Thursday, April 28, 2011

Online Gaming Companies Find Loopholes in Underage Ban

It is estimated that almost two million South Koreans have an internet addiction.  Funding for treatment programs for people with internet (and specifically online gaming) addiction has been increased in the last three years.  However, the government is also trying to legislate preventative measures to reduce the risk of developing internet addiction.

Last December, the government announced that there would be a midnight to 6am ban coming for underage gamers.  This did not make the online video game industry in Korea happy, and they are already finding way around it so that they can keep their underage users in the PC Bangs and gaming between the hours of midnight and 6am.

Online game operators are likely to bypass a shutdown system for underage gamers proposed by ruling and opposition parties simply by changing registration rules. The shutdown aims to prevent youngsters under 16 from playing online games from midnight to 6 a.m.

The Legislation and Judiciary Committee in the National Assembly on April 21 unanimously passed a revision to relevant laws that introduces the shutdown, and a plenary session is to ratify it later this week. It will go into effect as early as October. 
But Korea's largest online game company NCsoft has already changed its registration procedure for some games it deems "for all ages," so now only an e-mail address is needed instead of the resident registration number previously required. Six of its 20 games fall into the category.

Many e-mail service providers do not require age verification, so it is impossible to know how old users are.

NCsoft's decision is likely to be copied by smaller firms that are fiercely opposed to the shutdown. An official at the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said, "We have not discussed ways to prevent youngsters from playing games late at night. Hopefully, we will have some measures in place before the revision comes into effect in October."

NCsoft in a statement denied it simplified the registration process to beat the shutdown but said its aim was to stop the unnecessary collection of private data. Ironically, the government has been prevailing on Korean online businesses to scrap the requirement for resident registration numbers, mainly to prevent ID theft.
It is the familiar debate of what a government should be doing to protect children and what parents should be doing to protect their children.  I really do not see this ban as a huge infringement on the personal freedoms and liberties of children.  I think they should really be sleeping instead of earning meaningless points in an imaginary world that contributes nothing meaningful to their real lives.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

KPOP Korral - [Kahi] - Come Back, You Bad Person

Kahi (박가희) is the leader of the KPOP girl group After School.  However, Pledis Entertainment has released her first solo album this year, and she has confirmed that she has not left her group.  Kind of silly that a leader of a group would pursue a solo career... not being a very good leader I think.

Kahi has a rather interesting life story.  She grew up in a small village in gangwondo and received no formal training or support from her parents during her childhood to pursue singing and dance.  She dropped out of university when she was 18 to move to Seoul to pursue her dream of becoming a dancer and her father disowned her and did not speak to her for seven years.  I think he got over it once she started making real money though...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

North Korea Holds its Largest Magic Show Ever

Seriously?  In a country where six million people are on the verge of starving to death, a top priority of the regime includes a giant magic show.

Amid a burst of fireworks and a haze of smoke, a burly showman in a white sequined suit and gold lame cape appears with a flourish. Over the next 45 minutes, he appears to make a Pyongyang bus levitate and wriggles free from a box sent crashing to the stage through a ring of fire. 
This is magic North Korean-style performed in a show touted as the country's biggest ever and mounted in a city where good, old-fashioned illusion, a dancing bear and a dose of slapstick comedy can still command the biggest crowds of the year. 
The country's love for magic is a legacy of the circus traditions they inherited decades ago, during an era of Soviet influence. 
North Korean founder Kim Il Sung ordered the creation of the Pyongyang Circus in 1952 in the middle of the Korean War. The tradition of highly technical stagecraft — including the Arirang mass games, where 100,000 performers move in sync in a feat that has come to embody North Korean discipline and regimentation — still dazzles in a country where high-tech entertainment is scarce. [...]
You can follow the link to read more.  I guess I am not surprised the regime would have a magic show be such a big deal, last month I saw the below video and this passes for pre-school education.  I wonder how many six year old children were brutalized and discarded before they found the perfect five to play this silly melody in perfect unison.  This video would be impressive if children in North Korea led happy and healthy existences, but it is all propaganda all the time and these kids and their families are slaves to the regime.

