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.



So, what have I done this week?

1) gave my knee a rest by not going to Gomdo
2)lost my bank card, resulting in a trip to my bank, stopping the card and getting a replacement; one of the new-style ones with a chip.
3) Near my home I bumped into Ed , who was on his way to meet his adult students at the local bar/soolchip. He invited me to join them. Four glasses of maekju and a coin toss later, we were singing our hearts out in a naerubang.
4) The next day, I had a splitting headache all day. At the end of my working day I have four 1-to-1 students, two of which are sisters, aged 11 and 13 (taught serperately). Thursday is game day, so we played scrabble...the first word the sisters produced was "beer". I read the word on the board through my migrane, a sorry reminder of the night before (but I only had 4 half pints!). I was not impressed.
5) Two of my teenage classes were better behaved this week, and we had fun. However my other two teenage classes were quieter, but still very noisy.
6) Spent friday night chatting to Rob on messenger, discussing arrangements for taking half my stuff back to England, the other half to be carried in a 65l rucksack during my travels in the rest of East Asia.
7)Today Eun-Jung accompanied me to the sauna. I was approached by a 7 year old who was looking for friends (친구) to play with, and wanted to practice her English on me. She asked me (in Korean) where I was from, and was suprised to discover that people in England talk English. She then commented that I speak English very well!!!

I have been in the 45, 75 and 94ㅇC rooms, but passed on the hottest. Eun-Jung is currently taking a bath downstairs, naked with other women. Despite the sweatiness, I really didn't want to join her. Women are so critical of each others bodies; to make matters worse, I am a foreigner...all eyes will be on me.


Usual Routine/So Proud

1)I have added some photos onto SuKi Day One and included a link on Suki Day 2.
Suki is Korean pronunciation, in case anybody was wondering.

2)I am determined to cheer up...Rob will be here in the month and he did not pay a small fortune in airfare to find me miserable and moping. Thus I have deleted that post as I do not want any excessive negativity on this site, nor do I want to worry anybody. In fact, I am feeling a little better than I did a few days ago. My moods will be up and down, but hopefully not as bad as they were; maybe one day I will get a decent nights sleep. (Sleep deprivation has led me to be uptight and intense in situations were I wouldn't normally be, and this really isn't a good thing).

This week has been the usual routine. My boss has given me classes for the Wednesday that would normally be spent at Too Seong Hagwon, but they are mostly mixed classes. He has got me teaching a maths and science class, thus they have a mixed ability in English, the gulf between their books being huge, and I am unable to find a compromise nor solution. It really is a waste of time, but The Boss insists that I have these classes.

This week a new Korean English teacher, who is the same age as me has joined our team, to replace the ones that ran a mile when The Boss insisted on contracts being signed. So far she is being rather shy around me, probably embarrassed and scared that she will get her English wrong...but my Korean is far worse!!!

My B-D level classes are now working on their intonation and mood with very little complaint, while the A level classes (4A and 5A) whinge at the first sign of picking up a pencil. You see, they are highly intelligent and not used to having to work to get good grades, now they have been met with a challenge and are too lazy to study without moaning and complaining. The other classes, who are more likely to find it difficult are doing well at learning the intonation, mostly because they are used to having to work to get somewhere with their studies.

I am very proud of all my students, even the D classes, where I must say that 2 of my students are most likely beyond any form of mainstream education. However, I do my best for them. I am pleased that I can see the improvement in all my classes, and that most of them work so hard to get to grips with a language that is not their own. A language with complicated grammar, and so many exceptions to any rules we attempt to place that often they have little choice but to learn it off by heart. If I were in their position, I would mostly likely be in the D class!!! I am most proud of my C classes: those with average intelligence, so with hard work from both myself and the students there is a noticeable improvement, which is satisfying when they finally are able to speak what they have learned with near perfect pronunciation and intonation (as per English accent).

Nevertheless, I did make a mistake the other day. I am the only English person in Gunsan, so I am not exposed to the English accent. I have subconsciously picked up North American accent and intonation, only slightly, but enough to make it confusing for me at times when I try to teach English intonation. The mistake I made was teaching my students to say a sentence which was a statement rather than a question, thus we Brits would either keep the tone of the last word or consonant flat, or drop it. Meanwhile North Americans will often lift it at the end of sentence. Oops.

The Boss has confirmed that he is willing to accept my English accent for my elementary students, but it is always in the back of my mind that he really hung up over the American accent. Sometimes I really do not know what to do, but I try to stick what he has told me to do. Moreover, because I only see each class once a week, while the Korean teachers see my classes 4-5 times a week, they often review what I have taught them. Thus they walk into the classroom with an American accent, and I am really not sure if I should "correct" it, especially when most of the sentence is an English accent, with one or two words in an American accent! However, over time their accent has become gradually more English, so there is now very little "correcting" to do. (I put "correcting" in inverted commas, as both accents are correct, neither is wrong). As I have pointed out to my colleagues upon many occasion:

1)intonation depends on mood and accent. Slight differences can make all-the-difference.
2) The childrens' accent is easy to understand. This is the aim, and the aim has been achieved. An American will be able to understand them, no problem. (If they don't, they are either deaf or stupid).

Class 2A and Jane

Jane (as she likes to be called) and Class 2A (my babies).

Yesterday I mastered the 4th sequence of Gomdo after 2 days training I am half way to my Blue belt. Yey me!!!

Last night I went against common sense, and ended up chatting to a couple of Middle Aged Korean men in Lotteria whom I have never met before. They suggested that we go for a drink, but due to my dodgey stomach, we ended up in a Norabang (singing room). This was exactly what I needed; it put me in good spirits that lasted for a further few hours when I got home. Perhaps Fate was in a sympathetic mood.

Today, due to changes in my timetable (yet again), I had 4 teenage classes in a row, lucky me. Each class had 20-30 rowdy, disrespectful teenagers, who would not stop talking no matter how many times I told/growled at them to be quiet (and they do understand exactly what 'be quiet' means). In the end I reluctantly adopted the technique I used to use on my elementary students when I first got them: making them sit for long periods of time with their arms in the air until the blood drains from them. But for the teenagers, it was even longer. The good students got to put their arms down first, while the bad ones ended up with their arms in the air for a full 15 minutes. Needless to say, after that each of my classes were quiet, respectful and attentive. No, I am not sadistic. I did not enjoy it one bit. But what choice do I have when I cannot communicate effectively in Korean to 'have a way with words', and it is the only form of punishment they respond to? Moreover I am a foreigner, thus they have far less respect for me than the Korean teachers.

Tonight I went to an eating house with the Gomdo gang. I promised that I will pay for everybody when Rob arrives, to the joy of my Korean companions. A trip to an eating house (not a restaurant) is often accompanied with Soju, so I am a little drunk as I type this. I have taken some photos of some of the people that feature in my life...

Ee Seok Jae

Soek-Jae's drunken funny-face. He refused to simply smile.
Title: Kwang Jang Nim
Name: Ee Soek-Jae
Profile: Pabo.

Sa Bo Nim

Title Sa Bo Nim (1)
Profile: Seok-Jae's Brother-in-law
In the background is a fella I had only just met, and is a yellow belt.

Kim Sa Bo

Kim Sa Bo Nim
Yet another fine example of why me and soju don't make a good combination

Name? Black belt geezer

This is bloke is a Black belt and I bump into him from time to time.
Aha! I will get you with my Gomdo sword...I mean, er, chopstick.

Who is she?

When I walked into the Gomdo samooshil (office) this girl was sat at the computer. I asked Kwang Jang Nim who she was; he didn't have a clue. "Maybe free-style woman?" he mused. Seeing as she is so beautiful, I thought I may as well take a photo of her.

Also...Good news!!!! After further eyelash fluttering, innocent eyes, and cajoling (and promise of a bottle of Soju) I finally got The Boss to grant me my two days winter vacation in March instead, so that I can spend some quality time with Rob. Men are so easily manipulated when they find you attractive (and/or are dependent on Soju). Usually it is his decision alone when we take our holidays, usually the staff take it together so that he can close the hagwon. Last time, as you may know, he gave us 12 hours notice of our holiday...not convenient for planning ahead.

Koreans are renowned for their efficiency. In fact they are far from efficient. They have difficulty planning ahead (not just my boss) and do things quickly last minute to compensate. However things are sometimes done shodily as a result. Perhaps one day I think I will take a photo of the hagwon samooshil (office) and then maybe you will understand Korean organisation. The words p***-up, and brewery spring to mind (Couldn't organise a...). Also my shelf has collapsed (no fault of my own, it was like that when I arrived) and I am now using a make-shift shelf out of cardboard box, as are some of my colleagues.

Plus there is this sickeningly annoying Korean Christmas song that is playing in the background. The Koreans are obsessed with all things cutesy, and this song is the epitome of that...Ugh.

Meanwhile the weather is wet in manner of Northern England...hope it improves for when Rob gets here. Leaves me just a little confused as to where I am in the world.

Valentine's Day

It is with a large dollop of guilt that I was unable to treat all of my students to chocolate for Valentine's Day, given that I have roughly 150 of them. If I had just given my Babies chocolate, the rest of my students would have complained, I would never hear the end of it. Thus I opted for not giving chocolate to any of them.

However, I received a few tasty treats myself from a handful of my students, which made me feel worse.

Valentine's day

The rose had a chocolate ball inside, which fell out on the bus and rolled away, never to be seen again.

My students were huffy that I didn't give them anything...this is the second time I have failed them, the first time was Pepero Day (which I wasn't aware of until the day itself). I can't imagine that I will be receiving much on Teacher's Day (15th May).



Having difficulty adding more links to my side bar, despite following instructions to the letter.

Please see link above.

Why I like the Korean Flag

The flag, called "Tae Kuk," symbolizes the thought, philosophy, and mysticism of the Far East. The circle in the center, red upper half and blue lower half, represents absolute, or the essential unity of all being. The Yang (positive) and the Yin (negative) divisions within the circle represent duality. Examples of duality are heaven and hell, fire and water, life and death, good and evil, or night and day.

The four trigrams also indicate the duality of opposites and balances. In the upper left trigram, three unbroken lines symbolize Heaven; opposite them in the lower right, three broken lines represent Earth. In the upper right trigram, two broken lines separated by an unbroken line is the symbol of Water; opposite them is Fire, symbolized by two unbroken lines separated by a broken line.

Symbolic of the nation is the white background (the land), the circle (people), and the four trigrams (the government). All three make up the essential elements of the nation.

Suki Day 3

ZZZZZzzzzz till 1pm, then home.


SuKi Day 2

Got out of bed 9am, was at the ski resort 10am, but did not start ski ing until 12 as we had missed the morning session. Ben missed his snowboarding lesson (due to taking 10 years in the bathroom) and so resolved to teach himself how to snowboard. After falling over several times, despite obvious improvement he gave up and switched to skis for the evening session. However, before his self-tutorial, he showed me how to ski on the snow with control. Soon I was confidently weaving in and out of people looking like a pro.

In the evening, as it is New Year the staff entertained us by making a snake formation down the most challenging course, each carrying a torch of fire both hands. When they came to a stop the fireworks started, the end of which Ben and I watched from the ski lift. Yes, thats right, Ben insisted that I try out the intermediate slope (hence the ski lift) and patiently comforted me while I had a Virtigo attack.

Once I got to the top Ben lead me down the slope, little by little. Once I got to the bottom I refused to try it again due to being scared of heights, loss of control etc. However, after some persuasion I tried it again. Ben led the way another 3 or 4 times, (without me falling over) until I was confident enough to ski fairly quickly and independently. Unfortunately on the second independent run, a woman on a snowboard and myself crashed into one another. I lay in the snow convinced that I had dislocated my knee, and for a while I couldn't move. Eventually I was able to turn myself around to inspect the damage. Just a twist/sprain/potential bruise of monster proportions. After that I concluded that it was best to stop for the night as I am having difficulty walking on my left leg.

It's a good job I have a 'dangerous sports' insurance policy.

Ben has the photos of the second day. Click on the link above (title) and scroll to the first few photos of Various Exciting Titbits, including one of my gracious self on skis.


SuKi Day 1

Dragged self out of bed after Ben ringing me at 7.30am, due to alarm clock dying on me when I need it most, and me not being able to replace the battery at 11pm at night. The journey to Seoul was pleasant enough..I slept the entire time, of course. When I got there I met up with Ben to make our way to the Ski Resort. We got there 2.30 ish, and wandered round looking for the hostel. When we eventually found it were were redirected to the hotel for information. Upon arriving at the hotel we were informed that even to share a room would cost us W60.000 each. FAT CHANCE. We jumped in taxi which, with Jo's help took us to a Hotel/Motel in the village. It costs us W40.000 per night, ie W20,000 each.

When we made our way back to the resort (a mere W2,000 ride away from the hotel) we discovered that the next ski-ing session doesn't start until 6.30pm...the evening/night time session...Cool! Hence Ben and I have been passing the time bowling (my performance was abizmal while Ben impressed a few Korean Laydeez) and checking our emails.

Finally got on the slopes, well, the nursery slope. Despite putting into practice what I had learned from ski lessons as a child (and performing it earlier to account for the fact that snow is much quicker than dry slopes) I crashed into someone and went somersaulting over them, landing on my back and then hitting my head. The woman I crashed into was lying in my arms, shaking...but after much fuss turned out not to be injured. I tried again....this time crashing into the barrier. Due to dizziness, I stopped after that and checked my emails while Ben continued to ski.

Oh dear.

Despite the above and a rather swollen finger, I am ready to meet the challenge of tomorrow head on (so to speak).

Nursery and Intermediate slope

This a view of the Nursery slope and the intermediate slope. As you can see, the nursery slope is a doddle yet I still ended up somersaulting over some poor unsuspecting Korean woman. By the end of the second day, due to Ben's marvelous teaching skills, I was wooshing my way down the intermediate slope. If it wasn't for injuring my knee I would have had a stab at the more challenging ones.

View of the Nursery and most challenging slopes

This shows the more challenging slopes. This photograph does not properly represent how steep they were in comparision with the other two....but they were very, very steep....I was very proud when Ben made it down one of them in on piece on the second day.

ski 004

Yangji Pine Resort by night...this is a better photograph of the two most challenging slopes

restaurant/bar by night

The restaurant/Bar at the resort, lit up with decorations due to it being the Chinese New Year of the Rooster.

In the cafeteria there were a couple of signs that were badly translated...not fair to make fun, but still very funny....

funny sign 1

That's the best advice I've heard in a long while.

(Points to some free drinking water).

funny sign 2

Sir, yes Sir!
There were we contemplating running back to England/Canada with them...
Damn, foiled again!



Its the New Year Holidays next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday...and guess what Peeps???



YEEY!!! (Jumps up and down, clapping hands excitedly).

See photos at some point later next week.


I hate you teacher!!!!

None of my students have said this but I bet that this is what they are thinking.

This week I have stepped up the act.

No longer am I just getting them to learn their vocabluary and pronounce it correctly (as according to Scouse accent)...I am now working on intonation too. This is something I should have been working on anyway, I really can't think why I neglected it. You see, this is incredibly difficult for my students, even my grade A classes (top students), because when they speak their own language, the sentences are monotone right up until the last word, or even the last syllable, indicating the mood etc of the speaker. Meanwhile, native English speakers vary the tone through out the sentence (depending on mood, intended meaning etc).

Sniggers and giggles of embarrassment punctured the huffs and puffs at me making them vary their tone. They really did feel stupid...but I am employed to teach them how to talk as naturally as possible, and that is exactly what I intend to do. Every 5 minutes (literally) in the majority of my classes there was a plaintive cry of 'Game, please! Game!' from some corner of the classroom, which was duely ignored by myself up until the end (as we always play games in the last few minutes of each class).

Well, they have another 7 months of me then it will all be over...maybe...depending on the next teacher (Mmmmwwwwoooaaaahhh hahahaha!).

Roses are red...

roses 002

And Brown...

roses 001

And Grey!

roses 003


Photo update 3 (?)

For recent photos please see "Snow Way" and "Gyeongbokgung 2". I only have a handful of photos of the palace due to camera batteries dying etc, so please see Ben's website as an addition, provided as a link in "Gyeongbokgung 2".


Snow Way!

