Dec 31, 2009

End 2009 with a snow ball fight!

Today we lucked out with a conference day and at 1:30 our boss walked in...and said, "wanna have a snow ball fight?" none of us really knew how to react. I was like Jinja? (really?) are you serious, what was in your breakfast. Sue is usually extremely reserve. She came in two more times and at 3:00 we were all out in the snow. Sue was waiting with a stack of snow balls and threw the first few balls before any of us had the courage to hit her with one. Then, we went for it and everyone began having fun. 20 teachers all out in a field stuffing snow in each others faces. What a great way to spend the end of 2009. (sue is the one in black on the right)

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Reflections of 09

As the year comes to a close I thought it appropriate to offer my reflective insight on the past 365 days.

Naturally, we all ring each new year with optimistic thoughts of what we plan to do more of, do better, or do at all.but lets be honest for a minute. just like those 35 new gym members taking up all the treadmills In January that magically disappear 3 weeks later, our good intentions fall by the wayside pretty darn fast as lifes bumps and grinds get the better of us. It seems like many of our new years resolutions are like roll-over minutes that we never use, so we recycle them again and again.

For Nicole and I, it seems like the past year has been a culmination of several new years resolutions from years past that we finally decided to make good on all at once. Travel, Get New Jobs, Meet New People, and Challenge Ourselves Daily have been just a few of the successes that I am most proud to say we accomplished in 2009. I call it our breakout year because we took the initiative to step outside ourselves, our comforts and familiarities into a life that inspires us to grow every minute of everyday and its simply fantastic to finally be able to feel that way.

In the grander scheme however, this new year will hopefully bring about some positive changes in the worlds financial situation and pursuits of peace in places of warring and violence. Im hopeful that individually, we have all found that the good of 2009 far outshined the bad as we countdown the final hours until 2010. As its been said far too many times Im sure.make it your most amazing year yet everyonehave a Happy New Year!!!!


Korean Hotness - Byung-hun Lee

Ok, so I wrote awhile ago about Boys before flowers, a great TV drama here in Korea...but now, a new release IRIS. IRIS is a mix between 24 and Alias. The star = Byung-hun Lee who may look familiar to you...Storm Shadow...the yummy goodness white ninja from G.I.Joe (this is Nicole writing just incase you thought Adam all of a sudden had a turn of thoughts)
Byung-hun Lee is turning 40 this year and he has been around in Korean dramas since the early 90's and only recently hit it big in America with G.I.Joe.
If you have some time to check out IRIS, here is the link to the subtitled starts a bit slow...but the action and drama really picks up. i am on episode 13 and can't wait to see what happens next.

Dec 29, 2009

Global Warming, it's here too

Slowly, the world is changing due to many factors, humans being a large one. Today in the Korea Times The Korea Meteorological Society said that this summer was the fifth hottest and most humid since 1912...which is similar to what I remember hearing back in Florida. In American the seasons and natural disasters are becoming more extreme and frequent. In Korea I guess it is becoming the same, which is not completely a surprise since I remember Adam telling me about an ice cap from somewhere near the Antarctic which has floated up near Southern Australia.

You can find all of the statistics in the article including animal extinction predictions, loss of homes and the change in rainfall and temperature. It is a shame that so much of it has to do with human waste and the effects of our doing. I wonder if there is anywhere in the world that is untouched by the effects of global warming.

Dec 28, 2009

K Pop Addition

With the end of 2009 quickly approaching, I was thinking of Dick Clark and Casey Casum (sp?) anyway, Korea has a top 40 K Pop chart of the year.
Here it is.... I have also added a K Pop link at the top of the page where I will try to post all of the new and old videos for you to enjoy

40. I hope – F.T Island
39. Indian Boy – MC.Mong

38. Kiss – Sandara Park

37. A Love Story – Gavy NJ
36. Love Like This – SS501

35. My Ear’s Candy – Baek Ji Young(feat.TaecYeon)

34. Lies – T-ara
33. Will you marry me? – Lee Seung Gi

32. Calling You – Seo In Gook

31. Naeng Myeon – Park Myung Soo & Jessica
30. Don’t Forget – Baek Ji Young

29. Because I’m stupid – SS501
28. Insomnia – WheeSung

27. Sign – Brown Eyed Girls

26. After Love – Park Hyo Shin

25. Muzik – 4Minute
24. My Man – Davichi

23. Ring Ding Dong – SHINee

22. I Don’t Have a Heart – 8eight

21. You and I – Park Bom

20. The Girl Who Can’t Break Up, The Boy Who Can’t Leave – Leessang

19. Half – Hwayobi

18. Women’s Generation – SeeYa, Davichi, T-ara
17. Dropping Tears – K.Will

16. T.T.L – T-ara & Supernova

15. Tell me your wish – Girls’ Generation

14. Saturday Night – Son Dambi
13. Made an Accident – Davichi

12. Wanna – KARA

11. Abracadabra – Brown Eyed Girls

10. Heartbreaker – G-Dragon

09. Again & Again – 2PM

08. Alone – Outsider

07. 8282 – Davichi

06. Fire – 2NE1

05. Love Rain – Kim Tae Woo

04. Sorry Sorry – Super Junior

03. Lollipop – Big Bang & 2NE1

02. I Don’t Care – 2NE1

01. GEE – Girls’ Generation

Im adding in Nobody by the Wondergirls as #1-1


There are quite a few movie theatres in Gwangju. One in the bus stations, which features 3D movies and three that we have seen in the small downtown area. We tend to frequent Megabox. Megabox is a multilevel movie theatre. It costs 8,000 per ticket and the theatre is spotless. Not only can you buy popcorn and nachos in the lobby, but also dried squid that you can peel apart as a snack. When you buy your ticket, you pick your assigned seat and that is where you sit during the movie.
The best part about the movies is that we don't have to read the translations. The american humor is fun when we are the only one's laughing in the whole theatre. Once in awhile the humor is understood and it makes the experience a bit better. When the movie is over and the lights come on, the theatre attendant bows as a thank you and directs everyone out. It is a nice way to spend an evening in Gwangju!

Christmas in Gwangju

We had a nice three day weekend for the Christmas holiday. On top of making Gingerbread cookies with the kids at work...a few friends of mine from work came over and we made over 15 dozen cookies to give away to our favorite family stores and coworkers. We made Special K Bars, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Cookies, Thumbprints, Chocolate Nut Biscotti, Pepperment Chocolate Biscotti, Toffee, Sugar Cookies and of course gingerbread men. The best part of course was the lack of oven in Korea and we made the whole thing using one toaster oven. It took us two nights until 2:30 in the morning to get it all done, but I believe the cookies were enjoyed by all.

On Christmas Morning, our time, Ad and I exchanged presents. He got me one of the wonderful glass tea pots which seeps leaves and a greta pink sweat has become my color here. Adam loved his new watch which made me happy. Then, we went over to a friends house and ate brunch as well as watched christmas movies all day. After, we went home and opened presents over skype with Maryanne, Shawn and Frank. They sent us some great warm pjs and clothes all the way from Florida while we sent Shawn a say Kimchi Shirt, Maryanne a hanbook and Frank a Tiger's hat and shirt. We spent most of the evening Skyping family back and forth. It is amazing the difference technology has made in our lives here.We did manage a few outings downtown, walks around the city and a trip to starbucks (there are only three in our city) we also went to the movies and out for some indian food. We saw Sherlock Holmes which was really great. Sherlock reminded me a lot of the Jack Sparrow character. Anyway, here is the big christmas light/tree in downtown Gwangju, notice the globe on the top)
We hope all of you had a great holiday spent with your family and friends.

Dec 27, 2009

...this is a stretch Korea.

I'll preface this by saying that this blog is mostly my opinion.....

Korea really is a great place to live and work and while by most accounts, people seem pretty with it...every now and then I am reminded that the views of Korean society and mine clash a bit. For instance, this article that Nicole came across that details the latest head scratcher for me....stretching facilities to aid in growth for children so they can escape the ridicule of being short. Yes, being a shorter male, I see this as particularly screwed up. Here's the article link....South Korea Stretches Standards for Success.

The article gives some details about how the new technique is supposedly able to enhance height growth which will in turn lead to a life of success. I've seen first hand as well in my classrooms that the children feel this way. I had one student ask me if I felt like a loser because I was under 6 ft to which I simply responded no, but was not impressed with the lines he was thinking along.

Before I go on a tangent I'll just bring up another fact about the Korean society with regards to this growth business. The Korean kids happen to be some of the more frail people I have seen which in many ways is an attribute of their poor sleep habits which happen to be one of the major factors in growing. The overworked, under-rested Korean kids don't stand a chance to grow but now there is this new idea that stretching them can fix all that? I also see this as just another gateway into a world of thought that will spawn even more options down the line to support the "enhancement" of your life through scientific means, rather than the embrace of your own natural attributes.

That's my take on the stretching bizz, just thought I'd share.... ;)


Dec 26, 2009


For those of you who don't know, Maryanne, Adam's Mother, sent 200 homemade gingerbread in the mail to us...including candy, frosting and all the extras. At home with some friends we decorated a few, but them brought them to work for some coworkers and kids to decorate. It was most everyone's first time doing it and they had so much fun. Many of them did not know that you could eat them. Here are the pictures, may they make you smile on Christmas!

