Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Wednesday Good Gentlefolk!

Apparently a middle school student died recently in Cheongju after getting into a fight with another students/other students. Has anyone else heard anything about this? My co-teacher told me about it on Tuesday, after one of her homeroom students ended up in hospital with a possible broken rib after being punched in the chest by another student and finding it hard to breathe (he turned out to be ok). I think she said it was at Seo-Gyeong Middle School but I'm not sure - she might have said Seo-Gyo or Seo-Hyeon. Which brings to mind the stabbing incident at my school last year - I can't remember if I blogged about this or not (I certainly should have if I didn't), but last year after the movie "아저씨" ("Ajosshi" or in it's English title "The Man From Nowhere") came out which features a lot of violence, apparently it became popular amongst the second year boys to mimic the stuff done in the movie. To this end, one of them brought a knife to school (I think, or he could have been using his craft knife which all students quite ridiculously have and are allowed to carry around at all times, even when they aren't using them in any subjects, to semi-disastrous results) and was mock-stabbing his classmates. And of course, ended up actually stabbing one of them, sending the stabbed student to hospital for stitches and making the student who stabbed him have a panic attack and start crying because he genuinely thought he'd killed his friend. Which I guess was quite a smart move (although involuntary) because it made it harder to punish him for it since he was already mid-nervous breakdown. And then of course there was the incident with Jin-Seon. Don't get the wrong idea, it's not always the boys - the first year girls have been in trouble for going to visit their friends at other schools and starting scrag-fights there too, where apparently the go-to move is scratching up each other's faces. *Sigh* Teenagers.

Anyway, today is my last day of regular school before my winter camps start. I'm taking tomorrow and Friday off to use up my holiday days since they don't get paid out if I don't use them, and am overjoyed at the prospect of never having to teach my Thursday and Friday classes again (a jubilation that has lasted since last week). Hooray! Today I also only had one class with my favourite 1st graders - the "super-smart" class (my co-teacher's nickname for them). But unfortunately I completely stuffed up on that one - our timetables got changed so I had them first period instead of sixth (I normally wouldn't have class until 3rd period anyway), and wouldn't you know it, but I turned my phone off last night (so losing the alarm on it) and forgot to set my clock alarm, so I didn't wake up until 8.53am, 33 minutes AFTER I was supposed to be at school and 3 minutes AFTER my first class was supposed to start. On any other day it wouldn't have mattered but of course today... *double sigh* It's official - I'm a cotton-headed ninny muggins (I've been watching "Elf" with some of my students ㅋㅋ). Luckily my co-teacher knew that I wouldn't do something like that on purpose and wasn't angry - it's also her homeroom group so they were fine.

놈놈놈 (nom nom nom, haha^^)
I guess it's really a pretty typical way of ending my school year - violence and tardiness, although it's a nice change that it's me being late for once and not my students. If it was any other class than my good class I might still have wandered in 20 minutes late, just to be a jerk and interrupt their movie, since they do it to me all the time. Anyway, I better get going with finishing stuff for my winter camps! I have 20 hours of conversation class across the first two weeks, then 10 hours of a teacher's class and 10 hours of a students' class in the third week so I'll be pretty busy. And after last year, this time I know for sure not to be stupid enough to tell the VP or Principal about the class magazine/newspaper we're making, no matter how proud I am of my students :) Oh and it's 오징어덮밥 (ojing-eo deopbap, as in the picture above), which I love, with egg and vegetable soup (계란야채국) - which I also love! - and chocolate cake for lunch because it's Wednesday, so hooray!

Oh and one last reason to be happy: Ryan also has the day off on Friday! At least I hope so - if he doesn't I'm going to turn up at his hagwon, take a kitchen knife out of my bag and sit there glaring angrily at his boss while I stroke the knife blade for the whole day. A bit of a complicated story there that I won't go into, but it basically involves his boss dicking around and telling the Korean teachers that they had Friday off, then didn't, getting angry that they assumed they did, and then telling them that they DID have the day off and he was faking it to encourage them to work harder. Hi-LAR-ious, no?

Anyway, now that he apparently DOES actually have the day off, we can do what we had planned to do which is go to Deoksan to the Reesom Spa Castle, which is a warm water theme park, and then stay at this cute pension which has a jacuzzi in the room! How awesome is that?? Ryan originally tried to book us a place that had the in-room jacuzzi outside because he knows that I like outdoor spas, but since it will be the New Year's weekend places are pretty full up, so we couldn't find one that was free and also not horrendously expensive (like more than 400 000 won). And then I'm going down to Busan to meet up with my favourite ladies, including the Cheongju posse and my KBFF II, for what I'm sure will be an amazing NYE! So it will be a very exciting three day weekend ^_^

Oh and I'm meeting one of Ryan's sisters on Sunday for an early dinner/late lunch before she heads back to Seoul on the KTX and we go back to Cheongju, so wish me luck! I'm obviously going to have to go easy the night before so I don't look like I just fell out of a tree on Sunday when I meet her, haha :p

Anyway, happy Wednesday everyone! Hope you're having a delicious lunch today, if not a brilliant day :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happiness is a Hobbit!

Secret geek that I am, I was incredibly excited, then pissed off, to see the trailer for "The Hobbit". Excited because it looks AMAZING! (as everyone knows it will be) and pissed off because it's not being released until the 14th of December NEXT YEAR. What the hell Peter Jackson you tubby jerk! Why would you release the trailer a year before the movie is released??? So grr on that one. For anyone less than Martin Freeman in the title role and the fabulous Sir Ian Mackellan I would refuse to see it when it came out on principle.... Mind you, a year is quite a long time - by next December I'm sure I'd have conveniently forgotten that oath :)

Of course, there are those out there who it will be frankly wasted on, like this moron.

For those not in the know, this is the meme for 'not sure if ... or ...'. E.g. "Not sure if incredibly stupid or just trolling. Stupidly."
Apparently there is a bunch of behind the scenes photos etc on Facebook if you are into that kind of thing and have either the curiousity or the Facebook to see it.

Oh and weirdest yet of the conversations I've had with my weird first year girl's class, class 1-1. For some background, this is the class who fooled me into mis-pronouncing a bunch of K-pop groups' names wrong and sometimes randomly start singing in harmony with each other when I ask them questions. Anyway, today while two students were trying to get me to 'fess up about whether I had a boyfriend or not (I fooled them into thinking I was dating Rain for a while) and ordering me to "No joking! No lies!" I had another student stroking - yes, STROKING - my jumper (which while soft is not particularly so and doesn't have a particularly interesting weave or anything) and screaming in my other ear about how she'd killed her hamster from "too much stress" and showing me how she used to pet it and cuddle it.. with both hands.. The Dead Hamster girl is also the one who gurns at me from the back of the class, so sometimes I'll look up at her and find these faces staring back at me (amongst others), often in quick succession >

Sometimes it's really hard to keep a straight face :p Today's expression was her classic 'happy pyscho' face that looked something like these guys >

If you can imagine a 12 year old girl grinning widely and miming gripping a hamster so tightly and stroking it so heavily that it dies, you'll know what my morning was like.

Anyway, only 3 sleeps until Christmas! Woohoo! Can't wait to break into the Christmas goodies my lovely parents sent me :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Death to all dictators?

So apparently Kim Jong-Il died of fatigue mid-train ride on Saturday, according to Yonhap News. Here's another article from the Sydney Morning Herald that's a bit more detailed (my favourite bit is how he could apparently alter the weather with his mind and was as skilled as a trained mechanic by age 14).I'm kind of surprised - even though he's been in failing health for a long time and obviously no-one lives forever, I think the DPRK press had been doing a pretty good job of covering up how quickly KJI's health has been deteriorating. Let's hope he doesn't pull a Jesus in three days time :P (haha, I know I know, if Hell existed I'd be there in a hot pool with a face mask enjoying the sauna already) Since I've already blasphemed I might as well keep going - I know it's in bad taste, but Merry Christmas and/or Happy New Year everyone!

Back to being completely cereal, it should be a tense next few weeks and months. Let's hope that his son Kim Jong-Eun manages the change with a bare minimum of metaphorical muscle-flexing because North Koreans are probably going to have a hard enough winter with the cold and snow and, you know, general shortage of decent food, fuel and electricity already as it is. Or that, you know, the whole regime manages to collapse in on itself with a bare minimum of repercussion and turmoil - Christmas is the season of wishful thinking after all, is it not? Anyway, there it is. No alcohol at work, but a celebratory cup of tea is just as good :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Farewell Friday

Sorry for the less-than-usual-attempt at a cheery post to end the week on, but I felt like this was an issue in need of awareness. Over the last week or so there have been a lot of posts on the 1000th protest of the women mostly stolen or enticed away with the promise of factory work and all kept against their will as Comfort Women. These women are now grandmothers in their 80's and 90's and slowly dying off, but nevertheless congregate from all over Korea to stage a protest outside the Japanese Embassy once a week, every Wednesday, come rain or shine - not for the money or compensation, but just in the hope that they and what happened to them will be acknowledged and that they will hear an apology before they die. Here are the last two posts that give the best insight into their cause. Sorry about the swearing by the way.

The first is from the Ask A Korean! blog

Ask a Korean! News: 1000th Wednesday Protest, and a Comfort Woman's Story

First, a little bit of background. As many of the readers know, although the Japanese government recognized its responsibility for Imperial Japan's hand in forcibly recruiting Comfort Women, the Japanese government has not yet made any compensation out of government funds.

Some of the surviving Comfort Women in Korea -- there are only 63 of them, who are in their 80s and 90s -- protest in front of the Japanese embassy for the inadequacy of Japan's response every Wednesday. The "Wednesday Protest" to be held on this Wednesday, December 14, 2011 will be the 1000th one, after nearly 20 years of weekly gatherings since January 1992.

Dong-A Ilbo featured a story told by Ms. Kim Bok-Dong, who was recruited as a Comfort Woman at age 14. She is now 87 years old, and is the longest participant of the Wednesday Protests. The translation is below.

*                 *                 *

"Mom, how old am I this year?"

She said it has been eight years. I was 14 when I was taken, so I was 22. All my friends were married and left the town.

As I was being dragged around by the Japanese military and tortured, I completely forgot how many years have passed. One day, there was a commotion about liberation. I was in Bangkok, Thailand at the time, my last stop as a Comfort Woman. I took a boat with other women. We had almost nothing to eat on the boat, and it took us several months for me to come back home [which was Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.] It must have been around October when I got home -- the rice field was golden and people were harvesting.

