Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Getting An Alien Card in Korea

Getting an Alien Card in Korea:
This is a necessary procedure for any foreigner wishing to live and work in Korea legally. Also, it must be applied for at the nearest Immigration Office within 90 days of your arrival in Korea - if you arrive with a working Visa. In my case I had an E-2 [Conversational English Teacher] Visa. So, within 90 days of my arrival I had to go to Daegu [South Korea] about a 30 minute drive from Gumi [South Korea] to register at Immigration. In fact, when I got my Visa in Toronto, they paper clipped the following paper into my passport.

Phone Number of Immigration Offices in Korea

[Author's Note: On this paper Daegu is spelled Taegu. There is some confusion in Korea about the Romanization of Korean and therefore often D and T are interchanged as are B and P. Lastly, G and K can be used interchangable in place names. This leads to a lot of confusion cause some people say they live in KUMI and some people say they live in GUMI. It's the same place just spelled differently. Having gotten used to this I am try to be consistent about spelling place names I always spell Gumi with a G and Daegu with a D. However, I am not consistent is the spelling of Busan/Pusan. Sometimes I spell it will a B and sometimes I spell it with a P. Just want to you know it's the same place.]


Below is my E-2 Visa. They have since changed it and made it a computerized paper that is pasted into your passport but this is what it looked like in January 2003 when I got it in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.E-2 Visa January 2003

Alien Card Stamp on E-2 Visa

I know it's a little blurry and hard to read but above is a stamp on my E-2 [Conversational English Teacher Visa]. It says that the Daegu Immigration Bureau issued me a Wae-guk-in [Alien or direct translation is "foreigner"] card on February 15, 2003.

It's important to get an Alien Card for without it you usually can't do even the most necessary things like:

  1. Open a bank account
  2. Buy or set up cell phone service - not even Pre-paid or "Pay as you go" cell phone service
  3. Get internet hooked up
  4. Register at a hospital or clinic - this is not to say you can't get medical treatment cause you can but they always ask for your Alien [Wae-guk-in which actually means "Foreigner"] Card.

So, on Saturday, February 15th, 2003 Mr. Kim picked me up at my apartment and drove me to Daegu to get my Alien Card. I remember being excited to get this process over but unfortunately I didn't record about it in my diary so in writing about it I am relying on my memory. I know that I had to take my passport and my University Degree - the original degree - and I think Mr. Kim had some papers with him from the school like the school's business licence or at least the number of their business licence.

What I will never forget is that I was finger-printed. I didn't expect it. I had NEVER been finger-printed before in my life. And, all of a sudden I was being finger-printed! I was horrified! I felt like a criminal. Luckily, there were some other foreigners there going through the same process and so I was able to laugh and talk to them about it.

The worse part of the whole finger-printing process was afterward in when I was sent to the bathroom to try and wash up. There was no soap or paper towel in the bathroom and the water was ice cold. Trying to get the black ink off of my fingertips with icy cold water and no soap was useless!

I later learned that all Korean people get an ID card and that they are finger-printed for it. They even have a scanned thumb print on the back of their ID card. So, it being finger-printed was not some kind of a discrimination thing or some comment of the likelihood of my committing a future crime. It was just a standard procedure.


There are some websites that tell more about getting an Alien Card in Korea. One of the best is at Dave's ESL Cafe. Here is the link. Unfortunately the download applications do not work and I was not able to find another place to find them but it does offer information and tells how the first time you go you will be fingerprinted [wish I had known that, ha, ha] and to take at least 3 small passport sized photos. I think I only had 2 one for the card and one for their files but maybe you need 3 now [better safe than sorry].

Alien Card Info

Another website I found with all kinds of useful information about Korea is LifeinKorea. I have the link for it here.
Life In Korea

One of the best blogs I've read about Life in Korea is I Have Seoul. This is another Canadian English Teacher in Korea. Shaun has tons of useful links and information. His information is for Canadian and the map is for Seoul. To find the office nearest you ask someone at your school or call the numbers of the offices I have listed above. Someone in every office speaks some English. Or at least I have always found that to be the case.
Here's the link. I Have Seoul

I found a website with information of how to get the Daegu/Taegu Immigration Office. Here's the link. Daegu Specific Information

Sample of Alien Registration Card

Above is a sample of what an Alien Registration Card looks like. I found it on a Korean Government website. So they don't get me for copyright violation here's the website I copy this image from. City of Daegu

I hope quoting my source is enough to mean I am not infringing on a copyright. I would have scanned in my Alien Card and blurred the personal info. but I have never had a scanner in Korea and I never took my Alien Card out of the country so I don't have any copies of it.


So I get my Alien Registration Card [ARC]. Having gotten this process out of the way I feel more established in Korea. Now I can open a bank account. Yippee!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Long Days Get Longer in Gumi, Korea

My days in Gumi, South Korea were long and before the day was over they were to get a lot longer. It all started when a girl from my school who I'll call "Maureen" got a job offer from a university here in Korea. It is the same or better pay and at least 2 months of vacation time vs. the 10 days we get from our school. She somehow negotiated with the school to release her from her contract. So we have a going away party for her. I am happy for her but sad that she is leaving. Gumi just won't be the same without her. She is sort of an inspiration to me as she is from a small town in Eastern Canada and yet she has a Korean Driver's Licence and having bought a cheap car and she drives everywhere. She is fearless!

Right now my schedule sucks and it's about to get worse. My timetable goes like this:
  • Leave my apartment at 6:00 a.m. to walk to the school.
  • I teach a 6:20 a.m. class at the school.
  • At 7:10 a.m. one of my student's picks me up at the school and drives me to LG TV where I teach from 7:30 a.m. [or whatever time we get there - sometimes it's later if traffic is bad] until 8:20 a.m.
  • At 8:30 a.m. Mr. Kim [if he shows up - If Mr. Kim doesn't show up then I either get a drive with Jin Teacher or take a taxi] picks me up and drives me to LG Learning Center.
  • At 9:00 am I start teaching at LG Learning Center and teach until noon.
  • Then I have a lunch break but I am required to eat with my students in the cafeteria. They [wanting free time as much as I do] don't dawdle over lunch so usually they have finished eating at 12:15 or 12:20.
  • After eating until 1:00 p.m. I am free to do what I want like go for a walk or check my e-mail on one of the many free computers.
  • At 1:00 p.m. I start and teach again until 4:00 p.m.
  • At 4:00 p.m. there are staff meetings and forms and papers to fill out.
  • Then I get a drive back to the school in the school van and walk home to my apartment and my day is over.
  • So I am usually home by 5:30 p.m. at the latest.

