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

Sunday, April 26, 2009

my fukuoka visa run

in process

i have mynew e-2 visa number. so i have to leave korea, go to a korean consulate elsewhere, get the visa, and then i can return to korea and go back to work. i'll go this week or next week.

the fukuoka visa run forum on daves

nice directions on getting to the korean consulate from the subway

here's the hotel i might stay at
how to get to this hotel from the korean consulate:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

volunteering in korea
when you get settled into your job, you can find yourself with a lot of free time. it's important to have hobbies here, otherwise you turn into one of the expats who smoke and drink all the time. people i know study korean, work on a masters degree, play music, read, write, knit, draw, paint, etc.

i was on the hunt for Kyeong Saeng Won orphanage to volunteer there b/c it's in jamsil where i live, but i havent found it yet. in my search, i found this website that helps expats find places to volunteer. Thier main focus is on English lessons for children from low-income or disadvantaged families in Seoul, but they also do things like serve food to the homeless and help out at orphanages.

it's untrue that youre not allowed to volunteer under an e-2 visa, btw. so long as you arent getting paid, you can volunteer where ever you want. i should mention i first heard about HOPE via my coworker xohoua at cdi pyeongchon.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

drank dat soju, boy.

soju is the local hard liquor of choice in south korea. it's really cheap, like a dollar for a full bottle. people drink it in shots or mixed with juice, making a soju cocktail. i think it tastes like a smoother version of vodka. this is a video made by my good friend elliott, a beautifully ignorant tribute to soju.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


this is my beautiful friend zhaleh. she is an esl teacher in south korea who works with adults. she wrote this "funny things people said" on her myspace. pretty exemplary of the funny conversations we sometimes have with people here in korea.~supafly

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
funny things that people have said to me this month

dominican guy in the club
: ayyyy, mamita, u have the disease!
me: what?
dominican: u have that disease of the ass, hips, chest. they get all swollen and big.
dominican: hey, don't laugh at me!!! u have the disease but i am the one suffering...
me (to student): i'm having some problems with the way seoul's pollution is affecting my skin. do you know where i can get a good facial?
student: teacher, you don't need a facial. you just need to wash your face.
student: teacher, do you have a picture of yourself on your watch?
me: no, mr. park, that's che guevara.
student: she looks just like you!
me: mr. park, che guevara is a man.
student: ah, i know who he is. he is a north korean communist pig!
while i was walking to work this morning, a street cleaner stopped and stared as i passed. once i was almost at the end of the block, he yelled, 'BEYONCEEEEEEEEE!!!!! UP-UH-GRADE MEEE!!!!!!!!
drunk canadian girl in the club (yelling to be heard above the music): i love your hair!
me: thanks!
drunk canadian girl: you're a really good dancer. i bet you can work it!!
me: ...thanks.
drunk canadian girl (suddenly jumping at me and squeezing my breasts): I LOVE YOUR BOOBS!!!!!!!
me (pushing her off and running away): HEEEEEEELLLLP!!!!!!!!
me: hi mr. pyun! what should we discuss today?
student: food! i am very hungry.
me: okay. what is your favorite food?
student: i like kimbap that is dressed up like something are very dressed up. you look delicious.
me: mr. pyun, that isn't appropriate.
student: AH! I'M SORRY! I DIDN'T MEAN TO SAY DELICIOUS!!!! I TRIED TO SAY BEAUTIFUL!!! (jumps up and runs out of my office)
me: mr. pyun! come back!
student: (pausing in the hallway with his back to me) teacher...i know you are not a food!
me (to student): what did you do this weekend?
: i went shopping with my daughter.
: how nice! how old is your daughter?
: 15
: cute!
: NOT cute. my daughter is NOT cute. she has very big shoulders, like man. when she says "mama" i think it is man call me.
(jaw on the floor): whoa...
: yes! if i had a lot of money, i would take her to the cosmetic surgery to cut her face and be beautiful.
: i have never heard a mother talk like this about her daughter. i feel a little uncomfortable, mrs. hur.
: someday, if you have ugly daughter, you talk like me too.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

i love ice cream

from the blog seoulitary confinement, read about the delicious ice cream: The Black Crunch Bar. ive had it, pretty tasty. in fact, im going to go to gs mart so i can buy and eat one right now. ah-saaah!

Friday, April 03, 2009


you can watch korean movies with english subtitles at some theatres in seoul, discussed here on daves. i believe the theatre in yongsan also has subtitles, catering to the military population.

for my own personal reference, since i live close to gangnam: For Cinus Gangnam (Cinus G), go to Gangnam Station, line No. 2, exit 5

dial 02-1330 from your cell phone to get info on movies (or just about anything else), available in english 24/7.

to look up online: movies in seoul, gyeonggido, and other areas here:

and here's a link for movies in gwangju

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

got my Criminal Background Check

don't read this post unless youre bored. it's old and no longer relevant. starting dec 31, 2010, your criminal background check has to be done via the fbi, so go to this website and get your paperwork started:
i started this process 3/10/09. during this process, my visa expired, my extention expired, and my request for a second extention was denied. i had to leave korea. i went to japan for a day and came back as a tourist. i havent worked in 3 weeks, y'all!

so this is how i got my visa the slow way:

as of 12/15/07, would-be teachers must submit a criminal records check (CRC) AND a health certificate with E-2 visa appplications. The health certificate can be done at any hospital i think. For the CRC: get an fbi or state CRC, or a local police check/report from your city/state of residence that shows a statewide criminal record (this is also called a letter of good conduct, or GCL or Good Conduct Letter it's all the same). I did the former. had i to do it over again, i'd have done that latter, getting the letter is much faster.

to get my background check, i first had to get an official fingerprint card. click here, fill out the form. tell them that you're a teacher in Korea needing to renew your visa and ask them to send you the california fingerprinting cards.

<---this is what the finger print card looks like (thank you google image search). i think it was under 2 weeks that i got it in the mail (they sent 2 blank cards to me in korea).

once you get the card, fill out everything in english and go to police station to get fingerprinted. bring a translator. i went alone, and luckily one woman there spoke english.

MAYBE the police will be confused as to why youre there, as were my local police dept. B/c these laws are new, many dont know what is needed and blah blah blah. Anyway, they looked at my arc card and passport, then pulled out the ink, printed me, and sent me on my way. they didnt ask to keep a copy or anything at all. i think this is strange b/c how does anyone know those are MY prints? there's no proof i did it AT the police station, i couldve printed my neighbors dog, who's going to find out? i dunno. maybe these visa laws will be tweaked in the future.

the prints cost $32 to do, they'll take a money order in US dollars or personal check (drawn fm a US bank). the cost of the GETTING the money order was almost 20,000 won at my korean back, so i had my pops send me a check in the mail.

i sent the fingerprints, a $32 check, and a letter saying i need the cbc b/c im renewing my E-2 Visa. in the letter, i asked for an offical seal/stamp and signature, but i still got a shitty copy that korean immigration rejected. i wrote another letter, included the "good" sample below, and got a "good" cbc in the mail 3 weeks later. if youre in the midst of this process, print and attach the sample below w/your request.

then i took the the background check to the american embassy here in korea to get an affidavit. this is sort of the same as having it "authenticated." the embassy doesnt authenticate anything, instead you go in and sign a paper promising the cbc is real. they gave me a copy of that paper, and i turned in that, the cbc, my passport, my uni degree, and uni transcripts to my job, and they'll get me a new visa number. once i do, ill have to leave the country and come back, this is called a "visa run." THEN i can go back to work.

