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Live the movies!

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I am a Geminian. Colorful dreams and vivid imagination are a mandatory part of my package. Books and movies have been the vessels of transportation by which I have become a princess living in a castle, an adventuress discovering new treasures in uncharted places, and also by which I take a peek at the luxuries ways of the world. Airbnb, I believe, is about to transform all my fantasies into reality!
If you like movies and living the movies or if you are thinking of travelling for your vacation, you can get Rs.1,500 off on your rentals for your next vacation anywhere in the world through my link here.

Lady of Pemberly

Count me in. Even for a day, I would love to live in an English Castle in the countryside like the one described in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It would be a dream come true to walk the estates, sleep in the four poster bed, feel the stone walls, to be waited upon and have a ball at that place! Will the dreamy Darcy be included in the deal, do you think?

An English Castle ~ Pemberly Style
An English Castle ~ Pemberly Style is first on my list

Swiss Family Robinson or Robinson Crusoe inspired : Private Island

All the comforts of the home with a bit of adventure and stunning views! I could immensely enjoy solitude of a private island living for a week  or even more, drinking in the peace, watching the world move by.

Private island living~ Robinson Crusoe style but with the comforts of home
Private island living~ Robinson Crusoe style but with the comforts of home

Titanic Luxury

What could be better than spending a few days rollicking in the sun and blue waters, reliving the luxury of a private yacht in the Titanic style (skipping the tragedy at the end, of course)? Sharing the luxury with the soul-mate, of course!

Titanic Luxury
Titanic Luxury

Hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

It is not a dirty wet hole, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole (~from The Hobbit). With perfectly round doors, ample space and comfort within, overlooking a meadow, sloping towards the river. Very similar to the hobbit-holes portrayed in The Hobbit and the LOTR movies, this place cannot be missed by its true blue fan!

Hobbit-hole, and that means comfort
Hobbit-hole, and that means comfort

Ewok's Nest

Remember the cute little teddy bear creatures in StarWars VI with whose help Leia and Han Solo overpower the clones to destroy the shield generator of the Death Star? They lived in such cute little nests up in the trees! I would love to live high up in the air, catch in the first drop of the rain, take in the first rays of the sun, wake up listening to the call of the birds, surrounded by lush green vegetation!

Ewok's nest
Ewok's nest

Now to live the life in the movies... Thank you Airbnb.
Check out my list: Live the movies
My referral link for you to get discounted rates: My Referral link

This is an entry to the Indiblogger Happyhours #AirbnbWishList
All the pictures used are from Airbnb.

The Reasons I Left Korea

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Faisal Akram (

I'm back!!  It's been nearly 4 months without a single post, but I have been busy trying to settle into life in a new country, Australia, so give me a break.  To be honest, compared to living in Korea, it is just like living in England just a bit sunnier, more laid back, and with barbecues everywhere.

So why did I leave Korea?  I had a decent job that I liked, a very comfortable existence, was saving money and had lots of free time.  In recent months I have had times where I thought, "Jees, what am I doing?", especially as I have had to fork out quite a lot of my saved cash in tuition fees and work very hard here in Oz.  Here are my reasons:
1. The English Teaching Went Stale

I remember how keen I was to teach when I started my High school teaching job, I gave it everything and I was so creative in my lesson planning.  I enjoyed going to work, in fact I'd even turn up 45 minutes early everyday!  By the middle of my third year however, I was getting lazy and irritable, the challenge had gone and I was working off old lesson plans.  Everything, including the lessons themselves became less enjoyable. It was time to move on.  On top of this, could I ever be anything but an English teacher in South Korea?

2. Disappearing Friends

A friend of mine commented on Facebook the other day something along the lines of, "another year in Korea and the friend count continues to fall."  This is very true.  If you stay for a year or two, you make loads of new friends and keep your old ones, if you stay for longer, the new friends leave and you're out of sight, out of mind to your friends at home.  For me, I am always looking for new experiences and England has grown stale also, so it is with great regret that I have distanced myself from friends back home.  In Australia, I can at least make friends through my sports and there is less of a cultural barrier as well.

3. I was Becoming too Immersed in the World of the Internet

This blog was partly to blame for this, but also the nature of my job and Korea as a whole.  Too many spare hours on the computer at work sent me into a world that isn't quite as it seems, where faux outrage, trolling and political correctness reign absurdly supreme and debates always end on a sour note due to implied aggressive tone and the lack of a human face (or even a real name) to hold each person back.

