Monday, December 3, 2012

Music Monday #25

This week's Music Monday is a Korean Ska band called Copy Machine.  They are the other band that I did not get to see the other night at the gig I went to. I did stay for one of their songs and it sounded pretty good so I would have liked to have seen their whole set. Unfortunately I had to get a bus home so was unable to stay any longer.

They have a great lively ska sound and judging from the one song that I did see I think they would be a pretty entertaining show.

Copy Machine - Okie Dokie

Sunday, December 2, 2012

ESL Teaching Tips #3 - The Magic Hat

This is not so much a teaching tip as a teaching resource and it is one of my absolute favorites. It's called the 'The Hat' and it's a software programme that randomly selects names out of a virtual hat - no muss, no fuss.

Every month my students have to do a presentation where they talk for a minute or two about one of the subjects we have studied.  In some classes I have all the kids wanting to be first and in others I have none of them wanting to.  Even doing a rhyme choosing poem sometimes does not really work out well, 'The Hat' programme will solve all these issues.  You can type the names into it as you go or you can do it before hand and then just load the list from a saved file, you can also pick pairs of names so if you have a class that does not like to pair up this will also work great. 

I like it because the kids can't argue with it or blame anyone, if they say it's not fair I just point at the computer and say - 'the computer picked it, not me' and this pretty much stops any arguments.  As an added bonus it's also a bit of fun, the kids like trying to guess whose name will come out each time the hat draws a name. I keep it on my flash drive -  it's just a small programme, and that way I have it with me which ever class I am in. It's got to the point where the kids ask for it now, it's nice to have a positive start to something most of them don't like to do.

The programme is called 'The Hat' and is from Harmony Hollow Software.  You can find it here and best of all it's free.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Korea in the News #4

South Korea and more importantly Suwon is mentioned in two articles that are on the New Zealand News website 'Stuff' today.

The first one is about Internet/technology addiction in children - as a teacher I see this all the time.  If the kids have any kind of break most of them pull out their phones, you try and talk to them but they are too busy playing games. The article mentions a Suwon elementary school that has a policy where they take the phones at the beginning of the day and return them when the kids are ready to leave.

Article: South Korea to stem digital addiction from age 3

The second article is about the toilet museum in Suwon, one of the many fabulous attractions of our fair city. I have not been yet but it's on my 'To-do' list.

Article: Toilet park flush with success

Monday, November 26, 2012

Music Monday #24

This week I thought that I would introduce some New Zealand Punk, I've talked about a few New Zealand bands but not really the punk scene.

Punk was and still is pretty popular in New Zealand, there have been many bands over the years mostly on the underground scene but a few have been a bit more widely received.  It's pretty hard to make it mainstream at the best of times and if you add to that a very small country with a limited fan base and you can see the obstacles that face many alternative bands from New Zealand.

One band that did pretty well is Kitsch - (note there are a few bands in the world with this name), they are a Punk band from New Zealand and have been around for over fifteen years - on and off. They play the more melodic punk and have released a couple of albums over the years, they have also supported many international bands like NOFX and Bad Religion to name just a few.

Kitsch - Stay Right Here

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Interview from Expat Arrivals

I was recently interviewed by the website Expat Arrivals for their South Korean information page. Expat Arrivals is a website that aims to give lots of local knowledge and information for living in areas all over the world.

You can check out my interview and others from expats living in South Korea here.

Seoul Lantern Festival - November 2012

Last weekend a friend and I braved the winter chill and went out to see the last night of the 2012 Seoul Lantern Festival.

The festival ran from the 2nd of November to through to the 18th of November. It takes place on the Cheonggyecheon Stream stretching 1.5km from Cheonggye Plaza all the way down to Seungyo Bridge. There were over three thousand lanterns and the theme for this year's festival was “Roots of Seoul, A Day in the Life of Our Ancestors”.

The lanterns were amazing, there were so many to see and they were all constructed with such care, it was truly beautiful. The lanterns were lined down the river, to view them you walked along the side of the stream, there are walkways on both sides. Sometimes the trees obstructed the views a bit but overall it was very well executed. A lot of the lanterns showed the history of Korea from the Joseon dynasty but it also moved into the future and they had lanterns depicting popular cartoon characters like Pororo. Something for everyone!

We went on the last day, it was also a Sunday and of course the weekend is always busy at these kind of events, add to that being the last day and you can imagine how crowded it was.  It took ages just to get to the start of the lanterns but it was well worth it and I'm glad I got the chance to go.

For more information and photos you can check out the website Visit Seoul.

Photos courtesy of worldsafari.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Music Monday #23

Last week I totally forgot about Music Monday, I remembered on Wednesday so by then it was a bit late and I decided to just skip it for that week. We are back this week however with some more Korean music.  I just did a post about a gig that I went to in Seoul on the weekend and unfortunately I had to leave early so I did not get to see 'The Rock Tigers'.

This week I thought I would introduce them for Music Monday instead, I still still hope to be able to check them out live sometime. The Rock Tigers (더 락타이거즈) are a rock and roll band with an old school Rockabilly sound, the band includes a double bass which adds to that swinging kind of rhythm. They have had a few line up changes over the years but the lead singer has stayed the same. They have released some albums and EP's and have garnered a considerable following although they are still far from what we would consider mainstream. They regularly play live shows in Seoul so if you are living in or around Seoul keep an eye out and you might get to see them.

The Rock Tigers - Cry Baby

You can also check out an interview with the band and find out more information over at The Silk They have a great video all about the band in their 'Koreans in the Spotlight' series so be sure to check it out.

Live Music in Seoul - Hongdae, Club FF (11/17/2012)

On Saturday this weekend I went to my first gig in Korea, it was at Club FF in Hongdae and there were five bands for 15,000 won.

Unfortunately I live in Suwon which is a couple of hours travel from Hongdae in Seoul, I had to use public transport to get back and there are limitations on the services which run that late at night.  I found out that there is the 3007 red bus that leaves from Gangnam at about 1am and that seemed to be the last one. The other option is to stay until morning when the services start up again but I didn't really want to do that.  In order to get over to Gangnam from Hongdae I had to leave the club about 12am  - this meant that I missed the last two acts. I got a taxi from Hongdae to Gangnam, this is much more expensive at night as they charge a 10% surcharge so I think it ended up costing about 16,000 won.

So I ended up seeing 'The Lads', 'Bye Bye Badman', '18Gram' and 'Magna Fall', I did get to see one song from 'Copy Machine' before I had to leave but I missed the rest of their set and that of the 'Rock Tigers'.  It was just starting to get good too, so was a bit of a drag but I will know for next time and maybe arrange to stay the night in Seoul to make it a easier.

All in all it was a good night, I'm glad I finally made it to a show, hopefully it will be the first of many.  The bands I saw were pretty good, mainly with rock type sounds. 'Copy Machine' is more Ska so I was looking forward to seeing them, they had a really good energy from the little bit that I saw. I think my favourite was '18Gram' which played some good sounding rock music, they had a really cool, lively sound. 'Bye Bye Badman' and 'The Lads' were OK but I thought that for the former the music was a bit loud over the vocals, they are a big band with five members so it's a big sound. The one I liked least was the only English band and that was 'Magna Fall', they are Irish and American, I think, although they did have a Korean friend playing with them as an extra guitar, not sure if that's a permanent change to the line up or not.  They were not bad or anything, I just thought they were an average pub type rock band.

I would have liked to see the 'Rock Tigers', it was the one that I missed entirely, they play a rockabilly type music and I have heard that their live shows are really good.  While it's not my usual kind of music I have seen a few of their videos on YouTube and thought they had a good sound and looked like a fun group. I hope I can see them in the future sometime.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Website Highlight #5 - Chincha

I wanted to share another website that I have been reading recently - this one is a magazine/lifestyle type site.  It's called Chincha and has lots of great articles, information and reviews plus a lot of other bits and pieces.

There are different contributors so there is a good range of topics, they are all written by English speakers and they also offer an Events page where they list things that are upcoming in Korea.

This is the website so check it out if you have not already found them.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Music Monday #22

This week I thought it would be nice to visit another country to look at some music, for the most part I have stuck to America, New Zealand or Korea.

This weeks band is from Japan, but they sing in English as the lead singer is Japanese/American. It is a band that I checked out from the listings of one of the recent festivals. I did not end up going as there was not really enough bands that interested me but it's a good way to find out about new bands and give them a listen.

The genre is the so called 'post-hardcore' - (think Linkin Park or My Chemical Romance) where screaming meets melodic singing hopefully in a harmoinic fusion.  I'm not a huge fan of these bands but for some reason I really like Linkin Park, its one of those guilty pleasures that you don't let on to your die-hard punk friends about.

So the band is Coldrain and they have been around since about 2007, they have been doing pretty well in the past few years over in Japan even though their lyrics are all in English. They have couple of albums and mini albums out; they seem to have a lot more international appeal than other bands because of the English element.

Coldrain - Die Tomorrow

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Little Bit of New Zealand - JGeeks

I was just checking out some New Zealand stuff on YouTube to see what was popular over there at them moment and I stumbled upon this group.

They are currently competing in 'New Zealand's Got Talent' as a dance group, well maybe dance/comedy group.  I thought they were really funny, totally fresh and with such a passion for their New Zealand culture but with a healthy dose of not taking themselves to seriously. 

I was thinking about putting it up for Music Monday but it's not really a song and I thought this bit from the show was pretty good.  They do have some songs so I might put one up in the future but if you are interested check them out on YouTube.

The group is called JGeeks and this video is from the Semi Finals of  the New Zealand's Got Talent competition.

Korea in the News #3

Not really sure if this counts as news per se but . . . .

Monday, October 29, 2012

Music Monday #21

I have posted a few Music Mondays about punk in Korea, this week I thought I would show that Ska is also alive and well and here in Korea.  Ska is one of those love it/hate it genres - especially in the punk culture.  Many punks feel it's boring or lame for various reasons, there is also many who associate 'selling out' with ska - such bands as Reel Big Fish and Goldfinger often have the finger pointed at them for this. There is also a lot of kidding around between bands, Propaghandi produced a song called 'Ska Sucks' and NOFX have one called 'We don't play Ska anymore' which goes on to say "because it sucks". None of which should be taken too seriously.

FYI - Ska if you don't know is a music style that has it's basis in Reggie and Jazz.  It's know for it's fast up-beat tempo.  Ska punk is just that fast, furious and fun, they usually have some kind of brass instrument in the band, commonly a trumpet.

I really like Ska punk, I'm a big fan on Less than Jake and Mad Caddies.  I always think of summer, the beach and having a fun time when I listen to it.

One Korean band that I have heard talked about on some other websites and that I found on YouTube is called - Skasucks - I am guessing it's tongue-in-cheek as they seem to be one of the leading ska bands on the Korean scene. They have been around for over five years now, they do a lot of covers and apparently a really great high energy live show.  I have not seen them live, but if I get the chance I think it would be a great one to go to.

Skasucks - Swimming in the Dream

Thursday, October 25, 2012

More V Energy Drink in Korea

Another update post - this one is about V Energy Drink.  I posted a while ago when V made its debut here in South Korea.  You can now find the 250ml cans at some of the GS25 convenience stores, which is great news.

I wanted to do a quick follow up to say that you can also get the new V flavour 'V Blue' here too. I just saw it come to my local store in the past week or so

I'm not such a fan of this one, I tried it in New Zealand when I was home a few months ago and thought it was OK.  I also just tried it again, they currently have a 1 + 1 special here in Korea (this just means two for one), but at the store that I usually go to they only have one line in the fridge for V - they had one green one left and then had filled up the rest with the blue ones. So I got one green and one blue - I have to say I prefer the original one.

More Whittaker's Chocolate in Korea

I did a post earlier this month about finding some blocks of Whittaker's Chocolate in the Galleria Department Store in Ingye-Dong Suwon.

Just a quick update to say that they have two more new flavours available  - Berry & Biscuit and Dark Almond.

It's still expensive at 11,000 won for a block, but sometimes you are willing to pay that extra for a bit of home.  I took some into work and it went down really well.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Music Monday #20

No Brain is one of the most famous indie rock bands in Korea, they are often described as Punk but they are more diverse than that - they have many influences and are probably better described as 'Alternative' if you want to put a label on it.  Their roots are in punk however, playing in small clubs in Hongdae, contributing to various punk compilations albums and covering Sex Pistols songs for one album.

They have been around since 1996 and have put out six albums, as they have grown in popularity and their line up has changed the music has inevitably changed too - it's become more mainstream with influences from Reggie to Country.  They even did a song with K-pop band Big Bang and they have made songs for the Korean teams in the Soccer World Cup over the years. The members have also appeared on a few TV shows in acting and hosting jobs.

So here is one song I have picked to showcase off YouTube, it was a bit of a random selection but there are many others so if you are interested check them out. You can also find the band on Facebook and their official site.

No Brain - 넌 내게 반했어

info from Wikipedia

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Touch of Culture - The Ballet

On Saturday I attended my first ever ballet.  I saw 'Swan Lake' performed by the Korean National Ballet Company. A friend of mine likes this sort of thing and invited me, I was not sure if I would like it but I figured you have to try everything once.

It actually was not as bad as I thought it was going to be, it kept my interest most of the way through. There was a bit in the second act where all the swans were dancing to some very soothing music that I found my eyelids drooping a bit.  After talking with the rest of the group afterwards however, I found I was not the only one - even the more enthusiastic ballet watchers had thought that part was very lulling.

I also thought the end was a bit weird as I was under the impression that the main characters die. It did not seem like that unless I was misinterpreting (which could easily be that case as its all interpretation) - it just seemed a lot happier at the end than I was expecting. Not a bad thing but when it ended I was a bit confused.

It was nice to get out and do something a bit different, I don't think it's something I would do on a regular basis but I would be open to seeing something like 'The Nutcracker' perhaps at another time.

The ballet was in the Opera House of the Seongnam Arts Center which was very easy to get to for me.  From Ingye-dong in Suwon you can take the red 4000 bus.  This bus takes you right to the Arts Center and it only took about an hour to get there.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Website Highlight #4 - KikinitinKorea

A really fun website that has been steadily gaining popularity recently is #KikinitinKorea. 

It's a series of pictures (with captions) that capture some of the highs, the lows and the things in between that living in Korea offers. It has also just been opened up so that you can submit your own pictures now too.

Check it out for a quick laugh.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Music Monday #19

I'm sorry to say I have been a bit slack with the posts lately, basically just a matter of finding the time and inspiration. Lucky that I have this Music Monday segment as it makes me post something each week at least. Because I have not posted a lot I am trying to keep to the Korean theme - this blog is supposed to be about living in Korea and all.

This week is another one I spotted on the bus - they run a lot of clips on the TVs in the buses here in Korea.  I did a post a while ago on the cartoon 'Larva' that you can see, they also have clips from Korean variety shows and various other things.  It does not have sound so I had to go and listen to this group on YouTube - I was curious to what they sounded like as the thing that I first noticed about them was that they were playing their own instruments.  Not a big deal in western music but for Korean music, dominated by K-pop groups, it's a bit of a novelty.