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Dec 22, 2009

Whose job is it anyway

I was looking through the Korea Times Newspaper today for an article to write about and I found just the thing. I guess here in Korea it is a bit worse than the anti man chore thing in America. When I think back, my mother always did the housework at home. I think dad took care of the yard but everything else, my mother did with the exception of mopping the floors every once in awhile. When i think of Adam and I, we have a pretty equal idea of housework. Sometimes he takes the gun and goes all out, he does most the cooking but he enjoys it, i swear. I go haywire with my nutty cleaning sprees, but mostly we work together on everything. I guess here in Korea, things are not so fair.
According to the paper, "Even jobless men were found to be spending much less time doing household chores. It seems that women are dealing with lots of work inside the house regardless of their own jobs or their husbands' occupation. With added responsibilities of childcare, the amount of domestic chores for the woman is quite large," He noted that even though husbands help with childcare, the larger amount of chores tend to fall on the shoulders of women. "

It said that this awful stat has actually affected Korean women's outlook on marriage, which I can understand...but why are the men raised not to take care of their women? I guess it all goes together with the same attitude with not holding doors or letting women go first etc. that I have had to get used to here.

A WHOPPING 71.3 % of males said that the chores are for the women, which is why only 11% of women hope to get married and 46% said they didn't want to. How sad is that???

This may be why many of the Korean women at work ooh and ahh at Adam and constantly tell me how gentle he is...which i swear is the wrong word... i just think he is perfect...for me ladies..

anyway, my point, i am not a feminist, i do not run around screaming equal treatment and men are garbage, but dads and moms out there, your sons and daughters learn from you, so.... and all you grown up men...treat your ladies write and help out!

Dec 20, 2009

Party Time, Excellent.

Fortunately, Nicole and I work at a language academy that tries to do right by its employees and part of that includes an end of the year party. Last night at the local Ramada we had out end of the year fiesta to close out 2009 and welcome the new year with some singing, drinkin, eating and group talent show.
Nicole's group did a creative take on frosty the snowman by wrapping up people in toilet paper which was a big hit and a lot of fun to watch, especially since Nicole was one of the lucky ones that was being covered in the t.p. Check it.

My group did our best to get the crowd involved by going with the 12 days of christmas and having the audience sing different days which went well with the exception of the confusion over who had what days and the overall melody but we got through it.....peep the vid to see the tomfoolery for yourself......

The night featured a few karaoke performances....Pete and Sue rocked out pretty hard....

Some groups practiced quite a bit for the event with choreographed dance routines that were pretty sweet even if they were set to a Miley Cyrus hoe-down song that I now secretly love...

Nicole won a few awards including the very deserved best dressed and best personality prize while I picked up the coveted "most gentle" prize which might not go over so well back home but here in Korea, they dig it.

It was a nice night and although some of the speeches were mainly in Korean, we felt that they must have been saying something nice, or they wouldn't have hosted such a kick butt partaay for us ;)

Dec 19, 2009

To the Holy Land!.....of Fruit.

So its been a week but you know you love the suspense. Anyway, last Sunday on Brandon's last full fay in SK we boarded the train to Yeongdong to catch the Dried Persimmon Festival. Yeongdong is the largest fruit producing center in South Korea...some even call is the Holy Land of fruit....not me, but some...they do.

We arrived in Nunsan which was the closest train stop to
Yeongdong. As always, a bit of an adventure figuring out the way to the festival but as always, the South Korean's bent over backwards to help us find our way ......which we did, after a $20 cab ride....which is pricey in these parts but nonetheless we were super psyched for some dried persimmon goodness.

The festival seemed to draw a decent crowd for a festival about dried fruit. A mass of tents that lined a pleasant looking spot along a river featured everything from carney games, clothes, fortune telling.....and yes, lots of dried persimmon. We sampled a ton and watched the dancing performances on stage that featured a variety of acts and some very traditional looking acts that were really cool to see.

After the fest we set out in search of some food which on a Sunday was pretty tough to find so we bussed it closer to the train station in hopes that we'd have better luck. The problem was that the bus we took kinda dropped us at about a 45min walk from the train station which was cool since we figured along the way through the town we'd surely find a spot to dice...and so we walked more.

For Nicole and I this was no big thing since we've come pretty accustom to the semi-lost walking adventures whenever we leave home. Brandon was not quite as familiar and i think found it a little sketchy. This was however until we stumbled upon a crew of older Korean men drinking rice wine and BBQ'n near a footvolley court (volleyball with feet). They kindly ushered us over and fed us some dried seaweed and rice wine which was awesome. It never ceases to amaze me how gracious they are and how extremely generous. As we headed to the train they bid us a farewell with some ramen noodles for our travels.

