Jan 30, 2010

SoKo Bobsled Team makes 1st Olympics!

Just a quick newsy blog about something I found kinda neat as we approach the 2010 Winter Olympics. The South Korean bobsled team who began making strides placing 3rd at the 2008 America's Cup has recently qualified for their first time to compete in the Winter Games in Vancouver ranked 15th internationally!

That might not seem like a tremendously high ranking but if you consider the circumstances surrounding the team I think you'll agree that its pretty frikken cool.

The team formerly practiced on courses in Salt Lake City, Utah and now in Europe as they do not currently have a home course here in South Korea. They actually competed in the 2008 America's Cup with a rented bobsled that cost them about $500 and said "USA" on the side with a team in which one of the riders was the coach. They now own two of their own sleds but cannot afford to ship them and so they sit at the tracks in Europe for the most part when they are used to practice.

The team qualified for both the 4 man and 2 man respectively and has a chance to compete in the event for the first time in history. Most of the new articles are focusing on the similarities between this team and the "Cool Runnings" story inspired by the Jamaican Bobsled team that competed in the 1988 Calgary games. This is an understandable comparison but i'm excited for these guys to tear it up and write their own amazing story in Vancouver. "Fighting!!!"

*Just a side note, but the Jamaican team did qualify and will compete as well this year.

thanks for readin

Jan 29, 2010

I'd do anything for a good cup of joe

When we moved to Korea we brought with us our French Press. You see, my obsession with the French press began when I was in college. I went to visit my friend Jenifer who lived in a small apartment in winter park. She brought her French press onto the stairs in front of her place and we drank coffee, chatted away, watched our surroundings and pretended the annoying bee wasn’t flying around us. Ever since that day, I have owned a French press. I am not sure if the coffee really tastes that much different from a drip pot, but I think it looks a whole lot cooler and adds a small sense of sophisticatedness to my morning cup of joe. So, like I said, we moved to Korea with our press packed up well in the corner of the suitcase…and it did us really well…until a few weeks ago when the darn silverware was too heavy stacked in the drying holder suctioned cupped to the wall in the kitchen. We heard a bang and of course Adam blamed Olive, when in actuality the stupid silverware landed on the counter which pushed the French press to the ground…and just like that, we were out of a coffee pot.

I refuse to buy an electronic pot and I really distaste the instant coffee they have here, everywhere, in Korea. So, for two weeks I was without my precious morning cup of Joe. Luckly, by some odd chance, Tuesday, as we walked passed angels in us coffee, we spotted a press in the window. It took us about 15 minutes to converse with the staff through hand gestures and language barriers that we wanted to buy it. After a phone call to another shop, some running around and careful packaging, we walked out with a new, a bit smaller, but new French press. And for the third day in a row, I have had a cup before yoga when I wake up and a nice big one when I get home. There is nothing like it.

Jan 24, 2010

i asked.....

With the world coming to an end in less then 2 years in 2012, I figured asking Nicole to marry me seemed appropriate, no?

...ok, I kid. In all seriousness, it blows my mind to find myself in this position. I have asked someone so fantastic to marry me and she says yes without the slightest doubt in her mind that it is exactly what she wants. After 2 and a half years with Nicole and all of our adventures together...I knew it's exactly what I wanted as well.

I've thought a lot over the past few days since it happened about the concept of being "happy"....and not the happy you get when you get paid every other friday, but the happy you get when you discover that what you really want in your world are all the things that are already there. Between my extraordinary family, my friends and Nicole, I feel a whole bunch of happy, lucky and blessed goodness everyday.

We are stoked beyond words for December.....and in all honesty, everyday before and thereafter.

thanks for reading.

College Debt

What a thing to write about just after my entry about us getting married, but I thought that you should know, I was reading an article about Korean college students in the Times today and felt a little jealous of Korean college students. The article states that the average students has about $10,000 dollars in debt after a four year degree. I won't bring up my numbers, but they are a bit higher than that. It seems on average, American students have more than $27,000 in loans. I do appreciate though that the government stresses that education loans are good loans to have and that it should be a goal to pay them off. I am not sure how loan payments work here in Korea, but I will be paying mine off until I am 50 I think in America.
Anyway, the article says that the students sometimes take semesters off and work jobs to take the amount of debt down which is a great idea.

Jan 23, 2010

He asked.

