Monday, November 29, 2010

Goseong Fishing Fleet kept in Harbour

Via ROK Drop, is this image and brief report on the results of tensions in the West Sea carrying over to the East Sea.

From Yonhap, this is a picture of a harbour in Goseong in which the boats are in lockdown.  Goseong is the Northernmost of harbours in South Korea.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Mine in Yangyang re-opening

The Joongang today had news of an iron Mine in Yangyang County, Gangwon province re-opening after being closed for 15 years.  When the mine closed, iron prices were at $18 per ton.  Now iron prices are over $100 a ton.

For me, there are two interesting points here.

The first is the volume of iron Korea uses annually.  The article tells us that another mine in Gangwondo produces 455,000 tons and that is 1 percent of Korea's total demand.  I have nothing to compare that to, but it seems a huge number.

The second point is described in the Chosun Ilbo.  their article seems to be describing the same mine - how many closed iron mines that will soon re-open can there be in Yangyang- but also goes into detail about rare earth deposits located there.

Due to a hike in the price of iron ore in recent months, the Korea Resources Corporation decided to redevelop the mine that had been shut down in 1995 and found deposits of lanthanum and cerium. Because the mine is in the mountains more than 10 km from residential areas, mining can go ahead. 
Dr. Sung Yoo-hyun of the corporation's research institute said the deposits found in the early stage seem to be of low quality, but there seems to be a large deposit of high-quality metals to be found when full-scale exploration of the huge mine gets underway." Iron ore and rare earth metals exist in areas where magma erupts to the surface, making it likely that the two coexist.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gangwon's ambassador

I just received an email -at my defunct kwandongbrian account that I only checked by chance this morning- about Gangwon's new ambassador from Koreafornian Cooking.

The news comes from the Chosun Ilbo:

Actor So Ji-sub is to be named a goodwill ambassador for tourism for Gangwon Province on Friday.
In a recently published travel journal, So featured photos and essays he authored while visiting areas of the province, including Cheolwon, Hwacheon, Yanggu and Goseong. 

Wow! Two posts here in one week after months with no activity.  At the same time, Surprisesaplenty has had no new content in ten days.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Eat in Sokcho and free Malaysia

I don't exactly plan to give up on this blog but it is easy to be distracted away - what with living hundreds of kilometres outside of Gangwondo now.

I still have 'Gangwon' as one of my Google reader alerts and occasionally I see an article that interests me - most of the articles are about soccer, which is a fun sport but I prefer to play than to watch or read about.  Anyway, I don't know why this one caught my attention; probably it was the international feel of reading about a Star Trek fan describe Sokcho for Free Malaysia Today.

In any case, Tiberius Kerk (Star Trek's captain was James Tiberius kirk) visited Sokcho and enjoyed Squid Sundae, although he was disappointed at first that it wasn't ice cream.
A few things bothered me about the article:

For a city filled with about 84,000 people, it was not surprising that the streets were not crawling with pedestrians. Sedate is the appropriate word for this city.
We were told that the Sea of Japan was nearby but we couldn’t identify it. The sun was bright and the sky was very clear when we arrived at the fish market.

The first sentence with 'filled', 'not' and 'not'.  My own writing is filled with phrases that do not make sense and so are not easy to read.  Dang, I can't imitate that writing- well, not deliberately.

I am not a VANKer so I don't mind the 'Sea of Japan' remark, but it is hard to travel anywhere without seeing the sea, not matter which name you use.

Clearly Mr kerk had fun in Sokcho and made me miss it a little.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Ticks in Gangwondo

Here is a PDF on tick numbers in Gyeonggi and Gangwon provinces.  Mammals were trapped at various locations, including Cheolwon in Gangwon, and their ticks counted and identified.

It's relatively dry, and there are no real standout short quotes.  If you read scientific jargon or spend a lot of time outdoors, it is probably worth the read.

Monday, July 19, 2010

North Korean dam discharge

I'm almost not sure why I am writing this post. I have missed some other Gangwondo news so this seems a little out of the blue.

