Saturday, May 23, 2009

Former President Roh Commits Suicide

I don't mean to be cruel about this, but this really comes as no surprise. Former president Roh Moo-hyun killed himself Saturday because he's facing allegations of bribery from his when he was president.

South Korea ranks number one in the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development for suicide rate. It seems any time a South Korean public figure is in any trouble, he or she commits suicide. That is just the way of life here.

Check the news article here.

As the article states:

Last month, state prosecutors questioned Roh for some 13 hours about allegations that he accepted more than $6 million in bribes from a detained South Korean businessman while in office — accusations that deeply shamed him.

It's hard to convey any feelings of sympathy, or empathy, knowing that this is such a common trend here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

50,000 Won Bill

The government is issuing a 50,000 Won bill in June. Until this happens, the largest bill has been the 10,000 won note.

Check the story here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Sickness

For the first time in seven days, dear friends and family, I have enough energy to sit at my computer and tell you what has happened to me over the last week. It's been pretty ugly and excruciatingly painful. Here it goes.

Last Tuesday night after work, Vicky and I ate at a kimbap place that I frequent quite a bit. The food is decent and the ladies there are really nice. Wednesday morning, however, I had an intense pain in my stomach. Vicky said she also wasn't feeling well.

I suffered through Wednesday and went to see my college students Wednesday night. It was hurting a lot, but I hoped it was just temporary.

On Thursday I got up and the pain was unbearable. But I've acquired a certain guilt about the thought of missing work, so I went in anyway. After all, I only had four classes to get through.

But as soon as my day started, I was miserable. I had the chills, I was dizzy and I even got sick in the Jungchul bathroom. And my stomach pain had become full-fledged abdominal nightmare.

So the school officials graciously let me take Friday off, and Vicky took me to the hospital Friday morning. Well, I guess it's safer to call it a clinic. They have tons of clinics for every part of the body here. The good news is you don't end up waiting long. The bad news, as I found out, is they're not always thorough or accurate.

The doctor tapped on my stomach, put a thermometer-type device against my forehead and told me I had a fever and stomach problems. That was what he told Vicky in Korean. It's not just my poor interpretation. He didn't give a real diagnosis of any sort.

Well, I hoped he knew what he was doing. I got some medicine and went home, hoping the day off plus the weekend would get me over this.

But on Saturday, I started realizing his medical analysis was dirt. I was feeling the most intense pain I have ever felt in my entire life. It felt like my stomach and intestines were being twisted around and around, tighter and tighter. It was like they were in the verge of being ripped, but kept just short of that in order to torture me.

Well, Vicky actually went to a real hospital on Saturday because of her sickness. She was feeling just as bad as me, with slightly different symptoms.

On Sunday, my pain was even worse, which I thought wasn't possible. Nothing was open, so I had to wait until Monday to go to a digestive clinic. Sunny and Mr. No took me there Monday. And the doctor was a lot more in depth. He took blood and urine samples, gave me medicine and sent me on my way.

He called later and said I had Enteritis. That is a swelling of the small intestines. You can get it from eating tainted food, which is never out of the question here, considering the level of preparation. And it made sense for where my pain was.

That night, my pain reached its peak and I would rather have been dead than suffered any more. Mr. No came and visited me and said that the doctor told him I would be in a lot of pain because of how severe my sickness had been.

On Tuesday, Sunny took me once again to the clinic. There was some good news this time. On Monday, my white blood count was elevated due to those bad boys fighting the infection. On Tuesday, the count had come back down, meaning the infection was subsiding.

The doctor did an ultrasound just to be safe. He wanted to check my appendix. Fortunately, all was fine.

I woke up today with some pain, but I took some Ibuprofen and went back to sleep. When I woke up again, the pain was mostly gone. As of now I only have a little discomfort left. The people at the school have been great. They've been very supportive and let me take the proper amount of days off for recovery. I can't say enough good things about them.

My doctor at the second clinic was great too. He actually cared about me. He didn't even charge for the ultrasound.

Unfortunately, Vicky is still in the hospital. Doctors first said she has Hepatitis A, but I'm not sure they know what is making her sick. She hopes to be back at work Monday, while I'll head back in tomorrow.

It's been a miserable week in which I've only eaten a few packets of creme soup, some crackers and tons of pills.

I don't wish this sickness on anyone ... EVER. It was absolutely agonizing and terrible. I couldn't even lay still without the terrible pain.

The good news is I'm slowly improving. Hopefully by the weekend I'll be close to 100 percent health. But as long as there isn't a chronic, constant pain, I'll be satisfied.

