Adventures of a LuLu

Mischief and Mayhem in East Asia

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Location: Seoul, South Korea

Steer away from the beaten track and leave a trail for others to follow.


Vital Statistics

Now that I am approaching my 24th Birthday, it's time for a check on vital statistics (as inspired by Bridgit Jones' Diary):

Weight: 122 pounds, (mostly on my backside as per, but some of it now muscle due to Gomdo)
Gomdo Belt: Green (passed my second test this weekend).
Jobs: 1 (though may change location)
Husbands: 0
Boyfriends: 0
Kids: 150...I've lost count
Geeky Koreans in pursuit of moi
: 2
Pets: 0 (Boo from afar?)
Colds: 1
Grey Hair: 0
Wrinkles (2 small ones, 1 each by my eyes)
Chocolate consumed this week: lost count (due to PMT and substitute for...)
Korean words known: not including the counting system (both Korean and Chinese), maybe 100?
Korean words learnt today: 20 (not bad, ey?)


Yesterday was a bad day

Other than finding out that I have my Green Belt test...which isn't too much of a bad thing, as this time I am feeling fairly confident.

Here is my situation.

General: I am working at a Hagwon who is owned by a gangster who cares only about the money.

1) I am working in boring Gunsan.
2)hagwon has 15 or so teachers, 5 of which are english teachers, I am the only foreign teacher. 3)the numbers of students went down, but have now gone back up because my boss advertised again...claiming that there are 3 foreign teachers working here.
4)The teachers (korean) are leaving as they cant stand the director.
5) the kids are scared of him
6) his english is appalling and expects me to have another teacher there to translate if i want to talk to him (that is if he can be bothered).
7)he does not like the teachers to eat anywhere in the building inc the office (though we ignore him).
8.physical punishment is administered by all teachers, but with some level of aggression by the boss.

More specific.

1) he never has time to chat wth me, neither does he make time, so anything that is bothering me cannot be resolved in a more gentle manner.

2)i teach 8 40min classes in 6 hours ie no break, 5 min between each class to walk from one classroom to the next.

3)My contracts states that i should have 8-12 students per class. in reality in my middle school classes I have 25-30 rowdy teenagers.

4) He uses physical punishment on the students, uses half a snooker cue and beats them on the hand or accross the backside in an aggressive manner.

5) He has told the Korean teachers not to talk to me. Most of the time they stick to this.

6)when I first arrived he tried to take my passport and my immigration card off me. i refused. He tried again. i still refused.

7) he has me working for his friends school, which I have now heard for definate that is illegal.

8)yesterday My other boss at the other hagwon punished my 16 year olds right in front of me by violently hitting them across the backside with a wooden spatula. 2 of the girls were actually well behaved; i tried to stop him from hitting these two girls. he understood but ignored me. his reason for hitting them was ' if i dont hit them the other students wont play with them'. I told this man exactly what I thought of his actions.

8)both directors always say that it is korean culture to hit the kids, but Korean friends tell me that it is against the law

9) If i want to break my contract I have to forfeit a months pay and stay until he finds a replacement.

Yesterday, following the incident outlined above, something inside me snapped. If my situation is the Korean norm, I wouldn't mind so much, but as it turns out it is not.

I really want to get out, but how? I dont want to leave Korea as i am here to travel. this is a once in a life time opportunity. I could have a short contract in Seoul, but this means
1)permission from immigration-easier said than done
2)letter of release from my boss-not obligitory.

Somebody has suggested a midnight flight, but I really dont want to end up on immigrations many foreigners have ended up there purely by accident.

I have made the first step by seeking advice from the efl-law website


Gyeongbokgung/Seoul 2

This weekend, following a phonecall to my father at 2.30am, I got up at 7am to go to Seoul to see Ben. We went to Gyeongbokgung again, seeing as the weather was dry, and took some more photos. At least Ben did, because as per, my camera battery gave up the ghost at the begining of our tour. Ben kindly took photos for me on his camera instead. Please click on link above...and scroll to "computer mayhem".

Gyeongbukgong take 2

The grand entrance to the palace...when not raining. Doesn't it just take your breath away?

Gyeongbukgong take 2

This snub-nosed beastie is one of a pair (male and female) that was guarding the throne room. The throne room is protected by many pairs of beasts, in particular North, South, East and West is guarded by the tiger, dragon, turtle and bird mentioned in previous blogs (not respectively).

