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We take on the Tim Tam Slam Challenge! Strange and delicious.
I’ve been teaching in Korea for three years as I write this. I’m living what many people look forward to or can only dream about.
So many look for adventure after college and find Korea to be a great destination. Others, like myself, have decided to take a detour in life and live abroad while we still have the chance.
All of us, all of you, before coming to Korea or sitting at home as you read this looked at all the blogs and colorful HD pictures in them.
We watched the YouTube video adventures.
We looked at things that were related to what we were interested in, whether it be K-pop culture or things that would support our vision of what Korea is in our minds.
Living and teaching in Korea IS like what we see online. It IS how we imagined things before setting foot here. At the same time, however, it also IS NOT.
So, what is it like to teach English in Korea? After three years I think I can sum it up in one brief sentence:
Teaching English in Korea is life.
That’s it. You’re doing life as you would anywhere, but in the R.O.K.
You get up in the morning and drink a cup of coffee. Take a shower. Get ready and go to work. Teach. Eat lunch. Go home. Chat online all day. Grab a workout. Eat. Go to bed. Start the next day.
It’s been a fantastic experience for me on so many levels. I’ve realized a new direction in life with teaching ESL. I’ve experienced Korea first hand. I started this blog and my YouTube channel that helped me interact with many people around the world. And it’s given me a hope for things to come whether it’s here in Korea, in another country, or even back home.
Therein lies the rub.
When is it the right time to move on to those next phases?
I’ve been doing some ongoing chats through video with Steve Miller (aka QiRanger) called “KAM Chats”. It’s an acronym for “Korea And More”. Steve has been in Korea for five or six years now and seems to have come to a crossroad where he feels it’s time to decide what direction to take in his life with regards to teaching.
This KAM Chat has also brought to mind the same question for myself. When is it time to move on and what are the next steps?
This type of move begs many questions and depends on many variables. It’s important to look at the situation from both the outside as well as your own perspective. You have to ask yourself where you want to live and do life, as I mentioned earlier. What role does money play in the equation and how much do you require to feel secure?
Did you go and get married while living abroad? This is a separate subject in and of itself. Some guys really look forward to meeting that woman of their dreams to settle down with, but it opens a whole new can of worms. I’m grateful at this time that I didn’t take that plunge here in Korea.
My current contract ends in February of 2015 which will mark three and a half years. I’m looking forward to finding out what my options are in the next six months. Where will I be after I’ve decided to move on?
See My Videos on Youtube!
Julio Mexican Cuisine in Gangnam, Seoul has the best Mexican food in Korea. I would argue that it’s some of the best Mexican food I’ve had anywhere. Every time I’ve gone, they’ve been really busy, and I usually have to wait at least ten minutes to be seated —but it’s so worth it. The food is just amazing, and the service is on point. The tacos are definitely my favorite.
I have been told that there are two more restaurants, one in Hongdae and another in Jongno, but I have never been there.
Directions: Gangnam Subway Station, Exit 11. Take a right at the Papa John’s sign. Keep walking and the restaurant will be on your right.
Address: 강남구 역삼동 619-1 강남역본점
About the girl
Thank you so much for visiting and reading.
Classical Chinese Poetry and Prose Stories
- Title: 한시와 한문이야기 (Classical Chinese Poetry and Prose Stories)
- Authors: Yi Gweonjae (李權宰, 이권재), Professor at Korea University
- Publisher: Korean Studies Information (한국학술정보)
- ISBN: 978-89-268-3943-0
- Price: 15,000 Won
- Language: Korean and Classical Chinese original text
- Pages: 362
I have never received any formal education in Classical Chinese (漢文, 한문). Although I had some help from a few of my relatives that had some exposure, I learned the language largely by myself from various Korean books. I first started learning Chinese characters in elementary school in Korea through rote memorization, copying one character every morning one hundred times. Sometime later, after having moved to America, I decided that I would go a step further, and began to Rosetta Stone my way through Classical Chinese by reading Confucian classics with parallel original text and Korean translation and attempting to deduce the language’s grammar from the translation. (I do not recommend this.) Until a few years ago, I had no clue that Classical Chinese was still taught in middle and high schools in Korea as an elective or that it has been one of the “secondary foreign languages” that students could take on the Korean College Scholastic Ability Test (修能, 수능) since 2005. I was curious at what textbooks and materials Korean students used, and obtained Hanshiwa Hanmun Iyagi (한시와 한문이야기), or in English Classical Chinese Poetry and Prose Stories, to get a glimpse of Classical Chinese education in Korea.
