links i find vital

where it all started for me! (btw it starts off with like a min of music)
a seoul radio station interview about bssk
a bunch of interviews with black expats in soko
find family on facebook: Brothas&Sistas of South Korea

Friday, March 30, 2007

i never say, "koreans are..."

i was thinking about how a while back (maybe two weeks before i got here) i met a brotha online who teaches in china, and he told me to stay away from korea. he said he'd never come to korea b/c of the shitty way they treat black people in the states. i sympathize, but i dont agree.

i beg of you, brotha, this type of generalization/stereotyping is what keeps us down. you may have great opportunities here in korea, and you choose not to take them, but dont discourage others from doing so. "the black man isn't free in korea," he said. really now, are you any freer in america?

i mean really, if you are black and live in america and think you are free, you are under arrested development. if youve never been past two blocks of your own neighborhood, the neighborhood that you're systematically caged in btw, of course you'll feel safe and not want to go to korea.

i dont know where im going with this. i guess i was thinking about his advice and feeling glad that i didnt listen to him. he'd never even been to korea. he had some bad experiences with koreans back home, as have i and i empathize. but dont judge korea on that. i dont like it when people say, "koreans are..." or "koreans do..." if anything, maybe we can just use "in korea..." Word choice is so important. miscommunication and misunderstandings starts fights and wars. Just as i dont like it when people say, "Black people always..." Non blacks think that my people are like the rappers and gangsters they see on tv... the men have all been in jail and have tattoos and wear lots of bling. the women all have babies from different men, we're all gold diggers, etc. When really, how many black people do you KNOW? you can count them on one hand. and you dont really know them. even if you think you do.

this reminds me too of the argument non black have about use of the word nigger, saying "well they call each other that, so what's the big deal, it's hypocritical to get mad at us for using it!" no, fools. we dont ALL call each other that. turn off the tv. stupid BET.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

be mentally free

ive been thinking about how foreigners here complain about how awful koreans are, and blah blah blah. you mostly read them on forums. but that's the point of forums, a part of it anyway, so you can vent. but anyway, about this gripe that you arent free in korea...

yeah, you're not. it's not your country. big deal. it's my opinion that it's white people who have trouble dealing with this; having lived your life of privilege and being a part of the majority, it'll sting you more when you're not number one for the first time in your life. this is not your home. that's not a bad thing. it means that youre out of your comfort zone, try to grow from it. it means that you need to keep your foreigner status in mind, and respect the space. get used to it.

i dont have too much sympathy for these complainers. toughen up.

anyway, it occurred to me that the gripe about not feeling free is trivial to me, perhaps it is the same for other conscious black folks... i love my life here, and sure im stared at and such, but im no less free here than i was in the states. yeah, im black and stared at, ive been turned away at a couple of businesses, maybe b/c im black, maybe b/c i dont speak korean, maybe b/c the vendor didnt understand want i wanted/needed. these things dont break me. these experiences are not new. what is new is my tolerance for it. im a guest here. i respect the space. america is supposed to be my home. it's when these things happen there that i get angry.

this is not to say that black people are free here. certainly not. but ive pretty much stopped trying to explain to colleagues that i am not having a tough time here. they'll ask how i find korea and i say that things are great, then the conversation routinely leads to them telling me about how awful these close minded koreans are and apologizing for any stress i may be under while here. i dont need your sympathy, fools. im black, not weak willed or weak minded. dont get the two confused.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

if you have some money and need some help

LOOK AT THIS NEATO SERVICE!!! Help & Service Korea! i posted on daves looking for a cleaning person for my place as i've heard it can be quite affordable. i got a response about help&service and checked out the website, how friggin cool! house cleaning, babysitting, party assistant, and look at this for "special assistance provider:"

Special Assistance Provider
◇ Secures document/s from the Korean government office.
◇ Guides in shopping and touring Korea.
◇ Carries out children's school entrance formalities.
◇ Or do any tailor made service you would want to avail such as personal secretary, culinary expert, messenger, driver, etc whatever you want, Please let us know.

it didnt list the cost of this special service, but the housecleaning looked pretty fair. i will for sure come back to that website once i get paid. which will be in another month... *sigh*

update, i called this place and they dont service pyeongchon. but then i found this forum on daves, so i'll check that out and update later. thanks jdog! "Go to what the book, there's an ad for a pillipina who will not only clean but give you a manicure and pedicure.

