Tag Archives: South Korea

Don’t be Afraid of the Foreigner

20 Sep

Koreans are generally humble people, and almost to a fault in regard to their English speaking abilities. Their lack of confidence in their linguistic aptitude tends to manifest as an uber-shyness around foreigners, which presents quite the challenge  both as an English teacher and wandering nomad currently situated in Korea.

And so this video caught my eye as it came through my facebook feed earlier today. Seemly as part of its continuing efforts to become a global, foreigner-friendly nation, the following commercial is being broadcasted in attempts to diminish language barriers. Said commercial can be viewed below.  A bit of foreshadowing: hilarity ensues.

To dispel any confusion, essentially the concept is that multiple foreigners attempt to speak to the Koreans in their mother tongue, while the locals go to ridiculous lengths to avoid confrontation in fear of being misunderstood or making a blunder. And so the message is to, as the little girl does at the end of the video, say annyeonghaseyo (hello in Korean), instead of being fearful of speaking to foreigners.

Could you even imagine an equivalent campaign happening in North America? Oh Korea!



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).

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…).


Shauna Teacher Gets Schooled

5 Apr

Having meaning to master tennis for the better part of the past ten years, I was very excited to learn that my boss had kindly signed me up for free beginner lessons being offered by the city.  Despite the fact that I was to be the only foreigner in the class, I felt my Swedish heritage, the same that led the great Björn Borg to Wimbleton victory, would provide me with natural talent that would overcome any language barriers.

Alas, much to my surprise(and yours especially), my genetic theorem has proven to be flawed, as my first lesson quickly turned into waygookin (essentially korean for foreigner) comedy hour.  If my swings were not followed by the resounding laughter of my peers(I feel it was less of a snicker and more and more out of endearment “oh look at that foreign giant go…..so resilient!” ), they were  followed by corrections being shouted at me in Korean by my coach who was clearly getting increasingly exasperated as the lesson progressed. I feel that the Korean language has an innate gentle sternness, thus being on the receiving end of any harsh words spoken in this tongue is less than relaxing, especially coming from an older male; it almost has the same effect as gravely disappointing a parent.  My only saving grace was during stretches where I out stretched the lot of them.(what, so your racket can actually make contact with the ball? Ha! Well I can touch my toes…BAM)

Nonetheless, despite my first lesson being filled with embarrassment(which is par for the course really), I purchased new tennis shoes after work today and will be attending lessons every weekday for the next year. And who knows, once my Korean improves perhaps I will find that what was once believed to be angry criticisims are infact words of encouragement and gratitude such as, “Ooooo! Great height on that swing! The ball flew beautifully over that fence” , “How do get your shots to always to veer left? I admire your consistency.” or, “Wow, thank you so much- your wild wide shots have gotten me into the best shape of my life”.


Yellow Dust Monster

7 Mar

I pride myself in being intuitively aware of current street style, an ability that led to to immediately take notice of the numerous surgical masks being worn around me on a daily basis. These aren’t your plain white or blue surgical masks, these masks come in every print imaginable and are adapted to all markets. For instance, this particular design has struck a note with the male 18-34 demographic:

Despite having a popularity that challenges that of Canada Goose this past winter, I personally felt the trend was too SARS epidemic 2003.

When I inquired about this baffling fashion accessory, the most straightforward answer I received was (said with distant eyes and an eerie tone) “the yellow dust is coming…..”, which may or not be a quote from LOST. Thus I presumed, with true western ignorance(not a proud moment), that this belief must have stemmed from some ancient Eastern folly(and an excessive amount of sci-fi television viewership).

I stood corrected when a fellow foreign teacher directed me here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_Dust#Effects. Apparently the “yellow dust” I was warned of is a spring time meteorological event that originates in the desserts of China and Mongolia, is whisked over much of East  Asia, where it then proceeds to attack the lungs of unbeknownst, unmasked citizens. This along with the “sulphur emissions and resulting acid rain” has compelled me to shop around for a mask for myself, nay, a hazmat suit. I heard that the Sanrio 2011 spring collection is particularly impressive.

In all seriousness, this is mildly frightening. The fellow teacher previously mentioned also warned me that his first encounter yellow dust season made him a little sick ,  endorsing that I embarking upon mine with caution.  And according to the wikipedia page, it is recommended that outdoor physical activity be kept to a minimum during this period, which bodes well for my new marathon fitness regime.