Saturday, May 30, 2009

hello everybody this is Mike McStay.

I know that a lot of you are not in Korea and have heard of my surgery so please let me catch you up on what exactly is going on.

For the past few days , I had some, what I though, was some bad food and that I needed a bix of exlax and it would be better. I went to the doctor on 5-21 and they took an x ray and it showed a huge stuffiness in my digestion track. They gave me the super exlax and I thought that all would be OK.

Well Thursday I finished my 2 classes and passesed out and I could not move nor did I even try to find my Thursday movie club a great film. They finally came to my house and 1 OF them took my Friday class and I was going to the dr on Friday.

Friday morning came and i could not move, and stoopid me did not call anyone. I finally made it to the chair and grabbed my closes. med card and got a taxi asap.

I made it to the hospital Got to the dr office and I collapsed.

They took an x ray and then I dont recall much about it. All I REMEMBER is that the word "tumor" and blockage and I was going into surgery that day.

I remember going into the surgery and comming out and seing 4 familiar faces and then the next 2 days are blurry because I was supposed to be given morphine as a release button, instead i had a strong drip and it made me feel very confused.

I have learded that morphine is a power drug, on monday night I got a new morphine drug and from 0000-0230, In my head i was fritz the cat and i was going 1000 miles an hour.

yesterday 5/29 is when the news took a bit of a sad tune. Now please realize, no bioposy has been done on the tumor yet, so this is only a guess, but the dr thinks that I have cancer and that I will need radation.

So I was sad for about an hour and all of the time i was thinking about this song.

well my loud,big country, gop ass, ain't never been quiet so, people, right now no one knows a darn thing until the bioposy. So all prayers will be appreciated.

After 6-8 weeks i am released from the hospital, i will have to go back for the surgery on the tumor. I am now on a huge diet, no soda, beer hamburgers. Pretty much I am now a fruit and a vegeterian, I FEAR THAT SOON ME HUGGING TREES WILL SO HAPPEN.

So please do not send me any food at the hospital, I thank you for the kind effort but it wont help. I will now probably have to rase some funds to pay for this, I have no idea who is in charge of it but check with Woosong university Daniel Dotson on my freinds facebbok list.

Right now its basically hurry up, heal, wait, surgery and then who knows.

Soju is being looked over right now and i sure do miss my big dog.

I would also like to at this time, thank the heck out of Wooosng university. The fellow teachers have really stepped up to the plate and helped me out a lot. I have no words what to say that can actually say what i want to say to you all except, you have humbled me by calline me a friend and for this I am deeply honored.

When I know anything else I will post the info on this blog and on facebook.

Take care, May God Bless you all and If you have that someone special please tell them that you love them.

Flynn Michael McStay

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dokdo Is Ours PWNS The Korea Times!!!

It is I, Dokdo Is Ours, and I am furious:

You see, I wrote a letter to The Korea Times about my life in Korea... (note in particular the e-mail address at the bottom) These are screenshots from today.
But those dirty scuzzballs EDITED IT!

This is censorship, I say! Censorship! Below is the original, FULL text of the article I sent them. I have italicized the parts those Big-Brother-esque stiflers of free speech edited out, and formally express my outrage at being censored!

Dear Editor:

Finally, one of your columnists really hit the nail on the head! It
was with the great pleasure of having my suspicions affirmed that I
have read Jon Huer's article about the English teaching "Gold Rush"
atmosphere in the Korea.

After having trouble applying my undergrad Medieval History degree to
get a steady job in a Dallas, Texas, I thought I can give it a try
teaching English in South Korea. Frankly speaking, if I knew then
what I know now, I would have wrapped myself in wet blanket, swallowed
my pride and headed for the nearest Burger King with a "Help Wanted"
sign in the window. What I saw when I got here was extreme shocking.
My coworker, a cigarette-smelling native-speaking "teacher" named
Brad, took me to Hongdae, where we walked around and he saw Korean
girls' bodies, until he pulled me into a bar, saying, "The Korean sexy
girls are always drunk and dirty girl in here." The disrespectful
towards Korean women I saw that night, in that crowded dance club,
from the white male American and Canadian teachers still shocks me
when I think of it.

Later, when I saw the lazy attitude Brad, and his "teacher" friends
had toward their jobs, when I saw them drink on weeknights and come to
class hung over almost every day, when I saw the helpless frustration
the sweet and pretty Korean secretaries experienced, dealing with
these unethical boors, when I smelled the marijuana on their clothes
and wondered if they also did crystal meth or heroin, I decided that
living in such an environment might even corrupt me, a grown adult and
a Christian!
I left Korea after only three months. I couldn't
managed to find a job since I returned in this tough economy, with my
weak qualification, but I'm still glad I got out of that poisonous
Hogwan atmosphere.

Sure, when I read Jon Huer's "Gold Rush Article," I was entertained by
the witty comparing between English teaching in Korea and the Wild
West... but the most shocking thing I saw was that some English
teachers seem to enjoy it here... I never saw anything like that, but
Mr. Huer's analysis had a perspective and a grasp that I share and

Thank you for printing such perceptive content on your opinion page.
I look forward to reading more.

Robert V.Winkle
Former English Teacher
Dallas, Texas

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is with this letter that DokdoIsOurs must step out of anonymity into the light: My name is Robert VanWinkle, and here is my picture.
You may know me better by my previous stage name; here's some more information about me... and a little video I made back at my previous job, to explain more about who I am.

Here's the letter in the times again.
And a printable version.

I rock
Baseball Body to Conduct Doping Test on Imports

By Yoon Chul
Staff Reporter

Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) will conduct doping tests on all import players for the first time this season.

According to KBO official director Jeong Keum-jo, the anti-doping committee, supported by Korea Anti Doping Agency (KADA) has decided to test all foreign players this season, in addition to its regular testing program. However, the committee has not yet determined the date or frequency of the tests.

The KBO began its testing program in 2007 by randomly selecting three players from each team for a urine test. The league followed that up with two rounds of random testing last season. In all, 72 players, including 10 import players, were tested, none of whom tested positive.

Hanwha Eagles manager Kim In-sik, who led Korea to the final in the second World Baseball Classic (WBC) earlier this year, was among many who called for the testing of all foreign players.

Kim made the call last month, explaining that some KBO players were among those named in the Mitchell Report ― a report on the use of illegal performance-enhancing substances in Major League Baseball (MLB) released in December, 2007 that named several offending players.

The KBO's decision comes after Yakult Swallows pitcher Daniel Rios received a one-year suspension from Nippon Professional Baseball after testing positive for the banned substance hydroxystanozorol last year.

As a member of the KBO's Doosan Bears in 2007, Rios was the league's top pitcher with a record of 22-5 and a 2.07 ERA, both league bests.

``After Rios tested positive in Japan, many baseball fans believed that we didn't test foreigners, but that's wrong.

``While Rios was playing in the KBO he didn't have a chance to take the doping test, because Rios wasn't named on the list of randomly selected players,'' added Jeong

Korean professional teams have been asking their import players to take tests upon signing a KBO contract, but they have all refused. Jeong added that in addition to testing for all import players, the league also plans to step up its random testing program as well.

``We are planning to conduct tests two or three times this year. As many hitters showed better performances, producing many more home runs, we are going to expand the number of examined players from three to at least five,''

The league didn't say whether full testing of foreign players would continue after this season.

The penalty for a first offense is a 10-game suspension. A player who tests positive will also be tested during each round of doping tests. A second positive test will result in an automatic 30-game suspension and a third offense will result in a lifetime ban.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Holy Fucking Shit, Vanilla Ice writes to the Korea Times.

This is a new low. Robert V. Winkle of Dallas, TX, shares his thoughts on teaching.
After having trouble applying my undergrad medieval history degree to get a steady job in Dallas, Texas, I thought I could give it a try teaching English in South Korea.

I left Korea after only three months. I couldn't manage the job since I came in this tough economy ― with my weak qualification ― but I'm still glad I got out of that poisonous hagwon (cram school) atmosphere.

An especially embarrassing moment for the Times, if they even feel embarrassment at this point, and very fine work by the folks at Dokdo Is Ours. (HT to reader)


Dear editor,

Finally, one of your columnists really hit the nail on the head! It was with great pleasure of having my suspicions affirmed that I read Jon Huer's May 9 article, ``Is English Teaching Here `Gold Rush?'"

After having trouble applying my undergrad medieval history degree to get a steady job in Dallas, Texas, I thought I could give it a try teaching English in South Korea.

I left Korea after only three months. I couldn't manage the job since I came in this tough economy ― with my weak qualification ― but I'm still glad I got out of that poisonous hagwon (cram school) atmosphere.

Sure, when I read Huer's article I was entertained by the witty comparing of English teaching in Korea with the Wild West ... but the most shocking thing I saw was that some English teachers seem to enjoy it here ... I never saw anything like that. But Huer's analysis had a perspective and a grasp that I share and understand.

Thank you for printing such perceptive content in your newspaper. I look forward to reading more.

Robert V.Winkle
Former English teacher
Dallas, Texas
May 26, 2009, this is the 4th meeting of court officials and the second time in the court room. The sauna staff have been repeatedly called to testify in court yet not attended. On April 7th, the court again asked sauna employees to attend the May 26th session.

This event is open to the public and there is seating room for about 40 persons. Foreigners are encouraged to attend to show the courts we are concerned for the saety and well being of each other, and we are concerned about the process through which truth is revealed in the deaths of foreigners.

Here is the link to the group related event

Here is the link to the new Mightie Mike fan page:

in humble thanks for your continued support

Mightie Mike's mom

Foreign Baseball Players Falling Out of Favor


I guess my dream of launching home runs for the Bears is growing less and less likely to come true.

Foreign players are able to dominate domestic pro sports. Particularly in basketball and volleyball it is clear that a single foreign player can make up half a team’s strength.

But that has not been the case in pro baseball recently.

Foreigners are seeing more limited action in domestic baseball, which has seen its stock soar after entering the round of four in the first World Baseball Classic, capturing the gold medal in the Beijing Olympics, and placing second in this year’s World Baseball Classic.

The Hanhwa Eagles dropped Diaz, a foreigner who played in Major League Baseball, down to the minor leagues. LG wound up releasing pitcher Oxspring due to a hand injury.

The Doosan Bears have already sent two foreign players to the minors. Manager Kim Gyeong-mun said, “if possible, we would like to finish out the season with only domestic players,” and he is absolutely against hiring “insufficiently skilled” foreign players.

According to the KBO on the 13th, the eight teams have just 10 foreign players on their first-tier rosters.

That is just 63% of the allowed maximum. Only the Kia Tigers, Heroes, and Lotte Giants have two foreign players.

That is the lowest level since 1998, when the rule allowing each team to have two foreign players was instituted.

And despite reaching various records, the influence of foreign players has dropped sharply. Among batters, other than the “rejuvenated” LG Twins’ Roberto Petagine and the Heroes’ Cliff Brumbaugh, it is easy to say that none rank in the top ten. On the mound, a wave of domestic pitchers have swept into the top spots.

The recent increase in the quality of Korean baseball the past few years can be seen as due to the entry of foreign players.

MBC ESPN commentator Lee Sun-cheol said, “to the degree that Korean baseball’s quality has gone up the players have had to be better, but because of the cost foreign players in Korea haven’t kept up. The teams have to take a longer-term view of big-league ability rather than just looking at scouting reports and statistics.”

One insider said that managers’ attitudes are changing, leading to a new era where teams prefer to replenish themselves with talent from within rather than hiring foreign players.

The East Wind-up Chronicle has more on the overhaul of how foreign players are being treated.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Movie Review- Angels and Demons.

I really had no idea what to think about this film. I remembered all of the talk about the first film, "The Da Vinci Code" and I wanted to get a better idea of the Catholic faith, so I asked a friend of mine, who is catholic ,to see the film with me and to give me his ideas about the film. After we saw the film, we both agreed that, its a "Popcorn action flick" but not that good of one due too many errors thought the film and some really bad story plots and ideas.

HUGE SPOILERS AHEAD................................................

Although the novel upon which this film is based is set before the events of the novel The Da Vinci Code, the film has been written as a sequel to follow after events in The Da Vinci Code. I found this to be a major hindrance of the story because I just never believed that the church really hated this man, that they called to save the church.

In the book, Hassassin - The killer hired by Janus, the Camerlengo in disguise, to fulfill his plans. He is of Middle Eastern origin and displays his sadistic lust for women throughout the novel. He murders Leonardo Vetra, the Preferiti, and Commander Olivetti. In the book, he dies after being pushed from a balcony by Langdon at the Castel Sant'Angelo and breaking his back on a pile of cannonballs below. In the film we are given a man called Mr. Gray and no real idea why he want to kill all of the priests. I feel that this was a very bad error by the film maker. In a very bad "Politically Correct" (PC) move, they replace an Arab man, who you are told and given many good reasons why, in the book he wants to kill and in the film you are given a white, not so real killer , it just failed to work and I though once again hurt the fair film from becoming a great one.

My friend, who is also studying to become a nuclear engineer, and when he saw the creation of the anti-matter bomb and how it was introduced in the film, he just could not believe it because of, the scientific inaccuracies of the bombs birth and how it was used throughout the movie. He was really shaking his head about the coldness and the battery charge scene near the end of the film. The film states that the low temperature will quickly drain the battery, that is attached to the bomb. Most modern batteries actually have less battery drain in a colder temperature climate.

It was this simple error, along with many more errors that just added up to a very good idea, but in the end, we are left with a very unbelievable story. In the end it was just one man wanting to kill the next Pope and one man wanting to become the next Pope.

Me and my friend agreed that this film should be seen at least one time but neither of us could see a valid reason why we should waste our time and money on this for a second viewing.

Grade C-

Richter: You said they'd be killed publicly.
Robert Langdon: Yes, revenge. For La Purga.
Richter: La Purga?
Robert Langdon: Oh geez, you guys don't even read your own history do you? 1668, the church kidnapped four Illuminati scientists and branded each one of them on the chest with the symbol of the cross. To 'purge' them of their sins and they executed them, threw their bodies in the street as a warning to others to stop questioning church ruling on scientific matters. They radicalized them. The Purga created a darker, more violent Illuminati, one bent on... on retribution

Opened in South Korea on 14 May 2009.
Kia 14 Hanwha 3 my record this season 2-6-1 (and on my birthday.)

(If this keeps up they will ban me from all home games)

Before the game, I saw this nice little bit... from

It sounds like the KBO is going to step up drug testing for foreign ballplayers. What's not mentioned in the article is testing for domestic players. If you're going to test the foreign guys, you might as well test the locals as well. The money quote is from Hanwha manager Kim In-sik, "There is an obligation to test foreigners for drugs." I hope he talked to Brad Thomas and Victor Diaz before making this announcement. Most of this drug paranoia comes from the fact that Danny Rios was caught using in Japan after he had a historic season with the Doosan Bears. I thought it was pretty obvious he was on something all along, but no one seemed to care when he was rattling off W after W and posting an a sub-3.00 ERA.


It was not a good game. I just sat back and watched a disaster. What a sad way to celebrate #43 birthday.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hollywood Heroes: Boots On the Ground Report

by Brigadier General Anthony J. Tata

Kicking back listening to Bonnie Tyler belt out “Holding Out For A Hero” made me think of a recent visit to Hollywood where I had the opportunity to speak with a few producers and screenwriters, truly good people all.

Their big message: military films aren’t working. The country is weary and doesn’t want war films as entertainment. Rather, they say, the good citizens of our nation want to escape with the fictional heroes in movies such as “Transformers,” “X-Men,” and “Spider-Man.”

Military movies may not be working because Hollywood presently refuses to capitalize on the real life heroes in combat everyday. Everyone loves a good hero and for Hollywood to embrace the notion that there might be a valorous man or woman worthy of a feature film may lend creditability to the cause for which they are fighting. And we can’t have that.

Instead, their latest war films are partisan propaganda as opposed to realistic and balanced. Somewhere between the screenplay and the final edit group therapy takes place and movie houses release message films as opposed to realistic action movies.
Take for example Lions for Lambs and Redacted.

In Lions for Lambs, two students, the ‘Lambs,’ follow the guidance of a professor to make a difference in the world so they enlist in the Army, only to be left stranded by their chain of command on an Afghan mountaintop as the Taliban execute them. The message? Don’t be a fool and enlist. You will be abandoned. The movie is noticeably absent any true hero as Tom Cruise, Robert Redford and Meryl Streep all pontificate through a collective diatribe. The failing here is that millions of servicemen and women have fought in these wars and their families know that they are true heroes. So a movie that paints their loved ones as misguided sheep rings hollow.

Redacted is worse and more blunt. It sensationalizes a violent criminal act by a small group of Soldiers. Why did De Palma choose the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl as the focus of his movie, using the tagline, “Truth is the First Casualty of War?” It was a heinous, violent crime, but in no way does De Palma’s movie capture the essence of these wars or the spirit of the American fighting men and women. Again, no heroes, only villains, who happen to be American service personnel.

It seems to me that the invasion of Iraq has been a watershed. Instead of gems such as Blackhawk Down, We Were Soldiers, Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, post-Iraq we get political pitch pieces. Hollywood is venting its displeasure with the previous administration’s foreign policy through its films. Yet moviegoers are not so easily fooled and pan the movies that portray the military as bloodthirsty goons or ill-informed morons.

If really is that simple, and Tyler’s lyrics have it right. We are holding out for a hero-the right kind of hero. We need Hollywood to capture the heroism of our troops. The American people know that their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and fathers and mothers are carrying this nation’s rucksack superbly in combat. And everyday there are heroes fighting to deny our enemies the ability to attack our homeland.

One short example takes me back to January 2007 where a young sergeant displayed the everyday valor of American fighting personnel.

Tyler’s lyrics were the furthest thing from my mind as my UH-60 Blackhawk’s composite rotor blades cut through the thin air of the Afghan Hindu Kush Mountains.

For two weeks I had been trying to fly from Bagram Air Base, where the joint task force is headquartered, to a remote operating base near the Pakistan border called the Korengal Outpost. My team had been collecting ‘To Any Soldier” letters and boxes for weeks and the holidays were upon us. However, a sudden snowstorm prevented our movement on Christmas Eve and then again on New Year’s Eve.

But January 5th was a crystal clear day, the winter sun low and bright in the blue sky, perfect for flying…and fighting. So we loaded the Blackhawk and departed early in the morning with the intent of circulating to several small outposts, checking on morale, and ensuring the troops had the equipment they needed, a routine part of senior leader battlefield movement in the 10th Mountain Division.

As we approached Asadabad Base where we would refuel, the radio crackled with the excited chatter of troops in contact just one valley over. They needed air support quickly. I directed my Apache helicopter escort to provide that support and for my Blackhawk to provide cover as his wingman. After emptying all of their ammunition twice in support of the troops in contact, the aircraft returned, picked up my team and we cruised the remaining 15 minutes to the Korengal Oupost where I would link up with Captain Jim McKnight’s rifle company.

As we approached for landing, PKM machine gun fire echoed from two or three directions. Jim McKnight was there to greet me as we disembarked, but it was clear that he had other priorities. Soon machine gun fire and rocket propelled grenades were raining down upon our exposed position. The Blackhawk alone took 8 rounds in its cargo door, where we had just been sitting, and the left engine caught on fire. The pilots powered up with the right engine, leaving their crew chief on the ground and yanking his communications cord from his crew helmet.

As rocket propelled grenades begin to crisscross through the outpost like Roman candles, I told Captain McKnight, “Forget about me, go command your company.” Happy to be unburdened from the task of managing a general in his outpost, he got to work. Meanwhile, we hunkered down and returned fire. As we moved toward the command bunker, I caught out of the corner of my eye a Soldier running down to the command post. This Soldier was shot through his left arm, tying off his tourniquet with his teeth.

As he wheeled into the bunker, he hooked a radio handset into his helmet strap with his good hand while his wounded arm was bleeding badly. Soon, it was apparent he was going into shock and that his arm was seriously damaged. He began convulsing and a medic approached him, saying, “I need to take a look at that.”

“Get away from me,” the Sergeant said, bluntly, as he punched numbers into his mortar ballistic computer. The biggest weapon at this firebase was a 120mm mortar that, with the right calculus, could destroy the attackers in quick fashion. This sergeant’s mission was to perform that calculus with the aid of a ballistic computer and then relay the information to the gun crew. Conversely, if he got the math wrong, a misguided round could kill friendly troops or civilians.

He had an important mission.

As the sergeant began to shake from the onset of shock, the medic approached again, and a second time the sergeant refused medical care, this time employing an expletive to keep the intruder at bay.

As enemy machine gun rounds punched through the plywood roof of the bunker and fell to the floor like a Colorado summertime hail storm, the medic approached a third time. Looking up from his ballistic computer the sergeant said, “You can work on me when we get first round down range.”

That was his compromise, which of course was no compromise at all. This Soldier was going to perform his most vital mission until the last drop of his blood fell into the gathering pool at his feet.

Finally, a few minutes later the mortar launched the first round, which was impressively accurate. Soon, the mortar crew was melting the tubes, pumping out high explosive, fin stabilized and deadly accurate rounds onto the enemy.

His mission done, the sergeant pushed the ballistic computer across the table to his assistant, handed him the radio, turned to the medic, and said, “Now you can work on me.”

While it’s not Paul Blart, Mall Cop, there is a good message for Americans in the young Sergeant’s sacrifice. His actions were truly heroic. And the amazing part of this Sergeant’s valor is what came next.

I was privileged to pin on his Purple Heart (2nd Award), the following day in Bagram after we medically evacuated him out of the Korengal Outpost. The sergeant then was evacuated to Landstuhl, Germany and then finally to Walter Reed Army Medical Center where he spent two months getting reconstructive surgery and healing from the gunshot wound.

In the interim, the Secretary of Defense extended by 5 months his brigade combat team’s deployment in Afghanistan, making that brigade’s cumulative time deployed 17 months. As soon as this sergeant was released from Walter Reed Army Medical Center he had every right to go on convalescent leave and chill out. He’d earned that after 11 months of combat and a serious battle wound.

Everyone but perhaps Hollywood knows how this story ends. Our hero scoffed at the notion of taking time off while his buddies were in the thick of it in Afghanistan.

Of course, he was on the next airplane smoking to Bagram.

So, we don’t need to hold out for our heroes. They’re there, right in front of us everyday.

They are holding out for Hollywood’s enormous resources and talent to capture the right heroes doing the right things at the right time. And that’s a timeless story. It’s Hoosiers on the battlefield. Good men and women with solid values placed in difficult circumstances and producing unbelievable results.

On our behalf.

Message to Hollywood: Get to work. If you remove the political lens so that you can see the American heroes fighting the good fight, your only issue will be too many good screenplays and packed movie theaters.

Believe it or not, the America I know is very proud of its men and women in uniform.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Unending Strength of a Mother's Love

By Stephanie White

The best part of being a mother was watching my son grow, not just physically, but emotionally and cognitively as well. Whenever I saw one of my 'life lessons' in action as he developed compassion, Independence and a strong sense of justice, my heart burst with pride.

My son and I were very close, often accompanying me wherever I went. That's not always easy because children are very observant and if I needed correcting on a life lesson, he would remind me of my words, so in a way, we complimented each other on striving for impeccability.

As a single mother living and working in another country, it wasn't always easy, yet because a solid foundation had be laid in Mike's early childhood, he had the maturity to thrive in any environment and utilize opportunities for flexible specialization in his own development. He had taken a Korean language course at Chungbuk University at 14 and had just begun learning Chinese before Mother's Day Eve 2008 when his life was snatched from him at an upscale family style sauna.
In South Korea, it was the big Buddha holiday and the sauna was very crowded with patrons enjoying family bathing bonding activities before the main events at temple the next day, which for Americans' was Mother's Day.

One of the hardest things I ever had to do as a mother was to watch my son die in ER as police worked to cover up this crime. A ludicrous autopsy report was fabricated and disseminated to the public, to ensure that no one would connect the unexplained death of my son to the ongoing Anti-USA Beef Riots which were in their height.
The first autopsy report implied that my son suffered from Reyes Syndrome, a chronic liver disease as well as arteriosclerosis. According to the police and Busan Medical, my son was at death's door anyway.

This shocked our friends and family as we all knew Mike to be in perfect health with no history of a congenital liver disease nor mental impairment from Reye's Syndrome. It took nearly 3 months and several thousand dollars (US$) to seek a second autopsy review to refute the 'findings' of the first report.

August 19, 2008 a forensic expert from Seoul National University accepted the task to review the medical findings yet he refused to examine any criminal forensic evidence for fear of reprisals.

It took 6 months in civil court to prove to the court an "event" happened. It took 8 months in civil court for the police report to be released. Nearly 11 months after my son's death, the tribunal of civil court Judges did a 'spot' investigation of the sauna due to discrepancies between the police report and sauna employee statements as to where and what manner my son was found. Within a week, the police photos were released.

The photos that were taken less than 3 hours after the 'event' show bruises beginning to surface. The courts have yet to release the examiner's notes, slides or photographs from the first autopsy. No drugs or alcohol were found in my son's system.

When I look back over the past year, I sometimes wonder how I've managed to get this far in my fight for justice for my son's murder. The answer is my own mother's example of strength in love.

My own mother was a force of nature who's unstoppable will enabled her to accomplish any goal she set her mind on. She was always able to adjust for things not within her control while overall keeping on course. When it came to someone that mattered most to her, her love was unbreakable.

Those early lessons of determination along with my unending love for my son have given me the strength I need to cut through mountains of red tape, cross centuries old cultural barriers fighting for justice for my son's murder while bringing awareness to conditions in South Korea of those foreign nationals who are victims of crime. All while my own embassy and department of state write condolence letters and repeat there is nothing they can do.

Something few people know about me, yet thankfully my son did, since I was a pre-teen myself, I prayed for a son who would look and act just like me and would travel the world with me on grand adventures...a dream which came true on our trips to Japan, Thailand and China, only to be snatched away on Mother's Day.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Movie Review: Star Trek

I really went into this film, absolutely, wanting to destroy this film piece by piece. I could not believe that they were going to relaunch one of my all time favorite TV shows and they were not going to include William Shatner (the original James T Kirk) in this new film. I even listed this film as one of my 10 summers, "Do Not See" List. After the film was over, I was so glad that i was wrong about this choice.

Now for those who are very pure in their belief of "Star Trek" please stop reading this review right now and do not see the film at all cost. It will really upset you.


The film opens with the Federation starship USS Kelvin investigating a "lightning storm" in space. It turns out to be a black hole, and the Narada, a large and heavy-armed Romulan vessel, emerges from it and attacks. The Kelvin's captain, Richard Robau (Faran Tahir) is captured and killed by the Romulan captain Nero (Eric Bana). First officer George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth) takes command and sacrifices himself and the Kelvin by ramming it into the Romulan ship in order to allow the rest of the crew to escape. During the escape, George's wife Winona (Jennifer Morrison) gives birth to a son: James Tiberius Kirk.

About 22 years later, Kirk (Chris Pine) grows into an intelligent but reckless adolescent. He meets Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) in a bar in Iowa and is goaded into enrolling in Starfleet. During his education on Earth, he is suspended for cheating on an unwinnable test designed by the half-Vulcan, half-human Spock (Zachary Quinto). However, Kirk is smuggled on board the USS Enterprise by his friend, Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (Karl Urban), as it is sent on its maiden flight to investigate a distress signal originating from the planet Vulcan: Captain Pike commands the ship, with Spock as his first officer, and Uhura is assigned to the ship as well. En-route, Kirk realizes that the situation is similar to the one 25 years ago when his father died; with Uhura's and McCoy's help, he convinces Captain Pike that the Enterprise is heading into a trap. When the Enterprise arrives, they find the rest of the Starfleet ships destroyed and Nero's ship, the Narada, using a drilling apparatus to tunnel to the planet's core. After promoting Spock to captain and Kirk to first officer, Pike surrenders to Nero, giving Kirk and fellow crew member Hikaru Sulu (John Cho) a chance to destroy the drill. Nevertheless, Nero destroys Vulcan with a small amount of "red matter", dropped into the planet's core, which creates a black hole that consumes the planet from within. Six billion of the Vulcan people die, including Spock's human mother, Amanda (Winona Ryder).

Nero puts the Narada on a course for Earth with the intention of destroying it. Kirk wants to follow Nero immediately, but Spock insists that the Enterprise regroups with the fleet as per their orders. Spock has Kirk expelled from the Enterprise to the nearby ice planet Delta Vega, where he meets Spock Prime (Leonard Nimoy). This elderly Spock explains that, 120 years in the future, he tried to rescue the Romulan planet from destruction by a nearby supernova by neutralizing the supernova with a black hole using his ship, which contains the red matter. Spock did not complete his mission in time to save Romulus, and Nero vowed to take revenge on Spock and the Federation. The black hole transferred both Spock and Nero to the past. Spock takes Kirk to a nearby Starfleet outpost and introduces him to Montgomery Scott (Simon Pegg), a master engineer and pioneer of beaming technology. Scott and Kirk are teleported back onto the Enterprise and, taking Spock Prime's advice, Kirk goads the younger Spock into attacking him and demonstrating that he is "emotionally compromised". As a result, Spock relieves himself of command; because Kirk is the next-highest ranking officer, he becomes the new captain of the Enterprise.

Captain Kirk takes the Enterprise to Earth, intending to stop the Narada on his own. Spock, Scott and math-whiz Chekov (Anton Yelchin) figure out a way to beam aboard the Narada, allowing Kirk and Spock to stage a surprise attack. While Spock steals Spock Prime's ship and lures the Narada away from Earth, Kirk rescues Pike. Spock crashes his ship into the Narada, detonating the red matter and creating a black hole that, aided by a full barrage of the Enterprise's weaponry, destroys the ship. However, Kirk, Spock and Pike are rescued by the Enterprise's timely arrival, which is in turn saved from being pull.

Captain Kirk takes the Enterprise to Earth, intending to stop the Narada on his own. Spock, Scott and math-whiz Chekov (Anton Yelchin) figure out a way to beam aboard the Narada, allowing Kirk and Spock to stage a surprise attack. While Spock steals Spock Prime's ship and lures the Narada away from Earth, Kirk rescues Pike. Spock crashes his ship into the Narada, detonating the red matter and creating a black hole that, aided by a full barrage of the Enterprise's weaponry, destroys the ship. However, Kirk, Spock and Pike are rescued by the Enterprise's timely arrival, which is in turn saved from being pulled into the black hole by Scott. Back on Earth, Kirk is commended, promoted to captain and given permanent command of the Enterprise from now-Admiral Pike. Spock Prime visits his younger self and explains that he helped Kirk directly because he wanted to ensure that the young Spock and Kirk would come to an understanding of each other and become friends. The younger Spock is convinced to stay with Starfleet, requesting and being accepted as the Enterprise's first officer. As the Enterprise warps away, Spock Prime recites the series' motto:

“ Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life-forms and new civilizations; to boldly go where no one has gone before.

By the time Spock was stating the series Motto, I was cheering and I could not believe that they had done "Star Trek" correctly.

Now you must remember one thing, the time line was altered by the Narada. So what we think was Star trek is now another reality of it. Once i saw that I realized that, I was going on one heck of a trip.

I must also now agree that having a prime James Kirk, would have destroyed this film. Please watch the scene where Prime Spock, talks to the younger Kirk, you can see the pain in his eyes knowing that he has seen his old friend die and now he can help the younger one live. Also, the next scene where, we are introduced to Scotty, was a classic with Prime Spock telling Scotty the formula that, Scotty, would later invent.

What was also different was the unwritten love between Uhura and Spock. You could definitively see what Spock's mother, had been trying to teach him about love.

Leonard Nimoy stated that he actually cried when he saw the scene of Kirk meeting Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy. He remembered his old friend, the original McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Nimoy tells America's TV Guide magazine, "I started crying - and it (scene) still moves me now. I loved D-Kelley, salt of the earth.

I could break down this film piece by piece but, only you, the reader, can decide, if this film is worth your time and money. Please see this film in a digital cinema.

Grade. A+

Spock: We are traveling at warp speed. How did you manage to beam aboard the ship?
Kirk: You're the genius. You figure it out.
Spock: As acting Captain of this vessel, I order you to answer the question.
Kirk: Well, I'm not telling, acting Captain. What? Did...
[Kirk smiles]
Kirk: Oh, now that doesn't frustrate you, does it? My lack of cooperation? That doesn't...
[Spock turns to Scotty]
Spock: Are you a member of Starfleet?
Scotty: Uh, yes. Can I get a towel?

Opened in Korea on 7 May 2009.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Samsung 4, Hanwha 2

My record at home games this season. 2-5-1

from true stories of Korean baseball.

W - Choi Won-Je (2-0), L - Yang Hoon (0-2), S - Oh Seung-hwan (8)

Samsung starter Francisco Cruceta was knocked around early, but the Samsung bullpen worked 6 shutout innings to keep the Lions in the game and eventually earn the W. Cruceta surrendered 2 runs during his 3 innings of work, but it took him 70 pitches to record 9 outs. I guess he wanted all those Children's Day fans to get their money's worth. Ahn Yeong-myeong pitched well enough to earn a W, but a lack of run production from the Hanwha offense and a few rotten innings from the Hanwha bullpen doomed him to a ND.

Ahn tossed 6 innings(85 pitches, 52 strikes) of 1-run baseball. He allowed 6 hits and struck out 4. In the 8th inning, Samsung rallied for 3 runs thanks to some shoddy pitching and some worse defense. Samsung right fielder Kang Byeong-gyu hit a ground ball to the left side that was bobbled by two infielders, but no errors were handed out. The next batter, Park Han-yi hit a deep fly ball to center that was completely misplayed by the Hanwha center fielder. When an outfielder turns around twice while tracking a ball, he's probably not coming down with it. Again, Park was given a triple and an RBI instead of an error being awarded. The fly ball tied the game at 2.

The next batter, Choi Hyeong-woo, doubled off the right field wall to give Samsung a 3-2 lead. After a sac bunt got Choi into 3rd, Park Jin-man hit a sac fly to left to give Samsung a 4-2 advantage. Oh Seung-hwan tossed a 1-2-3 9th inning to record his 150th career save.

KBO hits grand slam on holiday

Attendance strong as all four games sell out on the holiday for first time

It was a sold-out affair around the KBO as families flowed into ballparks on Children’s Day, setting a new attendance record and marking the first time that all four games on the holiday were packed to capacity.

The numbers are impressive.

Southern Seoul’s Jamsil Stadium had 30,500 fans in the stands, while Sajik Stadium in Busan boasted 28,500. Attendance at Daejeon Stadium hit 10,500 and 10,400 fans crammed into Mokdong Stadium in western Seoul.

Well It was sold out but it cost me 20,000 Won, but I got to see the game with my friends.

It was a good game with the Eagles taking a 2-0 lead but then on the top of the 8th giving up 3 runs and then falling behind 4-2. Diaz looked awful and the outfielding was not that good either. I could not believe that there were no errors called.

To be honest, it sure looked like more than 10,500 people at the game. This looks likes its going to be a long season.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

(Link updated) Stephannie White still trying to get Mike's death international coverage.

Stephannie White, the mother of 14-year-old Michael White who was found dead in a Gyeongsan sauna last May, currently finds a piece she wrote about the anniversary of her son's death among the most-viewed and most-shared stories on CNN's ireport for the past 24 hours. According to an email from her, if the story stays atop the most-viewed list it will be part of a Mothers' Day special on CNN. Visit the link and share the news.

Also make sure you pass along what's collected on, including the podcasts. The last updates I've had here were last month when Stephannie toured the Gyeongsan sauna where Mike was found dead under suspicious circumstances, and when she sued the Korean government back in January.

A very interesting look how a boy became a man..enjoy..

Screenwriter Confesses: I Could Never Love a Woman Who Didn’t Love ‘The Seven Samurai’

by Robert J. Avrech

Yours truly first laid eyes on my wife, Karen, when we were both nine-years-old, students in Yeshiva of Flatbush elementary school. Thus began a love affair that defined and continues to define my existence.

The time has come to introduce Karen to Akira Kurosawa. The time has come to introduce Karen to the single most important movie in my life, the film that shaped my consciousness, the film that turned me from a directionless yeshiva student into a rabid film fanatic, a screenwriter.

Yes, The Seven Samurai is playing at The Thalia, New York’s’ classic movie theater on Broadway between 94th and 95th Streets. I’ve invited Karen to see it with me. Keep in mind, this is 1976, ancient days. There are no videos, no DVD’s, no personal computers, and hard to imagine, no internet. To see a classic film, you must rush to Manhattan, to one of the revival houses, and hope that the print they screen is half-way decent. And with Japanese films, the biggest problem is the subtitles. Frequently, they are illegible.

As we stand on line to purchase tickets, Karen quizzes me about the film.

“What’s it about?”

“Courage and loyalty in 16th century Japan.”

“Does it have a… plot?”

“Oh, yes, several very strong plots running parallel to one another. Don’t worry, it’s a foreign film, but you’ll find that all the emotions are completely familiar.”

Karen looks a bit skeptical. By now she knows me well enough to recognize that my take on reality is not all that real.

“How long is it?”

“We’re incredibly lucky, Karen,” I enthuse, “This doesn’t happen very often but we’re actually getting to see the original three-hour version! Isn’t that great!?”

Karen smiles, but her smile is strained.

I’m not worried. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that once the film gets going she’ll be caught up in the magnificent imagery, in the classic story-telling, in the heroic, tragic characters. Once Karen imbibes this film, our relationship will be sealed.

The house lights dim and chills run up and down my spine as the opening shots of The Seven Samurai thunder across the screen. Karen is at full attention, her spine is rigid, she sits straight as a pilaster, like a proud Japanese princess.


A half-hour into the film Karen is:




idly toying with her split ends. I am incredulous, in shock, awash in a psychic pain that I never knew existed. How is this possible?

Slumped in her seat, Karen is the portrait of a a bored student. My heart is actually pattering in my chest at twice its normal rate. I am twenty-five years old and I’m pretty sure that I’m having a massive heart attack.

A few years ago, I told a friend that I could never love a woman who didn’t love The Seven Samurai. Not only did I say it, but I believed it.

Still from Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai, '54. Note the, uh, Star of David.
Still from Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai, ‘54. Note the, uh, Star of David.

“You’ll have to excuse me,” says Karen, “I need to take a break.”

“There’s a break at the hour-and-a-half point,” I lamely point out.

“I need it now,” Karen says quite evenly with no hint of rancor.

Karen exits to the lobby.

I feel like committing hara-kiri.

In the dark, I gaze at my beloved and outnumbered Samurai warriors; even unto death they maintain their orthodox code of honor. There is something very Jewish about these men and their stubborn refusal to give up their way of life. This film has changed my life, made of me a screenwriter, a writer with a vision.

What to do?

The images no longer cohere for now I see Karen, nine-years old, on the day she first transferred from Yeshiva Ohel Moshe to Yeshiva Flatbush, the day I, also nine-years old, fell in love with her; now I see her leaning against the chain link fence during recess, pressing her linen handkerchief against unnaturally pale lips; there she is, years later, when we meet in Summer camp and exchange a few awkward sentences; and again I spot her at a high school basketball game. Karen has no idea how I feel. What am I saying? She has no idea that I even exist.

This life of mine can easily slip into utter catastrophe.

Karen’s image splits and flies away; there she is, up on the screen in full close-up. I love her, have always loved her. And this moment, this film, this decision that I’m about to make will define the balance of my life.

The Samurai speak of Bushido, the soul of the warrior, the perpetual struggle to maintain honor and dignity, the fight to recognize your true inner-self. I catch a glimpse of my Bushido. It’s in danger of being crushed… by yours truly.

Still from The Seven Samurai
Still from The Seven Samurai

I bolt from my seat and follow Karen into the lobby. Sitting on a bench, she looks sad.

“I know how much this movie means to you,” says Karen.

“It doesn’t matter,” I respond.

And it doesn’t.

In a moment of perfect clarity I have gone from being a boy to a man.

Morally, I have matured, been forced by this honest and most unpretentious of women, to reorder my priorities.

I took another young lady to see The Seven Samurai and she told me that she adored it. “It’s fantastic,” she gushed. But in the darkness I felt her boredom, sensed her incredible yearning for the film to end. She was just saying what she knew I wanted to hear.

Karen cannot lie. Karen is constitutionally unable to say that she admires something when she just plain doesn’t like it.

To this day, when I slip the DVD of The Seven Samurai into the player, Karen beats a hasty retreat.

This night, this moment, I understand that admiring or despising The Seven Samurai—any movie—has nothing to do with the guts of a relationship. If you look closely, it’s just superficial aesthetics.

Admiring or disliking a movie or a book or painting or a song or whatever—is not a reliable indicator of the strength of a relationship.

Love—real love and lasting relationships—are built on shared values.

Karen knows how important this movie is to me. But because this film is so central to my life she cannot bring herself to pretend that she likes it. In fact, the way I feel about The Sound of Music is how she feels about The Seven Samurai.

I bid goodbye to The Seven Samurai.

We do not stay for the rest of the film.

We exit the theater.

“You wanna know how it ends?”

Karen smiles. “Not really.”

Walking along Broadway, Karen searches my face for some indication of what I’m feeling, some hint of what my reaction is to her reaction.

As we walk away from the movie theater, I discover that I feel lighter, unburdened, and gee-willikers, I’m grinning hugely. I smile because at long last I’m able to bid goodbye to my youth. Karen’s perfect scrupulousness, her Female/Jewish/Samurai personae has, as I have long suspected, compelled me to become not just a man—but a better man.

The Seven Samurai, the final battle.
The Seven Samurai, the final battle.

Head on over to my mini-series in Seraphic Secret to learn How I Married Karen.

Copyright © Robert J. Avrech

Monday, May 04, 2009

Movie Review : Bakwji or Thirst

In the last few months I have seen 3 vampire films, One from the USA Twilight, one from Sweden, Let The Right One In and the new film from Park, Chan-wook called Bakjwi or Thirst. What I found interesting about these 3 films is that I hated the American film, Twilight, and loved the 2 smaller films, "Let The Right One In" and "Thirst."

Now for the readers who hate spoilers, I will ask that you quit reading now and go see the film here in Korea. Once again, I have no idea if they include subtitles but my showing had none and I really did not need any.

If you have followed my reviews over the last few years, you know that I hold one Korean Director in a very high regard, Park, Chan-wook. If the name sounds familiar to you, he was the director of The Vengeance Trilogy (Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, Oldboy, and Sympathy for Lady Venegance) and JSA. I was in awe of these 4 films and have made many recommendations for these films.

He was also the director of the pathetic I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK After watching that film, I had serious doubts about Park, Chan-wook directing anything that did not deal with revenge or forgiveness of ones soul. I really had no idea what to think about this film.

I saw the trailer and realized that it would be a joint South Korean/USA Production (CJ Entertainment and Universal Studios) and it just looked too good and with the possible return of a good Park, Chan-wook film, I had to see it. I am so glad that I did because the film was excellent.

The film starts out like any normal film with a priest,Sang-hyun, he is trying to do the Lords work and trying to save some souls along the way. He is given a chance to volunteer for a really unusual project that might help to save more lives but instead it turns him into a vampire, but he is now a priest, who is in love with his friends wife and he wants to nectar on her blood.

What I lied was the part where you think that Sang-hyun has beaten the F.I.V. germ, but suddenly Sang-hyun relapses into his illness; he coughs up blood and passes away. The next day however, he opens his eyes in dire need of shelter from the sweltering sunlight; he has become a vampire.

What I also liked was first Sang-hyun feels alive and is energized by his insistent bodily desires, but soon he's afraid to find himself sucking down blood from a former member who, is now in A coma, in the hospital. After attempting to kill himself, by jumping out the window and destroying a car and not his body, he realized that he has the F.I.V and the only cure is by drinking blood.

The film then decides that someone must die and with his other films, the ghost are not easily done away with and in the end the ghost are granted vengeance. What I loved about the ghost was their resemblance to the Vengeance Trilogy and I was laughing at all of the little nods that I saw in this film to them. The film has an interesting ending, that I will leave unspoiled for you. The film has no extra scene at the end of the credits.

Please see the film when you get the chance.

Grade A

Opened in Korea on April 30, 2009.
As many of my readers know, I have some very different ways that I see some movies before they are released and a few weeks ago, A copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine was released and I was able to obtain a copy of it. I saw the film and wanted to write a review utterly destroying the film and warning you, the reader, not to waste your $$ on this film.

Information was soon released by Fox that this was not the finished copy of the film and that this was the version that was so bad that it prompted at least 10-20 minutes of additional material added to the film. I thought about it and I decided to not write a review, to warn you about this film, until I actually went to the theater and watched the film for myself.

It will be a long time before I ever give Fox Movies the credit of doubt, again.


Fox spokesman Chris Petrikin is attempting to deflect criticism over the handling of the X-Men Origins: Wolverine bootleg controversy aimed at studio Co-Chairman Tom Rothman. Rothman had been the object of much derision after claiming that the workprint of: Wolverine that had been uploaded onto the Internet last month was 10 minutes shorter than the final version. Several bloggers on entertainment websites soon discovered that the pirated copy and the final print being sent to theaters this weekend are the exact same length and accused Rothman of lying. But in an interview with today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times, Petrikin conceded that he had given the wrong information about the movie's length to Rothman. "There was no 'fibbing' involved -- that would imply that we were so on top of things that we anticipated having one of our biggest films of the year stolen and had time to concoct a plan to purposefully 'spin' wrong information," Petrikin told Times columnist Patrick Goldstein. "In fact, I think I told Tom that there might be 10 minutes missing from the stolen version, based -- obviously -- on misinformation I was given or misinterpreted.................................

When I purchased my ticket, I looked at the ending time and released that it was exactly the length of the leaked workprint and I feared that we, the paying movie audience, had been lied to. I saw the film and sad to say, it was worse on the big screen that it was on the TV that I watched the film on.

If you are truly a fan of the comic book "Wolverine", I will recommend that you pass on this film. Due to the horrible plot, the inane special effects, the horrid acting, the absolutely uneventful tale that this film has to show. I was cringing at the theater while I was watching this junk. The utter misplacement of "Wade Wilson/Deadpool" in this film, is what finally made me despise what I has just wasted my money on. Please pass on this film at all cost.

Grade D-

Opened in South Korea on 30 April 2009

Wade Wilson: I love this weapon more than anything in the world, wanna know why? It's memorable. Sure it's a little bulky, hard to get on a plane. But, whip out a couple of swords at your ex-girlfriends wedding. They will never, ever forget it. Granted, it's probably not as intimidating as a gun, bone-claws or the fingernails of a bag-lady... Manicure?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Foreign Teachers Wrongly Portrayed in Korea

By Brian Deutsch
Contributing Writer

There are many misconceptions about native speaker English teachers in Korea and profound ignorance about who we are and what we do. This article will look at 10 of the most common misconceptions about us. It's not compiled for the sake of complaining or for being clever but rather to look more closely at 10 misinformed assumptions that are repeated so often that they're practically taken for granted.

(1) We're Unqualified

This is an extremely obnoxious misconception because it can neither be confirmed nor denied. That's because the definition of qualified is constantly changing to suit the needs of the person offending us. Does qualified mean having the proper visa? Does it mean having undergone teacher training? Or does it mean being able to competently speak and teach English in English? It's the Korean government and its citizens who've come to define ``qualified" as merely possessing a bachelor's degree from an English-speaking country, and it's unfair to turn on us because of consumers or a government that demands no more.

(2) We Don't Care About Teaching

Tell that to the teachers who, beyond teaching 20-30 classes a week, spend hours preparing materials, grading papers and putting together lessons that are both entertaining and educational. Tell that to the teachers who stand alone in front of a class of 36 students who neither speak nor understand English, yet who still make it work. Tell that to the teachers who cry when their students graduate and light up when they see them again on the street. On second thought, you'd better not tell those things to those teachers.

(3) We're Sexual Predators

This is unfortunately a common motif in the media, especially as it pertains to foreign men. Television shows will depict ``English teachers" _ usually played by Koreans or Eastern Europeans with noticeably poor English _ harassing, molesting or raping Korean women. Papers and news programs will run sensationalist stories about the debauchery of Hongdae and Itaewon, or that teachers are constantly on the prowl for ``easy Korean women.'' Why are foreigners being held to higher standards than their Korean peers?

(4) We Just Talk in Class

Because we usually teach English conversation classes, there's an assumption that all we do is go to class and talk. We're native speakers, so ``teaching" is pretty easy for us, right? Perhaps the biggest challenge we face is creating a classroom environment that encourages learning in a way that's so contrary to the traditional Korean style. By creating lessons that give students a chance to use the language they've studied for years, we have the difficult task of bucking the system of passive rote learning and obedience. Assuming we just talk or play games is insulting to the hard work we do every day.

(5) We Can't Teach on Our Own

Though we are contractually paired with a Korean co-teacher in public schools, we often do teach on our own when these co-teachers don't show up for class or prove unable or unwilling to participate. Ideally, the two teachers would find a way to compliment each other, but this rarely happens. In fact, sometimes the class is more effective when taught entirely by a native speaker.

(6) We Can't Find Jobs at Home

This stereotype predates the current economic crisis. Besides denigrating the teachers who come here, all of whom are college-educated and have been employed in the past, this misconception is also an insult to the Korean education system because it implies that it can do no better than to hire cast-offs.

(7) We're Uppity.

A prominent scholar in the field of English education here said recently that native speaker teachers ``often cause problems," though he didn't expand on his comments. This is a good catch-all misconception that covers pretty much everything from ``doesn't like the school food" to ``complains when not paid," and is likely code for ``doesn't fit in." It's too easy, and has been far too common, to simply blame the foreign teacher for misunderstandings, miscommunications and failures. It would behoove the schools who hire foreign teachers, and the imported teachers themselves, to be understanding of the communication breakdowns that will invariably occur, and not reduce everything to a cultural problem.

(8) We're Criminals.

Every year we hear the news that foreign crime is on the rise. The papers usually fail to emphasize that the number of foreigners in Korea is also dramatically increasing. Most of us agree with requiring public school teachers to submit criminal background checks, though the panic is in the wrong direction. The frequent stories about teachers behaving badly are not about foreigners but rather about Korean teachers who beat children, sexually abuse students, take bribes or participate in anti-government rallies. It's unacceptable to generalize about Korean teachers based on a few news stories, and it's even more wrong to generalize about foreign teachers based on none.

(9) We're Here for Money

This misconception is insulting to Koreans as well as to foreigners. This is a country, after all, that spends a lot of time, money and advertising space building its image and trying to entice foreigners to come here. As Korea welcomes more and more foreign teachers and laborers, it will need to get over this one-sided stigma attached to economic migration, especially since historically so many Koreans have left in pursuit of a better life.