Anyway, in years past, I have blogged about trans-border water - rivers and the like- and discussed rivers that cross the DMZ.

Recently, North Korea announced they were going to increase water flow across the border, and in fact have done so.

From the article:
North Korean media said Sunday that as many as 143 millimeters of rain had fallen in a town near the border city of Kaesong while heavy rains had continued in many other regions for days.

Last October, the South demanded an apology from the North for the deadly flash flood, leading the communist neighbor to express regret and convey a message of condolences to the bereaved.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Green-camp in Gangwondo

I read a hard copy of the Korea Herald today and learned of a green camp in Yangyang this summer. It is the sort of thing I would love to be involved with, if I still lived in Yangyang and they needed an English Teacher. Anyway, the Koreaherald website is described as a suspected malware site, so I don't visit it. Here is a photo of the article, from July 2nd, 2010. Click to embiggen and read.

Hmm. I found a link that took me straight to the article. Is only the home page a malware-risk?... Or, am I now doomed?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I am not a war-monger, but...

I'm happy to have Lee Myeong Bak in power now and not, for example, Roh Mu-hyun.

From the Herald:
President Lee Myung-bak on Monday vowed to “immediately exercise (Seoul’s) right of self-defense” if North Korea attempts military provocation again as he announced several countermeasures against the North, which allegedly sank a South Korean warship in March.

“From now on, the Republic of Korea will not tolerate any provocative act by the North and will maintain the principle of proactive deterrence,” Lee said during a televised national address, which was followed by a joint press briefing by the ministers of unification, foreign affairs and defense.

“If our territorial waters, airspace or territory are militarily violated, we will immediately exercise our right of self-defense.”

Lee defined the Cheonan’s sinking as “a surprise North Korean torpedo attack,” saying that it “constitutes a military provocation against the ROK.”

I'll admit I am a bit of a chicken-hawk in this case. I don't want to be here if a battle starts, but I would like to see the end of the Korean War. If I were still in Gangneung, I might finally be happy to have our university buzzed by fighter jets during classes.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

leduc, Alberta and Yangyang, Gangwondo form a partnership

It seems to be a business partnership or twinning. I wish I knew more about Leduc, which is pretty far north, near Edmonton.

The Edmonton Journal has the story and either it, or the Leduc region, have already gotten themselves into trouble with this statement (my bolding):
Yangyang, a mountainous region with coastline in the Sea of Japan and a famous salmon stream, is promoting green industries such as tourism and agriculture, forestry and fisheries. It is also a transportation hub, with an international airport and major highway links.
Koreans know this is the incorrect name for the sea to the East of Korea, properly known at the East Sea.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

100km walk this Saturday

... and Sunday in Wonju.
The Korea Times has the details.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I thought it would change after I left.

Gangwon is apparently full of fatties.
From the Chosun Ilbo:
In the study of data from 9.88 million people who had checkups in 2008, Dong District in Ulsan topped the list with 43 percent of its residents overweight, followed by Yanggu in Gangwon Province with 42 percent.

Four other areas in the Gangwon Province recorded obesity rates of over 40 percent: Inje (3rd place), Yeongwol (5th), Yangyang (7th), and Cheolwon (9th).

Of the 230 administrative areas nationwide, Gangnam and Seocho districts in Seoul ranked the lowest with 28 percent.
I have never noticed any place in Korea having a third of the population obese. I think someone's definition of 'obese' is wrong - it could be mine.

To look for a silver lining, this may mean Gangwon residents are less dependent on pharmaceuticals (wow, I spelled that right on the first try). From the Chosun Ilbo (note the obesity rate and compare it to the above article - consistency, guys!)
Korea's use of slimming pills and appetite suppressants ranks near the top in the world despite an obesity rate of 3.5 percent, only a quarter of the OECD's average 14.6 percent.

Production and import of obesity drug Sibutramine rose 11 times from W4.4 billion in 2003 to W49 billion in 2008 (US$1=W1,140). The market for psychotropic appetite suppressants, which are categorized as narcotics by the International Narcotics Control Board, also grew four-fold.

