Monthly Archives: February 2007

…get a divorce

OK, so I’m teaching my lowest level of kids — 2nd grade to 5th grade kids at the lowest level possible that CDI (my academy) has to offer.  I tell my kids a side note during class that I can cook and if they ever want me to cook for them, they just need to come to my home (the last part I said of course as a joke or in a joking manner).  Anyway, my smartest kid (4th grader) named Sangmin says “Why do you cook teacher?  Are you married?”  I say “yes, I am.”  He retorts, “Then why are you cooking?  It’s the wife’s job to cook.”  I reply back that “not all women have to cook in families.”  He says, “Yes, they should.  It’s their job.”  I then continue saying “No, as a man, I can also cook.”  He asks, “Why doesn’t she cook?”  And I joke back to him, but honestly, I’m a little serious because my wife readily admits this, but “she’s a little lazy & hates to cook.”  Well, I don’t expect much more beyond this, but he says, “Get a divorce (in Korean).”  I had no idea these kids even knew what the words for divorce was, but he repeated over and over “Ee-won-heh” which means “split up with your husband/wife (in Korean).”  I’m sorry, but I just had to laugh that he was repeating this over & over that I should do this because I can cook…

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…meant to post this during the holiday season

Hari…I think you meant for this to be spread around.  If not, feel free to ping me…

Even though it was meant for the holidays, this still applies to any online shopping:

…the little bit of idealism that’s still left in me makes me want to pass the following on from a college friend who’s definitely making a difference in this world.  Thanks Hari.         Actually, I had no idea, but he even has a page in dedicated to him:  I googled him & this came up.  Didn’t know you were this famous Hari….

holiday shopping can be a jungle

and its bigger than

i’m encouraging you to try a socially responsible gift over the holidays.

To find a retailer or etailer that deals in fair trade gifts

two gift sites whose founders i’ve interviewed are

( a note and 15% discount from the ceo)

Through our sales this year we will not only help thousands of women in the US look more beautiful but we will also help 6,000 women in 31 countries live better lives!  I hope you will forward this email to as many of your friends and family as you can.  We invite you to use our discount code FANDF06 at checkout.  Thank you for all your enco  uragement and support in building our dream!   

– Priya 


if you’d like to give something other than a gift- perhaps donate to a charity- some organizations i’ve personally run across or whose CEOs i’ve interviewed are (in alpha order only)

support immigrant women start small businesses in the u.s. a school or classroom or part of a project in the U.S. based on pitches the teachers make

http://giveindia.orgfind a trusted non-profit in India by cause or region

find a trusted non profit in several countries around the world by cause or region

a fascinating model where livestock are in the center of the giving. read for yourself.

lend money to an entreprenuer in a developing country based on their elevator pitch to you.

there are tons of these sites out there- just didnt’ want you to spend all you money in one place 😉

happy holidays.


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Some foreigner websites for expats here in the “South”

Sometimes I forget that I take advantage that I know the local websites for foreigners (expats).  For anyone, however, who stumbles over this site looking for info regarding the local area (P/Busan, Ulsan, etc.), here are a couple sites to start off with.   

Expat websites:

As soon as I figure out to post these to the side, I’ll put these there .

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Migrating over from Xanga…

So my ole’ friend Glenda B. told me this is a better site to blog on.  Not that I have hours upon hours to blog, but I was trying to update my blog on & it didn’t even have the ability to place links without subscribing to the Premium version.  I’ll probably continue to try & update it for the sake of doing so, but I’m hoping this has many more features that I’ll appreciate.  Since Glenda rek’d it, I’m sure it does. 

Below as well, I’m just going to copy over all the previous blogs entries:

 Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Feeling violated…

I’ve heard about this crime being inflicted on others, but I’ve never experienced it myself.  Yesterday, I finally became a victim of this unfortunate event … which was the last thing I thought would happen to me in what I thought was the friendliest town in all of South Korea — the friendliest “top 10” city in terms of population, that is. 

