Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Will there be an outcry to protect pervs?

In a story with great similarity to the Korean Dog-poop Girl, some offensive men were photographed and their pictures prominently displayed and distributed across the net.

In separate incidents, two men flashed women in the New York Subway system. The women used their camera-equipped phones to shoot the men. The women then went to the police, then, in at least one case, posted the photo in several places online.

In Korea, the Dog-poop girl; who didn't clean up after her dog on the Seoul subway, allegedly considered suicide from the pain of having her photo spread across the net. The Korean government stepped in by proposing a real-name system online to control online attacks. As a result, future Dog-poop People won't have to suffer the same kind of pain as the pioneer DPG did, blazing a trail for owners of incontinent urban dogs everywhere. (Blogger spellcheck recognizes incontinence as a word but not incontinent - sorry if I'm offending people with made-up words)

Who in America will step up to protect the poor whose only offense is that they own only one article of clothing; a trenchcoat?

Birth and Death rate news

None of these articles are particluarly funny on their own, but to see them the same day is ironic, if nothing else. On the one hand we have a declining birthrate and on the other, an increase in the death rate (from car accidents) At the same time as the rate of death from car accidents, we have news of a low accident rate from drunk driving.

So, the population is getting old and shrinking, possibly from car accidents; but at least the drivers having the accidents are more likely to be sober!

Happy Birthday Gangwon Notes

It took a while to find my niche. I signed up with Blogger because of some article on MSNBC discussing how the legal ability of non-journalists to publicize their opinions was under attack and that everyone should start a blog. The next day, I did. That was in May, I think. Three months later I wrote my first post. I really thought of myself as a citizen journalist and tried make every post informative to others. Later posts became more personal.

The Marmot, IA, the Flying Yangban and Ruminations all discussed Korean politics so in my first posts I wrote about national politics and it was good to learn a bit about the names and goals of the Uri Party and the Grand National Party but that wasn't really what interested me.
I wrote that I wanted to learn Korean. I still do, but there is a big difference between wanting to and actually doing and I haven't put the extra effort in. I hope I can force myself to this year.
One problem with learning Korean is that I would probably use it specifically to make my complaints known. I have tried to be open to different cultural ways of doing things but I just can't see the reasoning behind the Korean style of driving.

I don't think I complained too much in my blog but the obvious other side of "No news is good news" is, "Bad news is interesting news".

Of course a large number of posts were my attempt at PSAs. I described cycling routes -although some of these just became a cycling diary with little use to any other than family, and local festivals.

When I started my blog, my wife worked for yangyang tourism. Now she works for the Coast Guard and you may have CG related posts appearing in the last few months.

I think that my blog has become simply things that I find interesting and now shows my take on events. I still post PSAs but I no longer try to sell Yangyang.

Where will Gangwon Notes go next year? I want to try new things like podcasting or videoblogging but I am reaching the limits of my computer's abilities as well as mine. I am still not convinced that vlogging or podding are all that useful but I want to try them.

As my loyal readers will know (hi mom, sis), there will be more baby posts.

I am slightly involved in Talk Origins, an evolution/creation debate page. I may bring more of that to this blog but I feel that stretches my niche and I will probably keep my views on evolution and creation separate.

However, I will probably do more book and movie reviews and try to keep at least half of them directly related to Korea.

Monday, August 29, 2005

I'm so disappointed!

As I may have mentioned, I love canoeing and am actually qualified as a sprint canoe coach. There is a sprint kayak team on Yangleung Lake in Sokcho but I'm a canoeist, damnit, not a limpwristed kayaker...and I can't balance in a racing kayak.

I was very excited to hear about S. Korean paddlers placing 2nd in Asia. I quickly clicked and found this.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Bear Safety Advice from Canada

I found a Parks Canada site describing how to protect yourself from bears. This because a woman was attacked (and survived) by a grizzly in Alberta and a man was attacked (and killed) by a black bear in Saskatchewan. Here is Parks Canada's advice and my commentary (I deleted a lot of commentary - it may have been true enough but it was a little mean-spirited).

The best thing to do is... AVOID an encounter.

Bears are extremely sensitive to the stress of human activity. You can actually help protect these animals by avoiding encounters with them.

Make noise! -easy for Koreans.
Watch for fresh bear sign.
Keep your dog on a leash at all times. -not many pet dogs here.
Travel in groups. -easy for Koreans
Never approach a bear. (Always maintain a distance of at least 100 metres).
Make noise! Let bears know you're there.

Call out, clap hands, sing or talk loudly especially near streams, dense vegetation and berry patches, on windy days, and in areas of low visibility. (Some research shows that bear bells are not enough).

Watch for fresh bear sign. Tracks, droppings, diggings, torn-up logs, turned-over rocks are all signs that a bear has been in the area. Leave the area if the signs are fresh.

Keep your dog on a leash at all times or leave it at home. Dogs can provoke defensive behaviour in bears.

Travel in groups if possible and never let children wander.

Use officially marked paths and trails and travel during daylight hours. If you come across large dead animals, leave the area immediately and report it to Park Wardens.

Dispose of fish offal in fast moving streams or the deep part of a lake, never along stream sides or lake shores.
- i don't think there's much fishing in Chirisan. Still, it's time for another reminder to clean up your litter. I would probably make this mistake myself: throwing away apple cores and other biodegradables. They will degrade but also attract bears to the trail.

I hope this helps any Chiri hikers.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Seoul Trip and demo(nstration)

I went to Seoul today to register my son as a Canadian citizen. The paperwork was relatively easy and, like snapping your finers, he will be a nine (9) (NINE!) months.

ON the trip there and for most of the day in Seoul, the visibilty was terrific. That may mean little to my Canadian friends but the cool weather really opens up the horizons here. South of the river, I could see Inwang San clearly, not as a lumpy dark spot in the haze.

After my visit to the embassy, I headed south, back to the bus terminal and found these guys. Various bloggers have shown exasperation with Koreans for forgetting the bad stuff happening north of the border. These university students haven't. They were in front of the Korean Human Rights Commision, wearing T-shirts that read (In English, for better ad copy?), "Why are you silent?" Perhaps they mistook me for a reporter (in jeans and with my backpack over my shoulder) or they were simply very serious people. Anyway, I was able to interview them briefly...but I didn't take any notes.

The group started at Dongguk University, by a law professor(?) and met on Sundays but at this gathering there were students from 20 universities and hangers-on. An energetic man, who identified himself only as a civil rights lawyer, told me he was very concerned and would soon be giving a speech at the press club across the street (In, or next to, City Hall).

I wish them the best in influencing Korean politics. I felt like a coward, they asked me for a business card. I told them I didn't have one, and that was true, but I would have been uncomfortable giving them one in any case. I remembered very clearly my sister's involvement with Amnesty International in the '80s and how my Police-Officer father was concerned her name would be taken and some file started somewhere.

I guess this article and a recent one(can't be bothered to link to it) really mean I can't visit North Korea. My wife suggested I take my mother there next month when she comes to meet her grandson, babysit for a bit and, hopefully, tour a little. Maybe Cheju.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Exotic dogs damaging Dokdo's native wildlife

Update: GI Korea disagrees with me on the subject. I think our two opinions are on opposites of the single incident/slippery slope divide. He sees the problem as simply being two pets while I see the dogs as a contributor, along with increased tourism, increased littering from tourism, increased fishing in the area, etc, to real long-term damage to the ecosystem.

In Korea, if you ask about dogs, after hearing about recipes, you will next hear about the Jindo, a dog founded and raised on the island of the same name. Today, I have learned of another national dog, the Sapsaree, a variety of poodle.

These are lucky dogs. Most dogs, even the wonderful, intelligent, loyal Jindo, typically live in cages or on leashes one metre long. Sapsaree owners seem to allow their dogs more freedom.
For example, the Kyoungsangbuk police station on Dokdo was given a dozen sapsaree, as a blending of national symbols; the island and the dog. They apparently have the run of the island and are eating the seabirds and their eggs. Ironically, one of the seabirds, the black-tailed gull is also a national treasure.

The title says 'exotic dogs' and yet I am talking about a national symbol. As far as the island of Dok is concerned, they are exotic, as exotic as cats or dogs on Guam, cats on the Poor Knights, on Madagascar, etc. The police on Dokdo need to remember that their job is to protect Dokdo, not, even accidentally, kill the wildlife.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Strange Computer antics

I have made 195 posts on gangwon notes. For every ten posts, I probably saved 11 files, some on second glance, weren't interesting. There were also probably 200 photos in that folder.

The folder is gone. It's not in 'My documents", it's not in the trash, it's gone.


Blogging is only a hobby so there was nothing vital, but there was a lot of stuff I had for retooling my blog on it's first birthday - in about a week.

Anyway, I justed wanted to say that it's pretty strange.

Candu reactors in Korea

Yonhap online has an article about Canadian and Korean scientists working to refurbish Korean CANDU reactors.

What is a CANDU reactor? You obviously aren't Canadian - we were taught throughout our school years that CANDU reactors were the best in the world. From the Nuclear Threat Index:
CANDU is the most efficient of all reactors in using uranium: it uses about 15% less uranium than a pressurized water reactor for each megawatt of electricity produced Use of natural uranium widens the source of supply and makes fuel fabrication easier. Most countries can manufacture the relatively inexpensive fuel There is no need for uranium enrichment facility Fuel reprocessing is not needed, so costs, facilities and waste disposal associated with reprocessing are avoided CANDU reactors can be fuelled with a number of other low-fissile content fuels, including spent fuel from light water reactors. This reduces dependency on uranium in the event of future supply shortages and price increases.

They were great stuff in the '70's, when i first learned of them in school. They are still good, just a little old.

Korea has at least four of them. I have a tenuous connection with them. One of my Seoul students was an ajuma who traveled to Port Elgin, Ontario for a year with her husband, who trained on our reactors and I live some what near Port Elgin. Is tenuous too strong a word?

Anyway, while googling a bit for this post, I read disturbing news from the Rathbone Press (From an article dated Feb, '04):

The Asian Pacific Post reported last month that a French-Canadian nuclear engineer who was working on Canadian Candu reactors in South Korea was befriended by North Korean agents seeking western technological and scientific secrets. The meetings at the Nashville Restaurant and Bar in the Itewon district of Seoul were observed and reported by a contract intelligence operative working for the U.S. government. A second unidentified Canadian who was working on the Candu reactors in South Korea also met with the North Korean spies. The startling revelations that Canadian nuclear secrets may have been compromised came in the wake of North Korea's stunning admission that it is trying to develop nuclear weapons. I have been to Nashville Bar in Itaewon many times. It's staggering to think in this very place Canadian scientists may have been selling nuclear secrets to North Korea. What is more surprising is why this is not front page news in Canada or South Korea. International news agencies such as CNN have also not mentioned this development.

We should not just be worried about Pakistani or Canadian scientists assisting North Korea. Many South Koreans are sympathetic to the North and corruption is rampant in the ROK. When we think of how turncoat spies such as Robert Kim are admired in South Korea, how many South Koreans view a nuclear North with misplaced pride, and how many South Koreans perceive America as a greater threat to them than North Korea, the idea of selling South Korea nuclear reactors, in retrospect, seems extremely reckless. In any case, specialized knowledge from South Korea's Canadian-purchased CANDU reactors may be already helping the North develop nuclear weapons and that should be enough cause for concern.

So it's possible that we assisted both North and South Korea with their nuclear programs.

Going off my original topic of Canadian/South Korean nuclear reactors, I am surprised by the Pakistani connection. If I have it right, some Pakistanis helped North Korea with the physics of making a reactor, then the North Koreans sold bomb material to the Pakistanis. And I thought Pakistan was America's number 3 Muslim ally, behind Saudi and Kuwait.

Moon named vice president of Saturn

Okay, this is never going to be a business blog, I just felt the title of this article, naming two astronomical bodies without any shade of irony, was pretty funny.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Taebaek failing as an altitude training centre

Korea is a country very dedicated to sports but sometimes style overtakes substance. I can see the value of altitude training but how much thinking does it take to recognise that Korea has no mountains suitable for it?

My style over substance comment comes particularly from hearing that swim teams members are using altitude training.

From the Joongang:
In April, 20 members of the national swimming team
stayed in Kunming, China, which is 1,880 meters (6,167 feet) above sea level,
for three weeks. "Three of those who trained in Kunming produced Korean records
in May. They plan to return to Kunming this fall," said Jeong Bu-jin, an
employee of the Korea Swimming Federation.

This is another subject area that I flatter myself as being knowledgable about. Korean swimmers don't need altitude training, they need consistent training independent of gimmicks. From what I have seen, they need technique training that emphasizes shallow body position and more training on turns.

That's a little more technical than I meant to be in a post about altitude training.

Anyway, the location may well find uses for athletes for whom the altitude is only a fringe benefit. I think Taebaek is remote enough that it would be a good training centre for any sport.

Nuisance wildlife

I posted earlier this week about a bear in Jirisan being caught in a trap just outside the park limits. There was more about the traps in Friday's Joongang. Since a crackdown on poaching, wild boars and other wildlife - mostly rodents and birds, haivng been causing increasing amounts of farm damage.

The trap that killed the bear was one of many types of farm protection measures. Fences, spreading of tiger dung from zoos, scarecrows and use of loudspeakers are all common. I recall that while helping at the family farm near Kimhae, a large air-gun that sounded, to my untrained ears, like a howitzer, fired every few minutes.

The farmers are trapped between the hungry animals and the Environment Ministry, which can fine trappers 10 million won and give them up to 2 years in jail. The Ministry is now offering financial support for fencing and the use of professional hunters during harvest season for trouble spots.

Sending in professional hunters reminds me of "Maneaters of Kumaon" by Jim Corbett, who travelled through India, killing maneating tigers. Boar are a somewhat less dangerous prey than tigers, though.

Way to go, Kevin!

For a few weeks now, when not distracted by censorship, the Big Hominid has been letting us know how his Drama class is doing. We've heard a lot about their Shakespeare production. Did anyone realize it was this big?
From the Herald:
This time, [Kevin Kim] will present three official plays along with one invitational play from abroad and three pieces as part of the fringe festival. The National Theater's venues will be the Open Air Stage Haneul, Small Hall Dal, Studio Byeol while Dongguk University Art Theater will be used as an additional stage for the events.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Well, that didn't take long

On Aug 12, I wrote about the Asiatic bears that had been re-introduced to Chirisan. I said, "The bears are unlikely to stay in the wilder section of the park or even in the park at all. Then we will have bears in the nearby villages."

From today's (Aug 16th) Times:
The Ministry of Environment said Tuesday that one of eight black bears released on the mountain in April was found dead and buried in an orchard of a mountainous area in Hadong, South Kyongsang Province, after an eight-day police search. According to the investigation, the bear, named ``Ranglim32,’’ was killed by a trap that orchard owner Yang had set up to catch boars.

In fact, the event happened before I had written about it. At least, I think so, the "Ministry of Environment said Tuesday.." remark could mean today but that would be a damn early announcement to make the papers the same day.

By 2008, the plan is to bring 30 bears into Chirisan National Park. Ranglim32 lasted 4 months; I hope the rest do better but certainly this news hasn't improved my outlook on the situation.

Is the lockdown over?

I can access blogspot again. My impassioned post (below) must have swung the decision.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Gee whiz, that Goshdarn MIC

I feel a little like the Mel Gibson character in 'Signs'. In the movie, he had been a priest; when chasing vandals (or aliens) from his house, he tried to sound angry but just couldn't bring himself to curse.

So now I feel very self-conscious about complaining about the MIC censoring and blocking access to several blog domains because I'm not one for cursing.

At first, I didn't realize there was a nation-wide problem (apparently a patchy, nationwide problem, some ISPs still allow connections) and simply thought my school was having blogger problems. Last weekend I was home and found I was unable to connect from there either. Finally I found a backdoor and read other 'blogspot' sites and learned the extent of the blockage.

From the bighominid (no specific link because my proxy server chews up the addresses):
This year-- zilch from most of the Koreabloggers, too,
excepting those who felt burned last year. I'll be curious to see how the
bloggers who started their blogs after last year's censorship decide to handle
this. Will they curl up into a little ball? Pretend nothing's going on? Or-- I
hope-- get pissed off and stick it to Da Man?

I haven't verified that the Korean government is in
fact enacting a ban, but the signs are there.

1. Blocked blogs are accessible through Unipeak,
meaning the access problem didn't originate with the blog service

2. Blockage is patchy. Last year, we discovered this
was because the government had asked the ISPs to enforce its ban (this after
initial government denials that there was a ban at all), and the ISPs had
adopted different methods for doing so. This year, like last year, some people
haven't noticed any problem at all. Great for them, sucky for the rest of

3. Blockage is of entire domains-- in this case, it's
apparently Blogspot and Typepad (not This is basically what happened
last year.

I really wonder why we are being blocked. We ex-pat bloggers in general are not a subversive bunch; some of us disagree with government actions and policies but no more so than Korean citizens. We are unlikely to persuade many Koreans to our viewpoints as our blogs are mostly in English. I personnally have four blogsites, three of which are used exclusively for communicating with my students and contain no politics. My own site is much more likely to have tourist info or Canadian politics than Korean politics.

MIC (I think that's Ministry of Information and Communication), why are you doing this?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Fisherman returns from NK after 30 years

Topic: Gangwon, two Koreas

I read these articles and wonder how anyone can begin to trust North Korea. It may not be wise to actively hinder the regime in North Korea but how can we help it and then face the mirror...or face Goh Myeong-seop or his mother?

During the Vietnamese War, North Korea felt America's attention was elsewhere and abducted a squid boat and crew. Mr Goh was one of the crew and lived in North Korea for 30 years before escaping and returning to his home in Gangneung. 30 Years! How long was Papillon a prisoner before he escaped?

The article ends with the statistic that 435 fishermen have been abducted by North Korea and are still alive there.

On a completely unrelated note, I may go to Geumgangsan in Sept or Oct when my mother visits.

New ESL advocacy group

Today's Herald has an article on the problems with ESL in Korea. The article covers no new ground regarding the problems but tries to offer a way to solve them.

I've been here long enough to know that problems exist but I don't think they are as widespread as is claimed. Perhaps I have been lucky in mostly avoiding bad hagwons and mostly working at some very good ones. YoungeoNara in Masan, Masan FLI, and O-Dong-dong ELI in Masan were all good and BCM in Seokchon Dong, Seoul was very good. ETC in Baekam, Kyounggi-do was bad to very bad but my wonderful wife saw the signs and we left just before it collapsed. Kwandong U. is a great place; it is mentioned in some old blacklists but the problems seem to be solved and I am very happy here.

Was I a problem while I gained experience? Yes, I would say so. I wouldn't describe the 1997 Kwandongbrian as a terrible teacher but he did have a lot to learn and the '98 Kwandongbrian earned his salary and more. I had spent a little time in Asia before '97 and so was able to appreciate the conveniences Korea offered; I called it Asia-lite and probably adjusted a little quicker then the fresh-from-uni recruits.

Anyway, there is now a new (to me, anyway) forum online called englishteachingkorea. It can sit beside Dave's ESL and others; hopefully not beside the old englishspectrum.

I am not a full member of KOTESOL but I do attend some meetings and see some value in it. It seems to be the established ESL forum for Korea; why do we need a new group? It seems the new group is merely splitting the vote.

Friday, August 12, 2005

I want one!

Topic: Cycling

At this site are some damn cool bikes. I prefer touring bikes and these don't look like heavy load bearing bikes, but I want one.

It's one of the first bikes in the world to have no rear hub. That's right, no rear hub. The rear wheel has a special magnetically polarized rim that is suspended inside the frame, where it floats inside a magnetic suspension field.

The site goes into some reasons why no having no hub is a good thing but they aren't selling a bike like this to rational people; I just know I want one. But... how do you steer?

Bears in Jiri

Topic: Outdoors/hiking
Conservationists will love us, but...

Last year, the National Parks Authority released 13 Asiatic black bears into Jiri National Park. Jiri might be the largest park in Korea but bears take up a lot of space. Apparently, some of them have found the hiking trails.

Last month, an Asiatic black bear followed some climbers and pulled bags from their backs. It was subsequently captured.
Bears have been spotted by mountain climbers three to four times, according to the authority's announcement.
The parks authority advises that climbers stick to regular routes and not feed, run toward or shout at the bears.

Considering the fear many Koreans have of small dogs, I think it would take a very brave, stupid or drunk hiker to approach the bears too closely.

Similar encounter have occurred in American and probably other parks. I think Yosemite reintroduced wolves to the park, upsetting ranchers just outside the park.

I don't know which would require more room. Both animals typically cover several kilometres a day and bears are more solitary so their ranges can't overlap.

I wish it were otherwise but I just can't see the wisdom in reintroducing bears to Korea. They need more room than this crowded country can really afford to give. The bears are unlikely to stay in the wilder section of the park or even in the park at all. Then we will have bears in the nearby villages. And this is without concerning ourselves with the value of bear gallbladders and such.

Summer Valetine's Day

Topic: Culture
Damn, I'm one day late.

I read an article on the Yonhap site three weeks ago and wanted to post on the 11th in honor of my wonderful wife. I guess this isn't as bad as missing an anniversary.

Korea has it's own romantic day, lunar July 7th. Purists and lovers of local traditions are upset with Valentine's Day being so popular now. Korea has it's own day and doesn't need imports.

According to the story, which sounds somewhat familiar so I'm sure that, however Korean it is, the idea has some miles on it, a man and woman fall in love. of course, this being a proper Confucian-type love tale, they fall in love only after asking their parents for persmission. They were together all the time and began neglecting their work so the heavenly lord separated them and now allows them to see each other only once a year, on Lunar July 7th.

I am at camp now and can't see my wife or newborn son and I miss them as perhaps Gyeonu of the story misses Jingnyeo. I love you, Nama. See you this weekend. Be ready for a big hug.

Damn Americans won't accept our softwood!

Topic: Canada
For the past several years, I've listened to and read reports of Canada winning international court decision ofter court decision regarding duties on our softwood.

Amercian sources aren't following the dispute as closely as Canadian sources. MSNBC say only:

Washington and Ottawa have been embroiled in disputes over softwood lumber tariffs and a ban on Canadian beef.

Canadians are understandably upset.
This is only the most recent decision:
An extraordinary challenge panel under the North American Free Trade Agreement has essentially dismissed Washington's claims that Canada's softwood exports are subsidized and thus, have damaged the U.S. lumber industry.

That undermines the entire American case, said Canadian officials. They vowed Wednesday to fight hard for the quick return of $5 billion in penalties - plus interest - collected by Washington in countervail and anti-dumping duties.

I commented in my Hans Island post that I wanted to see the the rule of law, not of special interests or trickery to avoid those laws. I would be willing to give up my claim to Hans Island if an international court said so. I don't understand how the US can ignore the NAFTA decisions. I guess I'm pretty naive.

This is it for off-topic posts for a while. I'll try to stick to Korea more closely.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Dee-em-zed (yes, 'zed') pictures

Topic: Korea

The Chosun has an article about a photo exhibit called "DMZ from Above". The picture are great. You can see the originals at Imjingak, a tourist site in Paju, Gyeonggi Province.

“Because this is a place that will disappear when North and South are reunited, I wanted to keep a record,” Arthus-Bertrand says. “I had a strong sense that I should convey the historical meaning of this place, so I was keyed up at every moment.” The photographer also plans a separate exhibition of pictures of Korea as a whole. He will come back this fall when the scenery on the Korean Peninsula is at its most breathtaking.

He was probably also keyed up by the danger and difficulty:

Since civilians are prohibited from flying over the DMZ, preparations were extremely difficult. Hong Mi-ok, the director of the exhibition who was on the helicopter with Arthus-Bertrand, recalls, “Everyone said we were crazy when we requested permission from the Ministry of Defense in November 2004.” But the quality of the photographer’s work persuaded the ministry, the Military Armistice Commission, Gyeonggi Province and the Korea Forest Service to give their active support to the project, he said.

I hope the pics make it online as I will not be making the trip to Paju any time soon.

New patrols on Gangwon beaches

Topic: Gangwon

The sex-police are out on Gangwon beaches. Members of various organizations, including for some reason , the Korea Dokdo Green Movement (Dokdo belongs to Korea to have sex on?), are patrolling beachside bars and clubs, snatching girls seen drinking with strangers.

Gee, where to begin?
Only in Korea, could senior citizens (as some or many members are said to be in the article) get away with dragging law-abiding people from privately owned businesses and not be beaten up in the process.

Will they interview the girls to ensure her associate is a stranger?

I hope this goes on for a while because it will make for good reading.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Bodies in the trunks?

I don't think I'm a ghoulish or morbid guy. However, this is my second or third post on the dead in Korea (First post here). Actually, this is just a chance to laugh at a picture. The article is about delays and waiting for cremations. The photo shows a line of private vehicles at a crematorium. Are the bodies in the trunks? If you really care, find an article here and the source for the photo is here.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Comic strip as diary entry

Topic: ESL and camps

First, I feel a little bad about showing a student's diary entry, but the student (okay, she) knew at least two others would read it (Myself and a PA) and I am not revealing her name. (Click on the picture to make it bigger)

This is one panel from the comic where the student, very tired, is in my class. On previous days, I have used Korean hero Yi Soon-shin as an example. In this panel, I am exclaiming, "I love Yi Soon Shin."

Below is the full strip. She also wrote very well in English so I allow her the ocassional comic strip entry.

Pyeongchang homestays

According to the Joongang, there are some good farmstays available in Pyeongchang - probably for speakers of Korean only though. The stays seem very inviting and I found the way they were organized to be most interesting part.

A group of 82 villagers formed the 'Nongbak Association", a combination of Nongwon (farm) and minbak (Inn). Many of the farmstays offer their own packages; cooking classes, carpentry classes and fishing were some listed.

I have nothing but respect for Nonghyup bank, which backed and assisted their plans. It is the only bank to have gone through the IMF crisis unharmed. Although Gangwondo is poor farmland and Nonghyup a farmer's bank, the two seem like mirror images; conservative, dependable and unexciteable.

The homestay website (in Korean) can be found here.

hard drinking at the beach

Topic: Gangwon

The title of the picture (From the Joongang) is "They remember nothing", which shows, I think, more than a bit of disgust. I feel the same disgust at the beach as I step over metal soju lids with the jagged security straps sticking out like serrated knives.

Here are more than 6,000 soju bottles collected after last weekend at Kyoung-po beach.

Oh, a friend read my blog (Yes, I was surprised) and at work, after I mentioned going to the beach, he commented on how you could probably find money and stuff like keys there in the morning. Before I could stutter out that I had done just that, he laughed and admitted to reading that I had done so.

Monday, August 08, 2005

At the beach

Although I am at camp now, I was able to get home for the weekend and see the wife and little one. Care for little ones being what it is, I found myself awake before 7:00am Sunday morning so went to Sokcho beach for an hour.

The beach in the morning is a remarkable place. At 7:30, there were almost equal numbers heading home as arriving and the restaurants were still serving pork and soju. It is entirely possible that beach sand should be pure white and the gold colour comes from the quantity of beer spilled on it; man, that morning beach smelled like a brewery.

While swimming, I found 10,000won and a set of car keys. I investigated a lot of other junk while swimming the length of the beach a few times. Swimming for exercise that early in the morning can be annoying but the sun was hidden on Sunday by thick clouds so I wasn't dazzled.

I saw several fish and one jellyfish, which I know from past experience is a harmless species.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Donghae Guns recovered

Topic: Gangwondo

Earlier I blogged about two soldiers attacked and their guns stolen.

The attackers have been caught (do I need to say allegedly? three men have been caught) with the weapons. Here is the Ilbo article and photo.

I particularly wanted to mention this as sometimes I see a news item and never find the conclusion.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

plane catches fire at Toronto Airport

Follow this link for more.

No deaths; a few, very few, injuries.

My sister is at the airport with her baby. Although I am sure she is fine, my mother and I are waiting to hear from her. Apparently, her flight is now rebooked for tomorrow.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Dragon Boating in Seoul

Well, it's my third post of the day; a record. This may be the only one that directly relates to Korea, although it's still not a Gangwon post. I'm in my classroom at the Minjok camp and listening to BUGS music - a horse with no name. The Nomad encouraged this bit of nostalgia.

Anyway, I found an article in the Herald about dragon boating in Seoul. I have never tried dragon boating but I have raced sprint canoes in Canada. I am even trained (perhaps not well) as a cox for war canoe (a 15 man canoe) and any kind of canoeing is interesting to me. I am sure I would have a lot to learn about dragon boating but I will try to find the place on my next weekend Seoul trip.

The article discusses the importance of being in stroke; of having all the paddles pull at the same time. This is an important point and one that many Gangwon canoe racers seem to miss. It's more than a little amusing to see them chanting, "hana, dul, set, net" in unison while stroking in any old order.

It does not describe where to find the dragon boats nor whether walk-ins can try it.

I found on a real estate site a lot of info for ex-pats in Seoul, including dragonboat contact details and the location. Apparently, it costs 5,000won as a way to break even for the club.

The big question is why the article harps on the ex-pat angle. I know not that many Koreans are into watersports but the article would have you think Koreans are unwelcome.

More on Hans Island (Canada's Dokdo)

I wrote about the Hans Island dispute when I first heard if it. It is heating up. One bad sign for my side is that I have trouble learning why it belongs to Canada. The Danes wrote about their 1852 expedition to the area.

apparently, Canada and Denmark drew a line on the map with more than 100 waypoints but still the line goes through, or basically through the island. Will GPS prevent such errors from happening in the future?

The big problem for Canada is not Denmark but something that Denmark and Canada share (with Russia); a belief that Arctic waters are national waters, not international waters. Canada is trying to assert sovereignty and show the US and Europe that the waterway is Canadian. The Arctic is a Russo-Danish-Canuck pond, damnit!

When reading the Wikipedia article, I saw a familiar name. Kenn Harper, a writer living in Iqualiut, is/was involved in publicizing the dispute. I met him once and taught his son English and Geography at a private school in Canada.

In the Yahoo article, a Canadian in Korea (not me) is also quoted: One Canadian living in Korea felt as red-faced as the Maple Leaf by the territorial squabble on the shores of his homeland.
"How can I be proud when the second largest country in the world is being pushed around by some tiny little place in Europe?" said the writer, who signed his message, "Sincerely, feeling disgraced."

The distances involved look crazy to someone who has spent time in Korea. Almost exactly a year ago, there was a Canadian military exercise on or near Baffin Island. This upset the Danish government which felt Canada was flexing some muscle in the area. How near was the exercise to Hans Island? 2000 km. Man, I suspect the North Koreans would be thrilled if American exercises took place 2000 km away!

This is looking a bit like a round-up, so I might as well add another link. Rick Broadhead, who sounds a bit like a style-over-substance kind of guy (I don't know him from Adam - and, as a much lapsed Christian, don't know Adam, so maybe I'm judging him too quickly), has several links and supports Canada's claim to Hans Island. His pages plays the Canadian Anthem, which is soothing to any true Canadian but might be annoying to others.

- Unconnected to anything about Hans Island but to the post below this (not more links), would the meandering "Rick Broadhead...Hans Island." sentence above qualify for a Bulwer-Lytton Award?-

I don't know the proper venue for this kind of dispute. This is the Kashmir problem without the violence. A line on a map might be most of a kilometre wide. Maybe Canada and Denmark need to build a Panmunjung on Hans Island. One thing is for sure; if Canada wants to push it's weight around, it's time to actually spend money on the military.

The Bulwer-Lytton bad English awards are out

I can't be bothered to find out what the contest is actually called. Entrants send in the worst possible opening sentence to an imaginary book. I think Bulwer-Lutton penned the phrase, "It was a dark and stormy night." Fans of Schwarz's Peanuts will recognize the sentence - I think Snoopy types it in several frames, trying to decide what happens next.

I wasn't sure what the problem was for a long time. I noted the possibly inaccurate use of "It" - which is redundant in the sentence. A better way to write the sentence would be, "The night was dark and stormy." That seems like a small quibble and it wasn't until I read the Wikipedia entry, that I learned more about the problems with the sentence. The full sentence, of which 'It was a dark and stormy night" is only a fragment, can be found there. It doesn't seem like a terrible sentence to me, although it is a little long and meandering.

I must admit to feeling nervous writing about critiques of English grammar and such. I hope my blog isn't too closely examined. How pretentious I would seem, were most of the errors from the contest to be found here!

Anyway, the entries are all amusing and this year one comes from Korea.

Winner: Romance
Billy Bob gushed like a broken water main about his new love: "She's got long, beautiful, drain-clogging hair, more curves than an under-the-sink water trap, and she moves with the ease of a motorized toilet snake through a four-inch sewer line, but what she sees in me, a simple plumber, I'll never know."

Glenn Lawrie Chung-buk, South Korea