m a r k a n d e y a

Archive for January, 2006

Is Hines Ward Korean?

Posted by Brian on January 30, 2006

There’s some good discussion going on at GI Korea’s blog and Asia Pages regarding the “Korean-ness” of Pittsburgh Steelers wide-out Hines Ward (his mother is Korean; his father is African-American). As you might have expected, the Korean media is all over the story (“First Korean in the Super Bowl!”), knowing full well that this kind of nationalism sells papers. And the Korea Times article that GI Korea links to features quotes form Koreans who, while admitting they know nothing about Ward or the game of football, nevertheless find some pride in what he has done (whatever that may be).

Once again, the rule is: foreign Korean does something good, he’s Korean; foreign Korean does something bad, he’s foreign.

Posted in Korean Issues | 6 Comments »


Posted by Brian on January 29, 2006

So I’m walking home the other afternoon with a co-worker when we found ourselves behind a gaggle of ajumma slowly moving along the narrow sidewalk in front of us. Stuck behind them with no way around, we had no choice but to slow up our own pace until we could find a chance to scoot by.

Apparently peeved  by having to share the sidewalk with other people, my co-worker let  lose with a loud tirade against ajummas. He said they were too loud, too slow, and that he hated the sound of their voices. And this was all done loud enough so as to be some sort of mocking gesture towards the ajummas and their inability to understand what he was saying. I tried to ignore him and a few moments later we were able to zip by them.

Later that same day, walking home with  a different co-worker after our evening classes, we bump into a few Koreans in the Shinchon subway station. This other co-worker then goes off on how Koreans are totally lacking in spatial awareness and about how sick he is of being bumped into. Once again, I find myself mentally rolling my eyes.

Now, I know the therapeutic value of venting, and I know I’ve done my own fair share here on my blog and elsewhere, but the foreigner-grumbling-about-Korea thing is getting really old. Both of these guys have been here several years, and one of them just signed a new contract to stay another year. If life here is really as bad as their complaints make it out to be, why stay? And if it’s not bad enough to drive them out of the country, why complain?

I’m an old-timer here in Korea and I’ve learned that a healthy amount of insouciance while navigating the mean streets of Seoul works wonders in keeping the stress level down. People will bump into you, people will spit, people will stop and talk in the most inconvenient places; what can you do? You can let it tear you up until you are a card-carrying member of the Dave’s ESL Cafe I Hate Korea club, or you can learn to let all the hassles of the day just slide right by you so you can arrive home with a smile on your face.

I just want to holler at these people to get some perspective. In the grand sceme of things, the problems foreigners face in Korea are pretty trivial.

Posted in Korean Issues | 6 Comments »

On Lee Hyo-ri’s Fame

Posted by Brian on January 28, 2006

From the Korea Herald the other day, on Lee Hyo-ri:

Despite some negative comments from music critics, her brand value as a star seems to skyrocket as she continues to appear in the commercials of Samsung mobile phone brand “Anycall.”

This struck me as an incredible misuse of the word “despite.” Any cursory look at celebrity culture and the use of celebrities in advertising will show that what the critics say about pop culture products has very little bearing on who does and does not become popular among the pop-culture consuming masses. At the rate we’re going (Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, etc.) I foresee a time when that “despite” will change to “because of.”

Posted in Korean Issues | Leave a Comment »

So, why the change?

Posted by Brian on January 28, 2006

Back in November, I took a hiatus from blogging for about a month and a half. I know I don’t get a lot of traffic so I doubt it registered with a lot of people, but I did want to take the time to explain what triggered my self-imposed blog-exile and my move to WordPress.

Part of it was the standard blog burn-out that I’m sure most bloggers deal with from time to time. But there was more to it than that, and I want to share this reason with the people who care enough about me to read the blog (as for the people who read my blog just to badmouth me, well…).

There was a point late last year when, after much reflection on my blogging until that point (I began blogging in the summer of 2003), I came to regret a lot of what I had written. I’m talking about politics mostly, but some of the Korea-bashing went a bit too far as well. I realized that my blog didn’t represent the real me, as I’m sure most of my friends will confirm (at least I like to think they will).

See, when I began blogging, it was fun to lash out. I’m usually a pretty mild-mannered guy, but with the blog I was able to vent and vent and vent. And then in 2004, with my business falling apart and dealing with other personal issues, I began taking my anger and frustration out in my writing. Frankly, I look back at some of the stuff I wrote from that time period and I cringe; it is that bad.