It was a beautiful day outside…the temperature had risen to what it felt like the 60’s (fahrenheit) recently.  Skies were clearer & brighter than I’ve seen in a few months.  I had a relatively good day at work as well.  I came home with my coworkers and we were chatting away when I put my key into my door.  Even though I was distracted by what they were saying, I did notice that the lock twisted as if it were open.  I thought very little of it though.

I walked into my place like any other night & the unit seemed mostly normal except for a few minor details in my sight.  I did initially notice that the window was lodged open on the right instead of the left near the new location where I put my desktop computer.  I slid my desk  (table actually) from the center of the room to my bed to more easily watch DVD’s I played from my computer.  However, I didn’t realize it also put the 19 inch flatscreen monitor in the view of my neighbors from the outside. 

However, the 6 month old Sony monitor which would retail for about $500 when I bought it was no longer on top of my computer.  One of my speakers was also hanging off the side as if the monitor had fell off and knocked it off as well, but when I looked more closely, the monitor was no where in sight.  As I walked deeper into my place, I started to notice other things were missing.  As the night continued to get longer as well, I started to notice items I didn’t even think of inventorying were missing.  For the first time in a few months, I didn’t wear my relatively expensive Diesel watch which was also gone.  The 6 plug sockets that were normally filled were only now filled with 3 items.  The Sony Digital T-2 Camera my wife adores was gone.  My friend who later arrived for moral support asks me where my personal DVD player is — gone. 

The Korean currency system requires you to carry 10,000 won bills in bulks a bit unless you can get checks which can be a small hassle.  Also, the cash machines don’t always carry them.  I was hoping for the “soo-pyos” the last time I withdrew cash so I could keep them in my wallet, but instead, I had to get 30-10,000 won bills where 20 of them were in an envelope before I left for work yesterday.  The envelope was empty when I got home.  I also had one of those International envelopes with red and blue on the border of them holding about $545 in dollars…only $45 was left in it when I took another glance at the envelope.  I thought they didn’t touch it because it had 3 or 4 things nicely stacked on top of the envelope.  The burglars were nice enough to stack them on after they took out the 5 100 dollar bills out of it. 

We called the police.  They came over and made me write up a statement in Korean.  Yes, I wrote the statement while the officer guided me on how to spell in Korean.  It was sort of hillarious.  I guess I got a quick Korean writing lesson out of it.  However, I wasn’t sure what I was writing.  You know how usually officers in the states write up the reports or jot notes down about the incidents…well, instead I had to write it all up.  The other officer however got down and dirty and performed a CSI job on my floor.  He turned off the lights & actually copied the footprints that were laid on the ground by the burglars.  It was interesting evidence.  “Interesting” is all I’ll probably get from the whole event though. 

Anyway, I’m still in a bit of shock, but I’m trying to put it out of my head.  We’ll see…

BTW (by the way), if you do see any of the aforementioned items being sold “used” locally here in Ulsan or Busan, please do feel free to let me know.  On top of the stuff above, the jerks also took a really nice belt from me that you would get at a duty free shop that my parents bought me.  The name brand escapes me right now, but if I remember, I’ll have to edit this posting, of course. 

Also, here’s a reminder to all of you to lock your doors, windows & keep your guards up…when you put them down, something like this happens.  ^^

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Stats, Info…Cliff Clavin talk

So…I love information…not because I like to win at Trivia Pursuit (actually, I suck at that game), but the main reason is because it is very useful at what I really like to do: think up new ideas to solve problems (in particular, Business ideas are of interest).  Hopefully, I’ll collect more over time, but just had to plop this one in here so I doin’t lose it moving forward…then again, I hoped to enter more blog entries by this point, but we can see how well I’ve succeeded at doing that. 