The goatie does nothing for ya, mate, y' still ugly!!!

While Ben and I were taking another look at the throne room, we were approached by a keen Korean English language student, who interviewed us for his homework assignment (where are you from? why are you in Korea? What do you know about this palace, Can you say a sentence in Korean? etc) and then insisted on taking us to the building below:

Gyeongbukgong take 2

I could not get a decent shot of this building, which is a shame (see Ben's website). You can see animals "walking' along the edge of the roof. Most, if not all of the roofs had this effect. Close to, and wrongly- overshadowed by the entertainment room, this building is where Sejeong oversaw the production of the Korean Alphabet, around 500 years ago. This subsequently created wide-spread literacy amongst the "common folk". A very important landmark in Korean history, yet people walk past this building as the entertainment room looks more interesting, see below:

Gyeongbukgong take 2

...Where guests were fed, entertained etc. Sadly I showed up to late. (Oi, mate, where's the party?)

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Yet another hint at how cold it is here in Korea, the water surrounding this has frozen over to a couple of inches thick

We saw a little more of the palace, but we cut it short to visit the Folk Museum. Even then we only had 45 min to see everything. Because of that I did not really get a chance to appreciate what the museum housed. In the end we concluded that there are other folk museums and other days we can go and visit them.

After the visit to the palace Ben took me to an area in Seoul where the shops sold traditional pottery, paper, insence etc.(Insa-dong) .Watching my pennies, I bought a mother of pearl necklace for W5000 with an image of horse galloping across the ocean, while Ben bought one with a celtic symbol. While we there we had dinner at an eating house...mmmm mandu...delicious. Additionally, we saw a monk using caligraphy brushes to paint some rather supberb images of Confucious????...see Ben's Website.

On the way back to his apartment I slept on the underground trains standing up, sitting down; you name the position, I slept in it.("I don't understand how people can sleep on the Underground...ZZZzzzz"). Before I nodded off Ben managed to keep me awake for a short time with his card tricks...I still can't work out his secret. First stop after the underground was the Wa-Bar, where I had a couple of cocktails and somehow got a little tipsy.

Sleeping on the airbed was comfy, but I woke up feeling like I hadn't slept. Hence on the way back to the Express Bus Terminal on the underground, yep, you guessed it, I slept. Out for the count. Catchin' Zzz's. And on the 3 hour journey back to Gunsan too.

When I arrived back in Gunsan I felt suitably refreshed to pop in and see Yeon-A as it was her 30th on Friday. I stayed there a couple of hours, watching Jackie Chan coach some Korean celebreties in how to do some of his swanky moves. Jackie was explaining things in an amusing mixture of Korean, Chinese and English.

The sleep during the day meant that I was awake at night thus I headed to the PC bang to check my emails, do some research etc. I was there until 1.30am, only to get up at 8.30am...


Today is a good day

Well, I teach at the other hagwon today for starters. I had some more photos taken of myself and the Urchins. I also found out that the directors wife wants to hold a birthday party for me at the hagwon because I am away from home. I wasn't sure whether to be grateful or to react with pride and indignation.

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urchins 003

After hagwon I went to Gomdo, and for the first time I was able to show off to Jan-Nim that I have mastered no 2 and part of no 3. The last part of number 2 involves a jump, starting with my right leg forward, and spinning in the air to land with my left foot forward in the Ponse position. Meanwhile I am thrusting my sword in a diagonal upwards movement, bringing it behind me mid-air and sweeping it diagonally downwards an to the right as I land. Sound difficult? that's because it is!!! So, if I ever want to show off, I can do this sequence!!! (Heehee).

Today I managed to take a photo of Ye Reem attired in her favourite! Nearly everything she owns, from clothes to toys is pink! Last year it was red...

Ye Reem in Pink

5 min later...

urchins 007

Ye-Reem a! RRRRaaaaahhhhh!!!! Ye-Reem hates her snow-leapord hat as it is too big at the top and she thinks that it makes her look ugly. I think she looks rather cute!

The only disappointment today is that I found out that I cannot buy a memory card that is suitable for my camera as it is too old. I was really looking forward to taking more than 20 good quality photos on an interesting day out.


Paper museum/Hanok Traditional Village, Junju

Title is a link to the Paper Museum.

For me, the most interesting aspects of the visit is the history of Hanji, and trying my hand at making some, see photos below.

