Thursday, July 1, 2010

the cries of reds...

last saturday, the shouts of reds became the cries of reds as korea got knocked out of the world cup. had the us and korea both won on saturday, they would've played each other in the next round. this possibility left many of us torn over who we'd cheer for. not me though, cause i was cheering for north korea and north korea only! i thought they were gonna shock the world for sure! and they did, but maybe in the wrong way. 0-8 against portugal.. i only saw the first half when they were only down 0-1, so i have no idea what the heck went wrong in the second. oh well, next time..

in 2002, when korean soccer first jumped onto the world stage, this happened in seoul plaza:

so 8 years later, on opening day (against greece), that's where i would go. the rain came too..
the shouts of reds!
the only other time i cared this badly for a country to win some
world event was in the '08 olympics with the redeem team.

the girls painted their nails red and blue for korea (or for the US you could argue..)

the number of nails you get done represents how korean you are.
or how ballsy or confident you are in your masculinity...

we beat greece 2-0!

Jinju Outer-City High School Teacher's Volleyball Tournament:
yes, there are 9 players on the court

yes, that is a 4-man block

yes, we did win

9-man volleyball is non-sensical. we never rotate. so by playing the center position, i get to both pass and attack. all day. it's just not fair.
prize money: 100,000w ($80)
cost of the dinner for all the players and supporters: over 250,000w
cost of the P.E. teacher (aka setter) saying to me, "This is the first time our school has ever won this tournament. And it will also be our last...": priceless.
next year, foreigners won't be allowed to participate lol.
we also challenged the athletic high school, the winner of the inner-city tournament, but were turned down. word on the street was that they were scared of what losing to a bunch of science teachers might do to their reputation...

almost got run over by this little beast

what i did at school pretty much all year. since morning here is night back home and since
i almost never teach in the morning, mornings in the office have meant nba time =]

speaking of the nba, how awesome were the finals? unfortunately for me, i wasn't able to catch game 7 live. so i devised a plan where i would avoid facebook (since people are always ruining everything with their status updates) and then watch it later. that way i'd get to enjoy it properly. well, i guess i should've stayed away from email too. my mom writes to me, "the lakers did it again!" i didn't even have to open the email to have my great plan spoiled. thanks a lot mom.

later that night, ashley pinney, or an ashley pinney impostor, would also ruin this for me in a text message. korean phones have this silly, non-sensical, capability that allows you to text from a number other than your own. how is this a good idea at all? i still think it was ashley though, no matter how many times she swears it wasn't her...

ashley was definitely responsible for this one though. sprained my
right ankle for the second time in 3 months. out for like 2 weeks.

since i keep getting injured/since i'm getting older, i'm not gonna be able to jump over people for much longer. i have therefore been trying to pick up a new physical talent - handstands. my goal is to be able to walk away from korea with this ability (among no other things).

pretty much perfected the tripod headstand.

what you know about this?!

i also picked up baking. check out my monkey!

she claims this was a bat. or an angel. or something. i have no idea.

speaking of food...

cheese fries pizza! it really doesn't get any better than this! and in korea of all places too!!

5 loaves of bread and 2 fish (i love jubilee church!)

this was the plane i took the day i was delayed an hour because the president of korea, the premier
of china, and the prime minister of japan were all trying to leave jeju after their big summit.

playing guitar on the wall of the jinju fortress.
i submitted this in for a taylor guitars contest in which the top 6 won
baby taylors - i still have no idea how this didn't crack the top 6.

one half of daehan minguk (d.park's dogs)

definitely getting a dog when i get back to LA.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

in honor of my g'ma

*Today I discovered that I had started writing a post 2 months ago on my birthday..

My grandmother passed away two weeks ago – two weeks before my 23rd birthday. This brought me home from Korea to celebrate her life with my family. And what a life she lived indeed. Born in China in 1916 to a prestigious family, the communist revolution in the 1950s would force her to flee with her family (my dad was just 1 at the time) to Hong Kong and then later to Taiwan where she would struggle to raise her family for the next couple of decades. Then when my grandfather passed away in 1984 (3 years before I was born), she came to Los Angeles, where she lived until the ridiculous age of 94.