It is a paradox that one of the skinniest countries in the world consumes the largest amount of diet drugs. In a survey of 1,000 Koreans aged 15 to 59 by Consumers Korea, 86 percent had gone or were on a diet in 2008, while 13 percent said they had resorted to diet pills.
So, are gangwon residents obese? Is the rate 3.5% or 35%?

Friday, March 19, 2010

KMLA is seeking a biology teacher

Korean Minjok Leadership Academy is a domestically famous high school, and is looking for a biology teacher. I am a science enthusiast and hobbyist but am uncertain if I would be able to teach and grade these classes. I feel this way because I have spent so long looking at very basic English essays and paragraphs; I don't think I could accurately judge the quality of a top high school lab report.

The job listing is at Dave's ESL Cafe and, because of my history with the school (I taught biology at their summer and winter camps for several years), I felt I should help in advertising the position.

Korean Minjok Leadership Academy (KMLA), a residential high school in South Korea, is seeking outstanding candidates for a full-time biology teacher. Located two hours outside of Seoul in the serene mountains of Gangwon Province, KMLA is a coed, independent secondary school for gifted students of Korean heritage with grades 10 through 12. KMLA was founded in 1996 to cultivate global leaders by training their academic mind and moral character. Each year, about half of our graduates attend top tier universities in Korea and the other half attends top tier universities and colleges in the U.S. and other countries. KMLA maintains an English-Only-Policy, which encourages all students to speak English on campus. Please refer to for further details.

* Native or native-level English speaker
* Undergraduate degree in biology or related fields; M.S. or Ph. D. degree in biology preferred

Primary responsibilities include: (1) teaching AP Biology, and other biology classes at high school or college level; (2) supervising students to conduct lab experiments and write research papers; and (3) being an active member in the Science Department and school community.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Download the Gangwon chapter from Lonely Planet

Not much more detail needed here: Lonely Planet is offering their Gangwon Chapter as a preview to the book.

Well, some details are needed. Google Alerts had the title "Download Lonely Planet chapter" and I, for some crazy reason, thought it was a free download of the whole chapter. Anyway, you can download the first two pages of the chapter for free and buy the chapter for $2.10 US, which seems like a good deal.

Korean fighter planes crash near Pyeongchang

From Xinhua, which I guess is a Chinese news source:

The jets seemed to have crashed into a mountain in Pyongchang, Gangwon Province, and the Air Force is searching for the three missing pilots aboard the jets. The drill was a daily routine, according to the Air Force.

Yonhap has the same news, with little more detail.
I hope this story has an better ending than appears likely, I really do. Still, I can't resist reminding people that this was one thing you didn't have to worry about at Vancouver's Olympics!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

moving on

I will post here a few more times, possibly even a few more times per month.  The name of this blog and my email address "kwandongbrian..." don't carry on to other locations very well.  I admire Kushibo for blogging about Korea while living in Hawaii and can even see that my location has little to do with how I find content -most of mine comes from Korea's English newspapers and they will continue to do so.  Still, I don't work for Kwandong U anymore and don't live in Gangwondo anymore.

I have found work at a university in Busan and also live in that city now.

Find me at

One of the many things I need to do now is visit several sites and announce that I am writing under a new name and not sock-puppeting.

Canada is learning about Pyeongchang

Yahoo Canada has an article about Pyeongchang and how it almost took the Olympics away from Vancouver.  Old news to us in Korea, but from a Canadian viewpoint.

The comments about the weather annoy me a little.  Pyeongchang probably has good snow through the season but to discuss the snow they currently have is to ignore the snow-free January most of Gangwon has had.

