Archive | July, 2011

Koreans – They got the Power

26 Jul

On July 5th, CNN reported that authorities had evacuated 3,000 workers from a 39-story office building following reports that the structure had shook for about ten minutes. You can read about it here. What was strange about the incident, is that no traces of an earthquake were recorded during the period of the reported tremors. Nonetheless, tenants fled the building; one quoted stating that the building felt as if it was shaking up and down.

Tenants may have heard this catchy tune blaring through their walls just prior to the traumatic event:

Thats because 17-middle aged foggies were practicing their regular Tae Bo routine to this song. Tae Bo is the spawn of Tae Kwon Do and boxing, and has been made popular in the western world by fitness master Billy Blanks:

If you were ever striving for bodacious man cleavage like his, now you know what it takes(can cleavage even be bodacious?)

Anyways, apparently Snap (the musical maestros responsible for the tune above)  really convinced those Koreans that “they got the power”, as CNN is now reporting that their fitness routine is what caused the ‘earthquake’,

Prime Group, owner of the 39-story TechnoMart commercial-residential high-rise in Seoul, said 17 middle-aged people were working out to the pop song “The Power” by Snap on July 5 when their movements set the upper floors of the tower shaking for 10 minutes, according to a report from the Korea JoongAng Daily.

Scientists recreated the event in the 12th floor gym, according to a report in the Korea Times.

“We observed the vibrometer while performing the same kind of aerobic exercise that was performed at the time of the shaking which occurred on July 5. We noticed that the shaking was felt in the upper floors while the exercise was being performed while no other place showed signs of tremor,” Chung Lan, a professor of architectural engineering at Dankook University, told the Korea Times.

“It just happens to be that the vibration cycle caused by Tae Bo collided with the vertical vibration cycle unique to the building,” Chung told the Korea Times. The action amplified the building’s vibration and caused the shaking, he said.

Impressive. My workouts barely manage to move my lump of a body, never mind  a whole building. I wonder if Koreans don the sporty du rag during Tae Bo like they do during my tennis lessons?


PS As I was finishing this post, a similarly fantastic/horrid song came on my iTunes.


Recipe for Disaster: Hobakjeon 호박전

24 Jul

My foray into the craft of cooking continued this week with a fried squash dish named Hobakjeon 호박전; a decision made after a student described it as “Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo delicious!”(with that many o’s how could you go wrong?). Spoiler: this venture was not quite as successful as the last.

The type of squash used in this dish is called young squash or green pumpkin and basically looks like zucchini (you could probably use a zucchini in lieu of squash) . Here’s a picture of the one I used:

Yes it’s on the floor. It’s also in a wrapper. I also have no counter. Stop judging.

Along with young squash this is what you’ll need:


1 young squash, long shape
50 g lean ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
1 minced clove of garlic
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp sesame salt
1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp oil for frying (The cook’s discretion)

Calm before the (fire) storm (Step 4)


  1. Slice the squash into disks that are about 1/4 inch thick. Place the slices into a bowl and sprinkle them with your 1/2 Tbsp of salt. Let them stand for 10 minutes.
  2. In the meanwhile, mix the beef with the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and salt, and garlic. (Swedish massage technique not necessary)
  3. Once ten minutes have passed drain the slices of any water they may have collected and dry them with paper towel.
  4. Cover each disk with a thin layer of the beef mixture (as seen in the picture above).
  5. Heat oiled pan. Dip disk in flour and then egg. Fry on medium heat for about 3 minutes a side. (Keeping the flour and egg close to the pan makes this step much easier)
  6. To up the deliciousness of the dish, serve with a super easy dipping sauce. One part soy sauce, one part vinegar.
The first batch
Something you wouldn’t feed your worst enemy
Clear fail. I was quite discouraged after the first batch(I believe the folly here lay in the haphazard execution of step 4). But I hate wasting food and so was determined to get it right. When done my apartment could easily have been mistaken for an opium den with all the smoke, but at least I managed to realize some success…..ish.
My successful batch
Something a stray animal may consider for dinner
The book’s rather more appetizing batch
A clear win. 😦
Well at least they tasted fantastic…..ish(No really! Though they looked like the contents of a neighbour’s compost they were quite good).

The Shit Needle 똥침

21 Jul

A stark contrast between Wesetern and Korean culture is the relationship between children and adults outside of the family. In Western culture children are taught with vigor not to talk with strangers, where in Korea, adults assume the role of  the child’s aunt or uncle. If I am in a restaurant with my boss, the woman serving us food  will hold my boss’s baby while she is finishing her meal whilst tending to the other child running around exploring the restaurant. As a result (I’m assuming it is anyways), children in the classroom are far more hands on, whether it be a barrage of hugs or the rubbing of little faces on my arm, ressembling the blissful state cats enter when rubbing their faces on pretty much everything(including stinky socks….but that’s a story for another time).

The previous mentioned actions are actually quite endearing, even for a stunted robot such as myself.  Not so endearing, however, is a bizarre game aptly referred to as the shit needle, or dong chim 똥침. The game goes as follows: a sweet innocent kindergardener clasps their delicate little hands together into the shape of a gun, and then uses all the mighty strength that their little arms will give them to dart their fingers at your bum hole(those arms are much stronger then they look btw). This is for realz. They’ve even made statues to prove it.


Ooooo he got him real good….

The first time this happened I freaked out(and rightfully so). I figured it was an isolated incident, but alas, ’twas was only the peak of a slippery slope. I’ve managed to put a kibosh on this gong show as the devilish look that taints their angel faces moments prior to an attack give them away, but am still flabbergasted by the seeming acceptance of it by Korean society. By the looks of if, the whole family can join in on the fun…..

It’s the shit needle family fun train! Choo-choooo (poo-poooo rather)

The game is so hip ‘n’ happening that it’s inspired a cartoon character whose its namesake. Dongchimee is an animated counterpart of the brand Dalki (check it out here). He’s an artist who’s sole tool is dung. He sets out to fully understand the capabilities of his organic material; sometimes it’s wet and sometimes it’s dry. Surprisingly, he spends most of his time at home. Oh and ladies, he’s a Virgo.

What a dream boat! There’s alota something under his nose(I’m assuming it’s a glob of snot)…I wonder if he’ll consider the use of other bodily materials in his work since they seem to be in ample supply…..

And it doesn’t end there. From Dongchimee has spawned Dung Bread, or DDong BBang 똥빵.  I actually came across this appetizing treat when in Seoul but haven’t actually tried it. I do know that it’s essentially a pastry with a waffle-like shell thats cradling a red bean filling. Here is what it looks like (from what I’ve found via google search)

And this is apparently what it comes in. Note the bum defecating red bean;as if the whole ordeal wasn’t graphic enough.

If you aren’t in the position to have a shit needle experience of your own, not to worry, as that’s what the internet is for (go here and you won’t be disappointed).


Brief Snack Update

17 Jul

I just got back from a short weekend in Seoul and am exhausted (it’s 3am) but felt this couldn’t wait……

Whilst waiting for my bus back to Pohang I found myself oogling the tasty delights found in the food court in the basement of Shinsagae Department Store (not even an hour after enjoying a Japanese/Thai/Italian feast).I happened to follow my nose to this creperie where my eyes gazed upon what has to be the most redonkulous crepes of all time.

Chocolate ice cream, banana, whip, chocolate drizzle and a slice of tiramisu

Strawberry ice cream, strawberries, whip, strawberry drizzle and cheesecake

Long story short, if I lived in Seoul the only position of employment waiting for me when I got back to Toronto would be as a body double for Jabba the Hut (I heard it pays well actually….)


Shauna Teacher Gets Schooled: Summer Inferno Edition

14 Jul

So it’s been about 3 months since I’ve started my all-Korean tennis lessons and I’m still at it *pats self on back*. Korean summers are notoriously humid, and according to my boss today was one of the hottest days yet this summer (it looks like it was about 30 °C with about 80% humidity,which to be fair is not is not unheard of back home) In order to compensate for the inferno in which I would be practicing, I showed up in this:

In lieu of an actual photo of me in my tennis gear I felt this would suffice as she is clearly a fair representation of both my physique and talent

However, my Korean classmates, many of whom are at least 15-20 years my senior and far more skilled, showed but in an outfit looking something like this (I really wanted to take a picture of my class and post it here, but whenever I take candid pictures of people I feel obnoxious and so was too shy to do so):

Fine they don’t show up in a du rag, but they honestly have this du rag-like contraption that velcros onto their cap that I couldn’t find a picture of, so the sporty du rag had to suffice.  

One would think that my choice is clearly the more comfortable attire for playing tennis in a heart only found in 5-alarm fires, but alas this is how I looked by the end of class…….

Me at the end of class (no I did not transform into a man-note the sweat drenched clothing, not the discrepancy in gender)

……while my Korean counterparts looked dry and invigorated. Really really, one man actually pointed it out and started to make fun of me (harumph!).  The only logical conclusion that can be drawn here is that Koreans are magical. Or at least their sweat glands are (or that I have a glandular disorder…).


Recipe for Disaster: Bulgogi 불고기

11 Jul

I love food. And though this is a claim made by many, my devotion to food is simply on a different plane – I get food, I connect with it. But I have been a neglectful partner in this relationship, as unless unwrapping a burger counts, I can’t cook. I would speculate that my lack of this basic living skill is due in part to my addicton to eating out and to the fact that I am completely domestically disabled (also known in medical circles as laziness). It’s not that I am a bad cook, I just simply do not understand the first thing about cooking.(like that sharpe metal thingy…knife…. is that pronounced with a hard k or what??)  And so I’ve come to admit that I can no longer claim to be a true foodie if I continue avoid the scary fire machine like the black plague. Fine I’ve  embelished a little, I know it’s called a stove, but the most I can do with said appliance is boil an egg.

When I came to Korea I swore on all that is good and tasty that I would make it my mission to learn how to cook. I even stomped over to the book store to purchase a Korean cook book written in English:

Not surprisingly, the only role the book has fulfilled during the four months following it’s purchase  is that of a dust trap. And so as a last attempt to motivate myself to become aquatinted with the kitchen, I’ve decided to start a new weekly installment aptly entitled Recipe for Disaster. And as you may have noticed I’ve also added it as a new page to the blog. My hope here is to empower as many fellow kitchen cretins as possible. I guarantee that if I can execute a recipe, then anyone can(really really).

For my first go I decided to make with what an adult student claimed to be the easiest to make, and happens to be one of Korea’s most popular dishes,  Bulgogi 불고기. The name is Korean for fire meat, which is because it is commonly grilled over an open flame. Unfortunately, due to lack of hardware, I had to opt for the likely less yummy method of making it in a pan.

So here we go(please excuse the crappy photoshoping that is being used as a diversion for the crappy photography).


(For those shopping in Korea I’ve included some ingredient names in Hangul)

1 lb (450 g) beef (though you can use lean, because you will need to slice it so thin, fat and lean streaked is suggested. If you are purchasing this in Korea, ask one of the women in the meat section for Bulgogi beef and they will direct you to the right cut. If not, you can apparently ask the butcher to prepare it for you this way)

2-3 Tbsp soy sauce (Jinganjang, 진간장)

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp seasame oil (Chamgireum, 참기름)

1 Tbsp seasame salt  (Kkaesogeum, 깨소금)

A dash of black pepper

4 coarsley chopped green onions, both white and green parts

1 coarsely chopped onion (this wasn’t in the book, but the bulgogi I’ve eaten has had onions in it  so..)

3 minced cloves of garlic

1 Tsp of minced fresh ginger (Saenggang, 생강. Should you peel it?-yes)

2 Tbsp of water or rice wine (I used water as it was more convenient, but rice wine is recommended. Rice wine: Cheongju, 청주)

Optional: 1 Fuji apple, peeled, chopped and then blended in a processor (I didn’t use it for this go around, but have had it suggested to me since, so next time I’ll give it a go)


  1. Slice beef as thin as possible. Cut it into bite size pieces (not too small, but a size that can comfortably enter your mouth in one go…according to the book this size is 3″ long)
  2. Place the rest of your ingredients into a bowl. This concoction will be your marinade.
  3. Place your thinly sliced beef into your bowl of marinade. Use your hands to Swedish massage the marinade into the beef-make sure your beef is thoroughly covered in marinade.
  4. Place the bowl in the fridge for anywhere between 1-8 hrs (I left mine for 2 hrs due to time constraints). The longer you marinate the beef, the more flavourful it will taste,  however, if you do plan on letting it sit overnight you should use a little less soy sauce to ensure the beef doesn’t become too salty.
  5. Heat an oil covered pan. Once hot, place the contents of your bowl into the pan. Cook on high heat for about 3-5 min. Use your tongs to flip over the meat to ensure that both sides are well cooked. Your bulgogi should be well done, but because the cut is thin it will cook fast, so make sure it doesn’t burn.
  6. Wooooo You’re done! Bulgogi is traditionally served straight from the pan and with a bowl of rice.
My finished product
Not bad! It tasted authentic and I am still alive to tell the tale. All in all a successful mission.  Next time I will try to capture some exciting ‘action shots’ to better illustrate how I get from the ingredient phase to the final product.
And for another week I my kitchen stays safely in one piece….

The Pog Formerly Known as Baji

10 Jul

When I first welcomed Baji into my humble abode (emphasis on humble) I promised the students that they would be given the opportunity to rename him. I considered this to be quite ingenious as it served me on multiple dimensions; first it allowed me to relinquished the responsibility of naming him myself (my previous two pets were named Angel and Star, so take from that what you will), second it provided me with a cost effective incentive for the children outside of the usual candy and stickers, and finally it justified any moral repercussions the name change would cause, such as his resulting identity crisis and a pile up of psychiatry bills(the little man doesn’t even realize he has a name, so said moral repercussions are a bit of an embellishment)

It took a while to decide how to orchestrate this as it had to be devised so each of my 60-odd  students were given a fair chance without ending up with 60-odd names. And so during the past month I held small contests where the winners would choose a name to placed on the short list. This is what they came up with:



Lioge (err I have no idea where they were going with this one) 

Coma (I didn’t have the heart to explain to a five year old what a coma was)


Bolton (Micheal Bolton….Bolton, Ontario ??)




Master Windu (as per suggested by Master Jedi)

Dochi (Hedgehog in Korean is goseumdochi 고슴도치 thus dochi for short)



So though there were some strange ones in there (like who/what/where/why/how on earth is a lioge??), I was pleasantly surprised by the wit of some,  like spike and cactus. Well done little ones, well done. (that sounded rather maniacal….)  This past week I had the students vote for their fave. The results are in and the winner is (drum roll, ect) ……

And so there it is. Baji is now Dochi and can add identity crisis to his growing list of stressors. And so I leave you with a photo montage of the endearingly mischievous living,breathing(huffing?) stress ball that is Baj..erm I mean Dochi. To give a bit of background, these were taken in the bowels of  torture chamber that was my apartment last weekend once my air con blew out. Hedgehogs are rather finicky about everything temperature – their environment should never be too hot or too cold(if Dochi ran things I’d be fashioning him a mini air purifier/dehumidifier to be put in his cage while I manually fan him). Leaving a hedgehog in too low of a temperature is actually quite serious; the cold can induce a state of hibernation that the domesticated animal is not accustomed to, which can be quite dangerous….and sometimes fatal. Too hot, however, simply leads to loads of laughs for me.

Woo freedom!

Coooooool a plastic thing for me to hide in

Whew… it’s rather toasty in here

This kinda heat is illegal….my giant is inhumane…..*SPLAT*

Nein! Must….take…advantage…..of……freedom……………..

Oh eff that! *melts to the floor*

I totally get you Ba…Dochi