We had a service just for our family on Saturday, which was a tad bit awkward in the beginning. My family definitely was not all that close – many of us hadn’t even seen each other in years. But it ended up being such a good time. After spending all day Saturday together we started to feel like a real family.

Family is so important. It’s sad that it always takes tragedies to make us realize this, but that’s how it is I suppose. I wish we had more opportunities to spend good together. I wish I had made more of an effort to get to know and to be with my family. I wish my family had more fun together and could support each other like a real family should.

So if family is so important than why are so many families falling apart? I obviously am no expert, but I suspect a lot of this is due to pride and selfishness. When we stop putting the needs of others ahead of our own and focus only on what we want, that’s when love begins to die – that’s when relationships fall apart.

A week after burying my grandmother in Los Angeles, I was back in South Korea celebrating my birthday. Birthdays (like deaths) are strange in that you can’t help but to examine your life. You ask questions like are you satisfied with your life right now? Have you grown over the last year? Do you have any real friends? Are you happy? And so on.

One year ago I was still in college. About a week away from when my theses were due, which probably meant I was freaking the heck out and not sleeping. Now I’m here in Korea and it feels so weird. All the people that I have spent years, even my entire life, with are not here. In their place I have my students, co-workers, host family, Fulbright and Jinju friends.

In my last year here in Korea, these people have been like family to me. I consider my good friends to be my family. I don’t know if this is because I’m an only child or if it’s because I didn’t spend that much time with my extended family growing up or what, but the same things I would do for my family I would do for my friends. These friends here in Korea have supported me when I was feeling down and brought me so much joy. Without them I probably would have run away from Korea a long time ago.

All this is to say treasure your friends and family and keep them close to you. Put their needs in front of your own. And enjoy living with them because in the same way that there’s no point in living a life you don’t enjoy, there’s also no point in living if you’re all alone. Good friends and family can help you get through anything.

yeah, i have a fan club, what up?!

i've got an entourage too (some of my fulbright buddies who came down to jinju for the weekend). the main event of that night was a talent show, in my honor of course, at my favorite coffee shop. i had a ton of people sing to/for me, got to be a part of a magic show, was given balloon animals, heard a speech, and was even fortunate enough to get to be forced into performing at my own birthday party. seriously, who has to work on his own birthday? i've got some awful friends.

the music fountain.
pretty much my favorite spot in jinju. especially since the fruit makgeoli shop
is right next to here; the coffee shop is also just on the other side of the river.

peace, love, and happiness.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

girls' generation

girls' generation (pretty much korea's hottest pop group) has dominated my life for the last few months. this story begins when i was given a girls' generation poster. my host-fam got super excited when i showed it to them and my host-dad took it and put it up in the hallway right underneath their family portrait. he then asks me which girl is my style and we all go around choosing our type. when it gets to host-mom's turn, she looks at it for a few seconds then turns around saying, "none for me."
every morning when i wake up and go into the hallway, i see this poster and it makes me laugh.

then, one weekend in seoul, i just happened to pass by seoul plaza in a taxi, when i noticed there was some huge ceremony/festival going on. i saw the olympics logo and jumped out of the cab! sure enough, it was some olympic ceremony. i was thinking to myself, "what if i get to see kim yuna?!" but it got kind of boring (too much korean) and i was thinking about leaving when i heard the glorious words "so nyeo si dae..." girls' generation was there!

next, kate picked up some jessica (the blonde one) socks for me. but they're like half the size of my foot. so i started wearing them as mittens instead. and what do you know, everyone starts commenting on my style.
i am a leader of korean fashion.

my dad come to korea for a few days. we spent the weekend up in seoul before coming down to jinju. here we are with the principal, vp, and a few of the other english teachers. i'm not sure how much he liked korea... haha

here are some pictures during snow season

the jinju fire/new moon festival. this was ridiculous! they built this giant statue and then set it on fire!