So another thing I noticed apart from the instruments was I thought it was cool they had a girl in their group.  There are not many mixed groups in Korea - they are either boy groups or girl groups.  I don't think I've seen any that are mixed that I can recall. After googling them yesterday however one of the first things to come up was talking about the new 'all boy group' - whoops.  You can't really blame me however - he's really pretty and has long hair he wears in a ponytail. I'm sure I'm not the only one to make that mistake.

The band is called Lunafly (루나플라이) and is most definitely k-pop but a bit different because as I said they play instruments and apparently do some of their own composing and song writing, they seem to be going for a more authentic 'band' feel.  They are a new group too so only have a few songs out and I think they have a 'mini' album, the videos that I have seen are simpler just them singing and playing instruments for example.  They don't do all the crazy outfits and dancing that is the signature of most k-pop. That being said their looks are all k-pop, and I read online that a lot of money and effort has gone into the look and style of them and their album.

They all seem to be pretty good at English, one of them is actually British-Korean so his native language is English rather than Korean.  This means that they are releasing music in both languages so I'm posting two videos today - they have released two songs to the same music.  One song is in Korean and the other in English - the music and the videos are the same but the songs have different names and different lyrics - it does not look like one is just the translation of the other.

So again not really my type of music but better than a lot of the usual k-pop.  At least they are doing some of their own work on the songs and playing their own instruments. It's a step in the right direction.

Lunafly - How Nice Would It Be? (얼마나 좋을까)

Lunafly - Super Hero

Monday, October 8, 2012

Music Monday #18

This Music Monday is a Korean offering, again it's a very popular one.  G-Dragon is one of the members of the hit Korean Group 'Big Bang', he also has what looks like a lucrative career in endorsements and a burgeoning solo career too.

He recently released an EP called 'One of a Kind' where one of the songs was called 'Crayon'.  Apparently this is short for 'Crazy+On' or a combination of 'Crazy+G-Dragon'.  The music video is being played on the buses at the moment which is where I saw a clip of it and thought I would show it here.  It certainly is crazy, but it seems like that was the idea for the video. It's bright and colorful and very silly.

Like his group 'Big Bang's' music, G-Dragon's sound is not really considered K-pop as such.  In Korea it is what passes as Hip Hop.  It does have a different beat to it than the more traditional K-pop sound. Anyway here for your interest or amusement - whatever the case may be is the latest music video from G-Dragon.

G-Dragon - Crayon

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Whittaker's Chocolate in Korea

I have heard that Whittaker's chocolate sometimes appears in random shops here in Korea, someone I was talking to said they found some in Paris Baguette once for example.  I have been here about 19 months now and have never seen it - until now.
I just happened to be wandering around the small grocery shop in the bottom of the Galleria in Ingye-dong today.  I don't really shop there as its a bit more expensive and the selection is smaller than the nearby Homeplus so I don't usually bother.  I was down there to get some fast food - the American chain 'Popeyes' has a branch in the food court there.  I thought I would have a look around while I was there and see what they had, sometimes they have things that you can't get at the bigger supermarket chains.

So this is where I found some Whittaker's chocolate - they have three of the 250g slabs available - Fruit & Nut, Creamy Milk and Almond Gold.  The kicker is that unless you are really craving it or are a die hard fan you probably won't want to pay the price.  One slab cost 11,000 won, they didn't have a price on them so I didn't find this out until I got to the counter.  I thought it would be a nice gift to take in to work after the holiday - I hope they appreciate it.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chuseok (추석)

This weekend in Korea is Chuseok, it includes the Monday also so we have a three day holiday at this time.  The actual day of Chuseok this year is Sunday the 30th September.

Also this year Wednesday is another Korean holiday so most schools have given the Tuesday as a holiday too.  This means that we get a five day holiday including the Saturday and Sunday which is very nice.
What is Chuseok?

Chuseok is one of the most important holidays in the Korean year and is often referred to as the Korean Thanksgiving.

It is traditionally a harvest festival which is celebrated on the brightest full moon of the year (it is the 15th day of the 8th month on the lunar calendar - the date changes every year).  In modern Korea families return their ancestral hometowns, there are traditional activities such as ancestor worship rituals and visiting tombs to tidy and clean them. Many of these kind of pastimes are still a big part of Chuseok. Some people still participate in traditional folk games whereas others may simply spend time with family, talking, playing card games or watching TV.
Food is a big part of the celebrations and families will prepare a big feast with meats, fish, vegetables, sweet rice, dumplings and fruit.  The traditional beverage for Chuseok is rice wine.

