Saturday, April 30, 2011

Yellow Dust Cloud of Doom

Ok maybe it isn't that bad, but sheesh sure does look like it. As you add on the hours using the option in the top of the KMA website, you can see the dust making it's way here.
As it makes its way over sea it sort of get's less concentrated...

But then look, there is a huge red swath right over the whole of what looks like Seoul and Gyeonggi-do. I got the news of this from JH and then headed over to the KMA website to see for myself. For sure something is on it's way and it doesn't look pretty. I think the worst of it is to come tonight so if you plan on going out expect to end up breathing in a desert. 

Precautions: Close your windows tonight. Invest in some masks for tomorrow morning. Have water on hand to hydrate you if you breathe it in. Don't be surprised if come Monday you have a sinus headache and a sore throat.

Otherwise, I am going to keep my eye on the data map and hope some wind blows more north.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


What do you want brown to be?

Two Months Have Passed

Two months have passed at the new job and it feels good. Except, the children are still acting out now and then. Well, I know this will never really change. I think I am just starting to get a little burnt out.

No really, things are in a routine these days and I am starting to see that teaching first graders math isn't too hard.

Anyways, next week promises a couple of vacation days. Where will I go?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

KoreanCupid: A Guide for the Ladies on how to Date Online in Korea

Maybe, you have seen the above picture with a young Korean woman in it and the words "Korean Cupid".  After looking at it a few times you might have wondered, what it is like to use an online dating service in Korea. So your curiosity finally peaks and you head over to the site and end up in this world that you might think is just like any other dating site, except it is not.

 Before I get into my guide, let me first tell you that I met JH through this particular site, and just about two years ago. It was after my break up with my first Korean boyfriend (BK), and I didn't want to believe that I could never love a Kboy again. However, I am not the person to walk up to strangers on the street or go to bars/clubs and hit it up with guys there. I needed a place to go to where I could connect with a Korean man but on a certain level. That is why this guide today will reflect an actual user's experience and give you some insight into the site and trying to meet Korean men.

Another last stop before I get into the guide, and that is my discretionary statement. This guide is for ladies interested in Korean men. It might help you if you are of a different sex and looking for women, or whatever, but mostly this is for women looking specifically for Korean men. Yes, there are non-Korean men on the site but I never bothered to get involved with that. 

With that said, I want to state that this is not from the perspective of someone who is obsessed with sex, is interested in drinking and one night stands or is just looking to hook up with a Korean for the thrill of it. I did my search, two years ago, to look for someone to start a serious relationship with. Therefore, my perspective will reflect these (I guess) conservative views.

Let's move on~!!

The Guide To Using Korean Cupid for the Ladies Looking for the Korean Man's Heart:
1. Setting Up Your Profile:
 Yes I am using my own profile there, which is still visible on the site (although I don't use it anymore). Obviously, when you start off on the site you make your profile. This includes all the typical stuff with the most important showing up first. Here are my basic tips:
  • Put up pretty pictures of yourself that are flattering. Unless you want him to see you as a drunk, then show yourself partying in the bar. Otherwise give the guys decent pictures to look at. Also have a variety up there as this seems to be a big feature of the site.
  • Be honest in your descriptions. Just don't lie off the bat that you are skinny but are really not, or don't mind if a guy smokes, but you really do. 
  • Make a simple and useful headline. Not too long as that can be tiring.
  • In the "seeking" section, briefly but accurately state what you are looking for.
2. Browsing Men's Profiles
  • The Search: Be specific or else you will get more results than you can handle. Shoot for people who have been recently active. Look within your age range, unless you really don't care. 
  • The Results: As you can see it will vary who shows up. Since a picture says it all, I mostly see this first and then look at the details. What has always been really strange is most Korean folks are seeking females age "18 - 80." Something tells me they really aren't going to date an 18 year old or an 80 year old either. This already tells you something about their ability to use the site or how sincere they are in making their profile. It could also just mean they were lazy. Sift through the results and see if any catch your eye. Click on their profile and dig into whether they are interesting enough to send a message or set up for a private chat. 
3. Looking at their Profiles: 
  • The most important aspect, I found, is not all the information they fill out or their pictures but what they put as a description of who they are looking for. If they can write two sentences and do it well in English than you can tell they are using the site for more than just peeping. The following examples show how some give you good and bad signs.
 4. Communication and the Private Chat
This is by far the most important and critical part of using the site. If you list yourself as "single" and "available" you will get a lot of profile views, email and chat requests. A chat request works by that a pop up window comes up with a chime asking you to join in. Once opened you can find out who is trying to talk to you via a link to their profile. The following are some warnings and good advice when chatting with Korean men on this site.
  • Most Chat requests are from guys who want sex only. How do I know? Because I cut the bullshit and got straight to the point with a lot of them and told them I wasn't looking for one night stands. Usually things start off nice in a chat and then the guy suddenly starts asking questions like, "What is your bra size?" "Do you like sex?" And from there you can tell that he is just on the site for the thrill of it. When I revealed that I wasn't trying to hook up with guys just for sex, a lot of them got upset. They even would tell me that they thought foreign women don't mind one night stands and I was acting "strange" to them. Gee I wonder where they got those ideas (Hollywood!).
  • Weed them out to find Mr. Niceguy. Of course, you really can't tell if he is good or bad by just a quick chat but as shown above you do want to be straight up honest at first. Otherwise, you could end up meeting a guy with different intentions. So have a method lined up for how you will chat to them. If things get strange or perverted back out. If things are civil and sound good stay in the chat.
  • Move on to your real email and messenger (skype) contacts: What you really want to do is start communicating with these guys outside of KoreanCupid. Once you are comfortable enough and truly feel you can trust them then send out your details. CAUTION: Don't give any personal information (like this) out unless you are 10000% percent sure they won't end up digitally stalking you. My advice: if they ask for this kind of stuff in just the first chat than they are really desperate. Wait after a week or so to know they are worthy. 
5. Picking a Guy to Actually Date
  • This category is to show that there are generally three types of Korean men on the site. 
  • One: In it for the sex and thrill of being with a foreigner. (As mentioned above). If this is what you want to cater too than go ahead. But remember you might be promoting a stereotype here of foreign women as easy. 
  • Two: Looking for a language partner. This kind of guy can fit into them all, but some of them mostly just want a language buddy. Keep in mind you might not really learn Korean and instead speak English the whole time. If you are looking to help a guy out with his English than go ahead, you never know as it could blossom into love.
  • Three: Looking for a loving and lasting relationship or just something beyond the first date. This was the kind of guy I was looking for and managed to weed out the rest. I am still with him so as you can see it definitely lasted beyond the first date.
6. The Meet Up:
  • These are going to be obvious. Pick a public place and one that you are familiar with or if you pick one new to you review how to get there and back (exit strategy). 
  • If meeting someone new for the first time makes you super nervous, ask to meet first with your friend.
  • Let a close friend know you are going on this semi-blind date so that there is someone out there in world caring about you. 

I doubt I mentioned everything but I hope this guide shows you what it is like from a women's perspective on the experience to be had when using KoreanCupid. Depending on your goals the site can provide you with many different types of love or lust matches. 

Once out the door and actually meeting a guy it is up to you. Dating a Korean guy in theory is no different from dating a guy from America or South Africa, since they are all men.  But of course, Korean men carry their social treasures and burdens with them that as time passes you get to know and discover. 

Maybe someday I will make a guide to dating a Korean man, but I think I need to gather more evidence from other women, to truly show what it is like. Till then there is this guide.

Finally, it is spring and so love is in the air anyways. What better way to enjoy the beauty and warmth of this season than discovering Korea with someone you met on KoreanCupid. Just do it all with caution and don't get yourself too head-over-heels. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Seoul's Garage Sale: Ttukseom Resort Flea Market

That is a picture of my lunch that I had at a Vietnamese restaurant near the Tteokssom Resort in Seoul. But before I take you into this weekend's adventure I first want to remind you of one of the best parts of modern culture, and that is the garage sale.

I have always enjoyed going to garage sales as a kid. It gave me great pleasure to look at other people's stuff and wonder why they were giving it away and if it could have a special place in my life. Along with garage sales I also was very fond of thrift stores. I lived off of clothing finds from thrift stores all the way through college until the trend caught on and things started to get more expensive. Even when I go back home to visit family, I find myself at a garage sale or thrift store taking in those musky smells and used items. 

After coming to Korea I wondered where people sell their used and unwanted items since no one seems to have "garages" or "yards" here. I have been to the Folk Flea Market but that seemed more like an antique's shop than an actual flea market. 

I have heard from others that apartment complexes usually hold little flea markets now and then, but never really found one. 

That is why to my pleasant surprise I found myself at a genuine market of used goods yesterday at the Ttukseom Resort Station. You will see later what I am talking about, but for now let's go back to lunch.

It was a nice spring day, except for a strong river wind blowing down the park. Families and couples were out with picnic gear and bicycles. 

 The cherry blossoms have already come and gone, but there remained full flower boxes among the path.

I always try to get a picture of JH but the guy is camera shy and often does the following gesture.

However, I don't mind my picture being taken.

That second one is me nagging JH to ride the paddle boats, but we both decided that with the wind it was a bad idea. 

 It might be hard to tell, but in the picture below the boat #47 was being bad since the folks (kids) inside were leaning to one side and making it nearly capsize.

 On our way, to the area under the bridge, the wind was pretty fierce but I managed to get some pics.

 Once up the stairs we made it to the flea market, where people were busy selling and buying. Mostly there was for sale clothing and shoes, but there was a good mix of random household items, electronics and jewelry. It seemed people were mostly trying to sell off things unwanted from their homes, but there were a few that looked like they had collected odd stuff from here and there.

 Not settling for the spoken price was common as people haggled down items that only cost 3,000 or 1,000 won to begin with. JH and I found a nice little tote bag, an English study book and a cat toy.

It was a lot of fun and after looking around we headed over to a sunny spot to soak in some rays.

Lastly, of course, a trip to the park wouldn't be complete without a stop at the public restroom.
I highly recommend you get out to the flea market one of these Saturdays and see if you can find a great treasure. I hope to someday sign up and sell a few unwanted things from my own home.

I leave you with this video I made of the market:

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