For their last two bids, Pyeongchang's theme was "Bringing Peace to the Korean Peninsula," a reference to the fact the province it's in sits on the border with North Korea.
At the 2006 Winter Games, South and North Korea marched together into the stadium during the opening ceremonies, but didn't do so for 2008 or 2010, a nod to their increasingly frosty relations.
This time around, the city has switched the theme of its bid to "Making Pyeongchang Green for the Games."
Observing the Vancouver Games in action, Kim said he has learned a few things.
"The conditions here in Vancouver are slightly different from those in Pyeongchang but I believe that when it comes to Games operations, it will be the same," he said, citing transportation, volunteers and accommodation in particular.
One of the concerns raised by the IOC in its evaluation of their 2010 bid was a relatively low number of hotel rooms and the distance of them from venues.
What South Korea could have delivered differently, and perhaps better, than Vancouver is the weather.
In the bid phase, the IOC had noted that Pyeongchang's winters may be a bit stronger than Vancouver's.
"The Olympic region should offer stable winter conditions and sufficient snow, with no specific problems expected during the Games period," read the evaluation commission's review of Korea's plan.
For Vancouver, they said: "The coastal climate provides variable weather, with rain spells in Vancouver and snow in the mountain venues that may impair visibility."
Over the last week, while temperatures in Vancouver ranged between 4 C and 8 C degrees, in South Korea it was between -2 C and -5 C.
Knowing the climate, the IOC was repeatedly asked in the first few days of the Vancouver Games, did you make a mistake choosing Vancouver?
"If we had the decision again, we would take the same decision,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said at a briefing.
“It would come to Vancouver.”

Friday, February 19, 2010

The next 24 hours

  I am currently at my in-laws with my son.  soon, I will drive into Busan and pick up Kwandongwife and drive to sokcho (the little guy is staying with the in-laws).  I will crash until my wife wakes me up.  We will bax all our belongings and the movign truck will arrive in the afternoon.  We will load it up, then I will drive to Jinyoung (near Busan) to stay the night with (other) in-laws (not entirely sure why).  Sunday morning (OK, we have moved beyond 24 hours by now), we will drive into Busan and mee the moving truck and begin settling into our new home.

24 hours, about half of that driving - oh, boy!

I can't decide if I will make a clean break with this blog and move to a new one -already chosen and with a few posts on it- or if I will continue to follow Gangwon-related news story and post them here.  This blog hasn't been very active in February, yet it will not become any more active.

I will miss Gangwon and am sorry that my current schedule doesn't allow for much in the way of face-to-face goodbyes.  I am certain to visit it when I have the chance in the summer though.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kwandongbrian has a job!

Tomorrow, I will sign a contract with a university in Busan that is situated on a steep slope of a mountain.  I will probably leak more details later.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sympathy for Lee Ho-seok

I've been watching the Olympics as much as I can, which isn't that much.  I watched, with awe, Canada's Women's hockey team beat Slovakia 18-0.  I was under the impression that if two or three teams finished prelims with an equal number of wins, the goals scored would determine ranking going into the final round.  Do I have the wrong sport or league?  Anyway, I felt sorry for the Slovakians and I wonder if the Slovak goalie stopped more goals than the Canadian one? Sure, she let 18 through, but she was under greater pressure throughout the game.

Speedskating.  When I watch it, my legs twitch.  Being nearly moved to a city with a few rinks, I had already planned to skate and try to teach my son.  Now, I want to visit Ottawa and try to skate the entire canal.

I watched the 1500 metre men's final and have a few unpopular opinions.  First, I haven't watched much speed skating, but Ohno and the others bounced around a lot before the final lap.  He might reasonably have felt disqualifications were in order.

Second, it's a shame that Lee Ho-seok is in for a lifetime of torment.  Or, a few  weeks of torment, which feels longer for young people (I'm such an old fogey).  I can say he clearly made a mistake that cost him and his teammate medals, but he was absolutely right to try to improve his placing.

Speed skating is not a team sport and it is every competitor's duty in individual sports to strive for their personal best.

Yes, it hurt him, his teammate, and his nation's medal count.  However, he would have been untrue to what I feel the Olympics are about by accepting third place if he could have gone faster.

