Archive for August, 2008

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Seoul in Pictures

August 25, 2008

Sorry I’ve been neglecting this blog. My internet situation has gotten a bit more sketch and I have had a busy couple of weekends. Lately, I’ve been heading out of Incheon and trekking on the subway to Seoul more often. Seoul has a lot of distinct parts. There’s the old-timey palace-y part of Seoul, Insadong, there’s the trendy college-hipster area, Hongdae, the foreigner area, Itaewon, the super ritzy part, Gangham, and etc etc.

Here are some pictures of my travels:

Click on them for captions and commentary, etc.

Also there are more pictures of my trip to Insadong here.

I shalll try to post more when I can.

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Hmm.

August 13, 2008

I’ve been here long enough to realize that moving to Asia isn’t like living in some Wong Kar-Wai fantasy world, but I still really want to be the second person on a two person scooter.

Also: Takeshi Kaneshiro = really really hot.

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Flashing Lights and Prison Breaks: Five Surprisingly Popular Western Imports

August 13, 2008

So in Korea, near the more popular subway stations, there are always these underground markets that sell clothes, sunglasses, cell phones, cutey charmy thingies etc. I live next to one of the larger underground markets, Bupyeong Market. It pretty much is the land of the 5,000 won t-shirt. Of course there is adorable Konglish shirts, some with drawings of stumbled over zebras with captions that say “white trash,” some wth circular slogans like “a lucky man is one who is considered to have good luck,” and some made of sheer awesomeness, like Jan’s shirt that says, “ONE SHOT ONE KILL.” And of course, there is the ironic vintage tee market, with old school Captain Crunch and Optimus Prime designs (though I wonder, is it it still an ironic t-shirt, if the person wearing it isn’t in on the joke?). Anyway, in my experience looking through this sartorial milieu (hey, I teach elementary school things about colors all day, let me use my big words when I can, alright?), I have found some Western imports that seem to be more popular here than back home (like David Hasselhoff’s popularity in Germany).

1. Neon Sportswear

Actually, I don’t know if this counts, because I think the American-American Apparel wearing hipster set also enjoys this particular color palette, but Koreans are really really into it. Particularly men’s fashion. I guess it’s handy for blending into the nighttime scenery.

Also, where there is neon sportswear, there is inevitably…

2. Kanye West Glasses

Okay, maybe not so contained to South Korea also. But yeah, I’ve seen a lot of them. Some without glass, so you can finally on have that prison bar tan on your eyelids.

And speaking of prisons…

3. Prison Break

Yeah, that crappy tv show on Fox where they somehow find themselves stuck in prisons to uh, break from every single season. THEY LOVE IT HERE. When I was on vacation in Busan, there was a full on marathon. And commercials and yeah… must be that shaved head/intense stare combination. And oh yes, there are t-shirts and other merchandise-y goodness.

And speaking of merchandise-y goodness…

4. Le Petit Prince

Now, this I don’t mind or am as perplexed by as much, but yeah, they love the book here. At Henley’s (which is an Urban Outfitters wannabe) there are tons of merchandise, little business card holders, notebooks, pencils, stationery, all manners of cute and adorable things. Last week, I actually bought a Korean/English version of Le Petit Prince with silver page lining and all that in Itaewon. Pretty sweet.

And speaking of books…

5. A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian

Which is a novel, that I’ve seen numerous copies of at What the Book? the English bookstore in Itaewon. And for some reason, it struck me, because I knew I had seen that title before… and then I remembered:

I had seen the cover on many many t-shirts in the Bupyeong Underground. In every color. For no explicable reason.

Anyway, so I bought it.

Yes, I wrote a whole post just to talk about my new t-shirt.

I also might have to pick up the book too since my shirt says that it’s “extromely funny.”

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Taxi Story #1

August 3, 2008

This happened about a week ago (before I was on vacation), but I figured I’d write about it before I forgot.

Three of my friends and I were coming back from dinner in Bucheon when we got into this taxi. Taxis in South Korea are great, especially if you’re sharing, two dollars to go to Bupyeong Station, about five to go to this other city. Anyway, it was going normally, until all of a sudden the taxi driver asks one of my friends, the lone guy in the bunch, “Are you happy?”

My friend considers it before going, “Well, yes, I suppose.” I think it’s odd for a taxi driver to get so existential with a passenger.

Then the taxi driver is at a stop light, and takes his time to point at every one else in the car. “Girl. Girl. Girl. Boy! Flower sandwich!”

And then we all laugh our ass off.

For the rest of the trip the driver tries different variations on the idea to see that we understand. Some of which include “pumpkin flower sandwich” and “rose sandwich.”

My guess is this is an inverse of the American idea of a sausagefest. So there, that’s your Korean terminology lesson for the day.

What came up on a google image search of "Flower Sandwich"

What came up on a google image search of "Flower Sandwich"

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Back from Busan

August 2, 2008
The beach (under the umbrellas) at Haeundae Beach

The beach (under the umbrellas) at Haeundae Beach

I’m back from vacation in Busan. Full report later.

I will say that the bullet train is pretty fast; traveling all the way across the country from the northeast to the southwest took about 2 and 1/2 hours. You couldn’t really tell while you were in the train, but it started to rain, but we were going so fast, the drops never caught on the windows. Cool, huh?

Anyway, I have put up a facebook album of the trip here.

Things I did not, regrettably, take a picture of:

1) A shirt that said “Nothin’ rhymes with pirate” although I do beg to differ. What about uh… irate?

2) Glow-in-the-dark fish (and otters, sharks, and eels).

3) Oodles of little Korean adorable children in floaty devices, being tossed into the water by their parents.

4) The green green (shall we say verdant?) Korean countryside.

5) The “UCLA Dental Clinic” in Bruin colors.