Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Hi everyone,

As 2003 draws to a close, it’s usually time to reflect on the past year and it’s also time for the inevitable year-end news roundups. So, I thought that it would be an interesting exercise then to see what my students thought was the most important news story of 2003. It’s always surprising to read what they come up with…

In places, I’ve added just a few editorial comments in Italics to help clarify some of their writing.

War in Iraq
Earlier this year the world focused its attention on Iraq; on it’s alleged weapons program and the ensuing conflict that saw Saddam Hussein’s regime finally toppled.

The USA hitted Iraq
Iraq is a bad country
Because they are coming war
So USA is very very bad country
USA is many powers
Because, they are very big country
Big = power = money
Although the USA hitted Iraq
The USA has power and much money
I think USA and Iraq – all bad.

Lina, 15

Typhoon Maemi
In September, Typhoon Maemi, the most powerful typhoon ever recorded in Korea, battered southern part of Korea (including Ulsan), leaving at least 110 dead or missing.

In 2003
Typhoon Maemi was very terrible.
I was went to grandmother’s house.
I was afraid.
In grandmother’s house, a floor covered with laminated paper was waved. (shaking)I hugged my mother.
My grandmother’s house was some broke.
The tree was broke.
Every where was broke.
The deck was flew.
In 2003
Was very terrible year.
I can’t remember this year.
In 2004
I want to no typhoon in Ulsan
Good bye Typhoon Maemi
Don’t go everywhere
All people don’t like you.
Bye - - -

Ruby, 14

The typhoon is in Korea.
So the house is fly and fisherman is not catch the fish.
And the river is increase.
Because Maemi is got a lot of rain.

Alex, 9

Subway fire in Daegu
In February, a man unhappy with his personal circumstances started a fire on a subway train, turning the train and station into an underground inferno that killed nearly 200 innocent people.

In 2003, many people are die.
It’s very terrible.
And many people cry.
Many people lose families, and they see and cry.
It’s very big accident.
Maybe they can’t remember this accident. If they remember this accident, they cry again.
This accident is never forget in Korea.
Person is very bad and he is crazy man.
I think he is crazy man.
2003 was very terrible year.

Julie, 14

2003 year have a lot of thing.
But I choose Subway fire in Daegu. First I saw that news, I’m so surprise. And our family saw and heard that news. And then my father called to our grand aunt so quickly. Good fortune she is OK. And we can saw Daegu subway news better.
A many, many people is die. Bereaved family is looks so sadly. They cried without end. We’re sad too. It’s from boss of subway. He isn’t say all people and in another room people die too. And maybe crazy man didn’t made fire, children and people is so be happy day. So I think I have to be a safe life.

Tommy, 13

Daegu Subway fire is very sad because Daegu is my hometown!
And the day it happen is my birthday!
I was very amaze and sad.
Many people died… It’s very terrible.
But government people is effortless about this accident.
I’m very upset and sad…
I don’t like Korea government people!

Mary, 15

Crazy man drink soju and subway fire
Close door and off right crazy man is run outside.
Many people is died. Crazy man is bad.

Zach, 14

Over the summer, this respiratory illness struck Asia hard, devastating tourism and economies on the continent. Surprisingly, Korea emerged unscathed.

In China, SARS came first.
Many people dead. Korea people were not dead and don’t have SARS.
Because Korean ate kimchi very much.
SARS is very bad. Because SARS killed many people.
In morning, I saw a news to TV.
News content was about SARS. In China, many people died.
I listened to SARS content first, I was very surprised.
I hate SARS
I think and I feel “I will eat kimchi very much.”
Kimchi is very delicious.

Julie, 16

Roh Moo Hyun is sworn in as President of South Korea.
In January, riding a popular wave of anti-American sentiment, Roh Moo Hyun took control as the 16th President of the Republic of South Korea.

Last year, we elected the president.
And this year, Roh Moo Hyun was president in Korea.
So club made through Roh Moo Hyun. Named ‘Noh Sa Mo’. Symbol color is yellow.
I love my country.
And I love our country president.
President made good country.
Team went to ‘Cheong Wa Dae’ (‘Blue House’ – Korea’s Whitehouse)
Cheong Wa Dae is beautiful…
Dear President.
Hey, you must do well!

System, 15

Bird Flu
In December, Korea killed over 20,000 chickens and 3,000 ducks and set up a tight quarantine in an effort to halt the spread of the deadly bird flu.

Bird flu is spread over Korea.
So I can’t eat chicken.
But I want to eat chicken.
So I ate it alone (small chicken)
My mom is very angry.
I’m scolded.
So I said excuse. “The chicken is safe.”
But she doesn’t believe.
I want to eat chicken now.
But I don’t want scold.
I need to be more patient person.

