CHU NGD A HM
THE Instructor CORNER Franchises& Branches Share Their SPOTLIGHT Stories
17 It Ain't the Beach! 25
Chungdahm’s Got Talent! interviewing 3 chungdahm main branch veteran instructors…
the ski & snowboard outing to vivaldi was interesting and fun…
Project Manager Travis Stewart
Special thank you to all of the contributors who made this quarter’s issue of the CULTURE possible! For future inquiries regarding the CULTURE, please contact email@example.com. Thank you!
Designer & Editor-in-Chief Andrew Kim
contents .spotlight 1
masters' writing competition: product name, elin butterfingers in bundang (x-mas special) daechi’s turkey & ham holiday luncheon
the true meaning of christmas . korean self-identity students say the darndest things . my first intensive x-mas gifts and new year resolutions . korea’s art scene
26 .events 27
.creatives sashart: 2 pieces
ka brew boat cruise . the food, markets & culture of ansan
masters' writing competition: by mike yi (bangbae)
The Bangbae Branch of CDL holds a local writing contest for the Masters Literature class and Masters Writing class. We have small cash prizes more for recognition, since the students are pretty motivated to try and win. One of my primary goals at Bangbae was to instill the passion to write. From this passion, the students have realized that reading and speaking are essential to the entire process. In effect, I personally believe this has produced more confident and intelligent students whose mastery of the English language is apparent in their writing. This term's first place winner was Elin Lee. Here is her essay.
Product Name, Elin by elin lee (master student at bangbae)
Product Name. Elin the Doll. Size.160cm x 30cm. Item model number. DUMB123. For all ages. Made in Korea. Product features. This doll can be tricked, not talked to, or lied to. Warning. Do not use near teachers, adults, and supervisors. Materials. Wax, plastic, nylon strings. I thought about myself as I waited for the kids, my owners. I was sitting on my plastic chair, with my best emotionless, doll-like face while I waited for them to arrive. Soon, they entered the class. They toyed with me and tried to communicate with me, but I couldn’t mutter a single word back to them. The kids got bored with me soon and moved away a moment later. I wanted to reach out and chat with them, but my lips were stuck together.
I could only sit there as they passed by. I am Elin Lee, and I am… I mean, I used to be, a doll in Canada. When I first went to Canada, I was horrible in English. I couldn’t write from A to Z in an alphabetical order, and I couldn’t spell “duck” with confidence. I was a little worried when my dad decided to move my school to Canada, but I didn’t want to disappoint my dad. So, I pretended to be optimistic about it. I was able to do it pretty well, since I did not know at the time, that my expression was going to be coated with plastic. I went to my new school, and was shocked to find out that I was the only Korean girl in there. With no one to communicate with, I felt the first drop of
wax seal my mouth. Slowly, but steadily, the drops of wax trickled down my skin and hardened it. I couldn’t understand anything the teacher said. I “felt” the words tab and knock on my ears, but I couldn’t “hear” them. It was as if something had clogged my ear holes. Since I couldn’t understand, I often did some foolish things, and everyone laughed at me. Soon, my actions became stiff as if I was a puppet, for I had to watch all my moves. I had to check that nobody was laughing at me every time I did something. People made fun of me more and more. Even though I did not know what they were saying, I knew it wasn’t anything good. I felt their laughter pound on my heart. Their sarcastic tones burnt my lungs and whisperings made my legs wobble. With more time, it got worse. Since I never talked or reacted in front of them, they declared me as a puppet. Those people thought that I didn’t know anything. They thought I was mindless, and thus tried to make me fall for a lame trick or do something embarrassing. Seeing me “refuse” was a surprising discovery for them. Maybe they thought I couldn’t even decide which a sane behavior was and which was not. They believed that I was a marionette who obeyed the puppeteer’s fingers. When they failed becoming my puppeteer, they got mad and talked behind my back. Time passed. Nevertheless, I kept the plastic mask on my face. It disabled me from talking, but it kept the others from mocking me for what I said. It was easier and better to keep it on. I was going to live like that, if the kids had not sworn at me “in front of me.” That moment, anger flamed inside me. What did they really think I was? A lifeless thing that walks? Rage burnt and blazed, and melted all the wax and plastic. I opened my mouth and talked right back at them. At that moment, everyone stared at me with dumbfounded expressions on their faces. I didn’t know why at first, and then it hit me.
I had talked! I had understood! The glassy coat on my skin had evaporated, leaving my warm flesh back. I smiled, which I hadn’t done for a while. The time I had spent here hadn’t gone to waste. After that incident, I talked and shouted and asked. I retorted and agreed and fought. I praised and advised and joked. I did everything I could do by speaking. I felt so free, and I was free, from the slippery wax coats and emotionless masks. I gained warmth from my friends. Being warm was, unlike being cold, good. Whereas layers of wax had blocked me from heat, the layers of friends filled me with it. Only when I opened up for them, and got rid of the barrier, could I finally see my classmates’ true selves. I hadn’t realized but the plastic had covered and blurred my eyes, too. I’d never want to be that lifeless plastic doll again. Never. But maybe… I showed my hand to my friends and they all laughed. On my hand was a scribble that I had written earlier. It said: Product Name. Elin the Doll. Size. 160cm x 30cm. Item model number. DUMB123. For all ages. Made in Korea. Warning. This doll cannot be tricked, not talked to, or lied to. Product features. This doll can be used near teachers, adults, and supervisors for playing and chatting purposes. Materials. Cotton, clothes, silk hair, and a little bit of hope and courage. -Elin
masters' writing competition
butterfingers in bundang (x-mas special)
by michael ting (bundang)
The staff at the Bundang branch celebrated Christmas Eve at ‘Butterfingers’ which is a Western style breakfast joint located in Jeonga. The food was fantastic! And I highly recommend it to anyone who happens to be in the area (or for people who miss a good stack of pancakes). They served numerous items that gave everyone a little taste of home. The hardest part was deciding what to get. I literally spent 20 minutes staring at the menu and was constantly changing my mind. I finally decided to go with a meal that was similar to the ‘Grand Slam’ that’s found at a Denny’s restaurant. It had pancakes with maple syrup, eggs, bacon, sausage, and homestyle hash browns. Others got waffles, eggs Benedict, and corned hash, which all looked fantastic. Although the food was exceptional, the best part of the night was receiving my secret Santa gift. Even though the price limit was only 10,000won, everyone at the branch received a gift that had much higher sentimental value. My secret Santa got me a Korean phrase book for travelers and I consider it to be one of the most valuable things that I own! The reason why is because I am considered a ‘newbie’ at my
branch and have only been in the country for about a month. I love every minute of my experience in South Korea but there are definitely times where I have found it difficult to communicate. This book has taught me essential phrases to get by and has also taught me how to read Hangeul. At the very least, I can open up the book and point to a phrase when I want to communicate with a Korean. Thank you, Santa!