It has been snowing continually for the past 36 hours. Yesterday the wind howled and whipped up a storm. This morning, the snow had settled to several inches deep. I have taken photos of this....


This was taken immediately outside my gives some indication of the depth of the snow.


Here you can see the trees in the distance in their pristine glory


The snow on this tree reminded me of a cotton plant


If it was not for the buildings this scene could come straight out of a children's fantasy tale

Yesterday morning was spent speaking to 3 different individuals from 3 different recruitment agencies, as well as a couple of lawyers about my situation (not mentioning my name of course). The unanimous advice was that if were to do things in a legal manner, I would have to request that my boss no longer sends me to the other school. If he continues to push me to do this then he is breaking the contract (previously he is not breaking the contract as I agreed to do it, even though it is not mentioned in his contract. Also verbal agreements often are worth more than contractual ones). Thus when I arrive at hagwon, the first thing I did was badger until I got his attention. I then had to persuade him that this conversation was to be taken IN PRIVATE. Once achieved I let him know that I no longer wish to work at Too Song Hagwon that I have found out for definate that it is illegal. His answer was to let him worry about it, but this was not good enough for me as if the "s### were to hit the fan" it would be me that would get into trouble (jail or hefty fine and sent home). After further kajooling he finally agreed that he would no long er send me there. Not that he would have had a choice, as even if he had not agreed, I would not have gone there and would have showed up at Chong Tap instead.

All in all, despite feeling like I am at breaking point, I have decided that if things don't get any worse I will stay here in Gunsan.

7.30 this morning I received a phone call from my mother....8.30 a phone call from my father....9.00 a phone call from Rob (though I wasn't there to answer it) and "happy birthday" in english from a few people (kids and trainers at Gomdo). Yesterday Hee Won (student) gave me five pieces of beautifully wrapped chocolate as a birthday present "so, can we play a game instead?". This I have a photo of...


Four pieces of chocolate are sitting on the wrapping of the one I have already eaten.

The chocolate that has been sent to me from family members had also been eaten previous to my actual birthday after sitting there for 10 days winking at me. The stress of last week combined with PMT led me to reach for this welcome supply.

12.30 Jan-Nims wife tells me that she has not one, not two, but 3 presents for me!!!! wow!!!
Number 1 was some socks. Number 2 was a rather chocolatey birthday cake

bday 010

On the Eighth Day God said "Let there be cake! Let it be chocolate and bring much joy to Women who consume it, for none would knowth more pleasure than that of this food of heaven". Whose hand is that I wonder? Yep, you've guessed it. Ye-Reem's.

bday 007

Lighting the candles...

Gift number 3 was a red rose.

While I was sat at the dinner table, the fellas walked in, one at a time....Happy Birthday Louise!!! each bearing a red rose. (see photos later).

3 men, 3 roses, 1 very happy woman.

No wait...there is a fourth gift...the CD I have wanted for months: Troy Theme Music!!!

When I arrived at Hagwon I was suprised and delighted to find that my youngest 1 to 1 student had bought me a present...a rather cute notebook. Meanwhile I shared out the remainder of my cake with my colleagues. Despite not having really mentioned my birthday to my students, once word had spread many, if not most stopped me in the corridor to wish me a happy birthday...Korean kids can be so times.

After treating myself to a "Birthday Burger" from Lotteria, (and bumping into some foreigners in Miryong for the first time), I arrived home at 8.30. 9pm the phone calls started (again). First up was Yeon-A, who gave me some fantastic news....She's pregnant with her first baby!!! Next was Sir Robert...then Sir Robert again. Meanwhile Ben tried to contact me and got nowhere....

So despite not really doing anything special for my birthday I felt really appreciated by so many different people. This meant far more to me than any kind of booze up at the local.

The next day...a set of smelly pens from a 3 to 1 student, and some handmade soap from a colleague.

Sunday...Eun-Jun, my colleague from my ex-other school arranged to meet me today and to my suprise she too presented me with a birthday present; Mango Body Butter from the Body Shop (expensive in Korea!). She told me that she knows that I like mangoes, and that I like the Body Shop, so putting the the two together...TaDa!

I guess I can count myself well and truely spoilled!!!