Parkin' It Up: Beomgye Style

A few weekends ago Spenser and I headed into Seoul to get some felafel. We went into Itaewon where we were supposed to meet up with Chelsea. However, she had a little bit of a late night the evening before so we decided to take the party to Beomgye, where she lives. At first, she was hesitant, to say the least, about the plan, but eventually came around. We ended up going to a park in the area. Oh to be a child again. I ended up playing badminton with a little kid, had one little kid shoot his water gun at me, ran through sprinklers, got a little wet, and watched some kids driving mini monster trucks. All in all, it was a wonderful day.

(Not the best game I've ever played but I still had a blast)

(Little kids just hanging out in a man made creek which ran throughout the park. It was hot so I understand why they were all in the water.)

(Waiting for the right time...)

(Very poor timing on my part. I just couldn't jump quite high enough. Needless to say, I was a little wet the rest of the day.)

(Chelsea and I hanging at the park, watching some Rollerbladers)

(Had Spenser take a picture of this kid solely because of his shoes - loved the style!)

(This was one of the coolest parts of the park. Kids could ride these mini cars around for free for a set amount of time and then they would change out to the next group. The city actually blocks off a whole street for the little tykes to drive around.)

(Ridin' Dirty)


Night Out with Teachers

This post is long over due, from about 3 weeks ago. Things are busy at work right now. We have gotten more and more students so that means we have to teach more and more classes. So, instead of the regular 15 classes a week, I now have 17.5 classes. The pictures below are just from when I finished the semester. The Korean teachers and Foreign teachers all went out to dinner then Noribong (aka Karaoke). The Korean teachers love to sing and are all surprisingly not bad.

I have a few pictures from last weekend which involved a trip to see Chelsea, a friend I met through Spenser. There should be some exciting photos. Also, this weekend I ended up going to Boryeong again and camped out all of my coworkers except the new guy, Harry. It looks the same as it did before (see: http://lifentimesofjc.blogspot.com/2010/06/boryeong-beach.html). Back to work today. The good news is Katrina should be here in about 3 weeks so I'm excited for that. Hope everyone is doing great!

(Place we went to dinner - some chicken/bar restaurant)

(Justin with Mindy and Liz, the two Korean teachers that left this past semester)

(Harry, the new guy in the blue shirt with Calvin)

(We got a picture outside with everybody, new teachers and the ones leaving)

(This is the inside of a Noribong room)

(There were all kinds of instruments to play... well, not all kinds, but a drum set, bongo drums, and a tambourine)

(My singing voice has left me long ago, hence the reason I'm holding on to the tambourine. Don't get me wrong, I still like to sing a song or two but it's hard to find the ones I like in Korea.)


A Year in Korea

This past Tuesday the end of my fourth semester, yes, a whole year in Korea. It's nice to know I can actually hold down a job for a full year, if I choose to do so. And, it's nice to know I'm doing a good job. With that being said, it was a bit of a sad day. Two of my coworkers finished their contracts, one, Liz, is the Korean teacher I had sat next to in the office for the past year and the other, Jen, the only foreign female teacher. I've built a relationship with both of them the past year and I am going to miss them in the upcoming months. We went out after work to say goodbye to the old teachers and welcome the new teachers; so, I'm waiting to get some more of Spenser's photos so I can put a few of those up.

The schedule this semester, is hectic, to say the least, well, at least compared to what I have done in the past. I'll be teaching four classes on Monday and Friday, ranging from 9 year olds just starting to learning English to our highest level students. Wednesdays, I'll have the same schedule but stay until 10 teaching the kids preparing to enter Cheongshim Middle School, the premier Middle School in Korea. So, Wednesdays will be a long day. Tuesdays and Thursdays look good and perhaps the best news, Katrina will be starting at my school in the middle of July. So, that will be exciting.

Not much else is happening. I hope you enjoy the pictures of the kiddos. No major plans coming up, just waiting for Katrina to show up. I might do a hike or two here or there. Spenser and I are going to do a raw food, juice, and master cleanse diet this month - that's my monthly challenge. Hope everyone is doing well. Take care!

(Liz and myself)

(Myself and Jen)

(Last class on Tuesdays and Thursdays this past semester. I had all of the students, except one, before. So, I had a relationship with all the students. It was a fantastic class, my favorite of the semester for sure.)

(It was my third semester teaching Brian. A good student but an even better child.)

(Kristin and Thomas in the front with Sandy, grinning in the background)

(Ryan in the front, followed by Mary and R.P.T., and Sally and Brain in the back. R.P.T. stands for Raccoon Panda Terrious, a name the student gave himself because he has deep dark circles around his eyes and says he looks like a panda. Second semester with him and he was a blast with his off the wall comments. Nice Shot!)

(Ryan and Nichole. Nichole was a fantastic student and scored a 100% on almost all of her Reading Questions.)

(Thomas2 and Sandy. A lot of the students have the same name so we have a 1 and a 2.)

(This was my second class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Not quite sure how to describe them. I think the toughest part of teaching them was never knowing what I was going to get. It wasn't like they were always bad and it wasn't like they were always good.)

(Sony, the class clown, well one of them, smiling)

(This was my first class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Except for one student, they were a wonderful class. There's Jack, Justin, Oz, Paul, Kevin, Lucy, Stella, Annie, Christina, Julia, May, and Dina from right to left.)

(Annie in the front with Christina turning her back. Julia was behind Annie. Julia was a fantastic student and always had a smile on her face.)

