Set To Vibrate

Gender inequality in South Korea is a serious issue for such a relatively prosperous country, but times are a changin’.  To wit, the first sex store aimed at women just opened up in Seoul:

“It is featuring festive ‘Merry Clitorismas’ gift boxes that contain vibrators and lingerie.

Traditionally, adult shops in South Korea are targeted towards men.

South Korea is a Confucian, male-dominated society that is undergoing a transition when it comes to gender roles. The pair said there is still a stigma when it comes to women’s sexual empowerment, or women talking about sex.

The country ranks 115th out of 145 in the World Economic Forum’s index of gender equality, and a massive beauty and plastic surgery industry tends to reinforce traditional perceptions of the feminine ideal.”

Sex shops are actually everywhere in South Korea, even in my sleepy suburb of a sleepy city, but as noted they’re aimed exclusively at men.  So it’s nice to see women taking matters into their own hands when it comes to issues of sexual health and pleasure.

I wonder if they’ve opened an e-shop.  That would seem to be the logical next step in terms of Korean women who want to maintain their privacy.

Posted in Korea, Kultur, Politics, Sex, South Korea, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Branch Stupidians

Amanda Marcotte on why the domestic terrorists in Oregon accomplished nothing beyond their own beclowning:

“This scattershot non-ideology of yelling ‘Constitution,’ ‘guns’ and ‘liberty’ a lot is the marker of today’s modern conservative populism, the kind that Donald Trump’s ascension is channeling into electoral fever. Their actual grievance is fury over the fact that white people, especially of the Christian and male variety, are watching their presumed superiority decline, but to say so out loud and bluntly— to admit out loud to racism— is to court political marginalization in our society.

So instead, all these code words and symbols and half-baked theories of government rise up to communicate these ideas without coming right out and saying it. It doesn’t really need to cohere as an ideology. The only thing that needs to be stated is that these folks feel oppressed, the world owes them something, and they believe they are martyrs because they’re not getting it.”

And again, one of the major problems facing America these days is the militarization of domestic law enforcement.  But the F.B.I. and state police acted with supreme patience, and only one suicide-by-cop was allowed to occur.  They deserve a lot of credit for that.

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One Less Log On The Dumpster Fire

As it slowly dawns on people, left and right, that Donald Trump is a fulfillment of Conservative “values” and not a simple quirk of current polling, this post-mortem of Rand Paul is also worth checking out:

“All along, the myth of Rand Paul (and of his dad, That Weird Elf-Kid FromLegend If He Got Old And Was Super-Duper Racist) basically has been as follows: The right’s obsession with waging wars both cultural and, uh, military had underserved/was underserving/is underserving traditional conservative principles of limited government, fiscal discipline, and individual liberty. This has alienated a body of smart, skeptical, rational people, who can’t be pandered to with anti-intellectual horseshit or roped into culture-war signaling or rallied around whatever the next great unnecessary foreign war might happen to be, but who also mistrust liberalism’s notions of an empowered, activist government fixing people’s problems. These people were fundamentally conservative, the myth goes—more so along certain axes than their Christian-right brethren, even—and the Republican Party lost them in its rush to solidify the South. These people, according to the myth, are the Pauls’ constituency.

In short, the myth was that South Park fans are libertarians, rather than blithe, privileged nihilists. Or rather, the myth was that those two things are not actually the same thing. The myth was bullshit. The reality is Donald Trump. The South Park bloc’s pants are down, and its dick has a world-historically embarrassing combover.”


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Unruly Sun (and Birds)



Busan, South Korea

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Daegu, South Korea.

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Random Monkey Thoughts

Some thoughts on the last day of the Lunar Holiday:

1) I’ve said it before — if I was to do South Korea over again, I’d be living and working in Busan.  The ocean, the general atmosphere, the more relaxed approach to life — it’s by far the prettiest and most livable city over here.  Sorry, lurvely Daegu, although I do prefer you to Seoul.

2) Could I have been more wrong about the Super Bowl?  The answer is no.  No I could not have been more wrong about the Super Bowl.  And in addition to being an idiot (obvious to most) the game was just pretty damn boring to boot.  The random GI’s I drank with during the game on a sunny Monday morning agreed.

3) I like Hillary.  I like Bernie.  Why my fellow Democrats are managing to turn what should be a straightforward election versus a very beat-able Republican buffoon into an existential crisis is beyond me.  Also, it’s the Supreme Court stupid.

4) Doing these “listicle” style blog posts is either a sign of laziness or pure genius.  Or just the way my brain is working these days.

5) This will more than likely be my last year in Korea.  I’m signed on through February of 2017.  I’ve got mostly great things to say about my time here.  But the miscommunications and such build up.  The feeling that I’ve gotten the most out of living here mounts.  I’d have gotten the fuck out of Dodge years back if not for finding a really great job.  Oh, and I think I said all this back in 2014 or so who knows.