I got home, and my mother was cooking in the kitchen. She was shocked, because I turned so dark. For so long, I was raped by hundreds and thousands again and again -- how could a 14-year-old child be right? My mother was in shock also because instead of crying my eyes out, the first thing I asked was: how old was I? I didn't really forget -- I blocked out the time when I had to deal with the Japanese soldiers.

When I was 14, someone from the local government office was in town, saying there was not enough people to make the soldiers' uniform. He told me, "you should go too." I said, "How could I? I never learned to sew." Then he said, "you can learn there. Don't worry, they will send you back by the time you got old enough to get married." I said, "I might go if I go with my mom, but I don't want to go." Then he scared me: "It's what the Japanese government wants to do. If you don't go, your family will be in trouble." I was scared, so I went along.

So I was dragged all over Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand and went through hell. At first, I had hope that I would get back home they promised that they would send me back when I'm older. So I barely hung on, counting days, but they would only take me to different countries. It's not like I could speak with them. I would tell them, "please send me home. I think I'm going to die," but the damn Japanese only laughed. Nobody listened to me, so I was practically a mute. After molesting a young child like that, I thought they would say, "sorry, you can go home now" -- but no one did. Two years passed.

Afterward, I lived without counting days. I gave up trying to figure out what day was today, what year was today. I think the pain would have broken me if I was counting the days. You have no idea when the pain would end, so you just hang on one day at a time. When the sun rises, I would think: "I'm awake." When the sun sets, "I'm still alive. It would be great if I died after I fall asleep." And then I would wake up the next morning again. The pain was unspeakable. I couldn't even imagine that it would take so long.

Ms. Kim Bok-Dong (second from the left) attends a memorial of Ms. Noh Su-Bok,
a former Comfort Women. The memorial was held at the 998th Wednesday Protest,
held in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul.

I hear the 1000th Wednesday Protest is coming up. I am 87 years old. All my protest buddies died off, and now there are barely 60 some odd people. I was 68 when I first joined the protest. I was a young grandmother at that time -- I could at least stand up straight. Other grandmothers had a lot of energy too, saying "we should fight." I heard that in that January cold, women's groups were getting together to protest every week to help the old Comfort Women grandmothers. I couldn't sit still, so I was took the train up from Busan, where I was living. They already had seven protests or so. I really thought, "Alright, I'm doing this. They wouldn't just sit around if a grandmother comes out like this."

I thought I had a strong resolution, but I just burst into tears in front of the Japanese embassy. I was trembling all over. All I could do was yell. I knew I had to protest, item by item, but all I could do was scream. For the crime of being a Comfort Woman, I lived in hiding outside of my hometown for 40 years, running a tiny restaurant. I have no child who calls me mother. All I could do was yell -- just come out and look at me, look at this old grandmother, after you made me unable to live like any other woman, unable to wear a wedding garb. I had no other way. I thought these bastards would come out and say, "we're sorry grandmother, we are sorry."

But the police came and put the grandmothers' on a bus. We were crying and yelling, but they just carried us out and put us down at the City Hall square. So what? We would come back. I took the train back to Busan. I even thought in the train back, "I should see this one through. If I keep showing up, wouldn't they at least say they were sorry?" I had hope. It's not about the money. If they are human, they had to apologize.

I came up for every protest. At the 50th protest, we went to the Blue House instead. We yelled at the front gate, "Mr. President, please come out, we need to get this resolved." The police took us again to the City Hall square. At first, I really thought it would be resolved soon, as long as I kept it up. I yelled at the protest, rain or snow. Yell, taken away and let go at the City Hall and go back to Busan -- and the time passed like that.

At first, we kept count. I figured around the 100th time they would hear us out -- but no. The Japanese embassy has twenty-some odd windows. When we go, they put the curtain down and block out all the windows. They don't even peek. No matter how much we chant -- "apologies and reparations" -- they put this thief-catching cameras on the gate and hide, just looking at what those grandmothers are doing. Now I am too old to yell, so I just look at the embassy, trying to see if they at least opened up the curtain a little. I can't even stand up straight anymore, but no one would listen. It doesn't matter how much we plead and protest.

Since then, I didn't count the numbers. I couldn't live like that. Now, I just let the week pass. I would realize it's Wednesday, then I attend the protest. I get home, and think another Wednesday passed. I hang on, one week at a time.

As I was dragged around for eight years, I began drinking at age 16. I would drink whiskey and gaoliangjiou when I had to deal with the Japanese, because I could not stand being clear headed. I would smoke after dealing with a Japanese soldier, because there was no other way to take care of the anger and sorrow in my young heart. Now, after each protest I sit in my room and chain-smoke. Every Wednesday, because they won't even draw their curtains no matter how much this grandmother yells.

After I came back, my mother said I should get married, since I was 22. She thought I was at a uniform factory. I had to tell her the truth. She could only say: "How would I meet my ancestors after I die? What would I say after turning my child this way?" She said that every day, then died only six years later. The doctor said her heart was full of anger.

There is a big commotion around this 1000th protest. I am just frustrated. My cataract surgery went wrong, so I can't see out of my left eye and the image is distorted out of my right eye too. I wonder if I could see at least those embassy bastards coming out and saying, "grandmother, please don't be angry any more. We're sorry," while I can still see. I couldn't even imagine that it would take so long. Being dragged around, not being able to say anything and not being able to receive any apology -- it's the same as before. I feel so helpless. I wonder if my mother felt this helpless also.