He did the right thing, but did it poorly, as far as I, with no real knowledge of how his sport works, can see.
I see the Samsung chairman, recently pardoned, is again an IOC member.  I am late to comment, but I have to say it does not make the IOC nor Korean justice look good.
VANCOUVER, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) -- Former Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee, who was recently reinstated as a member of the International Olympic Committee, attended an IOC general assembly in Vancouver on Wednesday.
I would like to link to a fellow K-blogger on the subject, but a quick search of Roboseyo, ROKDrop, Bizarro Brian and Chris in South Korea (links in the sidebar -I'm using the 'not my home computer' excuse again) showed nothing.  I do remember posts on the subject.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

TED talks and bikes

I remember hearing, years ago, that no Western mountain bike was as tough as the cheap bikes Chinese farmers rode.  Having ridden (rode?) them myself, I can say they are simple, strong bikes with large enough wheels to be plenty fast enough, although a bit cumbersome on hills.

At TEDtalks, Worldbikes are promoted at being one of the few inventions that can have great benefits for the masses.

I am still on the road and uncomfortable writing long posts.  i have to admit that I am linking it here so I can read it further later.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bloggers invited to travel Korea

I am still  in Kyeongsangnamdo and looking for work in Busan.  I am still unsure if I should be writing Busan or  Pusan.  Anyway, I am using my brother-in-law's computer so it doesn't feel comfortable writing many or long posts.  More later, sometime...

But not me. Rahul Prabhakar was invited, and traveled through Gangwon Do and elsewhere.  Listen to, and read about, his interview with KBS.

Oh, nobody invited him, but  Chris Backe has also blogged about  his trip to caves in Gangwondo.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

In Busan

Kimhae, at the  moment.

A quick  refresher: my wife has been transferred to a Coast Guard station in Busan.  She  was going to travel alone on Monday, settle in somewhat, then have us join her.
At the last moment, my wife and I decided to travel  to Busan together.  The three of us (son included, of course) made the long, long trip in our two-seater Korando on Monday.  I  have continued to flood the market with  resumes, even resorting to applying to a few hagwons.  I continue to wait...

The toughest thing about being here is learning how to get around not one, not two, but  three cities.  I am fairly capable of reading a map but in Korea, there  are few street names.  (Most) highways are numbered, but  a few are not.  The trick is to  look  near your destination and remember a few landmarks.  Then you look for  signs for those  landmarks and follow them. I have found travel in Busan to be really interesting due to using a map more than five years out of date.

"Why three cities", you ask?  We are staying with in-laws in Jinyoung, a tiny town near Changwon.  We are also visiting with in-laws in Kimhae.  Depending on how and when we get settled and what job interviews come up,  the little guy will likely stay in Kimhae while I  go to interviews and make whatever other arrangements.

This is my brother-in-law's computer and I shouldn't stay too long on it.  More news when I have time.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Is this...Is this the end of Gangwon Notes?

In the next few weeks, I will be moving to Busan, to join  my wife who will be leaving sooner, as she has been transferred there.

I have been looking for work there and have some good prospects.  If nothing comes up, I will look at teaching from my home.

I love Gangwondo and have enjoyed my time in Sokcho and Yangyang.  This is a beautiful place to live and raise a child.  Busan will be nice, too.  I will enjoy having a bookstore with English language books in stock.  Still, from this apartment in Sokcho I was able to walk to the beach and to a mountain.  I was able to ride my bike in safety.  The friends I have here have been wonderful.  I will certainly have many reasons to visit after I leave.

I will not start a 'Busan Notes' blog but I will work on a name and a new (but linked) blogging identity.  The 'Kwandong' in Kwandongbrian is the name of historic tourist areas in the region and won't be all that appropriate in Busan.

This blog is fairly smalltime but would anyone like to take it over?  I might post here once in a while, but I don't know.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Let go

I received an email last week letting me know I would not be offered a contract for the next year.  The formal letter gave no details but thanked me for 'excellent service'.

-I started writing this post on Sunday, Dec 20, but will keep it in draft for a while.  I don't know when I will release it. As you can imagine, my emotional state has not been good and the emotions themselves change almost by the second.  When I am ready, when there is something useful to share with my readers, I will post this. -

Although I am confident of finding something to do by March, I don't think I will get as good an arrangement as I had with the job I have left.  Yes, they let me go, and yes, I had a few complaints with how the classes were run and the teachers were managed (and yes, those two things may have led me to my current position.  'May have', as I don't have a clue why as yet (Dec. 20)), but I still recommend the university as a place to work.  I don't think I should name the university here, but you can find the name quickly enough on this blog.

Anyway, it was a good job and included a lot of free time.  I am disappointed, in hindsight, with how poorly I used that time.  I did write two textbooks for the science class of a summer camp and did prepare for classes somewhat beyond what was absolutely required of me but after seven years teaching with all that free time, my qualifications have aged terribly and I do not have a Masters degree or other qualification that could  get me the next job.  I am even looking, for this January, at getting a '100-hour- TESOL certificate' online.  I am told it will be very easy and will not take one hundred hours, so the only reason I would get it is to improve my paper value rather than my actual teaching skill.  I do expect, though, to learn a few things from it.

Well, New Year's resolution #1: If my work schedule allow this, I will start a Master's degree in TESOL.  I will also work hard to ensure my work schedule allow this.

Updated Dec. 28:
I mentioned that I was depressed about losing my job that is definitely true, but I am also somewhat buoyed by the unanimous opinions of my friends and acquaintances that I am an excellent teacher and that the dismissal from the university is their loss and has nothing to do with my teaching.  Thank you to my many friends and my apologies if I overstated your opinions about my teaching - just a little.

Updated Jan. 26, 2010:
First, I should thank Alistair at Korean Horizons, a recruiting agency.  He wasn't able to find me a job because of my personal situation.  My wife's job appeared to tie us to Sokcho (although now that is changing and I am looking at another city with a Coast Guard station) and I approached Alistair a little late in the hiring cycle for the winter.  Indeed, this is my major complaint with my university - the late notice they offer.  Anyway, Alistair wasn't able to help me find work, but he has been a great help in other ways and even offered a contact name for a location nearby.  He did this after hearing I had already applied so he wasn't in a position to make a commission.  I think he's a good guy and I recommend his services.

He suggested I take a 100 hour tefl course and the classes have just arrived.  I will start Unit one after finishing these next few sentences (but probably before I actually post this).  I do hope to learn something but I am doing it to improve my pay schedule if I am hired with EPIK more than anything else.

Updated Jan. 26 (Later- just started unit 1)
I find myself thinking about how to study most efficiently for the test.  I am sure that there will be useful material in the course - there will be things I already know but better articulated, entirely new material and well-tested material (I've been doing something two ways and the course may show that one method is much better than the other) - but I'm taking this course for the certificate more than for a desire to learn.

Perhaps this is how my students see the academic world!

Anyway, I don't particularly want to read the bulk of the material more than I have to.  If I can understand and absorb it in one reading, I don't want to read it twice.  I am now using mindmapping to take notes while I read - to test how mindmapping works and to pick up the points in one pass.

Updated Jan. 28
I have had trouble deciding when and how to put this message out.  Happily, life has intruded in a way that makes me grateful for being let go.

My wife is being transferred to Busan and will leave in a few days to start work there and look for an apartment.  I guess I will be packing and such, getting ready to leave February 8th or the like.  I wish my university had told me earlier that I would not be offered a contract for this year, but the notice I did get has put me six weeks ahead of where I would otherwise be.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Being an enthusiastic teacher

I described a friend and coworker as being enthusiastic and she immediately (and enthusiastically) returned the compliment.
-Ah, we both took it as a compliment, not as a form of damning-with-faint-praise. "Oh, um, your skills?  Your methodology? ...  Uh, you're enthusiastic?"

Having a son and living an hour away from work has meant that the expression of my enthusiasm has diminished somewhat.  Connecting the phrases, "a 9 to 5 teacher" and "an enthusiastic teacher" almost makes an oxymoron*.  With limited expression, I feel my enthusiasm itself is fading somewhat.

Still, I consciously work to restore it.  If you fake or act out an emotion you quickly begin to feel it for real** and I am not really faking it in this case.

Taylor Mali has a talk about being a teacher that is inspiring (and short- for those of us who are enthusiastic but only for the short-term).

Another remarkable teacher is Rafe Esquith (and thanks to another coworker for lending me his book, There are no shortcuts (Amazon)).
From my Goodreads pageThis is a remarkable story of one man's dedication to teaching. There is a lot to admire Esquith for, but I can't imagine attempting to imitate his success. 

The book is about his teaching and his classes, not his family or private life so likely there is much going on that I don't know about. Still, the man put himself in debt to fund his school projects, going so far as to get one or two night jobs to make money to pay for his class activities...

Esquith is also on Youtube.

Anyway, despite my somewhat lukewarm approval of his lifestyle, reading about how much he puts into teaching makes me want to do more.  Although this March holds more mystery for me than the past seven, I want to start planning how and what to teach now.***

* An oxymoron consists of two words that contradict each other, while I made a 'phrasoxymoron'.  On a family note, my son has four stegosaurus toys and will sometimes ask for the 'little-big' one.  It makes perfect sense to him.

** There have been times as a teacher and a camp counsellor that I needed to convince my charges that I was angry so I would deepen my voice and chew them out.  Partway through each speech, I would find my voice rasping and feel genuine anger and would have to calm myself down again.

***More about mystery in a later post.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Volunteering might officially be legal

I couldn't find any reports from the 2006 bust of a group of performers in Busan who were charged with illegally staging a volunteer performance.  Actually, they seemed to be charged with illegally volunteering as the performance was for a charity...I think.  it was well-covered in the k-blogosphere but not be me and now I cannot find any of those posts.  Here is what i quoted from the Korea Times:

Foreigners may face deportation or fines if they volunteer at orphanages or organize performances without reporting them to the authorities.

The interpretation came from Joo Jae-bong, an official at the Ministry of Justice. He said there should be no problem with joining a poetry club but that volunteer activites should be registered with the ministry.

``If it 's just a gathering of friends, there should be no problem,’’ he
said. ``But if they are organizing performances, they need to register to do
those things because they are changing the purpose of their stay here.’’

He said the same rule applies to those who wish to volunteer in an orphanage.

Foreigners need to register those activities with the ministry

some strange formatting there, at least in the editor.  If you can't read it here, follow the link, although there isn't much there.

Anyway, in Friday's Korea Herald, we are told that volunteering is legal, but if you are doing a long-term thing, the immigration office should be told.

According to the Immigration Control Law & Relevant Rules, Chapter 4, Article 20, "When a foreigner staying in Korea intends to engage in activities corresponding to a different status of stay in addition to those activities corresponding to his/her original status of stay, s/he shall obtain permission for activities beyond the current status of stay from the Minister of Justice in advance."
Though no part of the law specifically mentions volunteer work by expats, this clause - as well as rumors circulating in the expat community - has discouraged them from such activities in the past.

Baek said that he received advice from a government-run office that volunteering was discouraged, but eventually learned through Korea Immigration Service that it is legal. In fact, he was told Baek that teachers on work visas can not only volunteer, but even receive compensation for transportation and food expenses while volunteering.
"We found it astonishing," Baek said of the experience. "I was even more convinced that I needed to do something about it."
All this took place a year ago, and Baek said he believes that the government agencies that have advised teachers against volunteering no longer do so.
HOPE began its own activities in May 2008. Currently 27 foreign teachers and 20 Koreans are volunteering with the organization, and about 50 have worked with it since it began. Those who volunteer with HOPE sign a three-month contract to teach English to underprivileged children at places like welfare centers and childcare centers who don't have access to English education elsewhere.

HOPE sounds like a good organization to work for, if anyone is interested.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Or, you could close the door, I guess

The Herald has an article about saving energy by reducing the room temperature for businesses and government offices.

Banks, major retailers and hotels plan to keep their temperatures down at 20 degrees Celsius on recommendations, or some say indirect pressure, from government officials, who themselves have pushed their office temperatures down to 18 degrees Celsius to reduce power consumption.
In a meeting the Ministry of Knowledge Economy had with representatives from the services industry yesterday, a 5 percent decrease in power consumption was made as an industry-wide goal this winter.