(Ha. Ohhhh Paul. My third semester teaching Paul. He's a good kid but always tries to push his boundaries, to see if he can get away with something. As much as he was a pain at times, I did enjoy having him in class.)

(Liz giving her farewell speech. Baxter, the principle, and Chelice, the Elementary School Office Manager are standing behind her.)

(Jen as she gave her farewell speech. She got a bit teary eyed. I think she's going to miss the place.)

(The sweetest clothes hamper ever, given to me by Jen before she left. A little way to remember her.)



This past weekend I took a trip to the DMZ for a day. I was supposed to go with a coworker but he didn't quite make it out of bed in the morning. The trip was interesting and I can't quite but the emotions I felt into words. For me, perhaps, it's difficult to comprehend that Korea still is a country at war. I've had no personal experience with war, never been involved in one, never been close to one. Now, two hours North of where I live there is a arbitrary line that divides two countries that have completely different ideologies and are technically, still at war.

One thing that I really did not understand was the fact there is an amusement park of sorts located at Imjingak. Clearly, South Korea has chosen to make money off the dispute and use the DMZ as a tourist destination. Our group leader, jokingly said the DMZ is the safest place to be since there are so many Chinese that visit the area and Kim Jung Il would never want to kill a Chinese citizen. He also explained Kim Jung Il is not crazy (see my opinion on the situation here: http://lifentimesofjc.blogspot.com/2011/01/will-there-be-war-between-south-korea.html) and gave us a brief history of Korea, including the Korean War.

Also, I was enlightened when I learned specifically about the DMZ. Surprisingly, South Korea did not sit down at the table when the line was drawn. From my understanding, it was the United States, China, and North Korea. There is a South Korean Buffer zone, the DMZ itself, then a North Korean buffer zone. No people are allowed in the actual DMZ itself. Therefore, it has become a home to several animals and in this day and age remains in pristine condition. So, no person ever actually goes to the DMZ. They are only in the South Korean buffer zone. Nevertheless, there are several places where I could see North Korea.

It was a unique experience I have had thus far in Korea and would recommend it to everyone. I was able to see two tunnels, two observation points, as well as a few other interesting areas. South Korea has found 4 tunnels thus far, with the entrances in North Korea starting at a deeper point than the parts in South Korea. So, if North Korea invaded, their troops would have to run uphill. This was explained to me so water could drain from the tunnel as North Korea was building it. Interestingly, you can also see drill marks where the dynamite was used and all the ones I saw looked as though they had been drilled towards South Korea. Nevertheless, I am no expert and of course, North Korea claims South Korea had built the tunnels. If you have any questions, leave a comment and I'll try to get back to you as soon as possible.

(Part of the tourism. These little statues were all over to take your picture with.)

(Freedom Bridge. The train used to stop here and let passengers from North Korea off. Therefore, once arriving in South Korea, they would have freedom, hence the name.)

(I never did get the full story with this train. It was riddled with bullet holes. Perhaps it was one of the last trains during the Korean War to come back across the DMZ.)

(Notes from people, I'm guessing wishing for peace or unification. When the DMZ was drawn, that was it. No person could cross over the line. There was no grace period of a week to pack up and pick which side you wanted to live in. Therefore, as I'm sure many of you know, families were instantly divided.)

(More messages on the bridge itself.)

(Some of the messages up close)

(United States Memorial - see below)

(Inscription on the block at the base of the center of the memorial. All of the photos above were taken at Imjingak.)

(Check points all over the place)

(Headed into the South Korean buffer zone. Like I said, nothing I have ever seen in my life.)

(Inside one of the tunnels. You are not actually allowed to take pictures so this is from someone else's blog. I knew someone would have taken a photo and posted it on the internet. I had to wear a hard hat and was thankful I had it. I was constantly ducking, and once or twice my head hit the rocky ceiling. I'm not even a tall guy - 5'8". One estimate said 30,000 men could have come through one of the tunnels in an hour.)

(Observation point)

(Absolute silliness. They have these magic lines drawn where, if a person was standing behind it, they could take a picture. If they stepped over the line, the picture had to be deleted. I'm sure North Korea knows every inch of South Korea's defenses and vice versa. So, what difference would it make to take a picture of South Korea. And, why would South Korea care if you took pictures of North Korea? Our guide explained it best when he said simply, it adds to the hype and mystique of the trip if there is a magic yellow line. I took pictures just like these guys.)

(Tower in North Korea in the distance. I could see South Korea's tower while I was there. Supposedly, it turned into a bit of a contest and each year, one tower would go higher than the other. Kind of a mine's bigger than yours, if you know what I mean. However, that is North Korea in the distance.)

(Weirdest part of the trip - Dorasan Station. This has to be a multimillion dollar station built as the last stop in South Korea. Two trains go there a day. The line continues into North Korea and I guess, at some point, is supposed to connect to the Trans Siberian Railroad. However, it seems a little premature to have this station, at least in my opinion. I just do not quite know the purpose this station serves.)

(Dorasan Station)

(North Korea, here I come. Well, not quite yet...)

(A lady on the tour just hanging out. Notice the little red sign to the right.)

(Yep, that's the sign - craziness)

(Another observation point. At this building we learned during the Korean War, one mountain changed occupiers either 14 or 24 times in a 10 period day. The mountain itself stood a meter - over 3 feet - shorter after the battles were finished. Again, crazy, 3 feet off the top of a mountain.)