One of the most well know food dishes for Chuseok is Songpyeong (송편), and is a rice cake. It is made with rice powder dough and filled with things like beans, chestnuts or sesame. It is then steamed with pine needles. Songpyeong is usually shaped in a crescent - tradition says that you make a wish as you fill the Songpyeong and then fold it into the crescent so the wish does not fall out. There is also a Korean saying that a person that makes beautiful Songpyeong will have a good spouse and children.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Music Monday #17

A long long time ago my best friends, older sisters, boyfriend (I know, I know) gave her a dubbed double sided tape that changed both of our musical tastes forever.  On one side of the tape was Pennywise and on the other side was Rancid - it was some of our first real introduction to Punk music and it lead to seeking out more bands and trying to get hold of more copies of this awesome music (it was harder to find in NZ as it was not popular when we first started getting interested in it, if you could find it in stores it was expensive because it was not imported in bulk like popular music). 

The thing I loved most about it was it was so short and energetic.  We grew up on rock, grunge and metal - while I liked that stuff the main thing I did not like about it was the instrumentals.  I like vocals, I don't know much about music so I'm not really going to wonder at someones great guitar skills in a 1 minute long interlude.  Punk was short, sharp and to the point.

In honor of that first tape today's Music Monday is a Rancid song and is one of my favourites although to be honest the whole album '...And Out Come the Wolves' is pretty good. I really liked their earlier stuff but have not really continued with them into the newer albums as I did not like the sound as much. Ruby Soho is from '...And Out Come the Wolves', which was Rancid's third album released in 1995 (the video is from this time so shows a very young looking Rancid).

Rancid - Ruby Soho

Monday, September 17, 2012

Music Monday #16

I thought I would do another Korean music one for Music Monday today.  This is a Kpop song that is doing the rounds at the moment but with a bit of a difference as this one is sung all in English. With Kpop having such a limited audience with its Korean consumers often if they want to broaden their appeal groups/singers will release albums in other languages.  Most notably in Japanese as Kpop is hugely popular in Japan but also sometimes in English.

Kim Junsu or Xia (pronounced shee-a) as he is know is a popular figure in the Korean media. He is an actor and a well know Kpop musician for groups both current and past. He has also recently branched out into solo work with his music. As you might have gathered from previous posts I'm not a fan of Kpop - it's just not my thing.  However I do live in Korea and this blog is about living in Korea so I feel that I should show some of its music along the way.  I chose this one because I wanted to show that many Kpop artists are recording in English, it's not perfect or anything but he gives it a good try and it works out fine for the song. The video for the song is pretty silly too but like I said, he gets points for singing the whole song in English.

Kim Junsu (Xia) - Uncommitted

Monday, September 10, 2012

Music Monday #15

Music Monday this week is a bit special because it's 'one plus one' as they say over here in Korea  - which means buy one get the second one free.

In my last post I talked about how one of my favourite childhood movies turned 25 last week.  In honor of that I'm going to give you a preview of some of the songs from the soundtrack. The soundtrack to 'The Lost Boys' is one of the better ones that I have heard, I'm not usually a fan of soundtracks but in this case it just fit the movie so well. It's a great reflection of the times too, with the ballards and the rock and its quintessentially 80's vibe.

I like lots of the songs on the soundtrack but the two I have chosen are probably my favourites - one is the theme song 'Cry Little Sister' by Gerard McMahon (aka. Gerard McMann or G Tom Mac) and the other is really like an unofficial theme song as it is almost as recognisable - it's by Foreigner frontman Lou Gramm and is called 'Lost in the Shadows'.

G Tom Mac - Cry Little Sister (Theme Song from the Motion Picture)

Lou Gramm - Lost In The Shadows

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Lost Boys - 25 Years On

I just read online that it has been 25 years since the classic vampire film - 'The Lost Boys' came out. I loved this film, it was a bit scary when I first saw it, I'm pretty sure I did not see it for a while after it first came out.  If I had seen it in 1987 I would have had nightmares, I still remember the sleepless nights after watching 'Gremlins' with my family.

I have an older sister and brother so they would probably have had the video out from the video store and at some stage I would have been allowed to watch it too. It is one movie that stuck in the mind - it was sexy and cool, it had so many cute guys in it and awesome lines.  "You'll never grow old Michael, and you'll never die.  But you must feed!" - David

It also had an awesome soundtrack, I know my sister had that on tape and I remember dubbing it and then listening to it many times during my early teenage years.

I'm just so very glad that I grew up in the 80's when Vampires were badass and didn't sparkle in the sun.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Gmarket Haul #2

A new 'Gmarket Haul' today, I received this haul a while ago and took the photos but only just loaded them onto the computer.  It's all beauty products so it actually works out better as I have had a chance to try these products and can tell you what I think.

Everything I ordered on this purchase was from the one seller and was 'Etude House' products. It all came nicely packaged in the one box and everything was well wrapped as you can see.  After unwrapping everything, the second picture is what I got in the box.

These three above were the 'service' or 'freebie' products that I received with my purchases, one cute Hello Kitty fan and two small tubes of hand creme.  Very nice gifts.

On the left is 'Wonder Pore Freshner' - it is basically a toner.  It smells nice and is very refreshing. It says it is a 7 in 1 Total Pore Solution and comes in a 250ml bottle. The price was 8,100 won on sale, it is usually 9,000 won.

