Monday, March 01, 2004

le parcours coréen

Some Hominid notes first: Today, the teacher placement agency with which I now work decided to pull a fast one on me by assigning me a 9AM class after I'd put my pawprint on a contract stating that teaching hours were to be 11AM to 5PM. A few years back, a situation like this might have stressed me: as Westerners, we tend to expect the contract's conditions to be honored. But all it takes is a few experiences in Korea to teach you that not everyone approaches contracts the same way. In a situation where it looks like you might be getting shafted, you just hold firm. No need to kick and scream (though I've seen plenty of foreigners who get results this way, at the cost of their own dignity)-- just politely keep to the literal wording of the contract, and if the bosses think you're being unfairly inflexible, just remember: it's not your fuckin' problem. Go home and sleep well. Luckily for me, my new boss seems a very friendly sort who immediately said the 9AM class was her mistake and she'd erase it from the schedule. But know that, if I'd been willing to teach that class, she'd have found students for it, because money for me means money for her. I'm now on my guard.

The second bit of Hominidal news is something you may have already noticed: the sidebar is being prettified (or uglified, depending on your point of view). I've already taken care of several of the Koreabloggers and will be placing even more pics up. The graphics load is hell on people with dialup connections, and I apologize (sorry, Dad), but I think dialup's on its way out, and broadband allows us a lot more graphical freedom. So here, as with the gay marriage issue, I'll ride the wave of progress into the sweaty, heaving cleavage of the future. Yes, even if it means leaving my poor Dad back in dialup hell. Heh.

Speaking of cleavage, you may have noticed that the new logo for Gweilo Diaries is a tittie pic. In fact, it's the very tittie pic I mentioned earlier: the "Heineken tits" lady. I've placed this pic on my sidebar on the assumption that (1) the people who visit my site regularly are all grown-ups, and (2) they are all grown-ups with a sense of humor. If you seriously believe that the Heineken tittie pic is titillating, then I submit you've got a problem. In my opinion, the Heineken lady is stare-worthy for the same reason that a man with a 20-pound tumor hanging off his face is stare-worthy. Freakish dimensions earn stares-- ask any foreigner in a Korean subway. In the meantime, just to show I put in some effort at Muslim modesty, I tried to create the effect of lazily-applied "censorship bars." They don't quite cover the lady's boobaliciousness, But Oh Well.

And finally, to Americans who've never lived in Europe and have trouble with exposed titties: relax. This kind of pic can be seen on huge billboards in some European countries, or on TV-- in commercials. Kids in these countries grow up with a blasé attitude about sexuality; they stop reproducing and allow unassimilated Muslims to move in. These Muslims in turn make up the population deficit and write angry rap songs about how ugly Whitey is, thereby reinforcing the Old Country Whitey urge not to reproduce. But my point is that Europeans don't form puritanical complexes about mammaries. Neither should you, iguana. So stop licking and cursing your monitor, you confused, conflicted soul.

And now-- on with the parcours.

I'd normally want to start off with something from the Marmot, but this fantastic Goldbrick post gets top billing because the message for all expats is loud and clear:

Don't do drugs. If you do them, don't come to Korea and do drugs here. Wait until you're back in Canada, or the Netherlands, San Francisco, Seattle, or wherever it is that trained you to think there are no consequences to violating drug laws. Combating drugs is a big deal to the Korean government, and picking on relatively defenseless and isolated potsmoking teachers is a lot easier than catching violent criminals. We understand that college campuses, dance clubs and gay bathhouses (not that there's anything wrong with that) are full of hip Korean people who are carefree about their drug use, but don't let that lull you into a false sense of security. For most of our criminal clients, $10,000 is about all they could save in a year of cup ramyeon lunches. And although we'll try like hell to keep you out of jail, it's possible that the effort will be for nought. Don't throw away your future over a momentary high.