just as it was starting to get warm, the very day that i bought a new basketball, this happened... that's the bruising from my sprained ankle. at least the weather sucks right now otherwise i'd be so tempted to go out and play.
it is a pretty comical situation though. since i sprained my right ankle, i now drive using my left leg with my right leg elevated on the passenger's seat. i'm surprisingly talented/comfortable with my left.

lastly, we are now in the 3rd week of school. it's been a blast! i'm still only teaching 8 hours plus 2 teachers' classes and possibly an English club once a week. the new students are really cute and their english ability might actually be better than the 2nd graders... only 4 more months now.. crazy! my principal told me that he wishes i could stay for another year.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

the sun (winter break, phase 2)

just got back from my two week trip to vietnam (hanoi and halong bay), malaysia (kuala lumpur), and indonesia (bali). it was a great trip. there weren't really any problems. the locals we encountered were real friendly and helpful. stayed at some amazing hotels, for cheap too. and we soaked in a ton of sun too! which we were so lucky to have seeing as how it's rainy season down there right now. but aside from one night where it came down pretty hard, it only drizzled on us maybe a total of 5 times, and always for only like an hour or so. all of us got burned (some worse then others). this has to be the darkest i've ever been in my life. i came home and my host bro was like, "you look like you are from singapore."

not only was the sun great, but the food was amazing too! pretty much every meal was amazing and the food was so cheap! in vietnam we were paying dollars to eat. and then in bali i was ordering two dishes every time and the most i ever spent was probably $15. (and that's with ordering expensive food such as ribs and lobster AND steak. my lobster and steak was $10. $10!) i ate so much!

interesting fact about the three places we visited: all are dominated by different religious groups. 85% of the vietnamese are buddhists. 60% of malaysians are muslims (the malaysian constitution actually requires all malays to be muslim), while 20% are buddhist (the chinese), and 6% are hindu (the indians). it was so interesting to see how these three religions coexisted. in Chinatown, for example, centers of worship for all three can be found. considering how less than 2% of the entire indonesian population is hindu and how 86% are muslim, it was especially ironic that 93% of the balinese would be hindu. in all three places, religion was clearly an integral component of daily life.

anyway, on to the pictures:

partial solar eclipse during our layover in beijing (our layovers in china were probably the worst part of our trip, but i won't say anymore then that lest the chinese govt. come knocking...)

.hanoi + halong bay

best pho place i have ever been, and will ever go, to where they give you a TON of meat and the broth is amazing

every second on the street, i feared for my life...

so many bikes

water puppet show, which was good for the 15 min or so that i was awake lol

on the marvelous junk boats in halong bay

some cave in the bay

playing some volleyball with the vietnamese boat crew. we would get to play a couple more times in bali too, but no pics from that

yeah, i still got it

hoan kiem lake, literally across the street from where we stayed

charcoal painting of halong bay

sweet oil painting i picked up in hanoi. should've bought more. they were so cheap

.kuala lumpur

petronas towers. we were even fortunate enough to pick up some of the free tickets up to the skybridge

batu caves. huge hindu shrine carved into some mountain side. we were about a week or so early for some huge annual festival here

at the central markets in chinatown, instead of shopping like normal people, kate and i designed our own batiks. i made a baby tiger

kate's elephant

i take it back. i did pick up this bruce lee fan at the central markets

the kuala lumpur international airport has a jungle inside of it


kuta, where the surfers go

@ the kuta lagoon resort and pool villas where you can swim right up to your door

sunset in kuta

nusa dua, where the rich (and kelly and meghan) go

random cows right off the street

basketball at the novotel

the girls got serenaded to

sanur, where the old people go

@ the mercure resort with beachfront access

dinner at a beachfront cafe

sunrise in sanur

new friends

the two weeks went by so quick! i could've stayed in bali forever. beautiful beaches. warm ocean water. mildly hot weather. cheap food. sigh... it's only been two days and i already miss the sun and not having to use a heating pad when i sleep. at least it's hotter in korea now, it's supposed to hit 50 degrees tomorrow.

also, i just found out that what i had been planning on doing for phase 3 of my winter break is no longer happening. so now i have no idea what i'm gonna be doing with this last month before school starts up again. i guess i could start lesson planning...