'Han-ji', Korean traditional paper has been famous to the surrounding countries and was called 'Dak-Paper' (Korean) because it was made out of 'Dak' (mulberry bark). We are not sure of the exact origin date of Han-ji but from the paper excavated in Bangmatan which was produced around BC 2 century (China Moon Dynasty, 179-141 B.C.) to be the oldest existing paper, it is assumed around that time paper production technology had been introduced to Korea.

Tourists are banned from taking photos of the exhibits, so those who visit this will have to click on the link above for further information.

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This is a rather unflattering photo of me dipping the paper mould in the liquid paper. My eye lids are green because of eye-shadow, by the way.

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The finished product...don't I look proud?! Why is it that photos of me always turn out blurred? My camera hates me!!!

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This shows a couple of dolls that were in the museum shop. They are made entirely of Hanji paper.

Sometime later...Jeon-A and I went to the Hanok Traditonal village.

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Where am I? Somebody help me out here!!! I really don't know what this photo is of!!!

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Yet another glorious photo of me, feeling laid back (having trouble with rotating this photo). This time you can't even see my face. In the background is the portrait of King Taejo, who has had a brief mention in previous blogs. We are not allowed to photograph it at close range.

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This geezer is responsible changing chinese style Korean writing by producing an Alphabet, known today as Hangul.

After taking these photos my ever-faithful camera died. Jeon-A and I continued round the village. Our next stop was some shops selling traditional crafts: Pottery, silk, fans etc made out of Hanji paper. All very expensive but very beautiful. We did not stay long as we were both tired and cold, but I think I will come again, probably with Rob when he comes to visit.

When we got back to Gunsan, I set out on my mission to find a new cable for my camera to connect it to the PC, so that I can download photos, and in so doing clear my camera ready for the next batch of photos. Jeon-A had no idea where to get on from. On a hunch, I went to a 'digital' shop in Noundong, where one of the assistants told me that I can get one from upstairs in the service section, but it is closed at the weekends. Without me saying a word, he disappeared; 2 min later he came back with a cable suitable for my camera. Not only did he make the effort to do this, but he gave me the cable for free!!! So it is because of him that you can see the photos on this blog and on the previous one.


Title is a link to information on Gongsanseong

Yesterday was my second trip in a row to the historical city of Gongju, after showing up at Gomdo to give a free English lesson, of course!!! I did my utmost to arrive earlier than last time; things were going well as I started off an hour earlier, only to find myself thwarted at Junju by an hour's wait for the next bus. So much for even attempting to extend my visit to Gongju.

On the way there I decided that I would see the fortress today, as the pictures gave the impression of a high wall and some buildings, unlike the remains of the fortress that surrounds Anguksa. I felt that I could do with the walk, despite the weather.

While I was walking round the fortress, my camera battery died, and I did not have replacements, so I have very few photographs. After that, there was little point in me continuing my way round the site, due to the cold. Disappointing, but the link above should help to make up for it.

Gongsanseong in Brief

This fortress was built during the Baekje dynasty out of mud, only to be reconstructed out of stone during the reigns of Joenjo and Jnjo. Gongju was the capital of the Baekje dynasty from the first year of King Munju's reign (AD 475) until the 16th year of King Seong's reign (AD538) when the capital was transferred to Buyeo. Not only was the fortress built to defend the capital, it was the centre of regional administration from the Baekje to the Joseon dynasties, as well as the temporary home of King Uija, even after the fall of Baekje.

The fortress also saw the Baekje revival movement in opposition to the Shilla-Dang combined army, and the uprising of Heon-chang in 882. Additionally, King Injo took hiding here in 1623 in the uprising of Lee Gwal.

The fortress houses the Gongbukru pavillion, Yeonji (lotus lake) and Manharu pavillion, Ssangsujeong, Geumseoru pavillion (the presumed site of the royal palace), Gwangbokru pavillion, Imryugak pavillion, Dongmunri pavillion, Myeongguksamjangbi tombstone and the Yougeunsa Temple.

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Saw these at the beginning of the trail to the fortress. I see these wherever I go in Korea, but I am never sure if they are gravestones or Memorials.

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This what I first saw of the fortress. You walk along the wall, rather than beside it.

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The south gate pavillion, which was replaced by a stone wall at the beginning of the Jeosong Dynasty. In the past 50 years it has been dismantled and rebuilt several times.

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This shows a bend in the wall that flanks the south gate.