The book contains materials from 10 different Classical Chinese textbooks. There are 210 lessons or excerpts in the book that are divided into two sections. The first section has 80 lessons on poetry. The second section has 130 lessons on prose.
1. Classical Chinese Poetry
The first ten pages or so give a very high overview of the rules of Recent Style Poetry (近體詩, 근체시), summarizing the tonal meters (平仄譜, 평측보) and rimes (韻, 운). The rest of the section are lessons on a wide selection of poetry. Each lesson has the original text with Korean grammatical markers called Hyeonto (懸吐, 현토), a Korean translation, annotations about some of the words used in the original text, biographical information about the poet, and historical context.
All the poems are pentasyllabic (五言, 오언) or heptasyllabic (七言, 칠언), either of the Recent Style or Archaic Style (古體詩, 고체시). Approximately three-fourths are from Korean poets, most of whom are from the Chosun Dynasty period (朝鮮, 조선, 1392-1905), but a few from the Three Kingdoms Period (三國時代, 삼국시대, 57BC-668AD) and Goryeo Dynasty (高麗, 고려, 918-1392), and even some from the Japanese colonial era (日帝强占期, 일제강점기, 1905-1945). Although most of the poets were — not surprisingly — learned Yangban (兩班, 양반) men, many were women, either from courtesans (妓生, 기생) or noblewomen, and commoners (委巷, 위항). As for Chinese poets, almost all are from the Tang Dynasty (唐, 당, 618-907), including the famous Li Bai (李白, 이백, 701-762), Du Fu (杜甫, 두보, 712-770), Bai Juyi (白居易, 백거이, 772-846) and Wang Wei (王維, 왕유, 699-759).
2. Classical Chinese Prose
The Classical Chinese prose section is in the same format as the poetry section. Roughly seven-eighths of the passages are from Korean authors, the majority of which are from the Chosun Dynasty but a few from the Goryeo Dynasty period and Japanese colonial era. The prose were from a wide variety of subjects. Here is a listing of a few of them:
- Histories: Samguk Sagi (三國史記, 삼국사기), Samguk Yusa (三國遺史, 삼국유사), Balhaego (渤海考, 발해고), and Dongguk Tonggam (東國通鑑, 동국통감).
- Children’s texts: Dongmong Seonseup (童蒙先習, 동몽선습), Gyeokmong Yogyeol (擊夢要訣, 격몽요결), Haedong Sohak (海東小學, 해동소학), Monghak Hanmun Chogye (蒙學漢文初階, 몽학한문초계), and Sohak Hanmun Dokbon (小學漢文讀本, 소학한문독본).
- Novels: Geum’o Shinhwa (金鰲新話, 금오신화), Heosaengjeon (許生傳, 허생전), and Hanmun Chunhyangjeon (漢文春香傳, 한문춘향전).
There were also a number of works from Chinese sources, the majority of which were philosophical texts or histories. The following is a list of some of the texts excerpted:
- Philosophical texts: Analects (論語, 논어), Mencius (孟子, 맹자), Xunzi (荀子, 순자), Hanfeizi (韓非子, 한비자), Zhuangzi (莊子, 장자), Liezi (列子, 열자), and Elementary Learning (小學, 소학).
- Histories: Records of the Grand Historian (史記, 사기), Records of the Three Kingdoms (三國志, 삼국지), Book of Later Han (後漢書, 후한서), Lü’s Annals of Spring and Autumn (呂氏春秋, 여씨춘추), and Eighteen Concise Histories (十八史略, 십팔사략).