Alice, 15

The bird flu is appeared Korea.
It is bad cold of bird. It is very dangerous.
I don’t eat bird meat. It is terrible. The cow is mad. The bird flu. The pig colera. The meats are not safety. Only the fish is safe. Then, people go to eat fishes.
When end of year, people have many out meals. But, the meat store is not good. Because the people think the meat is dangerous. It’s very serious problem.
I heared the chicken is safe.
Cook the chicken high degree. Then, the chicken is safe.
In a word, this year is not good year.

Adam, 14

Mad cow disease
A lone case of mad cow disease discovered in the US prompted officials in South Korea to ban all imports of American beef.

This is begin in United States
This is still remain today.
I saw it in the news.
I heard, it is very scared.
Many people dead, because of the mad cow disease.
The cow is crazy in the picture!
In the meat, they selled it very cheap to the ordinary people.
Because, if the people knows no one buy the American cow’s meat
They are very bad.
I think the mad cow disease is began with the bad air.
We’re make the air’s become bad.
And the cows eat the air?
Poor cows…
We must conquest this!

Cindy, 14

Korean boys are obsessed with wrestling so many of them chose to write about events of the past year. I swear I have no idea what they are talking about….

Kane take off mask
Because Kane was lost a match
Kane vs. Triple H
Eric Bischoff said Kane the match lose
Kane take off mask
Kane vs. Triple H
The match was Triple H win
So Kane was take off mask and Kane was choke slam to RVD
And Kane face was black and dog eye
But Kane was fix the face
Next Kane vs. Shane
All match was Kane win
Last match was ambulance match at Survivor Pay per View.
Kane was tomston (tombstone sp.) for Shane
And Shane was on to ambulance.

Tom, 13

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

First off, and let me get this out of the way - Merry Christmas to everyone. I hope this holiday season finds everyone in good health and in good cheer. Or at least, it should, once the Christmas liquor starts flowing anyway.

This is Amy and my second Christmas in Korea, which I guess is a milestone of sorts. We’ve dusted off our mini Christmas tree once again and set it up in our living room, making the whole house feel a little more festive anyway.

Unfortunately, we don’t get a lot of time off over the holiday and tonight being Christmas Eve - we’re off to work. Luckily, I’m not planning on doing anything but play Christmas carols and get the kids to make Christmas cards for a few hours. I’m chalking it up to a ‘cultural experience’.

No snow in Ulsan yet and the weather is definitely chilly. Still, it’s hard to get in the holiday spirit when it’s a beautiful clear blue, sunny day outside. We’re planning on heading up to Gyeongju tomorrow on Christmas Day. They had quite an expansive buffet last year at the Hilton Hotel, so we’re planning a repeat visit.

With Christmas comes New Year’s on the horizon, which means we will ring in 2004, as we did 2003, once again in the Land of the Morning Calm. When I look at the calendar of activities that are already planned for January, I have to wonder if next year will be any more tranquil than the last.

But with ice climbing on Mt. Sorak, snow boarding at Muju Mountain, another trip to Seoul and the DMZ and five days in Shanghai planned in January alone, I have a hunch that it may be even more hectic. Certainly it will provide consistent fodder for these updates if nothing else.

Couple that with the preparations for Amy and my wedding in August and I’m sure 2004 will be a fun, but busy year. I trust everyone on this email list knew we were getting married. If not, well… we are!

On that note, not much news on the wedding front really, other than we’re slowly making progress ironing out an invite list and sorting out some of the logistics for some of our overseas guests. I’ve also thrown together a quick web site for the wedding, where I hope to post any important information as it becomes available. Check it out at

Anyway, the last few weeks have been busy as usual. Amy participated in a Hapkido competition a couple of weekends ago, where she was demonstrating a number of blocks and takedowns. I was still sidelined with my knee problems, so I attended as official photographer and for moral support.

It was quite the sight too – there she was, a lone blonde head standing tall in a sea of black hair. Nevertheless, she did excellently and won the silver medal for her class. We both go for our red belts this week, which will mean we are only one belt shy of our black belts! I’ve attached a few photos of the competition for your viewing pleasure!

At any rate, hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas with all of your loved ones. If you get a chance, spare a second while you’re chowing down on your turkey and mashed potatoes and give a moment’s thought to Amy and I, as we’re more than likely snacking on kimchi and rice.

Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Winter has arrived on the Korean peninsula. The icy Arctic winds have started blowing again and yesterday we awoke to our first frost. Which will be a welcome relief because hopefully it will have finally killed all those damn mosquitoes. Who’d have thought they could be so resilient?