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Imryugak was the high rise building built east of the palace during the 22nd year(501) of King Dongseon’s reign, the 24th king of Baekje, about 25 years after Baekje moved the capital to Gongju. It was used for feasts of ministers, but damaged and disappeared. In 1980, the exploitation was conducted and in 1993, it was restored to the higher side than the original location. Restored Imryugak is the quadrangle building. Its side is 10.4m long and its dimension is 109㎡. The foundations are two-storied with total 42 columns, six columns to the south and seven columns to the east. The present Imryugak was the large pavilion built in accordance with these foundations. The records on the 22nd year of King Dongseong’s reign in Baekje History of The Historical Records of Three Kingdoms described that Imryugak was built east of the palace in spring. It is 5 Jang high. The pond was made and unique animals were raised in it.

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View of Gonju, nestled in the valley.

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The hill opposite holds Gongbukru pavillion (Provincial Cultural asset No.37), which can barely be seen. It was built in 1603 during King Seonju's reign, and used to be the North Gate of the fortressIn between where I am standing and the facing hill there is a steep decline to the basement of the fortress. In the bottom right the photo is the river Geumgang, the third longest river in Korea. Gongbukru was important in exchanges between the two sides of the river.

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Some kind of gate in Yoemun plaza, opposite the site of the Fortress.



Title of this blog gives link to the tombs

Yesterday The Boss informed me that today and tomorrow will be spent as a holiday...Too bad he did not tell anyone sooner, as I have already made plans with someone to go to Junju on Saturday when these 4 days of holidays could have been better spent disappearing off somewhere that takes ages to get to (which, incidently, applies to most of the interesting stuff in Korea). Moreover, I would have been able to inform Jan-Nim in good time that I will not be teaching or participating in Gomdo training today and tomorrow, so I am locked into keeping my adventures on a small scale. On the up side, I got my pay a day early...yey!!!

After rushing off from teaching the kids at Gomdo, I jumped into a taxi and asked for the ferry terminal. When we got there the taxi driver found out that there are no ferries going to the local island at this time of year, so I had to change my mind on the spot. Flicking through my Lonely Planet guide at record speed, I settled on visiting Gonju, as it is in the neighbouring province (north of Gunsan) and has many interesting things to see, including a river, a museum, a temple, a fortress and some tombs. The taxi driver kindly mounted his trusty stead and stole me away to the bus terminal forthwith.

After several bus changes (there is no direct route) ie Gunsan to Junju to Soogong(?) to Gonju, I finally arrived there at 4.15, having embarked on my journey at 12.30. Realising that it was far too late to fit all of this into one day, I chose to see the tombs, as so far I have already been to a so-called fortress, two temples and a museum here in Korea. The tombs were something different.

When I got there (by this time it was 4.30), I discoverd that the tombs are now housed within an information centre. I grabbed a leaflet (written in English) and walked round the information centre taking photos, as I did not see a sign telling me that it was forbidden (nor does it state that in the leaflet).

Overview of the Tomb of King Muryeong

King Muryeong reigned between 501-523 until his death at age 62, and was the 25th king of the Baeke Dynasty. During his reign he promoted the welfare of his people and greatly increased the nations strength and international status. His rule laid the foundations for the great developments that took place under the rule of his son, Seong-Wang (ruled 523-554).

The tomb was discovered by accident during some drainage work in 1971. A tunnel like enterence leads to the main chamber, both of which have arched ceilings lined with black bricks decorated with lotus designs. The east, south and west walls have flame-shaped niches for lamps. The king was laid in the eastern part of the main chamber while the Queen was laid in the western part, both with their heads pointing south.

To the people of this period, death was not the end; the tomb was prepared for the reincarnation of both the King and his Queen. The tomb was made comfortable for the spirits of the King and Queen until it was time for their reincarnation. Jewelery, (inc gold ornaments for crowns and caps, ear pendants and bracelets) clothing, pottery and other important and/or useful possessions were buried with the King and Queen.

The Kings sword, with a dragon hilt (the symbol of his status and power) was found lying at his waist, and a pottery figure of a guardian pig was placed in the tomb. Mock windows were built in the tomb to create an illusion of comfort for the awaiting spirits.

The most important items believed to excavated are two stone plates engraved with records of the burial. According to the plates, the King died on the 7th day of the 5th month of the lunar in 523, and was buried 3 years later on the 12th day of the eight month of 525. The Queen died in the 12th month of 526 and was later buried on the 12th day of the second month of 529.