As someone who learned the Classical Chinese through Korean but outside the Korean education system, I am not too familiar on all the details of Classical Chinese education back in Korea. I do hope this that this book review gave some insight. Assuming that this book is representative of how students learn the language, I do have a few comments. It is understandable that the vast majority of the works cited are from Korean sources, because it is after all Korea. It was quite delightful to see early modern era sources. The other resources I have often cite Korean sources, but not to this degree; they vary anywhere between almost none to two-thirds roughly. For the poetry section, conspicuously missing are poems that are not either heptasyllabic or pentasyllabic. It might be more beneficial to have a few Chu Songs (楚辭, 초사) or quadsyllabic poems (四言, 사언) in the style of the Classic of Poetry (詩經, 시경). Another beneficial addition would be to have more grammar lessons. An understanding of grammar is not only standard for learning any language, but necessary for its quick comprehension.
Tourists, travel bloggers, K-Pop enthusiasts and all you lovely people of the Internet: This is Fred Colton, intrepid armchair anthropologist, reporting live from the main drag of Seoul’s famed Itaewon district at 11:45 on a Saturday night.
I’m en route to tonight’s hotspot of choice (more on that in a moment), making a casual traverse along a low, curving canyon of bars with names such as Geckos and SinBin and clubs with names like Cake Shop and Pet Sounds. This region is bracketed from the west by both a mosque and the notorious Hooker Hill, while a US Army Garrison rests down the slope to the east. Some off-duty soldiers hustle past me in a tight pack, trying to get back on base before curfew. Hmm, now wait a tick. These gentlemen don’t look like Muslims leaving prayer time. I’d give you two guesses as to where they just left, but you’re only gonna need one.
This is Itaewon. A paradox, an urban anomaly nestled in the shadow of Seoul’s Namsan Mountain. I use the word “paradox” because the nearby HBC (Haebangchon) neighborhood features tony villas leased by Russian expats, situated directly next to rows of scummy flats that you can pay cash to rent if you’re on the lam. I use the word “paradox” because the joint I’m passing on the right is a high-roller establishment with uniformed staff and velvet ropes fit for a behind-closed-doors mafia powwow, and it’s situated directly next to a grubby little dive that looks like where Han shot Greedo.
Ah, Itaewon. Den of vice, foreigner’s shopping mecca, international hub. Itaewon is the wreckage you get when you throw a dozen different cultures on converging tracks and ram them all into each other at high speed. So this neon-lit scene is thick with expats, hailing from every country you’ve ever heard of and all the ones you haven’t. Globetrotters who aren’t so keen on kimchi and mandoo and therefore treat Itaewon as their cafeteria, wandering the steep cobblestone alleys in search of shawarma, braai barbeque, or copious amounts of Guinness on tap.
The sidewalk is jammed with carts manned by Itaewon’s resident platoon of entrepreneurial ajummas, hawking panda socks and boxer shorts with Korean money printed on them. It’s a congested setting fit for a frantic, shaky-cam Bond movie foot chase. Somewhere beneath my feet, hundreds of twentysomething Koreans are awkwardly bopping to EDM in subterranean nightclubs. But that’s not where I’m heading tonight, no sir. Tonight, I’m turning it up a notch. Tonight, I’m heading to the best show in town.
Up ahead, there’s a massive sculpture of a dog head on the rooftop of a Thai massage place, sticking its tongue out at me. I enter a 7-11 and purchase a tall boy of OB Lager, Korea’s rough equivalent of Miller Lite. Then I move outside and post up in of the plastic chairs on the sidewalk. No, this isn’t the pregame. This is the game. I’ve arrived at the hotspot.
I crack open the OB and rub my hands together. Time to watch the parade. The parade in question is, of course, the Archetype Parade.
* * *
You’ve never done people watching like I’m about to do it. Itaewon is a microcosm of the planet’s misfits. You can see all makes and models of homo sapiens here. Drifters and rejects from every corner of the globe, finding comfort in this anonymous chaos. This variety makes Itaewon as close to a futuristic spaceport as we currently have on this planet. And in the future, when it actually is a spaceport, I don’t expect it to change all that much.
