Uncertainty can be happiness

"Security is a false god," or running around the world as an FSO

Archive for January, 2009

Saber rattling from the north

Posted by quirksalight on January 30, 2009

North Korea tears up agreements

Great…. Slow deterioration of N-S Korean relations….no bilateral agreements, closing of South Korean industrial investment zones in the North… I’m not sure if it’s good that I’m leaving or if I should stick around to see it play out.


Posted in Korean, news, Politics | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Snowboarding II

Posted by quirksalight on January 26, 2009

MLK day in the US, the first day of my vacation in Korea.
I went back to Bear’s Town Resort with Q and a couple other guys from Casey to practice….and ouch.
I did get a helmet, but it’s annoying… it muffles a lot of sound, and I feel like I’m overheating. But I’m going to need it for a while… especially since I’m trying to learn how to go backwards.

Odd thing… I bought a new pair of snowboarding gloves two weeks prior, when I first came to the resort. In the middle of one of the runs, I noticed that the seams were already popping and the stuffing coming out. This being rather irritating as they were pretty much new. So I went back to the resort shop to get a replacement… which I was able to, without a receipt. But… a catch… the only one of that type and price was… pink.

Here are some photos of the resort, Q, the board I was using, and my new gloves…

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, fun, Korea, outdoors, snowboarding, Sports, winter | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

Posted by quirksalight on January 26, 2009

This is an annual festival in Gangwon province, the northeastern most province in Korea. It’s also the mountainous, and the coldest. (FYI, the best skiing in the country is here)
Every January, the Hwacheon area has an annual Ice Festival, focusing on the Sancheoneo fish, which is a Korean mountain trout, in the same family as Salmon. It’s a freshwater fish, and lives in only in cold water. I attended it the weekend of Jan 17th.

Several friends and attended a trip organized by Adventure Korea, a tour group that caters to young expats here. Everything is taken care of, but the drawback is that you’re on a pretty tight schedule.
Ice fishing was interesting….we paired up, found a promising hole in the foot thick river ice, and tried to catch *something*. Not really…. we saw other people around us catch some tasty looking fish, but the only thing that happened with our hooks was missing bait. 😛

We did get some fish…because of a photo op! Apparently the PR people liked the look of our group b/c they gave us some fish for a PR shoot on the ice. So if you see me holding some Sancheoneo fish in a picture….

Other highlights include barehands fishing (yes, you strip down to shorts and a T, jump into a pool of VERY cold water to grab fish), ice and snow sculptures, bumper tubes, sledding, and other festival type rides.

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, Bizarre, festivals, friends, fun, Korea, outdoors | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

FSOT scores

Posted by quirksalight on January 21, 2009

When I found out that I passed, I sent a written request for the breakdown of my test scores, to see how I did. Well, I received them this past weekend… and it was all over the place. (doh!) I barely passed the Essay portion, but that’s not too surprising – I didn’t even finish it! I ranked approximately 81% and 72% percentiles on the general knowledge and English grammar sections, respectively. I should have done better on the English grammar….blargh. But the bibliographical section… yikes…47% percentile.

Still, I’m 11.25 points above the cut off… but… now that I see my scores… I really am worried about my chances getting to the Oral Assessment this round. Well, at least I know what I need to work on. Tick tock until February, when I find out!

I heard on the FSOT forums that they had already maxed out the test slots for the February test, which is 5000 applicants, already! I signed up about a week before the November test day in 2008. It’s probably a mix of the economic downturn, plus the wave of people applying b/c of the new Administration, and the fact that you don’t have to write the 6 personal narratives until you pass the exam.

Posted in application, challenges, future | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

What I wore to the Inauguration…

Posted by quirksalight on January 20, 2009

…was PJs, a shawl, and an ace bandage.
Sitting in front of my computer, with a cup of tea and my knitting, I watched the live coverage in the early hours of January 21st in Korea.

Listening to the new POTUS, I am still filled with hope. Which is what we, as a nation, is gambling on, isn’t it? We voted to choose a relatively inexperienced man as the leader of our country because we needed someone who would help us believe in us again. To really live and be “Proud to be an American”… which was hard, in a world that had slowly come to shun our policies and in turn, Americans. Now, it has come full circle, and we, the Americans abroad, can stop having to defend who we are and instead, promote that makes the United States that place that we all call home.

