Friday, February 11, 2011

Winter Vacation Time

Hey All,

I'm taking my two weeks renewal vacation time and am heading somewhere warmer than South Korea in February.  I won't have reliable internet (and don't want it).  I won't post anything for the next two weeks and won't respond to anyone's e-mails or comments.  As always, thanks for reading and I'll be back on in March.

The 10 Worst Dialogues of the Public Elementary School English Curriculum

If you have ever taught the elementary level in a public school in South Korea, then you are probably familiar with the textbook characters Jinho, Nami, Mrs. Smith, Peter, Joon, and Ann.  Millions of South Korean children over the last decade have been learning English from this text book series and it is finally being changed this year to an updated version designed for three hours of English instruction a week instead of two hours a week.

The expressions, vocab, and 98% of all the grammar is acceptable.  The problem with these books was the production value and quality of the videos.  There were also some awkward cultural moments and just bizarre choices made for settings and situations.  The accompanying CD-ROM for the books looked like it was best designed to run on Windows 98, and here it is still being used in 2011.  It is not even worth mentioning the role plays, chants, or suggested games and activities, which were all mostly unusable.  The main dialogues were pretty good and had nice animation (see here and here), but all the live action scenes were worthless.

South Korea prides itself on how much of a priority they have on investment in education.  The teachers here are excellent, classrooms have no shortages of supplies, lots of useful technology available, new English classrooms and language learning facilities, etc.  The problem was that everything revolved around these horrible textbooks.  These books really should have been scrapped for something better the second after they were printed.

The videos below are the worst 10 dialogues (Look and Listen 2) of the 5th and 6th grade curriculums.  If you want to see the worst 10 songs/chants/role plays/ and story time activities then (click here).

#10 - Grade 6, Lesson 7, Movie 1 - "Your mom is a cook at Popeyes Fried Chicken?"

#9 Grade 5, Lesson 7, Movie 2 - "He has a long hair... and is an animated character."

#8 - Grade 6, Lesson 12, Movie 1 - "Uh-oh, dad just got possessed again."

#7 - Grade 6, Lesson 9, Movie 2 - "Whut dead cho doo dhear?"

#6 - Grade 5, Lesson 9, Movie 2 - "Joon, quit stuffing my socks in your trunks to make it look bigger."

#5 - Grade 6, Lesson 3, Movie 2 - "Peter likes Spring because helium canisters are 20% off at Home Plus."

#4 - Grade 6, Lesson 16, Movie 2 - "I can totally tell that you love me so much."

#3 - Grade 6, Lesson 4, Movie 2 - "YOU can't play the violin, and YOU just can't act."

#2 - Grade 6, Lesson 14, Movie 2 - "Don't take off your shoes, we wear our shoes in the shower and in bed."

#1 - Grade 5, Lesson 11, Movie 1 - "Oh yeah, gurl... that's right, keep polishing dady's shoes."

KPOP Korral - [Seo In Young] - Into the Rhythm

Seo In Young (서인영) is the break out solo artist from the girl group Jewelry.  She also goes by the English name Elly and does just about everything from TV, movies, modeling, dancing and singing.  Do a google image search of her and you may agree she is one of the sexiest women in Korea.

Her latest song is Into the Rhythm (리듬속으로) The visuals in her new video make her look a little bit like Cruella Deville.

One of the first KPOP videos I ever watched online was hers two years ago.  I still like it and I think this video is pretty fun.

Violence at NBC? What is the Internet?

Hilarious.  This is a taping of the Today Show from January 1994 and the hosts are talking about the internet. How did people live back then?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

This Will Not End Well

Came across this on facebook and found it pretty humorous.  I'm assuming this is a Japanese couple, but I imagine there are some universal constants here.

Koreans Don't Know Coco

Saw this on Brian's blog.  I'm not surprised young Koreans don't know who Conan O'Brian is.  I feel like action or romance stars are more easily transferable across language barriers than comedic stars.

On the January 27th, 2011 episode of Conan's new show on TBS he went to the Hollywood Blvd. Wax Museum to see how his statue is doing.  He bumped into some Korean girls and had a funny exchange.

Here is the extended clip from Conan's website.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ask a Waygook - What Songs Can You Sing at a Noraebang?

Noraebang (노래방) is the Korean equivalent to Japanese karaoke.  However, unlike western style karaoke, where people get up on stage and often sing in front of strangers at a bar on a Tuesday night, Koreans rent small (or sometimes large) rooms for private singing sessions amongst friends and coworkers.  It can be fun, but you will get caught off guard the first time you go in one.  Half drunk Koreans will insist you choose a song and sing something, and many westerners have never tried karaoke prior to coming to Korea.

