Vices we love: April 2005

Friday, April 29, 2005

An epiphany

Although my father is generally not regarded as a sage, much like a monkey banging on a typewriter he too can knock out Shakespearean prose once in a while. Before I went to China last year, he had just such a moment and stated: "Asian people like the security of knowing someone is in charge so they can just obey and not think too much."

I am not sure about adults, but for kids here in Korea this seems to be perfectly applicable. I am usually pretty loosey-goosey at the hakwon, because the formula student=paying customer is reinforced on a daily basis. Today, liberated in the knowledge that I will only have to squander one more week of my wretched existence at this infernal pit, I decided to be the biggest asshole humanly possible. And you know what? They ate it up "like Schwartz the matzah" to quote a famous and quite deceased Hungarian comedian who managed the hat trick of being a Jewish anti-Semite splendidly.

All wide eyed, a dozen hellspawn focused on me and uttered the greatest compliment a foreign teacher can earn here in Korea. "Teacher mad?" The classes were smooth sailing after that revelation.

So what to do in Ansan? Be the worlds greatest asshole? Or maybe have the resources and support to become an actual educator? Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Milkshake

That Milkshake song is on again. Which makes me nostalgic for milkshakes or any other kind of dairy products. I'm getting osteoporosis and I'm not yet 50. Or a woman. Is this the time for me to go to Thailand?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bend over slowly

Physical today. Included a chest xray, drawing blood (which made me hysterical as always) and a delightful bit which involved inserting a QTip in a very specific orifice where QTips generally should not be inserted. I feel sore. Am going to bed now.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I'm going to scream. And cry. And dance. And....

The whole deal in Ansan hinges on me getting a visa from Korean immigration. THAT depends on getting my transcripts from the University of Memphis. No transcript=no visa=no job=(unthinkable!)

But gawd bless them, they just emailed my musty, aging records. I'm going to dance. I won't drink tho- booze is a depressant, don't you know?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Russian Oil Oligarchies Rejoice! (Hooker Hill in all it's splendor.) Posted by Hello

Sunday, April 24, 2005

China is a big country Posted by Hello

Honesty in Hakwons

The Jinghae school is still hounding me. I cannot imagine why. Today, I sent a brief email, taking the opening she offered on Saturday:

"I am so sorry but I do not have an international drivers license. I sincerely regret missing this opportunity." Yes. I sincerely regret missing this opportunity. Sincerely. Really.
Another interview was had today in Ori, down near Bundang. Ori is an American-style exurb of Seoul, replete with cheesy shopping malls, theme restaurants and endless rows of identical-looking, numbered skyscrapers which made me flash back to Guangzhou where the numbers were all in Chinese and I, never any good with directions, played a fun game called "let's get lost in city of 15 million today." (See the pic above for a taster.)
After taking my sweet time getting lost and finding myself still in Korea, I met up with Joyce. Joyce was born in Korea and raised in Georgia. A maschoist, she packed her bags for South Carolina and got a college degree there. (Yes! Some private school owners do have college degrees.) She was properly apologetic for being a hakwon owner, quite likely the slimiest occupation available, and similar to what is practiced by the not-so-fetching Russian ladies on Seoul's aptly named Hooker Hill. She had bluntly stated that opening a hakwon was her way of getting out of being a public school teacher for life. Here, she could finally be the boss. Just not the boss of me. She is a sweet lady really. Drop by sometime and say hi.

Saturday I was in west Seoul, interviewing for a public school gig in Ansan. I am about 90% sure that I have the job as the fella wanted to put his grubby lil hands on my diploma ASAP. (My uni diploma needs to be sent to Korean immigration so that they can give me a visa.) Having spent all of January and much of February pleading with Ivy Chun San to get my diploma back, I wasn't going to lose it again. No sir. I'll have to go to the American embassy to get a notarized copy for twenty bucks. Also need my transcripts which I hope will be emailed to me from my proud alumni,
Memphis State . Let's hope I get it. Teaching 6 45 minute classes a day with a maximum of 10 students per class. It's not quite a university job but, like a hundred dead lawyers at the bottom of the sea, it's still a good start.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

A perfect example of everything that is wrong with teaching English in Korea

Okay so I'm hunting for a new job. I put up a professional headshot at and since then my phone has been ringing every five minutes. Today "Kim" called:

"Hello is this Whitey Ford?"
"Singing the blues, yes Ma'am."
"I saw your resume online. Can we talk?" First lie. I did not have my resume online. Only my picture and contact info.
"Sure thing."
"I run an excellent school in Busan and wanted to know if you were interested in a position?"
"What kind of a school is it Miss?"
"It is a hakwon." So above is her second lie. There is no such thing as an excellent hakwon.
"And it is in Busan?"
"Yes, you know Busan? It's a large port city down south by the sea. Many beaches."
"That sounds great. What else can you tell me about your excellent school?" I'm gagging on my own insincerity here, but in modern times insincerity is the most genuine form of social contact
"Do you have a drivers license?"
"Yes. May I ask why?"
"Well we are located in Jingahae, a small town north of Busan and sometimes you would need to drive into the city to pick up our students." Wait for it....
"So you are NOT in Busan?"
"Near Busan."
"But not IN Busan?" Don't fuck with me lady. I have been to law school.
"Oh but very near."
"Have a nice day."
"You are not interested?" Spoken in a tone of voice that reminds me of my mother at her most manipulative and pseudo-emotional
"No Ma'am."

And as we speak, she is calling all the church-going ladies/hakwon owners down south about this disrespectful foreigner. Up yours with a twisted spoon hun.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Forrest comes to Korea to teach English

"ESLer Gump! What is your sole purpose within the borders of the Unified Democratic Socialist Hangul People's Republic of Corea?"

"To shave every day, stay white, play hangman, smile, bow, eat kimchi and do whatever you tell me to do O Wise One!"

"Goddamnit ESLer Gump! You are a fucking geniuse! You will serve a University Unit one day! Now go and play hangman!"

"Yes Wongjamin!"

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Sing my biography

Well lookie here

I was gonna write my biography and someone beat me to it. And I went to law school too. Freaky huh?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Pic of the millenium Posted by Hello

Friday, April 15, 2005

The poor wee urchin, captured here for posterity....alas, the day has passed and I am going to bed. Being evil ain't easy without props from Dick Cheney. Posted by Hello

Never have I met a more wretched hive of scum and villainy...

Bah. What is this world coming to when I can't be allowed to blackmail my audience properly? My faint hope for integration into the current socio-economic-moral fabric of the West has been ruined!

Look at this poor child, consigned to Konglish textbooks and not to mention, myself. Doesn't she (that is to say, me) deserve your contribution? Posted by Hello

Definitely "feeling" the faith

Finally! Viagra is Kosher for Passover! Free at last!

And Marx would be so proud

Bloody hell as my UK EFL brethen say. Can't fight modernity anymore. I'm starting on a large scale, being the ambitious Eastern block immigrant that I am. Unless you send, and continue sending funds to my paypal account at, I will go to work today and inflict poorly written Konglish-based EFL books on upwards of 80 children. Pics of these precious tykes will be posted periodically as a reminder of the emotional aspect of my vicious act of blackmail. Funds received must be no less than $2100 U.S. per month.

As ( would say, "Please think of the children!"

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Vices we love

okay blogger is pissing me off now. Goto to see the geniuses in action and to see NBC correspondent George Lewis perform the First Amendment concerto, Ass-Licking in A Minor with the Corporate Government/Media Orchestra

She asked me why links

The lowest of the low

The dumbest of the dumb

She asked me why

Just a quick note on why I despise humanity with every fiber of my being and will move to an uninhibited Pacific island before my 40th birthday.

These two are perfect examples of Western societies in the 21st century where everything and everyone is for sale and the only moral outrage worh mentioning is when you're not getting a piece of the action.

And below is our glorious newsmedia, functioning as our founding fathers had intended.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

100 days

Hey, I should have mentioned that today was my 100th day in Korea. Whilest sitting in the car that doubles as your home, using your B.A. diploma as an umbrella and moaning about the slackers who go to Korea, ponder this. Have you ever had 100 straight days of professional employment in the post-industrial, post-democratic, post-middle class West?