Once we returned to Gwangju we were starving yet again since the ramen at the train station did not do much for the hunger pains. We checked out the pricey but phenomenal all you can eat raw tuna joint up the road from school.....and boy did we eat. The $30 a person for the quality of fish we consumed was a heck of a deal when I think about how much Brandon and I put away but i think he enjoyed it as much as we did and it seemed like a nice way to spend the last day of his trip here.

Oh right, it's almost Christmas kids and that means some holiday bloggin is on the way. Hope you are all in the spirit of things this year. We're doin our best on the east side I promise, even got a tree ;) Remember that not everyone is as fortunate as we this holiday season and its easy to forget the true gifts in our lives as we run around gathering presents for one another and stressin over lines at the mall. I hope you take some time to appreciate those around you for the real magic they bring into your lives this season......I'll do my best to do the same.

...Olive's excited.....

Dec 17, 2009

It's Here!!!!

Mark it down in the books, December 16th snowed!!!
We have decided to do a Christmas movie marathon of sorts and watch one movie a night at the apartment. Last night we watched Fred Claus and a few of the girls from work came over to watch with us. As we all teared up at the end, with the kids all opening their presents and Clyde wearing his superman cape, we decided to open the window...just in case.

and if by fate or whatever, it was snowing!! we all screamed and yelled Adam grab the camera and we ran down stairs to sing and jump and scream some more like girls do.

winter is beautiful...i hope the snow lasts...there is 4 more days of snow forested!!! maybe it will even stay through Christmas.

I'm sorry for all the exclamation marks, but for a Florida girl, this is big news!!

Dec 16, 2009

Winter Wear

Winter is here...well not officially for a few more days, but this Florida girl, and dog are having a rough go handling it. I pack on so many layers I am referred to as a sleeping bag. I have invested in a new ajumma hot pink 3 in one jacket. The only colors offered for girls is hot pink and purple, the purple was too small for my american sized here I am, just after arriving home from work in my 3 layers, plus jacket, scarf and hat. If you glasses are fogged because when you wrap a scarf around your mouth and breathe, your breath fogs up your glasses. I wish I knew a cure for that one.

Anyway, Olive has her winter garb too...a nice heavy fleece sweater and truly she loves it. There is snow in the forcast for tomorrow and the next 5 excited as I am, I am that freaked out about how on earth to stay warm!!!

Dec 14, 2009

Korea's got talent

Not 100% confirmed he is Korean...but my god is he perfect. (thanks Mr. Lee)

Dec 13, 2009

Those are your underoos?

If you look closely at all the well dressed Koreans...their secret lies beneath. Matching underroos are a big deal here in Korea and well..these mannequin's are just the beginning. Every few hundred feet downtown is a boutique selling his and hers roos. These ones really caught our eye. They are roos that look like Levi's. A few lucky loved ones back in America had some surprising Christmas gifts so that they would fit in with the couples of Gwangju.

My Namdongsang is going home.

14 days flew by and Brandon is heading back to Florida in the morning. We tried to cram as much of Korea as we possibly could into 2 weeks. While we were at work, Brandon spent time relaxing watching sports center and catching up on his man time, but he also visited the Jinjilbang and ate at Gimbap Nara - he loved the Bulgogi. He also took a trip up to Seoul for a few days, stayed in a hostel, caught a KBL basketball game, rode the subway and talked business with some referees in the KBL.

With Adam and I, we ate Galbi, Shabu Shabu, ChamChi (all you can eat Tuna!), Gimbap, Cold noodles (i forget what it is called), Mandu, Tempura, Persimmons, Pears, Jeju Oranges, Mechju, Soju, Ramyen and Korean cake. We rode on the bus, subway and train.
Brandon couldn't stop talking about the barber poles....supposedly stripes mean one thing...and not necessarily a hair cuttery.

We shopped downtown for glasses, more for me, he just got his fixed, Adam got a new pair too, we climbed Meudong, went to Jeonju, Nonsan and the dried persimmon festival. We drank makgeolli with old men in the park and snacked on seaweed.

I asked him for a list of his top 10, he insisted on a bottom 5 too.

1. The Food

2. Basketball Games

3. The Tuna Restaurant

4. Climbing Meudong Mountain

5. Seoul

6. Dried Persimmon Festival

7. Seeing me :)

8. Downtown Gwangju

9. The People and their Kindways (as he says)

10. The Relaxation

and now, for the bottom 5

1. Cab accident

2. Inconsiderate people bumping

3. Getting lost at the bus station in Seoul

4. all three of us having the shits

5. Olive peeing on my bed (in brandon's words)

Honorable Mention - The spicy food

Anyway, I will miss him... but he must go back to take care of the kiddos , sandii and give my mom, dad and grandparents love and hugs from me.
Love You Brandon

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