Adam is taking a nap and I wanted to take some time to fill everyone in and kind of reflect on the last week so I never forget. Monday morning, at breakfast, Adam and I were talking about our future, the next few years job wise and what we wanted. The subject of marriage came up and within minutes it was decided that when we get back to florida in december, we were going to get married. Basically the conversation went like this:
adam: "lets just get married when we get back"
nicole: "really?"
adam: "yeah, why not"
nicole: "seriously?"
adam: "sure"
then we kind of left it like that. all day at work I was flipping out, i dont know what other way to describe it. i didn't know if we really were going to get married or if that was just one of our conversations that we have. so, that night when we got home from work, it went like this:
nicole: "are we really getting married in december?"
adam: "yeah, why not?"
nicole: "really?"
adam: "yeah"
so, we sat on skype waiting for everyone to wake up so we could tell them. and guess what, we are engaged!

here are their reactions:

some didn't have skype, so here is me telling kim we were engaged! (yes the house was full of laundry, it is what happens when you dont have a dryer and two people live in a one room apt)

as a girl, i cant speak for guys, but we spend our life thinking about getting married, kids, weddings, love and dreaming that we will meet the one person we are supposed to be with forever. we date and date and date and hope that one will just be right. we suffer heartaches and lonely nights while our friends find mr. right and we wait and wonder.

i met adam when i least expected it. i was out of work and spending hours on my computer eating green beans out of a can for dinner when ad wrote me on facebook (yes we met on the internet) asking about my trip to japan. see, ad was looking to go teach in japan and i had been. it turned out we had some mutual acquaintances so i thought it was okay to talk with him. we talked, well typed and typed and typed. we ended up meeting one night for pizza and wine (our first date) the thing is, i never felt nutty crazy butterflies or lost my mind when ad and i started dating, it was more so just normal. just easy. just good company. he will tell you he was worried at first because on almost every date i would fall asleep on him, which those of you who know me that isnt surprising since i still do that. but, he was concerned i wasn't interested.

within the last two years we have lived in four homes together, been to costa rica, japan, bali, and korea. we have meshed so well that i can't imagine any time spent without him. he has become closer to me than anyone, more special to me than anyone (in a different way mom) and us getting married, this moment, seems so unreal yet so normal and natural.

over the last three days we have had so many conversations about love and how lucky we are. how we wish everyone else who loves someone feels it like we do, that it is this real love. we also hope for those who havent found it wait until it finds them because there is nothing like it. we feel so fortunate and instead of being jealous of other people, we just love what we have.

anyway, i am just so giddy and happy and feel that in this moment...my life is beyond the top. that i am so lucky to have someone love me like this and in return to feel this way about someone.

so, december 11, 2010 ... i do.

Olive is once again Korean

Today Olive went to the vet for her vaccinations and a hair cut. I know it is winter but this girl was just way too moppy so I said shave her. So for 66,000 W (which is way cheaper than the states, Hollywood Houdz costs $55.00 for just a groom) Olive got her yearly vac. a groom and dumbo ears :)

this was her a few weeks ago

Jan 21, 2010

Sandy's Essay

I read the comments you guys wrote about the essays and I guess I never really thought about how great their papers are considering it is their second language. I just push and push and want perfection. Look here at Sandy's essay...her hook rocks! (it is what I have been focusing on lately)

TOW-1 Sandy

Help of fast food

The water was boiling in the cup and the smoke came up to my nose and covered my eyes. I inhaled the delicious smell of cup of noodles. Three minutes passed very slowly. I was cooking the cup of noodles in the market with my friend. When the cup of noodles was cooking, I studied for my math test. I had only 1000won but I could buy a cup of noodles and eat lunch. I think easy to prepare food makes life better because it is convenient, we can eat various foods and it is economic.

It is very convenient to make and eat. We can make and eat very fast. When we eat dumplings we just roast them and it takes a very short time, almost 10 minutes. It is very easy to make. When My Mother goes to a gathering, my brother and I eat food from the market. Last time, I bought pumpkin soup and I poured in the hot water and I ate it. We can do other things when we cook foods too. We can do other things when we cook the fast foods. When I cook the cup of noodles, I pour in the hot water and I wait for 3``~ 5 minutes and I can do my homework or study while I wait.