On the right we have a 'Blackhead Heating Deep Clean Gel' removal scrub. It's a heat pack type gel that is activated by your skin, it warms up and supposedly draws out any bad stuff. I quite like this one, it feels like it is doing some good. The size of the tube is 50ml, you don't need much so it should last a while. The price was 7,200 won on sale, it is usually 8,000 won. And also some cute little 'Cat Tweezers' cleaning eye brow, I got these because they were cheap and cute and I was getting other stuff anyway. The price was 2,250 won, on sale it is usually 2,500 won.

Above we have 'Goodbye Pore Ever' pore primer stick. This is a correction or filler type product for under your foundation or base. Its supposed to smooth away imperfections like pores and make your skin nice and smooth. It's OK, not sure if I see much of a difference however. The price was 7,200 won on sale, it is usually 8,000 won.
The other product in this photo is 'Bling Bling Eye Stick' in white shooting star color. It comes in other colors but I wanted the white for under my eyes, makes them a bit wider and brighter looking. It's a good stick, goes on easy and is nice and sparkly. The price was 3,600 won on sale, it is usually 4,000 won.

That's it for this haul, I will try and put another one up the next time I get some goodies.

Please Comment:
What do you buy on Gmarket and how do you find it? I would love to hear some other experiences.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Music Monday #14

Another punk one this week, one of my long time favourites that is still going strong.  This song is off their latest album "Laugh Now... Laugh Later" which came out in 2011.  I've got many favourites from this band but I thought I would pick a newer one this time as I really liked their new album. I might put some of their older ones up in the future.

Please note the video here is not that great, I don't think it really goes with the song very well but it's the official video so we will go with it.  Also it has violent themes so if you are sensitive to that kind of thing please don't watch it.

Face to Face - Its Not  All About You

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Food and Drink Korea #2 - Convenience Store Drinks

I have some more drinks to share with you today, these are some that can be found at your local convenience stores or supermarkets in Korea.  The last two are a bit more rare as they are only new additions to the market.

1. Shikhye (비락 식혜)
Made by a company called Paldo (who also bring you number 5 on this list) this is a traditional drink made from rice. The label says Nostalgia Drink. Shikhye Since 1993 and then the rest is all in Korean, it comes in a small 238ml can. Shikhye is a sweet dessert drink for after meals - it is supposed to help with digestion. It is a clear color with a hint of yellow to it, and it has little bits of rice floating in it. You need to shake it first before opening because it settles at the bottom of the can. It's quite sweet and tastes kind of like rice cereal. I did not like it, I think it's one of those flavours that you need to grow up on to enjoy however I'm sure some non-Korean people out there like it; I think it could be a nice refreshing drink but it was just not my thing.

2. Oriental Raisin Water
Like the honey water I tried last time I figured  - I like raisins and water so this could be OK. Boy was I ever wrong, all I can say is uggg (with shudder for good measure).  I did not like this one, actually I smelt it first and knew I would not. I did however proceed to take a couple of sips just so I could advise about it here  - the rest of this one is being tipped down the sink. It's called Oriental Raisin Water - that's in English on the bottle, but it does not taste like raisins or grapes or any other fruit.  It tastes kind of like wheat infused water, it's a clear brown color like the color of tea. If anyone knows what is in it exactly please put in the comments

3. Milkis (밀키스)
Milkis is one of the most well known Korean soda drinks, its made by the company Lotte which is a large local conglomerate. Lotte owns a chain of supermarkets, an amusement park, baseball teams, hotels and some movie cinemas to name but a few of their enterprises. I've taken a long time to try this one as I just never really thought that putting milk in a soda was a good idea.  I finally thought it was time to bite the bullet and try it.  It's sweeter than I thought it would be but not hugely so and only faintly tastes of milk, it's a bit like Sprite with a bit of yogurt flavor mixed in.  It looks pale and white and is carbonated so it really is a 'milk soda' kind of drink. It's kinda hard to describe so if you get a chance try it yourself.  It's OK for a try but I don't think I will be drinking it on a regular basis.

4. Angry Birds Taurine Ssoda (타우릴 쏘다)
This one is a new soda that is taking advantage of the Angry Bird mania that has swept the Korean nation.  As a teacher I really see the permeation of this, the kids are all Angry Bird this and Angry Bird that - they have toys and t-shirts and usually can't go one lesson without mentioning it in some context. This soda is clearly labeled 'Caffeine Free' on the can  - I am guessing that it will appeal to kids so it would be bad to have caffeine in it.  The taste also shows that it's probably marketed towards kids, it tastes like sweet candy.  I think it was raspberry in flavor, the color was pink so it was one of those flavors (could have been strawberry but it had a bit of a tang to it).  I thought it was quite nice but I do like really sweet fruity tastes. I probably would not buy on a regular basis but would drink again happily.

5. Pow (파우)
According to the label on this one it is actually made in Austria not Korea but I thought I would add it here because I wanted to try it anyway.  It is one of an Avengers series that recently came out and apparently according to another blog I read there are six different cans.  There were only three at the store I found them at - Ironman and Hulk from the Avengers and then Spiderman.  I bought the Hulk one as I thought he was a good role model for energy drinks. Anyway this one is labeled as an Organic Energy Drink - not sure what that's about as the ingredients are all in Korean, it does have caffeine in it however as that warning is in English.  It tasted of a kind of citrus flavor - maybe lemon or lime I would guess.  I did not really like it that much but it was OK enough to finish the can, probably not a repeat thing even if the cans look pretty cool.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Music Monday #13

Music Monday today is the only one that I will be posting in August as I had a bit of a break while I was at home and then I was pretty busy with some extra classes when I got back to Korea.

