expat life

10 Things In Korea That I’ll Never, Ever Do

by Mr. Motgol

I wrote this  piece a few years back, and while a few things have changed since then, most have not. As it is currently boshingtang eating season, not to mention Mudfest time, I thought that a re-post may be apropos. I’ve made a few small revisions. Enjoy. And don’t take it too seriously.

I like living in Korea. I’ve been here for almost ten years now, so if I hated it, I would have split a long time ago. I like hiking, I like the food, I like riding my motorcycle, checking out the street markets, and drinking my ass off. It’s a crowded crazy little place and I’ve grown to love it, for better or for worse. Plus, the girls are bangin’ hot. I should know: I married one.


Why Every Expat Needs a VPN

 

So you've got your new apartment all set up. You were finally able to find fitted sheets (for an exorbitant price, no doubt), you've connected adapters and transformers as needed and you even managed to put up a few pictures of family and friends back at home to make your new living space just a tad more comfortable. Yes, it's time to relax and unwind. Soon you realize your cable is limited to Korean variety shows with the occasional decade-old made-for-TV American movie you're fairly certain no one you know has ever heard of. "No problem," you say, "That's what the internet is for."

Think again.

Netflix, Hulu and even TV networks like ABC and ESPN disappoint with apologetic messages notifying you that their programs cannot be watched outside the States.



"Okay... so I'll just listen to music," you decide.


The Asia Fail

*This piece may have appeared on the web once or twice before, but we’re publishing it again here because we likes it, yes we do.

by Mr. Motgol

In the Old World, people went to the New World to start anew. Once America became settled, folks would head “out West” to shake away their demons, with destinations such as California and Alaska luring folks with promises of riches and rebirth. These were places where no one cared about your history or imperfect past. You were given a clean slate, and only as good as your current effort.


The Offense Rests: a (Rather) Cross Examination of the Jehova’s Witnesses

My latest piece over at Sweet Pickles and Corn, on the reason I’m just not destined for eternal life:

The Offense Rests: a (Rather) Cross Examination of the Jehova’s Witnesses.



Defending the Lady’s Honor

by Mr. Motgol

Ha-bin was always a messy drunk. Every time she went out she got catastrophically hammered. British chick wasted. A weaving, incoherent puddle of babble and drool. But unlike a British chick, Ha-bin wasn’t tall and brawny, with ancient, boozy Viking blood pumping through her veins. Instead, she was a small Korean woman with zero natural tolerance for alcohol. As a result, every time she touched the stuff she turned into a chaotic wreck. You could set your watch to it.


Come Again

 

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COME AGAIN

It always helps to speak the languageExcept when it hurts.

 

Afew years ago, I came down with a bit of jock itch, and it got to the point where I needed something to treat it. I didn’t know the Korean word for jock itch, so I looked it up, but the best that my old Essence dictionary could do was mujeom, which means “athlete’s foot”. Same thing, I thought, and headed to the pharmacy.


The Fortune Teller

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It’s 2am, and on club street in Daegu, warm light and Mao Zedong’s face glow from a cheap plate-glass facade; the fortune teller is within, furrowing her freckled brow, not-so-discreetly checking her phone on the table, turning her cards with the rhythm of time. And there’s a line.

For a long time I believed that my Korean friend was a little too trusting of fortune tellers. After complaining about the latest row with her boyfriend of a year, she tells me that she’s frustrated and in a bad place. I give her all the advice that I can, but being single, there is nothing I can say that she will earnestly listen to. With a tug at my arm, she shepherds me into a fortune teller’s stall, and into a unique cultural phenomenon.


The Fortune Teller

130106_a05_Getting1

It’s 2am, and on club street in Daegu, warm light and Mao Zedong’s face glow from a cheap plate-glass facade; the fortune teller is within, furrowing her freckled brow, not-so-discreetly checking her phone on the table, turning her cards with the rhythm of time. And there’s a line.


March Madness

by Pablo Harris

010 or 051. All calls he ever received here always began with these prefixes. So when 006-180-9951-0299 flashed on the vibrating LG in his palm, he didn’t quite know what to think. 006 followed by eleven other digits he didn’t recognize? It  must be from abroad. Thinking the worst, he was expecting to hear some tragic news from back home. Why else would anyone call direct from the US to the ROK?

“Excuse me, I got to take this, Babe,” pardoning himself before stepping through the heady smoke of grilled flesh and cigarettes and the maze of low-lying tables to the door.

*  *  *

“Hello?”


Together, Alone

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New Year’s Eve is the time to celebrate, to gather up with friends and engage in some “rage” – that is, partying and drinking until you realize that you’ve lost all spacial perception.

Instead of staying in Daegu, I decided to spend the occasion in the lively coastal city of Busan. I had been there recently for a “12 Pubs of Christmas” bar crawl, the second that I’d completed over this past holiday season, where I hopped from Haeundae to KSU to Seomyeon to…? On this night, some people I knew were taking the KTX train down to where the party was at, bent on raging all the way there. It sounded like a fun way to kick off the festivities, so I planned on joining in.


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