Top 4 News for the Week

Top News from the desk of George

1. An unknown coworker burnt one of those steamed buns in the microwave on Thursday morning (think pizza pocket, but with fillings like kimchi, pizza, or red bean). The whole office and corridor smelt like burnt red bean all day. On the plus side, I now know what burnt red bean smells like. The culprit was not reprimanded so, dear reader, you can guess his rank in the office.

In related news, I’m not allowed to bring Indian food for lunch.

2. People everywhere seem to be impressed by the weather phenomenon they call ‘snow’. There is no shortage of ‘OMG it’s snowing’ pictures on my social media feeds when there’s even a slight patina of the white stuff on the ground. So my new hobby is posting pictures of when it is not snowing. It has not snowed in Ulsan for a while now, though I heard that it snowed last Christmas. SInce I was away at the time it may as well not have happened.

Granted, the first time I saw snow falling I too was impressed. I was inside my tiny gositel when it began. The romanticism vanished the first time it snowed and I happened to be outside. As a portent it was pretty fitting, since I was on my way to my dodgy hangwon owner’s office in Bangbae.

A few years ago it was my department’s job to shovel the snow out from the shipyard driveway. Because Ulsan was ill prepared for snow, the roads iced up so I had to walk home in the snowstorm. I remember seeing a man carrying a pizza he had bought from the department, about 40 minutes walk away. I imagine he was bringing it home for his kids, them gathering around the table very excited to have a treat like pizza, only to lose all faith in their father when he opens the box to reveal a frozen solid pizza.

3. Some people (in this case Koreans because I’m in Korea and aside from the “1.5 million foreigners” everyone is Korean) have no qualms about bringing outside food into Starbucks. They then precede to eat it as noisily as possible, as if they are auditioning for a chip commercial or one of those awful soju commercials. (at 28 sec)

Not even the most ridiculous soju commercial. Though Son Dambi looks a lot like one of my exes.

For their part, Starbucks doesn’t seem to mind since they haven’t put up any signs discouraging the practice. There are No Smoking signs, however. They also have this gem

toilet sign
The better translation for 고장 is trouble, or in this context ‘out of order’. The rest of the Korean is telling female customers to use the toilets in the adjacent department store. Too bad for the foreign engineers’ wives who don’t read Korean.

4. Our magazine New Horizons is almost ready for printing. The project manager from Höegh LNG (pronounced ‘Herg’, as in iceberg) I interviewed mentioned our logistics system and how everything is traceable all the way back to the steel mill. This article Use of Smartphones during Work Hours Emerging as Significant Problem mentions our m-PASS mobile after sales service. Shipbuilding engineers use it to monitor equipment status and find the right contact point on our side.

The choice quote from this article echoes what the engineer from Höegh LNG said:

“The system has led to our greater confidence in the ships built by Hyundai Heavy Industries.”

The ‘significant problem’ in the title is workers using their personal phones when they should be working. The company my cousin works for (he drives a bus) has a strict no phone policy. If they catch you using a phone you will be reprimanded and possibly sacked. The company recommends drivers keep their phones in their lockers rather than with them during a shift. He tells me some drivers keep their phones with them ‘in case of an emergency’ but it’s better in this case for the employer to be the first point of contact rather than the driver: the last thing anyone wants is a distraught driver at the wheel endangering the lives of passengers. In an emergency the company recalls the driver to the depot and then tells him of the emergency.