12/30/07 update: i got a housekeeper via a coworker. i friggin love her. honest to god, she makes living here so soooo easy. she comes once a week (email me for what i pay, i dont want to put all her stuff out there), and i come home to a sparkly clean toilet, shower, hell, the WHOLE bathroom; swept and mopped floors, empty sink w/no dishes, emptied trash, fresh laundry... she's a dream. her email is write her with where you live, what you want done, and what days/times are good for you. worth every penny, she's the bomb. i have no idea what her name is b/c she doesnt speak english (i guess she gets someone to translate the emails) i just call her a god send.


7/08 update: even better, click here for free help for foreigners.

Monday, March 12, 2007

enjoy while youre there.

i read about people wanting to go home after a few weeks/months. maybe they're not as travelled.

be ready. read up on korea as much as you can.

check the forums. lots of negative for sure, but try to find the positive, the tips for making life easier here.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

pets in korea

i met a woman last night who arrived in korea three days ago. she said it was super easy to do. there's no quarantine for korea. she made sure she had all her paperwork showing the cat's current shots and such a full month before she left. she made sure the plane she was on would allow her cat to be in the cabin with her, and the disabled bathroom was big enough for her to take her cat out every so often and walk around. she bought some sort of puppy diaper thingy and used it to line the bottom of the pet carrier. the cat peed twice.

please think really hard before getting a pet while youre here. animals a big commitment; if you think you'll be able to stay with the animal for 10-15+ years, that you'll be home enough for the pet, that your home is BIG ENOUGH for a pet, and have the time to take it outdoors when necessary, then go for it. otherwise, please dont. there are so many "free pets" on the korea forums and that makes me sad. if you must, tho:

update: there are cat & dog cafes where you can go hang out and play w/the animals. ive never been to one, but heard they're nice. info on a cat cafe here.

update april 2011: there is an fb group "Pet Sitting Network South Korea," here is the link:
also a couple of cat fb groups
happy kitten cat shelter

Saturday, March 10, 2007

cell phone in korea

update 2011: call home for local rates, click here.
update 10/2008 i got a cell phone at global village, they have so much foreigner help, it's awesome. the office to get a cell phone is in seoul, off the blue line 4 City hall Station ext 10. they have plans specifically for foreigners. You'll need your arc card, passport, bank book (your bank must have your arc card info on file, not just your passport), and you have to buy one of their phones. the one i bought was 90,000 won. the company is LG. Plans can be as long as three months to X years, and different plans available depending on where youre calling (if you call abroad a lot, or just locally, etc).

you can get a cell phone as soon as you arrive in korea by renting one at the airport. i really wish i had done that. anyway, a few days ago i got a cell phone with the help of a coworker. here, a cell phone or mobile phone is referred to as a "hand-phone."

i had the phone before i arrived; i bought it from a girl on the buy/sell/trade forum on daves.

my friend took me to itaewon to the guy that helped her with her phone, some korean man who spoke english. the phone i have is an LG phone, and i think would've been able to go to any LG to have the phone activated. but i went w/my friend b/c it's all she knew.
i dont have plan, only phone cards. i didnt pay a deposit... i think i DID pay a hook up fee, 20K won maybe? incoming calls are free. my coworker advised that if i make a call that im sure will be under a minute, then just dial the number straight. if it'll be longer than a minute, i should use my phone card. i forgot who wrote this, but below is information from a davester about cellphones here in korea.
  • you have to buy your phone. You do NOT return it when you leave (unless it is a loaner from your hakwon).
  • You CAN get a cellphone new or used in just about any shop but you may need a translator to help you.
  • You CAN get monthly service billing or a "CARD PHONE" that uses prepaid time.
  • IF you get a card phone (read prepaid time cell phone here) there is NO hookup fee and no deposit and no monthly fee. You simply buy the phone and buy time as you need it. Card phones are about 4x more expensive per minute of talk time than monthly ones.
  • If you get a phone from SK or KTF then you need your ARC, possibly your passport and a DEPOSIT of 200k-250k won PLUS the cost of the phone.
  • If you get a phone from LG you do NOT need to make a deposit. You DO need your ARC, PASSPORT, BANKBOOK that has been open for more than 3 months and the cost of the phone.
  • If you get a card phone there is NO CHARGE for the hookup fee. If you get a monthly plan there is a 55k won hookup fee.
  • If you want a phone shop that is willing to assist a foreigner then the shop at Yeongdongpo-gu office (Purple or Green line) subway stop (out exit 3, walk straight ahead, cross the first light and it is the right hand one of the 2 on the corner. Ask for InSook) can help you. She speaks English and is willing to assist a foreigner to get a phone. This is 2 stops away from the Seoul Immigration office.
update 10/2008
here's my cell phone bill, in won and that month's convertion rate. my bill is steadily on the rise, b/c im on it a LOT.
04/09i haveno idea
05/09where these

Friday, March 09, 2007

take a break

this aint got shit to do w/korea or esl, it's just that i hadnt seen any of chapelle season three before and i couldnt stop laughing. byaaaaahh!!!!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

ARC- alien registration card

your arc card is your alien registration card. every foreign national staying in Korea for 91 days or more must register as a resident alien. my school sent me to the immigration office; i was to bring with me my passport, two passport sized photos, something from the school saying that i work for them, and 20K won, i think? i have no idea how much it cost... sorry, i meant to write this as soon as i did it, i cant hardly remember now. i do remember that we had to take a number and wait for nearly an hour, and we had to leave our passports there. we got them back over a week later. tip to everyone: change some money before you go. for an extra 5K won, you can ask them to deliver the card instead of having to go back down in person to pick it up. wish i'd asked for that. lesson learnt'. uhm, dont have much else to say about this. meh, you can read up more about it on daves.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

settling in

i need to buy... everything. ok, advice everyone: bring lots and lots of money with you. lots of it. my homeboy brought 3000USD with him when he went to japan and i thought that was so silly, but i understand now. i love my apt, but coming home is so dreary b/c there's nothing there. i sleep on a mat on the floor, and it's ok b/c i brought my favorite bedsheets from home, but *sigh* i have no money to buy anything until april mutha fucking 10th. sure wish i had a couch. tv. dishes. rice cooker. etc. **grumble** i just really really want to feel settled already.

i've found info about a second hand store in korea, have to check it out. also was given a link for point to point subway directions so i'll know how to get there. i check the buy/sell/trade on daves every so often, too.

and this website looks great, only 5000W delivery fee i think, but it's in hangul and i cant read nerfin. a few of my colleagues used this website (one got a queen size bed and frame for 80USD, another got a twin, matress only, for 60USD, think of it like maybe a craigslist) and they asked the korean staff at work to help them.

update 4/1/07: byaah! i didnt have to buy a thing! byyaaahhhh!!!


9/2007 another update: so im wanting to buy a futon. its hard getting things when you read-speak the language. but here are some websites that may help.

first, in english"

if you can read korean, or have a k-friend to help:
  • gmarket also has a link in upper right for "english shop". clothes, accessories, books, dvds.
  • which is i think the same... sorry... im tired.
  • couple of coworkers of mine bought their beds here, for under 100$.
  • for your bed. but you do need a korean credit card. if you have a friend who can help you, you can ask them to buy the bed, and then reimburse them or trans money into their account or something.