Westerners coming to Korea want to know "What songs are available?"  A Korean noraebang machine's selection of English songs is more extensive than you might think with some machines having thousands of English songs to choose from.  I was surprised myself by some of the most obscure listings.  To make this easy, I just took a picture with my camera of every page in the provided song book.  Flipping through the book while in the noraebang room can be flustering, so click on each picture to make it larger (then maybe even right click save as) and go ahead and look through what English songs are available in Korea.  You can go to youtube and find a karaoke version to practice of nearly every song they have.  I recommend choosing and practicing five.  Practice at home, then the next time Koreans suggest noraebang that night you will be prepared.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Kim Jong-il VS Hulk Hogan

This is pretty funny.  I appreciated the most the suburban commando reference.

The Youtube channel is Epik Rap Battles of History.  The most popular video made was Darth Vader VS Adolf Hitler.

Happy Lunar New Years

Happy New Years everyone!  I spent my Chinese Lunar New Years ironically in Japan, which doesn't observe the Lunar New Years.  On my flight home to South Korea, I got to fly on one of those Starcraft II Korean Airlines special planes.  Only South Korea would have a major international airlines service that would tramp stamp a video game on all their planes.  Excellence in flight... and excellence in online gaming addiction.

I vacationed and went sightseeing on the major island of Kyushu.  A big volcano erupted while I was down there and it dominated the local news and headlines.  I joked about a volcano going off before I went there and sure enough...

Shinmoedake, a volcano on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu that was featured in the James Bond movie ‘You Only Live Twice,’ erupted for the second time today and ninth time in a week, Japan’s Meteorological Agency said.
The 1,421-meter (4,660 feet) volcano in the Kirishima range erupted at 12:17 p.m. local time, spewing a cloud of smoke and ash as high as 2,500 meters that drifted east-northeast toward Miyazaki Prefecture’s Pacific coastline, a branch division of the agency said in a statement today. The eruption followed an earlier one at 3 a.m., the agency said. [...]
Shinmoedake erupted for the first time in 52 years on Jan. 27, according to the JMA. The agency said yesterday a lava dome in the crater has grown to about 600 meters across from 10 meters when the eruptions started, and may spill out, creating a lava flow. Authorities are maintaining a restricted zone of 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) around the volcano.

Stephen Colbert Declares Himself Ruler of North Korea

Last week the Chosun Ilbo ran an article titled "Furry Hat Offers Clues to Progress of N.Korean Succession."  In the article, it is stated that:
[...] A senior South Korean government official last Friday said Kim Jong-un seems to have moved up to the same rank as his father. "The most conspicuous sign is that Kim Jong-un has started wearing a top-quality furry hat that only Kim Jong-il has been wearing so far," the official added. [...]
A former senior North Korean official identified as Choi, who has defected to South Korea, said, "The hat was customized by a foreign master craftsman using top-quality otter fur. It's an unwritten rule that nobody else can wear such a hat, so if Kim Jong-un is also wearing one, it means he has now reached almost the same status as his father." [...]
The article reads like it should be a parody.  It was so funny (because it's all true) that the research writers of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report picked it up and Stephen took the opportunity to poke some fun at the Kim family.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Un-American News - Kim Jong-il's Furry Hat
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>Video Archive

KPOP Korral - [TVXQ] - Keep Your Head Down

I think TVXQ holds a very coveted title in KPOP: Most names for their group.  I've been internet researching these guys for the last fifteen minutes and I'm still not sure I understand what their deal is.  Their international name is TVXQ (also stylized commonly as TVXQ! or TVfXQ) and it stands for Tong Vfang Xien Qi.  However, in South Korea they are known as DBSK or Dong Bang Shin Ki (동방신기) and in Japan they are known as Tohoshinki (東方神起).  All of their names and acronyms are supposed to translate as "The Rising Gods of the East."

The group debuted in 2003 under SM Entertainment and there were five members.  However, the group went on a hiatus and three members (Micky, Hero, and Xiah) recently resurfaced in Japan as a new group, JYJ.  The remaining two guys, U-Know Yunho and Max Changmin, are still in the group and recently released their latest single and video, Keep Your Head Down (왜).  The group is still on an indefinite hiatus as a five member group, and these two guys are just doing their own thing apparently.

This is a very crisp video.  The production value of these videos is enough to impress me.

This is a personal favorite of mine from when there used to be five of them...

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