Korea takes it to the extreme, where several generations of one family will be thrown into the gulag over the supposed sins of just one member. But I’ve seen it here in South Korea, first hand. In 2007 a student massacred 32 people in a mass shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech in America. Early reports told us that the shooter was Asian, but for some time his exact ethnicity was unknown. Koreans were tight lipped on the story, presumably praying inside that the murderer was anything but Korean. Please Japanese. Please Japanese. When it turned out that he was indeed a Korean kid, for days I was subjected to deeply felt apologies from Korean friends, acquaintances, and students, with many of them directly apologizing on behalf of their entire nation.

“I am so sorry he was Korean. We are so ashamed.”

“It’s okay,” I’d say. “You don’t need to apologize. Really.

“But I am sorry.”

“What? Did you send him money to buy bullets?”


Cho Hyun-ah was detained on December 30th and is now holed up in a cold, South Korean jail. She has been indicted on five different charges and faces up to 15 years in prison for her nut meltdown. Her father stripped her of all her positions within Hanjin’s companies, and seems very willing to sacrifice her onto the pyre of public outrage. I wonder how long it is before they brand the word BITCH into her back with a hot iron and force her walk to walk naked through the freezing streets of Seoul. She’s getting her commupance and then some, but I have to admit that I actually feel sorry for her. The satisfaction that so many of us get by knowing that she is suffering is not an attractive human emotion. It’s ugly, because at times we’ve all been terrible people. Our willingness to spit in Ms. Cho’s disgraced face runs counter to Christ’s “Let him who has not sinned cast the first stone,” which you don’t have to be a Christian to recognize as one of his finest moments. That was also a situation involving a very unpopular woman. Hmmm… I sense a pattern here.

Spurned by the public, fired from her jobs, abandoned by her father, facing hard time… what’s a former heiress to do? Well she’ll have to serve whatever sentence is handed down, but when she comes out, I have a business idea I’d like to pitch her way: I think she should open an S & M dungeon. Just picture it: The whole thing is done up like the first class cabin of a jumbo jet. She is dressed in a skin-tight PVC catsuit, along with an Nazi SS cap and patch over one eye. She sits, legs crossed, in an airline seat and carries a bullwhip. The slave is lead in on a leash. He wears a chief purser’s uniform with the whole of the crotch cut out. A leather gimp mask covers his face. A ball gag occupies the cavity of his mouth. A butt plug in the shape of a miniature Boeing 747 is rammed deep into the recesses of his ass. In his trembling hands is a pack of macadamia nuts. At Madam Cho’s feet is a plate made of the purest white porcelain.

“It puts the nuts on the plate.”


“It puts the nuts on the plate.”



This works for me. Maybe it will for her as well. After all, doesn’t everyone deserve a shot at redemption?





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