I miss my mom all of a sudden. This can't go over the 1000th time. We can't wait much longer. I am too old now.

The second is from the blog of a woman who volunteers at the House of Sharing.

Why I’m lucky to know the Halmonis
First off, I just want to say how happy I am to see the 1,000th protest photos explode on Tumblr.  Thanks to everyone who reblogged to spread the word about this issue.  It warms my heart to know that many people have gotten to hear at least a little about these courageous women.
Next, I want to write about how grateful I am to have been able to know them for the past 2.5 years as a volunteer at the House of Sharing. These women are truly remarkable.
I’ll start with an anecdote to illustrate the attitudes these women face when they go public as survivors of “comfort stations”.  On my own FB wall, an acquaintance of an acquaintance commented (one reason you should not accept just anyone’s friend request) in regards to a post I made about going to the 1,000th protest.  He wrote something along the lines that these women need to stop employing “nationalistic rituals” in order to ask for free handouts from the Japanese government and stop distracting from Korea’s more “pressing issues” (North-South relations, rise of China, etc). Of course, this guy thinks he’s an expert in East Asian diplomacy, all because he lived in Japan for a couple of years. I don’t think I need to explain any further, right?
And then I remembered once again how amazing these women are.  Because they hear this bullshit all the time and they are STILL fighting.  I was ready to put my head through a wall after just that brief discourse on my FB wall and it wasn’t even in reference to anything that I’ve been forced to experience.  These Halmonis have to listen to people casually discuss the THOUSANDS of rapes that they survived as if it’s a nationalistic plot or should be discarded in order to promote diplomatic relations.  This is not a pawn for strategic relations, people. These are real women - over 200,000 - who were systematically raped, beaten, tortured, and killed. And they have to listen to dickheads like this guy flippantly reduce the rapes and torture that they experienced to political maneuvering.
He also made several references to them being similar to prostitutes, that they had volunteered to work in this “comfort stations” or were paid.  Let me just make two things very clear here: First, even IF you “volunteered” to work as a prostitute (how many 11-19 year old girls in 1930’s Korea would really knowingly do that??), once they are unable to voluntarily leave their “volunteering”, once they are physically forced to stay somewhere and have sex with people against their will, it is rape.  Even IF (big if), the initially went there as a volunteer, they ceased being a volunteer and became subjected to rape when they were unable to leave at their own will, unable to refuse sex at their own will, unable to avoid physical abuse and torture at their own will.  Secondly, even though most of these women never saw a dime of the money being paid (in official Japanese military coupons, by the way), being paid by your rapist does not make you a prostitute. BEING PAID BY YOUR RAPIST DOES NOT MAKE YOU A PROSTITUTE. Let me say it again - if someone rapes me and then throws $100 at me, I am not a prostitute and you are still a rapist.
And even though they face these attitudes EVERY SINGLE FUCKING DAY, they still fight!  That is why I’m lucky to know these women.  They teach me that women’s voices matter.  That no matter how little socio-economic power we have, if we demand to be heard, we will eventually be heard!
When they were abducted and forced into “comfort stations” they were the most vulnerable members - young, poor, uneducated females - of an already vulnerable society - Korea under forced Japanese colonial rule.  And yet they have created the longest-running human rights protest in the world.  These women have been fighting for 20 years to be goddamn heard.  And people have listened.  The US, Canada, EU, Philippines, and over 25 prefectures in Japan have passed official resolutions, urging Japan to resolve this issue.  And that is powerful people.  Old, poor, uneducated women - the most underrepresented members of our international community made people hear their voices.
Then this FB guy demanded that if I was so sure that it wasn’t a nationalistic issue, I’d better be doing everything I could do to stop it “in my own backyard” (Korea), where Korean women are suffering in the same ways, but this time, not by Japanese hands.
And here’s another reason why these women are amazing.  They do exactly that. They stand in solidarity with Korean (and now also Filipina) women who were coerced to work in the 기지촌 (US military camptowns) in Korea. They fight with these women, they understand the connection between their issue and what is happening in Korea today.  One of the 기지촌 survivors actually spoke at the 1,000th protest.  Our House of Sharing International Outreach Team will be holding a workshop today with Duraebang (a shelter for Filipina women trafficked into Korea), translated by yours truly.  More info on that event:
Finally, I want to say of the estimated 200,000 women who were forced to work as sex slaves in “comfort stations” during WWII, approximately 150,000 were Korean women but only 234 South Korean registered officially as survivors.
Of those 234, only 63 are still living. Japan must resolve this issue, but they are literally hoping that the issue will die away with the Halmonis.

As much as I'd love to see it or support a protest (impossible with a public school timetable), I have yet to visit the House of Sharing, but this is their website for any who are interested. It doesn't look like they'll have any English tours until the new year, but they have a calendar of events for those interested in finding out, or of course you can contact them.