I was afraid, frankly, of becoming one sad bastard who spends hours arguing with morons and reading other people's worthless blogs (I can see the irony, really), looking for something to blog about.  Live in the world of the internet for too long and you forget what the real world is all about, and that it is much better to live in.

It isn't all negative; I grew a much thicker skin, discovered the very real problem of political correctness for myself, and most importantly created something.  That something might only be a shitty opinionated blog, but I think it is important to have an outlet, to produce something, which is a large part of why I'm writing this post now.  What it means is that posts on this blog will be far less frequent than in the past, but that this site is not dead!!!

4. Something New, but not so Stressful

What can I say, I get bored easily these days, both with jobs and the places I live.  I want to see the world before I die and experience many different countries and cultures.  However, I want to live in these new worlds and not simply pass through them.

Korea is a place I am sure I will return to - I have family here after all - but for now the spice has gone and too many things were rubbing me up the wrong way, a long break was needed. When I do return, it will be to study Korean first, as my lack of fluency in the language is probably my biggest regret in my time living there, even though I could get by OK, I just couldn't have very deep conversations.  When I can speak properly, I can argue with Koreans in their own language and that'll be really interesting!

Australia is somewhere different, but not too different.  It's a taste of home, but with kangaroos, Koalas, and possums!!


5. Too Easy

The above is one of my favourite Aussie sayings I hear a lot over here, so I thought I drop it in to describe how I felt in Korea in general.  Soooo comfortable my life had become.  I have never been happy being comfortable; when it lasts for too long it becomes a rut, a furrow in the path so deep that it becomes impossible to blaze a new trail and go to new, exciting places, both literally and metaphorically. Through discomfort, the challenge of something new, and associating myself with new people, I have learned and achieved a lot and gained great life satisfaction in the process.  Korea was certainly this way for a time, but all good things must come to an end.

6. Freedom!!!

There was always the feeling of constraint in Korean society, the feeling that I couldn't really do and say what I wanted.  I couldn't just be me and be accepted by Korea, I would never be accepted that way, I would have to conform.  To be fair I have felt this way in England as well, but the flavour of it in Korea was certainly sharper and more pronounced.  I even felt pressure to not voice my opinions on this blog, so I often held back (believe it or not).  I believe my blog was censored by Busan's Ministry of Education (according to a chap on Asiapundits).  I felt like I was one blog post away from getting in trouble. I say that, but just as I was leaving, I kept on getting requests to join radio debates in Seoul (had to keep refusing, but I did one on the phone about the Sewol disaster and safety), so someone must have been reading and thinking I had some valid points or at least a debatable opposing view.  Perhaps I was just being paranoid and that actually I was one step away from recognition as a truly insightful blogger on Korea (could be dreaming on that one).

Note: Stay tuned for some more perspectives on Korea, except now from the outside looking back in; I guess I am still on the inside in a way, as I have family, so the blog title can stay the same.


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This post is a part of the #WillYouShave activity at Blogadda in association with Gillette.

This cute teenage boy I know, who had recently sprouted more than-the-average-amount of facial hair, was flummoxed. He was trying to conduct the games at his little brother's birthday party. Last year his party games were a big hit with the 5 year olds thronging for his attention and enjoying every minute of the party games, even refusing to go home. This year, his cracked voice was not making any kind of impact on the kids. They were totally wild and distracted. As he was striving to get their attention, I noticed one little girl crying to her mother in the corner. As I go near her, I hear her say, "Where is Darshu Anna(brother)? Why is this uncle boring us?".

My heart heavy, I resolve to turn the tables for the Darshu, the furry yet sweet teenage boy. Mustering as much innocence as I could, I ask my husband why this handsome yet bristly teenage boy was sporting so much stubble giving him a scraggy, shaggy and shabby look. Before he could answer, I coax him to share his secret of smooth-as-a-baby's-butt face. Bursting out with joy and pride, he walks straight towards the disconcerted, hairy teenage boy.

"Ok, kids! Cake time!" cries my careless husband, much to the bewilderment of the hostess and pulls the nice yet stubbly teenage boy aside. "You want to play in the big league from now on, my friend, " he says, "you better get ready for it! I recommend Gillette." And, walks straight away to try the cake.

Few days later, I notice the clean shaven, smart teenage boy at a potluck luncheon, merrily chatting with his friends. It was obvious that he was getting favorable attention from the pretty girls around as well.