Fast food is also very economic. It creates more jobs. When we make the fast foods in factories we need lots of employees. We can store the food for a very long time. Fast foods have a long shelf life. The Cup of noodles shelf life is almost 1~2 years, so we dont have to throw it away when it goes bad. It is very cheap. Cup of noodles are very cheap so, pupils and children can buy it.

We can eat various foods. When we buy the fast food, we can eat foods that we cant cook. My mother cant make French Fried potatoes. In the market, we can buy the frozen French Fried potatoes instead. We can eat other countries foods. We can buy wheat noodles which is a Japanese food and I like it. We can taste various flavors. When I go to market, I can find the tteokbokki sauce. There are spicy, sweet and not spicy flavors.

In Korea most people are very busy. They are always running and tired. The fast foods help them. There are a lot of fast foods such as, noodles, dumplings, French Fried potatoes and even rice. Like this, nowadays, a lot of people prefer the fast foods because it is very convenient, economic and people can eat various foods.

Watch out Vancouver! Korea is on its way

Every year we sit at home and watch the Olympics on our TV's and cheer on the American athletes. We enjoy the opening ceremonies and don't really spend too much time focused on the other countries. Well let me tell you this year, my eyes will be focused elsewhere...

This year, Korea is sending 45 contenders to the Olympics. and it seems, if I was worldly enough to know this, but at the 2006 Olympics Korea was ranked number 7 with 11 total medals, 6 being gold. The Korean Olympic Committee has set a goal of finishing in the top-10 in gold medals with a target of six. The total Korean Delagacy of Althletes, Coaches and Officials is 82, the largest they have ever had. So, like I said, Watch out Vancouver...SOK is marching into town.

Korea’s 2010 Olympians


Long-Track Speed Skating:
Male: Lee Kyou-hyuk, Lee Kang-seok, Mo Tae-bum, Mun Joon, Lee Ki-ho, Lee Seung-hoon, Lee Jong-woo, Ha Hong-sun.
Female: Lee Sang-hwa, Lee Bo-ra, Oh Min-ji, Ahn Jee-min, Lee Ju-youn, Noh Seon-yeong, Park Do-young, Kim You-lim

Male: Lee Ho-suk, Sung Si-bak, Lee Jung-soo, Kim Seoung-il, Kwak, Yoon-gy
Female: Cho Ha-ri, Park Seung-hi, Lee Eun-byul, Choi Jung-won, Kim Min-jung
Figure Skating: Kim Yu-na, Kwak Min-jung

Alpine: Male: Jung Dong-hyun, Kim Woo-sung
Female: Kim Sun-joo

Cross Country
Male: Lee Jun-gil
Female: Lee Chae-won

Ski Jump
Male: Choi Heung-chul, Kim Hyun-ki, Choi Yong-jik

Male: Kim Ho-jun

Female: Seo Jung-hwa

Male: Lee In-bok
Female: Mun Ji-hee

Bobsleigh: Kang Kwang-bae, Kim Jung-su, Lee Jin-hee, Kim Dong-hyun

Cho In-ho

Jan 20, 2010

good god, Korea..have a heart

the newest cartoon, and yet still no mention of the now estimated 200,000 dead

Jan 18, 2010

Haiti Coverage - sad really

I promise I am not one to bash someone or something too publicly, but I am incredibly disappointed in Korea's news teams reporting on the sad disaster in Haiti. At first, Felicity (a coworker) and I were talking about how the Korea Times has to number listed and why on earth would they not tell people about the death toll. So, each morning I search the papers for what they have to say on Haiti here in the Korean papers and this is what I have found. Basically it is 7 articles over and over in the search menu. One talks about the 7 koreans who were missing from day one (but later found ok), one talks about the 70 koreans in Haiti, one about the 1 million dollars worth of aid korea is sending over, one about what Ms. World is doing for Haiti, another about the celebrity fundraiser in America and one about America's history in helping other countries in need. NOT ONE mentions death tolls, NOT ONE mentions the conditions in Haiti, NOT ONE mentions haitians and how they are suffering, NOT ONE mentions the reality of the situation. The other day I asked my korean friend about the news in Korean and not in English and what they have said. She said that they have mentioned 10,000 may be dead.
Now, each morning, when I check the front page headlines in the Korea times and don't see what I am looking for, I am really extremely disappointed at the "sheltering damage" (I guess you would call it) that the government is doing here. Then, I think back to Katrina and war on terrorism and all the other major world issues and wonder just how much of it is truly being reported here. FYI, this horrible cartoon was in the Korea Times this morning. This is the first time, about really the first thing that I truly have been disappointed in the way the Korean government works.