-May I have your attention please, ladies and gents, he’s here! Please welcome our first archetype of the night: the NMK (New Money Korean). As Korea’s economy booms along nicely and the won strengthens against the dollar, the NMKs are spawning quickly. This NMK is easily identified by his calf skin man purse (with the price tag still on it) and the popped collar on his multi-colored Gucci polo. Those already accustomed to premium polos know not to do this, but this guy just can’t help it. He’s so new to money, in fact, he doesn’t even know where to flash it yet. I know this because he’s trying to party here, in Itaewon, rather than Gangnam, the baller capital of the capital, the epicenter of conspicuous consumption.
He was just the opening act. Itaewon is just warming up. I take a pull of OB and continue to speculate on the backstories of the passersby.
-Ah, here’s a common sight. Two SCOINs (Shady Characters of Indiscriminate Nationality) stalking by with their hoods up. I’ll bet you 10,000 won these fellows are laying low in Itaewon because there’s an outstanding warrant out for them in their homeland.
-Next up, a gang of KCMs (Korean Christian Missionaries) wearing sandwich boards and shouting into megaphones. Hm, they’re mobile tonight, going fishing. Are there conversion quotas at their church? Normally they just clump over on the sidewalk by exit 4 of the subway. As they draw closer I slump in my chair and affect the blacked-out pose of a soju addict.
Then I pull out a bingo card I that designed, printed, and laminated during office hours at my school (don’t you get bored, too?) and check off my spottings so far. I’m waiting here for some friends and—call me retro, old-fashioned, grandpa, whatever—but I don’t need a smartphone to pass the time. Like I said: this is the best show in town. The archetypes keep on coming, dispersed almost equally, as if being nudged down a catwalk by a stage hand.
-It must be quitting time for the ajeossi who sells tailored suits by the nearby the What the Book? store. He floats by, wrapped in a cloud of cigarette smoke so thick I can’t tell what color his jacket is.
-Ah, here we are, folks. My personal favorite. The power couple, the dynamic duo. We have a JQE (Mr. John Q. Expat) who is 56 years of age and weighs in at 220 pounds, and is living the Asian Dream. He’s gliding along, arm-in-arm with a KYK (Ms. Kim Y. Korean) who is 28 and, thanks to genetics and daily yoga, will never in her life weigh even an ounce over 110.
See, John is bald and he sweats a lot. He took a beating in the divorce, so he sold his Camry and bought a one-way ticket to Korea and it was the best move he ever made. I’m happy for them both. I never judge when I see a JQE out and about. This is because I like living abroad, maybe too much, and unless I hightail it home tonight and kiss enough derriere to get an underpaid position at CubicleWorld, morphing into a John Q. Expat is my eventual destiny. Good to see that there’s hope. I take another sip of OB and grimace slightly as I realize that if the typical JQE pattern holds true for me, my future spouse won’t even be born for another two years. Maybe those are her parents over there, the…
-HKCS (Horny Korean College Students) holding hands, suppressing their giggling and trying to act like they’re not scouting for a love motel.
Whoa, hold up, now. Oh God, this is too good. Just when I thought it could get no better, Itaewon pulled out the big guns…
-At this juncture we are treated to three GEPs (Ghosts of Expats Past). Americans guys, in tank tops and visors. Fresh-off-the-boat bros, recent university graduates who suffered a hard crash landing after tumbling down from the boozy heights of the fratmosphere. Finding Reality to be about as much fun as inserting a catheter, they Googled TEACH ENGLISH ABROAD!!! (in all caps) in a last-ditch attempt to keep the party going. They’re still ecstatic to be here; the enthusiasm in their eyes has yet to be snuffed out by the crushing monotony waiting for them within the walls of a hagwon. By the way, you’re walking the wrong way, guys. Hooker Hill is behind you.