Today's Music Monday is in honor of a great punk talent who recently and sadly passed away on the 31st of July.  Those of you who are into punk will know I'm talking about Tony Sly - front man for No Use for a Name.

No Use for a Name were one of my favourite bands during my teenage years, I had the album 'Making Friends' and it got it's fair share of thrashing (along with some of their other albums but that one is the one I remember the best).

If you want to know more about his passing this is the link to the YouTube coverage by ClevverMusic, there was no cause of death released and I don't think there has been any updates since then. Very sad for his family, friends and the punk world in general - he was a very talented guy.

The song I'm showcasing here is one of No Use For A Name's songs from the 1997 album 'Making Friends'.  It's called 'The Answer is Still No' but the video here is a bit of a different version  - it's from a live show and at the beginning Tony says this is how NOFX made them play it on tour with them, it's a bit faster and more upbeat.  Also please note there is some bad language in this video so if that's not your thing please don't watch it.

No Use For A Name - The Answer is Still No

Learning Korean #3 - The Alphabet (Hangeul Part 2 of 4)

The Korean Alphabet was invented in around 1443 during the Joseon Dynasty and the reign of King Sejeon. Before that they used the Chinese system for writing and as it is difficult language it meant that the rate of literacy in Korea was very low - only the rich and most often men could learn to read. The alphabet was invented with ease of learning in mind and as was intended so commoners could learn to read and write.
The basic alphabet consists of 24 consonants and vowels, there are 14 consonants and 10 vowels. there are also some double consonants and compound vowels that round out the script. The letters are then arranged into syllable blocks to form words.
In this post I am going to talk about the vowels in the Korean alphabet.
There are six basic vowels
ᅡ   ᅥ   ᅩ   ᅮ   ᅳ   ᅵ
and four [y] vowels (these take the sounds from the vowels above and add a y sound to the start)
ᅣ    ᅧ    ᅭ    ᅲ
This makes up the 10 vowels in the alphabet.
To make the sounds of these vowels:
ᅡ    [a]  - ah         ᅣ   [ya] - yah
ᅥ    [eo] - eo        ᅧ   [yeo] - yoh
ᅩ    [o] - o            ᅭ   [yo] - yo
ᅮ    [u] - uu          ᅲ   [yu] - yuu
ᅳ    [eu] - eu
ᅵ    [i] - ee

You can see how the vowels with the double strokes are similar to the ones with the single, basically if it has the second stroke you just add a 'y' sound to the beginning.  So a good way to learn them is by rhyming them ah - yah and so on.

To give you more of an idea of the correct sounds, here are some English words that have the sound we are tying to make for the six basic vowels:

ᅡ [a] - as in the a in father  
ᅥ [eo] - as in the u in jug
ᅩ [o] - as in the o of oh!
ᅮ [oo or u] - as in the oo of moon
ᅳ [eu] - mix between oo and ee, similar to the u in mure (no equivalent in English)
ᅵ [i] - as in the ee in meet

(you can use some of the links below to find websites that have the sounds of these letters, the best way to learn is by hearing them) 

That is all for this lesson, if you are trying to learn the Korean script then I think this is the best place to start - you can try and memorize the 10 vowels.  Once you have done that you will be ready to move onto the consonants.

The way I learned these was by writing them out many many times and saying the sound as I wrote it.  You could also make some flash cards if you want to test yourself, really it is just about sitting down and going over them until they stick in your head. When you are out and about don't forget to use the signs to test yourself - see if you can identify some of the new letters your have learned.

Some references for leaning Hangeul:

Yes! You Can Learn KOREAN Language Structure in 40 Min. by Tong-Ku Lee
Korean made easy (Starter) - by Seung-eun Oh


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Website Highlight #3 - The Silk Road

Another awesome website that I just found and really wanted to share.  This one is called The Silk Road and is relatively new.  It's a series of short videos about Korea, lots of different topics from shopping and bars to culture and places to visit.

Great videos and what looks to be the start of a really interesting and informative site - be sure to check them out.  The website address is and as always I have put a permanent link in the list of useful sites on the side of the blog.

Sneak Peek at The Silk Road:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Website Highlight #2 - koreaBANG

I found another cool website that I wanted to share with you.  It's called koreaBANG and its a media information site.  The full name is koreaBANG - Hot Internet stories, pictures and videos in Korea and it is apparently in association with another similar site called chinaSMACK (which I'm guessing has news and media from China).

So it's an English site but based on Korea and aims to bring any trending articles, viral videos or other such media from Korea to the English world.

The actual website is and I have put a permanent link in my list of useful sites on the side of the blog.