Jan 17, 2010


Our students have been mentioning muju mountain ever since the first snow fall. So, we looked into it and for 83,000 won, we received a bus ride directly from EMart, snow board rental, ski pants, jacket and lift ticket. We were warned the Muju Resort would be crowded, I believe it is the only place to ski anywhere near the southern provinces of Korea.

We picked up the bus at 5:30 in the morning and rode for a little over 3 hours north east to Muju. When we got there we were given our tickets and such and got in line for ski wear...it took us another hour to get through the lines and get geared up. The lift line was another 45 minutes and a quick 15 minutes later you were at the bottom of the slopes again. There was no fresh powder and so many people.

Adam and I spent most of the day people watching and boarder watching. We spent a fair amount of time watching the kids with all of their gear on play in the snow and attend snow school. The sport is quite in amazing on in my eyes (coming from Florida) People were decked out in some of the most colorful clothing and expensive skiing supplies. They only ski two or three months out of the year, and most people looked like they were pros out there.

Of course the kids also had on their cute animal hats, this one actually looked like a panda bear dressed as a kid playing in the snow.
If you are a seasoned skiier or snow boarder you would definitely have a blast. They have 14 runs and 2 trick areas. If you are a beginner bring some padding and patience.

Here are the rest of the pictures

Click here to view these pictures larger

Jan 14, 2010

Great Essay

I teach 4 essay writing classes and this week Olivia's essay takes the cake. Here is her essay, it is very good, but I want for you to read and see if you laugh out loud as I did at the end of paragraph two.

Internet is part of our Life

The Internet is the most important single development in the history of human communication since the invention of call waiting. –Dave Barry

I agree with this quote because the Internet is really important, and we cannot live without the Internet. Internet is effective because it is quick, can learn new facts, and it provides lots of information.

Internets can get me information that I need in few seconds. We just have to type a few words in the search box. When you need certain information, for example, a sloth, you can also try to find in a book about sloth. Then, you have to search for the book in the shelf and sit in the couch to pick information that you need. In my experience, that took about 30 minutes. I had to waste my precious 30 minutes to find some information about sloth. When you search for the information of sloth on the Internet, it doesn’t even take 10 minutes. You just go to Google and type “sloth”. Then, there will be a lot of information about it and you can print out about 3 pages. This way, by using the Internet, you can get a lot of information in a short time. It is catching two pigeons with one bean.

From the Internet, we can learn a lot of facts. There is always news from only a moment ago. In the Internet, we can read global news, too. We can interact globally, by using e-mail. When I go to Daum now, there are 4 main sections. There is News, Economy, Sports, and Entertainment. Each of the sections has various kinds of information. There are recent photos and article about it. We can learn from reading those articles in the Internet.

The internet, as we all know, provides lots and lots of information. There is everything ready in the Internet. All we have to do is use that information. There are a lot of fun and interesting sites in the Internet. We can use new programs and do various kinds of activities. This helps students develop in education. When we turn on the Internet for help, we can always get new ideas by large amounts of downloads and uploads.

Internets make our life much easier because, they are quick as a blink, has lots of information provided, and we can learn new things. I think that the Internet is the most important resource and they are always necessary to make us well-informed. “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had. -Eric Schmidt

Jan 13, 2010

Suicide, far too common in Korea

I decided to write this as a follow up to a comment on the Hagwon Blog. In September of 2008, The Korean Times wrote an article saying that the suicide rate in Korea has doubled in one decade making Korea the number one country in the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development. It says that there are 24.8 suicides per 100,000 people (compared to 10.1 in the US), 2 male suicides for every one female suicide. Suicide is the 4th largest cause of death and the top cause of death of people in their 20’s and 30’s and the 2nd biggest reason among teenagers.

Jang Ja-yeon, pictured above was a 26 year old actress who was on a great show, Boys Before Flowers, see the blog, who committed suicide in the middle of the shows filming.

When it comes to my students, they are quite a bit younger but they are still exhausted and over worked. As per suicide, I truly hope that my kids are smart enough to just take a break or find an outlet for their stress.

