Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I'd rather take birthday beats..

I got together with a bunch of friends from work and I was just glad it's not my birthday this month, since my friends decided to make brithday drinks for those celebrating birthdays this month.  Three people celebrated their birthdays.. and we also made two more drinks for the hell of it.
Note: Soju is the most common (read as cheap) type of Korean spirit that has alcohol level of about 20%.
Ingredient for drink #1:  Beer, soju, potato chips, cake icing and a dip of someonBrie's finger.
Ingredient for drink #2:  Beer, soju, nuts, cake, coke and a dip of a chicken wing.
Ingredient for drink #3:  Beer, soju, cake icing, orange soda, raw egg and chocolate.
Ingredient for drink #4:  Beer, soju, mango juice, coke, orange soda and raw egg.
Ingredient for drink #5:  Beer, soju X 2, salt, chicken wing, cake, chocolate, dry squid, nuts, chips and coke.
The last one went to the guy who suggested we have birthday drinks... it frothed up so much at one point, we had to let it settle before passing it around some more.  
Apparently this is taking it easy.  They say people used to take large bowls and put stuff like dandruffs, socks, cigarette butts and phlegm... for club initiations and such... nasty...

I searched online for some photos of "birthday drinks" but I decided not to post any pictures for this post because I thought i was gonna puke seeing some of these photos.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


This morning, the former president of South Korea committed suicide by jumping off of a cliff in the middle of a hiking trail.  He was under a lot of pressure due to his bribery scandal for accepting more than $6M during his presidency.

I don't remember hearing a lot about suicides in Canada when I was living there, but I hear a lot about suicides here in Korea.  Not only are there frequent high-profile suicides, such as celebrities, conglomerate executives, politicians, there are way too many suicides among regular people, such as office workers, housewives and especially students.

#1 cause of death among Koreans in their 20's is suicide (#5 cause among all Koreans).  According to Wikipedia, Korea is #11 in the world for suicide rate @ 22 out of 100,000 people per year (#2 in the world for female suicides).

There are even websites and online "cafes" where people meet up to commit suicide together.  In the past few weeks, there was also a flurry of group suicides where they used charcoal burners in sealed rooms or cars which was a method used by a celebrity recently.  

There are a lot of suicides in the US, I know...I've heard of mass suicides often related to cult activities or some dumb kids committing suicides on live webcams.  But I hear of suicides way too often here to wonder why it is as such.  It may be due to the high level of overall stress.. or high levels of crime such as scam, fraud, corruption, etc... or perhaps it's the culture.  From the outside, one may see rapid technological advancements, great production capacity, tremendous national pride, etc.... but inside, Korea still seems to be a country suffering from a poor quality of life which may be a reason I never feel at ease.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Konglish Lesson #12

Konglish of the day: 3D (pronounced "Seu-ree-dee")

Stands for 3D: Difficult, Dangerous, Dirty.. Sometimes Demeaning or Demanding can replace one of the D's.  I believe this came from Japan, but Koreans refer to some diffcult jobs or tasks as "3D".

"My job is so 3D, but I have nowhere else to go..."

"I realize what I'm asking you to do is 3D, but it'll be worth it at the end."

"Your face is 3D!"

Monday, May 18, 2009

What's wrong with your voice?

There's a phenomenon in Korea called "aegyo".  Which can be dscribed as "acting cute".  Actually, I'm not sure if people outside of Korea would call it "acting cute".

Aegyos are performed using extremely whiny voice and prolonging the ends of their sentences.. also, sometimes the speech is gibberish like baby talk and accompanied by physical clinginess.  Both guys and girls do aegyos to try and appear cute so that they can get something they want from somebody of the other sex or somebody older.

Some guys just die seeing some girls do aegyos.  Especially when the girls call them "oppa", which means "big brother".  I'm not a fan of aegyos.  I find it annoying.  It CAN be cute.. if a cute girl does it.  It is NOT cute if a guy does it.. nor is it cute when a girl whose image does not fit "cute" does it.  It makes me cringe when I see a girl who makes those squeaky whiny voices and thinks it's actually cute.

People not familiar with Korean culture or some other Asian cultures will have very little idea what I'm talking about.  I myself haven't really experienced it firsthand until I got here.

I think they oughta restrict people from doing aegyos.  They should only license those who are qualified to do aegyos... cute girls, kids ages 7 and down.

Umm... no.  Don't make me poke your eyes out.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Konglish Lesson #11

Konglish of the day: handphone (pronounced "hen-deuh-pone")

Koreans have a Korean word for a cellphone, but they thought it would be better use an English word... well.. a word they thought was English.

"I have the coolest handphone around."

"Where did I put my handphone?"

"You should not be talking on your handphone while you're driving."

I'd like free smiles please...

Shortly after I arrived in Korea the first time, I was very surprised with the level of service offered in Korean establishments.  Wherever I went, the service provided by most employees was top-notch.

