Wednesday, July 07, 2010

And the next destination is...

So after committing to Tokyo a few months ago, I decided to go ahead and change my mind at the last second and go in a completely different direction.

How different? Well, still in Asia but a bit further than originally expected.

I will now be moving to Hochiminh City (formerly Saigon), Vietnam in September of 2010 after over 6 years of residence in Seoul. A hard decision but one that will more than likely prove to be the best choice I could have made.

There is much to write about and much to be done before the final move so I hope to update about the situation a little more indepth with my next post which I promise won't be 3 months from now.

A few things I have to cover:
- Reflecting on my time in Korea
- How the Vietnam decision was made
- How this alters my journey for the next few years

I will finally be getting my life back from my soon-to-be-former employers which will allow me more time to write and reflect so I hope to find my pre-2010 form in the coming months.

More to come soon...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Korean Train Card

Riding the trains in Seoul is a generally pleasant experience in my opinion. For many years I swore by the train system here and used it to basically get me anywhere I was going. I think I went a solid 3 years without ever taking a bus. However, since my move 6 months ago, I've found that I am always taking buses and rarely hop on the train anymore. I guess I'm a bit nostalgic about the whole thing.

Unlike some of the stories you may hear from people who ride the train in Seoul, I can only think of one bad experience while riding them and it involved an old drunk guy at 9am. Outside of that I can count a few weird experiences and perhaps a few interesting ones but most of the time being on a train here meant I was in for a pretty mundane experience.

One of the interesting/flat out funny things I ran into on the train, and the center of this post, is a little card that I found a guy hanging up in the corners of posters one fine Tuesday morning while I on my way to work. I've actually had this card for probably about a year so I guess posting about it now goes hand in hand with my general level of procrastination when it comes to this blog.

In any case, here are pictures of both sides of the card:

For those who lack Korean abilities, allow me to translate the important portions of this card. First, the big letters in the middle read "Marry a North Korean (Woman)." Some of the other important parts read "We guarantee they'll have strong home values and attractive features." They also repeat a phrase at the bottom left "남남복녀" which is an old belief (I'm not sure how prevalant it is today) that the best marriages happen between a South Korean male and a North Korean woman. Finally, we end with the fact that you have the option of picking woman between their 20s and 60s.

Now this isn't too strange to me to be honest. I've seen these kinds of advertisements before and not just for North Korean woman but also for Vietnamese woman and Cambodian woman. What made me pick up this card and keep it in my wallet for the last year is the back side of the card which looks like this:

Basically the top just reads "Believe in Jesus our savior!" and the line underneath it reads "..and you and your family will secure salvation." I won't get into translating the block text as its just a quote from the bible but here is the funny part. Look at the phone numbers from both sides of the card. It's the same phone number!

So basically, you can call this one number and either get yourself a hot, spankin' new North Korean wife or get some Christian consultation. Maybe you can do both at the same time? I'm working up the courage to call this number and see what its all about but I don't think I could contain myself from laughing as soon as they picked up. What could their company greeting be?

"Hello, you've reached Jesus's North Korean Wife placement service. Red or repent department?"

Make up your own.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Beginning of the End - Seoul Version

No, I haven't completely forsaken my blog though I'm sure one might think so since there hasn't been a new post in almost 4 months. What can I say? I'm good at pretending I'm busy.

So let's see, what's happened since the end of November?

My trip home for all of December was copacetic as usual. Since I had a full month this time and not 2 weeks like usual I didn't have my normal whirlwind of activities that always resulted in my going back feeling more tired than when I left. This time I spent the first full week recovering from jet lag and relaxing while watching the dark circles under my eyes slowly dissipate. Some things stayed the same as usual (hanging out with family, getting trashed with friends) and some things were new and different (having the lady visit for 2 weeks from Korea, meeting old classmates from grammar school) but overall, it was a nice, relaxing visit. Spending Christmas time at home for the first time since 2004 was also pretty nice because I forgot how nice a real Christmas tree in your home can look when its not 1 1/2 feet tall and covered with dust. I'm thinking I might actually try to squeeze down there again for this Christmas so I'll see how it goes.

