Uncertainty can be happiness

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

Posts Tagged ‘Seoul’

The Little things in life.

Posted by quirksalight on August 2, 2010

I’ve been at Embassy Seoul for little over a month now, and it’s been a rollercoaster. From running around, planning visits, to meeting contacts, managing (actually, more being managed BY) the LES, and mentoring interns, it’s been a trip. For the most part very good, some low points of frustration and wanting to hit my head against a wall as I scrabble up the “learning curve”. Though, at times, it definitely feels like a cliff. But I’m getting it. And the little things makes me smile.

Getting up at 3am, running around on adrenaline and realizing at the end of the day, EVERYTHING was OK.
Laughing with a new contact as an introductory interview becomes more of a conversation between new-found friends.
Realizing that I CAN conduct at least a part of a meeting in Korean – well, it was about food, eating, Iftar and Ramadan – but STILL… no translator needed for that, and it was official, with some technical words and stuff! 🙂
Amazon delivers in a week – no extra shipping charges. I ❤ APO.
Yongsan has an amazing library; with better hours than back home!!!

And realizing that my creative skills weren't rusty – I make damn good mango-banana bread, and assembled my own pillow-top bed.


Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, Books, Embassy Seoul, geek, Humor, Korea, Korean, language, meeting, Seoul, work | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »


Posted by quirksalight on July 28, 2010

One of the hardest things to figure out is what is legit to post online and what is not. The general rule I tend to use is that if I’ve got to ask myself whether I should or shouldn’t post, I don’t. This might be overkill, but better safe than sorry, and I’ll know more where that line is, the longer I’m in the Service.

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, blogging, musings, thoughtstream | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Next Door ’08

Posted by quirksalight on July 6, 2008

Next Door is an annual music festival on the banks of the Han River at Hangang Park (close to the Seoul World Cup Stadium). This year, it was June 27 & 28 (Friday and Saturday).
A couple friends and I attended the Friday show this year, with a bit of an adventure to get there. Starting off it was normal; take the bus to Hongik to take the shuttle there. We couldn’t find the shuttle bus. So we walked to another subway stop, asking people about directions on the way. We were told that the closest subway stop was the World Cup Stadium station (TRUE) and that the park was a 15 minute walk from there (FALSE).
But, thinking that it was both true, we went to the station, and started walking. And walking. And walking. Until the sidewalk ended at the expressway with no way to get across. Grr….
Faced with this obstacle, we decided to find a cab. Nope. Nothing available. Walked BACK to the World Cup Stadium subway stop, still no taxis. But, of all things, the shuttle bus to the festival was sitting at the subway stop, just waiting. I mean, WTF?? So we hopped on and got to the Festival over an hour later than planned. But as we saw from the ride, it really wasn’t possible to get there by walking.
The music was fabulous! I really wanted to see a trance group from Israel called “Infectious Mushroom” and we got there about 40 minutes before their set was to begin. This group alone was worth the 20,000 won admission fee (about $20 USD).

end of encore.AVI

More pics and photos here:

Next Door 2008
Was definitely considering attending on Sat, but between Kumdo and the rain, it was too much.

Posted in amusing, ancedotes, Bizarre, dancing, festivals, Korea, Music, outdoors | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

North v. South Korea soccer match

Posted by quirksalight on June 22, 2008

Interesting game. People watching was even more so. 🙂

Image hosted by Webshots.com
look! pictures here

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

Visit to the (former) family farm

Posted by quirksalight on May 12, 2008

I went this past weekend to visit my eldest uncle (maternal), aunt, my eldest (very pregnant) cousin and her husband. It turned out that they were living in a newer house on the lands that used to be the family farm, north of Seoul in Gyonggi province. Now, I was under the impression that the land had been sold off after my grandmother’s death as that was what I was told by an older male cousin of mine. (Grr….)
As it turns out, a good deal of the lands had been sold, and nothing was recognizable except for the old house. Everything else that I remembered, the pig pen, groves of persimmon and chestnut trees, and the huge german shepherd dog, were either gone or altered. The pig pen and the dog were long gone, and the groves were down to a handful of trees. The burial mounds were there, of ancestors I never knew about and of my grandparents. I need to go visit those, but that’s another time…
There were several houses close by, none of which were there before. Then again… it’s been over 20 years and Seoul has expanded massively.

And the house. It hasn’t been used for over half a decade and it showed. The house is in an obvious decline, with holes and cobwebs everywhere. It’s mainly used for storage for machinery and tools now. But I looked into the courtyard and saw the areas I remembered playing as a kid. That was very recognizable, with the dark wood floors, cement edging, and the sandy-colored dirt of the courtyard. I’m not sure if I’m happy that I saw the house, or would have rather it be gone then see it as it is now. On the upside, it’s there for me to go back to, you know?
The visit went well – my cousin showed me around, we all had a great lunch, and I saw the preparations for the soon to be arriving baby. The area is very pastoral for being so close to the city (it’s a 45-50 min bus ride from downtown Seoul) and my relatives have a very large garden, almost a mini-farm, with chickens, including a very annoying rooster that a wanted to strangle.
Now that I know how to get there, I’ll be back to visit, especially as the summer and fall rolls around, when I’ve got a bit more time. And next time, I’ll remember my camera.