Thank you everyone for your prayers and support throughout this terrible week. It means a lot to me to have your support. I couldn't have gotten through this without you.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

High Wire Championship

I wish I had known about this. It would've been fun to check out. Anyway, here is an interesting article about the High Wire World Championship that was in Seoul this weekend. Apparently, one of the participants lost his balancing pole and had to be rescued by one of the other participants.

Check it here.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Seokmodo and Everland Pictures.

Here are pics from Seokmodo and Everland. Obviously these aren't nearly all of then, but it'll give you a good idea of everything we saw and did.



Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jam-Packed Weekend

Wow, what a weekend. I haven't had too much to post about lately because everything has become routine. But I broke out of that rut because we got a four-day weekend to use.

The reason for the four-day break is that Children's Day was on Tuesday. Fortunately, our bosses also gave us Monday off. It gave us endless possibilities.

Our first adventure happened Saturday and Sunday when a group of us went to 석모도 (Seokmo Island). It's only about 40 kilometers or so west of Incheon, but it really is like going to a different world. Vicky, Chong-Wa, Eli and I took the trip.

The driving took a few hours because of all the traffic. As I've said before, there are very few entertainment options here, and 50,000,000 people who all have the same days off. It makes travel just horrible.

Once we got there, we took a ferry to get from main land to the island. We got to our very tiny, but affordable, room around 3 p.m., and we started our day.

First, we rented bikes and took a self-guided tour around the island. We went to a Buddhist temple and toured it. Coincidentally, it was Buddha's birthday on Saturday. So we got to see some special ceremonies and decorations.

They also have a giant stone Buddha laying on his side, as well as a giant flight of stairs up the side of the mountain. It was a cool time to take the tour.

Then, we went to the beach on the West Sea. The interesting thing about this beach is the speed at which the tide goes in and out. On Saturday night, we saw it with the tide completely out. You could see where the water reached, but was very far away. It was too far to even see at night. The girls rubbed mud on themselves. Apparently it's good for the skin. I disagree. Haha.

After that, we went back to our place for drinking and relaxing.

In the morning, we went back to the beach to see it with the tide in. And for the two hours we spent there, we watched the tide rush right back out. We even followed it along for a little while, walking right with it. We were easily 300 meters off shore when we stopped, with only our feet covered in water. It was a really incredible thing to see.

On Monday, Vicky and I went to Everland. It's billed as the Disney World of South Korea. Calling that is a stretch, but it was a nice park. Once again, driving took nearly three hours, even with only 40 kilometers to drive.

The park is best known now for it's newest ride, the T Express (sponsored by a cell phone company. Surprise, surprise). The T Express was actually worth the two-hour wait in line. It was an all-wooden coaster and pretty impressive. After that, we went on a boat-type ride and walked through a funhouse.

Then, after waiting for about 90 minutes for another ride, it broke and we were sent away. Fortunately, they gave us a card to get on any other ride without waiting.

But we were short on time. We got some dinner, then watched the electric parade and fireworks show. Both of them were pretty cool to see. They did a really nice job.

Then, we got on our fourth ride of the day. It was some ride that you would most likely find at a smaller amusement park, but it was a lot of fun. And there was NO waiting.

After that, we got in the car for our two-hour trip home. The only downside of the day is the traffic -- people and cars. The park was just too small with not enough rides for everyone. When I pay W32,000, I hope to get on more than three rides and a funhouse.

On Tuesday, I went to Guworldong to buy some T-shirts, look for a new study book (I've finished 5 now!) and get a gift for Vicky. We'll reach our 200 day anniversary tomorrow (Thursday). This time, I did the shopping all by myself. I guess that Korean studying is paying off. I bought her a necklace to match her ring and earrings.

This week will be nice because we only teach for two days. Friday is another market day, which is a fun day for the students. No classes!!!

Anyway, I took a TON of pictures and even a few videos from the weekend. I'll try to post them tonight. It will take me some time to sort through them all, but expect them soon.

Check back later for the pics!!!

USA Today Gives Korea Some Love

An article ran today on about things Seoul has to offer. It's especially attractive considering the won has dropped against the dollar.

Anyway, I've done almost everything they've mentioned. All of it is worth seeing. Is it worth coming to the exact opposite side of the globe for? That's up to you to decide. But it's certainly an interesting culture.

Check the article here.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Setting The Record Straight

Here's an interesting column by a American who has been teaching here for quite some time. He's actually a little slice of home. He was born and raised in Pittsburgh. I've sent him an email telling him how much I enjoy his blog. This piece ran in The Korea Times and on his blog.

The column's goal is to debunk some common misconceptions about foreign teachers here. It's worth a read.

The article.

Brian's Blog.