And *beep* you too

Who says Korean kids can't learn English? Sure they can! Behold, as proof, the following charming exchange between myself and "David1". (All the Korean kids take on English names sometime around kindergarden. With visions of white picket fences and Western integration, they choose the most middle-of the road monikers. Since there are few of those around, and since they don't have English surnames, the kids wind up being numbered. Julia1 is followed by Julia2 and Julia3 is right behind her.)

Me: "David, open your book."
David1: "No."
Me: (Under my breath.) A rohadt budos kurva anyadat. (Hey, kids need to learn basic Hungarian too.) (Out loud) Open your book right now. (Spoken while leaning over him, trying to intimidate with my girth.)
David1: Fuck you.

If he keeps this up for a few more years, tosses in some 'bitches' and 'hoes' and gets himself a MAC-10, David1 will be ready for the American public school system.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Yellow belt fever

A rocking Friday night spent online. I spend a good portion of my time teaching at a hakwon in Seoul. I use the term teaching loosely but since I haven't been ripped off (too badly), made homeless, deported, gutted, or used in political commercials, I can't complain. A hakwon is a Korean private school, usually focused on teaching English. It is a rather useless undertaking because spending fifty minutes a day with a paleface does NOT assure language competency. You actually have to study too.

Whereas American private schools, predominantly in the South, are designed so that white folks don't have to send their precious seed to the public school system and mingle with the proles, Korean private schools are designed to allow Koreans to send their seeds to a place where they can ogle and insult whitey to their hearts content. There is a reason why Korean (and indeed most Asian) employers ask for a photograph with your resume and it isn't their appreciation for the lighting.

Taekwondo classes are going splendidly and if I play my cards right I will have no recognizable joints left in about 2 months. My shrieking coach insists that I will have my yellow belt in three weeks. Albert is happy as a clam, approaching the ancient age of 67 and adopting me as his wayguekin (pale) son. He used to travel the world, shilling mobile phones, and did time in Saudi Arabia, a country that holds a certain morbid fascination for me. Ever the diplomat, Albert said I have virtually zero chance of scoring a gig there because the Saudis "don't really like Israel people."

Off on a tangent, how the hell can Asians tell I'm a Yid? I remember riding the train in Hong Kong when an ancient toothless lad poked me in the ribs, grinned like a jack-o-lantern and said "are you Israel?"

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Church boy

Well hello there. It's a lazy Sunday afternoon and Sunday, as we know, is the day to go to church. As noted theologian Jon Stewart said: "People like religion. It makes them feel good and gives them something to do on the weekend."

My religion, to the small extent that I have one, is Judaism, but believe it or not, South Korea does not have a large number of synagogues. There is one on the army base in Yongsan but I'm not devout enough for a forty minute subway ride. And if I were devout, I couldn't take the subway anyhow. That's called a quandry.

Religion in my family did not consist of services and challah bread. It consisted of gathering around the photo album to look at fraying black and white images of the dead.
"This is your uncle, Laci. He died in a forced labor camp. This is your aunt Margit. She died at Auschwitz. This is your grandmother. She had two little boys but they got typhus and..."
A few years of the above led me to the conclusion that either A) there is no God or B) that if there is, s/he is an evil bastard I will have nothing to do with. I vacillate between the two above interpertations. While I was in Tzafat, a devout little town in northern Israel, the Orthodox Jewish community tried earnestly to convince me that there is most definitely a God, God is good, and nothing bad happens to people unless they deserve it. Since that leads to the conclusion that Laci, Margit and company deserved what they got, this was not winning points with me.

So anyway, back to the present. Being a whitey and not fluent in Korean leaves me a smidgen isolated. Since I vacillate between wanting to be a hermit and wanting to be liked (I vacillate a LOT), I found myself experiencing the latter and promptly walked to the giant church around the corner from my house. I stood in the courtyard, listening to the organs, shuffling uncomfortably and ultimately not going in. Maybe next week.

But maybe not.

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