The Korail

Went to Korail’s webpage ( for the first time in years to buy a ticket for the weekend. Joke’s on me, since that website seems to have been created with the express purpose to prevent the purchase of tickets. There’s an orange button that will redirect you to the Let’s Korail site (because apparently nouns can be verbed now) because obviously that’s where one goes to purchase a ticket. The left sidebar also has a button to the Let’s Korail site, right at the bottom after you wade through all the gloriousness of Korail 3.0 (includes “Why we Korail” mission statement and management structure because it’s important to know the pecking order when buying a train ticket).

The English page still remains one of the best jokes played on non-Korean speakers (this includes tourists with their tourist money here to see this beautiful country). One reserves a ticket (choosing your seat is unavailable in English), then goes to the train station to pick up the ticket (passport needed).

“I say old chap, we don’t have queues back home. Marvelous!”
“Quite, old sport”

The Korail Talk 4.0 app is marginally better. Red means yes here, so you push the red button to confirm your purchase. Like the world decided to go one way, and South Korea decided to go another. You’ll also see this in stock market reports where a stock with a rising price is shown with a red arrow, falling with a green arrow. There’s a lot more information available on the new app (not necessarily a good thing) but it’s also a lot harder to cancel your tickets than before. Perhaps this is a new trend in the travel industry. Well played.


More from Korea's Ambassador of Everything

Psy’s really milking that cow dry. But when certain websites make observations like this, some people react as if it is a hate crime to mention the daily gauntlet of street pizza and drunk driving.

This is a pretty accurate description of any weekday in my area, fist fight included. Though I wonder how KTO and the Ministry of Culture, Sport, and Tourism feel about this. Or the guys paying Psy to hawk their wares; noodles, bibimbap, soju (soju makers and pojang macha vendors; those not chased away by government-hired gangsters; will be overjoyed). Perhaps any publicity is good publicity?

Anyway, the ministry and the people it likely pays exorbitant amounts of money for creating slogans to promote Korea have run with the gems below. Don’t worry, they’re all at most 3-word slogans.

Visit Korea Year 2010 – 2012 No longer updated, but replaced by a committee (yay?). And if counting multiple years for one year sounds familiar to you, then yes.

Korea Sparkling Great name for a Korean sparkling wine, not so much as a tourism slogan. The video presentation tries to explain why a slogan is needed in the first place; other countries are doing it, ergo…. The real reason may be somewhat different (see Visit Korea slogan becoming a committee).

Korea, Be !nspired (sic). This is the current official slogan. The website includes English – International (ambiguous at best) and English – Asian (???).

They probably thought it was clever.

Dynamic Korea (official government portal).

The government itself, as well as most cities in Korea, have official English slogans, too. Ulsan and Gimhae both have [City Name] for You! But my favourite so far is Daejeon’s slogan: It’s Daejeon. It seems as if whoever was tasked with making a slogan (see above: others are doing it, ergo…) wanted to see if anyone would challenge his suggestion. The problem with slogan is that I always imagine someone shrugging their shoulders when they say it. Followed by a sigh of resignation. You know, like in The Hangover Part 2 with the catchphrase “Bangkok has him now”.


Cosplay Beauty Contest

My university’s Cosmetology Department held their third Cosplay Beauty Contest on Saturday. While the poster below says the contest starts at 2 pm, the show didn’t begin until 4 pm.


Prep time. The students had two hours to get their model ready.

20140524_160158 20140524_160243 20140524_160352 20140524_160328 20140524_160411 20140524_160433 20140524_160440 20140524_160503 20140524_160516 20140524_160531 20140524_160544 20140524_160706 20140524_161754 20140524_161800 20140524_161834

The competition started at 4 pm.

Elsa from Frozen.



20140524_164922 20140524_164820

Marge Simpson






Snow White20140524_165158


Nurse Joker from The Dark Knight. I did this as a Halloween costume a few years back. Though my outfit was much tighter.20140524_164717


Not sure on this one.20140524_164646


Freddy Krueger20140524_164626




I think this is supposed to be from Black Swan20140524_164521


Not sure.



One of the Mad Hatters.20140524_164328


Davy Jones from the Pirates of the Caribbean series.20140524_164251


Another Elsa from Frozen.20140524_164221


My favourite Mad Hatter. He was a bit of a showman too. See the video at the bottom of the page.20140524_164154


Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz.20140524_164117


Queen Seondeok, maybe.20140524_164037


I’m note sure if he’s Jack Sparrow from the Pirates series or Gan Ning from Dynasty Warriors. Looks more like Gan Ning to me.