2906 objects of 108 categories were excavated from the tomb. Twelve items have been designated as National Treasures.

kings tomb

This is one of the mock windows in the main section of the tomb.

sword hilt

Aforementioned sword found at the King's waist.

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"By the hairs on my Chiny Chin Chin!" Pig guardian placed in the tomb to chase away evil spirits.

info 3

National treasure No. 161 This bronze mirror (one of 3) is decorated with 4 divine animals. Mirrors such as these were a symbol of a kings authority rather than for actual use.

Kings Jewelry

This is a showcase of some of the Kings Jewelry. At the top are two thin sheets of gold in the form of flames adorned with honey suckle. These were to be attached to crowns and caps, and were worn by the Kings of this dynasty. The Queen has a similar flame design, but without the honey-suckle.

tomb 6

Taken from inside tomb 6. This is a wall painting of one of the Four Spirits:Blue Dragon (Cheongryeong), White Tiger (Baekho), Red Phoenix (Jujak) and Black Turtle. The Phoenix is flanked by the Sun, the Moon and the Cloud. Not sure what this one is, but it could be the Dragon. These four animals can also be found in the tombs of the South China Dynasties.

Inside Tomb 5

Taken from inside Tomb 5

info 8

This is a mock-up of the main chamber of the Kings tomb, the floor adorned with treasures. If you look carefully, you can see the ghost of the late king....ok, I admit, it's the reflection of the show case behind me (showing the queens clothing). Ooooh, that's me too!!!

Due to my camera's limited storage capacity this is all I managed to take photos of.

There are many things to see and do in this city...I am so glad I have discovered it. Another day I will probably visit the museum, and then visit the temple and fortress when the weather warms up...the surrounding landscape of Gongju is magnificant, and my website should be graced with photos of it.

Its 1.49am and I still haven't decided what I am going to do tomorrow!



Beware all those who dare to view this page. For I am the chocolate monster, and you must offer chocolate in oblation to MMEEEE!!!! RRRAAAAHHHH!!!


Little 'uns

Below are some photos of my youngest students at my other hagwon; they are all around 7 years old...and deceptively cute.

My Babies-the boys

The boys...the smallest one is a new student as of the day I took the photo. The boys were very keen to have their photo taken!

My babies-the girls

The girls were shy over having their photograph taken; these are the girls that agreed to it.

the girls


...And these are the girls that didn't. The bottom photo shows my youngest student (before the new boy arrived). The past few weeks have been spent engrossed in this particular comic book rather than in my teaching...

Me n the kids, yo. Kick it. Taken by my colleague, but has come out blurred; will have another one taken at some point. The nice thing was that even the girls rushed to have their photo taken with me!!!

PS see bottom left of the photo.... there's always one!!!

me n the kids, yo


3 reasons why I should go to Hollywood

I am an outstanding actress, worthy of at least an oscar or 10....

Drunkard 2 -Me

I have 5 chins and they need to be reduced/removed....

Me n Jeremy on his 2nd last night

And I'm Kraaaaaaaaaaaazzzzzzzzzzzeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!


Photo update 2

Have posted some more photos throughout my will just have to scroll through the whole lot to find them!!!


Jeonju National Museum

The title to this blog gives the link to the homepage of Jeonju National Museum.

Following 4 hours sleep, I got up at 9.30 this morning and was on the bus into Gunsan at 10.30, in order to get to Junju in good time to see the musuem. I was up late last night checking emails, writing blogs etc, so no sympathy for my lack of sleep is due. PC bangs give you free coffee every couple of hours, so I am wondering if it is all a big keeps people awake thus increasing the time spent on the internet. I am almost convinced that this is the case. Which reminds me...where is my second cup???? I don't have to drink it of course, but the coffee is warm, while I am cold....

At the bus terminal I was hounded by some weirdo telling me how beautiful I am etc and following me round wherever I went. I breathed a sigh of relief when he did not follow me onto the coach to Junju. I spent the journey to Junju daydreaming and reading my Korea guidebook when not daydreaming. I get 3 days off in February for the Chinese New Year, and I want to make the most of this rare opportunity...hence the research.

When arrived in Junju I took the taxi to the museum, which is situated on the south-west edge of the city. It wasn't costly, around 3 quid, but everytime I spend money I wince with pain as I am desperately trying to save up.( I have worked out that I have to save 3million won before I start to make a profit...cost of travel insurance, admin, cash I arrived with etc taken into account. Next pay day in 5 days time will set me in the black...yey!!!). The taxi driver was chuffed when I stepped into his taxi and promptly placed a language tape into the player. He is trying to learn English, and made me say various phrases along with the tape for the entire length of the journey. I too got to practice my Korean.