Things calmed down a bit after the 2004 election and the closing down of our cafe. A few months later I tried avoiding talking politics and at one point in 2005 I went some six months without mentioning President Bush. How’s that for self-discipline?

But despite my efforts to clean up shop and write a better blog, things never seemed to improve. Hits were down, comments were drying up, and I wasn’t getting any incoming links from the bloggers around me that I admired and respected. I felt like I had driven my blog and my reputation into the ground and no amount of clean-up could fix things. So at that point, I decided to hang up my keyboard.

About a month later, I began to think about the few friends and family members who were following my life through my blog. I didn’t want to leave them in the dark, and a regularly updated blog for your friends and loved ones to read is nearly as good as letters home, don’t you think? I began looking into a new blog at a new home, but this time with a much more personal theme. I considered Blogger, but decided WordPress looked like the way to go. And I here I am.

I’ve been going back over my Blog City archives and reposting individual posts that I think are worth saving to this account. Eventually, I plan on moving my entire archive over, if only as Pages with an entire month of posts and comments on one Page.

But with this blog, I want it to represent the real me. I’m not some crazed leftist, foaming at the mouth. I’m not some anti-Korea zealot. I’m Brian, a shy, easy-going guy with a sense of humor who enjoys books, movies, music, games, cooking, and home bartending. This new blog, I hope, will serve as a better reflection of the type of person I really am.

For the readers who know me and like me, thank you for your friendship. For those who have some grudge against me because of things I have written in the past, I can only ask that you read my new blog with an open mind and judge me on what I write here and now. Thank you.

Posted in Personal | 6 Comments »

Feel Good Friday

Posted by Brian on January 27, 2006

It seems there is a good samaritan living in California:

A good Samaritan who turned in $7,000 he found in the parking lot of a Washington Mutual Bank in Van Nuys met the owner of the money Wednesday.

Hugo Salvarez reportedly lost $15,000 in the parking lot. Some of the money was returned, thanks to a man named Rogelio Leon.

“I open and see many, many money,” said Leon.

Rogelia may not be named Earl, but Leon knows all about karma. He said he learned it growing up in Peru.

“When I was a boy my mom would always say ‘You find anything on the floor, you need to return it,'” said Leon.

Leon found $7,000 in a black, zipper bag in the parking lot and never thought of keeping it. He gave it to the LAPD instead.

“There was some identification in the black bag. That identification led us to the person who lost this money,” said Detective Mike Kobontz, LAPD.

Salvarez is a 76-year-old man from Panorama City. He said he needed the money for surgery in Chile.

Leon did not receive one penny for his actions.

Posted in American Issues | 2 Comments »

No Respect…

Posted by Brian on January 26, 2006

The bookies have the Seahawks listed as 4-point underdogs against the Steelers in the Super Bowl next month, providing further evidence of a bias against Seattle sports teams. The Seahawks are the #1-seeded team in the NFC and have the league’s MVP at running back. The Steelers, on the other hand, were seeded #6 in their conference. If it were Brett Favre and the Packers or Donovan McNabb and the Eagles playing against Pitt, the bookies would pick the Packers or the Eagles without a doubt.

I’m picking Seattle by 6.

Posted in Other | 4 Comments »

Ten Commandments

Posted by Brian on January 24, 2006

The Chosun Ilbo has has a new article on 10 rules for men eager to keep their girlfriends at their side. Personally, I think such lists can be condensed into one rule – be a gentleman – but if I had to point out one big ommision, I’d say Cook Her Dinner should be o nthe list somewhere. Everytime I cook my girlfriend a meal, she always takes a minute or two to call up her favorite sister to brag about my kitchen skills. Even something as simple as pancakes for breakfast will rack up the points.

Want to impress a Korean woman? Make her a meal. That’s my advice…

Posted in Korean Issues | 2 Comments »

Seahawks, baby!

Posted by Brian on January 23, 2006

I’ve been a Seahwaks fan since 1989 when my family moved to the Seattle area. I’ve watched the team play poorly, make crummy draft picks (Dan McGwire and Rick Mirer come to mind), and choke early the few off-years when they did happen to make the playoffs. But today, they’re making reservations for the Super Bowl, and I’m on top of the world

Posted in Other | Leave a Comment »