Yes, You Can Get That in Korea. And That. That, Too

Expats of the ROK, stop if you’ve heard this one: You can’t get “____” in Korea.

“I love Korea,” the imaginary newly-established English teacher from various western countries of the world of yesterday would say to other newly-established English teacher friends at the lone expat-friendly drinking establishment in town, over bottles of Hite because, you can’t get decent beer in Korea, and Hite’s at least better than Cass. “But, you can’t get decent cheese here. You can’t get avocados here. I would kill for some kettle-cooked chips. Powdered coffee is gross, some coffee beans would be nice. What about some toothpaste with fluoride? My teeth are going to rot out of my skull!”

Tunnel Vision

Vlog Entry #6: Lantern Festival – Jinju, South Korea

During the first weekend of October I went to the Lantern Festival in Jinju! To read more about the festival, view the related post here!

2014 Jinju Lantern Festival

Located in the south central part of Korea, Jinju is a small city of just 300,000 people. But for ten days a year, nighttime traffic is bumper-to-bumper and walking the streets means shuffling, wading and weaving through crowds of people. Why? The Jinju Namgang Yudeong (Lantern) Festival.

Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival: Pixelated

From October 1st ~ 12th hundreds of spirits, soldiers, and denizens from Korea’s past emblazon the night in the small fortified city of Jinju.

The Namgang Lantern Festival (진주 남강 유등 축제) is held every autumn in the small (for Korea) city of Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province. The festival not only commemorates the city’s great victory in the Imjin war, but also depicts traditional life in Korea at the time. Centred around the fortress and the Nam River (Namgang) outside, the lanterns bask the city in a beautiful glow. Accompanying the artistic luminosity are traditional foods, drinks, games, and fantastic performances of Joseon music, dance, and song.


City after city fell to samurai swords, yet Jinju refused to be capitulated. Utterly outnumbered and outgunned the ragtag army under the leadership of general Simin pushed the Japanese invaders back.


The city’s great triumph was short lived however as the samurai returned in greater numbers, and this time levelled everything. The conflict raged for a further six years and ended in stalemate.

‘Since 2005′: Jinju Revisited

My childhood neighborhood felt like my entire world, mostly Field Avenue and Mohawk Avenue, and it felt like that was always the way things ever were. The more I branched out, to Minnesink Blvd. and, gasp, Delaware Avenue (where all the bad kids lived), the less mystical the other end of Field Avenue began to feel (the area where the road ends and leads up to the railroad tracks, what we called “The Jumps” back in the day). Going back now, they’re just roads.

Mostly. Thinking now, trying to put my head in its three-year-old, four-year-old, five-year-old space, I feel a little of what I felt then, when every corner was a new world, where even a five-minute-walk down the road could be something special.

Such was the case when, on Saturday, I was in Jinju for the first time in eight years.

Chickens Fried by a ‘Donky,’ Reunions 8 Years in the Making

Sometimes, I feel like a teenager. I feel like I’m 21, leaving the U.S.A. for the first time on a seven-day trip to the Czech Republic. Sometimes, I’m going to South Korea for the first time.

It was almost eight years ago that last one happened. And, while sometimes it seems like no time has passed, the gray hairs becoming even more apparent in my beard and on my arms tell me otherwise.

A Fortress in Jinju

It was late in the autumn of 1592; the gravely outnumbered and perilously outgunned defenders ran out of bullets, cannonballs and arrows to fire at the battle-scarred enemy below. As humongous siege towers approached the high walls of Jinju fortress, the ragtag group of warrior monks, undisciplined guerrillas and disgraced generals that made up the city garrison, began to hurl stones (or anything remotely hefty) over the beleaguered walls. With only a tenth of the numbers opposing them, this seemingly futile resistance, amazingly forced 30,000 invading Samurai warriors to flee. Spirits in the Joseon Kingdom were lifted… for all to brief unfortunately.


40 Days Later, a Reflection

Happy 40-Day Anniversary in South Korea, me. Tip your cap, were you wearing one. Celebrate this Monday morning with folding clothes and cleaning the kitchen area (it really did need it).


An old photo, but the camera batteries are dead again. The kitchen may be even cleaner today. At least, the stovetop is.

What is such a big deal about 40 days? Anyone with me since the beginning will know that this number is the first major milestone of this over seven-year-series of false starts. Of half-hearted attempts. Or, just, of “not-quite-readies.” It was on the 40th day, in December 2005, that I left South Korea for the first time.

South Korea Adventure #17- Jirisan National Park 지리산

I have wanted to go to Jirisan for awhile now. I had marked it as a trip tp do for awhile. My original plan was to stay a night out there and make it a weekend. That did not workout, but we managed to get to the mountain by just after 1pm. We has stopped in Uiryeong for lunch. there was an election going on. So there was canditates everywhere, people dancing and the cow. Later we saw the cow in the market, which is the opening of the video. The hiking was great. After leaving Jirisan we rode to Jinju. On the way I stupidly ran out of gas. We had to go back and get some gas. From Jinju we got back to Busan in an hour and a half. We really rode fast. It is about 120km. With a couple spot through some towns. We go lucky with some green lights and only hit one traffic jam, which lasted for about 5km. I also know a shortcut. There is a bridge that lets you cut around Masan. You are not actually supposed to go over by motorcycle.

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