It makes for a long day but it's do-able and I love the students I teach especially the students at LG Learning Center.

Now, however, since "Maureen" is leaving they need to get someone to teach her 5:00 p.m. class at LG-Phillips. So on Monday, February 10th, 2003 I am informed at 4:20 p.m. as I am about to head out to the school van for my drive home that "Maureen" will be picking me up in her car and taking me to LG-Phillips where she will introduce me as the new teacher. "Julie" the manager of our school comes with us and I think it is to make sure that the company likes me and has no concerns with me taking over as their teacher. Soon, however, it becomes clear that although the school is letting "Maureen" go to take a better job they have no intention of telling the students this. "Julie" tells "Maureen" in the car to tell the students that someone in her family - like her mother - is ill and that she has to go home to be with her. "Maureen" doesn't want to lie but "Julie" tells her if she doesn't they won't release her from her contract and that she will then not be able to take the new job nor will she will be unable to work in Korea until her Visa expires. They argue over this in the car and eventually they decide that "Julie" will lie to the students about the "illness of a family member" and that all "Maureen" has to do is agree if asked about it or minimally - JUST KEEP HER MOUTH SHUT.

Well that's what happens. The students like me cause I can speak a little Korean and cause I joke around with them and so they don't ask too many questions. "Julie" and "Maureen" leave before anyone can think of any questions to ask about "Maureen's" mom and I am left to try and teach a class for which I have no book for and for which I had zero time to prepare. Boy those ice-breaker games I have in my repertoire from teaching Life Guarding back home sure came in handy.

In a way I am happy cause now I will be getting overtime pay as I will be teaching so many more hours than are in my contract. Moreover, I am happy for "Maureen" as she had become sort of my role-model. I look at her doing things like driving around in Korea in her own car or getting a job teaching at a university and I say to myself "Hey, I could do that, too."

But now my long day is even longer stretching out for more than 12 hours and 90 % of that is either teaching or lesson planning or filling out some kind of paperwork for the school. Now I will leave my apartment before dawn and get back after dark. I wonder if everyone teaching in Korea is working such long hours?


But I am reminded of the yin and the yang [normally shown in black and while but in Korea it is pictured in red and blue on Tae-guk-i or the Korean flag] that represents the balance in life. According to information I have read "the circle in the center, red upper half and blue lower half, represents absolute, or the essential unity of all being. The Yang (positive) and the Yin (negative) divisions within the circle represent duality. Examples of duality are heaven and hell, fire and water, life and death, good and evil, or night and day".

Korean Flag - The Tae-guk-i

I found a link that explains more about this.

Korean Flag

I guess the positive and the negative, as almost everything in life, sort of balance out. I am able to find some more positives from having to teach this new extra class. Well, true to the title of my web blog, I am a little guy crazy. And, my new class has some cute young guys in it. Below are photos of two of my new students.

Nuke - My Student

[Nuke, Daegu Train station, Daegu, South Korea, February 2oo3]

This is Nuke. He is so cool. He spent somewhere between 6 months and a year in Vancouver, Canada and as a result he loves Canada and Canadians. Even in this picture he is wearing sports clothing with the Canadian flag. His English is excellent and he gives me his e-mail and cell phone number and declares himself to be my official interpreter. I am so fortunate to have met him!

Rok - My Student

[Rok, Gumi, South Korea, February 2003]

This is a picture of my student Rok. He is a little more conservative than Nuke and more worried about his ability to speak English but once we get joking around he forgets to be nervous and his English really flows. He has a great sense of humor and I must admit I do have sort of a crush on him. Wonder where he is now......

Sunday, January 29, 2006

I Love E-Mart

During my time in Gumi, South Korea I came to love E-Mart. It is a huge department store much like Wal-Mart. It is the Korean version of Wal-Mart. It is where I first went grocery shopping. But as I explored I found it had a lot more to offer than just a good supermarket in the basement.

Food Court at E-Mart
I found a food court on the first floor. It had Chinese, Korean and Western food. It even had a McDonalds. I ate McDonalds for lunch and took this picture. I am amazed at the baby carriers they use in Korea. They are some sort of a quilted blanket with straps. It is wonderful in that I've seen mother's use it as a blanket to cover their child when they take them off their back.
[E-Mart Food Court, Gumi, South Korea, February 2003]

Funky Hairdrier

I found a Hair Salon on the third floor of the E-Mart. It had the coolest looking hairdryers I've ever seen. Or at least I think they are hairdryers. I can't imagine what else they could be. [E-Mart, Gumi, South Korea, February 2003]

Old-Fashioned Perm Machine

I had seen this type of perm machine in a Hairdressing School window used as a display years ago in Halifax, Nova Scotia but I had never seen one used in real life. I took this picture and tried to stay and watch for a few minutes to see the procedure but as the only foreigner in the E-Mart I was attracting too much attention so I had to quickly move on. [E-Mart, Gumi, South Korea, February 2003]

Flowered Toilet Seat
Flowered Toilet Seat

I hope I don't seem obsessed with bathrooms and toilets but with my problems using squat toilets and having to always remember to bring my own toilet tissue I was so amazed and pleased to see these beautiful toilets with dried flowers imbedded in the plastic of the seat. The bathrooms at E-Mart are clean and bright with western style toilets and plenty of free tissue. A few years ago when I first arrived in Korea a friend showed me a web blog written by a teacher in Seoul and the whole premise of her blog was a bet between her and her friends on rather she could spend a whole year in Korea without ever having to use a squat toilet. Every week she would update her blog. When I read it she was about 6 months into her stay in Korea and she yet had to use a squat toilet. I wish I had written down the web address I would love to see if she actually won the bet. It was most amusing and hopefully it helps illustrates my point of how important something like a bathroom can become when you are experiencing culture shock and NOTHING is like home. [E-Mart, Gumi, South Korea, February 2003]

Squid For Sale

A visit to E-Mart is not complete without going to the supermarket to check out the interesting food and to buy some groceries for home. I saw this it looks like squid. I might actually have tried it if I could have figured out how to cook it. [E-Mart, Gumi, South Korea, February 2003]

Some Kind Of Bacon
This appears to be bacon. I buy a package of it and some eggs and take it home to make a Sunday brunch. It was excellent. The stone statutes are traditional in Korea. They are usually very big and outside. I have been told they are especially popular on Jeju Island. I think they are called Har-a-bong. I believe that is the Jeju dialect for Har-a-budge-i which in English is "Grandfather". [E-Mart, Gumi, South Korea, February 2003]


So with clothing, hairdressing shops, a food court, a supermarket, and clean bright washrooms E-Mart has something for everyone. I always found almost everything I needed there.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Saturday Workshop - 3 Life Lessons

Saturday, February 8th, 2003

Well, it's my third Saturday in Korea and I have started to settle in. When I signed a contact back in Canada to come and work for this school I agreed to the fact that there would be 4 Saturday workshops throughout the year that are mandatory. I hadn't realized at the time how tired I would be and how much I would be looking forward to my weekends for "down time". I am required to be at the school at 8:15 a.m.

