Wednesday, April 29, 2009

having fun

My mother took the first picture, although I trimmed it a fair bit.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Road Trip

My mother is visiting and we rented a car on the weekend as I have Monday off. I had planned to go to Yeongwol and Taebaek, but decided they were too far. They probably aren't that far, but we were travelling with the little guy and I wanted a trip we all could have fun on. For the record, the longest drives were about two hours and the little guy was great in the car.

So, instead of Yeongwol (I wanted to visit the astronomy observatory), we went to Jeongdongjin and Donghae, returning through Odaesan.

The pictures are in reverse order - I seem to recall blogger uploaded photos in the order I placed them in the past - so I will tell my story in reverse

.elpmet gnoejloW...
Alright, we arrived in Odaesan just before dusk and ran through Woljeong Temple and Sangwon Temple. Below is Sangwon seen from the trail.

Before Odaesan, we went, not to Donghae, but to Mangsang's (just north of Donghae) whale museum. We all enjoyed the whole museum but the little guy most liked the dinosaur models. There were also some fossilized dinosaur footprints that were pretty cool.

Before Donghae, we were in Jeongdongjin. We enjoyed the beach and the hourglass (yearglass?) but the best part was the ship on the hill, part of Suncruise Resorts.
We had an expensive but good meal -your entry ticket gives you a discount, don't throw it away.
Our first stop was the Pre-history museum in Yangyang. There were signs for the museum before construction began so I didn't believe there really was a museum. There is, it's big, beautiful and modern, and it's fun. I wouldn't come to Yangyang for it, but if you are already here, you should see it. It's just across the street from Sol Beach resort.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Last snow (Again)

Suicides in Gangwon

I don't have a lot to say; I prefer to attempt humour or sarcasm and there's little material for that here. Still, I can probably do as well as Dram Man did.

Somehow, troubled people found each other online and made and followed plans to meet up in Gangwondo to commit suicide together. " 12 people in five groups have killed themselves in Gangwon. They belong to diverse age groups ranging from teens to people in their 40s, and they apparently plotted the joint suicides in cyberspace..." (Joongang).

The Joongang helpfully also explains in detail how they did it.

Also in the Joongang, is a letter to the editor about the suicides. Here is an excerpt:
This year, unemployment and family issues caused by the economic crisis have probably been a major reason why some people have taken their own lives. To find out everything you need to know about ending your own life, all you need to do is spend some time searching online and eventually you will find what you want to know.

As of 2007, 24.8 out of 100,000 people in our country killed themselves, the highest rate in the Organization of Economic Corporation and Development. If we cannot solve the problem of suicide in this country, our long-term future looks grim and we will forever be labeled as a country prone to suicidal tendencies.

The police have already revealed a plan to mobilize officers specializing in cyberspace to monitor the Internet sites that offer information on suicide, but in reality it is easier said than done to check every posting on countless Internet portals where information on suicide can be delivered in secret.

Therefore, the responsibility to delete images and writing related to suicide falls on the shoulders of the portals. It seems that teenager-frequented portals have become hubs for information about suicide because they have not done enough to monitor their sites.

In addition, the media must be careful when reporting on suicide. Describing methods used to end one’s life might give information to people contemplating suicide.

Let me comment on the last point first. The next paragraph in the letter describes how the groups killed themselves - a little strange, that.

The important parts of this article are the questions why do they kill themselves and what can be done?

At least some of the deceased are teens. I have trouble believing they are killing themselves over economic problems. In addition, although the suicide rate may be higher now, it has always been high here. People were killing themselves before the economic crisis (or between such crises).

I cannot compare Canada to Korea, as I have not lived there for ten years. When I try to make the comparison, I think about Korea now and Canada when I was a youth. Until university, I ate at least five evening meals a week with my parents and was involved with them daily. As I type this, I realize, in horror, that my son is at daycare for many hours a day so spends most of his time with teachers. He is having a very Korean upbringing.

Well, again, he is having a Korean now upbringing as opposed to a Canada then upbringing.

My main point is that I am not sure if I can honestly blame Korean family life or academic competition for the younger ones to have made this choice. I do think families need to observe each other more closely for depression and to act on what they see. In the letter to the editor, the writer discusses actions the police are taking and on the people running the internet portals.

They should be doing something but they must be in an impersonal position. I did not do research before writing this post (I'm a blogger, I don't do research), but if I had, would I be under investigation?

One prevention technique that has worked is informing lodging staff what to look for (Donga):

Around 7:38 p.m., another owner of a pension reported to police that five people in their 20s checked into his hotel. Seven officers arrived about 20 minutes later to find the group having a barbecue and drinking in the front yard.

When the officers asked them to cooperate amid a spate of group suicides, the five said they were just picnicking there.

When asked to give their addresses, each of the five gave different cities: Ulsan, Gongju, Bucheon, Siheung and Cheongju. The officers then concluded that they were there to commit group suicide.

Police asked the five to open the trunk of their car, and found ... items used in a recent series of group suicides in Gangwon Province. The five eventually admitted to police that they did indeed seek to commit group suicide.

I have to compliment the pension owners on their observation skills and well, compliment everyone involved in preventing the deaths.

I wish I had any kind of answer for why chose to kill themselves. To me, their motivations are completely alien and the things they do first are mystifying. Just as the two Columbine killers reportedly went bowling before killing, this group had a picnic.

We are one month away from a sad K-blogging anniversary. Three years ago one of our own committed suicide.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

tonight's parade cancelled

The first photo is of some pre-Buddha's Birthday parade event, starting at 5:00pm. The second pic is of the grounds just after 5:00. The parade is cancelled. I'll try to post the make-up date, when I hear it.

World Malaria Day, April 25

I've been taking part in events over the past week; chiefly drinking gin & Tonics and killing the odd mosquito in our apartment. I recommend both activities for all readers.

The official website, which lists Korea as an elimination zone.

Previously at Gangwon Notes:

Confused Joongang Ilbo


Thursday, April 23, 2009

sorry for the late notification

The Joongang has an article about traditional Korean homes and lodging in them.

If you had registered by the deadline, a week ago, you might have been able to stay at a traditional home in Gangneung for free. Still, you are still able to stay at one if you pay.

I am late in announcing the event and also lazy in describing it. Here is a long excerpt from the Joongang:
To promote hanok culture and help tourists find one they can stay in, the government set up a Web site ( this month that contains information on 145 hanok available for lodging across the nation.

In addition, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organization have been subsidizing renovations at over 100 hanok to make the aging homes more suitable for commercial lodging.

Visitors can search hanok by location, price and program. The site also has explanations on tourist destinations nearby, and an English language service will be available soon, the ministry says.

“The Web site was created to help visitors experience the Korean traditional residential style and learn about the advantages of living in hanok,” said Jung Jae-hwon, an employee at the tourism organization.

To mark the launch of the Web site, the ministry will provide free lodging and cultural programs for 80 people at a hanok in Gangneung, Gangwon, on April 25 and 26.

The Gangneung Seongyojang, built during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), was the first privately-owned hanok to be registered as a cultural asset. There will be traditional masked performances, folk plays and sessions on Korean etiquette and woodcraft.

Interested parties can apply via KTO’s Web site ( through April 19. A similar event is scheduled for a hanok in Andong, North Gyeongsang, on May 23 and 24. More information on the second event will be available later from the tourist organization.

Comet found by Yeongwol amateur astronomy

I had originally planned to write about the Joongang Ilbo article to mock the writer who mixed up insectarium for astronomical observatory. However, I was probably wrong and the writer right; the amateur astronomy also works at the insectarium so the writer doesn't seem to have screwed up - sorry for doubting you.

Still, the story is interesting on it's own as the amateur astronomy discovered a comet.

In related news, I will try to take the little guy and my mother, who is visiting from Canada, to Yeongwol, at least partially to see the observatory, this weekend. I now also want to see the Insectarium.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Computer down again - possible virus identified

I use Google's version of Norton anti-virus and PC Tool's Spyware Doctor. Now, I also use Ahnlab V3 because it is required at work.

A few weeks ago, Spyware Doctor informed me that I had around 200 copies of "BACKDOOR GirlinRed " on my computer and chose to have them removed. Afterwards, I lost internet capability but I wasn't ready to link the two events chiefly because my computer is so old loss of services is common.

The great people at the service centre at my university fixed me up and I enjoyed the internet for four days before learning that I had 194 copies of "BACKDOOR GirlinRed" on my computer. Once they were removed, no more internet.

Now, I am pretty sure that the virus (to an oldtimer like me, all these things are viruses - should I be saying malware or something?) or the anti-virus software process of removing the virus is the culprit, but I can't really say. For what it's worth, the problem seems to be a change in the Windows software that requires a backdoor and reinstall. MSN Messenger troubleshooting tells me that I have an invalid IP address.

From the Threatexperts: (link above)

Possible Security Risk
Attention! Characteristics of the following security risk was identified in the system:

Security Risk

Backdoor GirlinRed is a backdoor which will let infected system to be controlled for malicious purpose.
Attention! The following threat categories were identified:

Threat Category
A malicious backdoor trojan that runs in the background and allows remote access to the compromised system

A malicious trojan horse or bot that may represent security risk for the compromised system and/or its network environment

A program that downloads files to the local computer that may represent security risk

Friday, April 17, 2009

Gangneung house

I just happened to walk past this restaurant in Eun-pyeong Gu, Seoul.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The king is dead, long live the king!

Now that Waterpia's rates have climbed beyond what I am willing to pay, I am happy to find that Aqua World has an extensive discount this month. I think that the 50% discount will put an adult ticket at around 12,000-15,000won, but I may be wrong.

The complex isn't as extensive as Waterpia's but it does have a good variety of pools.

To get there, take the same bus as for Waterpia; number 3 or 3-1. You need to ask the driver as (and I have never figured out why they don't just add a few more number) only some of the #3 buses go there.

mmm... erotic cigars!

Who knew that sour apple flavour was erotic?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sokcho Bike Parade

All Gangwondo, and possibly all Korea had bike parade on Saturday. The theme at Sokcho was reducing CO2 emissions.

Here is some grandfather - tinkerer with a motorized bike - the trailer is filled with batteries.

Blogger has seen fit to shuffle the photos and I don't feel like re-ordering them. Below should be the fourth photo. 3km into the ride, I noticed that i was feeling bumps more and more strongly. Carefully, I threaded my way to the sidewalk and found the rear tire was leaking air. I expected to have to cross the road and catch a bus home, but for these would-be helpers.
In fact, they didn't have the proper adaptor for their pump so the tube was made completely unrepairable. At the back of the cyclist group was a truck that we loaded my bike onto and removed a rental (by the city of Sokcho - free for me) for me to complete the ride. All in all, it was wonderfully well organized.

This is near the beginning of the ride. The maximum speed seemed to be about 15 km/hr so we were grouped pretty tightly but at least the young and old didn't feel out of place.

The weekend was also the local Cherry Blossom festival and the entire route was bordered by cherry trees and a pink snow fell as we rode.
The bike at the front is the one I finished the ride on. It was made or set up for a ten-year-old so pedalling took some work but, again, the pace was not taxing. I quickly caught up to the main group.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I still haven't replaced my computer at home

I can use my computer at home for everything except connecting to the internet and it has seemed like too much work to copy blog posts written at home to a USB drive, take them to work, go to my office (itself an annoyance as my office is, well, not that far, but the farthest of all the ESL professors from the classrooms), and post to blogger. Expect posts...soon.

Oh, I had a great Bike festival in Sokcho, it seems most town in Gangwon had bike festivals and I will post photos - I'm really sorry that I couldn't give forewarning as the event was well run and fun.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

In Seoul

Kwandongwife is halfway through a two week course in something Coast Guardy in Cheonan. We chose to meet in Seoul this weekend and here we are.

I may post pictures once I am home, but they'll mostly be of interest to family, I suspect.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Pranks: successful but not satisfying this year

I was unable to think of a good April Fool's Day prank for the blog. Certainly nothing to match the success of 2007. Several co-workers set their clocks ahead. I also learned that ESL teachers are not math teachers as they worried about being late for work - April 1 was a Sunday and most caught on before the day ended, but if they hadn't fixed their clocks they would have been early for work.

This year, I had two pranks in mind. We ESL professors move from class to class through the day. Each Wednesday, we attend the same rooms but the schedule is hard to memorize. I check my schedule until late May, not needing it for the last class and exam.

Three professors have thumb tacked their schedules to a bulletin board in the staff room. One of them had too much handwriting for me to replace, but the others were relatively simple to change. Relatively: I tried at home but the template was a challenge so I gave up after two minutes and asked a secretary to open the original files and I changed a few classes for Wednesday and printed them up.

The prank was not completely smooth; I tacked the new schedules up over the old ones but put the wrong one on top. One of the professors thought something was wrong as her schedule was in the wrong place., but accepted the change as puzzling but minor.

On Wednesday, I saw her read her schedule and head to her (wrong) class. I chased after her, unnoticed, and set my camera to video. She did go into the wrong classroom and was suitably surprised but I probably won't post the video (even if she does give permission). She might have had some media relations training as when she didn't know what was happening but did know she was being filmed (by this point) so she just didn't say anything. I tried to goad her into saying something but come off as a jerk in the video while she appears (correctly) as sweet and innocent and very good-natured about the joke.

Her husband's schedule was also changed but I had to leave the university to return home before he was exposed to the changes. I will find out on Friday what he did. He's kind of a big, muscular guy so I hope he took it as well as his wife (He will, he's also as good natured as his wife).

In another prank, I convinced a co-teacher to come to my class to threaten me (I do this often - When the teacher leaves, I ask the students to describe him for the police). He came in and my students were prepared with sticks and swords and trained a Lord-of-the-Flies sort of chant, "Kill the teacher, Spill his blood, Bash his head!"

This was late in the day and he was prepared for April Fool's type pranks. He was maybe a little surprised but not terrified or anything.

I may have to take a year off or plan my pranks for earlier in the morning when others might not be aware of the date.

Another reason to not post video is that the files are so large - the new camera is higher definition than the old one - I should have set it on a lower setting. The files are huge but maybe I can shrink them.

Six boring months until the next great day: Hallowe'en.