Coffee Stat:  (from🙂

Coffee is the world’s oldest and second-most traded commodity (behind petroleum). With a global coffee retail market that generates $70 billion annually, the U.S. is the largest consumer of coffee in the world, boasting nearly 167 million coffee drinkers.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Not many posts for the past 3-4 weeks…been in the middle of “intensives.”  Basically, the kids in this country are on vacation from their public schooling.  So, instead of letting the kids take “a real break” from their constant testing & memorization of facts 2-3 years ahead of other standards throughout the world, they instead take a lot of extra classes at our Academy and many others throughout the country during this break because parents are 1) used to it & 2) it helps keep the kids busy instead of playing in PC Rooms playing online video games or text messaging their friends all day long.  To add to the 30% or more parents budget away for these Academies/extra education, they spend even more sending their kids to us at 9:30a in the morning for 3 hours each morning and create an overload of hours for English Instructors throughout the country.  Some of us are working 54 hours in class a week on top of our preparation, evaluations and parental troubleshooting of student issues. I get to also add all my management, recruiting, and teacher troubleshooting issues on top of this.  I’m so lucky….

The interesting event of the week:
 I’m sitting on a subway traveling back to Ulsan from Busan.  I am commuting between 2 schools about 90 mins away from one another daily.  A 10 year old kid comes barreling down the train and plops his butt next to mine & puts his face about 2 cm’s away & starts yelling “Uncle, don’t you think this is a good place for talking?”  And continues to say about 20 other phrases in Korean about 100 miles per hour & so I have no idea what he’s saying.  I’m figuring out by the 2nd thing he’s saying to me, he has some mentally challenging issues.  I try to be nice about it & just say ” o.k.” to everything.  What would you do after the 21st thing he said to you at about 5 octives higher than you’re comfortable with?  Also, his parent/guardian/whatever failed to even stand up on the other side of the train to do anything.  This kid called out everyone near us & everyone stayed pretty silent. 

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Friday, December 08, 2006


So, the last post was a bit sad for some of us & others, it was just another blip in our lives…

Well, one thing that I do constantly think of is how little we really “think” of or “remember” people while they are alive.  After someone passes, we stop & think…the Japanese take 3 days & so do the Koreans.  While we are alive, however, we are too busy to stop & think.  We think for 3 seconds & then move on…

Life is fragile…I could be going to work one day, walk across the sidewalk & look every which way, but one…and slam, my life could be over.  All I know is that a lot of thoughts & wishes I had for all of you would of been erased in that one moment.  While living, there are many times I want to say “hi” or ask “how’s it going” or “you were a very important person to me in life”, but the lack of time & belief that what I will write will be boring or redundant or not complete will prevent me from finishing & sending…it’s too often that I do just stop in the middle of actually sending my wishes. 

Every holiday season, we try to remember or some of us do the people that are important to us…these last few years, I’ve been worse at it then ever.  However, I do “think” of and I do “remember” our times together and most importantly, I do “care” about you  …  You are important to me…

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Feeling somber


Just saw the following story on

This guy is my age…my memory is fading these days, but I remember also going to a funeral earlier this year or last for a guy who got sick all of a sudden out of the blue …..  a few days after feeling headaches, he passes away & he was about my age.  I had played golf with him several years earlier.  Such a nice guy… He left his son & wife with a video of his fear of dying before going on an International trip a few years back.  The tears couldn’t be held back….

This entry is for you boys, if you ever read this.  I love you Kade & Kamden. 

Missing Dad, James Kim, Found Dead In Oregon

There is sorrow for the Kim family ?James Kim did not survive alone in the snowy wilderness of Oregon.

James Kim뭩 body has been found and he will be transported to a location undisclosed for now, according to police. The 35-year-old CNET editor had been missing for eleven days.

His 30-year-old wife, Kati Kim, and daughters Penelope, 4 years old, and Sabine, 7 months, were rescued on Monday. The family survived by using the car heater, and when they ran out of gas, they burnt the car tires. As there was no food or water in the car, Kati breastfed both daughters.

James left Saturday morning to seek help and was not seen again. Kati and the girls were found by a private helicopter and transported to hospital immediately. They did not suffer any serious injuries.