I arrived at about 8:10 a.m. only to find out that not everyone had arrived and it was a case of "hurry up and wait". So, I grabbed a cup of coffee from the vending machine and sat down to wait. Our supervisor who I'll call "Julie" is running around trying to get us organized. The first problem is that for the Korean, Japanese and Chinese Teachers it is a weekend workshop and they are required to spend the night at the camp and attend the workshop tomorrow, too. The "Native Speakers" were told the workshop was only on the Saturday and that is what is in our contracts. A huge debate results with the other teachers resenting the Western Teachers. I am so new I just sit there drinking my coffee and trying to stay below the radar. Eventually, it is decided that the Westerners only have to attend for the day. And, we all climb into the vans and drive 30 minutes to the location the workshop will be held at somewhere near Waegwan towards Daegu of Gumi.

The day drags on and on and ALL of the meetings are in Korean and nothing is translated into English. The English Teachers start to get restless [me included] why are me required to be here? We can't understand anything of what is going on and we sure can't contribute. Then we break for lunch and Tony is given a digital camera and told to take pictures of us. I hear one of the other English Teachers mumble that this is why we are here. It's all a "photo opportunity" to promote the school. I think that is very cynical but as the day drags on and I learn absolutely nothing and understand even less of what is going on I begin to concur.

After supper [the evening meal at around 6:00 p.m.] "Jamie" our recruiter showed up. All the Canadian English Teachers have the same recruiter. He had told me he would be coming to Korea to visit the school within my first couple of weeks. My starting at the school just happened to coincide with his annual visit to the school. I had never met "Jamie" before. I had talked to him on the phone a lot in Canada prior to coming and he was the recruiter my friend "Mary" had used.

It was really nice to meet him. Even more so since he brought sheets from Canada [my Mom - at my request - had shipped some to him for him to bring me]. After 3 weeks in Korea I finally have the bedding I want and need. Yippee! Moreover, he is able to get me an advance of about 150,000 won [or a bit over $ 150.00 CDN] on my salary. I didn't have a lot of money when I left Canada and I was worried when I learned I would only be paid once a month. I wondered how I would survive for over a month with only $ 200.00 CDN. But, "Jamie" had reassured me and told me he himself had been in a similar situation when he first went to Korea to teach and so had many of the other teachers he had recruited. He had told me it wouldn't be a problem to get an advance. However, although I had tried several times I had been unable to get an advance. But when he showed up and I told him my problem and within 5 minutes I had cash in my hand. It was amazing how he made things happen.

The other English Teachers seemed glad to see him, too. However, some of them just wanted to give him a piece of their mind cause they are not pleased with the disorganization at the school.

Then a new crisis arose. It became apparent that the "Native Speakers" were expected to spend the entire weekend at the workshop. When "Julie" had told us just that morning that we could go home that evening she had neglected to tell or clear this with our boss [Mr. X - the owner of the school]. Moreover, we learned that there had been no preparation made to get us back home. No one had been scheduled to drive us the 30 minutes back to Gumi. Had this been made clear to us the day before or even that morning we could have prepared and packed some clean clothes, snacks, etc. But we weren't prepared to spend the night. We didn't even have our toothbrushes. Added to that fact was that not only were there no beds there weren't even separate rooms for the male and female teachers. The Korean Teachers got some blankets and start to spread them on the floor of the room next door to the conference room. Some of the more senior Canadian teachers start to freak out. They didn't want to stay under these conditions and especially not after being told we could go home that evening.

To this day I'm not sure what would have happened if "Jamie" hadn't been there but luckily he was. Sensing a revolt he took the boss aside and showing him his Korean Driver's Licence he asked if he could borrow one of the vans and drive us back to Gumi. Eventually, our boss agreed if somewhat reluctantly.

"Jamie" became a hero to the Canadian English Teachers and I learned a couple of valuable lessons:

  1. No doesn't always mean "NO". It might merely mean you need to get someone with more influence to ask for what you want/need on your behalf. I had been told I couldn't have an advance but "Jamie" was able to get one for me in a matter of minutes.
  2. There is usually a reason for things even if it isn't logical to you. It might be that your presence is required for photographic or publicity purposes. For example, the cynical comment of one of my fellow English Teachers proved true. The "Native Speakers" were needed at the Saturday Workshop so we could have our photos taken. I know this is at least partly true because I later saw the photos that Tony was told to take on the school's website.
  3. Korean people [and actually most people in general] don't like to lose face and therefore they don't always handle conflict directly. As a result don't believe everything you're told [either by a boss or a recruiter]. When we got upset and were causing a delay debating about having to spend the weekend at the workshop "Julie" simply took the path of least resistance and told us what we wanted to hear - namely that we only had to attend the workshop for the day and could go home that night.


I know this might seem like I am being very negative and harsh and perhaps I am at least in this instance. But, remembering these three points have always stood me in good stead in Korea and elsewhere. If I "expect the worst but hope for the best" than I am not so frustrated and disappointed when things don't go as I planned or was promised. And, often I am pleasantly surprised. Not such a bad lesson to learn in life.

Friday, January 27, 2006

My First Week Of Teaching In Korea

Friday, February 7, 2003

This post is about my first week of teaching in Korea. Well, week one is over and it actually went pretty well. I am surprised and pleased! I met some great people. I took some pictures of my favorite students, as well as, some of the Korean teachers I work with. I have been teaching only at TV and at LG Learning Center.

LG Learning Center is so posh! It is set up like a dorm for the students to live in for six weeks while they take English Immersion. There is a cafeteria there and a small convenience store. There is a gym and lots of lounges. There are even free computers that aren't password protected that I can use. My student Bill even showed me a place I can re-charge my cell phone battery for free. [My school finally gave me a cell phone to use. They own it but I pay the bill for the airtime usage. I guess they got tired of never being able to get a hold of me]. I love working here. It is so clean and modern and comfortable. There are coffee machines but they are free. You just push what you want. It's a whole other world from the school. I love it - it's amazing!

So far teaching in Korea as been a lot easier than I expected. The English level of the students is much higher than I expected or hoped. I had thought that I might be doing a whole lot of drawing pictures on the blackboard or using a lot of motions and body language to get my point across and I hadn't had to do much of that. I realize that maybe teaching Executives for a company like LG means that I am teaching students who are a higher caliber or who have had more English lessons. But whatever the reason I am just thankful.