My Hagwon is better than your hagwon

If you are looking for an english teaching job in Korea...no worries... Hagwons (private academies) are on the rise. The Korea Herald (you can read the full article here) said that since the 1970's the number of Hagwons have increased dramatically. There are now over 70,000 of them within this small country. Surprisingly (to me) there are 20% more artistic type Hagwon's than foreign language ones. But I guess when I talk with the kids they all go to a piano academy, a flute academy, art academy or tae kwan do academy along with their Science, Chinese, Math and English academies.
The tests and demands on the students are more and more every year, I know I have written about them and that is just the way it is...you must be the smartest in the bunch in order to truly excel in the Korean Business world. It's crazy, more than 4 million students attend Hagwons and not just one of them. I know the majority of my students attend between 3-5 Hagwons a week specializing in different subjects. I also know that they are not cheap, I believe they can range anywhere from 150-400 dollars a month per Hagwon. As a whole, the country spends 18.5 billion dollars a year on private education.

Jan 12, 2010

Look into my eyes

A few months ago, an older man told me, in English, I had nice eyes. He said that Asian people don’t have big eyes because of the Mongolian Desert. I never thought too much about it until last night when Adam and I were watching A Long Way Round. It is a TV series where Ewan McGregor travels around the world on his motorcycle with his friend Charlie. As they enter Kazakhastan Ewan says something to the effect to, “How do people know, how does the world know to change the way people look based on where they live.” Immediately I thought of my conversation about eyes. So, I went and did some research. It turns out, in a nutshell… he was right.

It seems that all babies develop the epicanthic fold on their eyes. In western society, as the nose develops, this disappears. But, in Asian counties, evolution has overtaken this. It seems that this all began with climate. In Mongolia the sunlight is so bright and the snow so harsh…that the light reflects off of the ground and the eyes have not lost this fold basically for protection. The same goes for the pebbles in the Gobi desert. I also read that the dry savannahs and yellow dust create the same type of light reflection which has caused the fold to remain for protection.

Other cultures such as Native Americans, Hawaiians, Nepali’s and Thai’s have also developed this trait.

I personally think Asian eyes are beautiful, along with their perfect skin and great fashion. I know many of the women however think otherwise and instead of getting the Asian blepharoplasty to add in an eyelid, many of the stores sell an adhesive tape that the women use to create this look. Just an FYI

Jan 11, 2010

Magic School to Groom Wizards

Yes, I took the title straight from the Korean Times Newspaper. (you can read the full article here) If you want, you can now attend your very own "hogwarts" in a small town, Jeongseon in Gangwon Province. He is opening the small boarding school which can house up to 120 people. 4 magicians are now on board. The owner, Baek Ho-min, hopes to link English with the magic and have a fun school where students can attend and learn both. I think it sounds fun and if they offer weekend trips for adults...I'm in. Unfortunately the site is in Korean and I have no idea how much it is or if adults are welcome. http://www.magicvillage.co.kr/

S.Koreans' Life Expectancy Tops 80!

Life expectancy for South Korean people has topped 80 for the first time in the nation’s history.

According to Statistics Korea, babies born last year are expected to live an average of 80-point-one years unless they are affected by disease or other unforeseen causes.

The number is up six months from last year and five-point-three years from 1999.

Male infants are expected to live an average of 76-point-five years, slightly higher than the current OECD average. Female infants are expected to reach an average age of 83-point-three years, one-point-five years higher than the OECD average.

Statistics Korea also says that according to their findings, men who are now 45 years old are expected to live 33-point-three more years on average, while women of the same age will likely live about 39-point-six more years.

Cancer was found to be the deadliest disease for South Korean men, followed by circulatory organ failure and respiratory diseases. Nearly 29 percent of men in the nation die from cancer.

Circulatory diseases are the most fatal killer of South Korean women. More than 28 percent of women die from circulatory organ failure. The second and third deadliest diseases are cancer and respiratory disorders.

Information in this post was reported by KBS world radio

Jan 10, 2010

What the book?

One of the things I miss most about home is the ability to buy books...in English. Within a week or two I went through all of my English books, traded with the other foreigners and once again ran out. This week, I placed my third order with whatthebook.com This is a foreign owned bookstore in Seoul. Their website is easy to use and you can pay online using your KB Star or bank card. Then, within three days, if they have the book in stock, it arrives...if they have to order it, it takes ten days. My recent order: The Hour I First Believed, The Secret Life of Bees, The Almost Moon, Thanks for the Tip - Confessions of a Waiter, A for Alibi, B for Burglar, and The Condition. Now, that I look at my order I realized the one book I really wanted, The Girl that Played with Fire...I didn't order. It looks like I will have to place another.

