Letter from Korea, April 2011

Suwon, South Korea
April 30, 2011

Dear Ireland,

Apologies for my lack of correspondence, I’ve been busy believe it or not. I won’t bore you with the details but I would in fact prefer to inform you of one of the reasons that I haven’t had as much time as usual to sit down and write you a lovely letter, as has been my wont for almost a year.

Recently, myself and Herself have become business people. We are proprietors. Not in the traditional sense, more in a temporary and experimental sense.

As I wrote in a previous post, I spend a lot of time in my friend’s traditional Korean tea shop that is close to our home. Recently the owner propositioned Herself whether or not she would like to run the tea shop. Herself was duly excited by the prospect and we decided we would take it on board for a few months and try it out.

Busan e-FM Week 25: Financial Trading in Korea

About 'Open Mike in Busan'


This week I’m going to talk about my job. I’m a financial trader, and I work for myself.


I read recently that seven out of ten Korean people regretted changing their jobs. Clearly there’s a lot of stress here connected with people’s working lives. It’s the same in England. In fact, there’s a word for it in English – we call it the “rat-race”, and it’s a race many people dream about dropping out of. There’s a book about trading by Alexander Elder, which begins with these words: “You can be free. You can live and work anywhere in the world. You can be independent from routine and not answer to anybody. This is the life of a successful trader.” It’s a good opening because it speaks to the dream of freedom and independence people have.

How Much Are you Worth?

I have talked about this problem before, but I will but it into a more realistic context/story:

You wake up in the morning and you grab yourself a fresh cup of coffee, rub your eyes and sit down in front of your computer. DING! goes your email and you find a letter from some company that you’ve never heard of but, they have heard of you and want to purchase your photos. You skim through making sure that it is not one of those ever-so-obvious scams where they want you to send all your banking information to some small African country. You soon realize that this is a legit offer and they are asking some serious questions.

Korea Business Central Interview - Didier Chenneveau

32:17 minutes (14.78 MB)

Korea Business CentralFrom Korea Business Central's Interview Series

One Hundred Mornings

In England we have special days we mark down in our calendars, and when the day is done we move on, perhaps returning to remember them as annual anniversaries. But when I came to live in Busan, I learned that Koreans are counters of days. So whether it be 100 days after your first date, 100 days after your wedding, 49 days after the death of a loved one, 15 days after Seollal, or some other date of note, people are busy counting them off on a calendar, or perhaps more probably now, their iPhone apps. Maybe it’s this mentality which brought us Hadan’s ‘Five days market’, which being every five days essentially ensures that you never know when to go.

Pirates of Silicon Valley

A few weeks ago my computer started to switch itself off randomly. Given the construction quality of our apartment building, coupled with the dubious nature of the electrical system here, I wasn't sure at first what the cause was. But finally I concluded it was probably the power supply unit, and that I’d have to buy another to test out the theory.

Rising Interest Rates Increases Koreans’ Cost of Living

Koreans’ Cost of Living is a Growing Problem

Japan Downgraded: Korea Needs to Avoid Deflation

You Know It's a Problem When...Japan Downgraded by Moody's

영어선생 Hall of Shame Entry #7: The Korean Government Deserves Its Place

The Korean Government Gains an Entry Into the 영어선생 Hall of Shame
The Korean Government has handled educational policy very poorly for a very long time.  That said, it is a very complex problem. On one hand, the fact is that learning English is important.  This fact is unlikely to change anytime soon.  The Seoul Gyopo Guide has stated it on a number of occasions.   On the other hand, Korea is trying to promote a society which promotes social mobility in which the economically challenged still have the opportunity to pursue their dreams.  It has done so clumsily, and yet another example has exhibited itself.

Korea to Ban "English Kindergartens."  

영어 Hint of the Day #28: Well, it's "tit for tat." What's that?

"Tit for tat" is a Phrase to Describe a Strategy Used in Many Situations

"Tit for tat" is a strategy used when one person responds to something in the equal and opposite direction.  Perhaps the best way to describe this strategy is by example.

Min Ho:  I think that Min-Ah was wrong, so I decided to tell her mother.
Young-Ah:  Well, Min-Ah won't be happy when she hears that.  I think that she will also tell your father.

In the example above, Min-Ah is going to react to Min-Ho's actions by deploying the same strategy in a proportionate amount.  In other words, Min-Ah will be using the "tit for tat" approach.  If Min-Ah told the entire neighborhood, then she would not be using the "tit for tat" approach.  The key point is that the response (Min-Ah telling Min Ho's father) is the same in severity as the original action (Min Ho telling Young-Ah's mother).

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