Edward Scissorhands.20140524_165256


Mystique. This one was one of my favourite contestants. She really got into the posing, too.20140524_165323 20140524_165328 20140524_165334


Some kind of fairy princess. All the contestants had a poster of the costumes inspiration but I didn’t get to see all of them.






This one was also one of my favourites. There were two Maleficents. This one was the far better one. Those eyes.20140524_165432


Not quite sure who this is. But that ball she had seemed to be spinning in midair. Very cool effect (see the video).20140524_165734 20140524_165732


Silent Hill Nurse. This was the winning entry. She had the walk down, too.

20140524_165635 20140524_165641


A witch of some sort.





After the competition I had a chance to take photos with some of the entrants. Here are some of my favourite ones.

20140524_170143 20140524_170148

Not sure if that is hover hand or not.


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Now I know exactly where to go for my Halloween costume. Videos below. Pretty sure the music will be muted.

The Monday, Part 2

Part 1 here.

07:40 – Arrive at the shuttle bus stop. We’re usually the first there but sometimes there’s a broadcasting major there. She almost always wears gym shorts. Next to our bus stop is a pick up point for this place called HYO! World. I think it is some kind of park. One of the people that gets this bus could be Park Chunghee’s long-lost brother. This guy is always wearing a nice suit (not the usual shiny grey ones some businessmen wear in Korea) while his coworker is in the shutterman uniform of sweatpants and polo shirt. Across the street is the KEPCO pick up point. On most days there is a girl that walks passed us with about two layers of foundation too many .

07:47 – Get on bus. Sometimes it is an officially branded bus, sometimes it isn’t. The ride is much better than the ride on the 501 local bus. The driver used to play the Korean version of the Russian dash cam show with the presenter telling viewers why one mustn’t drink and drive or what happens when a cyclist hits an open car door. These days the big TV is not used.

08:35 – Arrive on campus. Most of the time there is some music that belongs in a wedding reception hall being played over the university’s PA system. Sometimes we’re greeted with the university anthem. It sounds very similar to my former employer’s company song as they were both products of the Park Chunghee administration. At other times the broadcasting students play some K-pop ballad.

08:40 – Prep time in the office. Class doesn’t start until 09:10 so I have time to print off worksheets if needed. Most of the time the work in the course book is more than enough.

09:10 – First class. Monday morning is the print media students. The electronic whiteboards work! This one also has the software installed so for the first time my students can watch the lesson videos instead of just listening to the audio. These lessons all seem to be about dating. There’s Anthony, the token black guy who tries to hit on the teacher in Unit 1 (Well, class is about to start, so please take your seat). He gets the Asian girl’s phone number in Unit 2; he’s from Vancouver and that happens to be her favourite place (I know…). His Asian friend Alex goes to a hip-hop concert with Ana the hot white girl in Unit 4. Anthony puts the moves on Ana in Unit 5 but gets shot down faster than a zeppelin in a dogfight with an F-22. Here’s the dialogue

Anthony: Ana, Do you like rock music. Let’s go to a concert on Saturday.
Ana: Sorry, but I’m busy.
Anthony: So, what do you do for fun? Do you play tennis?
Ana: No, I don’t. Sorry…
Anthony: Oh. Well, are you free on Friday? Let’s watch TV together.
Ana: I don’t watch TV. I read books.
Anthony: OK. Hmm… Hey, do you like coffee? Let’s go to a cafe.
Ana: Sorry, Anthony.

Ana actually rolls her eyes when Anthony asks her to watch TV together. Here’s a screencap.

Screenshot (1)
Her eyes are screaming for help

Watching the video it is even clearer that Anthony has no chance. But even without the video my students picked up what was going on. Unit 7 has Marco asking Alex the Asian Guy about the Cute Asian Girl. Marco should have known that Cute Asian Girl would be Alex the Asian Guy’s girlfriend.

From what I gather in my conversations with other teachers, I seem to have avoided getting a class full of dropkicks, Sure, I may not be teaching the flight attendants (usually the most attentive students), but my students all seem to enjoy my classes. I’ve heard the mechanics and the golf majors are the worst.

10:18 – Burritos for breakfast was a mistake. Luckily the room I’m today is quit large and has many windows.

11:00 – Tonkass time. There’s a Hansot just outside the main gate. Hansot is a Korean food chain that is usually found in university areas as the food on offer is very cheap. I used to eat at the one near my gositel in Nakseongdae about twice a week but back then the quality matched the price.