EYK's Box Folding Video and Waygook Home Tour

This is possibly one of my favorite videos ever posted by Simon and Martina from Eat Your Kimchi and all that is is just a guy boxing some funny junk.  Simon decided to video tape the guy boxing up a prize for a blog viewer and it is fascinating to watch.

They also gave a tour of their home where they film most of their videos. I was very surprised at how small it was, but they obviously make the most of the space they have.  It is awesome of them to be so open and willing to show us everything they have.

Cool HD Time Lapse Video

I love this kind of stuff.  The footage is by Terje Sorgjerd.  Just stunning to look at...

The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.


The Aurora from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

KPOP Korral - [Jewelry] - Back it Up

Jewelry (쥬얼리) is a four member girl group and holds the honor of being the longest running currently active KPOP group in Korea.  The group has existed with different members for almost ten years.  The group announced their disbandment in 2010, but apparently they are back again with two new members.  Their current members include Baby J (베이비 제이), Eunjung (은정), Yewon (예원), and Semi (세미).  The group has seven former members that are no longer associated with the group and none of the original members are still in it.

Their latest release is Back it Up.  I'm a little surprised by their pro-American and British outfits.  Very colorful...

Jewelry was one of the biggest groups in Korea when I first arrived in early 2009.  Here was their hit at the time and the kids went crazy over it.  Two of the members in the video below are currently solo artists now.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Macho Man Randy Savage in North Korea

I came across a hilarious blog of someone just photo shopping in Macho Man Randy Savage into famous pictures.  I came across this one and had a good laugh.

Bizarrely enough, this is not the first time someone has had the humourous idea of putting Kim Jong Il and Macho Man Randy Savage together.

Here are some of my other favorite photos from the blog.


Rain Ranked #1 Again on Time 100 Poll

And my fifth graders tell me that Rain isn't really popular anymore... I guess Korean netizens did this as a show of force and ganged up on this online poll to make Korea look important in the world.

Additionally, since a Taiwanese actor came in second on the poll, there was probably a big online rivalry happening to win this that went way over everyone else's head.

Source Times News Feed:
He's done it again, and we're not surprised. 
Korean pop star Rain has won the top spot in the TIME 100 poll, in which we asked readers to rank who they think are the world's most influential people. By the time the poll closed Thursday night, he had garnered 406,252 "influential" votes and 33,813 "not influential" votes. This is certainly not the first time Rain has taken the top spot; he won in 2006 and 2007, and placed in second in 2008. Coming in a distant second this year was Jay Chou, Taiwanese star of The Green Hornet, getting 207,239 "influential" votes. Rounding out the top three was Britain's Got Talent phenomenon Susan Boyle with 151,324 "influential" votes. The top-ranking American on the list was Beyoncé, coming in fifth.
Second place finisher, Jay Chou, was the runner-up and only got about half as many votes... So, those crazy Korean netizens went a little over-kill.

Rain garnered 406,252 votes in the online poll to rank No. 1 among 203 candidates, Time magazine said on Friday. He also previously placed first in 2006 and 2007, and in 2006 he was shortlisted to the final Time 100 and walked down the red carpet for the ceremony.

Taiwanese actor and singer Jay Chou was the runner-up on the latest list with 207,239 votes, followed by "Britain's Got Talent" sensation Susan Boyle. U.S. pop star Beyonce came in sixth, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange 11th. U.S. President Barack Obama ranked 46th.

Time is preparing its final 100 list based on the online poll and its own selection process. Last year, Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-na was named to the final 100.
And NMA TV has it covered...

Here is the first time I ever heard of Rain, when Stephen Colbert called him out for beating him in the Time 100 poll in 2006.

Chinese Exchange Student Murdered While Boyfriend Watches Attack on Webcam

This is highly disturbing... I also want to mention this happened in Canada, and not the United States.  I'm sure given the limited facts I have, this guy will be found shortly.


Fron CNN:

A 23-year-old exchange student, attacked in her Toronto apartment while a friend in China watched via computer webcam, was found dead there hours later, police say. 
Toronto Police on Monday identified the student as Qian (Necole) Liu of Beijing. She was talking early Friday morning to a male friend from home when a man allegedly knocked on her door, asking to use her phone, police said in a news release. 
The online witness said he saw Liu and the unknown man struggle for a time before the attacker turned off her laptop, the news release said. 
The friend in China then started a desperate bid to find out what happened, CNN-affiliate CTV reported. 
Ten hours later, police arrived at the basement apartment to find Liu's body, naked from the waist down. Her laptop was missing. 
"It was obvious that she had been dead for some period of time," Detective Sgt. Frank Skubic said in the news release. 
The cause of the death is yet to be determined, the news release said. There were no obvious signs of sexual assault or severe physical trauma, and police are awaiting toxicology reports, it said. 
Police are unsure whether Liu, an exchange student at York University, knew the man. The attacker was described as white, age 20 to 30, 6 feet tall, weighing 175 to 200 pounds, with a muscular build and medium-length brown hair, and wearing a blue crew-neck T-shirt. [...]
Oh my...

Korean Public School Cafeteria Talk

I do not generally like to disparage my school or coworkers (because they are amazing), but I thought there were some good lines in this latest text to type video by a disgruntled NEST lampooning Korean absurdities.

One of my top complaints of working in a Korean public school are mandatory school events that require me to stay past 4:30 and nobody tells me about them about them until the day of.  Sometimes it is a volleyball game.  Sometimes it is a staff retreat.  Sometimes it is a welcome dinner.  Regardless, I can NEVER get my coteachers to tell me when these will happen until the day they happen.

Now, I am not married, but I have a girlfriend and friends and frequently do have plans in my evenings.  I do not have kids, but someday I might and many of my coworkers do.  How can it be that "Korean culture" includes planning staff dinners and retreats that require mandatory unpaid overtime and nobody is allowed to know about them until the day of?  It is infuriating...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

South Korean Police Find $10 Million US Buried in a Garlic Field

Hot damn, I think I need to quit this teaching gig I have and start digging up garlic fields full-time!

South Korean police found 11.08 billion won, or $10.2 million, in cash buried in a garlic field and suspect the money came from illegal Internet gambling gains, Yonhap News Agency said Monday. 
Quoting police, Yonhap said an illegal online gambling site set up by two brothers in 2008 produced more than 17 billion won in profits and they asked a brother-in-law to hide the money. 
The brother-in-law, 53, hid part of the money in his garlic farm in Gimje, about 262 kilometers southwest of Seoul, and skimmed 280 million won for his personal use. 
He later falsely accused an excavator who helped him do landscaping work in the garlic field of stealing 700 million won. 
The excavator filed a complaint with the police last Friday, prompting a police investigation that eventually uncovered the piles of cash in the garlic field. 
The younger brother has been put behind bars for operating the online gambling business, while the elder brother has fled and is now wanted by police, Yonhap said.
Wow, all that money from illegal internet gambling.  They should have quit when they were ahead.

Alcohol Causes Cancer!? Of course...

Hey!  Who would have thought that introducing small quantities of a poisonous substance into your body on a frequent basis to purposely impair motor skills and brain function would over a long duration of time increase your chances of developing cancer?  uggg... I don't think this will slow down the Koreans one bit.  They haven't even started to pretend like they'll stop smoking and smoking was linked to cancer half a century ago.

A new study says alcohol helps cause a substantial number of cancer cases. 
The study done in Europe looked at 100,000 men and 250,000 women. It found that drinking too much alcohol can be blamed for causing ten percent of cancers in men and three percent in women. 
Experts say smoking has long been known to be a cancer cause, but they say not enough attention has been paid to the cancer risk alcohol poses. 
Researchers found alcohol was most likely to increase the risk of mouth, throat and esophageal cancer.
Anyone want to go out and get a drink with me this weekend?  This news is really bumming me out and I need something to take my mind off it.