I was impressed with my Level 2 - Intermediate students today cause when I went into the classroom there was a whole pile of candy on my desk. But then they admitted that they just took it from one of the free candy dishes in the lounge. Oh, well it's the thought that counts - I guess.


This is my student Bill. He chose his nickname because he says he "loves money". He is so funny he always makes me laugh. It is he who finally helps me choose a Korean nickname. Everyday he comes to class he says to me, "Ann Teacher. In Korea man is sky and woman is ground." And, I always reply to him, "Bill Student. In Korea teacher is honored so teacher is sky and student is ground." Finally one day he tells me he has the "perfect Korean nickname" for me - Sky. [Ha-nul]. He tells me I am his "Sky". I then go out and buy a stamp with my Korean nickname on it. And, to this day I am Ha-nul [Sky].

My SKY Stamp

This is my Ha-nul [Sky] Stamp. I love it.

This is my student Sam. He is in Level 1. He is a character. He always keeps us laughing.

Sunny Teacher
This is Sunny Teacher. She is in charge of all of us Teachers at LG Learning Center. She is very organized and dedicated. She keeps us on track.

Jin Teacher
This is a picture of Jin Teacher. She and I are becoming good friends since we teach at the same LG factory and travel together from there to LG Learning Center everyday. We weren't supposed to. She has a car and drives herself but she saw me waiting outside day after day at factory waiting for Mr. Kim to come pick me up and then he would never show up or show up late so I'd get in trouble with Sunny for being late arriving at LG Learning Center. So Jin volunteered to drive me. She is just so thoughtful that way.

Level 1 & Level 2 and Me

This is a photo of me with some of my Level 1 and Level 2 students also included are Sunny Teacher and Jin Teacher.

Level 2 and Me

This is me and my favorite class. My Level 2 class. I know I am not "supposed" to have favorites but I think it is only natural for every teacher to have a favorite student or class and since I haven't taught them in more than 2 years I think it's safe to admit my biases now.

The only sad part of my week is that "Nora" and "Amber" who are the other two Native Speakers teaching at LG Learning Center have moved into the building and away from their apartment for the next 6 weeks. This is because they have no other classes and the students are wanting someone to help them with homework in the evenings. I can't say as I blame them the facilities are lovely and they get free food and an on-site gym and computers to use, etc. But it means that I am back to being alone in my Korean neighborhood with only my Chinese roommate and using my Korean/English Dictionary to try and converse.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Mistakes & Confusion in Korea

Thursday, February 7th, 2003

My first week or two in Korea were marked by misunderstanding, confusion and mistakes on my part. I guess that's just natural when you move half-way around the world. And, although I am amazed at how well I am able to survive and adjust to live here in Korea it doesn't always keep me from making some very big and sometimes very awkward mistakes. Three of the most memorable are as follows:

  • One of my first mornings in Gumi I was awaken to hear a loudspeaker blaring something. [Prior to coming to South Korea ALL I had heard on the news and from my family back home in Canada was that is isn't safe to go to South Korea cause North Korea has nuclear weapons and can/will invade at any moment. I reassured my friends and family that is was safe or Canada would not allow me to go and that there weren't even any travel advisories against South Korea]. I guess I was more nervous about the potential of North Korea invading South Korea than I had admitted to anyone including myself. For, in my half asleep state I thought the loudspeaker was announcing an evacuation or air raid or some such dire thing. It was only around 6:00 a.m. so I hurried out of bed and got dressed and was hurrying to stuff my passport and traveler’s cheques into a backpack when Ms. Park, my Chinese roommate saw me and started laughing at me. She lead me to the fridge and showed me some lemon melons and with sign language and a dictionary and pointing out a window to a blue bongo truck FINALLY made me understand that the loudspeaker was just the advertisement for the melons for sale. I didn't know rather to be relieved that I was safe or to be annoyed that I had been woken from a sound sleep and scared to death by some stupid truck trying to sell produce.

Bongo Truck Selling Fruit

  • The second mistake I made happened because I know that it isn't safe to drink the water straight from the tap [in Korea] and getting tired of drinking tea and coffee I decided to buy some bottled water. I went for a walk one night and stopped at a small convenience store [not the normal corner store I usually went to]. I found a large 2 liter bottle of water and the price was really good like about $1.50 Canadian. I said to the Harmonie [Grandmother] running the shop mul [water?] when I took it to the counter to buy it. She smiled at me and nodded. I bought it and took it home. I needed to take a vitamin pill so I just took the cover off and not bothering to get a glass I put the vitamin tablet in my mouth and proceeded to take a large mouthful of water to wash it down. Well as soon as the liquid hit the back of my throat my eyes teared up and I spit the fiery alcohol all over the place. The vitamin pill went flying and hit the wall. I was coughing and chocking when Ms. Park came in and started patting me on the back. She laughed at me and told me something in Korean I couldn't understand. Finally, she mimicked a drunk person staggering around. She told a co-worker who spoke some English at our school the next day and I was informed I had tried to drink Soju for water. Of this one fact I became convinced SOJU IS NOT WATER!

  • The third and final mistake I made in my first week living in Korea was because of my ignorance of the culture and how things worked. When the teacher I was replacing left she had left a lot of stuff [some of it was useful to me and I was glad to have it] but in sorting through it I found a lot of old papers, empty juice and beer bottles, and just plain garbage. So, after sorting the recyclables I bagged them up to take them out. There must have been at least 6 bags of recyclables and 7 or 8 bags of garbage. Only about a block from my apartment the day before when I was walking to school I had seen neighbors putting trash out near a tree by the road. So everyday when I left the apartment I could grab a bag or two and take it. The second morning I did this my landlady [who lived downstairs] came running out after me yelling "sur-reg-ei" [garbage]. I couldn't figure out what she meant. Was she calling me garbage? Did she want me to take out her garbage, too? What was going on? Since I couldn't see any other spot for garbage around the neighborhood I ignored her and continued to take out the garbage and recyclables each day until they were gone. But everyday she would chase after me yelling "sur-reg-ei". Eventually, I remembered to ask an Administrator at the school what she could mean. And, I found out that in Korea it is OK to put out recyclables in old grocery [in my case E-Mart] bags but that for garbage one had to go to a convenience or corner store and buy a "special" garbage bag. Since there is no city tax to cover dump fees so you pay each time you buy a gargage bag. Sure enough I went to the corner store and asked for a "sur-reg-ei bong-tu" and paid 1,200 won [over $ 1.20 CDN] for one large bag. The next time I took out the garbage my landlady came out saw the bag smiled at me and patted me on the back and went back in her house. Poor thing she had just been trying to tell me I was making a mistake and doing the wrong thing. I've heard that the fine can be upwards of $1,000.00 CDN so she was trying to save me. I just didn't know it.