When I stepped out of the car, the first thing I noticed about the museum is that it was built using traditional Korean architecture, despite it being only 15 years old. Once again I should have taken a photo of this and didn't. There was a long walk-way to the museum from the main gates, lined with trees strategicly placed to give an sense of sublime tranquility (I wonder if they used Feng Shui?). I turned 180 degrees and got a view of a small mountain behind some apartment blocks...this I managed to take a photo of!!!

View from National Museum

View from National Museum

On the bottom photo you can see the extensive walkway to the museum, and the care and planning it has taken to create such a calm and measured atmosphere.

Upon walking into the main building, I was thankful to find that there was a leaflet in English (as well as Korean, Chinese, and God Forbid, Japanese), and that some of the notices on the wall had also been translated into my crazy mother-tongue. Added to this, round the exhibition the panels next to the showcases were also in English. Very useful if I actually want to get something out of my visit.

The museum housed artifacts dating from the Neolithic period onwards; all artifacts were dug up somewhere in the Jeollobukdo province. There were swords, daggers, arrows, pottery, jewelry, farming tools, chinese calligraphy (even some conceived by the fair and majestic hands of emporers past), statues, idols and printing blocks. For me, the most amazing piece was bronze that had been hammered to a long, thin sheet (about 2m), and then had chinese writing imprinted into it somehow. One display showed traditonal dishes that were typical of the Korean diet some few hundreds years ago. I counted 13 different ways you can eat Kimchi. God help me.

I wasn't allowed to take photos inside the musuem, nor were there any English fact sheets/books in the sparce Museum Shop. As a result, everything that I could have learned has gone in ear and out the other without a back-up plan. Its such a shame as I would really like to learn more about traditon Korean culture of times past.

Once boredom set in I decided to head to one of the parks mentioned in my guidebook. To reduce the cost, in my wisdom, I concluded that it would be best to get the local bus back to the intercity bus terminal, and from there I would have a familiar starting point, as my guide book unhelpfully does not provide a map or directions as to how to get to the park. Naturally, I got on the wrong bus and ended up in a fish and vegetable market...but least I had headed in roughly the right direction. I have seen many a Korean market and thus accustomed to the sight of them, but realising that people back in England have never seen one, I took a couple of photos.

On the bridge

These ajummas were sat on the bridge round the corner from the main section of the market, selling their produce from their farms. This is also a common sight in Gunsan (mostly in the narrow back streets), I just haven't got round to taking photos of them.

City market scene 1

This colourful scene depicts the plethora of sights, sounds and smells of your typical Korean city market. Wandering from stall to stall, they seem to be selling mostly the same thing, yet suprisingly not bothering to compete with one another over prices. Fish (fresh and dried), cabbage (for Kimchi) , other vegetables and nuts feature most commonly in these markets (at least in the Jeollobukdo province).

City market scene

Another photo of the same market.

Giving in to common sense, I got in a taxi and asked for the bus terminal. Despite my little detour I had saved some money afterall...only for it to be wasted on spending far too long on the internet. The internet is so addictive...I can't help myself!!! I felt it wise to write this blog before my less-than-satisfactory memory failed me completely. I have given up on the idea of the park for today, as I don't have the energy. My bed in the next city is calling to me, and I am seduced by its warmth and coziness...

ps I will be adding photos to my dictionary where possible. My first two are of bondagi. I took these at Jeonju bus terminal, which has rows upon rows of the stuff. Upon approaching the building the sickly smell hits your insult to the senses. I have been to Jeonju 4 times now, and each time (after the first time) I approach the building with trepidation.


Morning Calm

...I wish.

Phew!!!! I'm so tired!!! This week was the first week of my new schedule. Getting out of bed 2 hours earlier and adding on an hour or so of extra work seems to have really taken it out of me. From the moment I get out of bed, I don't stop until 8pm...when I am (sometimes) driven home by the Gomdo trainers. Thus, in the Land of the Morning Calm, my mornings are far from calm (as are my afternoons and the start of my evenings). Well, ok, I get 20 min in between Gomdo and Hagwon to throw some lunch down, and half an hour after hagwon to have dinner...but it does feel like there is no break. Still, I do appreciate the fact that I am constantly kept busy. The down side is that at the end of the day, I have no energy to study Korean. Nevertheless, I don't regret taking on the extra responsibilities.

