Hongdae Photo Day

Hongdae is a pretty cool part of Seoul. I think I might have mentioned it before (earlier posts here). Now I get to go there every day for my Korean class. It is somewhat more interesting that Pyeongnae.

Last week I took the opportunity to wander around Hongdae with Ha Young and get some things photographed. It was after this that I realised I didn’t know where my battery charger is. I may have sent it home.

Here are my favourites, the rest are on my Picasa album.

I can't quite make sense of this Pepero Day sign and Google Translate won't give me a sensible translation. Oh, the words are spaced a bit weird, it says that you can make a free reservation for Pepero Day.


Ha Young does not understand typewriters.

The backstreets look a bit like Garosu-gil

Soju Pandas

I'm really not sure what this restaurant sold


10 mins .04

A couple of day ago I downloaded a photo app for my iPhone, inspired mainly by the few photos posted by a friend on her blog, back home in Bristol. Taking photos is another thing I think I do all too rarely. While I carry about my phone all the time, the photographic capability isn’t exactly stunning and it’s a fair bit of hassle lugging around my DSLR.

With this little photo app, which does little more than add a variety of old-crappy-hip stylings to iPhone pictures as you take them, I’ve gone a bit nuts. I don’t know what it is about the odd colours and intentionally rugged borders but damn nearly every photo I take with it comes out looking great. In my opinion that is. I don’t know, here are a few I’ve taken yesterday and today.

We went to the post office.

from Ashley's final Kimbap Chonguk

From a walk Ha Young and I took today:


"woof woof" said the yappy-type dog

The tarnish effect fortunately frames the bridge monument in this shot, perhaps accident and luck are a big part.

I also bought a second-hand bike for 200,000 KRW (about £100), good as new with a few extra bits added on.

I had to leave it in Jamsil though because you can't take them on buses. Sad. Face.

To demonstrate the true power of this app, an otherwise terrible picture taken of my shower.


These photos and more on my Sixth Month in Korea photo album… crikey has it been that long already?

David Teacher

I’ve now been away from home for three weeks and have been in Korea for two. One of which was a solid week of teaching. I say ‘teaching’ rather than ‘training’ or whatever you might think would be best to prepare me to lead the education of primary school aged children, because it seems that my on-the-job training happened the Thursday and Friday before last. I am now considered qualified. Friday wasn’t even a real lesson day, for Jon and I it was racial-awareness rice face day.

Apart from this lack of preparation-orientated gripe, I’ve had a bit of a daunting time with the job and it isn’t as natural these very cherry-picked pictures makes out.  Once or twice I wandered both what I was doing there and whether I could stand the job for a full year. Most of those thoughts happened during the start to middle of the week, with this Thursday and Friday making up for it by far.

Thursday was a day off from learning and a day out for the kids. After our gifts of little bottles of iced coffee and enormous quantities of 김밥 as provided for by the parents, we set off on our little outing to modern art gallery and sculpture gardens of the Moran Museum of Art.

a day out

a day out

Did I say outing? I meant photo-op. These are words that have been echoed around the teaching-in-Korea circuit ad nauseum, but most hagwon lessons come with a Korean co-teacher. Their job is not to assist you on translation or let you know how a lesson normally goes down here. No, it is to hover around taking photos of you helping each and every child (whether they need help or not) so they can prove to the parents (who hold the purse strings) that they have a nice foreigner teaching.

Glen didn't need no help

Glen didn't need no help

In that last paragraph I was tempted to write “… a nice white person teaching.”, unfortunately these are sentiments that have been recorded on the teaching-in-Korea blog circuit time and again. I would like to think that racial discrimination, positive or negative, is or is becoming a thing of the past. I am optimistic on this front, but from what I hear from Koreans and stories of friends-of-friends is one of a worryingly pro or anti-white and anti-black society. What with Korea once holding the moniker of ‘the hermit kingdom’ it is not so surprising to expect remnants of xenophobia we may find worrying from our more multicultural society. They believe that pale skin is smart and glamorous so with a skin-tone one below theirs, I have unduly adopted these characteristics. Again, there are always exceptions to a rule.

Image is also import here. On my first few days I was told by kids, teachers and parents that I was handsome, I don’t take compliments without some embarrassment but in the end I just rolled with it. The problem here was that there is apparently (there’s the “apparently” again) if you look good in Korea, the Koreans tend to assume that you are good at what you do. This has not mixed well with my lack of training.

I am griping a bit yes. On a positive note, I am now infinitely more comfortable around children that I was no more than a month ago. Before this point I viewed children as unstable nonsense machines, impossible to communicate with due to their lack of political, technological, scientific or social views. Now I know remember that generally what they want is some attention, approval, consonance and an occasional funny face. With kids this young (4-8) my best bet is to sneak in some learning around entertainment.

Keeping on the positive note, I am also building a mental collection of my favourite kids, some because they are clever and understand what I want them to do first time, some because they make me laugh or have big and infectious personalities and some because they are adorable. This may be something revoltingly paternal kicking in. I am no way that old yet. Tip to kids: I genuinely find it hilarious when you fall off your chairs for no reason, keep this up and you will earn my respect and bias. I am not a trained teacher, I am allowed to have bias.

despite occasionally being a bit of shit, Julia has become a favourite

despite occasionally being a bit of a sh... difficult girl to teach, Julia has become a favourite

It seemed strange to me when I first read it in some of these textbooks I have for teaching the tiny, but several times I have experienced a sort of “teacher’s buzz” when I have a class that goes really well (see below) and I have the suspicion that I may have taught someone something. I think this could be a rewarding year.

Dinosaur Train story time with Pear Class

Dinosaur Train story time with Pear Class