Pride in the nation that I call mine is something I took for granted until I left it. It bothered me, when I applied for my visa status, to sign away my Koreaness. Even stranger to realize that I didn’t exist anymore on my family’s geneological rolls…after so many generations, it ends. I felt that I was giving up a part of myself. But, as I lived here longer and longer, I realized that in my mind, I am and have always been, an American. Who I am, the way I think, the path I have always followed, has always fit more at home than in Korea.

And living out of the US for the first time in a quarter century, I had to defend my country. Anti-American sentiment wasn’t virulent, but existed. As a bilingual, I had explain why our export policies were solid, why we weren’t brash and annoying people, why our government was doing the things they did, to both Koreans and other expats. I received a physical attack for being a foreigner, and had to wonder, what friends meant when they said, “Oh, you’re an American? Really? I didn’t think you were.” Why? What is an American that isn’t I?

Instead of being pulled more and more between the two cultures I live in, I feel that my identity has been more solidified with my time here. I am a Korean-American. I treasure my heritage, the richness of the culture I was born in, and the diversity of the culture I have sworn an oath to. But when push comes to shove, the nation that I will promote and defend is the United States of America.

Posted in 2008 Election, Asian-Americans, commentary, election, election 2008, family, Korea, Korean, Mental Stream, Politics, Social commentary | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pretty Darn cool…

Posted by quirksalight on January 12, 2009

I watched this interview on Slate.com. This guy walked across the US with only $217 and a backpack. It give me warm and fuzzies. 😀

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by quirksalight on January 6, 2009

I’ve been wanting to learn to snowboard for a while, but have put it off for a host of reasons, including hitting my head really hard the last and only time I tried learning how to play on the slopes.

Well, I decided that it was time to learn, and hit Bear’s town resort outside of Seoul with Q and two of his friends. And it was so much easier than I expected! I picked up the basics within an hour, and with the encouragement of the boys, tried the other slopes.

It was an awesome day until later in the afternoon when an idiot on a board hit me at full speed from behind, completely taking me out. He was going so fast, his board left the slope and impacted my left leg above the boot. This swung my legs out from under my body so fast, I couldn’t catch myself before hitting my head on the slopes. It was such a bad impact, I could hardly move. It took several minutes for me to sit up and the ski patrol had to ski me down on a stretcher. Completely sucked. I think I had a minor concussion, and felt like someone had taken a hammer all over my body.
According to Q, who was facing me and saw it happen, the guy didn’t really break and was out of control. I have his name and number in case I have medical expenses that develop from the impact.

But you bounce back. After anti-inflammatories, food and rest, I felt better to give the slopes another go. Not too good. The two runs were awkward and painful, so it was time to call it a night. Can’t wait to try it again. 😛

Here are some pictures that Q took of the day.

Posted in accidents, adventure, ancedotes, annoyance, friends, health, Korea, outdoors, pain, snowboarding, Sports, travel, winter | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by quirksalight on January 5, 2009

Right on Christmas Eve, 10 of my 2nd year (8th grade) students got caught cheating on their final exams. Not 1 exam, but apparently it was a coordinated effort that had gone for two days before the students were caught.

Needless to say, the parents and the school were extremely upset, and the school was trying to think of a just punishment for the students.
At the school-parents meeting on the 26th, the school decided that the punishment should be getting zeros on all exams for the students. (which is pretty lenient in my opinion) Apparently the parents (!) thought this was too harsh and would mess up their chances to get into good high schools, and that it was the teachers (!!) fault for not observing them closely enough!! WTF?!?! Where’s the logic in that? The students planned and executed this – sheesh….

Posted in ancedotes, annoyance, Bizarre, Buheung MS, Bupyeong, commentary, education, Incheon, Korea, Social commentary, teaching, teaching english | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Happy New Year!

Posted by quirksalight on January 4, 2009

A couple days late…
It’s been nuts. Jumping out of grad school, leaving the US, and heading here. I’ve met great people and crappy people, but gratefully, more of the former than the latter. Picked up new skills in music and sports, and started to reconnect with my ethnic heritage.
But above all, I want to thank everyone who’ve encouraged and supported me through the constant changes of the past year.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »