Friday, 8 July 2011

Living in Annam, new surroundings

After living in the same neighborhood during all of my previous time in Korea, I decided to try something new and see more of this city outside of my apartment in Daebang. Last week I settled into a boarding house in Annam, a neighborhood populated mainly by students going to nearby Korea University.

Spending my weeks working at the Gwanghwamun and coming home late, I haven't had much time to explore, but I hope the picutres below give a sense of my past month.

Night time as cars flow out of town in Kangnam.

I had one eventful Saturday afternoon attending a Fourth of July picnic at the ambassador's home. The building is the original from the late 19th century, it was definitely the first time I had seen bunting in Korea.

If you look closely, you will see that this is a doghouse.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Chance of stolen bike recovery: nil


Honolulu giveth and Honolulu taketh away

As of now, 4 out of the 6 people in my department who bought bikes this year have had them stolen. If anyone moving to Honolulu reads this, get a really really good lock.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Me vs. Google

I've often wondered about the likelihood of my job being made obsolete. Obsolescence was supposed to be unlikely for white collar jobs and academics, then I read something like this and I get worried all over again. I have often reassured myself when confronted with programs like babelfish or Google Translator that machines will never hold a candle to a living person when it comes to acting as a translator. But if voice translation is already within our grasp, how much longer until we will have usable text translation and no need for an interlocutor?

How can you stop yourself from becoming obsolete? Should you even try?

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

D.C. bus-under-throwing makes news in Korea

In an indication of just how far I have traveled from D.C., mentally and geographically, I first heard about the D.C. city government getting arrested in protest of the new budget from this site. While of course my first reaction is bitter laughter, I'm sure I'd be feeling nothing but outrage if I was still a resident. It seems like a ridiculously petty and specific move on the part of Republicans to single out Washington for their campaign against social programs.

On a similar note, for any of my non-Korean speaking readers, I found this site that carries translations of articles appearing in Korean newspapers that cover issues in America. While there is no shortage of English-language articles in Korean papers about American issues, these, as they were translated by an American volunteer, present a more critical (and realistic) portrayal of how Koreans see America.

Edit: While I have yet to learn a phrase in Korean that equals the passion of "throw someone under the bus" Koreans do have a surprisingly similar word for "scapegoat" (흎ėƒė–‘-sacrificial sheep)

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Grave concerns for my favorite food

Those who know me well may have learned about my deep romance with breakfast. There is no meal, be it at sunup, lunchtime, or evening, that I like more than a bowl of cereal. I don't really know why something so simple brightens my day, but on more than one occasion my last thought before sleep was "yay, breakfast comes soon!"

To anyone with a similar love of good mornings, this is a good read.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Giving it all up

Most of you probably know that I have been doing my best to be vegetarian during the past two years, a surprisingly easy effort that I fear may have to come to an end once I return to Korea. The reason is simple, while it is easy to pass on the meat and enjoy myself with options like this in my neighborhood, it becomes much more difficult in a country where vegetarianism is barely understood and certainly not widespread.

On numerous occasions, other students in my program have crowed about how much pork they'll see me eat once I get off the plane in Incheon. There is certainly no malice in what they are saying, I only assume they bring it up (often) because everyone likes to have their peers enjoy doing the same things they do. Who likes to go out for a drink after work with a teetotaler tagging along?

I won't pretend that there aren't certain foods I would enjoy eating in Korea, notably the spicy, sweet, rich

But my fundamental logic for passing on animals hasn't been shaken over the past two years. Although sometimes even I think it is an overreaction, I just can't shake the conclusion that unless I am willing to eat all animals (dogs, cats, and horses included) I have no right to limit myself to only those which we traditionally eat.

Of course there are the health benefits, but what keeps me from ordering a big mac is not the cholesterol, but the fact that it would be fundamentally similar to ordering a plate of braised dog meat. I couldn't conscience such a thing.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

This gave me chills

As much as I have studied Korea, statistics like this (end of the article) still catch me by surprise, 60%?!