Had i to do this all over again, i wouldve done the cbc with the police dept, its much faster. read about it here.

a shitty background check and next to it, a better, more official looking background check:

Monday, March 30, 2009


cut and paste from this article:

You're in the middle of an enjoyable tour when you can't find the tourist destination looking for. After walking around for an hour with no luck, you decide to find a PC cafe to surf and find the info you need, but only after tediously sifting through an incredible amount of completely useless info. In the meantime, you've wasted touring time.

waste no more. With the KTO's Korea Travel Phone 1330, travelers have instant tourist information at the tip of the finger. No more juggling tourist pamphlets. No more fingering through thick travel books. No more frantic Internet searches. Korea Travel Phone's staff are on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

calls are directed to a KTO-run call center where your questions will be answered by a bilingual tourism professional. Service in available in English, Korean, Japanese and Chinese. From a standard phone, dial 1330. From a cell phone, add Seoul area code 02 before 1330. If you’d like information specific to a particular province, add the area code of the region before entering 1330 (if you're using a cell phone, be sure NOT to enter 02 unless you want information on Seoul). If you're calling from abroad, enter Korea's nation code 82 and the provincial area code before 1330.Users are charged local telephone rates.

says SupaFly: dude, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, dial 02-1330 from your cell phone for anything. this number has been of help to me so many times. i'll call:

  • "i live in jamsil, where can i buy art supplies?" ~try lotte dpt store, second floor, next to toysRus, a shop called alpha.

  • "how do i get to On The Border?" ~take the subway and get off sinchon exit x, walk straight for x meters, it's on second floor on the left.

  • i live in pyeongchon. whats the fastest way for me to get to the airport? ~you can take a shuttle direct to the airport for 10,000 won from beomgye, one subway stop away from you.

  • "im thirsty. how do i ask for water in korean?" ~mul, gusayo.

friggin awesome.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

break out

what a great quote. i pulled it from this girl's blog.

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."

- Mark Twain

Monday, March 16, 2009

how to get started

march 17, 2009
Hey S...,I ran into someone over the weekend who's looking into teaching english abroad. She mentioned doing it in China but she didn't know about S. Korea, Thailand, and all the other places she could go (and that's just in Asia). I told her I was very, very well connected in this area because I know you and you know everyone (who really matters).So, could I ask for a favor. Could you send me some weblinks to the programs that you'd recommend? I guess not just the ones in S. Korea but in all of Asia. The only other one I know about is JET, and I guess I can tell her about them although they are too prissy.

march 17, 2009
dude, if i had a cell phone number, a home number, and a work number, would you leave me voicemails at all three? dont send mail to 3 of my email adresses, just use one.>< href="">daves. tell her to read the FAQ and ignore all the negative stuff. the korea forum is so huge, it has it's own spot.

she can google the name of the country she's interested in, and "esl" and she'll get tons of results. she can google "expat blog" and read blogs of peoples experiences.

once she's ready to find a job, she can use any recruiter. they're all the same in that they introduce you to the school, as long as they dont as you for any money, they're trustworthy (they are paid by the school that hires you). i believe jet is a program specifically for working in public schools in japan. a popular one is footprints, they do china, korea, japan, thailand, not sure where else.

she can read my blog, which is the best.

hope this helps. eat a carne asada burritio for me... i miss cali...*sniffle*

student loans

a friend of mine asked me a student loan question. maybe you're wanting to put off paying them for a while (paying off credit card bills first, maybe you got a the brains to invest and make your money grow bigger than the 3% insterest loans charge, whatever). btw, if youre a fresh graduate: consolidate your student loans. google "consolidate" and do it. it locks the interest rate to about 3% for the life of the loan. here is a little clarification about deferring/forbearing:

Did you ever defer on your student loans while here in Korea and if so did you tell them you received any income?

i never lie about my income, i cant break the law, it would break my mother's heart. and actually, im 99% sure you'll want to request a Forbearance, not a deferment.

Forbearance is when you ask to stop paying for x amount of time (the interest will still accumulate) no matter the circumstances and no matter how much money you make. Deferment is when you stop paying for x amount of time due to specific circumstances like being unemployed, being back in school, military service, etc.

Do you know what company your loans are through? find the website and register. my loans are through salliemae, i was able to go to the website and submit my request online. you'll probably be able to print the form and mail it in, or fax it. Or sometimes you can "electronically sign" it, where the website will ask you to enter a secret code or something.
hope this helps.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009


blogworld, ive moved. i now live and work in seoul, by jamsil. CDI has opened a new location and have pulled veteran instructors from different branches to start up this new one. ive nothing to say about it... things were feeling monotonous at pyeongchon, so it's nice to have change. the bathroom at my old place was much prettier :(

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

two years later

wow blogworld. ive been here two years! holy cheese and crackers!

people email me or leave comments asking me to post more often, and im incredibly flattered! thing is: i write when i have something that may be useful relating living/working here. very little to no commentary on anything else. i DO answer most emails, often posting them here.

i still live and work in pyeongchon. my key money was paid off by cdi taking 1million won out of my paycheck every month for 5 months. i signed some paperwork and the apt is now under my name, im to get the $ back when i move out of the apt.

i cant update about money or re-signing yet since my contract isnt up until july 2009 but february 10th is my 2 yr anniversary of moving to korea. unlike last year, i dont know how many people quit or got fired or whatever. there are maybe 30 teachers, all but two are a whole new set from those that were here when i first arrived. this last year for me has been all about me in the classroom rather then keeping up with coworkers. all of my coworkers have never been anything other than kind to me, but i dont socialize with them and i never see them outside of work. the differences in age and culture are big enough that i prefer to do other things in my free time, and stay focused on students during work time.

i wrote last year about how much money you could make at cdi, it's all still true (intensive classes, privates) i still do none of those by choice. I didnt get the top score/bonus money this year. different supervisors evaulate you in different ways, but it's coo. i was offered an HI position once, which flattered the heck out of me, but i turned it down. i like my workload as it is, and i'd rather all my concentration be solely on my students and how i can improve as a teacher.

two years later, i still love working here. i still love the kids. teaching gets "easier" in that i already know the material. now my prep is more concentrated on how i can best present the info to the students so that it's fun for both them and me.

everytime i meet a public school teacher, they always tell me i should quit hogwans and go public. Public has it's benefits, i know, but i love that i teach two sets of students a day. i know all their names. i work 4 days a week, 6 hours a day, and i still make more than these full time public school fans. it's more actual work at cdi, i know. but thats why i came to korea: i came for a JOB. i expected to WORK.

i still would never tell anyone to come work for cdi. i still have plenty of gripes about my job. we still dont get a year end bonus, we still dont get free housing, we still dont get health insurance, we still dont get paid vacation, we still sometimes have to come to mandatory meetings and arent compensated for them. we DO, however, now get one day each off for xmas, solnal new year, and chuseok.

i'll update again in july, when the contract is up. i can say, tho, if cdi asked me right now, i would definitely stay another year. i love my job.

Friday, January 02, 2009

public schools

i work for an esl hogwan/academy. that is a school where kids go after their day in public school. there are all kinds of academies here: math, science, art, etc. Hogwons are individually owned, the horror stories you may hear about a school could be for just that one particular school so dont avoid all of them if you hear one bad experience. below is some stuff fm the discussion board on facebook.

PUBLIC SCHOOL taryn blake:
for public schools, there are three main programs, base your choice of them on where you want to live.

In Seoul contact SMOE:

The province surrounding Seoul Gyonggi-do has their own program called GEPIK.

If you wanna work way out in the boondocks, do EPIK:

If you're more adventurous you can go the hagwon route.

HOGWONS JNiki Battle
Hagwons are really funny. What no one tells you is that contracts are more like guidelines, so Hagwons can always be difficult. But I would recommend looking into CDI (Chung Dahm Institute), SLP, Yes Yung Do, or Poly School. They are more like big corporations and very familiar with hiring foreigners. They are used to working with foreigners, so they expect the issues that we bring over here, i.e. racism. They will work you though. No real holiday packages with these schools.