-And lastly but not leastly, two women who need neither an introduction nor an acronym. Two trollops, clip-clopping past, precariously perched atop the Mt. Everest of high heels, figures contained by cocktail dresses the size of hand towels. Let’s stop beating around the bush and just call it how we see it: they’re ladies of the night, making the commute over to Hooker Hill. But here’s the real question: are they 100% honest-to-goodness, all-natural hookers, or are they actually ladyboys? I’m not an expert. I don’t know the answer to that. But I advise you not to go all-in with your bets when you guess. Itaewon is nothing if not full of surprises.
The clock strikes twelve. My OB is drained and I tuck the archetype bingo card in my pocket. That was fun. I think I’ll start selling these cards soon (specifically tailored for any city in the world—yes, I take requests) and make my millions that way.
I rise to meet my confederates, who have just arrived on the last train into the city.
* * *
Addendum: Inner monologue of an aspiring Korean writer who lives in HBC (translated for your convenience):
“I’m walking along Itaewon-ro with a bottle of soju in my hand, taking mental notes of the characters I see as I search for inspiration.
Up first: a young Western expat drinking cheap beer in front of the 7-11, leering at two prostitutes walking by. He stands up a moment after they pass and then heads in same direction as them. So typical of these droves of young, unemployable foreigners, who can’t find good girls to marry in their home countries.
Oh, look. A text from my wife. She’s wondering where I am, so late on a Saturday. Sigh, I think she wants to have sex tonight. I’m over it, though. By now it’s clear she just married me so she could procreate. That much is clear. I keep telling her, now is not a good time for a child. My book sales are slow. I say let’s wait two years, when my finances are set, and have a child then. She wants a girl. I think a girl would be nice.”
With 70% of Korea covered in mountains, hiking is a major weekend activit … http://p.ost.im/Njjxwc
I’m writing a series for the Free Word Centre. This lovely, London-based bunch describe themselves as ‘a centre for literature, literacy and free expression in the world’ and aim to develop projects that ‘explore the transformative power of words.’ Basically, they go about sprinkling joy into the world and you can check them out here:
My wee contribution to this is a series called Adventures in Korean about my attempts at learning the language and the links I’ve discovered between it and Korean culture in the process.
You can check out Adventures in Korean here - I’d love to know your thoughts!
Wanderings and Ramblings of an ESL teacher currently based in a tiny mountain town near the North Korean border.
The Creator of the Cheontae Order, Uicheon (1055-1101)
Hello Again Everyone!!
This is the seventh installment on prominent Korean monks. This time, I thought I would talk about the royal monk, Uicheon, who helped found the Cheontae Order of Korean Buddhism.
Uicheon was born the fourth son of King Munjong (r. 1046-1083), which was during the early part of the Goryeo Dynasty. And while Uicheon was a royal prince, he devoted himself to Buddhism and Buddhist scholarship. He did this by collecting various scriptures. Amazingly, Uicheon became the head of the Buddhist seungga (community) at the very early age of 13.
In 1085, at the age of 30, Uicheon boarded a boat bound for China. And while he was well versed in Buddhist doctrine, he believed that he could still advance his studies by traveling to China. In total, he stayed for 14 months. While there, he met and consulted with some fifty leading masters of Buddhism from varying sects. While in China, he studied at Hiuyan Temple in the city of Hangzhou with the monk Jingyuan (1011-1088).
When Uicheon returned to Korea, he became the spiritual master of Heunggwangsa Temple. During his time at this temple, he successfully brought both Gyo (doctrinal Buddhism) and Seon (meditative Buddhism) together under the inclusive Cheontae-jong (“Heavenly Platform Buddhism,” in English) Order of Korean Buddhism. With royal financing, as well as influence, Uicheon collected various Buddhist scriptures and organized them in a palace library in the city of Gaeseong.
Sadly, Uicheon passed away in 1101. Upon his death, he was given the honourific name of Daegak-guksa: Daegak meaning “Grand Enlightenment,” while guksa means “national preceptor.”
The Cheontae Buddhist Order sign.