Later on, when the little ones were cranky just when the adults were trying to fall into the daze induced by good food and great company, my husband calls out to the smooth faced, well groomed teenage boy. "Darshu, why not conduct some games for the kids?", which sent the kids to a joyous spree. "Sure uncle, not a problem. I can manage the little kids as well as the big sharks", said the confident young man.

IPLgeek, TangyTomatoTwist, I nominate you to take up the Gillette challenge. Enjoy! Read the contest rules here.

Wonhyoam Hermitage – 원효암 (Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The view from behind the main hall at Wonhyoam Hermitage in Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located on the far eastern slopes of Mt. Palgongsan, tucked away in a valley fold, lies Wonhyoam Hermitage (which should not be confused with the more famous Wonhyoam Hermitages in Busan or Yangsan).

Up a zig-zagging road, you’ll finally come to a ledge that acts as the hermitage’s parking lot. It’s just past a sandy cliff that you’ll arrive at Wonhyoam Hermitage. When you first approach the diminutive hermitage, you’ll notice the amazing views from the valley below.

When you get your fill of the views, you’ll first encounter an old storage shed that must be several hundred years old and is still used to the present day. After circumnavigating this natural wood building, you’ll find yourself face-to-face with the beautiful new main hall. The exterior walls to this hall are decorated with some of the more beautiful Shimu-do murals in all of Korea. As for the interior, and housed upon the main altar, sits a solitary statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). To the right and left of the main altar are two red murals. One of these murals is the guardian mural, while the other is dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).

Just past the hermitage’s kitchen and dorms, and slightly up an embankment, sits the temple’s Sanshin/Dokseong-gak. This shaman shrine hall houses a very impressive Sanshin mural. The elderly looking Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) is standing on a ledge with a staff firmly in hand. He is joined by a dongja (assistant) and arguably either Sanshin’s wife, a female Sanshin, or simply another dongja. This painting is joined to the right by an older style Dokseong mural.

The entire hermitage, especially in the fall, is beautifully framed by colourful autumnal hues.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Gyeongsan Intercity Bus Terminal, you can catch Bus #803. After 64 stops, you can get off at the Solmaegi stop. You’ll need to walk an additional 15 minutes to get to the hermitage.

OVERALL RATING: 4/10. Wonhyoam Hermitage, like the other Wonhyoam Hermitages in Korea, is beautifully, but remotely, located. Because of its remoteness, it is serenely located. In addition to its beautiful location and views, Wonhyoam Hermitage has one of the most masterfully executed murals dedicated to Sanshin in Korea. So if you have the time, and you’re up for the hike along Mt. Palgongsan, you should make Wonhyoam Hermitage a stop along your way.


The view from the hermitage parking lot.


The amazing view as you first approach Wonhyoam Hermitage.


The old storage building at the hermitage.


The main hall at Wonhyoam Hermitage.


A beautiful Shimu-do mural that decorates the main hall.


A look inside the main hall at Amita-bul on the main altar.


The guardian mural also housed inside the main hall.


The intricately painted main hall.

CSC_0758 - 복사본

The plainly painted Sanshin/Dokseong-gak.


The view from the shaman shrine hall.


The Sanshin mural.


The older Dokseong mural.


A look around the main hall at some of the fall colours.

The post Wonhyoam Hermitage – 원효암 (Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do) appeared first on Dale's Korean Temple Adventures.

Wash Away the Winter Blues at Seoul's SK-II Boutique Spa

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If the recent drop in temperatures and merciless wind are any indication of what's to come this winter, we're in for a long, cold season. And if you're like me, this weather is anything but enjoyable. Between the incessant time spent inside and the pain endured in the frigid outdoors while in transit, coming down with a case of the winter blues is almost always inevitable.

Contrary to popular belief, however, there is a cure which does not require a prescription. All one simply needs to do is to head down to SK-II Boutique Spa for a truly healing experience.

The therapists at SK-II are far better (and friendlier) than any doctor I've ever paid a visit to and this becomes apparent immediately upon entering their Seoul branch, nestled on the periphery of Doosan Park in luxurious Cheongdam-dong. After being greeted warmly and led to the reception area, guests are treated to a cup of tea while treatments are explained and customized to fit their preferences. And although their services are mostly limited to facials and massages, there's an option to make even the pickiest spa-snob satisfied.

In need of some winter relief and a good pampering session, I recently paid two visits to SK-II Boutique Spa.