Gumi Garbage Spot

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Grocery Shopping In Korea

Tuesday, February 4, 2003

I am about to go grocery shopping in Korea for the first time. I am excited and more than a little nervous. I don't know what to expect or how I will make out since I don't speak the language. But since I've finally gotten to a bank and managed to cash some Traveller's Cheques and changed the money into Korean Won nothing is stopping me from going shopping except my own apprehension. Yippee! This means I can finally go shopping. So far I've been in Korea over a week and so far I've lived on just orange juice, bread and peanut butter.

The other Westerners have told me that the best place for foreigners to buy groceries in Korea is to go to large department store. Fortunately, our city, Gumi, has an E-Mart department store. It is sort of like Wal Mart only it's Korean and it has a grocery store in the basement. I go up to the roof of my apartment to look around and get my bearings. I can see the huge E-Mart sign and get the basic direction in my head. So off I go. Other than just going to the local corner store this is will the first time I have gone to either a department or grocery store in Korea. I am excited but a little nervous. I wonder what it will be like.

E-Mart Sign
This is the huge E-Mart sign I can see from the roof of my apartment. It is like a beacon calling me.Diver Mannequin

There is a mannequin dressed as a diver in the fish section of the local E-Mart. I bump into it and apologize before I realize it is only a display. I notice several Koreans looking at me and laughing. I guess it's not everyday they see a goofy foreigner that not only apologizes for bumping into people but inanimate objects. (Did I mention that in Korea there are so many people that bumping into someone is inevitable so people don't apologize to one anther.)

Fish Section
This is the fish section of E-Mart. I love all types of seafood and the fish is relatively cheap so I am happy to have found this counter. The man who works there is shouting out something in Korean. I decide it must be something like, "Buy my fish. It's really fresh."

Some Kind Of ShellfishHere is some kind of shellfish that's for sale. I like this picture cause it shows the Hangul [Korean characters] on the sign. I want to buy this and try it but I am unsure how long I would have to boil it and then how I would go about digging it out of the shell to eat later. And, unfortunately there is no one who speaks enough English for me to ask.

Aloe Stalks For Sale

I want to buy a plant to make my room and apartment more homey and I had an aloe vera plant back home so I want to buy one here but I can't find one. I think maybe they don't have them in Korea and then I see this HUGE aloe stalks for sale in the supermarket. It makes me more determined than ever to find a small one for my apartment. They have a drink made with chunks of aloe vera in it and it is worderfullly refreshing and tasty.


These are mushrooms. The Koreans call them Pangie (it means a spinning toy top in Korean and they are called this because the heads look like the rounded stick the toy top spins on). I saw "Nora" making an omelet at her apartment and I didn't know what they were. She told me they are mushrooms and that they taste the same as the Portobello mushrooms we use back home and are a lot less expensive. You can get 5 bunches of them for around 1,000 won or a little over $ 1.00 CDN.

Octopus For SaleI see packages of this octopus for sale at the supermarket. I love fish and shellfish but this is taking it a bit too far even for me. I can't imagine how it is cooked and prepared and then I remember calamari [squid] and suddenly it doesn't seem so far fetched.


I am excited by all the food to be found. A lot of it is unfamiliar but there is Western food, too. I find yogurt and pasta and cans of Campbell's soup and even some prepared pasta and potato salad in the deli section. This is a great relief to me cause although I thought I liked spicey food and I do if it's Mexican, Thai food or even Indian curry. However I have come to realize in the last week that I don't like red pepper paste. And, I am realizing that this is going to be a big problem here in Korea. Maybe I will have to learn to cook. I never did much more than make toast or heat up soup back home but I have a feeling that this is about to change.

P.s. I figured out that when you buy food in Korea by also have to buy the plastic bag. They ask you something at the cash register that I couldn't understand or make sense of it until the clerk held up a plastic bag and said, "1 or 2?" So I said two and was charged about 10 won - about 4 cents in CDN money and I proceeded to pack my groceries and leave the store.

My successful shopping adventure is over and I feel good. I am finding my way around Korea [my new home] and so far I am surviving.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

My First Week in Korea

Thursday, January 30, 2005

I want to recount my experiences the first week I spent in Korea. Tuesday and Wednesday I was at the school preparing lesson plans for next week. Also, I went to LG TV and was interviewed to see if I was acceptable to teach some top level executives there. I got the job so the manager at the school was most impressed and relieved. Monday, I will teach a company class there and then go to LG Learning Center for the rest of the day.

Today is a holiday. It is Lunar New Year or as some people call it Chinese New Year. I have no plans cause I just got here and don't know anyone well enough yet and of course since I haven't taught a single class yet I haven't been paid - nor do I feel like I can ask for an advance. Everyone else seems to have plans to travel. But as the other English Teachers have told me Lunar New Year is when everyone goes to their hometown. Thus, traveling by anything other than train or plane is frustrating and dangerous. People joke that Lunar New Year changes Korea into "the world's largest parking lot". I didn't believe this was true until I turned on the TV and saw an aeriel shot of an expressway outside of Seoul (the Capital city of Korea) and it was just mile after mile of cars sitting idel on the freeway. It makes me glad I am staying home in Gumi.

I am a little lonely since even my roommate Ms. Park has gone to Seoul for the weekend. So armed with my Korean Phrasebook I go off to explore my new city.

Cellphone Accessories This is a cart of cell phone/mobile phone accessories on display in the street in Gumi. Since I don't have a cell phone to even put one of these on I feel like the latest fad in Korea has passed me by.

Barbie Jeans

I see this display of jeans on the street. I think it's very smart to use every available space to display a store's merchandise and it helps to draw people into the store. It's good advertising. These jeans are like size 0 and they would never fit even the skinniest western woman so friends and I dubbed them "Barbie Jeans".

Coffee Vendor Lady

While I am walking around window shopping I get thirsty. Then I notice this woman pushing her cart around the open market and streets of Gumi. She is selling drinks including coffee. I get one and it's yummy.

Torn Up Street

Gumi, at the time called itself the "Silicon Valley" of Korea, is a developing city. Everywhere I go I see things being torn up so that new businesses and enterprises can be built. This is a picture showing a torn up street in the middle of the downtown business district. No one seems to mind they just walk around the rubble so I figure "when in Rome..." and do the same.

