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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."

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  • From the office of "whoops"....

    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,

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