On my first visit, I opted for the LXP Royal Program (₩330,000). This 100 minute treatment includes a foot bath, LXP Massage (facial), body stretching and a scalp treatment. Customers can choose from three kinds of facials and considering that this would be my first time using SK-II's skin care products, the receptionist recommended I try the Prestige Revival Massage. Revival... just what I needed! The brochure noted that this specific facial "instantly provides your skin with ample moisture and nutrition by using a pitera mask and the best LXP massage of SK-II, which contains highly enriched pitera."

For those that are wondering, much like I was at the time, pitera is a liquid produced in the fermentation process of yeast and is often regarded as the key to clear skin by women across Asia. A recent search on SK-II's website revealed that these masks retail for $95 USD, so considering this, the price of the package is really a steal.

The VIP Room on the 4th floor created a calming environment. Low lights and soothing music set the mood as I changed into a robe and settled in for my foot bath. My therapist, Serena, added fragrant bath salts to the water as she gently massaged oils into my legs and worked the knots out of my abused feet.

Communicating in English throughout the entirety of the session, she directed me to the bed for the facial. Being heated and extremely comfy, it invited sleep, but I was determined to stay awake to enjoy it. And by golly, I did. Serena began the facial by cleansing my skin. After opening my pores with a steam machine, the typical multi-step Korean skin care process began. Toners, serums and creams were layered before that famous pitera mask was placed on top.

In fact, one of the best things about SK-II Boutique Spa is that they use their own products, so you know exactly what's being used on your skin. And it's common knowledge that SK-II's skin care line is the very best in Asia, if not the world.

While the mask worked its magic, Serena treated me to a massage, moving from my back and shoulders to my arms and hands, constantly checking to ensure the pressure and stretching weren't too much. She finished off the treatment with a scalp massage, in which she applied oil to my hair. This is essential during the Korean winter, when everything gets dry. The only problem, however, was that I had an appointment just after the session and didn't have time to wash my hair. So, those booking this session should be sure they don't have plans afterwards.

Serena wrapped up the session and after changing back into my clothes, I was brought back into the beautiful lobby for a spot of tea and a slice of cheesecake while taking in the pretty Christmas decorations. I checked out my skin and noticed that it was glowing! Never in my life have I seen my skin glow, so I was shocked. This effect lasted a few days and I was very much content with the moisture boost the facial gave my skin. I was eager to see if the next treatment would be just as amazing.

And of course it was. Repeating the same process as the day before, I was briefed on the Body Lux Relaxing Program (₩275,000), a treatment promising to "detoxify the body from stress and fatigue and activate the lymphatic circulation, eliminating swelling." This option includes a body pack that can be added to the body part of the customer's choice.

I was brought to a treatment room that was less luxurious than the previous day's, but it was just as clean and relaxing with the same kind of heated bed. My therapist, Sun, spoke English just as well and was very attentive to my needs.

Beginning with my legs and working up to my arms and shoulders, Sun lightly scrubbed my skin with an exfoliant before massaging my muscles with aromatic oils. I was surprised that a woman so small could be so strong!

Mid-massage, she added the body pack to my stomach. Yes, my stomach... I know it sounds strange and although I'm sure most people choose their shoulders or legs for this option, I had watched a video just a week before explaining that a tummy massage greatly helps with pain and digestion. The process was slightly uncomfortable but in the end, my stomach did feel better.

I'll admit that I don't always treat my body well and because I spend a lot of time behind a computer screen and carrying heavy bags around the city, my back and shoulders are in a constant state of tension. So, having these neglected muscles worked out felt like heaven. By the end of the 90 minutes, which can only be described as religious, I walked out the treatment room feeling like I had a brand new body.

I was once again given a sweet treat- this time, a waffle- and some tea and was also provided with a gift that included a few skin care samples as well as a body loofah and a ₩30,000 discount coupon for my next visit. All international guests are treated to this nice little surprise, which makes one's visit that much better.

SK-II Boutique Spa is truly an oasis and the treatments were just what I needed to feel revived and refreshed. And considering the luxurious facilities, unrivaled customer service and professional staff, this spa is unquestionably the best value for the price in all of Seoul.

So, do yourself a favor and get yourself a treatment at SK-II Boutique Spa. Your body and mind will thank you for it. And for those winter blues? Well, they don't even stand a chance.