Other than that, its been mostly getting back into work and acclimating myself to my new role. I've been promoted to manager (과장) and so I must now take on the added responsibility that that title brings. Granted, this is a seniority-based promotion (meaning my hard work means diddly squat) and though I disagree with the methods in place for performance based reviews and work merit, that is a long series of posts reserved for another day. In the meantime I'll bask in the fact that I've managed to work here for so long without killing anyone.

A few weeks ago I got a small break from work and went to Tokyo for 5 days as is my habit for birthdays lately. I ended up hanging out with Doug and showing my friend Carl around before he went back state-side. Needless to say my liver was pretty spent upon my return. Gotta love Tokyo.

Finally, I have decided the next step I'm going to take after Korea, along with my significant other. After living out the rest of 2010 here in Seoul I will be moving back to Tokyo for an as-yet undetermined amount of time (probably a year). I decided a long while ago that 2010 would be my last year here in Seoul and though I will miss the country, people and friends I have here, I've decided that 6 1/2 years is quite long enough. There is too much of a draw for me to return to Tokyo and would like to spend some more time there before the willingness to live in another country besides my own leaves me. I will post more on this as things move along. In the meantime, I plan on enjoying my last full round of 4 seasons here in Seoul.

At least my blog title can still stay "Secret Asian Man".

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chicago Trip Part IV

Almost a solid 3 months since my last post. 2009 hasn't been a great year for my blog so I guess I'll need to see if I can step it up moving into 2010.

The first new thing that happened so far since my last post is that I've moved fully into my new apartment. It was kind of sad to leave my Hongdae apartment of 3 years but at the same time I felt I needed something bigger. And I got it. The new place is roughly 3 1/2 times the size of my old apartment and comes with a full roof that only I use. The other good news is that it didn't cost much more than the old place and is actually closer to work. All in all I think it was a good move. I'll post pictures of the place once I get a new camera so I'm assuming you understand that it won't happen anytime soon.

Other than settling into the new digs, I've just been getting accustomed to my new area and working at the company as usual. The new area offers a wider spectrum of foreign restaurants and is situated more in the central of Seoul so I now have equidistant access to every part of the city. One of the negatives is that I drink more than I probably should in my new surroundings but I attribute that mostly to being able to see friends I normally haven't been able to meet so often.

Work has been keeping me busy as usual. Along with the normal bevy of reports, presentations, trainings and whatnot, I've been focusing on raising sales for the year end budget to pad my numbers. I'm also looking at a promotion in March and will officially be a manager. Besides all that's going on, the winds of change are starting to blow again and 2010 is looking to be a year of big changes for me careerwise. More on this as it develops.

This brings us finally to the title of the post-- my latest upcoming trip to Chicago. After what will prove to be a trying 10 days of work, work and more work, I will be flying back home for the longest vacation I've had since 2006 when I first started this blog. I'll be back from December 4th until January 1st and I'm looking forward to spending time with the family and friends. Considering I'll have a full month this time, I expect to also be able to get some much needed relaxation time in as well. I'm thinking I'll use this blog as a mini-schedule keeper for me in a future blog post so I can keep track of my plans.

Pics and vids to follow.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Moving and Other Updates

So I'm down to averaging less than a post per month in 2009.

I'm not going to continue to make excuses for my lack of posting because its getting too monotonous though I will say that once a few things are off my plate, I hope to get back to more regular posting. In retrospect, I think that one of the main reasons I've been posting so infrequently this year is due to a lack of any sort of focus for the blog itself. I've been debating turning this into something that has more of a focus on some aspect of Korea (and Asia in general) that I am interested in so we'll see what's on the horizon for that. I'm thinking something a little less covered in the general Korean blogosphere and I'm definitely staying away from the general social critiques and news bits because the market is flooded with that already. I'm always up for ideas.

