Martial Arts Demo

We asked some Korean friends if this performance seemed funny and awkward (because, honestly, it is hilarious), or reasonably normal.  Apparently this falls on the normal side here.  Most guys have this sort of training when they do army service, and showing it off isn’t that unusual.

I suspect that they wouldn’t find Star Wars Kid very funny, either.

Korean Rap

Last night I saw my buddy Lee perform at an outdoor festival at Ulsan University.  He’s the one in the fedora and sun glasses.

Something I never thought I’d eat with chop sticks:


This has nothing to do with Korea, but…

On Wednesday afternoon a student at Wesleyan University was shot and killed in the campus bookstore’s cafe, where she worked.  The police are now saying that it was an anti-Semitic hate crime, and plans were discovered for a campus-wide shooting spree.   The school’s administration has relocated all of the residents of the Bayit, Wesleyan’s Jewish program house.  The campus is slowly moving out of a lock down state, but the gunman has still not been caught.

I know that people die due to religiously-motivated violence all the time, but this one hits particularly close – Wesleyan was my home for four years, and the small community there is very closely knit.  I don’t have anything profound to say about this tragedy or what it means from a more global perspective.  I’m just sad, and asking, if you pray, that you throw one out there for Johana Justin-Jinich, her family, and the Wesleyan community.

Hartford Courant

New York Times

stereotypes based in reality

Today when asked to name an animal that starts with the letter ‘r’, many students answered with “robster.”  A food that begins in ‘r’?  Rollipop.

My Classroom


Unlike most public school teachers, I have my own classroom.  It is an English lab of sorts, with a bank of computers in the back and a small collection of English books and dvds and an encyclopedia set.  I’m still trying to figure out how to make full use of all of the resources that I have available to me.  This is definitely nicer and more high-tech than any public school classroom than I have ever seen in the US.



I absolutely do not understand the thinking that went behind the images and text on the blinds in this classroom.  One says “Organic Fruit” while another says McDonald’s Drive-Thru”.  On the other side of the room we have “Irish farmer with his donkey and dog”.


Most of my students are really camera-shy.  The best I can usually manage are candid shots.


The view from my classroom window.  The white building in the middle is my apartment building.

Korean Age

When I first arrived in Korea, I started hearing people mention in passing the difference between their American age and their Korean age.  I got the vague impression that I was older in Korean years, but exactly how much older continued to baffle me – I heard both 1 and 2 years added to my age.  A few days ago a team of 3 native Koreans were finally able to straighten me out.

I was born in November of 1983.  In the United States, this makes me 25 years old.  In Korea, I am 27.  Here’s why:

Fact 1:  Here, when you are born you are already one year old.  From what I was told this is their way of counting the period from conception to birth – they round up the 9 months to a full year.

Fact 2:  No matter when in the year you are born, your age goes up a year on January 1 of the following year.  So when I was born in late 1983, I turned two about 40 days later on January 1 of 1984.  This means that in Korea, I am exactly the same age as everyone who was born in 1983, and right now that age is 27.

Confusing?  It certainly was for me – the three Koreans who explained it to me were the third group of people to try, and the only ones to succeed.   Now I just have to get used to the idea of being 27 two years early.