More Information: SK-II Boutique Spa

Address: 8 Dosan-daero 45-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Phone: +82-2-3447-0275

Hours of Operation: Daily, 10am- 9pm

Prices: Click here for a complete list of their services and prices

Reservations: By e-mail (click here). The spa operates strictly on first-reserved, first-served basis, and weekdays tend to be less crowded than weekends. They do not accept reservations that are more than 6 months in advance.

To Get There: All nearby subway stations require a 20-30 minute walk. As such, it is advised that visitors take a taxi from Sinsa Station (Line 3), Apgujeong Station (Line 3), Gangnam-gu Office Station (Line 7) or Hak-dong Station (Line 7). Click here for a map and additional directions.

Disclaimer: Although the services mentioned in this post were provided free of charge by SK-II Boutique Spa, the opinions are, of course, my own.

Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.

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The 2014 Busan International Fireworks Festival coincided with...

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The 2014 Busan International Fireworks Festival coincided with Halloween celebrations this year. Audrina and I had just as much fun as we did four years ago, but we sure welcomed the additional company this year.

Note to self: Must arrive around noon for a front-seat view of the fireworks. Also, few things are better than having my feet in the sand with no one to block my view of the best fireworks show I’ve ever seen.

About the girl

Hi, I'm Stacy. I am from Portland, Oregon, USA, and am currently living and teaching ESL in Busan, South Korea. Busy getting into lots of adventures, challenging myself, and loving people. Something more than an ethereal will-o-wisp.

Thank you so much for visiting and reading.

Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, LastfmFlickr, and FacebookAsk me anything


Simultaneous One Person Protest at City Hall

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Very last minute, but there is a one person protest in front of City Hall today at 1 pm responding to how Seoul Mayor Park Won-sun is allowing discrimination against sexual minorities and compromising on human rights.

I imagine it is a one person protest so they didn't have to get permission from the government to throw together a protest. Anyways, it might be interesting to see. Starts in a half an hour.

Representative Jasmin Lee Bashed for Proposed Bill

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1For the past few days, my Facebook newsfeed has been flooded with shares of a post from Daum about the bill that Representative Jasmin Lee has proposed which seeks to give unregistered foreign children the right to a public education and government health services, and also exempts them from compulsory deportation and guarantees their right to live with their family in Korea. The post spawned negative reactions (and a few derogatory comments ) from Korean netizens.

Although the bill is focused primarily on the rights of undocumented children, some netizens worry that it might worsen illegal immigration in South Korea, and even encourage it. Some commenters lament the bill’s possible impact on the economy if it gets approved:  If the children of undocumented immigrants are allowed to stay in Korea, the parents get to stay, too. They take away the jobs that should be given to Koreans and legal immigrants. They don’t pay their share in taxes, but they are entitled to free social services, and their children are given free education and healthcare benefits, which makes it unfair to tax-payers.

It seems that there are also many Filipinos who are less enthusiastic about the bill. One Facebook group of Pinay spouses was bombarded by negative comments when a member posted something about the proposed bill:


Most of the commenters are criticizing Representative Lee for prioritizing illegal aliens instead of foreign spouses and their children who need more government support and protection, but what they fail to understand is that this bill does not only apply to undocumented children of illegal immigrants but to “all” undocumented children in South Korea, including those who have been abandoned by their parents and children who were born outside Korea whose documents have expired.

A commenter suggested that more attention be given to abused women and children who have legal rights to stay in Korea, but are living in misery. She added that some families send their kids to school in other countries because Korean education is expensive, so providing free education for children of illegal immigrants who do not pay proper taxes at all is absurd. The truth is, both documented and undocumented children in South Korea are entitled to free public education until secondary school, only that education benefits of undocumented children are “limited” as described in an article from The Korea Times:

Under the current Education Law, children of registered citizens have free access to a six-year primary school and three-year middle school education. But it limits education for children of undocumented foreigners to the first six years.

Furthermore, primary education is only available on the condition that a document identifying a child’s home address is submitted to the education authorities.

The problem with the current system is that most parents (who are illegal immigrants) don’t dare to enroll their children in public schools for fear of being deported if the schools ask for the address and identity of the parents. A family counselor in Korea told me that some schools do not accept immigrant children simply because they have no registration number. Take the case of a 16-year-old child of an illegal immigrant from Nigeria who was denied admission to high school because she doesn’t have a foreign registration number. Her middle school teacher sought the help of Gong Gam Human Rights Law Foundation and the girl was admitted only when it was explained to the local office of education that a child “may receive high school education regardless of the parents’ undocumented status” as stated in the School Registration Guideline for Multicultural Students issued by the Ministry of Education. The girl was fortunate enough to have someone stand up for her, but not all of these children are lucky. There are currently no laws that protect the rights of undocumented migrant children in South Korea.