I don't do drugs or smoke or drink alcohol-- my vice is food, and there's plenty of food to be had in South Korea. Luckily, self-indulgence is only a crime in the karmic sense, and from the point of view of Buddhist (and Christian) moderation. For the rest of you fuckers with your drug habits: listen to Mr. Carr's advice, lay off the weed, and no one'll have to charge your lame ass $10,000 to keep you out of jail. And lay off the weed because it's assholes like you who confirm to Koreans everything that's bad about us Flying Yang-nom.

Kevin at IA gives me the shout-out for the new logo and seals his fate: I imagine he'll be getting even more hate-filled comments from some of his regular parasites, now that he's stuck the logo on his blog.

The Marmot fisks a speech by SK President Noh Mu Hyon, who uses the occasion, stupidly, to slam Japan. March 1st is a national holiday, commemorating the March 1, 1919 speech in which oppressed Koreans declared their independence from their Japanese occupiers (go to Google and do a search on "March First Movement" or "Samil Undong"). It was a ballsy speech that immediately resulted in more than a few deaths. The most recent Japanese occupation ran for 36 years, from 1910 to 1945, ending with the end of World War II and the postwar division of the Korean peninsula. President Noh, in the meantime, is just being a bitch.

See also the Marmot's take on the "brown-shirt" PRO-American demonstration, and his view of the recently-concluded six-way talks.

The Vulture is the best place to go for "snarky comments" about this whole "hot patriotic wind" blowing out of South Korea's crack.

Seeing Eye Blog on the trendy dangers of half-body bathing (a.k.a. sitz baths).

The Infidel on SK's crazy prez:

The more ROK President Roh Moo-hyun tries to sound tough, the more he sounds like Granny on The Beverly Hillbillies.

This cracked me up. Also check out the Infidel on the March First Movement.

Historians take note: Budae Chigae has the goods on March First, as well as an excellent post on "Pungsu, Power, Glory, and Gulbi." Pungsu (poong-soo) is the Korean pronunciation of "feng shui" (which, in case you didn't know, is pronounced, roughly, "fung shway," not "feng shooee" or "feng shwee"), a type of geomancy. Gulbi is that humble-looking fish that gets strung together in chains (see photo in the KimcheeGI's post) and can be massively expensive. It's got another meaning, too, which Charlie covers in his post.

The Flying Yangban kicks Bruce Cumings in the nuts and reluctantly advocates voting for the corrupt, conservative, but still redeemable GNP.

Kirk notes that South Korean saegyehwa (globalization) isn't working out too well.

Polymath has a different take from the Marmot on today's pro-America demonstration, and writes an interesting post on military guys and their Korean wives.

Mingi on Korean racism (cf. the "typical black man" phrase) and the question of whether it was "worth it" for Americans to shed their blood on Korean soil. In a word: no, given how ungrateful South Korea now is.

At Brian's behest, I read the Party Pooper's recent post, in which the Pooper waxes rhaspodic about a Korean's newest confectionary creation: the Triply. Go and read. The sarcasm is rich and creamy, yet surprisingly crunchy in the middle.

Ian posts his last entry from Korea. Buddhist statues-- how apropos. Bon retour au Canada, vieille branche. Ian doesn't know me, but I feel a certain solidarity because he's a fellow cartoonist-- but unlike me, he's doing it as a métier, for a living.

Next week, for the Korea roundup, I'm going to have to find something about Korean reactions to Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." I honestly have no clue what people are saying about it now, and don't know when it's going to be released here. I was pissed off to see that many (if not most) French theaters are refusing to show the film, for fear of spurring antisemitism. This is wrong on so many levels... maybe I'll comment further tomorrow when I do the Otherblogger roundup.

UPDATE: Peter Schroepfer writes in to tell me (and others) that he's FINALLY posted on what an "oranckay" is. Go read! I now know exactly what's going on the sidebar as a logo. Heh. Heh heh.

UPDATE 2: I'm such a shit. How could I have neglected this one!? Jeff in Pusan has a great post using Richard Feynman to illustrate the problems endemic to the Korean educational system. A must-read.


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