Category: Life in Korea

Lying to have sex, smile like you got laid last night, and the Fit Tuckers

This article might be the basis of a future discussion class. Basically, an Israeli court found a man guilty of rape (rape by deception which is not punished as severely as rape by force as I understand) because he told a Jewish woman that he too was Jewish. In fact he was Arab.

In addition to discussing this specific case, what about all the other lies people tell each other before sex? Which ones should be punishable by law? Should you go to jail for lying about your age, income, sexual history, sex (like a man pretending to be a woman to get a straight man in bed), etc.?

And speaking of sex, today I saw a little girl, maybe 10 walking with her dad (I presume) in Yeouinaru Station. She was wearing a shirt that said “Smile lie you got laid last night.” I have to guess that neither daddy nor his little girl knows what that shirt means.

Kind of like the winner of the 2nd YTN HUFS debate tournament last Sunday. One of these days YTN the news station will air this debate on TV, the bebate won by a team called the Fit Tuckers. I guess the organizers had no idea that these high school kids were playing a joke until it was too late to make them change the name.

Watch MBC on March 21 arounf 9:45 PM

Because if you do turn on MBC, right after the 9:00 news you should see a few professors discussing English lyrics in Korean pop songs, praticularly Rainism (by Rain) and Mirotic (by 5 guys who dance around). Basically the reporter was trying to figure out just how dirty the English lyrics being use are.

That’s a little funny because Rain’s Korean lyrics are dirtier than his English ones and even got him banned from SBS.

Anyway, it’ll be me, the dean of my college, and another professor from our college.

Samsung QM5 new car purchase

I just bought my second new car in Korea, a Samsung QM5 (Renault Koleos in Europe and Africa). It was fairly similar to buying a Daewoo Kalos in 2005 except that this time we were able to test drive one by calling up a local dealership and talking to a saleswoman who was able to borrow a QM5 from a friend or something.

Now the QM5 starts at around 21,000,000 for the gasoline engine and around 23 for the diesel. The models go all the way up to 29 or 30 million. We ended up spending about 25 on the LE25 Plus (my wife wanted proximity sensors which are not available on the less expensive models). The base price is 24 but we got side curtain airbags and two-tone paint. Obviously after taxes and stuff it comes to more than 25 – I think we’re putting 12 million down and paying 15 million over 24 months. We were able to get about 400,000 off although the saleswoman is giving us that in cash because she didn’t want to put it on the invoice.

What led us to Samsung was the 0% financing they currently offer. Normal car loans are 9% or more in Korea. I know it sounds crazy – Americans currently expect to pay 6-7% but you can get 6-7% interest on a savings account in Korea so obviously banks need to lend at higher interest rates.

Anyway, they had 0% interest. My wife likes the QM5 styling. And we recently were driving our Kalos (a much smaller and cheaper car) and the wind was blowing it around a little bit and it didn’t feel entirely safe. We drove the big SUV (they call it a compact SUV or a crossover) and it was nice. We figure because it’s bigger and heavier it ought to be safer.

We pick it up in a couple of weeks.

Picking up a 6th stray

My wife and I rescued our 6th stray last night when we decided to go for a walk after dinner. I saw a litle Maltese walking around and followed it into an open space where some soccer team seemed to be spending their Sunday evening eating and drinking.

The dog started following some kid around and the kid got scared and fell. The father threatened to kick the dog so I yelled at him and went over to protect the dog. My wife yelled at me (I shouldn’t really be fighting, especially because of my recent surgery) and my wife told the guy he shouldn’t kick dogs.

We called the dog but there were a lot of people’s legs in the way so we couldn’t pick him up immediately and we were being a bit indecisive. All this time my wife was asking people if the dog had a home but everyone said it was a stray.

Some other guy picked up the dog and treated it quite lovingly except for the talk about eating it. I like to think he was joking, but my wife had actually seen the dog walk into a place that sold dog meat right around there so she told me to take the dog from him, which I did.

Then some lady told us that people come first and not dogs. My wife started yelling at her. Not so much because of her message but the lady was pretty condescending – I mean she’s sitting there getting drunk next to a place that sells dog meat while one of her friends threatens to kick a little stray dog (this Maltese is probably around 6 pounds) and she wants to teach us about life’s priorities?

My wife and the lady yelled for a bit until some guy came over and put his hands on our arms and told us to leave. My wife and I both told him to take his hands off us, my wife still yelling.

Anyway, we left with the dog and started calling local vets (mostly closed on Sunday night). One answered the phone and opened up for us. He said the dog has probably been a stray for a while even though it smelled like soap. Seems strange.

Anyway, the dog stayed at the vet overnight and will get checked out today. Then we’ll try to find her original home (a long shot I guess) or a new one. Wish us luck!

Bringing cars from America to Korea

My wife and I talked to some people from Seoul Customs Office about bringing a car from America to Korea. Basically you pay for shipping and pay 36% tax to bring the car into Korea. They said shipping would be aroun $1500-$1800.

This article says that shipping is more like 2.5 million Korean won and that you end up paying 4 million to get tests done and to register the car. They also say that the FTA might decrease the tax you pay by 8% – the import duty would be abolished leaving people to “pay taxes totaling about 20 percent, including a special excise tax, education tax, and value added tax.”

After some internet searching I haven’t been able to find any more decent information so I’ll try asking around on various forums. I know people do this – I guess they never talk about how on the internet…

Questions about teaching, earning money & bringing a family to Korea

I recently received this email and got permission to answer it publicly in case other people have the same questions about teaching in Korea:

I’m writing you in order to beg for information and advice because I would like to go to Korea at the end of next year and try to teach at a university like you’re doing. I have absolutely no experience teaching English, though I might acquire some in an internship next summer, and I will have a Master’s degree. (I’ve also subbed a little at high schools.) I’m comfortable with being booted out after two or three years because I really don’t care to stay any longer. And here’s the kicker: I’ve got a wife and two kids.

Do you think that Korean university wages would be sufficient to fly my family over AND pay off my loans AND live? Is there even such a thing as family housing for these jobs? How hard was it to get your job at CUK? Is is a decent place? How did you find your job? Dave’s ESL Cafe, or some secret backdoor for the cognoscenti that I have yet to discover? How’s life? Is Korea cool? From what I’ve read it seems like I’d like it a lot.

Regarding the question about supporting a family and paying off loans on university wages, you probably would not have enough. However it would be fairly easy to supplement your income with overtime from the university (some pay very little for overtime), private lessons (illegal if you don’t do the paperwork and in my experience no one – not even government agencies – want to do the paperwork), or side business (like my websites or network marketing).

Some universities offer housing large enough for a family; the further away from big cities you teach, the better your chances of finding a big apartment from the university.

I did find the CUK job on ESL Cafe and also my current position at Sookmyung Women’s University. The TESL-L job mailing list and the website are other possibilities. The university positions are competitive but if you have a Masters you should have no trouble getting interviewed for most of them. I tend to interview well so it is fairly easy for me to find positions in Korea. I know people who have better qualifications on paper who have a more difficult time finding good positions. You’ll have to persuade your interviewers that you’re an excellent teacher.

Regarding life in Korea, it is cool. My wife and I have no kids, 1 dog, and two incomes. We live quite well since tax is low and many things (like Korean food) are inexpensive. Today my wife and I had lunch delivered to my office and spent about $8 total. We could easily go out for dinner and spend the same amount.

One warning is that newcomers to Korea often have trouble coping with the germs – they are tough over here. I was sick my first few years in Korea and many foreigners experience the same thing. I could recommend some supplements (the same ones that saved me) but to supply your entire family would be rather expensive. My wife and I are a bit obsessed, but we spend a few hundred dollars a month on vitamins and things. I’m sure it’s worth it since I no longer spend money on doctors and medicine (both very cheap in Korea) and have more time (I don’t lose time to sickness) to earn money.

A sad story about a Korean sex slave that reveals something about Korean culture

This article touches on many aspects of Korean culture, from the sex industry, to money lenders who charge 25% interest, to the scarcity of good-paying jobs for women, to the idea that girls go to college to find husbands. And how all that led one Korean girl who grew up poor into taking a job in America where she was turned into a sex slave.

There’s a lot of material here for discussion classes, though some of it will certainly be uncomfortable. Still, the parts about running up credit card debt and turning to moneylenders should be fairly safe. The other issues are important, but is it our job to bring these serious issues to class?

Am I great Korea tour guide or what?

Here are links to what I did for my friend from New York when he cam to Seoul recently.

Day 1: Kyungbok Palace, Namdaemun, JJ Mahoney’s

Day 2: Bongeunsa & Coex mall in Seoul, Korea

Day 3: The National Museum of Korea

Day 4: War Memorial of Korea and Hongdae

Day 5: Han Ok Gol Village, Waffle House, shopping

Day 6: National Assembly Building in Yeouido, Seoul Arts Center

Day 7: DMZ, Insadong, Chungyechun, City Hall, drunkeness, Seoul taxis

Day 8: Seodaemun Prison & Shinchon

Day 9: Shabu Shabu, Acupuncture, Dak Galbi, Noribang

Day 10: Black Rubber Shoes, Zibe, Su Norebang in Hongdae

Can you find me?

Take a look at this picture of Red Devil Korean soccer fans in City Hall for the big game. I was there, and it was just a crazily huge crowd. Feel free to save me from talking to myself on my soccer forum.

Is the Korea Herald evil?

I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to clean spyware and adware of my PC recently. One problem is MyLinker and it’s possible that the Korea Herald is responsible. Shoddy newspaper and evil adware installing website? I hate the Korea Herald (and they made MyLinker very hard to get rid of – still working on that).