Mouse Police Sign

This sign is outside the Police Station in downtown Gumi. I can't help thinking that the character on the sign looks like a mouse. It isn't exactly intimidating. I ask some Korean people about it and they tell me it is so that the children will not be afraid of the police. I always call this the "mouse police sign". I don't mean any disrespect for any Korean police officers as the ones I've met have been most professional and competent.

Me & Ivan

This is a picture of me and my friend -"Ivan". We are standing outside of Dunkin' Donuts which is next to the Gumi Train Station. We met at the Gumi movie theatre. I had bought a ticket to see "Gangs of New York" and I went in and sat down. Soon a Korean man approached me and kept saying something to me. I couldn't understand him. "Ivan" came up to me told me that in Korea movie theatre seats are assigned. I was sitting in the poor Korean man's seat and he was trying to tell me that. I couldn't have been more embarrassed. I apologized and quickly moved. "Ivan" helped me find my seat and he went out and soon he came back and sat beside me - somehow he had changed his ticket so we could sit together.

Somethings I learned my first week living in Korea:

  • There are assigned seats in movie theatres. You have to sit in the seat # listed on your ticket.
  • You have to take toilet paper to public bathrooms.
  • You can buy coffee and food on the street anywhere and it's usually cheap and quite good.
  • Cellphones and cellphone accessories are a huge fad in Korea. Not to have them makes you feel like an outcast.
  • Don't ever try to drive anywhere on the Lunar New Year holiday - the roads become like giant parking lots.

I'm looking forward to more adventures in Korea in the days ahead.

Friday, January 20, 2006

My First Day at School in Korea

Monday, January 27th, 2003

My First Day at School in Korea is beginning. It's Monday morning and it's my second time going to the school but as far as I know I am supposed to teach today even though I still haven't met the boss or been told anything about my schedule. Nor have I seen any textbooks or been told about the types of classes I will teach. But I guess there's no time like the present. I am just so glad that I have teaching experience from back home. Hopefully, that will help me.

Ms. Park walks me to the school. I feel bad cause I am not even sure if she has to teach today or whether she is walking me to the school only because she was told to. So I pay careful attention and try to notice landmarks so that after this I can find my way back and forth to the school by myself.

I meet some more of my fellow teachers.

Nora & Amber

This is a picture of "Amber" and "Nora" they are fellow East Coast Canadians and English Teachers at my school. They used the same recruiter I did and he had them meet in Toronto when they got their E-2 Visas and then fly to Korea together. I am a little jealous that they are roommates cause at least they can speak English together. But, since they only live 3 houses away from me I guess they are close enough I can drop in on them when I have questions and problems. "Amber" especially seems to have made it her mission to help me adjust to my new life here in Korea. I'm sure grateful for that!

Susan - My Korean Co-Worker

Here is "Susan" she is a Korean/English Teacher at my school. She owns her own car and she drives me around all the time. Especially home from work at night cause she doesn't think it is safe for me to walk home alone. She is a beautiful person inside and out.

I learn that I won't be teaching today since it is only a partial week of school. The Lunar New Year will be Saturday, February 1st, 2003 but we will get Thursday [January 30th] and Friday[January 31st] of as holidays. I am told that I will be teaching at LG Learning Center starting the following Monday [February 3rd]. One of my co-workers, Sunny, who is in charge of the Learning Center teachers tells me a bit about my job. I will teach conversational English to the Level 1's [Beginners] and the Level 2's [Intermediates]. The students are adults who work for LG and they will go live at the Learning Center for 6 weeks where they will participate in an English Immersion Program. There will be not only classes and homework but fieldtrips and other activities. I am glad that I had participated in a French Immersion Program back in Canada as a student so I at least have some idea how these programs run - if only from a student's point of view.

Sunny shows me some books she thinks are suitable and sends me off in a taxi to a bookstore to buy books for the students. I choose the books for my classes and go to the counter. I, then, have to explain that they need to bill my school for these books. Thankfully the school seems to have some kind of account so when I tell them the school name they say "OK". But then I realize I don't know how to get back to the school. Some how I make the bookstore staff understand my problem [I'm still not sure how I managed it] and they tell me if I wait 10 minutes they will be delivering the books to the school and I can go, too. Yipee! But, I vow to myself to be more organized in the future and to make sure I get the school address written out for me in Korean and to always carry it with me.

Back at the school with the textbooks I have chosen I am given a 3 and 1/2 inch hard disk and shown to a computer and told to create lesson plans for my Level 1 and Level 2 students. I am at a loss as to where to start - especially since the computer and the operating system are all in Korean. It uses Microsoft Word but in Korean. Luckily, I know the short cut keys and they are the same as in English. (For example CTLR + C is still copy, etc.) Nonetheless, I have never had to make a lesson plan for an ESL class before and I am unsure of how much time to allow for any activity. But time's a wasting so.... I start to muddle through.

This is when "Amber" arrives and once again comes to my rescue. She tells me she taught those classes last term and she gives me a print-out of the lesson plan she used. It gives me a good idea how to plan my time. For example planning some basic conversation for the first 10 minutes of class [like - "What did you do last night?", etc.]. Also, I get the idea to teach a new idiom everyday.

I spend the rest of the day at the school. Later when nature calls, I go to the women's toilet at the school and I am horrified to see it is a squat toilet! It is my first experience with one. Truthfully, I am not sure I can keep my balance to use it. [I thought not having a sink in the bathroom of my apartment was bad. Now that I have seen the school toilet I am happier with my bathroom with it's regular "western" style toilet even if my shower is just a shower head on the wall and a hole in the middle of the concrete bathroom floor.] I decide not to drink too much coffee from the coffee vending machine even though it's only 300 won or about 30 cents Canadian cause I don't want to have to visit the restroom too often.

Squat Toilet at my School

This is a picture of the squat toilet at my school. It was the first squat toilet I experienced in Korea. I am not sure how to balance so I decide to hang on to the metal pipes so that I won't fall over. It's not a very dignified position. And, what's even worse there is no soap and no towel of any kind in the bathroom and only icy cold water to wash my hands with. I miss Canadian bathrooms! A lot! Well, I wanted adventure and new experiences and I got it.

At the end of my first day Nora, Amber and I take a taxi home to our neighborhood. So, I didn't even have to worry about rather my landmark system works. My first day in Korea is over and I have two more days to prepare prior to having to teach my first class. I am considering myself very lucky, indeed.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

My First Full Day in Korea - Part 2

Saturday, January 25, 2003: Noon 'Til Midnight

Well my first day in Korea was half over. It was lunch time and after meeting "Amber" my first Canadian and fellow teacher I felt so much better and more optimistic. I felt like maybe things would work out and be okay, after all.

It was 1:00 p.m. and neither Tony nor Mr. Kim had shown up and neither had Mr. X. the school's owner and boss. So after some conversation in Korean [that of course I couldn't understand] Ms. Park was able to take me away from the school. I started to understand I was not only free for the rest of the day but for the rest of the weekend. I won't have to return to school until Monday. Yipee!

I needed to go shopping. I needed some food. I wanted to buy bread, peanut butter, and orange juice. I was not ready to eat rice for breakfast everyday - at least not yet. Also, I needed to buy a towel and a hairdrier. Ms. Park with much gesturing and some help from a Japanese Teacher at the school let me know that she would take me shopping for what I needed and then take me home to the apartment. I was amazed at her kindness but then I remembered that no one has given me any keys to the apartment yet. Soo maybe she didn't volunteer to help me maybe she was drafted. In any case I was just too happy to really care why it was happening.

It is when we went shopping that I realized that my changing only around $ 80.00 CDN into Korean Won [at the money exchange at the airport] had not been such a smart move since the banks were all closed and there were no money exchanges in Gumi. But, I did have enough money to buy absolute necessities especially with Ms. Park speaking Korean to all the shopkeepers and beating them down in price for me.

I didn't really notice it so much at the time but when I got back to the apartment I saw that no matter what the price tag said I had paid less. I then learned my cardinal rule for shopping in Korea - NEVER PAY FULL PRICE FOR ANYTHING!

After shopping Ms. Park took me back to our apartment. Then she showed me a corner store only about 2 minutes from our apartment. A husband and wife ran the store and the husband spoke some English. Ms. Park talked to him and introduced me and the husband translated for me. When they discovered I was Canadian [not American - like they had assumed] they seemded even more excited and happy to meet me. I get the feeling that maybe Americans aren't so popular here. What was that about?

Corner StoreThis corner store was only about 2 minutes walk from my apartment. The husband and wife who ran it seemed very nice and when Ms. Park introduced me they give me some free bread. The husband laughed and told me "Korean people eat rice. Americans eat bread."

City of Black Clothing

This was the Kia car dealership in Gumi, Korea. I used it as a landmark when I was trying to find my way from the apartment to the school and back. I was so amazed how uniform in looks and behavior Korean people seemed to be. This picture shows what I mean. With only one exception everyone is wearing black clothing. It lead me to nickname Gumi "The City of Black Clothing".

Around 4:00 p.m. "Lucy" the teacher I was replacing showed up at the apartment. She had finished at the English Camp and she was leaving Gumi tomorrow by bus for Seoul. She gave me her keys since she was spending the night at some other teacher's apartment. I walked her [and helped her carry her luggage] to the main street so she could catch a cab. It was then that she pointed out "Amber's" apartment - it was only 3 houses away from mine. And, she invited me to her going away party that night. Since I didn't know how to get there she told me she would call "Amber" and get her to pick me up about 9:00 p.m.

Things were looking up. I was going to a party later and I have my own set of apartment keys. So, I decided to go for a walk to explore the neighborhood. I had to becareful and notice landmarks since I didn't have a cellphone and couldn't speak enough Korean to ask for directions if I got lost. Not to mention I didn't even know the address of my neighborhood little own the address of my actual apartment building.

Around 6:00 p.m. I was starving and after looking in the windows of a various buildings trying to guess what kind of business they were (since I couldn't read any signs) I finally looked in a window and saw multiple tables with cushions positioned around them on the floor. BINGO! I had found a Korean restaurant - or so I thought! It looked exactly like the Korean restaurant Mr. Kim and Tony had taken me to last night. I decided to go in and see if I could order anything to eat. I was so hungry and it was no wonder so far that day all I had eaten was some rice, some dried seaweed, some bug larvae.

I went into the building and whipped out my Lonely Planet Korean Phrasebook and started to talk to the woman working there. She was very kind. Her name was Mrs. Kim. But what I soon realized with the help of my book was that this is a Soju Bong [Soju is a kind of rice alcohol] and this was a drinking room]. It wasn't a restaurant at all! When I realized my mistake I was embarrassed and wanted to leave but Mrs. Kim wouldn't let me leave.

Mrs. Kim - Soju Bong Lady

This is Mrs. Kim. She worked in a Soju Bong in Gumi. It is a drinking room. But I didn't know that. I looked in the window and saw all the tables and I went in and using my Lonely Planet Korean Phrase Book tried to order a meal. Mrs. Kim took pity on me and called and ordered Chop Chae [Sweet Potato Noodles with spinach and fried meat] for me. She wouldn't even take a penny - or should I say won - for it. She was so kind. She tried so hard to speak English to me and we used my phrasebook and practiced on each other. I used The Lonely Planet Korean Phrasebook and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting or needing to speak some Korean. It's divided into sections based on need, ie. there is a section on eating out/ordering in a restaurant. That's the one I used here.

For information on this book go to
Lonely Planet Korean Phrase Book

Chop Chae - Sweet Potato Noodles This is picture of Chop Chae. It is a dish made of sweet potato noodles with onions, spinach, and fried pork or beef. It is good and not too spicey. It's a food my Korean friends had made for me in Canada so I knew I like it. My supper was EVER so much better than my breakfast!

After my meal I went back to the apartment and had a short nap and then I got up and got ready for the party. "Amber" came to get me a little after 9:00 p.m. and we took a taxi to some other teacher's house. There were so many people at the apartment that I couldn't keep them straight. After a couple hours there I felt like I needed to get away. I met a guy from New Zealand and his Korean girlfriend and they were leaving to go to some bar downtown. They invited me to go along with them. So, I decided to go. But not before I manage to borrow 50,000 won from a fellow teacher. I was amazed at how nice everyone was being. Also, one of the teachers wrote out the address of my apartment. He wrote out the Korean words in phonetically in English and told me if I say this to the taxi driver I would get home. So, off I went to explore more of my new city.

Me at Wa-BarHere I am at WABAR my first night out in Korea. Wa-Bar was amazing. It had drinks from all over the world. It even had my favorite beer - Molson Canadian. I was smiling cause I felt like I found a "home away from home" there at Wa-Bar.

Wa-Bar in GumiHere is a picture of Wa-Bar. See all the colorful bottles. I always said, "If you can't find your favorite drink at Wa-Bar then you just can't find it in Korea."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

My First Full Day in Korea - Part 1

Saturday, January 25th, 2003

My first day in Korea started early. I was was exhausted. I woke up at 9:10 a.m. and took a shower. With much motioning, etc. Ms. Park was able to show me how to turn the hot water on and off. I realized that it took about 5 minutes to heat up so I brushed my teeth and rummaged through my suitcase for some clothes to wear while I waited for the water to heat up. It was then that I discovered that I hadn't thought to pack a towel. Big Mistake. I had to use a T' shirt to dry off on after my shower. It was not a good start to my day. I was mad at myself for my over-sight. [If you ever go to live in Korea and teach English make sure you take a towel and some sheets. I'd suggest queen sized sheets cause you can always fold them under if their too big but you can't made them stretch.]