On a side note, one of those bizarre conversations I just had that seem to occur quite often in Korea.
Paige (my official co-teacher who I don't actually teach with, having just gotten off the phone from another teacher): Do you have any English word puzzles?
Me: What kind of puzzles?
P: Umm like a word puzzle.
Me: Er.. I don't but I can show you the program I use to make them. (Show her)
P: Oh, I meant like word scrambles.
Me: Uh, well, no I don't have any prepared. There's no program for them because scrambles aren't really complicated enough to need them. Can the teacher not make them himself since presumably he'll know what kinds of words will be needed?
P: Well, you know it's hard because we're not native English speakers... Are you sure you don't have any?
Me: Do you mean you want me to make some?
P: ... Yes.
Me: Ok. What kind? What sort of vocabulary should it use?
P: Any kind.
Me: ... Ok, well is there any special thing this is for?
P: This is for homework for students in the holidays. Mr Jeong is putting the worksheet together.
Me: So.. what kinds of words do the rest of the worksheets use? Should it be basic vocabulary or should it be something specific like feelings, weather, etc?
P: Anything.
Me: *ㅎ-ㅎ* Ok, well is it for first year or second year or what?
P: It's for students coming to our school next year. So you can use any words.

So basically the other teacher had called her and said 'get Amy to make some crud to fill the rest of the worksheets this afternoon'. Just to give you some background, they've been making these worksheets for three weeks (I saw one of my actual co-teachers working on one and discussed it). Why this had to wait until 3.40pm on a Friday I don't know. Paige tried to make it sound vaguely less ridiculous a request than it was, but still. So I ended up making it from vocabulary from the first year textbook. Unfortunately, the other teacher also didn't specify that he needed this stuff in a certain format (a program that only exists in Korea) so it didn't go entirely smoothly. I hope he didn't need it this afternoon as we both left at 4.30 :p

Anyway, that's about it. Happy picture for the weekend though^^ Have a great one people!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tangential post is tangential

Or should that be 'tangental'? Hmm. I've obviously been spending too much time on 9gag with the internet memes as my only friends. Too obviously when you consider I was playing Taboo last night and the word was "alone" so I said "the internet meme, forever ...?" But at least my friend got it straight away! I guess we're both sad and forever alone together...? Haha^^

Anyway, so I'm not dealing with student cuteness or ranting about how 'special' they are just yet - I'll save that to rant together since it's quite depressing. Or would be if I was sticking around for another year! Woohoo for resigning instead of re-signing! Haha, I know, I'm a dork^^

Instead, I'm going to post some photos from the lovely weekend I had in Busan with Christy, decorating her Christmas tree and missing Nat. We also had some delicious dwaeji gukbab (돼지국밥) or porky rice-soup which is basically soup with sliced pork that you add rice to AFTER it's cooked and enjoy with some nice eye-wateringly sharp kimchi. It's a specialty of Busan and delicious.

Our star/angel substitute
Danielle, Christy, Christy's friend Charlie

JP, quite drunk ㅋㅋㅋㅋ
맛있는 부산 돼지국밥 (delicious Busan dwaeji guk-bap)

In other news, it started snowing very gently last night, making for a very gloomy walk home from the bus stop. Today the sky had another whirl at it, making my students very excited. Don't know if you can see it here, but if you can, those white bits are the frosty chunks of slippery death that people call snow.

*sigh* Oh well, at least I get to use my wellingtons more now!


Oh and also, one thing that I like about this cold weather - it's perfect time for juk! (죽) Aka congee, aka rice porridge. I had some last week with Michelle - she had samgye-juk (삼계죽) which is like samgyetang (spring chicken soup) but with juk instead, and I had the sogogi nakji-juk (쇠고기낚지죽)
which was beef and octopus. Yum yum yummity!

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you're having a less snowy day. Oh and look, the sunshine is out now. Gotta love that temperamental weather :p

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas countdown

There are many things to write about, but right now all I can be bothered to deal with is one of my favourite parts of Christmas - the annual broadcasting of Frank Kelly's Christmas Countdown on the radio. Haha, it's weird to think of him as Father Jack!

Lol, there's not a line of this that I don't love, so rather than quote them randomly here's the script if you didn't catch the whole thing in the video (or have problems understanding Irish accents) and don't want to watch it again.

Day One
Dear Nuala,
Thank you very much for your lovely present of a partridge in a pear-tree. We’re getting the hang of feeding the partridge now, although it was difficult at first to win its confidence. It bit the mother rather badly on the hand but they’re good friends now and we’re keeping the pear-tree indoors in a bucket. Thank you again. Yours affectionately,
Gobnait O’Lúnasa

Day Two
Dear Nuala,
I cannot tell you how surprised we were to hear from you so soon again and to receive your lovely present of two turtle doves. You really are too kind. At first the partridge was very jealous and suspicious of the doves and they had a terrible row the night the doves arrived. We had to send for the vet but the birds are okay again and the stitches are due to some out in a week or two. The vet’s bill was £8 but the mother is over her annoyance now and the doves and the partridge are watching the telly from the pear-tree as I write. Yours ever,

Day Three
Dear Nuala,
We must be foremost in your thoughts. I had only posted my letter when the three French hens arrived. There was another sort-out between the hens and the doves, who sided with the partridge, and the vet had to be sent for again. The mother was raging because the bill was £16 this time but she has almost cooled down. However, the fact that the birds’ droppings keep falling down on her hair whilen she’s watching the telly, doesn’t help matters. Thanking you for your kindness. I remain,
Your Gobnait

Day Four
Dear Nuala,
You mustn’t have received my last letter when you were sending us the four calling birds. There was pandemonium in the pear-tree again last night and the vet’s bill was £32. The mother is on sedation as I write. I know you meant no harm and remain your close friend. Gobnauit

