Sunday, October 28, 2012

My first Psy sighting

As long as you haven't been living under a rock, you've certainly heard about Korean sensation Psy by now and his song "Gangnam Style".  Although all Koreans aren't crazy about his song, it is a matter of pride that it has become a hit all over the world and given Korea a bit of an image boost. The news is on everyday during my lunch break, and without exaggeration I can honestly say there was a period of a few weeks when there was a story about Psy every single day on the news.  Sometimes more than one.  ALL THE KIDS in my school can sing this song word for word. Even though some of them struggle to say the most basic of English phrases, they certainly have no problem with, "HEEEEY Sexy Lay-day!" -.-

Two Fridays ago, we had our bi-annual Fall School Festival and look who showed up, a mini-Psy!

Mini-Psy 6th grader, taking in the lime light before the show.

A short 10 second clip of Mini-Psy in action along with the rest of class 6-3's "Samjeong Style" interpretation.  The kids and parents went wild!

If you haven't had enough of Gangnam Style yet, and you're interested in a bit of an intelligent read on the topic, you can check out what The Korean has to say here.  Interesting POV.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Toilets are beautiful too.

This past weekend we visited Suwon, a smaller city outside of Seoul. Suwon is well-known for its fortress, a UNESCO world heritage site, and less known for being 'the mecca of the toilet culture movement'.  Ex-mayor of Suwon and the founder of the World Toilet Association, Mr. Sim Dae Juk, built his house to resemble a giant toilet bowl. This park and his former home can be found a little ways outside of the main city area.  If you're a toilet lover (?), interested in quirky things and happen to find yourself in Suwon with some time to spare, it's worth the visit.  

Upon entering the park, we were greeted with this lovely mural of behinds, 똥 (poop) and toilet paper. 
I couldn't get a good picture on my camera, so this is from the internet, but this is Mr. Toilet's House.  Where the man, the legend, lived before he passed away.  The building is now a museum.

Sim Jae Duk, otherwise lovingly nicknamed Mr. Toilet, was a real man whose love for toilets started at birth as he was born in his mother's outhouse.  He believed in making the world more beautiful one toilet at a time.
They showed toilet pictography from around the world.

The toilet is a place where deep thought can occur, as believed by Mr. Sim.

Some other sculptures from the park.

Oh, the love of a mother.

Want to visit the Toilet House?  Here is a little more information:

EDIT:  BBC just covered the Suwon toilet theme park this past week, check out the video!!! 아싸!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Be careful what you wish for...

...because it just might come true. 

Summer is behind us now, and the weather has suddenly gotten really cold!  Not fleece and parka cold, but cold enough that I feel totally unprepared for the winter months looming near.  Lord help us all if it is anywhere as near as extreme as this past summer was.

In other news, today my Co-T approached me about contract renewal for next year.  This is a question I knew was coming, but now that my official answer has been given, I have mixed feelings. My co-teachers have been really fantastic, wonderful friends and colleagues to me.  We might not have always agreed on things in the classroom, but as people they have only been helpful and caring. I know that as a foreign teacher I am totally replaceable, and this job, to be honest, is not really a good fit for me, but nevertheless the thought of leaving still makes me sad.

On the other hand, I'm relieved that I only have a few more months here.  Come March 1,  2013,  I'll be ready to get on the plane and head back to the US and begin anew, hopefully this time, staying put for a little while longer.

In the mean time, there's still Autumn to enjoy and the 'famous' fall foliage, part II of DH's green card/visa process, Christmas on Jeju Island and much more to come.  Korea's not over yet, so trying to enjoy what each day brings.

Signs of autumn at our photo shoot along the Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

남이섬 - Nami Island

The Chuseok holiday is flying by with cooler days and lots of sunshine.  The best thing so far has definitely been our trip to Nami Island this past Sunday.  Being a pretty touristy destination, I had reservations about going as it was 2.5-3 hours out of Seoul.  I thought it might be overrated and I thought it might look similar to most everywhere else in Korea, but Nami is worth the time it takes to get there.

The tiny moon-shaped island is located in the middle of Cheongpyeong Lake in the Gapyeong area of Gyeonggi-do (wow, that's a mouthful).  Made famous by a K-drama (Winter Sonata) that I knew very little about, the island is a great place to get away from the hectic city life for a while.

Some photos...

We started our trip with a Zip-Wire ride from the mainland to the island.  Fun, but a bit pricey and over much too fast.

Happy DH after zipping over the lake.

Some artwork on the island:  meant to represent motherly love and affection.

Some more artwork:  colorful elephants everywhere.

Even dead leaves have a bit of charm on Nami.

Beautiful Cheongpyeong Lake.

Though biking around the island is popular, walking it is even more enjoyable I think.

Even the trash cans are a bit cheesy.

The leaves just starting to change colors.

The most photographed spot on the island.  The DH and I.

Want to visit?  A shuttle bus travels daily from Insadong, although reservations are required, otherwise you can take the Seoul Metro to Gapyeong station, grab a taxi or walk the 2.5 kilometers and either zip your way over like we did, or ride a ferry (8,000 won for foreigners/10,000 won for Koreans).