I wished I could have slept in cause my jetlag was terrible! But Mr. Kim had told me that he would come to the apartment to pick me up at 10 a.m. to take me to the hogwan [school] and meet the owner.

Bong-daeg-ee - Bug Larvae

This is Bon-Daeg-ee. It is some kind of bug larvae. It has a smokey oyster taste and it's very crunchy sort of like eating celery.

Ms. Park, my Chinese roommate, ate this for breakfast with a bowl or rice and some kim (dried seaweed). Since I didn't have any food (getting to the apartment around midnight didn't exactly leave me any time to go grocery shopping) Ms. Park insisted that I share her food.

I gotta tell you. I didn't appreciate it at the time. I felt put on the spot to be polite so I sort of just tried to choke it down (truthfully I ate the rice and kim and tried one bon-daeg-ee and then hid the rest under a small pile of rice I left in my bowl). Later, I would learn that Ms. Park had a family back in China to provide for on less than half the salary I was guaranteed in my contact and she couldn't really spare the extra food. [I must admit that I still won't eat bon-daeg-ee. Even the smell of them makes my stomach queasy.] So I doubt it would have helped me eat any more of them than I did at the time but at least it would have made me more fully appreciate the extent of her sacrifice and kindness.

After we had eaten breakfast and it was after 10 a.m. and still Mr. Kim hadn't showed up to pick me up and take me to the school. I wondered "What's up with that? I guess he isn't too worried about punctuality." I figured that if last night was any indication of his tardiness than I would have a least an hour or two to wait so I decided to go back to bed and go back to sleep. But, alas, I couldn'tt.

Ms. Park was upset. She was so worried and so scared that she began pacing the floor and trying to call people on her cellphone. I wasn't not sure what was going on. I wished I could speak Chinese or even Korean then I could just ask her what's up.

Finally, at 11:00 a.m. Ms. Park put her winter coat on and motioned for me to do the same. And, we walked to the school. It was about a 15 minute walk. I should have been paying attention so that I could find my way to school and home again but I was too tired to care. Also, I was worried. It couldn't be a good sign that Mr. Kim kept blowing me off. I worried "What if he forgets me when it comes time to pay me?" Was it some reflection on me? I had so many questions and so few answers....

When I got to the school neither Mr. Kim nor Tony were there. No one seemed to speak English at the school and everyone just sort of ignored me. It was like they don't know what to do with me. Ms. Park rans off to teach a Chinese class. [I found that out later because I got bored and gave myself a tour of the school. I went looking in classroom windows and I saw her teaching. At least that explained her anxiousness earlier. Maybe she gots paid by the class and wasn't on contract like me.]

I wanted to go home and go back to bed and to sleep but I wasn't sure I could find my way back to the apartment and I didn't have any keys, anyway.

What was going on? Why was I at the school? I wasn't doing anything. And, where were the other Westerners? There were supposed to be at least 6 or 7 other "Native Speaker" English Teachers there. But instead there were only some administration staff and Chinese and Japanese Teachers. I was bored and I hadn't even thought to bring a book to read.

So, I just sort of wandered aroundthe school and tried to get my bearings and figure out what was going on. Just when I was so bored I want to cry I meet "Amber" another Canadian. She was from Newfoundland and like a good Newfoundlander she took me under her wing. She bought me a cup of coffee out of a vending machine and told me that all the other English Teachers were at the "English Camp". This wass "vacation time" in Korea when the kids were on holiday from public school so they went to camps to learn things like English or computers or whatever. Well, at least that cleared up the mystery for me. I felt so much better just meeting someone who spoke English and was from the East Coast of Canada. I felt reassured to learn that usually the school was bustling with other English Teachers and everyone was Canadian. Maybe all the confusion and the not picking me up on time - or at all - was because of the "English Camp".

Amber My First Friend in Korea

This is "Amber" she was my first friendly face from home. God bless the Newfoundlanders who are so kind and wonderful to everyone. I wouldn't a made it without them.

I felt much more hopeful after meeting "Amber" and learning what was going on with the school and the other English Teachers. It didn't seem to be a personal thing against me. But I was left thinking, "All this happened and it isn't even lunchtime. What will the rest of the day bring?"

Monday, January 16, 2006

Gumi, South Korea - A Pictorial

Saturday, January, 25th, 2oo3

After my rocky arrival in Korea and Gumi I started to settle in. My Korean life was just beginning and I was excited. I couldn't wait to explore my new city.
I took this pictures my first two weeks in Gumi, South Korea. For more information on Gumi go to
Gumi Website in English

I Love Gumi Sign

I'm not sure if you can read it but the sign in the background says "I Love Gumi".

LG Sign on Building
Gumi is rumored to be the Silicon Valley of South Korea. LG and Samsung are the major employeers in Gumi. Everywhere I went LG dominated. It seems only fitting that building with an LG Sign on it seems to tower over Gumi.

The Outside of My Apartment
This was the outside of my apartment building in Gumi. The only thing I didn't like about the place was that my downstairs landlady ways always closing and locking the metal gates to the courtyard. Admittedly, it was a great security feature but made it hard for me to order pizza until I got a cellphone and could understand enough Korean for the pizza delivery man to call me and tell me to come unlock the gate.

The Kitchen in My Apartment
This was the kitchen in my apartment in Gumi. Notice I didn't have a stove - just two gas burners but I did learn to cook some and eventually bought a toaster oven. (I would learn to make everything from homemade pizza to meatloaf and chocolate chip cookies in that toaster oven.)

The Livingroom
The livingroom of the apartment was where we had to keep our drying rack. This is where we dried our clothes. There was a line on the roof of the house that we could use when the weather got warmer. Boy, did I miss my clothes drier.

G-Plex Department Store
This was G-Plex. It was a large department store in downtown Gumi. You could buy anything from clothes to earrings there. Also, there was a food court on the top floor.

Bedding For Sale on Street
There was bedding for sale on the street. But unfortunately, there ere no sheets to be had - AT
ANY PRICE! I was so disappointed.

Gumi Train Station in 2003
Here is Gumi Train Station - January 2003. It has since be renovated. I loved the benches in front. It made a great place to sit and people watch. Moreover, Dunkin' Donuts is next door - great for take-out coffee.