Those of you living in Korea...this IS the best place to get English paperbacks and new releases, they even have a place on their site for magazines.

Happy Birthday Brycekies

I know this isn't about Korea...but we also spend plenty of time thinking about our family back home. Skype makes things so nice and easy to get in touch with people that it makes the "missing" part not so bad. Certain holidays and occasions make it harder than others.

Thursday my nephew is turning 5, he is waving at me in the picture. I remember the day he was born, I was out to happy hour with people from work at Ale House and my friend Kate Tate and I waited at the hospital until he was born. I was able to see him pretty much right away...and just like that, I became an Auntie. I remember all of his birthdays and now, I will not be able to be at this one... I shipped presents home and won't be able to share his cake.

But, my Brycekies...I love you. (here are some of my favorite photos of him.)

Jan 9, 2010

rise of the South Korean machines....

It's been on my mind since I got to Korea that I should do a quick blog about the automobiles since about 97% of the ones you see on the road here are of the domestic breed. For instance, Hyundai-Kia, Daewoo (yes, they are still around), and Renault Samsung. Now...i'll admit, for a while I was on the Korean car hater bandwagon that ran on the campaign that the stuff out of Asia that wasn't Japanese was in essence...crap. However, my tune has since changed and i'm apparently not the only one...and for good reason.

First, the styling has improved on Korean cars ten fold since the mid to late 90's gross-fest that were the Sonata, Elantra and Accent models. Remember these bad boys?

My mom actually bought an Elantra in 2000 which was a year after the companies internal overhaul of production facilities and the introduction of the 10yr - 100,000 mile warranty. I was actually pretty impressed with the cars build but still not in love with the stying, although better than its predecessors.

Fast forward to now...Hyundai has just taken top honors as the most fuel efficient automaker in the US beating out Honda and VW just one year after publicly vowing to achieve the top spot. Averaging 30.1 mpg overall for all models in the 2009 lineup is a pretty swift move for a car company in this economy while you've got US automakers trying to sell cars through multiple ipod hookups. Autoblog write-up. Impressive but even better is the fact that only 3 automakers posted a sales sheet in the green and while Subaru got top honors, Kia and Hyundai pulled up in the 2 and 3 spot respectively. Truth in numbers.

I hate to bore you with stats but its kinda neat to see the Korean car industry quickly pulling up in the rear view of the Japanese automakers.

Ok, I might love cars just a bit more than you, but you should check out this last part. There are a few vehicles that you may not have seen before that will debut later this year in the US from Korea which are pretty darn noteworthy in my opinion.

First, the Hyundai Equus. On the Forbes list of "10 exciting cars for 2010" its Hyundai's most expensive model with a price tag of around $85k its not cheap, but its the real deal when it comes to luxury. More Photos

Next, the newly redesigned 2010 Hyundai Sonata. Its not even the companies flagship anymore but its just gotten a face-lift and whoever she went to did a fine job in my opinion. Hybrid on the way later this year. Photo Gallery

Last but not least, the Kia K7 Cadenza. Ain't she purrrrty? Taking some cues from a former Audi chief designer, the K7 should have everyone rethinking if they'd wanna be seen in a Kia by late 2010 in the states. Photo Gallery

Alright wait, two more. I don't particularly love SUV's of any kind, but I think the new Hyundai Tucson (Photo Gallery) gives Lexus RX owners something to scratch their heads over while the new Kia Forte Coupe gives us a new way to stand out in a world of overpopulated Civics and Carollas. Photo Gallery

Maybe, its the no frills approach, maybe its the economy, whatever it is, the Korean automakers are moving forward and now rank among the top 5 car manufacturers in the world. I honestly can't wait to see what the response to some of these vehicles is like in 2010 back home.


