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Reason 37 to Go to Japan Next Contract

Workers Urged: Go Home and MultiplyGo home and multiply? Really, CNN? Really, Japan?! This is the kind of CNN tripe that I fucking live for; the sole purpose of my checking that site on a daily basis is to come across retarded headlines such as this.While this particular measure obviously wouldn't pertain to me (a lowly Canadian English teacher, who is unlikely to be of much use in pumping Japan


I came to the PC Bang today to write something about my friend, who passed away one year ago today. I had no idea what I was going to write, how I was going to write it, or what I was going to accomplish by doing this, but I was going to it anyways. It needed to be done. At no point during the past year have I really shared a story which properly captured his memory. I didn't splash the walls of

Kimchi Stew, 김치찌개

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Kimchi Stew


Kimchi (sour and fermented for a while) 3 cups
Tuna 1-2 cans
Butter 1 tablespoon
Water 2 to 2.5 cups
Kimchi juice (as much as you can get)


1. oh high heat saute tuna with better for 5 minutes.
2. Add kimchi and saute for at least 10 minutes.
(if it starts to stick to the bottom, add a little bit of kimchi juice or water)
3. Add kimchi juice and water (add some chili pepper flakes if you like it spicy)
4. boil for 10 minutes
5. Season with salt.
( You can add tofu if you like.)


*** If you want to use pork, it's pretty much the same except in the beginning you saute pork with a bit of vegetable oil.

The Nude Beaches of South Korea

Boy, that is a good one. I have never come into a more modest group of people in my life. Last week, while doing a unit on travel with my older students (middle school), one of them asked me if it was true that there are places where people swim in the ocean naked. I said yes, I have heard of such places, but that I had never been to one. They screamed and reflexively covered their eyes at the thought. Most Koreans at the beach swim fully clothed.

There is public nudity in Korea, and lots of it. However, it is all gender-segregated and indoors. I am talking about public baths. Koreans love them, and Busan is apparently sitting on top of quite a bit of hot spring water. The baths here are quite famous and one, the Hurshimchung, claims to be the largest facility in all of Asia. It took me a while to muster the nerve, but I finally went to one and I am happy to report that it was awesome.

The place is near my house in the basement of a large hotel. When you arrive you pay at the desk (5000W) and are given a key. You take your key to the first locker room, the shoe lockers, and lock up your shoes there. Then you go into the other locker room and strip down. Now I am not squeamish about being naked. If someone yells "Skinny Dip!" I am usually the first one in the water. Now I am not what you would call model material: I run a little flat on the back and a little not flat on the front so if my exhibition was performance art it would definitely be categorized as comedy. But what made me uncomfortable, as I walked through the locker room in my birthday suit, was that I was apparently the object of a survey in demographic physiology. The Koreans, every one of them, would look at my eyes, look at my package, and then look at my eyes again. I could tell what they were thinking: "Yankee wankee itty bitty." Some of them were polite enough to attempt a look somewhere between pity and disbelief, but I also registered two smirks and one chuckle. Livid with self-loathing, I wanted to tell them that it was unfair to judge my entire race based on my physique and also that I was nervous and that additionally it was a tiny bit cool, but of course this was impossible.

I consoled myself with the thought that I was at the very least anonymous. I am in another country after all. It isn't like I was going to run into anyone I know in this place. Then,as I walked into the huge bath room proper, in which a couple hundred Koreans were washing, soaking, steaming and snoozing contentedly, I heard a small voice scream across the room: "Hello, Joe teacher!" And a couple hundred Koreans simultaneously turned, looked at my eyes, looked at my business, and looked back at my eyes.

After a very brief and uncomfortable conversation with one of my students I repaired to the showers. It is part of the social contract at the baths that you will not enter the pool until you have scrubbed at least one layer of skin off, and I did so with gusto. You are given a long washcloth that runs about 150 on the grit scale and you can get hold of the ends and scour away. It is quite nice on the back. The showers actually had a safety button on them so that you don't blister yourself accidentally. I bypassed this and set the shower to stun (those of you who have showered with me know that I like them hot). I took a nice long soapy shower and declared myself ready for the tubs.