daechi’s turkey &holiday ham luncheon by anthony greene (daechi)
On December 23, 2010 the Daechi Branch indulged in one of the great pastimes of the Christmas holiday season: over-eating and exchanging gifts with colleagues. It was a nice taste of home, especially since it was the first time in my 28 years on Earth that I was not celebrating Christmas with my family. Although the Christmas spirit was alive and well in Seoul, there was definitely a difference between Korean and American observances of the holiday. If you were out shopping for presents to send home, or eating and drinking with co-workers after work, you could not avoid s e e i n g Christmas decorations around department stores and advertisements hanging from streetlamps. It was especially nice looking at the decorations around the stores in Gangnam Yeok, as Coke-A-Cola posted large images of Santa Claus and Christmas trees high up on street signs. Of course, the constant sounds of Christmas carols, both in English and Korean, were present in coffee shops, stores, and restaurants and could have made even Ebenezer Scrooge smile. However, there is nothing like a homecooked meal with family, friends, and a nice nap to follow. Fortunately, Daechi Branch Manager Suzie Kim and Faculty Manager Brenton Swan organized a tasty and cost-effective buffet lunch at the Branch.
During the meal, the majority of teachers and staff participated in a “Secret Santa” gift exchange (which was timely for me because I was in desperate need of a scarf for the Artic winds that we have grown oh so accustomed to!). The meal featured a large, carved turkey (which was spectacular) and one of the best hams that I have tasted in years (sorry Mom). Side dishes included stuffing, mashed potatoes, and an assortment of mixed vegetables. To top the meal off, we had a nice assortment of desserts that did a great job fulfilling everyone’s sweet tooth. For a brief moment, the seminar room felt like my parents’ kitchen; the turkey tasted like my grandmother’s; the ham looked like it just came out of the oven; and my colleagues’ voices sounded like family talking after dinner. It truly affirmed that the Christmas spirit is alive everywhere, regardless of where you are.
the true meaning of christmas by chris heron (pyeongchon)
fairly blasé about the whole enterprise, Tracy’s incessant reminders sent a clear message— Christmas was not optional at Pyeongchon. As I walked towards my room, I overheard a conversation between Tracy and AFM Steve Cooper; “Look Tracy, I just don’t see the point. Why am I being singled out?” “Mr. Cooper, you are an AFM. Do I have to remind you of the responsibilities you agreed to take on?” “Yeah but I still don’t see how that applies to this?” “As an AFM, you are a leader here at this
“6 more days till Christmas… Let’s fill them stockings!” said the whiteboard in the 5th floor lounge. It was the latest Christmas update from our FM, Tracy “the Christmas Nazi” Nguyen. Tracy had decided to make holiday spirit official Pyeongchon policy, shoving sugar plums down our throats with a series of emails, memos, and whiteboard notes about the stockings. We were each to attach a glittery holiday receptacle to our locker and then fill each others’ with candy or cheap trinkets. We had about 40 stockings to fill so Kenny Kwan’s original gift idea of iPads simply wasn’t practical. While some of us (me) were
Stockings, however, weren’t the only way to express one’s holiday spirit. The little gifts themselves were sometimes equally strange. Julie Yoon and Grace Hong decided to give everyone homemade personalized mini-monsters, each with a special description card. Mine was Bananamon, a wide-eyed banana peel who admits that I “tower over him” but contends that he knows more about movies than I do (he’s a fool though. He liked Avatar in 4D). While Kenny Kwan had to scrap his iPad idea, he still found a way to act as unofficial Mac product spokesman by giving us all apples. Bryan didn’t get one though as it wouldn’t fit in his cup. With all this stocking, candy, monster, and unpaid corporate sponsorship business, you’d think an instructor would be drained of Christmas spirit, completely unable to express his/her love of the holidays in any other way. This was not so with Jon Mains. Mr. Mains took Christmas kitsch to another level by wearing an inexhaustible supply of ugly holiday outfits, day after day, each more tasteless than the last. When Jon wore a bright green button down shirt with holly leaves embroidered on the collar, most of us felt like he had peaked. Then, he wore a red short-sleeved Polo… collar fully buttoned… with a tie… a tie patterned with little Grinch heads. Never underestimate the power of Jonny’s tacky side. A whole terrible wardrobe dedicated to a few weeks out of
branch. Other teachers, especially the new ones, follow your example. Being an AFM is about more than just watching CCTV’s. It’s about being a model instructor in every respect. Am I being clear? “Yeah alright, fine” “Good, so I’ll ask again. When are you going to put candy into the stockings?” T h e stockings arrangement itself was N o r m a n R o c k w e l l ’s grandparent’s nightmare. Next to family man Mark H u b i c h ’ admittedly nice traditional stocking was a gym sock (mine) that had sadly lost its partner in the great laundry disaster of last week (at least, now, Socky Balboa had a purpose in life, a reason to go on). Each stocking explained a little bit about the person who had willingly under orders from Herr FM) put it on public display. Mark’s said, “I have an adorable little kid and therefore I have place in my heart for silly sentiment.” Mine said, “I don’t.” Some of the new teacher’s identical E-Mart stockings said, “I miss Christmas at home.” Nikki Pena’s home-made paper stocking with color by Crayola said, “I like CTP’s that involve arts and crafts too much.” Bryan Gleaves’ paper cup said, “I hate Christmas but I still want candy.” Tracy’s combat boot… no, I’m kidding.
the true meaning of christmas
the true meaning of christmas
Now we had to trade in our old conceptions of Christmas for the ex-pat variety. We traded honey-baked ham at grandma’s for chicken hearts at Mercados (of which Mark Rudnick can eat an exorbitant amount. Are they kosher, Mark?). We traded awkward extended family for equally awkward co-workers. We traded eggnog for buckets at Monkey Beach (“just one straw for me, thanks”). We traded Jeff Barg’s cheesy rendition of The Backstreet Boys’ Last Christmas for The Black-Eyed Sell-ou—I mean Peas. And in the end, we all learned the true meaning of Christmas—it is a time to be with the people closest to you… and to find out how truly weird they are.
the year begs the question, “How much did Jon spend on Christmas garb?” Anyone who knows Jon Mains will tell you… not much. ***
And suddenly there were no more days till Christmas. It was Christmas evening and it was time to accept that the holidays in Korea would not be like back home. We had accepted that Christmas trees were made of aluminum. And that blinking lights were worth more than diamonds. And that carols were sung in chipmunk voices over the loudspeakers at E-Mart (happy happy happy Christmas-uh). And that Chanukah doesn’t exist. And that It’s a Wonderful Life would be torrented instead of played on 36-hour marathon on TCM.