The search for James continued as rescue teams scrutinized the whole region. Late this afternoon various items were found, belonging to James, supposedly a left as a trail to help searchers.

The Kim family had traveled to Seattle to spend Thanksgiving but got lost on their return, eventually finding themselves stranded in Southern Oregon wilderness. The region has had sub-freezing temperatures over the last period.

County Undersheriff Brian Anderson has called the bereaved Kim family 뱓rue champions?during a press conference. 밯e just want them to know our prayers have been with them from day one.?

Our thoughts go out to mother and young girls and to all those who care for James and shall miss him. Rest in peace, James.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

See my pee pee!!!

One thing in Korea that you need to definitely get over is having any privacy in the bathroom.  Most of the times, the front door is open or just not existent.  On top of that, the architects…not sure if they have any here…just kidding…but they don’t think about the placement of windows in mens’ bathrooms at least. 

dongnae bathroom

It may not be entirely apparent, but there’s a window on one side of the urinal and another basically just exposing any privacy you have taking #1.  Fortunately, I really just don’t care anymore.  Most of the times, an older cleaning lady will come in when you are going to bathroom anyway.  To them, it’s nothing that haven’t seen a million times.  They will usually tell you to get over it if you act private in any way. 

That reminds me, but I remember I tried to help JY’s grandma do the dishes one day in her kitchen.  She constantly told me to get out of the kitchen and that it’s not a man’s job.  She told me that my 고추 (penis in Korean) would fall off.  Last time I checked, it’s still there.  Thus, the blog about the location of exposure in bathrooms. 

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

November 25

This should actually be posted on Thanksgiving Day, but I don’t think I had the blog up at that time…actually now looking down, I guess I did.  Don’t know why I didn’t just post it…

So, why do people read these blogs?  Are they curious about how I’m doing?  Are they curious about some intimate part of my life?  Will they learn something profound about what I say and write?  I’m really curious…feel free to comment below.

Sitting in another PC Bahng (PC Room) … I should start counting the number of different PC Bahngs I’ve been in so far.  It would be like counting the number of different Coffee Shops I’ve visited in my life time.  It’s pretty quiet this morning at 9:08a.  Koreans seem to wake up pretty late.  I’m hypothesizing these days the reason why the businesses open so late is because the owners or the people of privilege stay up quite late themselves.  They are usually drinking with friends or coworkers until the wee hours of the morning.  Their subordinates don’t seem them until later in the day & so they feel less inclined to come into work as well. The reason why businesses open late is DEFINITELY not because they close late.  On too many occasions, I’ve found myself hungry at 9:30p or so & I can’t find a single decent restaurant open because most of them have closed.  So, I usually have to go to the local 24 hour Kim bop place which gets tiring after a while — o.k., I’m spoiled. 

I’m waiting to go to a training of another type of class we’re offering this quarter.  The sad thing is that I know my 2 hour commute here to Busan from Ulsan won’t feel too productive because most of the times, the trainers don’t even know what they’re training us in.  It’s not their fault.  They are asked to do these tasks last minute themselves & the content for which they are suppose to train us are given to them just days, if not hours before they are suppose to make us supposedly better at teaching these subjects.  Another thing I need to help fix down here…and as a matter of fact, all throughout the country for the betterment of the company’s future.

I have to leave a bit early though so I can get back and teach my classes today 1/2 prepared.  Fortunately, it’s the last week of the quarter.  So, I won’t feel as guilty today providing the kids a less than ideal class.  However, I keep on reminding myself their parents paid good money for us to teach them effectively as much as we can.  I’m not sure if I’m teaching the 2nd class where I have to substitute for one of our instructors who left for her brother’s wedding.

After which, I’ll meet up with my new language exchange friend who’s this 25 something bored of Korea Civics Hagwon (Academy) Teacher.  She’s not so much frustrated at her work as she is with Korea, as she tells me.  She really wants to get out of here, she says & explore the world.  Thus, her desire to learn more about English and use me (ha, ha).  She’s funny as all get out & so it’s fun hanging out with her.  She’s as blunt as they come too.  Just yesterday, she’s asking “Why are you here?” out of the blue.  It definitely wasn’t related to our conversation topic at the time…it was something like “How’s school today? So, why are you here?” 