Winter in Korea also means it’s time to make kimchi again. Kimjang is the traditional Korean period in which Kimchi is prepared for Um-dong (the coldest 3 or 4 months of winter).

So a couple of weekends ago, Amy, Megan, Julianne and myself headed over to our director’s house to make this spicy cabbage concoction. Actually, if you remember, Amy and I had made once before last year, but being kimchi rookies at the time once we’d taken it home and it started to ‘mature’ – we threw it all out.

This turned out to be a massive faux pas, as that is just when the kimchi gets good. Now, after a year of living in Korea and sampling many kinds of kimchi (including apple kimchi, on our trip to the Martial Arts Festival), I know feel I qualify as a kimchi pro and I was looking forward to the opportunity to make it again.

Kimchi (despite it’s reputation as rotten cabbage) actually refers to the process whereby vegetables (and occasionally fruit) are pickled using a paste made up of red pepper powder, garlic, ginger and green onion. In that way really, it would be similar to a spicy German Sauerkraut.

We arrived at our director’s house to the sight of mountains of cabbage and washtubs full of red pepper paste. The four of us sat down with our rubber gloves and got busy with the kimchi making process.

Basically, to make kimchi, you grab a head of cabbage (which has been washed and quartered) in one hand and a handful of the pepper paste in the other. Using a kind of washing motion, you rub the red pepper into the individual leaves until the head is covered in the paste. It’s then placed into a separate tub and sprinkled with salt (to speed the pickling process).

We spent the better part of that afternoon rubbing pepper paste in the cabbage. At one point I looked around and realized it was only Amy, Megan, Julianne and I making the kimchi. Was this really experiencing a Korean tradition, I wondered, or was it just a way to get us foreigners to do all the dirty work!

Either way, we each left with bucketfuls of kimchi under our arms and our director was left with some pretty unique kimchi, handcrafted by a bunch of waygooks.

I’ve also now spent a second birthday in Korea and this year to celebrate, we decided to head down to Busan with our friends to go and conduct our own mini Korean War. So bright and early Saturday morning, 25 or so of us piled into the English 2020 school bus to go and play paintball.

We arrived down in Haeundae Beach and picked up some more friends and piled back on the bus. We were now at about 35 bodies (this would prove to be an important fact later on, but enough about it now).

We met up with our contact a short distance away and followed them up to the top of the hill. There we were outfitted with coveralls, helmets and our weapons. Unfortunately, being that we were in Korea, the sizes of the coveralls were… let’s just say, a little on the snug side.

We played several games of Capture the Flag and Last Man Standing and had a great time throwing ourselves around, crawling on our bellies and sneaking through bushes. I couldn’t help but think that this would have been a miserable country to fight a war in, as the terrain is so mountainous and hilly. There’s very little flat land in Korea and any war would have had to be grueling. After only a couple of hours, we were all beat tired of running up and down the hills, gullies and ridgelines.

Back at the parking lot, many of us still had ammunition left over, so it was suggested that we have the equivalent of a high-noon standoff. Standing back to back, groups would walk five paces and then turn and fire. Only headshots counted and we all got out of there with welts all over our bodies!

Time to go and the fatal flaw in our otherwise flawless planning appeared. We’d only booked the bus for a one-way trip and it had long since departed. We now had 35 people that had to get back to Busan from our hilltop location. So, most piled into the back of the paintball guys’ little panel truck for the ride back to the hotel. Apparently, it was a hot, dark and claustrophobic trip. I wouldn’t know, as somehow I scored a ride in one of the few cars. I guess it pays to be the birthday boy sometimes. In any case, we must have looked a sight as we pulled up back at the hotel and a good 20 or more foreigners piled out of the back of this truck!

For the remainder of the day we strolled around Haeundae Beach and then later ventured into downtown Busan for dinner. Our goal was to get to Texas Street, which is where most of the Russian prostitutes congregate. That, of course, was not our particular goal. Instead we had heard there was an excellent Indian restaurant there and we wanted to check it out.

Texas Street is the destination for most of the US Navy sailors who come into port and is full of knockoff clothing and bags. Lots of FUBU and No Fear stuff, which probably tells you a lot about the types of people the sailors who frequent this area are.

Anyway, we found the restaurant, which turned out to be Pakistani and not Indian, which caused a split second of tension between the owner and our Indian-American friend Mehul. The big t-shirt on the wall, adorned with nuclear ICBM missiles, proclaiming Pakistan’s Independence Day, didn’t help matter much. But, the food was good nonetheless.

We spent the evening back at our hotel in Haeundae and in the hotel bar. Overall, it was a very successful weekend.