Day Five
Your generosity knows no bounds. Five gold rings ! When the parcel arrived I was scared stiff that it might be more birds, because the smell in the living-room is atrocious. However, I don’t want to seem ungrateful for the beautiful rings. Your affectionate friend, Gobnait

Day Six
What are you trying to do to us ? It isn’t that we don’t appreciate your generosity but the six geese have not alone nearly murdered the calling birds but they laid their eggs on top of the vet’s head from the pear-tree and his bill was £68 in cash ! My mother is munching 60 grains of Valium a day and talking to herself in a most alarming way. You must keep your feelings for me in check. Gobnait

Day Seven
W e are not amused by your little joke. Seven swans-a-swimming is a most romantic idea but not in the bath of a private house. We cannot use the bathroom now because they’ve gone completely savage and rush the door every time we try to enter. If things go on this way, the mother and I will smell as bad as the living-room carpet. Please lay off. It is not fair. Gobnait

Day Eight
Who the hell do you think gave you the right to send eight, hefty maids-a-milking here, to eat us out of house and home ? Their cattle are all over the front lawn and have trampled the hell out of the mother’s rose-beds. The swans invaded the living-room in a sneak attack and the ensuing battle between them and the calling birds, turtle doves, French hens and partridge make the Battle of the Somme seem like Wanderly Wagon. The mother is on a bottle of whiskey a day, as well as the sixty grains of Valium. I’m very annoyed with you. Gobnait

Day Nine
Listen you louser !
There’s enough pandemonium in this place night and day without nine drummers drumming, while the eight flaming maids-a-milking are beating my poor, old alcoholic mother out of her own kitchen and gobbling everything in sight. I’m warning you, you’re making an enemy of me. Gobnait

Day Ten
Listen manure-face,
I hope you’ll be haunted by the strains of ten pipers piping which you sent to torment us last night. They were aided in their evil work by those maniac drummers and it wasn’t a pleasant sight to look out the window and see eight hefty maids-a-milking pogo-ing around with the ensuing punk-rock uproar. My mother has just finished her third bottle of whiskey, on top of a hundred and twenty four grains of Valium. You’ll get yours ! Gobnait O’Lúnasa

Day Eleven
You have scandalised my mother, you dirty Jezebel,
It was bad enough to have eight maids-a-milking dancing to punk music on the front lawn but they’ve now been joined by your friends ~ the eleven Lords-a-leaping and the antics of the whole lot of them would leave the most decadent days of the Roman Empire looking like “Outlook”. I’ll get you yet, you ould bag !

Day Twelve
Listen slurry head,
You have ruined our lives. The twelve maidens dancing turned up last night and beat the living daylights out of the eight maids-a-milking, ‘cos they found them carrying on with the eleven Lords-a-leaping. Meanwhile, the swans got out of the living-room, where they’d been hiding since the big battle, and savaged hell out of the Lords and all the Maids. There were eight ambulances here last night, and the local Civil Defence as well. The mother is in a home for the bewildered and I’m sitting here, up to my neck in birds’ droppings, empty whiskey and Valium bottles, birds’ blood and feathers, while the flaming cows eat the leaves off the pear-tree. I’m a broken man.

Gobnait O’Lúnasa

And just for reference, this is Frank Kelly in 'Father Ted' and as his more normal self. Double haha^^

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Best Taekwondo demo ever!

*sigh* I still lament the fact that I never got to do Taekwondo as a kid. I don't think we had the diversity to have lessons in our area and my parents (well ok my mum) always seemed hopeful that I'd one day turn into a princessy girl and to this end made us do ballet (short and unsuccessful) and fan dancing. Having said that, we did also get to do Little Athletics, which I remember liking since I was pretty good at high-jump, and play netball (which is, granted, a fairly girly sport) and soccer. Anyway, that's a pretty roundabout introduction to this video which is awesome because a) it's a frickin' AMAZING show of taekwondo skills and b) they picked two good songs to do it to. Yay! ^_^

This is the link to the site if the video doesn't work. Thanks 9gag!

And not to trivialise it, but Happy Special Day to my mum and dad and beautiful sister! It was our first family event where all of us were there (mum being pregnant with Fran at the time) so it was a very special day indeed. Sadly the Post Office didn't share this view and as a result, I still haven't gotten my new Terry Pratchett book and acoutrements that mum had sent me three weeks ago :(
On the upside, I did get a pretty new mp3 player as a gift yesterday, thanks to the wonderful Mr Smiles :) And yes, it's bright pink, but I love it anyway, especially because it combines the gadgetry of Samsung with the only feature of Apple products I actually like - the design. Isn't it pretty? Oh and lol, I used this picture because it looks like the player is being pervy and has a fetish for women in sports bras, but I'm pretty sure this was supposed to allude to its Fitness mode. Anyway, it's very cute and has its own USB jack in the bottom so you don't need any extra cords or anything to connect it to your computer.

