On AFEK, a conference, and hundreds of years of Korean experience

Arguably, a moth is drawn to a flame thanks to an intense point of light. To say I was drawn to the AFEK business conference like a moth to a flame is not only appropriate, but apt. Although not a F-visa holder, my presence was courtesy of Mike Yates, who heard my interest and sent on the information needed to gain entry.

It’s a different world, to say the least. At the risk of stereotyping, an E-2 might busy themselves with meeting friends, finding a place to drink, or creating and participating in the expat community. That is all accomplished while working a full-time teaching job, dealing with an ever-changing schedule, and otherwise having the deck stacked against them. Few E-2 visa holders reach a point where they’re able to break out of teaching; the picture in my mind resembles a dying city where many want to leave but few actually can.

Re: 12 rules for expat life in Korea

A recent article on CNNGo recently talked about the 12 rules for expat life in Korea. While I found myself agreeing with some of them, living in Korea requires more than drinking like a fish or learning to dance K-pop (yikes!). If you’re coming to Korea to teach, work as a business person, serve the military, or otherwise hold a respectable position in Korean society, THESE are the 12 rules to follow.

1. Embrace the culture’s take on alcohol, but know when to say when. Going to the bar with friends and co-workers is common, and (if the boss is paying) a chance for a superior to show their position. At the same time, know when enough is enough. You need not refuse a drink, but sip instead of chug, and choose beer over soju any chance you get – the latter is four times as potent.

Expat slang, part 2

Since the first expat slang post, a few new phrases of expat slang have been overheard. Add what you know and enjoy!

Keyboard condom (n.) – the thin, plastic-film-like plastic cover found on Korean keyboards. Often taken off the keyboard by Westerns more interested in typing than fighting with a piece of plastic.

I can’t type nearly as fast with the keyboard condom on.

Typing with a keyboard condom is like typing with rubber gloves on.

Hongdae Standard Time (n.) – the hour to hour-and-a-half difference between the scheduled start time and actual start time of a Hongdae concert. See also Itaewon Standard Time; other versions are heard around the world.

Moving forward: time to talk about a new teacher’s organization

It’s time to move forward.

I do think we need a organization that assists teachers; in fact, I’d be open to sitting in on that future discussion and offering up some ideas. Let’s get the seven or eight or twenty of us interested in moving forward and have a roundtable sort of meeting. Not in a bar, not in a coffeehouse, but a rather sterile, business room of sorts.

To clarify, I’m not talking about shaking ATEK up, using their contacts, or changing ATEK into something else. I’m talking about a completely new organization, because the name ATEK has become irreversibly tainted, and needs to be retired.

I’d also like to point out that this a big endeavor. At the very least you’d need a few people ready to spend at least a few weeks setting things up, working closely to keep things integrated, and then a larger team to canvass the online and offline worlds to spread the word.


A friend shared this documentary about corporal punishment in South Korea today and it is so shocking and disturbing I was moved to write about, and infact I am quite embarrassed to be working in an educational system where so many teachers beat their students AND think its okay. It is not okay. Under no circumstances, should a child be beaten, no matter how bad or undisciplined they may be. I have never seen any teacher do this to a student in my school, nor can I imagine any teachers here hitting the kids. I don't even know what I would do if I saw this, it is incomprehensible to me that this is so common in Korea and was lawful until very recently. (I remember when it changed last semester and I was told not to hit my students, I thought they were joking. Turns out we don't have the same sense of humor...)

AT THE CROSSROADS: TO ATEK OR NOT TO ATEK (guest post from Chris D.)

Chris in South Korea note: this is a guest post from Chris D., whose biography is part of the story. Since we happen to share the same first name, please kindly address your comments to Chris D. (the author of this guest post), or Chris B. (yours truly) to avoid confusion. A post written by myself on the same topic is scheduled for later today.

This piece is about the oft discussed and hotly debated issue of ATEK. My goal here is to discuss one issue that is often left by the wayside in the stampede that is nearly always generated by any discussion on ATEK. That issue, in clear language is: What do Foreign English Teachers in Korea need?

A bit about myself before diving into this shark tank of a debate…

ATEK at a crossroads – the fallout post-3WM

Author’s note: if the title of this post makes no sense to you, please read this post to catch up.

The hidden cost of starting over – a tale of becoming single again

The Lady in Red and I broke up on Friday.

It’s not heartbreak, it’s not infidelity, and personally it’s not a shock. I’ll refrain from sharing the story or rehashing the details in such a public forum, but suffice it to say, it’s over. After a year of living together and two years of being together, it’s over. I don’t write this out of spite or malice, but there is an interesting moral that I’ve been reminded of recently.

AFEK opens membership to E-series visa holders

The following press release comes courtesy of AFEK‘s Mike Yates, AKA ‘The Web Guy’:

29 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Chris in South Korea

In honor of my 29th birthday, which I celebrated on March 29th, I thought I’d mix things up and present some things I’ve never shared with my wonderful readers:

1. Although I’ve lived in Seoul in the past, I actually take an hour-long bus ride to come to Seoul these days.

2. I work with Steve the Qi Ranger.

3. I’ve been swing dancing since college, but I can’t salsa dance to save my life. Guess I’m screwed if I ever go to a Latin American club.

4. The building I work in is right next door to the building I live in – it actually takes more time going up and down the elevators than it does to walk between the buildings.

5. I really miss racquetball, but I’m terrible at tennis.

6. For shorter trips, I actually prefer the Mugunghwa (third-class) trains. The seats are more comfortable, go back further, and offer more room than the KTX.

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