korean self-identity by luis bravim (daejon)
In January of 2008 I arrived in Korea; like most foreigners, with little knowledge of the country’s history. My background in social science education led me to pick up Don Oberdorfer’s The Two Koreas. The British journalist’s account departs little from the Western stereotype of Korea as a pawn juggled by the whims of greater powers. It is my belief that this stereotype is so ingrained in Korean historical study that it has marred an entire society’s understanding of history. The JoongAng Daily reported that history is rarely taught as an independent subject in the Korean education system. Rather, it is part of a shallow social science curriculum in a system bloated with 13 required courses. The sacrifice of depth for breadth has dire consequences for historical literacy. Because the university admissions system has not emphasized learning Korean history, no academy system developed to fill in the gaps, as is the case with mathematics, science,
and English. A little-noted change from the admissions office of Seoul National University may end this. Starting in 2014, applicants will be given credit for completing a Korean history course at the high-school level. This is marked departure from the status quo, where history is classified as an unimportant elective. It is easy to brush off criticism of Korean education when they continuously dominate international tests. However, a close examination would reveal that these tests are limited to science, math, and reading. Observers of current events note that the public lacks faith in the political system’s ability to respond to crisis. Lack of proper historical context will make it exceedingly difficult for the next generation to become global leaders capable of solving the 21st century’s most vexing problems. Academies, public schools, and universities must act boldly to address the issue of historical illiteracy. For Korean selfidentity, the stakes could not be greater.
students say the darndest things by julie yoon (pyeongchon)
Do you ever wonder what all of those English-speaking people are raucously laughing about while congregated in small spaces? What keeps them coming back to suffer sticky summers and bitter winters? What will they remember the most from their stay in Korea? Their students, of course! Instructors love to talk about their students. LOVE it. Maybe I am slightly exaggerating their devotion—after all, they spend just as much energy praising ChungDahm Learning. But when I asked PyeongChon instructors about the darndest things their students have said, they volunteered these funny segments:
ted making a hissing noise. “The heater turned on and star . We should run.’” My student told me, ‘Teacher. Fire Grace Hong
“A girl in my clas reading sc a nd list ame in with tickets. She sa ening bonus should id to m b e reading e able to u , ‘We s e a n both d list tickets for ou ening bonus BAM!’ r revie Id w tes t. learned on’t know w h to say ‘ e BAM!;” re she Steven Coope r
“In my Birdie Listening clas s, we were discussing No rth Korean Ref ugees. The mai lecture has so n me names in it, YoungHeun and YoungJoo n. When I aske d my students how they w rote the info rm ation in their notes, they all said, ‘IN KOR EAAANNN!’ an laughed upro d ariously. But what they did expect was fo n ’t r their foreign er tof a teach to write those er Korean names on the board notes. They w ere shocked th at I even knew how to write it, but one h ilarious studen decided so t mething else was more noteworthy. ‘Ms. Sydney , your Kore letters are m an uch, MUCH better than yo English letters! ur ’ And the re st of the clas agreed 100% s . ‘Yeah, your writing is very bad, teacher!’ ‘Yeaaaaahhh!!! I can’t read it! But I can read those names!’” Sydney Langfo rd
TP, e week 6 ILA C th r fo g in rm o “While brainst me problems t, ‘What are so en d u st y use m d I aske that might ca ce fa s d ki an orries that Kore ide? What w ic su er d si n 5th grader them to co u know?’ My yo s d ki e th r o ause the you, ting a job bec et ‘g , d lie p re student l right now.’” Korea is smal job market in Chris Heron
students say the darndest things
“Wh of the k en I first cam his pen ids was going e to Korea, on cil e a why do and he looks long my arm h at me a you air with for abo nd ask ut five s have gold fur? s , ‘ Teache o ’ bright r I laughe r, ed. Up lid minutes, a d h y s n on see terically d my fa laughin in c g e g hys my red inevitab face ly t of their terically them selves, , the kids then urned drunke undo n fat star 10 min utes of hers. All in all ubtedly remin ted , ther nonded My Kor ean na stop laughter e was about m in e the clas Gom,’ which m is now ‘Hwan s g Geum . eans, ‘ Golden Jeff Ba Bear.’” rg
In my own Bridge Listening class, I asked the students what they knew about our topic: bats. One student raised his hand and exclaimed, “Batman!” However, only three students in the class knew Batman. Another student asked, “Then, does Batman eat insects?” The first boy answered, “Batman. He is batman! Does Spiderman eat insects?!” After listening to all of the fun things students have said, how can instructors NOT share this information? I bet that after reading this article, you will want to share these stories with other people, too. Such is the beauty of darndest things. Keep your ears open!
pic preview ould have a to w pon for e w s, as cl W be centered u ld u o w n io “In the old RE ss cu We were was phobias. ut what the dis n o io ab ss s cu as is cl d f f o o I then ic at the end ia, and others. week, the top b r o h la u p ro tic ar ac p , ia at b the o Th was. None of as arachnoph ia the next week. b ch o h su p s ro le p st au am ecific ex brighter knew what cl going over sp eat, one of my ass if anyone b cl a e g th n si to is n m tio t cent eyes them. Withou asked the ques the most inno kept prodding ith I w d d an an e ew m kn up at kids ’” udents looks ear of Santa? elementary st ly simp says, ‘F atz Theran Brigow
my first intensive by sydney langford (pyeongchon)
Waking up at "real" morning hours and pretending to be peppy for the kids… CON. It's not always easy to be animated and fun during chunk exercises, and sometimes the break room didn't have coffee. Big problem! The 3 hours in between Intensive class and regular class… CON. Don’t let the CCTV know, but sometimes instructors need a power nap before the next round of kiddies come through the doors. Those desks at the back of the room made for a nice napping mat, no doubt! On the other side of this 3-hour time to kill, coworker lunches were always great fun after class. We love bonding time at Pyeongchon. Reading a book along with the students and having to prepare a class around it… PRO. The Little Prince is a classic, and I had actually never read it before this Intensive. It was endearing, and I think it taught me more life lessons than the students. Teaching a low-level class advancedlevel vocabulary and material… CON & PRO. The first class hit me with a harsh reality: the students were definitely not going to breeze through the book. It was definitely an interesting test to see how well I could get them to understand and memorize words like
When I decided on the “ups and downs” article about Winter Intensives, I had hoped that the outcome would be mostly wonderful things that I experienced during my month-long Novel Workshop class. This isn't truly the case, unfortunately. So for anyone who wants to teach Intensives at some point in their Chungdahm lives, here’s a little treat for you. Winter Intensives meant a few initial things to me: fun classes for a month, a nice bump in the paycheck and a temporary discontinuation of my college-like sleeping schedule. While the early mornings were a slight adjustment, the Novel Workshop 3 class was on a completely different level of curriculum adaptation. I was excited to read and discuss The Little Prince with the lucky children that still get to go to school during their vacation month. However, the difficulty of the novel compared with the level of the students did not match. *Note to Chungdahm: Memory students don’t know how to form full phrases or sentences most of the time. Novels with big people vocabulary & life lessons? Not nice. And so began my first experience with Intensives. Here are a few of the pros and cons that came around during the month of Novel Workshop.
my first intensive syllabus that is CDL. The main goal is to make sure the students have fun. The Little Prince was made into a movie way back when, AND was on YouTube. Bonus! The other Intensive courses seemed to go well for my coworkers at Pyeongchon as we always talked about it during our lunches. I can definitely say that I learned a few valuable lessons along the course of the month. All in all, I’d say Winter Intensives were, and I quote my students, “good.”
“naïve” and expressions like “felt a twinge of remorse” for their review tests. But when I saw the students (well, a few of them anyway) actually grasping the themes and lessons hidden in the challenging language, I felt so proud. Those lessons were by far the best mornings I’ve had in Korea. Having the flexibility with the curriculum to do “other” things… PRO. Sometimes fundamental classes get a bit repetitive, agreed? This was one important thing that I looked forward to with Intensives. The instructor has a little bit more freedom within the structured
x-mas gifts & new year resolutions by various branch instructors
What did Santa bring you for X-mas? We thought it would be nice to hear what Old Saint Nick dropped off for some of the hard-working instructors at Chungdahm. Here’s the list that we were able to compile:
But like I said, that's not all. We also have everyone's favorite, "New Year's Resolutions."
· A hangover. I ended up drinking to much Christmas cheer^^ · I got nothing. Then again, I don’t celebrate Christmas. · A cold that lasted a week. I know that Santa gave it to me because it was my New Year’s Resolution to not get sick for a whole year… and I don’t think it was a coincidence that it happened on the week of Christmas! · I got a RC helicopter that has a hard time going in a straight line and a couple shirts that slate me as being an alcoholic. · I got a Nintendo Wii fit plus…what is Santa trying to say!!! · I got to fly back home and spend time with my family and eat like there was no tomorrow! · 2 Best Friends from England and California · My parents thought it would be funny to send me some Christmas gag gifts this year among other things. A Pooping Penguin Candy Dispenser. You push its head and a brown candy pops out of its butt (not very appetizing). Since I wasn’t having Christmas turkey this year, they sent me an inflatable turkey. I thought that was more torture than funny since it reminded me of how much I wanted to be home for Christmas.
x-mas gifts & new year resolutions
New Year's Resolutions (for the average person): · My goal this year is to run 2011km (that works out to about 1250 miles). My goal is also to reach the daily recommended intake of calcium, iron, and fiber from diet alone. · To successfully balance graduate school, work and personal life! New Year's Resolutions (for the NOT-so-average person):
· I will no longer waste my time relieving the past, instead I will spend it worrying about the future. · I will try to figure out why I “really” need nine e-mail addresses. · I will think of a password other than "password." · When I hear a funny joke I will not reply, "LOL... LOL!" · I will not tell the same story at every get together. · I will start buying lottery tickets at a luckier store. · I will stop eating bread. "More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread users." Lower my chances of going to prison! · I will brush my teeth with the other hand. Studies have shown that change is good for me. So there is a potential that, if I brush my teeth with the other hand, I might become Einstein. · I will make every event of my life top secret and then hope for fame on Wikileaks. · I will pop a Flintstone vitamin every day. · I will develop a British accent, jolly good show old bean! · I will sit down and write a real list of New Year's resolutions.
koreaâ€™s art scene by sira maliphol (gangseo)
Another mini-gallery at the Art Center was the fanciful exhibit titled "The Rabbit" by Kim Hyun Jee. Several playful Pop images were vividly captured in some iconic modern day symbols like Alexander McQueen's footwear for Lady Gaga and Alice in Wonderland. The coupled imagery of rabbit and moon may have meant to convey something of the rabbit in the moon folk story, but, not being versed in its meaning, I could not tell. They were all just a lot of fun to look at. Continuing up to Samchong-dong, I came across the Arario Gallery Seoul, which was displaying artwork by Agus Suwage from Indonesia. This was part of "Beacons of Archipelago," an exhibition that focused on Southeast Asian artists. The rest of the thirteen artists' works could be found at the main gallery in Cheonan. Here there were some obvious symbolism at work which may have went over my head. Several paintings were littered with mounds of poo (not unlike the ones our kids sometimes draw). The most striking piece consisted of pig skulls on roller skates following one another going up a ramp and into the wall. I could not help but wonder if the pigs, a staple of so many Asian diets, were meant to somehow morbidly represent us on the continent. Just a few hops away and no more than a stone's throw from the Korean Folk Museum, the Hakgojae Gallery had a few pieces by Zhang Huan on display. The six pieces in the showroom showed an artist who was clearly in his prime. The range of creativity was amazing and all the pieces were representative of
Last October, a Chagall had just set the record for a modern Western painting sold in Asia. Coincidentally, there was an exhibit on Chagall at the Seoul Museum of Art titled "Magician of Color." This was the perfect opportunity for me to satisfy my craving for art appreciation. Unfortunately, it was not sated. So, I headed over to the "Picasso and Modern Art" show at the National Museum of Contemporary Art at Deoksugung Palace. While this was a better exhibit, I still wanted more. After venturing through Insa-dong and Samcheong d o n g , I realized my folly. Rather t h a n looking for Western art, I should have taken advantage of the fact that I was in a hotbed of contemporary Asian art. Restarting my quest at the Insa Art Center, I wondered through several galleries of Korean artists. The first one that caught my attention was by Park SungAe. At first glance, it seemed as if Piet Mondrian had taken to incorporating Lite-Brite into his work. To my eyes, the square artworks looked as if they were layers of cell tissue with multi-colored lights emitted from behind. It made me think of Seoul's vibrancy.
korea’s art scene
Huan's voice as a Chinese artist. From the pandas to the sweatshop workers and from the Buddha face to the incense ash, all the depictions resonated who the artist was. When faced with such "ruthless visual efficiency," you cannot help but reflect on yourself. Artists Featured in this Article: · Park SungAe · Zhang Huan · Kim HyunJee http://www.insaartcenter.com/exhibition/exhibition03. php?nSt=1&nTn=1& · Agus Suwage http://www.ararioseoul.com/exhibition/exhibition.php
There are so many galleries all over Seoul that I wish I could find time to visit them all. My only regret is not being able to pick up something since almost all of these pieces were actually up for sale! Having fallen in love with the art scene in Seoul, I suggest you run out and find some of your own favorites around town and across the country.
Galleries Featured in this Article: ARARIO SEOUL http://www.ararioseoul.com/ 149-2 Sokyuk-dong, Jongro-gu, Seoul, Korea Hours: Tuesday–Sunday: 10AM–7PM Closed on Monday
INSA ART CENTER http://www.insaartcenter.com/ 188 Kwanhoon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea Hours: Daily: 10AM–7PM
HAKGOJAE GALLERY http://www.hakgojae.com 110-200 70, Sokyuk-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea Hours: Tuesday–Saturday: 10AM–7PM Sunday: 10AM–6PM Closed on Monday
interviews by jason ritzer & eugene yang (chungdahm)
Interviewing 3 Chungdahm Main Branch Veteran Instructors who do so much not just for our students, teachers, and Branch but also for our community and for their own personal development.
jason waller aka Pinnacle TheHustler Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. Jason Waller came to Korea because of a friend. He came with no perceptions or expectations. His only driving force was his sense of adventure and his drive to make a mark on the other side of the world. He is achieving both by working for Chungdahm Main Branch as a Head Teacher and part- time Certified Corporate Trainer and helps underprivileged children in Korea as a volunteer for CHUNGDAHM NANUM. Hold on there is more! Jason doubles down on his extra-curricular activities as a TBS Radio Show Co-Host and as a musician. You can find him at various establishments all over Korea by his stage name “Pinnacle” or with his band “Pinnacle & The Antidote.” Let’s see what makes Jason Waller function in the ROK as I sit down to ask him some 17
questions about his life.
How did you end up in Korea and what was it like for you here when you first arrived? When I first came to Korea, I had a very difficult time. I didn’t get to experience much of the culture, and due to some difficulty in my recruiting process, I almost quit. I almost just went home. However, I couldn’t go back home and face my family and tell them I quit, so I stayed. I was actually homeless for a month and a half. How did you get connected with your music in Korea? My intention was to bring my music with me. I had a connection with a guy who knew a DJ in Korea. Carlos Galvin and DJ Tom Slick (from the Korean group, “Uptown”) got me involved and from there I made more connections.
How did you get involved in Music? I really started taking music seriously when I was 16. My first real experience was when I got made fun of in high school. Because of this, I performed in a talent show to show those guys. The crowd loved my performance! I honestly didn’t really expect that type of response, and this drove me to keep doing it and the rest is history. Where are you looking to take your music going forward in the future? I am pretty much open to anything. If it sounds good I can roll with it. Every artist has that line where they have to decide whether they are making the music for themselves or the people who listen to it, but for me it always has to be a little bit of both. If there is a sound that people want me to explore and I think it
sounds good then I am going to go ahead and do it. What are your New Year’s Resolutions? I am not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I think it should be an everyday kind of thing because you never know what can happen. You might die tomorrow. My resolution, period, is to be more productive. I want to put out more material and try to bring more people together. I love connecting people. For example, I’m about to come out with an LP. I want people to download it for free, because I want all people to enjoy my music. You have any advice to all the new instructors coming to Chungdahm or any general advice to people in Korea? Get connected and do not let work be your only outlet. What will happen is that you will get bummed out and nothing will be fun to you anymore. Do not only work and go home. Do something else! Do not remain stagnant. In between being born and dying, go do some other stuff. Experience the world, different people, different things and cultures. 18
What is your music like and how has it evolved since you have been in Korea? The music I made I made back in the day was a little more raw and had more of an edge to it, but I was a product of that environment back home. In Korea, I write about my personal experiences here and they are obviously very different from those back home. So, the music I make here is still real and I talk about real life issues, but it’s a little more fun in Korea as well.
Kevin Prawdzik is the youngest instructor at the Chungdahm Main Branch. During Kevin’s quest for life experience, he has been very active in the Branch and community.
How old are you? I’m 25 in Korean… I think. I haven’t fully figured it out. I’m 23 in America I guess. These days it’s hard to remember. According to my kids, I’m the youngest at the branch thus far. To be honest I haven’t really noticed. So, how long have you been in Korea, and what made you come to Korea? This is my 6th term, so almost a year and a half this time around. The money was very appealing, but on top of that, I’ve been to Korea a few times and enjoyed it. The past two times I had been to Korea were spent shooting a documentary, so I thought I could use the connections I made to help establish a career.
You also lived in Japan? How did you like that? Yeah, I lived in Japan from 2007 to 2008. I was studying abroad there for a year or so in Nagoya, Japan. It was great. It was a wonderful experience. It was my first, real, long-term cultural experience from America. I lived with a host family that was highly unusual: two divorced and remarried parents (not usual in Japan), two highly senile grandparents, and a host brother that was severely autistic. I highly recommend anyone studying any language to do something like that, go abroad, like CIS (for our students). What are some of the activities you’ve been involved in Korea? I’ve been involved with the Korean Herald. We had a few events for international high schoolers. It was a really nice experience to see Korean students at actual international
schools, which is where some of our students are aspiring to go to. It was kind of like a “summer camp” to be honest. We were in charge of groups or teams and would help them take news articles they had already written ahead of time and help them revise, edit, and refine them, and then they actually got published in the Korean Herald. In addition, I’ve also organized numerous Dart Tournaments and extended the invitation to other Branches and Franchises. Eventually, I’d like to invite a professional player to give a few tips. So I hear you like to play guitar? Actually, I enjoy playing a variety of instruments, like the udu, the didgeridoo, djembe, drums, thumb harp, music box, and others. My latest “baby” is the sitar, although I don’t think I’ll be proficient for years to come. I especially am into looping pedals and ambient noise. I’m big into making electronic music as well. Can you tell us a little about your background? I have a very strange last name because I was adopted. I was born in Korea and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. Then I moved to Wake Forest, North 19
But you were here in Korea earlier, right? Yeah, aside from being born here, I came back 4 years ago twice for personal reasons and twice to shoot a documentary in Korea. My majors were Film and Japanese. Luckily I got some money through the school, and they funded me to come back to Korea with a partner.
How has being adopted affected your experience in Korea? Honestly, probably a lot, but I haven’t noticed. I get a lot of looks when I speak Korean, mainly because my Korean is that of around a 5 year old on crack. Other than that, I think that most adoptees are pretty used to standing out a bit, so not really that much. I have had a few opportunities to be present and help facilitate a few reunifications between adoptees and parents though. I’d rather not get too specific with the stories, but they have been overwhelmingly positive experiences for me to get to see them. There’s still a lot of controversy about Korea’s huge international adoption to Western countries, but for these meetings they seem to at least be a positive part.
What about India? Any highlights there… that you want to share with everyone? No. Hahaha. One thing I’d like to warn everyone of is that there were feces everywhere. Seriously, you don’t know who or what it’s from. As far as hagglers go, it’s worse than anywhere I’ve ever been, worse than China, worse than the Philippines, worse than Korea, again as far as hagglers go. The sellers there are just superaggressive. They will follow you in a car. They will wait for you. They want or need your money. You get used to it, but it’s the most ‘in your face’ that I have ever seen, and I feel I’ve been to a lot of places with some determined hagglers. Some will straight up bold-face lie to you to make 50 cents. There are stores that advertise the completely wrong product. You never know when your next meal is going to give you a terrible stomach disease, yet you don’t care because the food is so awesome. These are some of the millions of cool reasons why anyone should go to India. It’s a crazier adventure in my opinion than an Indiana Jones film, except for the predictable last installment. If you go to India, I’d recommend going to a camel safari and get a goat and eat it. A goat goes for about $20-25…for a small, healthy goat. Bring hand sanitizer and good music for the long train rides. After a year and a half, you are now teach Master classes. Can you tell that? The switch over to Masters was I didn’t really know too, too much
starting to me about awesome. about the 20
Carolina, went to school in Indiana [Notre Dame]. I like music a lot and play with a few of the other instructors here at a practice studio. We actually want to get [James] Flowers in on it too; he plays the guitar and tambourine. Jason Ahn (Chungdahm Instructor) plays the drums with us too. I used to play with Jason Gilchrist (former Chungdahm Instructor) and Joe Rogers (Chungdahm Instructor), but Joe has a lot of other things going on as you know. I like to travel. That was a big motivation to come out here to Korea. The real reason for coming out to Korea was to get life experience, not necessarily specifically to Korea, but really anywhere. The reason for being away is for life experience now. I want to hopefully one day have all this life experience and use it for something creative or business something, just use it for whatever comes in the future I guess. So, travel was a big plus for coming to Korea. You can visit so many places in Asia from here.
Have you been able to travel since you’ve been here? Yeah, I’ve been to the Philippines and India. Those are my big trips, and I hope to go somewhere else, maybe Tibet next. Ladyboys aside, the Philippines were great. We went to Cebu, which is one of the largest cities and economic hub over there. It was pretty cool. The business area was kind of boring, but we went to a beautiful, remote island called Bantayan; the water was crystal clear, and the food was excellent. I’ve never been to Thailand so I really can’t compare the water quality and reefs, but I had a great experience.
program before I went into it, but I teach 2 Master Writing classes now, the 100-Level. It’s been an extremely positive experience. I think that, especially after working in Fundamentals for so long, and after moving up gradually, you really do appreciate not only the level of the students but also the expressiveness, because I think the difference between Masters and Fundamentals is in Fundamentals you don’t have as much time to really listen to what students really have to say. In the past, the focus seemed more on testtaking. It’s easy to have a class and just talk with them the whole time, but then they won’t learn the skills; and this is a problem, because skills always took precedence in the past and we genuinely want our students to level-up. But when you get to Masters, they’re already good; so now the focus is not so much on test-taking but more critical thinking and expressing their opinions and ideas more freely. It’s been a very positive experience. Hopefully, I can continue teaching it if everything’s going well. You started training to be a trainer recently? How’s that going? Do you think it’s something you will enjoy? Well, I haven’t really gotten too far into it yet, but it seems nice. Paul Kim seems great to work with, and Min Shin has been very upfront and prompt about things. From what I have seen, it seems great, orientation was fine, and I got the information I needed. I really would like to help share some of the experience that I have had teaching with up and coming teachers. What about your other hobbies outside of work? I know you helped out at our Chungdahm Picnic with the rock climbing event. Yeah, I was a rock climbing instructor for 3 years a while back in North Carolina. There are free sessions when the warmer weather comes usually near Tteoksam Resort and Samsung stations if anyone wants in.
TALENT (5/8) very privileged lives, and given our schedules, we have a lot of opportunities to do almost too many things. The opportunities are almost not specific enough as to what we’re supposed to do, so it can be kind of confusing and overwhelming a lot of the times. I think the longer you stay here, the more it kind of subsides, these high ups and low downs, this kind of frenzy. It kind of evens out if you find your equilibrium with this kind of lifestyle. I think that, especially with new teachers, or at least when I was starting that was the hardest thing for me to deal and cope with. I mean there are some things you can’t control, right, I’m not going to get into specifics, but there are some things you can’t control and maybe you’re grumbling or mumbling and it’s easy to maybe not get caught up in it but to kind of agree with it and then focus or fixate on it. But really though, I think most of these things are temporary. I’m being very vague; I’m sorry, but maybe you understand. I’ve seen a lot of good teachers come and go and I’ve seen great teachers stick around. I think the difference is the ones who do stay and are successful are the ones who have come to terms with their situation here and are committed to teaching the future leaders of Korea. I think the key for foreigners to be happy in Korea is to enjoy what they do in the classroom and enjoy what they do outside the classroom. Making time for yourself to develop personally is the key to happiness.
So, you’ve been with CHUNGDAHM for a year and a half now. Is there any advice you’d like to give a new instructor coming in? No matter where you work, Branch or Franchise, in Seoul or out of Seoul, wherever you are, living in Korea, especially for foreigners, can be, it has high ups and low downs. I think everyone would agree with that. Working within a hagwon itself in Korea is the same way too, just magnified a little more. There are always going to be rules or systems we may disagree with, but there are also ones that we really take for granted too. I think, as foreigners, we live
How long have you been in Korea? What did you do before coming to Korea? Three years in February. I had just finished defending my dissertation and completing my doctorate. I was actually planning on teaching at a university in England or New Zealand, but it didn’t really pan out due to budgetary constraints. They did pay for my flight to New Zealand for the interview, though, which was nice. How has your experience with Chungdahm been thus far? To be totally candid, in the beginning I was a bit apprehensive. I was actually married back in Alaska, but things fell apart. I wanted to come here to recharge and start fresh. Back home, I had been trying to force my way into an academic job, and I’d fallen into a rut. I received an offer from Chungdahm and came to Seoul.
The first week in Korea was tough. When I finished training on my first Friday in the country, I got back to the Seoul Residence Hotel only to discover my father had passed away. My father, who had a military background, was actually the one who encouraged me to come to Korea. He had been here before and had a positive experience. Anyway, the first year was a little rough, getting adjusted to all those quick changes, and I had a bit of a rocky start. My FM was great though, truly. You really were. You made me feel comfortable and went out of your way to do so. As far as the company goes, I actually have no complaints. Criticism, I can handle that; I can digest it and think if you have an open mind to that kind of thing, then you can become a better teacher. The criticism I received was always constructive. How long was it until you started teaching the Master Program? After my first year. It was into my sixth term when Tamra Peters suggested I teach just one Writing class. That went OK, and then I started teaching more Master classes. How would you compare teaching Master versus Fundamental classes? I love teaching Master classes. It’s more wide open. Back then, I felt a little more constrained teaching Fundamentals, or “Blended Learning” at the time. It felt like my hands were tied to 22
Joseph Rogers hails from the United States, where he’s been just about everywhere from New York to Alaska. He earned a Master’s Degree at the University of British Columbia and a PhD at the City University of New York. Throughout his life, Joe has found that meeting new people and learning about different perspectives and ways to orient oneself to life is central to becoming a good person. I think I am not alone when I say Joe is just that, a very good person as he is always helping others around him, whether it be teachers new to the Master Program or volunteering to help underprivileged children through CHUNGDAHM NANUM. Now, let’s see how he does in the hot seat…
It’s a lot more work preparing for and teaching Master classes with WMs on top, right? Is it worth it? Absolutely. It is more work, considerably more work. Before, teaching an Eagle class was a big deal to me, but now it’s a piece of cake. What makes it worth it if it’s more work? I think I’m kind of free to take the class in whatever direction I want. The kids are more astute and will often turn the discussion in a different direction. If the kids take off in some direction, you can roll with it and bounce it around the room as much as you can. They can talk to each other. It’s not that they’re smarter; it’s that they have a stronger ability to be critical of things and express themselves. As far as the prep goes, it’s about knowing the book well enough to not only engage the students but also give them substance, something tangible to take home with them. So, now you’re training to be a trainer, right? How’s that going? I’ve only gone to the training meeting and still have to take the test. My plate is really loaded up right now, but it’s something something I want to do because one trainer did an excellent job for me. She let me know what to expect in the classroom and eased my initial apprehension. If I could do what she did for me and let other
TALENT (7/8) trainees know it’ll be OK, well…that’s actually the reason I want to do it, to help others out. Over the 3 years in Korea, you’ve been involved in other things outside of Chungdahm, right? Yes, I am in a band. I play bass with Pinnacle & The Antidote. Jason Waller (Chungdahm Instructor) is the vocalist, and Rebekah Grome (Chungdahm Instructor) plays the keyboard. Kurt, our guitarist, and Alex, our drummer, work other jobs. How long have you been part of this band? Maybe a year and a half, almost two years. Actually, I remember seeing you guys play about a year and a half ago in Itaewon, and then I saw you recently at Yonsei. I was blown away at how much you had all progressed! Really, heads and shoulders above the other performers, including Korean pop stars. How did you guys evolve so much so quickly? We practiced a lot. When we’re really going at it, we practice once a week. Pretty much every Sunday we get together and practice. We review our own material and then try to come up with new stuff. Where have you all performed? Mostly Hongdae. Played at Club FF (Funky Funky) quite a bit; that’s a great place to play. We also play at Ta, next to Club FF, Stompers, and Freebird. We played at The Hive in Itaewon and Spy Club, too, all mostly foreigner-type venues. I’d like to get into playing more for Koreans, a Korean audience. Are you in a relationship now? Yeah, I’ve been seeing someone for eight months or so, and it’s going well. I hope you’ll meet her soon. She is Korean, though, so you know…. So, what do you think the best thing about being in Korea is? The best things about being in Korea are the new experiences, seeing things from different perspectives. Korean people see life a little bit differently than North Americans, and it’s interesting. If you have an open mind and are willing to try to see things from a different point of view, you really can enlarge your own ideas about life and the world. 23
specific structures and hitting the exact components. I think it’s loosened up a bit now, which is great. Masters though, is still much more open. There isn’t much of a Teaching Guide for a lot of stuff, which is wonderful. But I always seem to run out of time during class.
What’s the worst thing about being in Korea? I don’t think I’ve really had any bad experiences, but it’s sometimes hard to break through. Korean culture is very closed, so I’m always seen as a foreigner and try to break through that and have more of a relationship with that person, as a person, rather than this kind of person or that kind of person. It’s more about speaking with someone man to man, person to person. That’s a challenge, and sometimes it can get frustrating when people just see me as a foreigner and I can’t break through that shell.
Who is Joe Rogers? Wow! That’s a tough one, Jason. I’m still trying to figure that out. I think that I’m experiencing different ways of approaching life and different cultures, having an open mind, and trying to understand, understand what I can take from this guy and this thing and that. It’s a gradual life process. What advice would you give someone new to Korea? Have an open mind. Experience what you can. Don’t look for America in Korea. Try to find Korean things. Don’t just hang out in Itaewon eating hamburgers, because then you’re not really in “Korea.” I’d say, try to experience “real” Korea. Try to have an open mind and don’t reject things; try things. See what you like. What kind of advice would you give your students? I’d give the same advice. I would give anyone that advice. Have an open mind about life. People who have closed minds shut down their possibilities of becoming who they can be. If you keep an open mind and are willing to listen and really think about what somebody says, rather than kneejerk when you don’t like it and reject it, take a second and think later about what they said. You might find out later they’ve got some good reasons. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with it, as long as you can respect and be willing to understand it.
Thank you so much for the Interview Dr. Joe. I hope people read this and take your advice to heart. Always a pleasure seeing and talking with you.
itaint thebeach! by will smith (gangbuk-gu)
In hindsight, if you plan on going then it may be helpful to do these things: 1. Bring an extra set of clothes—You will sweat and you might want to change into clean clothes. 2. Bring some snacks & food—Food at Vivaldi can be sort of expensive, so bringing your own food and drink would help you save money and time. 3. Get a locker—Lockers there were cheap, so if you bring clothes, food, etc. then you can simply store them in a locker. Be warned: once you open the locker you have to pay to lock it again. However, I put my stuff in a locker and left it unlocked the whole time and had no problems. 4. Find a buddy—Going off by yourself is fine, but enjoying the experience with a friend or two definitely makes it better and safer.
The ski & snowboard outing to Vivaldi was interesting and fun. Being from Florida, I'm not afforded too many chances to do either sports, and this was actually my first time trying to ski. For a day trip it was well priced and planned: The bus ride from Sinchon in Seoul was like 2 hours one way and the cost of equipment, clothing, and lift rentals were about 65,000 won. Going with other teachers and friends made the trip even more enjoyable, especially since a few of them offered to teach me how to ski. While there everyone had about 6 hours to hit the slopes, so there was never a rush. Overall, I had some painful fun skiing and hanging out with other people.
by sasha harrison (mokdong) "Brooklyn Bouquet"
CREATIVES FOLIO 5
upcoming events & announcements
what: Ka Brew B o when: March 12 (S at Cruise aturday) from 6PM â€“9PM where: On the Han River in Seoul how much: 20,000 W (in advanc
e); 25,000W (at do or). BOTH include ON E qu ality-craft brewed be other info: You can er! buy four 14-ounce beer coupons for 10,000 won in ad vance when you bu y in advance ticket. (Total w30,0 00 including admiss on the boat: Beer: ion) 3,000 won(14 ounc e) an d Shots Food: 6,000 won Tequila Shots: 3,00 0 won event info: ht
tp://www.facebook .com/event. php?eid=1815630 55208462
If the event sells ou t, we will post a no tice on the Ka~Bre website (www.kap w a.co.kr) before noon on March 12th.
places& spaces: the food, markets
& culture of ansan
by glenn may (media r&d)
for natives of Southeast Asian countries. “They must have authentic food and they must not have over-the-top prices,” Nguyen said. Thanks to the presence of numerous factories that rely on immigrant laborers to perform unpopular and often hazardous jobs, Ansan is a big change of pace from the same-old, same-old of eating in Seoul. There are enough Indonesians, Chinese, Indians, Russians, Uzbeks, Bangladeshis and Vietnamese living in Ansan to support a small battery of restaurants from all corners of Asia. This is not upscale dining catering to globe-trotting yanks like in certain quarters of Seoul, but authentic cooking prepared for homesick compatriots. On weekends, diners from each country gather to linger together all afternoon, sharing gossip from home or waiting for the national football team’s game to come up on the big screen. You feel as if you are the first Westerners to have ever entered some of these places, and you are greeted with stares that mix “what are you doing here?” with a welcoming national pride. “It’s typical to see foreigners in restaurants in Seoul, but it’s not very typical in Ansan—it’s like being a double foreigner,” said Andrew Stone, a researcher in Chungdahm’s Adult Learning department. 28
For a minute there, we thought Tracy Nyugen’s Vietnamese had failed her. We were relying on her to choose the best dishes at the Vietnamese restaurant—and to order them in Vietnamese. But the waiter did not know what she was saying. After a moment of confusion, the waiter laughed and we realized he was Korean. He called to the kitchen, and a woman came out to take the order from Tracy in Vietnamese. Such are the juxtapositions of cultures—mistaken identities and stares from the locals—that greet you at the unlikely foodie capital of Ansan, a multi-ethnic blue-collar town about one hour south of Seoul. Nguyen, who was born in Vietnam and is the faculty manager at Chungdahm’s Pyeongchon branch, said that the appeal of food in Ansan is that it is cooked by natives of Southeast Asian countries
places& spaces: the food, markets & culture of ansan
not made the effort to do so. Singling out one type of cuisine from the smorgasbord of ethnic varieties available is the Ansan diner’s dilemma. What say you to a little Uzbek grub? How about Nepalese? My team in Chungdahm’s Adult Learning department is preparing a new venture in Indonesia, so our choice on a December visit was easy. Café Batavia Indonesian restaurant, on your right in the first block after entering the main drag, is worth a visit even if only to check off another international cuisine from your list. I liked my beef in a curry/coconut sauce with rice. It reminded me somewhat of Thai cuisine, if a bit less zesty. Others had differing opinions about adding Indonesian food to the pantheon of international greats, but everyone seemed pleased to have tried something new. “I feel like it was a little bland,” Stone said. “I liked the place we were in, but I wasn’t a fan of the food.” On the other hand the critics were unanimously impressed with the fare at Dieu Hien, which you can find by taking your first left off the main drag. Nguyen said Vietnamese food in central Seoul is nothing compared to that in California, and California Vietnamese food has nothing on Ansan Vietnamese food: It’s the real McCoy. The key, she says, is fat. In California the spices are good, but they trim the fat from the meat. The result is a pho much less rich than the real Vietnamese pho found in Ansan. While I loved the pho, surely the highlight of
Before our meal was through at Dieu Hien Vietnamese restaurant, one alcohol-fueled diner from a neighboring table sauntered over to ask for a picture with us. He was headed back to Vietnam to open a restaurant, he said, and wanted a photo of westerners eating Vietnamese chow for marketing purposes. Us white guys featured prominently in the photo shoot, but Nguyen won the guy’s e-mail address. Nguyen said visiting Ansan is especially interesting for her: In Seoul she is quickly pigeonholed as an American teacher; in Ansan she is assumed to be Vietnamese. “It forces you to re-evaluate your status,” she said, adding that hearing Ansan’s workingclass mix of nationalities bridge language barriers via competent Korean is embarrassing. These workers have learned Korean, but so many of us privileged Westerners (the author included) have
places& spaces: the food, markets & culture of ansan
“I like that when you walk down the street you hear all kinds of different languages,” said Xouhoa Ching, an instructor at Junggye and three-year Chungdahm veteran. “There’s a lot more diversity than in Seoul. You actually feel like you’re in a foreign country.” She also likes that you can buy fresh herbs— basil, cilantro, etc.—unavailable in Seoul. As in any foreign quarter, Ansan has an eclectic mix of food shops. My friends stocked up on curry, garam masala, and Barg found “real” Red Bull and his favorite soda from Thailand. Winter is a fine time for a hearty Ansan meal, but spring will be more conducive to roaming the district’s side streets. If you have a lot more willpower than we did, you could limit yourself to a single course at one restaurant to leave room in your belly for a second round in a whole other country. But one piece of advice: if you plan on making stops at several restaurants, don’t start at Dieu Hien. You be too full to move on. To get to Ansan, take line 4 to Ansan station and exit the building to your right. Cross the street via the underpass/vegetable market and turn left at the exit. You will be on the main drag.
our meal was a mango salad with shrimp, ginger, basil and cilantro in a sublime lemon dressing. The spring rolls are freshly homemade—we learned that when we ordered another round and were told we would have to wait for them to be made. Also excellent were the pork-stuffed egg rolls, fried just right so as to be piping hot but not too greasy. The spice on the fried pork ribs was good enough to be spooned onto rice or rice noodles after the last of the meat was devoured. I even tried the notoriously stinky durian fruit, in the form of a durian smoothie. I found it to be a nice combination of sweet and creamy but veteran Pyeongchon instructor/rugby hooligan Jeff Barg thought it a bit too vegetable-tasting. We left the restaurant stuffed, but that didn’t stop us from thinking about food. Ansan also has a thriving street market, with produce prices low enough to make E-Mart blush. One of our group picked up a large bag of bok choi for 2,000 won and we saw cartons of tomatoes for about 5,000 won below city prices. Dragon fruit, durian, fruits and veggies of all kinds spill on the street in profusion. Here and there live carp wriggle around in buckets, and, yes, there are prime cuts of dog on offer. A stroll through the market is a like a poorman’s trip through Asia.
Published on Mar 25, 2012
Chungdahm Learning's e-Magazine. Sharing stories, tips, and reflections from the experiences of current and veteran instructors all througho...