Check it out - it has lots of interesting articles and things if you are living in Korea or even just interested in visiting or just interested in Korea.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

ESL Teaching Tips #2 - Five Favourite Filler Games

As most of you will know if you are teachers or have been looking into ESL teaching, one of the main things that you will be asked to do is make your classes fun.  This goes double for private academy schools as they are first and foremost a business.  If the kids are having fun (as well as learning) then the parents will continue to send them and the school will continue to make money.

The Internet is filled with ways to spice up your classroom. I am always looking for new ideas to make my kids more interested in the lessons.  I thought I would share here some of the basic games that you should know if you are an ESL teacher.  These are your 'go to' games for when you finish something early or need a filler for any extra time you have.  There is nothing new here but I just wanted to list the ones that I use in my classes every day. They are tried and true and easy to do!

1. Hangman
It's a classic and your kids will probably already know it, some of the younger ones may not but it's easy to teach by example.  There has been some conversation recently about whether the 'hangman' picture is appropriate for younger learners. In my opinion they are exposed to worse in other media, it's a stylised picture that really has become more a symbol than anything else.  I still use it and have never had any complaints (besides we grew up with it and we're fine - aren't we?)
With the younger ones I write some words (usually from the story we are reading) on bits of paper and then they take turns coming up and writing it on the board.  With the older ones, I give them a choice - if they have their own word great, otherwise I help them out  - sometimes it's hard to think on the spot.  We usually play either with words from the story we are doing or related words.  For example we were doing a story on the Grand Canyon; the topic for hangman was - nature.  This narrows it down a bit but still keeps it challenging as they can't just look in their books.

2. Pictionary
Not quite as educational as Hangman but it's a favourite with the kids.  I use it if we have been working really hard and need a five minute reward at the end of class. It does test their vocabulary - I've been surprised by words that kids know when playing this. I have some words printed up on small cards that I keep in my bag.  You can have easy, medium and hard ones if you have different classes that way your are prepared for all occasions.  You can also turn this into a race, split the board in two and have two teams racing against each other to be the first to guess the word. I usually just play it like Hangman, one student up the front the others guessing whoever gets it right comes up and draws next.

3. Sticky Ball Throw
This is one I play all the time and you can change it to suit yourself. You should always have a sticky ball in your bag and you can get them from Home plus and other stores if you are in Korea. It is a great resource, cheap and full of fun.

There are so many ways use the sticky ball but my main one is where I draw a basic round target on the whiteboard and give the middle ring 500 or 100 and then smaller values to the outside rings. I write the vocabulary words on the board and the students have to make a new sentence using one word  - if it's a good sentance then they can throw the ball.  We usually have teams, if it's a small class individuals are fine for this game too. You can make them do any kind of question or exercise before they throw, that's what's great about this one.  You can also change the target, especially if you are an artist.  Sometimes I draw something to do with the story - we were doing Greek Monsters the other day so I drew a Cyclops. His eye was 100 and other parts of his body less.  I am a really bad artist, the students were asking me what it was, I had to tell them and then they are like - ooh OK but it looks like a cookie man.  Yes, Teacher is bad at drawing - lets move on. Another time we were doing space so I split the class into humans and aliens and then drew spaceships and UFOs on the board with Earth and another planet at either end.  They then had to try and hit the other team's planet or ships, first team to 'destroy' the other race wins (again my drawings were a source of great mirth for the kids).

Another classic, you have probably played this at least once in you life.  If not - basically you have cards with one word at the top - the 'answer word', and then a list of related words below that.  You are not allowed to say any words that are on the card - they are Taboo.  You have to describe the 'answer word' without using any of the words listed on the card. You can make it easier or harder by having more or less related taboo words - for my beginner classes only two taboo words but for my advanced there will be four or five taboo words. 
It is by far and away the most educational of these games I have listed here. The students really like it too; you have to prompt some of them but it's all learning.  I have made up three sets of cards, they are just ones I found on the Internet (sometimes you will have to amend them as there might be things that you know your students don't know), I have easy, medium and hard sets and I carry them in my bag for when I need something extra to do. Some of my classes have become really good at making sentences to describe things using this game. Sometimes it's hard to make them understand that they can't say any words on the paper, you have to keep telling them (well in my experience, but if you have a Korean co-teacher I guess they can just make sure they understand in Korean)

Also called Naughts and Crosses, I think you will know the one I mean or else you can always google it. All you need for this is a white or black board and something to write with. Super easy for even the most basic of classrooms.
I usually only use this with my younger kids; once they get older they figure out the logistics of it and you almost always come up with a stalemate.  The younger kids however love it.  What I do is put a vocabulary word in each square and then they chose a square and have to use the word in a sentence, if they get it right they get to put their mark in the square (either O or X) - three in a row wins. If you have time, play best of three - change the words around and add a few different ones each time you play a round. Alternatively you can have a question per box or something else that they have to do - possibilities are endless.

I really like all these games and always come back to them because they are so simple. Sometimes you need something at a moments notice and they fit the bill nicely.  Even ones where you need words, you can just write them as you go if you need to. They are also all highly customizable, if one gets a bit stale you can change it up to make it more exciting. Also on that note you can change how easy or hard the games are too, for your more advanced students you can add things to make it more challenging.