Lastly, my apologies for not putting more photos up & dressing up the place here…it’s on my list of things to do (before 2030). 

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Alright…interesting website find of the week: 

Keep your bookmarks forever now…

If I recall reading it correctly, they’re owned by Yahoo…so they should be around.  I’ve been looking for an external bookmark manager for kewl websites that I find when I’m not at home….like work, on the road, in a PC Bahng (room), etc.  Just too many to keep track of…

These guys also list websites that other people are keeping track of for you to see…the other thing about the web is that it can get boring … so this website lets you see some new sites that others find interesting. 

Cool name for a website as well…..I wonder…..actually, I’m sure somebody already has them: or or I’m sure a multitude of other sites ending with .us 

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Just watched the departed with my friend Elissa in Busan yesterday. 

Interesting flick.  We saw it at the Lotte Department store in Seo-myun — Busan’s version of Myung-dong (Seoul’s trendy busy district).  After spending the past 3 months in Ulsan and not going downtown as much, I started to feel like I was in Seoul again to a certain degree…everybody looked like they were about to partake in a fashion show.  It wasn’t bad on the eyes to be honest, but the HUGE difference was a bit more apparent than I was expecting.  I walked through Busan National University’s busy college district, but nothing close to this.  These young adults have PLENTY of time to look as vain as they did, it appears. 

Anyway, the movie had quite the cast: Matt Damon, Leonardo Dicaprio, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin with Martin Scorsese directing the flick.  I’m imagining the payroll was about 80 million — here are my estimates: Matt Damon (15 mill) , Leonardo Dicaprio (20 mill), Jack Nicholson (17.5), Mark Wahlberg (10 mill), Martin Sheen (5 mill), Alec Baldwin (5 mill).  So these stars add up to about 72.5 mill, but then if you add in Scorsese & the rest of the cast, I’m thinking about 80 million.  Well, the movie’s made over a $100 mill so far…not sure how much it cost for all the violent scenes…but just curious if it’s broken even yet. 

It had a bit of a odd ending…if you’re going to watch it, you had better stop reading.  The questions Elissa and I had were: What’s in the little envelope that Leonardo gave to his lover? Who’s baby really was the lover’s?  Matt Damon couldn’t get it up….so?  I was wondering why everyone gets killed at the end…was it Scorcesee’s attempt to make it really tragic or was it in the original screenplay by Mak & Chong? 

So, I find out that this is a screen adaptation of a pretty well known Chinese flick.  My Korean friends tell me, isn’t it this?  I don’t remember the name, but I guess it makes sense now given that it was written by Mak & Chong…not your ordinary Hollywood names. 

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

kissing the bathroom door

Alright, I arrive at my new academy where I am the new Faculty Manager for the school in addition to my new Director responsibilities.  I’ll have to detail how that works in a later blog.  However, just before getting there, I’m not sure if anyone’s at the school since I’m about 20 mins early from my hour and a 1/2 commute from Ulsan to Busan.  Anyway, I’m fortunate that the HR Department actually comes in at normal hours — the rest of the school typically arrives at 1:30p or later to match the times of our classes in addition to their other duties.  So, my stomach is starting to feel a bit ill & I need to use the bathroom pretty badly. 

So, I’m lucky I can use the bathroom as soon as I get there, but first of all, there’s no toilet paper.  That’s always a nice surprise.  Then after finally getting some TP, I jump into the stall.  Well, I usually put my 2 pieces of TP on the seat since I’m a little bit of a freak when it comes to toilets (a bit paranoid of how dirty public toilets are) and then sit down for a bit of relief.  Well, it turns out that my face is literally stuck against the door of the stall.  I’m just thinking to myself I know Korean construction is the fastest in the world, but damnit, couldn’t they have at least think to make sure someone isn’t kissing the door of the stall when doing the #2?  Alright, now I’m off to do another training I just found about a couple days ago….