13:10 – My animation/manga majors are awesome. They’re the ones that did those posters here. They are super nerdy, and that is why I like them. Today’s topic was present continuous and the target language was about clothing. The students would write a sentence like I’m wearing pants and I’m not wearing a skirt on the electronic board. One student wrote “I’m wearing a one piece” referring to a swimsuit as that is what a women’s swimsuit is called in Korean. A bikini is a bikini, btw. I then had to explain that he meant Speedos, or budgie smugglers. Any day that I can talk about Tony Abbot and his choice of swimwear is a good day.

Behold the glory!

15:00 – Coffee time. Coffee on campus is pretty cheap; 1500 won a for an espresso, 2200 won for a caffe latte. And prep time for my Hotel Management class.

16:10 – The Hotel Management class is only five students, only two of which are in the corresponding writing class on Wednesday. Only one of these students is wearing the suit and tie required as uniform for this major as the others are 3rd or 4th years and they are exempt from wearing the uniform. I notice during the break that he isn’t wearing the yellow smiley face like the other Hotel Management students are wearing. They were originally wearing those yellow ribbons for the Sewol Ferry sinking but recently they have decided they’d rather look like advocates for ecstasy.

This is also the class where one of my students said he needed eye bleach.

These were all over the main drive way on campus until it rained last week.

And students/politicians trying to score some points were wearing the ribbons on their lapel,

Arsenal striker Park Chu-young. Pure coincidence that Arsenal is everyone’s favourite team now.

And now students are wearing these in their lapel.

18:20 – Get the shuttle bus back to Daejeon. This is the teacher’s bus so there are always empty seats. We usually get off at Sungsimdang’s patisserie. The cakes here look fantastic, but only a few taste as good as they look. Sungsimdang is probably the best bakery in Korea. Their bakery store at Daejeon Station always has a queue for the 10,000 won bread pack. If you visit Daejeon, buy some bread from this bakery as theirs is nationally renowned.

19:00 – REDACTED

21:30 – Arrive at Galleria in Dunsan. I live a few blocks up from this department store. Today is the Coming of Age Day so (mostly) young women are running around town clutching plant genitalia as a symbol of their being ready for mating.

21:55 – Arrive home. Roommate asks me if I’m wearing lip gloss. My lips have been chapping since I shaved in the morning. Not pleasant. The rest of the evening is spent playing Hearthstone (battlenet: kizix) and enjoying an Asahi Black.

The Monday

This is what happened on Monday, not quite at a schizophrenic level of detail, but pretty close. Monday is my longest working day so this will be in several parts. The first part is the morning routine up until I leave for the shuttle bus to work.


06:20 – Wake up. I usually wake up at 06:30 but today I have to shave and shower. Already I have my priorities in the wrong order. I can’t remember the last time I shaved, but I think it was some time near the end of February while I was still working at Hyundai Heavy. I understand it is a manly thing to do; to drag a razor-sharp piece of metal (erm, a razor) across one’s face every morning; but it is simply something I don’t like doing. Also, my lips are somewhat sensitive (ladies…) and they tend to chap very easily if I have just shaved.

Because I’m pressed for time, I don’t use the double-edged safety razor I got from my schoolmate’s store. Instead, I use one of those Max 8 Blade Samurai Super Laser Cutter razors.

06:35 – Begin breakfast. I usually make scrambled eggs like Gordon Ramsey (video here) but we’ve only got four eggs so I have the burritos I made for lunch instead (bulgogi burrito recipe here) They were delicious.

06:55 – My second alarm went off 10 minutes ago. There’s another one due to go off at 07:00 (the “Well, you won’t have time for breakfast” alarm) and another alarm at 07:30 to remind me to GTFO. My roommate/coworker is up and making whatever she is making for breakfast while I finish my burritos and coffee. I usually start to get dressed for work about now as my younger cat tends to jump onto my lap if I am sitting at a table and I don’t want to get white cat hair all over my black pants.

07:10 – Use a roller to get the cat hair off my pants. There will always be cat hair on clothing. All I can do is try to minimize the amount visible. Today I am wearing a white shirt and red tie. And the answer to your question is no, I’m far too swarthy for anyone to think I’m from Utah.

Actually taken on Tuesday
Actually taken on Tuesday

07:20 – Pack laptop as the electronic whiteboards are not ready to be used in class. If my room has one and it is already powered up I will use it as a whiteboard but they were originally intended to be used with the software for the class. As yet the software has not been installed on them, so I have to use the software I installed on my laptop. Luckily the classrooms are fairly small so the students don’t have any trouble hearing the audio. Still, there are three more teaching weeks so maybe we’ll get to use them for teaching before the end of semester.

07:30 – Leave the house for the shuttle bus. I make sure I have packed my chickpea curry and make plans for the tonkass curry I will have to buy since I ate the lunch burritos for breakfast. For 3,800 won, that tonkass curry really hits the spot.


Come back for the second installment of my super amazing Monday (soonish).

¿Habla usted inglés?

Here are some posters my students made for their presentation. This was part of their oral exam. The topic was Latin American countries as one of the lesson topics was music. Each group had to come up with a presentation on a country and each member talked about one thing; food, music, language, a celebrity (read: football player), etc. Some of the information was straight up copied from Wikipedia but the parts spoken were their own work.

Guess which ones are by the animation majors.

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And…. we're back

I’ve been working at Joongbu University for a little over a month now. Lots of things have happened since my last missive. I haven’t written since I left Ulsan as I was a little paranoid about my visa status, but now that that is sorted, posting begins now.

  • Daejeon Immigration Office gave me until April 25 to get my house in order. This meant I had to get a replacement testamur and get that verified by the issuing university (weird process since they are verifying a document they issued) and then get an apostille from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The apostille can only be processed in certain DFAT offices in Australia, not at embassies, even though the embassies are run by DFAT.
  • I teach five majors: animation; social welfare, health administration, print media, hotel management. Students at this university have to wear a uniform. So the flight attendants wear their uniforms, the police officers wear the formal uniforms (black/navy blue), and the hotel management students wear a black suit/tie. Of all the students in my classes, only one of the hotel management majors wears a suit as he is a 2nd year student. The uniform rules don’t apply for 3rd and 4th years (and flight attendants are only here for two years anyway, I think).
  • In this university, most classes have students from the same major. On the one hand, university serves as a way to build a network, but on the other it’s hard to open your mind to differing opinions if everyone you know is studying the exact same thing. 3rd and 4th year students also seem to hold court as the 1st and 2nd year students must bow to their 선배 (seon-bae, upper classmen, literally ‘prior group’).
  • The campus is quite pretty. This is a photo I took on my antique iPhone 3GS last week from the cafe. Speaking of smart phones…
    Not bad for a 5-year-old piece of ....
    Not bad for a 5-year-old piece of ….

    My roommate took this one. Only now did I notice the border
    My roommate took this one. Only now did I notice the border
  • My phone is old. Like really old, as phones go. I have a rolling contract with KT but this month KT is not allowed to sign up any new customers. Ever been in a situation where you go to buy something and you have the money right there ion the counter but the gormless salesperson refuses to sell you the item? Yeah, it’s like that. I want to get a Note 3 so I’m not quite sure how the provider being penalised for what seems to be standard business practice in Korea’s telecommunications industry (since all providers have had to a moratorium on new contracts) prevents me from  buying a phone. Unless the manufacturer was involved in said business practices.
  • My kitten had her operation last week. She has been handling it pretty well. I’ll be taking her to the vet this weekend to get her stitches out. She had to wear one of those Elizabethan collars but she very easily slipped out of it. Luckily she wasn’t licking her stitches so it’s all healed up now. She was a little depressed when she first came home as the vet had clipped her claws. But now they’re almost as razor sharp as before.

This is what the vet said

“She might have a problem eating with the cone on cause the edges are so long due to her small face. Sigh…I envy her.”


        • So the Sewol sank. The university festival has been postponed until next semester as the whole nation is mourning. Yellow seems to be the colour of mourning, or hope as in there may be some survivors still on the ship even after a month. You may have read some articles about what may have caused this accident, some even saying it’s cultural. I won’t bother linking that drivel here. IMO, it was likely poor training and a lack of oversight that allowed this to happen. But here is one about Korea refusing Japan’s aid.

Korea rejects Japan’s help for Sewol tragedy

  • Apparently, the Korean government also refused US Navy aid. I can understand how receiving aid can be interpreted as appearing weak and how giving aid can be interpreted as being strong. Hence Korea (through Korean companies that have a close working relationship with the government) donates money and equipment to countries hit by disasters (Haiti, China, Philippines all received money, equipment, and operators from my former employer after their disasters as doing so supports the idea of “responsible corporate citizen”) but is loth to receive aid. For even an iota of weakness may encourage Korea’s neighbours to invade, again (kinda all the time).
  • Tried to change my location on Google+. Incredibly difficult; couldn’t do it. No idea why I bothered with that platform anyway.
  • I’m in a club. The first rule of this club is that we don’t talk about this club