Important

Another reminder: This blog has moved here.

Back to Korea…

I have 3 days left on my vacation here in the states.  Man, it’s hard to go back to Korea.  I now see why folks advise against going home over the holidays.  On one hand, I have a significant other back at home, so it was sort of necessary for me to go home in the interests of the strength of the relationship (plus, you know, I missed the guy!), but on the other…man, it’s so tempting to just stay here.  Thankfully, I only have 3 months left, which shouldn’t be too bad.  It’ll go fast.

By the way – just reminding you guys – this blog is basically defunct at this point.  To see my new blog, go here.

Market Photos

I have decided to post some photos I took at the local market the other day.  There are more below the cut.  Enjoy.

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Women sit on the street selling their wares.

  Continue reading ‘Market Photos’

Shameless Plugging

I once again, by the way, would like to put in a plug for a great Korea blog, The Grand Narrative.  If you want to really learn about Korean culture, this is the blog you should read.

Some of my favourite posts (for sake of ease, for the most part I have only linked to the first part of multi-part posts):

Women’s Bodies in Korea’s Consumer Society, Part 1: Their Neo-Confucian Heritage

The Korean Education System and its Consequences for Adults: Part 1

Why Korean Girls Don’t Say No: Contraception Commercials, Condom Use and Double Standards in South Korea

Deconstructing Korean Women’s Attitudes to Lingerie, Bikinis and their Bodies in the 2000s

Koreans, Criticism, and the Korean Language

Why Lee Hyori’s Breasts are a Metaphor for Korean Celebrity Culture

Women’s Bodies in Korea’s Consumer Society, Part 3 (Final): Nation, Family, Self (part 3 is my favourite, though 1 and 2 are good, and linked to)

Sex, Marriage and the Modern Japanese (and Korean) Woman

Japanese Schoolgirl Sex Codes

The Economist on Japanese Labour Market Flexibility: Lessons for Korea

Flatting, Premarital Sex and Cohabitation in Korea, Part 1: Economics vs Korean Culture

Attention! Important! Blogroll Notice!

So, I have come to realize that it is a pain to try and crosspost my Korea blog entries between my main blog and this one.  So, I have decided to basically abandon this one.

I may occasionally post here, but from now on, please change your links to reflect my new address.  If you want to link to ONLY my Korea posts, you may use this link, which sorts out everything but my Korea posts.

So, again:

NEW ADDRESS

KOREA ONLY ADDRESS

Finally, a Korean protest I agree with…

Now, Koreans have a reputation for volatility and protests.  In fact, there have been articles published to this effect in the US, referring to Korea’s “culture of protest“.  This spring it was the Mad Cow protests, which drew quite a bit of international press, but believe me, there are protests here all the time that don’t draw quite so much attention (for instance, the Dokdo debate).  Usually, these protests garner a reaction from me (and other expats here) that ranges from eye-rolling to outright anger.

But, finally, this time they seem to be striking about something that I actually agree with.

Korea’s education system revolves almost entirely around a series of national standardized tests.  There is tremendous pressure put on students to do well on these tests, and around the time that they are taken, Korea’s suicide rate spikes heavily(in fact, there was a suicide here in Jindo during the mid-terms this semester that the other foreigners discovered, but I won’t go into that).  The tests are stressful for elementary students, and by the time they reach high school, it reaches almost absurd proportions.  It is such a big deal culturally, in fact, that on the day of the high school exam, police ferry students who are running late to their testing site, and fellow students who are not testing that day wait outside the schools to cheer on their friends.

There have been student protests before, but this is the first time, to my knowledge, that the teachers themselves have had a protest/strike (well, the second, I suppose, if you count the original incident which led to this current demonstration).  Now, I am actually a fan of civil disobedience (I was somewhat of a troublemaker in high school and especially college, and hell, I date a Frenchman), when done properly (nobody is hurt and property is not damaged) and for a good cause , and this, to me, qualifies.

Personally, my favourite is the teacher who decided to hold his class outside.  Props to the guy and students who decided to brave the cold of Korean winter to make a point.  Kind of like instead of a teach-in, it was a teach-out!

Korea to replace TOEFL, SAT tests…

From Brian in Jeollanamdo:

If you were the Minister of Education and your country consistently ranked among the worst at English standardized tests in the world, in spite of students spending thousands of dollars each for years or decades studying exclusively for them, what would you do? You’d scrap the test, of course. 

Man, talk about shooting yourself in both feet.  Way to go, Korea, way to go.  Good luck getting your kids into schools abroad.  Oh, wait, maybe that’s not such a great idea anyway, considering that almost half of them quit/flunk out of schools abroad anyway.  Maybe you should just stick with buying residency in foreign countries or having your children adopted by American families, both so that you can qualify to send them to an international school in Korea.  For a country that puts so much emphasis on preparing for tests, it amazes me that they do so abysmally.

Oh man, it just keeps getting better.

Contract Renewal

Here in Korea, about 3-4 months before a teacher’s contract is finished, the school will go to the teacher and ask them if they think they want to renew. That’s a reasonable amount of time, as they have now spent 8-9 months here, and probably have a good idea of whether or not they want to stay.

However, yesterday my co-teacher informed me that they want an answer now, after only 6.5 months here.  Barring a breakup with Marc, I will be going home, but I don’t really want to close the door here just yet, not until I get back from winter vacation.  

I was told in the morning to make a decision by the end of the day, but since I had to judge an English competition in the afternoon, and then hold a meeting about the teachers’ workshop that I teach, I didn’t remember to email her back about it.  I did, however, receive an email from the provincial office saying that some schools may be asking early this year, but that we did not need to give them a decision until December 29th.  So, I figured that was that, and that I would give myself a couple days.

Well, I got a call at 7:30am this morning (thankfully I was already awake due to my internal clock being set on “Dali” these days), asking for my decision.  I explained that the provincial office said that I had until the 29th.  My co-teacher insisted that no, she needs an answer today, and that Tuesday or Wednesday will not do.

I told her to mark me down as “No”, but that that could change sometime in the future, potentially.  Really, though, it’s highly unlikely.  My school seems to exist in an alternate universe to the one that the provincial office exists in, and that really bothers me.  Even if I were to stay in Korea, I do think I would switch schools.  I like Jindo, but I think that this area has some major kinks to work out, and as an experienced teacher, I can be put to better use elsewhere, at a school that knows how to actually use their foreigners.

I’ve been feeling better about things here lately, but today’s early morning phone call, combined with the gray weather I’m staring at right now, has put me in a bit of a sour mood.

 

[Originially posted over at Teh Blog]

Sorry about that!

I have been enjoying the increased flexibility over at my self-hosted and all-inclusive blog lately, and have been forgetting to cross-post my entries over here.  In the interests of posting here in any sort of timely fashion, I am for the moment opting to just link to you the Korea-related entries over at my main blog, for now.  In the future, hopefully I will be better about actually cross-posting, rather than just lazy-linking, like this.  But, here you go, here’s my last week or so’s worth of Korea posts.  Enjoy:

Une Vache Coréen

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Photos taken about 300 yards from my apartment.


July 2020
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