6) One interesting phenomenon about expats in South Korea is that they’ll try new things like a sport or musical theater.  (My god, expat musical theater is fucking everywhere grumble grumble.) But that’s natural — you’ve got twenty- and thirty-somethings living in a new country, more than likely teaching for the first time, and willing to take chances.  Let your freak flag fly, proudly!

And the related phenomenon is that of the expat English teacher who marries a Korean, establishing F-visa status, which allows him or her to start a business.  Huzzah!  Marriage and a small business!  But invariably this business is a western-style restaurant that becomes an excuse to sell ten dollars Guiness drafts.  And almost invariably, they do a shit job of it.

It’s one thing to try your hand at Shakespeare or ultimate frisbee or a gnarly threesome, but wholly another to run something as complicated as a restaurant.  There are some nice Western-owned places in Korea (the economy of Itaweon, Seoul is basically built on them) but the bad ones really stand out.  The logic seems to be hey, I didn’t get fired after three years of teaching phonics, so let’s start a full service bar!

Throw in Korean wait staff who, through no fault of their own, aren’t taught the major differences between Western and Korean standards of proper service (Westerners may be rude, but we’re also highly uncomfortable with the ancient Korean custom of screaming across the room for another beer) and, well, maybe you should have just stuck to teaching.

Full disclosure: I’ve been here long enough to have actually seen some of my favorite places close, as the owners tend to have kids and decide to move back to America or Canada.  To go full-blown old man mode, those guys busted their asses to make successful places while the newer ones just seem to ride their coat-tails.

Was this post too salty?  This post was a little too salty.  I’m not sure why because I had a really nice, low-key time in Busan and for the rest of February I’m just prepping a little bit for the new semester come March and taking a few day trips.

Posted in Korea, Kultur, South Korea, Teaching | Leave a comment

Year of the Monkey


And a happy Year of the Monkey to you.

I’m spending Lunar New Year in Busan doing nothing in particular.  My plan is to finally get around to book three of Jeff Vandermeer’s South Reach trilogy and to wake up at seven a.m. tomorrow morning to watch the Super Bowl live at a Local Cheesy Expat Bar (“LCEB TM”).

The naming convention for your LCEB of choice in South Korea is typically “Stupid Noun’s” or “Fake Irish First and Last Names.”  E.g., “Piranha’s,” “Paddy McColonoscopy’s,” “Chode’s,” or “Angus Tomfoolery’s.”  You get the picture.

But the Super Bowl is worth it.

Anyhow, I’m drinking tea in a Starbuck’s right now and shamelessly eavesdropping on a group of foreigners who seem to teach at a hagwon together.  Why they’re spending the Sunday morning of a three-day national holiday together I have no idea.  And they’re talking about work for fuck’s sake.

Get a life, noobs.  Just look at me — I’ll be morning drinking on a Monday come tomorrow because I’ve got style and class for miles.

Posted in Busan, Korea, Photography, South Korea | 1 Comment

True Fact

The worst part of teaching is the constant fear that something I draw on the board resembles a cock and / or balls.

Posted in ESL, Teaching | 3 Comments

You Heard It Here First

Carolina 38 — Denver 13

This year’s Super Bowl coincides with Korean New Year, so I’ll be at the beach in lovely Busan.  I think there’s more than one Westerner bar that will be showing the game live at 8:30 a.m., so here’s to morning drinking!

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The End of Michelin?

Another top-rated chef has killed himself, and many others are deciding to shun the legendary Michelin star:

“But there is evidence that today’s chefs – who must often be top-flight, profit-making businessmen as well as culinary artists – are under particular strain. ‘What people don’t often see,’ the three-star chef Pierre Gagnaire, whose first Michelin-starred restaurant went bankrupt, said some years ago, ‘is that behind the facade of this profession [there] is suffering and downright exhaustion. We’re on a razor’s edge the whole time, because what we do is a combination of art and business.’

One Michelin star more (or less) is thought, in France, to be worth up to 25% of a restaurant’s turnover. But the strictures of the guide – sometimes seen as rewarding the frills more than the food, forcing restaurants to invest astronomical sums on decor, tableware and staff – impose their own pressures.

In 2005, Alain Senderens of the Lucas Carton in Paris, who had held three stars for 28 consecutive years, gave them up, saying he was fed up with the ‘indecent’ prices – ‘€300 or €400 in winter, when there are truffles’ – he had to charge, the ‘senseless race’ of the ratings, and the ‘fussy, over-complicated food’ he had to produce to satisfy the guides’ inspectors.”

As mentioned, I like food.  But I’m also highly skeptical of that part of foodie culture that talks about is as “art” or a “total experience,” rather than stuff that you put in your mouth and enjoy.  To wit:

In 2011, the Australian chef Skye Gyngell found just one Michelin star ‘a curse’ at the Petersham Nurseries in Richmond, west London. She said the award led customers to expect a fine dining experience that her restaurant, while serving great food, could not provide, and removed the star from her website.

To quote Grumpy Cat, good.

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