FINALLY STARTING TO BLOG (November 22, 2006): Alrighty, I’m finally blogging despite needing to get to work & a million other things I’m neglecting.  My friend Diana has inspired me multiple times, but I’ve never acted on it.  I thought today, I would just finally write a blog regardless of my needs to get ready for class…I can’t be perfect every day, right?!? 

Before sharing about what’s going on with me lately, let me explain why I call this the “real” south korea.  Basically, I’ve never even thought once about living in the southern region (Busan — the 2nd largest city in S.K.) of “South Korea.”  However, for some reason, destiny put me down here.  Now that I’m here, I am definitely learning this is different from the “north” part of South Korea.  I like it in many ways…and I’m sure I’ll learn in the upcoming months as well that it may be challenging in other ways.  Anyway…

So, some of you know I’m here & others don’t.  However, I’ve been transplanted already twice in my 6 months that I’ve been in South Korea.  Six months & two promotions later, I’m finding myself stuck between two cities: Ulsan and Busan.  Originally, the goal was to be in Seoul for the short term despite the kids & the wife being in Daejeon (center of the country).  So, in the first month of temporarily staying at the in-laws in Daejeon, I interviewed with several companies, took a quick trip to Japan & Hong Kong & finally landed at my first job in Seoul at CDI.  After the first quarter, I was promoted to a Faculty Manager (manager of teachers) — potentially more like an act of desperation on the company since the person who was slated for the position I believe bailed the week before the position was to be filled.  I get a notice 3 days before the job starts that I have to train for the position, wrap up my current position, and take an 9 hour bus ride down to Ulsan which should of been no more than 6 or 7 hours with bad traffic.  Lots of time to prepare for my new “management” job….  Fortunately, I’ve went through worse before when the IMF crisis hit in the 90’s when I was there.  I’ve been through the Vietnam Wars of Hagwon (Academy) work & so this wasn’t as stressful. 

During my stay here, I developed a great relationship with most of our staff & our boss (Won-jahng).  I told him I was only here for the 3 month term and was probably going to try and make my way back to the family in Daejeon.  However, he constantly tried to persuade me to stay in the South & help run the South region of our company instead.  He said they “needed” someone like me to help them out.  After almost 6 weeks of negotiation, we came to an agreement & are 99% sure of what I need to do & how I will be compensated.  Then, another wrench gets thrown into it and our owner (separate from the “Won-jahng” who is usually the owner/director) comes to me 4 days before the end of the 1st term for me down here & says “you can’t go.”  Basically, I’m suppose to transition from being the FM (Faculty Manager) of the city of Ulsan’s branch to a “Director” in the South & the FM for several other branchs.  He said “You’ll bring down our school, if you leave and accept the position of Director.”  While it feels good to be needed, it’s just forever interesting how the dynamics of some of these businesses work.  Basically, our school in Ulsan and another branch in Busan was infused with a bit of cash & by outside investors & he was the main one.  His interests are in our school in Ulsan and another branch in Busan.  So, it looks like there’s a conflict between the owner (of Ulsan), the management of the South (Busan, et. al.) & my own needs.  I literally walked into a mess of issues when taking that bus from Seoul to here (Ulsan), I think.  Not sure what to think these days, but for now, I’m working more with the organization that’s offered me the Director position & the one that supposedly controls most of the Southern region.  The owner has to figure how to work with the company called Injung Education since he signed an agreement with them in the first place to have Injung run his school.  

Anyway, if I don’t write, call or whatever, please forgive me.  Looks like I walk away from one mess to another & it’s definitely going to be interesting in the upcoming year, I’m feeling.  The one thing though I love is “challenge” and actually love solving problems.  Thus, I think I have a lot to look forward in the upcoming year including ulcers and brain tumors…

This is courtesy of:

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