Oh and since today is a slow day, I've been watching The Lion King and LOVING IT! Like you needed to be reminded of it's awesomeness but here you go anyway. I love how you can re-watch "children's movies" from your childhood and now find it doubly brilliant because you now also get all the references they put in for parents :)


Hope everyone's having a lovely Wednesday out there :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Saying goodbye to November and my sanity

Just had class with one of the terrible first year boys' classes - the one where there was almost murder once if you remember? Anyway, they're little ... idiots... in that class. In most classes, but particularly in that one because there are so many of them. Luckily there is one kid I really like in that class too, Jae-Gwan, and I love that his number is 1 and that my co-teacher for that class makes them sit by number because it means that I have him sitting right at the front with his eager beaver smile beaming up at me and it makes the rest of the class not seem so bad. Still bad, but not so very bad. And that's saying a lot because they're terrible. There are actually a few good kids in that class but they mostly get drowned out by the others. For example, one of the others, Jeong-Won, who is actually quite bright, always without fail gets sent to stand at the back (actually with that class it's pretty pointless because there are never less than five students standing as punishment and once there were as many as nine of them arrayed around the classroom which is a lot for a class of 29) and today was supposed to be kneeling quietly because the back of the room was full. I looked up at one point in the lesson and he was rolling on his back and holding his knees with his legs in the air, pulling faces and apparently trying to lick his own butt. Or he could have been trying to Marilyn Manson-esque it up. Anything's possible. Another kid that I dislike with extreme prejudice (on the grounds that he's an ADHD little meathead with no off switch) put the whole class in an uproar for five minutes by answering the question "what animal do you think this is?" with "SEX MONKEY! F***K YOU!" at the top of his voice. *sigh* Even my extremely unimpressed death glares of disapproval don't work on them and my co-teacher for that class is lovely but useless and does nothing, so it takes ages to restore order, especially since they're teenage boys and don't know how to listen. Just another reason I'll be glad to be going home in February. I've adamantly shot down the idea of having summer or winter camps for first grade this year on the grounds that they would be a waste of time and effort, and with examples like that I think you can see why.

Anyway, so that was my Monday. The rest of the day was ok though and I don't have any after school classes so that's ok. I think if I go home, get a bottle of wine (or a big cup of tea first, more likely), Skype to Franniken, watch a movie and then go to bellydancing slightly drunk, I'll feel a lot better. You are more than welcome to join me dear readers, in spirit if not in body :)

But I shouldn't be so down. I actually had quite a lovely weekend, which is perhaps why today was so sad, what with the downswing from it and all. First of all, my KBFF II, Christy (haha, don't worry Lara and Nat, you guys still retain respective KBFF 1 statuses!) came to visit pokey old Cheongju for a weekend of gossip, good food, wine, more gossip, more wine and general merriment. We discovered a new restaurant called JJ's Grill that had less opaque glass than we thought, had a Thanksgiving potluck with some friends (i.e. we all ate ourselves into a food coma) and hit up a noraebang. I miss Facebook for the photo sharing aspect so I'll just post a few choice pics.

 So it was a lovely Saturday ^_^ Sunday saw poor Christy off on her long trek home (3.5 hours on a bus and another hour or so on the subway), and me off to Seoul to do some shopping and see "In Time" with Mr Smiles (my code-name for the new boyfriend I can now mention publicly^^ - so called because he is a very smiley person). And lo and behold the movie actually turned out to be a good one! Most of the Western stuff that ends up being shown in Korea is generic Hollywood crap ("Immortals", "Columbiana" and "Skyline" anyone?) but once in a while something good gets through and luckily this one had Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried in it to pass muster as popular enough to show in Korea because it was a good movie! Well, I thought so anyway :p If you haven't heard of it before, it's about a kind of dystopia where time is currency. Humans have been engineered to live to 25, at which point they both stop physically ageing and their body clock kicks in and they have a year left of time to both live and spend, meaning millionaires can live virtually forever and buy anything, while poor people scrape through day to day existences where seconds and minutes can make precious differences. The story kicks off when a guy from the ghetto (Justin Timberlake) ends up being gifted with 110 years from a millionaire sick of living and finally manages to break free of his 'time zone'.

Anyway, if you have the time and especially if you're in Korea and the choice is this or Breaking Dawn (Mr Smiles is, sadly, a Twilight fan ... *아웅*ㅠㅠ;;) I'd definitely recommend seeing this one. Both JT and Amanda Seyfried put in some good performances, as does Cillian Murphy, who plays the 'Timekeeper' (police) hounding our protagonists.
Oh and lol, yes, Korean men like shopping. I have a very cute blue fluffy Totoro doll for my cousin's baby daughter (hopefully she'll love it without questioning what it actually is for years to come) as a consequence :) After the movie, we went for dinner at La Grillia and I had real gnocchi in a real gorgonzola sauce! It was chestnut gnocchi, which I've seen but never had before, and the waiter was quite surprised that I ordered it and thought I should pick something else because it was quite heavy (not to say fattening). I'm guessing he's never seen a girl eat that dish before there, and was probably even more surprised when I not only finished the whole thing but also had dessert too. Hehe^^ Pictured is our vanilla ice-cream, almond and Earl Grey pannacotta, grapefruit wine jelly and blueberry yoghurt. Delish!

So anyway, here's hoping that the rest of the week improves from today. I have most of the rowdy classes under threat of making them do more work after exams rather than letting them watch a movie so fingers crossed that they all remember me telling them that last week. How about you, my lovelies? How's life out there in the Real World?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Best book ever!

Best. Book. Ever. No argue on that Even better than those weird Shel Silverstein books. 