Jan 7, 2010

Fertility Rate & Abortion in Korea

While this is a very touchy subject for most I must share this article I found in the New York Times. (click here for the full article)
In Korea, abortion is completely against the law...very few exceptions, and the most common form of birth control is the morning after pill (information from a korean friend). The picture above shows doctors holding a news conference and asking for forgivess for conducting illegal abortions in their clinic for money. One doctor said that she realized things were really bad when she was performing double the amount of abortions as she was births in her office. In America, where abortion is discussed openly and often in Korea, “Abortion has never become a hot issue here because the society considers it a family issue, and there is a strong taboo against discussing a family matter in public.” According to the article, women after having one healthy baby will demand an abortion because they drank cold medicine or had a drink while pregnant and don't want to have any complications.
The issue is much larger than just abortion, the infertility rate in Korea is the lowest in the world, 1.19 child per kid, down from 4.5 30 years ago, women are aging, not wanting to marry (see my earlier post) and with so many abortions taking place...the birth rate is drastically declining. President Lee-Myung Bak is calling for bold steps to increasing the birth rate. The government's new message "with abortion, you're aborting the future."
I know this is a very controversial topic and I wanted to share with you Korea's side.


With a new year comes a whole new 365 days to travel and so we decided to get goin right away with our trip to Jeju on January 1st. What was nice about this trip was that we were flying out of the local Gwangju airport which means no 4 hour bus ride to Seoul which always feels like the longest part of any trip we've taken thus far. The cab was about a 15 minute ride to the small but friendly Gwangju airport. The flight time was about 45 minutes which gave the flight attendents just enough time to tell us how to use a barf bag and give us a piece of candy before we touched down at Jeju International.

We had the misfortune of arriving on a rather busy day which meant no rental car as they were all gone, but the local bus took us on about an hour journey along the coast to our destination, Tae Gong Gak Guesthouse in Seogwipo on the southside of the island. Once we arrived we were greeted by the nicest dude on the island, Ki-beom who was the owner of the guesthouse and has only been operating the location for about 6 months now. We initially had only planned on staying 2 nights but after the experience we had at the guesthouse and Ki-beom the first 2 nights, we booked a third. Nicole did some blogs in more detail about some of our stops along the way so I will let you refer to those for the lowdown but for now i will give you a quick run down.

When we woke up in the morning, we headed off towards the west and stopped by the Yakcheonsa Temple.

We were hungry already and ate a gigantic herb burger (which we believe was all veggies) and then walked off towards a waterfall which was preceded by a beautiful carved bridge.

Then we headed to a beautiful but very empty sculpture park, I think we were the only ones there. The cab then took us to mini land which Nicole already wrote on.

From there we headed back to the hotel and Ki-Beom drove us to the top of a cliff area to watch the sunset. Not only was the wind ridiculously cold, but the sun was hidden behind some clouds.

We then hiked down a forever long path getting lost once and stopping for some street roasted sweet potato. We finally reached Cheonjiyeon Waterfall but had no idea how to make the night setting work on the camera...Nicole got a bit impatient.

Ki-Beom then walked us to a really traditional Jeju Korean restaurant.

The next day Ki-Beom drove us to the rental car place and we picked up a sweet kia morning and set off to the east coast. Our first stop was the folk village which was completely empty and looked closed. I spotted some windmills and had to take a look....using wind energy...

We wandered through it and then hit the road and headed to sunset peak. Sunset peak, Seongsan Ilchulbong, was a small hike up the side of what is a volcanic landform built long ago.

We grabbed some toast sandwiches and had a picnic overlooking the water...waiting for the women diver show. The island of jeju is known for three things....wind, women and rock. Today we saw all three. The women divers were incredible. They were all over the age of 65 and looked more like 80. They were decked out in double layer diving suits and masks. they grabbed their nets, sang a ritual song and then slowly followed a rope along some rocks into the cold water. Then, they dive deep down into the water...no water tanks and stay down for 2-3 minutes collecting octapus and mullosks off the bottom of the water.

When the show was over we drove further north to the Manjangguk, the lava tube caves. The caves were made from lava that once flowed through them from the volcano. They were super deep in some areas and it was hard to imagine flowing hot lava streaming through the same tunnels we were standing in. You could see on the sides of the cave where the lava may not have reached the top and the walls cooled creating a shelf of sorts.

We left the cave and drove back west through Jeju City, the south down towards Halla Mountain, stopping and Loveland (which we already wrote about) and Mystery Road (water bottles will roll uphill when placed on the road). We then ate at Mr. Pizza...their salad bar and pizza rock and headed back to the hotel.

The next morning was a complete mess trying to get back to the airport in time and return our rental car. Everything worked out, due to our plane being delayed 15 minutes, so we made it just in time.

Anyway, enjoy the slideshow...we will head back to Jeju in the spring to attempt to climb Mt. Halla and head to the beach in warmer weather.

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