Thursday, May 31, 2007

Duck and Cover


Duck and Cover
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
I can't really think that the designers of these weapons envisioned this.

Tungsten City


Tungsten City
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
I used a odd camera effect to try and compensate for the massive amount of smog in the area. Turned out nice smog and all.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Young Poets and Horror Stories

While erasing the board today the eraser slipped and made a squeaking sound.
Student 1: Teacher, don't fart.
Student 2: What is farting?
Student 1: It is loud pooping.
I didn't teach them this vocabulary, but they are using it quite well.

In Kat's class:
Student: Teacher, what do you you call a scary house, a ghost house?
Kat: You know this one. It starts with an H.
Student: A horror house.
Kat: No, not it's not a horror house.
Student: Are you sure it's not horror house.
Kat: No Robin, haunted house, not a horror house.

I can't help but feel a keen sense of pride in knowing that we're arming them with appropriate knowledge for when they travel abroad.

Friday, May 25, 2007

May Is a Damn Fine Month

During the winter I tried to keep myself busy. I still rode my bike, I still hiked, I still took pictures but it was all an effort. The hikes were just exercise and the pictures didn't turn out that well. Things are different in May. In the spring there's too much to do, like go to the Lotus Lantern Festival in celebration of the Buddha's Birthday.

The festival is in my top three things to do in Korea. Yes, it made it into the top three; just above going to the Norebong and avoiding Soju. I went to it last year, and while I wasn't in a bad spot then, we got a ten times better spot this time and let the camera fly (meaning I took a lot of picture). Images follow.

Dragon


Dragon
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
So that's what's causing the traffic jam.

Parade and the Samsung Building

Some days are quite surreal in this land.

Upsidedown Kat


Upsidedown Kat
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
Kat and her perch. We were sitting on a concrete subway vent/ power box/ something or other. We had a much better view than many of the other suckas on the street. I can only call them suckas because I was a sucka on the street last year.

Yellow Girls


Yellow Girls
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.

Busy


Busy
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
Lots going on.

Is That Thing Supposed to Do That?

I thought it'd be interesting if the dragon wasn't actually supposed to spit fire and flame. Here the thing would be about to explode and we'd be clapping and cheering the whole way.

Flower Girls 2


Flower Girls 2
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
Nice umbrellas. It looks like there could be a problem in a rainstorm though.

This Could Take Awhile 2


This Could Take Awhile 2
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
It was a long parade, with little to no stoppage though. You got to hand things to the Buddhists; they're organized.

Fast Lantern Children


Fast Lantern Children
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
They're speedy little suckers.

Flee in Terror 3


Flee in Terror 3
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
Terror in Seoul

Flee in Terror


Flee in Terror
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
Once again, a random and strange picture.

Ken Takes on the Dragon


Ken Takes on the Dragon
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
Samurai Ken

Colorful Lanterns


Colorful Lanterns
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
Sky at the temple.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Exiling the Exiled

Woo-Hoo! Only seventeen days until I return home. I've always hated it when others have done this to me; given me the departure countdown until they go back home, go on vacation, retire, etc. I hate it when I'm the one that's not leaving. That's why I can do it now. In Korea though it seems that foreigners start these countdowns a little prematurely: "Woo-hoo, only 256 days until I get to go home!" Then again some people never start counting the days, they just say screw it and jump ship.

So now comes time for the bitchy post, the post that inevitably has to be written: The things I won't miss when I leave Korea. I still dig most of Korea and I plan to return in a few months time; however, there are a few things that undeniably piss me off. Listed are a few:

1. The random traffic laws. It is a wonder that the Eagle and I are still alive. The average Korean driver would last about four minutes in the states before they were beaten by a mob of road ragers.

2. The smog.

3. The Korean Gym. My gym is inexpensive, for a reason. Many of the weights are not numbered or the numbers have worn off. You just have to pick up a weight and see if it's hefty enough. Also the treadmill shocks you if you're running with warm-up pants on. Furthermore the shock is delivered though your earphones. I'm not lying. It's not a disabilitating shock, but it did make me almost fall off the treadmill once. I can't help but feel that someone might be experimenting with me: "Steadily increase the speed on that thing and see how the subject responds. Now give him a small shock. Interesting, the subject appears confused and upset but he insists on running although he is not going anywhere. "

4. Sitting on the floor to eat. At some of the better restaurants this is required and my thirty-one year old bones have fused in such a way that sitting cross legged for more than thirty seconds gives me a stooped posture and aching knees.

5. Korean Hand Hygiene. I dislike washing my hands with the communal bar of soap and cold water and then drying them with toilet paper. This is just wrong.

6. Korean notions of heating and cooling. Turn on the heat and open the windows in the winter. Turn on the air conditioning and open the windows in the summer.

7. The lack of trash cans. On the streets and sidewalks there are very few trash cans, meaning that if I have to throw something away I must a) liter b) carry the piece of trash with me for the whole day until I find the one trash can in Seoul. With the new free trade agreement I think the U.S. should put its efforts into exporting garbage receptacles.

8. Single serving Korea. Often when I buy things here, they come in bag, which contains a box, which contains a bagged single serving of the food I wish to eat. That's a lot of garbage for one cookie. A lot of garbage and no place to put it because there aren't any trash cans.

9. Korean Life Guards. At all the major beaches, there are herds of Korean Beach Nazis, I mean guards. On no condition will they allow anyone to even get close to open water. On the one occasion I got close to a roped off area, I was instantly surrounded by jet skis and what appeared to be a coast guard boat. I swore they were going to net me and forcibly transplant me back to dry land.

10. OB, Hite, Cass. These are the major brands of Korean beer and they all taste the same. There are no minor Korean beer brands.

11. Grading essays.


12. Bad Elevator and Subway Etiquette. I may just be a country boy from Wyoming, but I'm pretty sure that you shouldn't get on a subway or an elevator and immediately stand in front of the door, but invariably, this is what happens. Here, when people get on transportation devices, whether they travel vertically and horizontally, they forget that other people will be getting on the same transport as them. Some people will get on the elevator and then stand right in front of the buttons, guarding them like it's their own personal elevator. I like to take the stairs.


13. Foreign Food Prices. Tortillas-$5 + Two Avacados-$8 + Small Block of Cheddar Cheese-$5 + Etc. = an expensive burrito.


There's the list. I'm sure there's more to put on it but who wants to listen to me bitch all day. And really, if on the top of my list is the lack of garbage cans, then everything is going relatively well. I still count my blessings. I'm sure if I was in this country's northern half the list would be a bit different and a lot longer.

Speaking of the northern half, pics from the DMZ and other assorted places are posted below. Enjoy.

DMZ Kat


DMZ Kat
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
Last weekend we went to the DMZ. It's a little odd to go to a place on a tour that millions of people are trying to get out of. Screw Disneyland, for your next vacation take your kids to the DMZ. We went with the USO so we were accompanied by American soldiers. While at the DMZ we were told not to point or wave as we were being video taped and the USO doesn't want us to give North Korea any footage for propaganda purposes. The big grey building behind Kat is on the North Korean side and the small blue buildings sit right on the border.

After seeing the actual DMZ, we viewed a North Korean tunnel designed to infiltrate South Korea and then were treated to some propaganda of our own. We watched a short movie that essentially tried to sell the DMZ as a place of hope and unification. It was overdone and I really didn't see the point in it. If the DMZ is really a hopefully place then why is it the most militarized border in the world? Still, it's always fun just to watch propaganda all the same.

North Korea Watches


North Korea Watches
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
Smile and wave.

The Ultimate Staring Match


The Ultimate Staring Match
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
This has lasted for fifty years. Notice the guard on the right, how he looks like he's staring at the wall. One eye is on the wall and one eye is on the North Korean soldier in the distance. They stand like this to minimize body exposure in case of gunfire. If you thought standing and staring for hours might be difficult, try doing it with one eye on a blank wall.

South Korean Soldier and the Spooky Door

The South Korean Soldier, pictured here, is stationed to protect us from the North Korean soldiers standing on the other side of the door. Tales are told of North Korean soldiers occasionally, storming in the building and trying to abduct members of tour groups. When I took this picture I was on the North Korean side.

Location of the Ax Murder Incident

This piece of history fascinates me. In the 1970s some American and South Korean soldiers went on a tree trimming expedition to trim a poplar tree that was obstructing their view. They were met by North Korean soldiers who insisted that they stop the trimming expedition. One thing lead to another and culminated when the North Korea Soldiers killed the American and South Korean soldiers with their own axes. Talk about things getting out of hand. for more info check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ax_Murder_Incident

Over Compensation


Over Compensation
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
See the Flag in the backgroud? That's actually in a North Korean village in the DMZ called Kij┼Ćng-dong . Believe it or not, both North and South Korea have villages in the DMZ. When the South Korean village of Daeseong-dong built a flagpole of 100 meters, the North Koreans quickly constructed a flagpole of 160 meters. This North Korean flagpole is now supposedly the tallest in the world and the flag itself has a dry weight of 300 pounds. Tremble in awe and wonder at the flagpole of North Korea.

Bridge of No Return


Bridge of No Return
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
This is the bridge connecting North and South Korea that the POWs and others crossed at the end of the Korean War. Once a person crossed they could not return to the other side.

DMZ Souvenir Shop


DMZ Souvenir Shop
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
It's nice to know when a person defects that there will be a gift shop there for all their gift giving needs. These signs are posted outside of the Third Tunnel, illustriously named because of the order in which it was found. South Korea has found four tunnels dug by North Korea in an attempt to infiltrate the south. The most recent was found in 1995. The third tunnel is the most complex and the closest to Seoul . When it was found the North claimed that a) it was actually built by South Korea and b) the tunnel was a defunct coal mine. The only problem is there isn't any coal in this area so the North Korean soldiers painted the tunnel black and said, "Look, coal!" Those wacky North Koreans.

Colorful Buddha


Colorful Buddha
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
I like this photo but I cannot take credit for it. Kat took it.

Dance Suckas


Dance Suckas
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
The Korean Hokey-Pokey.

Follow Me


Follow Me
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
Preparations for the Buddha's Birthday.

Palace and Mountain


Palace and Mountain
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
I know I should allow the observer to notice what they will about a photograph, but I feel the need to point some thing out. Look how the roof conforms to the shape of the mountain in the background. How cool is that?

Welcome to Old Town


Welcome to Old Town
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.


Korean Kouples
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
Korean Kouple

This is the latest trend in couple solidarity. In Korea, the concept of "oo-ree" or "us" instead of being an individual is important. I can respect that but please shoot me if I ever look like this.

Gazebo


Gazebo
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
Old timey gazebo. The photo was taken through Kat's sunglasses.

Me as Mungo


Me as Mungo
Originally uploaded by karmking1111.
There are some boring nights around Suji. It's amazing what you find passes the time.