Posted in ancedotes, cousins, family, history, Korea, memorial, memory, metaphors, Seoul, travel | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »


Posted by quirksalight on April 27, 2008

This past Friday, several friends and I went to see a modern dance performance at Songjo Theater in Seoul. Going home, we took the DongIncheon Rapid transit subway line on our way back to Incheon as it cuts our transit time by 20-30 minutes. On the subway, which was pretty packed, the four of us were talking about the evening and our respective experiences in school when a middle-aged Korean man, dressed in a suit, yelled at us, “Shut up!” in English. We all turned to look at the man, who was looking very angry. As we were laughing prior to this outburst, we thought we were too loud. So we quieted down, and spoke softer to each other. But he started yelling again, telling us to shut up, and in Korean, started telling us loudly that if we are coming to Korea then we should speak in Korean.
I turned to him, saying in Korean, “I’m sorry, but my friends only speak in English, so to converse, we have to speak in English.” He then starting yelling that we shouldn’t talk in the subway and we were too loud. I replied that we were talking just as other people in the subway car were talking. When he refused to actually do anything but yell at us, I just told him that I’m sorry he felt that way, and ended the conversation.

Turning back to my friends, we started talking quietly once again, when the guy reaches over several people and punches me in the head! The entire subway car (who had been watching this exchange) gasped at this. It’s considered wrong to hit random people in most societies, but it’s definitely taboo for a guy to hit a girl in Korea.
We were completely stunned at this turn of events, and my cry of pain when he hit me broadcast that he hurt me to everyone in the car. For a couple moments, I was at a loss at what to do, as I’ve never been assaulted by a complete stranger, and totally didn’t expect it in Korea. (I guess I know better now) But after, I just thought to myself, “screw it, I’ve already been hit. I’m going to continue my conversation with my friends,” and we started up our conversation once again. The assaulter didn’t say anything for 5-10 minutes, and we thought it may have blown over. But then he started yelling at us to shut up and not speak English again.

In a new turn of events, it was became quite apparent that he had pissed off the entire subway car. When the assaulter began ranting again, another Korean man spoke to him (in Korean), “Hey, why don’t you keep it down? We’re all starting to get bothered by your yelling.”
This just turned the assaulter’s attention to the second man, to whom he yelled, “why are you telling me to be quiet?! I’m not the one speaking in English. They should shut up!”
The second man, who spoke up for us, said “I don’t understand what you are yelling in English because I don’t understand it. I care that you are bothering the other passengers and are shaming us (Koreans). Why don’t you step off the train, so you don’t bother us?”

This just continued to escalate as the subway move on, with the two men exchanging more and more comments with increasing heat and vigor. We had planned to just continue on to Bupyeong Station, to not get forced off the train because of this guy, but it was getting apparent that we were a catalyst to a burgeoning conflict. So the four of us decided to step off the subway one stop before Bupyeong.

When we got off, two people, a male and female, got off and stopped by to talk to us. They wanted to apologize for the behavior of the assaulter, because they were embarrassed that a Korean would and can act in such boorish manner. The woman looked stricken when I told her my head was ok, and that the pain had gone away by this time, as she hadn’t realized that he had actually struck me. The guy, Tony, wanted to make sure that we were alright and wanted to reassure us that the assaulter was the exception, not the rule.

Being the focus of random violence is so disturbing, as the question of WTF??? reverberated in my head, and I admit being in a funk for the rest of Friday night. But what really helped was the random people who stood up for us, and the people who came to talk/apologize to us after. I’ll definitely put this behind me, but I am still warier now then I had been a couple days ago.

Posted in ancedotes, Asian-Americans, Bizarre, english, Korea, Korean, pain, People, Politics, Social commentary, stereotypes, teaching english, travel | Tagged: , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Part 4: The motorcycle

Posted by quirksalight on March 25, 2008

The original plan for Saturday night was to explore Itaewon, get some salsa dancing in, and maybe hit up this fundraiser for an English teacher (Bill Kapoun) who died due to injuries received in an apt fire in Seoul.
We (Wietske, Lindsay, and I) had split up after shopping and were planning to meet up at salsa dancing in Itaewon, when I get a phone call saying that there is nothing to drink at the dance club, and they are charging a cover. Ugh. So off we went to satisfy a more pressing need, food, as Jake and I had not eaten dinner at this point (10pm!). We were able to find a Thai place, but the food was only mediocre, so I will not bother to post the name of it.
After, we were hopping locations, and the first place we checked out was Gecko’s Tavern. They had better beers than most places I had been to, which isn’t too surprising, as it’s an ex-pat bar in an ex-pat area of Seoul. Played some darts, but just really wasn’t happening there. Off we went to search for a noraebang – aka, a place where you can sing karoke in a private room.
During the search, I spot the Wolfhound, an Irish bar that happened to be the location of the fundraiser. We all donated 10,000 won at the door (some of us more), and settled in for a drink when we hear the auction starting. It was a charity auction to raise money to cover the medical expenses of Bill Kapoun, and whatever left over to go into an emergency fund for English teachers in Korea.
Yup – you guess it. The motorcycle was on the list. Jake and I were bidding, but more to drive the price a little higher (come on, 250,000 won for a motorcycle that was just bought!?!?). But… we did too good of a job, and Jake’s bid of 460,000 won was the winning bid.
Now the question – how the heck are we going to get it back to Incheon, much less Hwaechon, which is in a different province all together???? It’s raining, cold, and about 2am in the morning!! A taxi ride is at least 45 mins to Incheon (my apt). So, I talked to the taxi driver to go slowly and to take a route that a motorcycle can go on back to my apt. IT took over an hour in the cold rain to get back. So now, it’s parked at my apt until the shippers come pick it up on wednesday morning to ship it to Hwaechon. Yes, even with the shipping, the bike was a total bargain. Just a rather unexpected one. 😀

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, friends, Humor, Incheon, Itaewon, Korea, motorcycle, Seoul, travel | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Part 3: People, charity, and a motorcycle

Posted by quirksalight on March 24, 2008

It’s interesting on how you meet people. For me, I usually just talk to people. Literally. For example, after Wietske, Lindsay and I were in a dire need of coffee, sugar, and a place to sit for a bit after our shopping expedition, we ended up at a 2nd floor coffee shop across from Dongdae-mun, which is the gate. There, while, relaxing, we overhead a foreigner jokingly hitting on a pair of Korean girls in English and of course, failing miserably. Not too sure if the girls were ignoring him or like a lot of Koreans, not understanding rapidly spoken American slang, but still, definitely tanking. Seeing and overhearing this, we laugh and I made a comment of the likes, “totally shot down, dude…” Which led the three of us chatting with Quentin and Ted (I think that was the 2nd guy’s name), exchanging info about social life in Seoul, things to do, and contact info. One guy was visiting, while the other was also teaching English in Korea.

So the weekend ended with this motorcycle: Jake’s new bike

And how so, you may be asking. Well… it involved roaming around Itaewon, nixing the dancing, and a charity auction.

Posted in amusing, ancedotes, Humor, Incheon, Itaewon, Korea, motorcycle, Seoul, teaching english | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Part 2: Dongdae-mun

Posted by quirksalight on March 24, 2008


I’m standing in front of Dongdae-mun gate, which was originally the east gate of Seoul (formerly a walled city). From city edge, this is now one of the biggest shopping districts in Seoul, if not THE biggest. I don’t know how many malls and markets there are in this area. All I know is that my friends and I have not touched the but the tip of this place.
One of the best things about shopping here is the bargaining. I love haggling over the price. And I can haggle in Korean and English, so it works pretty well for my friends and I.
Here’s my new purse:Purse
I used the fact that two people were buying and haggling to get about 40% off of the original price. 🙂 Lots o’ fun!
One of the things I was afraid of not finding was jeans. But at Dongdaemun market, I was able to find $10 (10,000 won) jeans that was a pretty good fit. Not too bad… I bought two. 😛

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, Bizarre, Humor, Incheon, Korea, motorcycle, People, Seoul, teaching english, traveling | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bupyeong, Handbags, Itaewon, and a motorcycle: Part 1

Posted by quirksalight on March 24, 2008

… is a quick summary of the weekend.
Two EPIK-ers from other providences were going to be in town (and crashing in my apt) this past weekend. Lindsay was in on Friday night, crashing that night as the first person to sleep on my new sofa/bed. =)
Wietske and I had dinner earlier, as we waited for Lindsay to get to my apt… mmmm… Korean Fried Chicken!
But the evening’s festivities was hitting up Bupyeong station. Starting off at the Goose Goose, we met up with Linda and Mick for some drinks. Randomly, we ran into three Canadian English teachers I had met the weekend before at a kim bap shop in Bupyeong Market. Apparently they were also hitting up the ex-pat bars in Incheon that night. The Goose was a bit mellow and Linda, Mick, Lindsay and I went to check out some of the locales. One was closed (Motown), but the Woodstock had an interesting music selection and a mini-porch for people watching. The latter being the draw, Lindsay and I decided to linger there when Nick and Andrew (more Incheon EPIK teachers) wandered in. These guys were total jokers, and very amusing to hang out with for the evening.
Trio at Woodstock
Nick, Lindsay, and Andrew, hamming it up. Mind you, this was before the “ass-kicking” game proceeded to occur… yes, it was basically a bunch of fools running around, trying to kick each other in the rump while avoiding getting kicked in the rump. Ow.

Wandering about some, we ran into another EPIK-er and her friends in front of a mini-mart. While chatting, the boys found a coin-operated kicking machine and Nick proceeded to kick to his heart’s content with the group of guys already there.
The kicking machine…

Kickin’ it in Bupyeong
Kickin’ it in Bupyeong

After a fruitless search for a no-cover disco, Lindsay and I called it a night as we were to head into Seoul early on Saturday to check out one of the largest shopping districts in Seoul.

Posted in amusing, Bupyeong, EPIK, Humor, Incheon, Korea, motorcycle, Seoul, shopping, travel | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »