Cheongna hitting the corners in them Low-Lows, girl

This morning I applied for my alien registration card. It’s the Korean equivalent of an American high school’s hall pass, I suppose, in that if there’s any shit and you’re caught in the middle of it, they can check you against the multitudinous scores of other expat teachers and make sure you aren’t packing a clown suit and a crawl space full of abducted Korean teachers’ bodies. The process was pretty straightforward – the immigration office is much the same as you’d expect from any other country’s, South Africa included. Bustling, a little crowded, lots and lots of agitated-looking lost boys sitting in front of glass dividers running their hands through their hair while women in neatly pressed uniforms shrug their shoulders, exasperated and hand-tied. I think the immediate reaction for South Africans (and, in its own way, rightfully so) is to assume our government’s oft-referenced ineptitude has rendered all of their offices completely inefficient, but the truth of that matter is, anywhere with a lot of people all vying for stamps, seals, approvals and transfers from a dozen different plexiglass windows is always going to be an antfarm. 

Other than that, after two weeks there isn’t a whole lot to report on. I’ve been teaching kids for about seven days now, and it seems to be going well. The kids range in age from 11 to 15, 16, and are all super keen to learn. Which is impressive, because by the time they get to my classes from 2:50 to 8:50, they’ve all been at their regular daytime classes from 9 in the morning. Korean education is no joke, and the kids who are sent to Jungchul (the academy where I work) are being pushed hard. So I tackle the workload with them as efficiently as possible, given the assignment, and then try to engage with them personally. Rote learning, especially when it comes to languages like English, might get results on paper, but can’t ever really produce any kind of meaningful understanding. I want these kids to remember their classes, and really learn, so I take the plan offroad where possible to really try and get down to the usefulness of what they’re learning.

I’m trying to get in touch with nearby expat bars in Cheongna so that I can get out and see the city something proper without having to mime, “Shimmy shimmy, your beer sucks, let’s go grab some burritos and take a stroll along the boardwalk.” It’s not that it’s hard having to slow down and speak more simply to get what you want day to day, like at the Family Mart and whatever. I’m an outsider, and I recognise that I need to interact as such, but I know there are other aliens wondering around these very first world streets who could probably show me more of my neighbourhood than the walk to school. I guess it’s just a matter of time, and, to be honest, I’ve been seeing plenty. Just wanna get my finger a little closer to the pulse of whatever’s happening here.

Weather’s cooling down, food’s still a little weird, tomorrow is Independence Day, and I’m off to class in an hour. We’ll catch up soon.


This massive spider I found with Duk, sitting in the city centre at this chicken place. Skylines and ridiculous arachnids. Image

It’s nigh impossible to get a buddy coke in this city, but look at the adorable little cokelets and fantalings!Image

Generic Cheongna city shots.Image

Generic Cheongna city shots.Image

Jungchul, my school.Image

Generic Cheongna night time city shots.Image

Generic Cheongna night time city shots.Image

Generic Cheongna night time city shots.Image

Everything is a freaking cartoon of itself 😛 This is like the bus that Goku’s hair designed.Image

The cell shops have these weird animatronic ladies outside all of them that bow and greet people walk past.ImageImage

How intense is this anti smoking ad by the lifts in my building?Image

Look at his little cheeks!Image

The one in the front with her head down (who might be Julie, I still need to check every time I talk to her) has massive front teeth and a lisp. And a flower shaped wristwatch. Image

These are some of the older kids, at an evening class.Image

Look how bad my hand writing is? It’s all the ramen giving me the shakes.Image

These guys are loud.Image

Ramen, baby!Image

Brown rice, green tea. Cold water, of course – god, can you imagine?Image

Vitamin town. Who knows that the hell all this stuff is.Image

Kids writing a presentation for class.ImageI think front-and-left is on to my game.


~ by dook on August 14, 2012.

2 Responses to “Cheongna hitting the corners in them Low-Lows, girl”

  1. Hey Dude – hope youve setteled in , from my own endevours i know talent in that neck of the woods is scarce , unless you are willing to part with hard .. earned cash that is !! Looks like you are doing a fair amount of exploring ? Have someone to translate , found this very useful . What is your local beer called ? as generally if you can order a beer within the first few hours of landing , this will be a sign of the longevity of your planned stay in Cheongsomething ! Enjoy .

    • Mark 😀 thanks, yeah I’ve settled in alright. Haven’t done much in the way of large-scale exploring. Mostly just around my neighbourhood, one or two nearby restaurants, and one of the outlying areas to visit immigration and the government hospital for my check up. Which has served me fine up until this point, as I’m working on my novel right now and I’ve been spending most of my late nights just sweating in the relentless heat and bulking up my word count.

      The local beers are called Hite and Cass. And they’re sub-par, but you can find them, as well as Heinekens etc at most of the Seven 11s. And yeah, the translation business can be a little agitating, which is why I’ve been looking for an expat bar, just so I can benefit from some more longstanding experience.

      How’re things that end, man? It’s really good to hear from you.

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