As far as updates go, the first big news is that I'm moving out of my one-room in Hongdae after 3 years into much bigger digs in Noksapyeong. The moving date is Sept 10th and I've got a lot of prep to do and loose ends to tie up. It's kind of sad moving out of Hongdae since I've been living there for so long and it is, without a doubt, a very fun and interesting place to live but I guess its time to move on. I'll post pics of the new place after I get settled.

Other than that, I've confirmed my trip home for the entire month of December. While I'm thinking I might spend about a total of a week of that time stopping by friends in Tokyo and LA, even with that time cut out this will be the longest I've been home since I left for Seoul again back in 2005. It's also going to be the first Christmas I've had at home since 2004 so meeting family and friends should be pleasant. Only 3 months left till that goes down.

Work is work and always will be I guess. I've actually got a mid year review in about an hour or so where I get to listen to my boss tell me about my perceived strengths and weaknesses while I do the same for her and the company. Overall it should be fun and I'm pretty sure I'm in good graces due to my really, really good sales numbers thus far this year. I guess we'll see what happens.

As I said, I hope to get back to posting more often after I finish moving so to all three people who still routinely follow my blog: I ask for just a little more patience. Thanks.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Wow, really?

I turn my back for what felt like a moment and it's already been a month and a half since my last post? Jeez, talk about slacking.

Okay, so I'll keep this update short and try to get back to my recapping of the first half of '09 over the weekend. Since I no longer have a camera I'm a little short of pics but I'll try to snatch some off of facebook to make up for it.

On the work front I've been in contract negotiations and renegotiations for the last month or so and I'm trying to gauge whether or not its in my best interests to stay at my company. Talks have been somewhat fruitful but there still remains much to be discussed and the clock is slowly ticking on the last 4 months of my contract. Hopefully we can come to an solution within the next month so I can at least start mapping out the next few years of my life. Will I be here in Korea 2010? Will I be back in the US? Will I be somewhere completely new? The next few months should help me find my answer. Stay tuned for updates.

Outside of that, I've been getting out a lot with friends lately as is my tradition in the summer months. I've attended a few birthday parties, a few random gatherings and will soon be going to my annual round of farewell parties as some of my teacher friends begin their inevitable treks home. I haven't done as much travelling as I would have liked but hopefully the end of this month (Jeju-do?) and next month (Japan?) will remedy that. I also hope to get a few more Han River gatherings and barbecues in as well. I hope to be posting pictures soon.

So until the weekend, that's my update.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fuck You, Freddy Krueger

This is a break in my 6 month recap quest and for a very good reason.


I was engaged in deep conversation with Liam over a beer as has been frequently happening lately and we were discussing some of the finer questions in life such as:

"If you could murder 3 people and get away with it, who would they be?"
"If you could be friends with 5 fictional characters, who would they be?"

So while talking about these oh deepest of questions, we went off on some random tangent and somehow got on the topic of Freddy Krueger.

Freddy Krueger used to scare the shit out of me when I was a kid. I don't exactly remember why but the cheese grater face and sharp knives probably had something to do with it. I hadn't spend a single iota of time in the past 15 years thinking about him until yesterday and now that I've given him some proper thought at my adult age, I've decided that Freddy Krueger is a dick.

Who the fuck attacks people after they go to sleep? That's a real bitch move. I come home from a long day at work, spend a few short moments entertaining myself, and as soon as I go to sleep, BAM!, some fuck with scissor fingers and a Dennis the Menace adult size sweater pops out and kills me. I can't even get a little REM sleep? Really? You, my friend, are a dick. Grow some balls and try to kill me when I'm awake or better yet, when I'm on my way to work. At least then you helped me out a little.


Fuck you, Freddy Kreuger.