KPOP Korral - [UV w/ J.Y. Park] - Itaewon Freedom

I cannot find much about this group on the internet.  UV is a recently formed two man group consisting of Yoo Sae Yoon and Muzie.  They teamed up with producer and singer J.Y. Park (박진영) for this song and this video.  The song is titled "Itaewon Freedom" and it is a fusion of disco and retro 80s.

It is certainly one of the more distinct kpop videos I have ever seen.  If you don't know, Itaewon is the foreigner district in Seoul and I am guessing these guys were trying to capture the feel of the place in the 80s.

Specila thanks to Brian for finding this for me!  Itaewon Freedom is a parody/tribute video to "Harlem Desire" by the London Boys.  Check it out.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The 10 Worst Chants/Songs/Story Time/Role Plays of the Old Public Elementary School English Curriculum

If you have in the past taught English at the elementary school level 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 learned English from this text book series and it was finally 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 in these books was 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 was still being used in 2010.  The main dialogues were pretty good and had nice animation (see here and here).  Some of the songs were decent as well, but just about all of the chants, role plays and story time activities in the text books were worthless.

I already posted last month the ten worst dialogues (look and speak 2).  It received a lot of interest and several people asked if I could post some of the other content from the CR-roms.

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. But the problem was that for nearly a decade everything revolved around these horrible, horrible textbooks.

These are the worst 10 chants, songs, story time activities, or role plays of the 5th and 6th grade curriculums:

#10 - Grade 5, Ch 15 - Role Play "Dude, wanna join the band?"

#9 - Grade 6, Ch 8 - Let's Chant "Asian people actually say ping-pang-pong?"

#8 - Grade 5, Ch 9 - Role Play "Nero's pencil is huge."

#7 - Grade 5, Ch 4 - Let's Chant "Can a tower be beautiful?"

#6 - Grade 6, Ch 9 - Story Time "Peter Pan was an excellent ice skater."

#5 - Grade 5, Ch 12 - Let's Chant "Kids love being kept overnight at the future house."

#4 - Grade 6, Ch 12 - Role Play "Jack's such a good bucket holder."

#3 - Grade 6, Ch 14 - Role Play "Snake snubs Prince."

#2 - Grade 6, Ch 14 - Song "I shower and sleep with my shoes on."

#1 - Grade 6, Ch 1 - Role Play "Uganda knows good fashion!"

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Creepy Classroom Pledge Scene in Homefront

Homefront is a recently released video game that takes place in the not too distant future and North Korea has become the most powerful nation on Earth and has conquered the United States.  The premise of the game is that you are a resistance fighter in America trying to expel the North Korean occupiers.

Here is a creepy Easter Egg clip you can find in the game.

If you want a Korean's opinion of this game, check out Ask the Korean.  Here is the backstory trailer for the game.

You Got a Snow Day? Ha! Korea's got Radioactive Rain Days!

If you teach in South Korea and spend any amount of time on Facebook, you probably saw people posting like crazy about the potential scare of radioactive rain drifting west from Japan to the Korean peninsula.  The government has been doing everything it can to calm fears and assure people there is no possibility of radioactive rain:
Heavy rains, expected to fall Thursday, will not contain radioactive materials released directly from the crippled Japanese nuclear plant, Korea’s weather agency said Wednesday. 
Citizens here have expressed concerns over “radioactive rainfall” that would continue for a prolonged period following the widening nuclear crisis in quake-hit Japan. 
Adding to the atomic fears, weather agencies in Norway and Germany, respectively, warned earlier this week that radioactive materials will reach the Korean Peninsula in the coming five days. 
However, the Korea Meteorological Administration on Wednesday dismissed the overseas forecasts, saying the air current near the nuclear power plant has shifted to east. [...]
Despite the confidence that the Korean government has that the rain will not contain dangerous levels of radioactive particles, hundreds of schools across Korea shut their doors today and told their students to stay home and stay away from the rain.  Strange indeed for school officials to be cancelling school if there actually is no danger...