One time at a family restaurant, I was enjoying some pasta with a cup of cola.  I was taking my time with my drink when the waitress lady took my half-full (or half-empty, whatever) cup and started walking away.  I yelled after her telling her that I wasn't done with my drink then she told she was refiling it.  When she returned with a full cup, I asked her why she was refilling it at half-full.  She told me it was because the ice had melted and watered down the drink.  I was actually shocked by the level of consideration which was totally unnecessary, in my opinion.  Some places have servers crouch down next to tables to make sure their eye levels are below yours.

Same level of service quality can be witnessed in hair salons... not even posh hair salons.  Even regular hair salons bring you drinks and wash your hair before and after a simple haircut.  Some places even take some time to massage your scalp for a few minutes as they wash your hair.  All for like half the cost of hair cuts I used to get back in Toronto.

The fact that there is no tipping culture in Korea makes it even more remarkable.

All of this service provided at no tips (most of these part-time jobs pay around 4000 won per hour... about US$3 now) makes you wonder how difficult it is to make a few bucks in Korea.  It IS probably the only way to survive in this competitive environment.

Not only will we  give you a free smile, we'll pamper you so much that you yourself will die from oversmileage.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What happened to letting the machine get it?

Koreans do not use voicemail.

Maybe the technology in Korea skipped voicemail altogether, but Koreans almost never use it.

When I was in Canada, everybody used voicemail.. or an answering machine.. at home, at work and on your mobile.  One of the first things you do when you start new work is recording your voicemail greeting.

I've never reached a voicemail system or an answering machine whenever I called a landline phone in Korea.

Throughout the four years I've been in Korea, I've had maybe 4 people leave voicemail on my mobile.  Most of the time, people call cell phones and when it's unanswered, they hang up and either assume they'll get return calls thanks to caller IDs and/or they send a text message.

Even though I work for a company that MAKES phone systems, I have no voicemail at work.  I wanted voicemail, they wouldn't give it to me... they disabled the feature on the company phone system.

If I call a co-worker, somebody else answers if the person I'm calling is not there.  I don't want to talk to somebody else... I want to talk to a freakin' machine.  Instead of leaving my mesasge on a reliable recording medium, I have to rely on some stranger who may or may not deliver my message properly.  Likewise, I do not like relying on my co-workers to answer my missed calls.   And I really don't like answering somebody else's phone either.. but people don't hang up even though they know they're not gonna get the machine.  You have to "pull" and answer your co-worker's phone call from your desk.

Back in North America, receiving mobile calls also costs you airtime, so you don't give out your cell numbers that readily for work purposes.  People are also reluctant to call mobiles unless it's absolutely necessary.  In Korea, however, your mobile number has to be available to everyone at work and people call eachother willy-nilly whenever.  So if you don't pick up your phone at your desk, they call your cell phone... or they just don't bother with your landline and call your cell right away.

So it may be that the voicemail had been a victim of the rapid introduction of cell phones and text messages, but why are Koreans afraid of talking to the machine?

Answering machine... how I miss thee...

Why oh why?

I went to a Kraze Burger for the first time tonight.  It's a Korea-based burger franchise.

I ordered the KO Burger because it sounded delicious with its beef patty, bacon, swiss cheese and jalapeno peppers...

When I got the burger, it was cut in half and it had two plastic sword things sticking out like they do with club sandwiches.  The taste was alright...but throughout the meal, I couldn't get my head wrapped around the concept of eating a cut burger.  Eating a burger cut in half is a no-no in my burger world.

Who cuts burgers?  The fuck.

Won't anybody think of the children?!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Konglish Lesson #10

Konglish of the day: glamour (pronounced "geullehmuh")

If you're a girl new to the Korean culture and somebody used this word to describe you, then that person was admiring the size of your jugs.  Koreans use this word to mean "voluptuous"... perhaps the word "voluptuous" is especially hard for Koreans to pronounce.  Koreans might mistake Glamour magazine for an adult magazine...

"I wanna be glamour like those other girls."

"I don't know about her face.. but I like glamour style girls."

"Dude, you're getting fat.. and getting man-boobs.  Almost glamour... you should wear the manzier."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Konglish Lesson #9

Konglish of the day: 1+1 (pronounced "one pluh-seuh one")

You can often find "1+1" in supermarkets or stores as promotional methods.  It means "2-for-1" as in 2 for the price of 1.  I don't know why Koreans decided to popularize "1 + 1" while "2-for-1" is just as catchy and easy for Koreans to use.

There was a time at work when there was a disagreement between an American supplier and a Korean co-worker on the price of an item.  The price was quoted by the supplier as being "$x plus tax".  In North America, that means x does not include tax and you must add tax to get total price.  This Korean co-worker misunderstood and argued that x is the price that we had to pay.  That's fine.  He's entitled to misunderstanding.  However, he was very adamant in his statement that he was right and the supplier was wrong... and he used the argument that tax is included in "x + tax" because "1 + 1" means you get 2 for the price of 1.

"I decided to buy this milk because of 1+1."

"You want me there on your so-gae-ting?  Oh!  I'll bring another girl to even up the numbers, but then since she's also single, it'll be 1+1 for you!"

"Instead of buying separate snacks, let's get this sandwich and share.  It's on 1+1."