Participants also agreed to encourage employees to wear long johns and turn off decorative lights.
"Most banks maintain their office temperatures at 20-22 degrees Celsius, but I expect more companies to join the nationwide campaign and lower it soon," said Shin Dong-gyu, chairman of The Korea Federation of Banks.

I've gotten used to teaching while wearing a winter coat.  somewhere I have a pic of me teaching while wearing a wool hat, scarf and gloves in addition to the coat.  18 degrees isn't anything like that bad and one could easily be comfortable without extreme measures.

I approve of trying to saving energy, but I think they are going about it wrong.  If citizens could be taught to close doors when they enter or leave a building, energy costs could be cut tremendously and rooms would be much warmer.

Another option would be to properly seal doors and windows to keep the heat in.  This option might be dangerous if gas powered heaters rather than electrical heaters are used.  There's a geek in Korea trying this out now.

Previously at Gangwon Notes:  controlling air conditioner use and open door policy(1, 2).

Sorry about the lack of posts recently.  I just haven't felt like writing much lately.  I'm sure there will be more to come.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Have some water, use our clean toilets, relax

I have never had too much trouble at airports.  I've planned ahead a little by emptying my pockets into my carryon so going through the scanners was, aside from taking my shoes off, quick and simple.  Still not too much trouble is hardly a ringing endorsement.

This article about the already much-mocked Visit Korea Year 2010-2012 does seem unfortunately timed, coming, as it does, soon after the underpants bomber:
Organizers of "Visit Korea Year 2010-2012" said Thursday that welcoming events will be held for foreign tourists at the nation's major international airports on the first day of 2010, according to Yonhap News.

Getting onto the plane is quite challenging:
Here are the rules:
  • 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less for all liquids, gels and aerosols; placed in a
  • 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag to hold all small bottles;
  • 1 bag per passenger placed in a screening bin
Larger quantities of breast milk/baby formula and medically necessary liquids are permitted but must be presented to an officer for further inspection.
Additionally, TSA does not permit snow globes through the security checkpoint because they contain an undetermined amount of liquid.

As Boingboing points out, TSA needs to review it's physics - Archimedes determined how to measure volumes easily and snow globes are clearly constrained to physical limits.

Anyway, lets say you get on the plane, now you can relax?  Only if you plan ahead for the last hour:
Incidentally, I took an early morning flight on Delta today from Latin America to the US, among the first international flights subject to a TSA security directive issued this morning. The pre-boarding procedues included the most invasive hand pat-down I've ever had, and a long line of guys with gloves at the gate, going through everyone's hand luggage in more detail than I've ever experienced.
As we boarded, the flight attendants announced that all passengers would be prohibited from getting out of their seats (for instance, to go to the toilet) or from using any electronic devices (phones, laptops, games) or having anything on their laps (even a book or a blanket) during the last hour of the flight. I tweeted about it from the plane. Bottom line, the new rules make your fellow passengers farty and crosslegged

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy dinosaur holidays!

The little guy really loves his dinosaurs.  I did, too, at his age, and, to be honest, still do.  He received  some gifts for Christmas and more than half were dinosaur-related.

The little guy is seated in front of 'T-rex' boardgame, with 13, wow! 13, dinosaurs.  On the sofa are some dinosaur books, dinosaur print underwear, a growing dinosaur (see below) and a BBC DVD called Walking with Dinosaurs.
Not shown is a nearly life-size T-rex that That's good Engrish gave him.

After three days in water, this dinosaur doubled in height and thickness.  It is now dry but still feels unpleasantly squishy to me.

This crossword was in an otherwise excellent dinosaur games book.  Okay, three words on the right and three words to fill in. Easy?  No.  Nowhere on the right is there an 'M' word, but the 'E' in 'teeth' would fit if the crossword had a 'T'.  To relate this post to Korea somehow, let me just say that problems with English proofreading can occur in English-speaking countries as well as here.