Sound of Vitality

Blowin up Haengsin-dong. Holla!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I'm back in the guk!


Well it's been quite some time. I apologize for my gap. Blogging is like working out - once you stop doing it you find an inertia in your inactivity. I'll try to be better. Since I've been gone I went to Busan, went back to the Seoul region, said goodbye to some dear friends, went back to Chicago for a month and a half, and came back here to Haensin-dong. That's a brief recapping - but honestly there isn't much to tell. I've been fascinated by the buildings here lately and blogger is the best format I know for large images. I introduce you to my study of the skyscraper apartments around where I live:

This is my neighborhood, and the day is gorgeous:

People love TV here, but who does't:

It's got to be a cinch being a Korean postman:

Home to many of my students:

Watch out for burglars! Just kidding, they don't exist here:

Taxi drivers and the taxi queue:

The power plant in Ilsan:

The setting sun in the mist and trees on the roofs:

Happy Lunar New Year's!

Friday, September 17, 2010


I had a couple semi-funny incidents yesterday at school. One was in a class with 9 students, which is my biggest class size. Now that might not seem like a lot to you, especially you real teachers at public school, but when you're in a very small room and those 9 kids are like 11 years old it can get loud. Really loud.

We have these textbooks where they have vocab words and I will look up the word in the English-Korean dictionary and they write the Korean for the word to help learn it. So I'm looking up the word 'sheet' as in 'sheet of paper' for one kid while like 6 others are yelling at me 'Teacher! Teacher!' for me to check their work on another part of the day's assignment. One end of the room is shouting 'Teacher Teacher! Check! Check!' while this other kid is yelling 'Teacher what is sheet?' which sounds like 'what is shit?' while I'm bouncing around the room, dictionary in hand, trying to do all things at once. Finally I find sheet and show it to the kid and he starts laughing. 'What is it in Korean?' I asked. 'Sheet-uh.' It's a borrowed in English word. We all had a laugh.

In another class one of my favorite students, a 10-year old English name Clara, asked me if I know A-Girl or something. I asked 'Is that a singer.'

'Yes' she said.

'Is she good?' I asked.

'Yes, very good!' Clara said.

'Is she cute?' I asked.

'Cute and sexy,' Clara answered. Clara is 10. I had no response.

Here are some photos from a walk I took today. You can usually see a mountain from here but it was way misty this morning:

The typhoon a couple weeks ago took down hundreds of trees on this hill, and revealed that it's essentially a huge cemetery. Here is sort of a neat grave that was revealed:

This is the weirdest building around me. It's like a bunch of clowns built a shoddy mosque amidst a bunch of mushroom growing greenhouses:

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Edward student: 'Girl is Aprican! Aprican!'

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's official - I'm staying at current job another year

Me: John, do you have your homework?
John: No.
Me: Why?
John: No.
Me: Why?
John: No.
Me: Why?
John: No
Me: Why?
John: (In song) No why know my ABCs next time won't you sing with me!

Above: photographic non sequitur

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I told my hagwon that I wasn't going to re-sign and the director got teary eyed. It wasn't fun. Then she sat me down the next day and said they'd give me two months furlough and I could come back. I will talk to her at some point this week and ask for a raise on top of the furlough, and if they can do that then I'll likely be staying at my same job. That also means I'll be back home this winter!

One of my students, Ben, came into class really late last Thursday. 'How are you today?' I asked him as he walked in. 'Terrible, teacher,' he responded. I asked him why. 'Bird ddong (poop) on ME!' he told me, indicating a large wet spot on his pants where he'd obviously been scrubbing poop out of his jeans. 'And my tooth!' and he opened his mouth and showed me a molar hanging by a thread, covered in blood. That's a legit bad day!

From another one of my classes, here is a lovely phone charm a middle school student of mine has:

Here are some of my students sharing tripe - yum tripe:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bad Blogger

Well it was bound to happen. It happens with every blog in the universe - I didn't post for a really long time. My brother Joe came to visit and we had a blast partying it up around Seoul. We only had one fight - that was when I wanted to run his stinky rancid shoes through the washing machine a second time, and he wanted me to run them through the dryer cycle. I was arguing with him when I realized, 'Wait, he doesn't know what I'm doing on a Korean washing machine' and I ran them through wash again, saying I was running the dry cycle.

Wait, we had a second fight about a quote in Pulp Fiction. I thought the lady holding up the cafe was saying 'I'll electrocute every motherfucking last one of you...' and Joe thought it was 'I'll execute every...' Joe was dead right, dammit. Electrocute! What was I thinking? Hear that again Joe: YOU WERE RIGHT. I owe you some drinks back stateside.

By and large it was smooth sailing having Joe here, and wouldn't you know it, I missed him when he was gone. I was so used to living alone that it was a little bit of a strain having someone around, but then when he was gone I remembered again how it's kind of lonely living alone. That's okay, I'll live.

So today is the day that I'm telling my school that I'm not re-signing my contract for a second year. I'm in the process of finding a public school job currently, which if things go according to plan will start in either January or February. That gives me a delightful 2 month winter vacation. Basically I'm gonna tell my school that I want to go back to America for awhile, which is true. I'm not looking forward to telling them though.

That's about it. I have a good student story but it's for another day - I've already written too much. Here is my new go-to Korean meal: chamchee kimbap - that's kimbap with tuna and sesame leaves, with kimchi and a little onion broth:

This is one of my favorite students - Spiderman:

Monday, July 19, 2010

My brother is coming!

Joe is scheduled to arrive here in Korea on Thursday and I'm pretty excited. The consensus amongst people living in Korea is that it's impossible to explain to people who haven't been here what it's really like. I'm looking forward to Joe getting a little insight to where I've been living for nearly 8 months now, and likely living for at least another year. I've got a very loose itinerary mostly consisting of eating awesome food, creeping around Seoul checking out the sights, shopping, eating more, drinking boozes and then a little jaunt to a Korean island for some R&R.

Here's a picture of Joe I drew on the chalkboard in class as an example for an assignment. You had to draw you sibling, tell their age and favorite food. I put 'Maekju' as Joe's favorite food. That's Korean for beer:

And here's a little gem I espied on my nightly constitutional. I think it's an ad for a gym: