Saturday, March 27, 2010

Economic Essay Contest

There is an Economic Essay Contest at the Korea Times right now, the winner of which is "Korea's brand image." I consider myself reasonably well educated about economics despite my unrelated degree, and I can tell you Korea's main problem is definitely not their image. The logic behind awarding this essay, laden with entire paragraphs in bold and seemingly random interpretations of business maneuvers, the winner remains a mystery.
A 6 decade long "civil" war, an unjustifiable presence of a foreign army on the nation's soil, significant government involvement in the majority of major domestic businesses and industries, a deep seeded social distrust for FDI, a logically handicapped population, legal bias for domestic companies in an international and globalized world, all of these seem to pose much larger problems for korea's economic future than Korea's brand image.
The only thing more immediately confusing than the winning article of this competition is the movie "Aliens vs. Ninjas."

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I don't like Flo Rida or K-pop, but this is a pretty funny video with Korean plagiarism.

"Dokdo is ours" had a funny write-up as well. The amount of plagiarized art and fashion in Korea is mind-boggling considering their relative financial clout. It reminded me of the first time I saw this MC Mong video (plagiarism starts around 0:40 or so) which is a blatant rip-off of the DJ Shadow and Thom Yorke song for UNKLE called "Rabbit in your headlights." The most obvious proof it's a rip off is at 4:20 in the UNKLE video and 3:46 in the MC Mong abomination.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Reflections on a mistake

I find myself a few days away from the one year anniversary of my exodus from Korea and I'm baffled by my unimproved recollection of the trip. I've lived abroad before and experienced the cleansing properties of time on the blemishes in my memories of countries. One year after returning from Italy I had completely forgotten the heat, hostility and prurient young men, subconsciously focusing on the Uffizi, the duomo, meeting random Italian teens and hanging out well into the morning.. a laundry list of fond memories and irreplaceable experiences.
One year after leaving Korea, my memories of Korea are limited to experiences with other foreigners. My memories of actual Koreans are limited to the rude grocery employees down the street, the banality of work meetings, the incomprehensible logic of the Korean masses marching against American beef or whatever the latest faux political issue was; simultaneously hating America but depending on its army at any sign of danger, and other offenses I couldn't expurgate in my memory.
I remember arriving in Michigan, seeing my adopted Korean-American friends and being so relieved at the sight of a Korean that didn't, on some level, offend me.
I've concluded that although Korea is rife with ammunition for any person looking to dislike its nationalistic, racist, megalomaniacal, startlingly credulous existence, perhaps there's something more personal in my hatred of the country. Having been born in Korea and adopted at a young age, perhaps my hatred for Korea is in its representing the absence of everything I care for in my current life. Maybe every time I see Korea, I see myself except without my family, my money, my education, my friends, my travels and the experiences that collectively make me, me.

Or maybe I just don't like getting sneezed on. Pushed. Stared at. Feared.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Koreans Cheat

So, here's a nice post about how common place cheating is in Korea.

That being said, I have never in my life seen nor heard of the level of unethical practices on the scale that I observed in Korean schools.
Many Koreans I talk to absolutely don't believe me when I say that money in white envelopes doesn't change hands in the American system.
But in Korea, this is common enough that people actually think this is commonplace in the rest of the world. And from observing what happens in Korean schools, from listening to my students, and from getting into raging clashes with administrators as I refuse to be cooperate with such corruption directly, I know it is commonplace.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


You know what's way better than South Korea? Hanging out on the beach, or at an internet cafe overlooking the beach, but safely inside the air condition. I flew to Hong Kong to visit a few friends for a bit, and I arrived in the Philippines yesterday evening around 6pm, only to find that it's exceptionally dark at 6pm in the Philippines. I had no hotel reservations or any place to stay so I was forced to follow some random guy who wanted 100 pesos ($2) in exchange for showing me to a nice, cheap hotel. Well, the latter was certainly true, as the hotel charged 200 pesos a night, roughly $4 USD, but it also happened to be down a dark alley with almost no means for escape if I were to be attacked as was happening continuously in my head. I promise you, I have never feared for my general well being as much as I did following this guy to the place he promised was worth my effort. It turns out, that he was genuinely a kind person and not leading me to my death, so I ended up buying his "wife" and him a few beers and dinner after they showed me to a much nicer hotel.
It turns out that the national passtime of the Philippines is trying to get more money out of visitors, which isn't so bad I suppose, except for the fact that I didn't even know the exchange rate before I arrived meaning that for the few hours I had to creatively ask people to convert prices into dollars for me, a subtle way of figuring out if the first guy was lying or not.
In any case, i'm waiting to pick up my friend Eiko from the airport, but she doesn't arrive for another 5 hours or so, so i've been walking around this outrageously hot country for the last 3 hours just poking and prodding at anything of interest using my proverbial antennae.
In any case, more updates as events warrant but for the time being I just wanted to point out to the world that i'm not only alive, but fresh off a trip to Hong Kong and kicking it in Cebu. I tell you, travel is fun as hell.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

USA vs. Spain basketball

The United States played Spain in basketball last night. It took me a while to figure out a way to watch it online. I was pleasantly surprised by the 37 point victory over the current "best team in the world." Spain played horribly, and this Ricky Rubio kid that everybody was claiming would surprise Americans looked completely out classed by Paul, who completely shut him down. The kid can't defend on ball at ALL. Paul and Williams just ran right past him whenever they wanted, it was actually kind of sad. He is, however, only 17 so i'm sure he has a very bright future ahead of him. But at the moment, why would anybody say he's "great"?
Anyway, it seems pretty obvious who the best team is at this point. The refs continually try to stop the USA team from doing well, but even their horrible officiating can't stop this team.

Friday, June 27, 2008


I'm no longer required to whine about Korea on my own, I have found copious resources online for more effective bitching.
Interestingly enough, there's an interesting site here about anti-foreigner comics in Korea.