A couple of commenters are protesting about having to pay more taxes to support the needs of these undocumented children. Some are saying that they have to work hard to learn Korean language and assimilate into Korean culture, and wait for years before they are given permanent residence or citizenship, but this bill makes it easier for illegal immigrants to obtain legal residence in Korea until their children finish high school. They don’t even have to earn it; they just have to have kids that will give them the ticket. Some commenters believe that this bill will not get passed because Koreans won’t allow it, but if it does, it will create a conflict between Koreans and immigrants. There are those who are saying that we cannot bend the rules. If you stay in another country illegally and have a child in that country, then you have to face the consequences and not expect the government to cut you or your child some slack.

When I showed the “most talked about” post to my husband, he was not so pleased. He kept blabbering in Korean, and I know that when he does that, he is very upset. He told me that Korea is just a small country and its economy is not doing so well. If this bill gets passed, Korea will become overpopulated and more chaotic. Its economy will suffer greatly.

My heart goes out to all undocumented children. It is not their fault that their parents choose to live in the shadows as illegal immigrants. It is not their fault that they were abandoned by irresponsible parents. It is not their fault that their neglectful parents failed to register their birth or that their documents expired. They are victims… victims of the law… victims of their parents’ actions. This bill, however, seems impossible to uphold if it does not set boundaries. It aims to help the children, but it also has huge drawbacks. Some are protesting that this bill tolerates people to break the law. Illegal immigration is a crime, after all.

To be honest, I have my doubts about this bill, too. I always complain about the taxes that my husband and I have to pay in Korea, and I worry that we would end up paying more taxes once this bill gets passed, but lately, I began reading articles on immigration, and one of the solutions on illegal immigration that makes more sense to me is this one from an article from Phil for Humanity:

to allow illegal aliens to become legal residents and ultimately maybe even citizenship, thus illegal aliens would become legal residents who would pay their share in taxes

I agree with this solution, but illegal immigrants should undergo the same tedious process that legal immigrants go through before they get residence or citizenship in Korea. They should be given more requirements (or maybe do community service for a number of hours) for breaking the law in the first place.
We all have things to say about this proposed bill, but we are not even sure what it includes or excludes. What we know so far is that it seeks to give undocumented children in Korea free education, health care and social support until they finish secondary school. In the news articles that I have read, there was no mention of the children’s parents or how they might benefit from this bill. In this story, the protagonists are the children. We hope that this will all be about them… for them.


From Korea with Love




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Busan International Film Festival, October 2-11, 2014 When you...

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Busan International Film Festival, October 2-11, 2014

When you live and work in a city, it’s easy to forget all the good things your city has to offer you. Most fall into a daily routine of home to work, neglecting to enjoy their surroundings. Busan is a big city —the second biggest in South Korea!— and home to approximately 3.8 million people. This size offers a lot of kind favors to the city, such as hosting an annual international film festival called BIFF.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I had never previously watched a movie at BIFF before. I never wanted to put in the effort of figuring out what to watch, obtaining tickets, or getting to the theater. Admittedly, I always felt kind of regretful and dumb, especially when other friends would tell me how great their experience was. Over the years, it’s been hard to avoid as the city has really gotten into it, and it’s even advertised on the subway.

So, this is the year I got into it! I still haven’t figured out how to get advance tickets (which seem to sell out within minutes!), but 20% of the seats are reserved for day-of purchases. You’ll have to go early in the morning to get day-of tickets, but there are lots of good movies to be seen. Very few are the big Hollywood blockbuster types, but there are a lot of interesting up-and-coming directors showing movies, and sometimes even at the movie screenings! Even a mediocre movie is made infinitely more interesting to me when the actors and directors are available to answer my questions during a guest visit.

By not being picky about movie genre or language (since all movies had Korean and English subtitles), I obtained all my tickets from friends or friends of friends. I recommended joining the BIFF TIcket Exchange Facebook Group for buying solo tickets. It was a great experience I really recommend to others. Even if I saw a movie that was kind of a dud, it was fun to think back on and good fodder for conversation.

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