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"So I guess this is where I'm supposed to introduce myself. I'm a Canadian male teaching ESL in Seoul, Republic of Korea. This will be my second stint teaching ESL, only this time I'll be teaching at a High School, using my actual teaching experience to use. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me - no question's too small. Take care, and enjoy the ride."

Other Blogs of Note

  • Student in Korea
  • Seoul Man
  • The Daily Kimchi
  • Surviving South Korea
  • Books I'm Reading

  • "Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire" by Niall Ferguson
  • "Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World" by Haruki Murakami
  • "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order" by Samuel P. Huntington
  • "The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth" by Benjamin M Friedman
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  • Graduation and....baking? Thursday, February 14, 2008 |

    So today brought about the graduation of my school's third grade middle school students. Normally a rowdy, loud, disrespectful bunch, today they were quiet, reserved, and respectful (because their parents were here).

    Now, the graduation ceremony is nothing like what you would expect from back home - with so many students, freezing cold temperatures outside, and no gymnasium to squeeze all of the students and parents into, everyone just watched the "ceremony" with their parents in whatever classroom they were assigned to....a very boring, unexcited affair of watching the whole event on a jumbo television. Not my idea of fun, but then again, I wasn't required to participate - only third grade homeroom teachers are required to dress up, and the rest of us just loafed around, and did the stuff that teachers do when they aren't teaching.

    What was comical however was the Korean tradition (from what has been explained to me) of what the students do once they've graduated. Because theirs no offical ceremony of passing the certificate to the students, the students just show up in their uniforms....and at this point, they're "itching" to rip it off for good. So after all of the formalities are over, and the parents have gone back to the work, the students whip out......flour and eggs; Lots and LOTS of eggs. What happens next is hard to witness, as the flour somewhat blocks a clear view. However, when the "dust" settles, what you have are students covered head to toe in egg yolk, shells, and tonnes of flour everywhere - most importantly, all over their uniform.

    So that's middle school graduation in a nutshell. At my school, the administration purchased huge flower bouquets for display outside of the school. Some of the third grade "better-behaved" students decided to give the school one final reason to be glad they're gone. They took ALL of the flowers, took them to the road, and proceeded to backup traffic while they threw, stomped, and egged all of the flowers. You'd almost think that a wedding ceremony had taken place outdoors. In secret, the teachers lauded their final sendoff, but when they came in after showering, they were warned to NOT do that once they got to high school...i'm sure they've forgotten it already :)
    take care all, and
    God bless

    From the office of "whoops".... Tuesday, February 12, 2008 |

    Well, for those of you who watch international news, you might already know of this story. For those of you who don't, well, read on.
    Less than two weeks ago,
    South Korea's National Treasure No. 1 Sungnyemun, (more commonly known as Namdaemun ~ translated, it means "the South Gate") was set on fire by an arsonist. Now, the reason this falls under the files of "whoops" is because the way that the events transpired happened in a way that somewhat is typical of Korea. But first, a few pictures to help you understand what this is about.

    1st - this picture was taken from the Japanese archive, around 1910.
    2nd - this picture came from the first opening of the gate in 1963 to the public.
    3rd - the official restoration ceremony, where the gate became fully open to the public, 2006.
    4th - taken on the 10th of February, while the fire was ravaging the gate.

    Now, here's where the whole "whoops" comes into play. Firstly, for their number one national treasure, there was never someone posted to "guard" the gate during the early morning, or on weekends at night. Despite its high ranking, there were no infrared sensors or fire sprinklers inside the gate, and only EIGHT fire extinguishers were placed to protect the national treasure. But it gets worse. The man they just arrested (and he subsequently admitted shortly after arrest) was previously arrested for setting fire to another national treasure, a major palace, (also a high-ranking national treasure)! Not only that, but he was released shortly after being placed in jail for that offence. And what do you think set this man off to set fire to both National Treasures? The official chief of police in Namdaemun reported: "Chae confessed to starting the fire, saying he was upset by a land grievance that led him to start the 2006 fire and by the sentence he was handed in that case..."

    A land grievance....Mr.Chae, as he's now being referred to, said he chose Namdaemun because of its easy to access location, lack of security, and far-enough distance from local housing, so that it wouldn't hurt anybody. (Well, if you could find one glimmer from this situation, you can at least appreciate him for thinking "that" much ahead....Naw).
    Sometimes, Koreans are just a little too trusting for thier own good. I love them for their innocence, and sometimes inapparent ability to conceive that something like this could actually happen. I feel really bad, because its one of the most-recognizable features for Seoul World-wide, and for a long time, there will be a lot of inconveniences when trying to reach future monuments not just in Seoul, but country-wide.
    Chalk it up to another "whoops" experience, and hopefully Korea will learn from the experience...
    God bless,