The weather this week has fluctuated. Today was bitterly cold, while the rest of the week was cold but tolerable. It's the nights that are the worst...when darkness folds an icy chill penetrates Gunsan like a knife in the heart. And to think that it is usually colder than this at this time of year. I shudder to think (pun intended).

A couple of Koreans have really annoyed me this week.

1) When I bought Cordelia (my new houseplant) the female shopkeeper, assuming that foreigner equals stupid, informed me that you don't water the flowers of the plant, but you pour the water into the soil instead. I somehow resisted the temptation to say
" Cho nun eehaehaeyo!!! cho nun pabo anieyo!!! ie I understand!!!! I'm not stupid!!! If I could effect a sarcastic tone, I would have said
"Kuraeyo???" ie "is that true???"
My god, I could have throttled her.

2) The woman who I often see on the bus and has my phone number informed for the second time this week that she thinks I'm boring. Charming. You see, she is not fluent in English, so conversation is limited...I cannot say everything I want to say, nor in the tone of voice etc I want to say it in....duh!!! plus everytime I see her I'm tired (which I have previously explained to her). What does she expect??? Billy Connolly???

3) The teenagers (middle school) at Hagwon perpetually ignore me in class, no matter how much I enforce discipline/show a sense of humour/every trick in the book. Nonetheless when one of them thought it was funny to mimic me, I yelled "sonsaegnim ieyo?" at him (are you a teacher???) which earned me a full 15 min of relatively quiet and respectful behaviour.

4) Suk-Hyon continues to ignore me and bother the other students in my now 3to1 class, despite a severe telling-off from myself, and two other Korean teachers on my behalf. This child single-handedly manages to wreak my day (Mon, Tues and Thurs), or at least he has the potential to. His b******ly behaviour is balanced and often outweighed by cries of aaaaaassssssssaaaaaaaa!!! from my other students when I walk into the classroom, and the fact that my three easiest students (ie smart and willing to study) are at the end of the day (but not Fridays-thats when I get the middle-schoolers).

As an aside, I bought a Cordelia rather than a Fred, as Cordelia is prettier, and did not come in a clay pot, thus cheaper and easier to carry. I have taken some photos...

Cordelia 1

Cordelia in all her glory, in the corner of the living room section of my apartment

Cordelia 2

"Isn't she lovely...isn't she wonderful..."

Cordelia 3

My camera doesn't like close ups...but I kinda like this photo, so I have posted it anyway

Today I learned that balae balae ie Hurry up/quicklu quickly is often the first phrase an Foreign Hagwon teacher learns (mine was kayo ie go!). Well, I would have to be different!!! However, in general I learn the onomatopoeias quicker, or at least, words that are onomatopoeias
to the English ear eg Balae balae, tal (moon), ddong (poo), kayo (go)shinae (town centre) plus others.

Other words that I find interesting are (Konglish aside) ones that sound similar to latin or european words.
eg Oma= mummy
eg apa=daddy

It is believed that babies when surrounded by their native language learn the words that are easiest to say first. For English babies this is often Dada followed by Mama (sometimes Papa) as the lips form the basic sounds of the language. Additionally, it catches a parent's attention, which is benefical for the survival of the baby. (Do western babies still produce 'dada' if their parents don't make an effort to associate the word dada and mama with themselves? Though even if the parents don't make this initial effort, they get excited when their baby says these words and teach the child to associate the sounds with themselves anyway).I wonder if the above are amongst the first words Korean babies form? If it is true that dada and mama (or something similar) are the easiest words to say, I wonder if many thousands of years ago, our ancestors immediately decided it best that these sounds that their babies made were associated with themselves, thus giving meaning to these sounds to be passed onto one generation to the next. Given that we all have a common ancestor, this may explain the similarity between these words that are so essential to our survival. (and Ddong is similar to dung!!!).

This weekend I will be going to Junju again, but this time to visit the museum. I very much doubt any of the descriptions will be in English, but I will go nevertheless. I wanted to do some traveling this weekend, but it is far too cold, so the museum is a happy compromise...I get to learn more about Korea (maybe) and stay indoors at the same time.



Please see the following blogs for newly added photos:

Let it Snow
Yuletide Celebrations
Another Week Goes By

Plus check out the links on the right hand side, especially my Dictionary of Significant Things. Cool, no?