(10) We're Unhappy

It's odd that we stand out so much, considering how often Koreans complain about the weather or the food, or how often they take to the streets over something or other. Less anecdotally, Korea has the highest suicide rate of the 30 OECD countries, and suicide is the fourth-leading cause of death here. It is the leading cause of death among males 18 to 35, and the second-leading cause for teenagers. And, according to the ``OECD Factbook 2009," Korea ranked the lowest for life satisfaction.

I won't deny that we are an opinionated bunch. Sometimes too opinionated, and the need by some to pass judgment on every little thing is a phenomenon that deserves fuller treatment.

It certainly deserves more analysis than ``we are unhappy." There are, of course, plenty of reasons why foreign English teachers complain: cheating bosses, indifferent students, uncooperative authorities, and a media that constantly portrays us as sexual predators, drug users, unqualified teachers, or bitter imports. Or maybe it's just a bad day or plain old culture shock.

But we're not unhappy. On the contrary, we're active in our communities and our neighborhoods. We volunteer at orphanages, organize charity events, adopt animals, and participate in clean-up campaigns. Like our Korean neighbors, we relax in `jjimjilbang,' sing in noraebang, go hiking on the weekends and have a beer or two on a Friday night. As information on Korea is becoming more widely available online and in print, we are becoming better teachers, better travelers, and with more frequency, better residents.

Teachers come here and stay here because they want to be here. This is something Korea should be proud of. It shouldn't wave them in with one hand and nudge them out with the other.

The writer can be reached at


I wrote a piece about ten common misconceptions Koreans have of native speaker teachers, and it appeared on the Korea Times site this evening. I hope to be allowed to turn each point into a full-length article, because each one really needs fuller explanation and amplification. And a word count limit meant that I had to leave quite a bit out. It's important to point out not only why these misconceptions exist and the extent to which they do, but why they're harmful to us.

There are other misconceptions that deserve treatment as well: we do drugs, we have AIDS, we are buffoons, we are on call to practice your English at your convenience, we are decoration, we are helpless, we aren't necessary, and of course the catch-alls like we don't understand Korean culture or we don't like Korea. I had a couple of those in the rough draft, but swapped them out later. There are other things that drive me up the wall---getting asked if I know bibimbap, being told kimchi is too spicy for me to eat---but it's probably not best to go running to the paper about those just yet.

I also left out that when these misconceptions are circulated they're often defended by saying "many foreigners" do this, "some foreigners" do that, or "I heard about" native speakers doing something or other. There are bad apples among us, of course, and it's insulting to pretend there aren't. But the actions of a small few are consistently used to disparage an entire demographic, which suggests a number of larger forces at work, issues I hope to explore later. Don't get me wrong, "we" have a lot of growing up to do, and if we want to grow as professionals we have to defeat these stereotypes by continuing to set positive examples. We need to set these positive examples for our Korean neighbors and also---and more importantly I believe---for each other, and for a quote-unquote community of teachers that does not yet exist, because too often our introduction to the country is in the form of bitter veterans who treat Korea as a place to survive, not succeed.

But as far as this article, I hope to draw attention to how we're portrayed in the media, and how this portrayal---by Koreans and foreigners alike--- is neither responsible nor accurate, and that even the act of trying to "prove" these negative stereotypes ought to lead one to evidence of just how uninformed they are.

Friday, May 01, 2009

More Charm of Korean Countryside Baseball

April 30th, 2009 Shinsano

On Tuesday April 28,2009, Hanwha kicked off it’s first of nine games at Cheongju Baseball Stadium (capacity of 12,000 — built in 1990) as part of the KBO’s program of using alternative sites to play a few games. I’ve written about this before in reference to the Lotte Giants, who usually play a two or three series at Masan Baseball Stadium, a 21,885 capacity stadium (no listing of when it was built).

This year Lotte will play just six games in Masan. I always think it’d be fun to take one of these in, but that would necessitate spending time in Masan, where most of the memories I have involve the “less-nice” side of my wife’s family, where we once huddled in a cousin’s bed because the woman of the house (my wife’s Aunt) was too cheap to ever use the heater. Even in the dead of winter.

I’ve never been to Cheonju, but I picture it as being something like the Masan of the north. I’m sure I’ll end up there eventually, a couple major high school teams hail from there. I’d link to the Cheongju Foreigner Website but actually the link is dead.

I found a forum created by Out of the Park Baseball (a game I really like) from 2006 supposedly listing every baseball stadium in world. I looked up a few of the more obscure ones from Korea on Naver. I can’t post the photos, since Naver blog protect most of its photos from people like me who might want to share Korean culture with the rest of the world, but here are links to Guri Baseball Stadium (6,570) and headquarters of the LG Twins, and Gyeongsan Baseball Stadium (7,000), where the Lotte minor league team plays.


Forming Union Meets With KBO Wrath

By Kim Jae-won
Staff Reporter

Controversy is brewing as the Korea Professional Baseball Players Association (KPBPA) is moving to form a union.

The KPBPA announced the decision at a press conference in Seoul, Tuesday.

``We have requested talks with the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) and the clubs continuously, but they declined,'' KPBPA president Son Min-han told reporters.

``Now, it is time to make a union based on laws,'' the Lotte Giants pitcher added.

The KPBPA also revealed that they are set to launch a union preparation committee (UPC) consisting of two members of each team.

``Representatives of the eight teams' players agreed that now is a good time to create a union,'' KPBPA Secretary-General Kwon Si-hyung said.

``It has been ten years since the KPBPA was established, but the KBO has never admitted us as a partner,'' Kwon told The Korea Times, Tuesday.

``We realized that we needed a union which we can bargain collectively, supported by the law.''

The KBO, the sport's governing body, has objected to the move.

``They promised in 2000 that they would not take any action before six million fans (per year) visit the baseball stadiums,'' KBO spokesman Lee Jin-hyung told The Korea Times.

``The clubs are making a deficit. If we make a profit then we can have dialogue with them."

Both sides argued that the law was on their side.

``Professional baseball players are not workers but individual businessmen, as precedents show. Individual businessmen cannot make a union,'' a KBO official said.

But Son said, ``Our legal support team confirmed that to form a union is not against the law."

Kwon added, ``We are under the control of a club and get paid. We are workers."

A KPBPA official said the move is line with baseball organizations in the United States and Japan, where such unions already exist.

Professional baseball was started in the United States in 1869 and has since spread around the world.

Major League Baseball (MLB), Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and the KBO are each popular in their respective countries. Taiwan, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico also have pro leagues.

Doosan Bears captain Kim Dong-ju is reportedly in favor of the union. ``I agree with the decision to make a union because it can boost the rights of players,'' Kim said. ``But I do not want it to make a lot of noise because we are in the season.''

However, baseball clubs' general managers agreed to oppose the KPBPA move at a meeting in Seoul.

``I am disappointed that the players only ask about their rights,'' Samsung Lions general manager Kim Jae-ha said.

``More than 100 players are paid over 100 million won ($74,200) per year.''

Baseball fans are also divided over the issue.

``It seems like a `royal union' because they get paid about 700 to 800 million won ($519,300 to $593,470),'' one wrote in an online post.

``I support the KPBPA. It is a good measure to restrain KBO power,'' Hong Suk-jung, another fan, said on the official KBO Web site.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) said it would support the KPBPA decision.

``To make a union is baseball players' natural right,'' it said. ``We support the KPBPA and will help them.''

Well this could make for some very interesting baseball this year.