Source VOA News:
Showers on the Korean peninsula prompted some schools to close Thursday. Many parents were worried about exposing children to "radioactive rain." They were not reassured by South Korean authorities, who said there is no risk to children, even if some radioactive particles might be detected in rain water.

Fears about radiation in rain prompted classes to be canceled at some schools in South Korea. In Gyeonggi province, 125 kindergartens and elementary schools gave students the day off.
A spokesman for the provincial education office, Cho Byung-lae, says all institutions there were asked to curtail outdoor activities, but it was left up to school principals to decide whether to cancel instruction. 
Cho says they did not decide to close schools because of radiation, calling that a rather remote risk. But, he explains because there was such strong concern expressed by many parents, school authorities decided to relieve their anxiety. [...]
I wouldn't mind getting some more days off work.  Last year was the great swince flu scare, and not it is radioactive rain... geesh...

KPOP Korral - [Mighty Mouth] - Talk Talk

Mighty Mouth (마이티마우스) is a two man group with Sanghu (상추) and Shorry J (쇼리 J).  Their recent hit song is Talk Talk (톡톡).  The video features a rising pop star in Korea, Soya (김소야).  This might be my favorite song/video of 2011 so far.

Here is a live version that perhaps was performed on St. Patrick's Day?  Hence the green hats... I think...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My Completed Criminal Background Check

Easily my most searched for and visited page is my walk through of how to get a FBI criminal background check to teach English in South Korea.  I posted that on October 25th and applied myself that week to get my own FBI background check so I could renew my contract this year.  South Korea then changed their enforcement policy and said everyone who was already here in Korea teaching did not need their background check to renew in 2011.  I lost motivation and took my sweet time mailing it to the state department.  I finally got the completed deal with the state apostille seal last week.

Lots of people want to know what it looks like, so here's mine (with my name blacked out).  I have a clean record and you will notice on both the CBC and the State Letter there is an embossed seal in the paper.  You need both of these for it to be official.


Patriotic Teen Fails Spanish

This is satire of course, but I cannot help but feel like there is some truth in this.  I am American, and I had to take Spanish in high school and remembering a lot of classmates saying things like, "Why don't they just learn English?"

Hispanics in America are the fastest growing minority at 16%.  Now, 45 million Americans speak it as their first or second language with an additional 6 million students in America studying Spanish, making the USA the world's largest Spanish speaking country second only to Mexico (and just ahead of Spain).  That's fun to think about.

Most Bizarre ESL Workout Video Ever

This is not new to the internet (and the video looks like it is from the 90's), but it is new to me.  This is one of the weirdest things I have ever seen.  Is this video suppose to be preparing health-conscious Japanese business women for taking trips to crime ridden English speaking countries?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chinese Vendors Selling Live Turtles in Plastic Bags as Keychains

Holy moly!  This is pretty f***ing sick.

Chinese vendors have been selling pretty depressing keychains that consist of either a Brazil turtle or two small kingfish sealed inside a small plastic baggy. Each baggy, seven centimeters in length, is filled with colored liquid and the imprisoned animal(s) of choice. The vendors, who sell the baggies at the entrance to subways or train stations, claim the colored liquid water is a "nutrient rich" solution that allows the live creatures shoved inside a seven centimeter bag to live for a few months, after which–if this story couldn’t get any more depressing–the animals die and, according to Helablog, “rumor has it…the cadavers are heated in the microwave for 15 seconds and eaten while enjoying an ice cold beer.” 
If the existence of these keychains wasn’t depressing enough, the fact that they’re not illegal makes them even worse, as China only has a Wild Animal Protection Law, under which these keychains do not happen to fall. Since there is no law preventing the existence of these keychains, so there may not be an end to them anytime soon and, according to the Global Times, the depressing keychain business is doing well, as they reportedly watched one fish keychain and nine turtle keychains sell in five minutes time, to both people who think they’re neat, and others who buy the keychains to free the animals. 
According to the cofounder of the International Center for Veterinary Services, Mary Peng, the fish and turtles wouldn’t survive too long in the sealed plastic bag due to the lack of oxygen, regardless of how “nutrient rich” the colored water may be. Animal protection groups are voicing their opinion on the matter, so hopefully they can quickly make progress toward getting these keychains made illegal.
This is crushing my soul right now...

My Questions Get Answered About EatYourKimchi

Simon and Martina of Eat Your Kimchi were on an episode of Heart to Heart on Arirang TV a couple weeks ago.  I guess now I am only one of about 85,000+ people who follow their blog regularly.  But I have been watching their videos weekly for the last two years and I have always had a couple questions about them floating around in the back of my head.  This interview answered them all and was a pleasure to watch (and a pleasure to see the NEST blogosphere get some positive viewing time).

It is obvious from the video that the interview is targeting Korean housewives looking to practice their English, but this interview was well done.  Check it out if you are curious what these two are planning for their future.

Monday, April 4, 2011

KPOP Korral - [Girl's Day] - Twinkle Twinkle

Girl's Day (걸스데이) is a five member girl group under DreamTea Entertainment.  Their five members are So Jin (박소진), Ji Hae (우지해), Min Ah (방민아), Yura (김아영), and Hyeri (이혜리).

This is their third MV release, and their first song that has got them noticed.  The song is called "twinkle twinkle" (반짝반짝) and it has an infectious chorus line and easy to mimic dance moves.  The video is cute enough... but I think the guy in this video is really not that attractive...

Their debute song and video was "tilt your head" (갸우뚱).  Interesting look...

Thanks for Reading and the First 100,000 Hits

Hey Everyone,

My blog went over 100,000 hits over the weekend.  I just wanted to thank everyone who visits, comments, or is reading this.  I'm still relatively new to the world of blogging, and I have enjoyed doing this for the last year as a part-time hobby.

If you have your own blog about something Korea related, consider adding a link to your page to help increase my traffic.  I am also always down for a link exchange if it is something related to Korea.  Leave a comment or e-mail me.  thewaygookeffect [at] gmail [dot] com

If you want to follow me on Twitter or facebook... I do that now.

For fun, here are all my blogger stats.  They are fun to look at.  I was on vacation in February, so that it what I credit to the dip in traffic.  The Korean Blog List and Brian in Jeollanamdo have easily been my greatest sources of referring traffic.

More than 3% of all my traffic has been from people google searching how to get an FBI background check. I'm glad people are getting use from that post.  Most of my other top posts are KPOP related because that is what people search for.

Easily, native English speakers living in Korea and people from North America dominate the English speaking Korean blogosphere.  The UK doesn't even come close.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Radioactive Trace Elements Spread Across Korea

This is from the Gwangju Blog:
Traces of the radioactive element iodine-131 leaked from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan have been detected throughout Korea. The particles are expected to keep floating into Korea from Japan until after the crisis is brought under control.

But the amounts are too small to have an impact on drinking water and food. Even if exposed all year round to iodine-131, which was detected at 12 nationwide radiation detection stations, people would get a mere one-200,000th to one-30,000th of 1mSV, the annual maximum permissible dose, a spokesman for the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety said Tuesday.

Korean-American Version of 'Jersey Shore' Coming Soon

After the runaway success of MTV's highest rated program of all time, Jersey Shore, it was only a matter of time before other programs were created to exploit the lowest achieving members of other ethnic communities in America.  It looks like this group of Korean Americans will be given a national platform to showcase Korean (or just Korean-American) culture.  The show was having trouble getting picked up by a network but it has been reported that they have been picked up and an announcement is coming soon.

I can't wait for Korean netizens to get a load of these guys...


I will be watching this show...

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