Showing posts from April, 2008
This raises some interesting questions, such as "why is this sign in English?" and, more centrally, just "why?"

Here is the website for Mexican chicken.
This was interesting, books for 2000 won (2 bucks) in vending machines in a subway station. I can't tell if they are "copyright free" but that would be my guess.

Our time here is getting alarmingly short and there is a whole lot we wish to do before leaving Korea. Unlikely we'll do it all but no harm in trying.

The next three weeks are going to be particularly nuts since we have a string of visitors back to back!

This means of course much sightseeing in all directions, travel when I can fit it into my teaching schedule, and various and sundry good times, good eating, and all of those important things. It also means blogging is going to be sporadic for a time, though I will try to get things posted here as they unfold.
I gave a talk tonight at the Fulbright Forum (with one other American historian here for the year) about teaching U.S. history in Korea.

It went reasonably well, though I did get a bit tumbled in my words midway through. I was not reading the talk but had written it out so it would be exactly within the time limits (I have been known to speak at some length when giving free rein) and the combination of looking at the written word and extemporaneous speaking was not actually a good choice.

I focused on using empire to frame American history (as you likely will not be surprised to learn), and on raising focusing on questions of regioalism, globalization, and Americanization. It was useful to lay out the ideas in a clear short talk since they are all vast and easy to follow down the rabbit trail.

One thing I mentioned in the course of my remarks is that I just read that Korea has the highest levels of anti-Americanism in Asia, which is a factoid that surprised and interested me.


South Korea to use cloned dogs to sniff for drugs and explosives

Actually, maybe the most interesting part of this is that they named the first clone "Snuppy"

South Korea to use cloned dogs to sniff for drugs and explosives - International Herald Tribune: "INCHEON, South Korea: The country that created the world's first cloned canine plans to put duplicated dogs on patrol to sniff out drugs and explosives.

The Korean Customs Service unveiled Thursday seven cloned Labrador retrievers being trained near Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul. The dogs were born five to six months ago after being separately cloned from a skilled drug-sniffing canine in active service.

Due to the difficulties in finding dogs who are up to snuff for the critical jobs, officials said using clones could help reduce costs.

The cloning work was conducted by a team of Seoul National University scientists who in 2005 successfully created the world's first known dog clone, an Afghan hound named Snuppy."
Seoul is filled with peaks so we have had some great hiking in this incredible spring weather. We pick some new hills each week but will never come close to covering them all.

It cooled off a bit and is ideal for climbing hills, especially when you have a plump baby along for the ride on your back.

Like many of the mountains here, this one kept going for some time in a way that is impossible to gauge from the street. And, of course, this one had an exercise area up on top.

Visibility was terrible. Whether it was yellow dust from China or smog or a combination, I am not sure. This is looking up toward Bukhansan:

One thing I find fascinating is that people come to the mountains to fill bottles at the springs. Usually it is one or two. There seem to be an incredible number of springs in all of the mountains. This one was on a mountain road and was heavily used.

As we have come to expect, tucked in the sides of these mountains there is generally a Buddhist temple. This one was an int…
Looks like we did a good thing skipping the Olympic flame's trip through Seoul, which featured a man trying to immolate himself.

It was interesting that the protests focused on Chinese treatment of North Koreans deported back to prison or death in North Korea, rather than on the continuing Chinese suppression of Tibetans. (No word if Richard Gere is getting a movement together for the North Korean refugees. Not as useful for posing, those tacky North Koreans seeking to escape a totalitarian state. They need better graphic help!)

Also interesting to learn that the overwhelming majority of protesters were pro-Chinese. And that the 8,000 cops outnumbered all protesters:

"SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- A North Korean defector tried to set himself on fire to halt the Olympic torch relay through Seoul, while thousands of police guarded the flame Sunday from protesters blasting China's treatment of North Korean refugees.

Hundreds of China supporters waving the Chinese flag greet…

More Buddhas

We happened on this temple tucked right into central Seoul with these three large (double life size) statues (Buddha and boddhisattvas), impressive in themselves, but made even more so by the Buddha wall behind them.

We just spent a few days in Busan, what a remarkable place.

We need to go back to get a fuller sense of the city, of course, but my first impression was very positive.

Easy three hour KTX bullet train ride down there. I was a bit surprised that the train was two minutes late on the return....the horror

The city is on the southeastern coast pressed in between some really impressive mountains. Crowded streets of course, and endless markets in all directions. We saw no Americans in our limited time there, but we did see many Russians. I was interested to see that there was almost as much signage in Japanese as in English.

This is me and agi down by the fishing docks.

Busan is definitely a rawer place than Seoul with a very appealing vibe. People were very friendly to us, and excessively so to the Lil Buddha, who was greeted absolutely everywhere she went and carried proudly by a great many little old Korean ladies. Often without us being asked--she was just wrenched from our hands a…
We went for a hike today to take advantage of the perfect weather. The Lil Buddha was pretty pscyhed to get going. She likes to be carried around in this thing. I feel like an elephant with one of those saddles on it.

We started out walking over a hill about 20 minutes from our house. It was one of those times when you can walk up a steep deep end street, step into the woods and suddenly feel incredibly far from the traffic and bustle of Seoul. This hill resolved on the other side into some ramshackle houses, very steep steps, and little vegetable plots in every available space. And, of course, tiny wizened old women tending to them.

This was the only place I have seen rats in Seoul.

We then walked over to another imposing mountain that we had looked at several times from the one behind out apartment. As usual, there was a Buddhist temple tucked into the foot of the mountain, looking quite nice with everything in bloom.

We hiked a good way up and (this being Korea) were not really …
At a coffee shop a group of ladies were hypontized by the Lil Buddha and took her for a long session of oohing and aahhing.
Enjoying some jjukkumi (inexplicably not considered part of th 8 month old diet)

I had a full day of Korean traditional music yesterday, starting with my usual kayagum lesson and then an afternoon of concerts to boot. Nice to get so immersed in it for a day, kayagum sanjo start to make a whole lot more sense heard live by a master. Last semester we were learning folk songs, which are really not that dissimilar from old time tunes in the US. But the sanjo solo music is something else entirely, abstract and really compelling in many ways. Hard to play, very technical stuff.

Here is an example of kayagum sanjo which is well worth a listen.

The various sanjo styles are from Jeolla province and date to the end of the 19th century. Interesting to me to discover again that I am taken to the late 19th century in all ways--my historical research focuses on that time, the old time music I play dates to the same era (in its perfect realization, though not its roots) and then, randomly, I stumble upon this whole realm of music new to me from the same era.

First I went to th…
We live in a relatively fancy residential neighborhood with no production facilities around, or so I thought. I was surprised to walk around the back of an apartment building the other day to happen on this textile operation in the basement. "Sweatshop" might be the more accurate description, but I don't actually know what the conditions are like in there.

I think these are still bad for you


on the street this weekend

I was surprised to see this dude walk out of Nambu Bus Terminal in hospital gown and carrying his IV stand with him. I wish I had grabbed my camera to catch him from the front so I could have captured the image of whatever kind of fluid bag he had attached to his waist. I don't think there is a hospital around there as far as I know.