There were five. The largest (30 foot square with a bench build in around the edge) registered about 42 degrees Celsius on the digital thermometer. The other three hot tubs increased in temperature at about 2 degree increments (the temperatures on the thermometers fluctuated at +/- .5 degrees, relative, I believe, to the number of bodies therein). The hottest two were deserted. There was also a steam room, a dry sauna, and a cool tub. There was also a hot floor with tiny hard square pillow. Naps were being taken there.

I graduated up to the second and then the third and then back down to the second hot pool (I tried them all and could stand even the hottest but it was uncomfortable in the sense that my heartbeat and breathing became labored. I lasted about one minute in the dry sauna, which thermometer read 65 Celsius) and gradually formed a rotation of hot tub, steam room, and cold tub. The water was mineral saturated and had a pretty good salinity. On TVs around the room a video loop showed the drilling that accessed the hot water vent below. Signs proudly stated that the mineral rich waters came from a depth of 864 meters, and I believe it.

I don't know if it was the minerals or the heat or the scrubbing or what, but when I left that place I felt like a new person. If one was feeling depressed or puny, I can think of no better way to do a little self-repair. There were other services (barber and masseuse) as well, but I was content with the basic package. It is nice to know that it is there at the very least. And I think that next time I will be less nervous and can do my lineage more justice.

It's Not Always About You, Korea.

A former coworker, and Busan local, caught me explaining to my brother that Korea smells 100 times worse than Toronto. Or at least it did, before sensory adaptation resulted in the death of my sense of smell some time last November. My coworker was thoroughly unimpressed.First, she advised me that she's Korean. You know, just in case I hadn't taken the fact that I was the only foreign teacher at

Partial Facial Paralysis: Almost as hot as Catne.

As a result of falling on my head, I may never be able to move part of my face again. It's only a minor part of my face, so it's not really that big of a deal. I won't appear to have had a recent stroke or anything of the sort. At least, not until making comments like that catches up with me (again) and I fall on my head (again).Essentially, I will be able to raise my left eyebrow most of the way

Catne is Sad

As The Shanster* and I fought for the last bite of chicken galbi, our Cat Lady friend sulked in her chair. This was alarming. Chicken galbi is delicious and should be fought for at all times, at the expense of all other things. When asked what the Hell she was sulking over, she shared the following tragedy with us: her cat has acne.*(The Shanster hates it when I call her that, on account of it

Don't Come to Busan

I was very happy to be back to Busan after my recent trip. I remember walking out of Busan station and stopping for a moment and looking out across the plaza to the neighborhood crawling up the mountainside across the way, all of it bathed in bright winter sunlight, and turning to my girlfriend and saying, smiling ear to ear, "Busan is best." "Yep," she said.

I meant it. I have seen mountains and rivers and islands and beaches and markets and entertainment and even a little culture in Korea, some of it better and some of it worse. But for sheer ambiance and variety, Busan has everyplace else I've seen here beat hands down. Now I haven't been everywhere. And some of this might be based on my personal tastes. For one thing, the thought of living in a huge metropolis with a pollution problem and chronic overcrowding is not my idea of quality of life. Sure there might be "more to do," but what good is more to do if the subway is a sardine can. And how much "to do" is enough? That depends on what you like. If you like to club, then maybe this isn't the best. Maybe it is. I don't have any idea. Clubbing has long ago dropped from my list of things to do. If you like sitting by the ocean eating cheap fresh seafood, then maybe you should check Busan. Or if you like your choice between four or five great beaches, Busan might be for you. Temples, we got 'em. Shopping, check. World class symphony orchestra and opera? Not. But you can't have everything. I would like an English language library with current fiction, nonfiction, and a cushy reading lounge, too. But that isn't likely to appear.

I llke going to a cafe in Gwangan and having some tea by the beach and reading in a sunny chair. I like going to Seomyeon and trying something I have never eaten before. I like going to Nampodong and walking around in the market and afterwards lunching at a window table in the fish market. I like sitting quietly in Beomeosa temple and letting 1500 years of the contemplative life soak into me. I like sitting in the bar across from my apartment having deep conversations with my bartender in hand signals drinking something that looks and tastes like a cross between tequila and yogurt. I like slowly cooking the garlic over a two-gallon charcoal grill made out of a tin bucket so that it is roasted to golden perfection just as the galbi is ready to wrap up in the sesame leaves. And then I like wrapping myself up in my blanket and sitting as close to the water as I can without getting wet and going to sleep. That's livin'.


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