Coming to Korea? Here’s a Quick Guide to Customs Declaration and Phone Rentals

My parents are coming to Korea to see their first grandbaby, so I found out some great stuff about the airport, and renting phones.

First, about customs, and what to declare – it’s all in the Airport Guide here – you should print it and familiarize yourselves with it I guess – then you’ll have less to worry about.

Create a Cool Korean Circle Pattern in Illustrator

I’ve been quite interested in Korean designs and patterns for some time now. I’ve also been hoping to incorporate some of the best Korean patterns into my designs. However, there seems to be a real lack of Korean design resources out there, so I decided to make my own. In this tutorial, I will show you how to create a cool Korean circle pattern like those found on many Korean traditional buildings and clothes. This is one of the coolest patterns I’ve found in Korea, so it was a lot of fun making it in Illustrator. I found a similar pattern here, and if you want to see more great Korean patterns, I encourage you to pick up this book all about Korean patterns.

Well, let’s begin.

Read the rest of this entry »

My Two-Fold Theory on Self-Destructive Study Patterns in Korea

sleepingToday in class, all my students were asleep. Teaching them was like pulling teeth: not pleasant at all. I’m constantly discouraged by the educational system in Korea, particularly hagwons. But more than the system itself is the mindset that drives and encourages the system. Hagwons in and of themselves are not evil or even bad. They are present to fill a need (real or perceived) and they generally succeed in what they strive to do. Rather it is the “need” that drives much of the success or failure of schools and hagwons in Korea. The need is: to receive high quality education, learn enormous amounts of material quickly, pass difficult high school and university entrance tests with flying colors, graduate from an “Ivy League” (or at least upper-level) school, and ultimately have all money, wealth, and fame lavished upon them for their accomplishments. However, in their rush to get a jump on the competition and increase their own standing, I feel that many students (with their parents’ strong encouragement) are actually doing themselves more harm than good. Often I feel, the very goals these students are attempting to achieve are hindered by their own self-destructive study patterns.

Read the rest of this entry »

My “Lack-of-Ownership” of Korea

koreausLiving in a foreign country definitely has it’s ups and downs. Of course every country has its share of frustrations and  difficulties, blessings and good points. But, by being a foreigner in a foreign land, it can often be much easier to complain openly and “blame” that land (in my case Korea) for its differences. We (expats) can easily begin to fall into an “us vs. them” mindset, especially in Korea where everyone who is not Korean is labeled a “Wei-guk-in (foreigner).”

Read the rest of this entry »

A Statement on the Suicide of Former Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun

roh_moo-hyun_1409617fWhat a sad statement for Korea and all Koreans on May 23, 2009 as former President Roh committed suicide in the early morning hours. It’s not only regretful to see your former (well-loved) President commit suicide in the midst of a bribery/corruption/investigation/scandal, but also to realize that your country has the highest rate of suicide among all the OECD countries and now kills nearly as many people as cancer. Add that to the fact that Korea is ranked 6th in the world for most dangerous countries to drive in (traffic accidents here are as regular as rain), and the birth rate is the lowest in the world and we’re looking at a nation facing crisis (but undoubtedly in denial).

Read the rest of this entry »

The Republic of Korea’s Schoolyard Scuffle with Google

koreavsgoogleThe Republic of Korea and Google enter the schoolyard of the Internet, with good intentions to play nice together.  Somewhere along the line, the ROK gets burned by a bully and decides it needs stronger rules before continuing play.   Google on the other hand, liked things the way they were going, and doesn’t want to change things mid-game, (plus, it might give them an advantage to play the game with a few “features” left out).  The ROK’s friends start to think he’s too demanding, and side with the “easy-going” Google.  The ROK feels slighted and decides to “take out Google’s kneecaps” or at least spread ugly information about him so that the rest of his friends don’t want to play with him any more.

Read the rest of this entry »