Haha, I love 9gag!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday Warmth

Actually, there is because I only have two regular classes, one after school class and one English study group meeting so I have spent the majority of my day sitting in the warm staffroom, rather than my freezing cold classroom. Lucky for us teachers that the Principal's decision to 'save energy' by encouraging students to wear more underclothes and jackets doesn't extend to the teachers, but also that the cold snap came on very quickly this year as a lot of us were sick at the same time because last year the heating was on in his office a good week before ours and then the students had to wait another two weeks after that before the classrooms got any heating. I guess it's also indicative of the Korean education/student welfare system too that many of us bitch about where students get sent to school even if they're running a high fever as being present in the classroom should be sufficient to ensure some transfer of education apparently. Mind you, this also applies to adults - you should show up when you're sick to show how diligent you are, regardless of how close to collapse or infectious you are.

Anyway, not much is happening right now. Boyz II Men are having a concert in Seoul this weekend but sadly there aren't any worthwhile tickets left so I'll have to pass. On the upside, I've remembered how funny the comedy series Psych is.

Well that's about it, except for something funny to tickle your humour with :) It will only be funny to Harry Potter fans though, so sorry!

... and neither of them have GREEN eyes like in the book. Your life is a double lie Snape!
Oh and actually, a photo Christy sent me (official name: KBFF II or KBFF the second) that is absolutely adorable in it's llama-ness. Happy Llama-ing everyone! ^_^

Thought I saw a snowflake drifting down out of the horribly grey sky today as I walked home (around 5.15). Surprised it didn't melt in my glare (me not being a snow person as you may remember), but I thought I'd imagined it, thinking "well if it's raining, it's probably not dry enough to snow yet". The weather gadget on my computer says it's currently 2 degrees (celsius) and predicts scattered flurries though so maybe it is. Boo :(
I want a llama to cuddle! Or a fat Floss perhaps ^_^

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Filling in the mental blanks

So I realised something: without the handy excuse of Facebook, I've skipped write-ups or posts about certain things that have been happening or that I've discovered or enjoyed that really deserve some web time. Let's have a look at them now:

Tiff and Me with our lovely lashes
1. Eyelash extensions. They were awesome. Itchy, but by God my eyes looked beautiful for the three or four weeks it took for me to scratch them off. Perhaps if I wasn't such a consumate napper, they wouldn't have gotten so itchy. Also technically saved time in the mornings because I didn't have to spend as long curling and mascara-ing my eyelashes. We went to a hair salon downtown that had a beauty section and they cost w20 000 for the short ones (that I got which were more natural looking) or w30 000 for the longer more luxurious looking ones (like Tiffany got). Actually, I say 'we went' but really it was more like 'Tiffany went' and May and I impulsively decided to get them too. I was really annoyed that the lady took my eye makeup off though because I hadn't taken any more with me and thus felt very naked afterwards. Especially cos she didn't do the same for May and Tiffany after me!

2. Dakgalbi! If you haven't tried it, 닭갈비 is a delicious spicy broiled chicken dish, cooked with cabbage, sweet potato, onions, spring onions, garlic, enoki mushrooms (팽이 버섯), sesame leaves and lots and lots of chili sauce! The places that we go in our area also all have the absolutely mandatory (in my book) additions of cheese- and sweet pototo-filled ddeok or ricecakes. There's even one place that does pumpkin filled ones - my favourite! You fry the chicken in a massive iron dish at your table and eat it wrapped in lettuce or sesame leaves when it's done. You can either eat it with plain rice (if you find the chili a bit much to handle), or if you think you can stop eating early enough and restrain yourself, you can add rice and shredded seaweed etc at the end to make bokkumbap (fried rice). As well as the chicken, you usually get cold radish vinegar soup that serves to cool your mouth off and a bunch of side-dishes, depending on the quality of the place you go to.
 Dakgalbi is great for those chilly winter days when you just want to pig out on something spicy and filling and hearty. Or any time of year frankly, as long as you're ready to pig out ^_^

3. There is an awesome chocolate cafe in downtown Cheongju called 'De Chocolate Coffee' that I recently discovered with Michelle and Edithe. I know it's been there for a while but I've never been in before then, and am sad that I missed out for so long! Their Real Dark Hot Chocolate is w5300 (from memory, I think that's right) and totally worth it - delicious, smooth and rich. Apparently their Mochas (the same price) are just as good - after all, it is a chocolate coffee cafe - as are their truffles. I also tried a dark chocolate brownie from there and although it didn't ravish my tastebuds it was pretty good. A little dry and no nuts which I find essential in a good brownie, but still good. Sadly they don't really have any real food there beyond bagels so it's definitely a dessert-only place. However, there does appear to be free wifi, and it's up on the second floor so it's nice and peaceful there - good for an extended study or if you need somewhere quiet. Location wise I can only direct you there by landmarks - it's on the corner of the fashion street where all the shoe and clothes shops are and a side alley that runs by Pizza Hut to where the 서문 CGV is, on the second floor above S Shoes. It also stays open pretty late - we stayed one time until about 11 I think and we weren't the last ones there, but the staff didn't try and kick us out or anything - and the main barista guy who has been there both times I have speaks pretty good English and remembered who I was from the first time. It's a bit weird that the decor inside isn't more cosy, so it looks a bit industrial, but the drinks and chocolate stuff and quiet atmosphere more than make up for it.