Monday, February 21, 2011

Democrats Abroad (DAROK) Trivia Night Fri 25 Feb 2011, Itaewon, Seoul

You don't have to be American, a Democrat or political. It's just for fun and a good cause!!!
DATE: Friday 25 February 2011
TIME: from 7:30 PM until completion

COST: Entry fee of W100,000 or $100 per team of five members each with winners receiving individual gifts and prizes. 

VENUE: Rocky Mountain Tavern (RMT) Itaewon, Seoul
Democrats Abroad Republic of Korea (DAROK) is holding this fundraising event to support their hosting a Welcome Reception for the Annual Convention of DCPA in Seoul from 18 to 20 March 2011.

TEAMS: Trivia Night Fundraiser for teams of 5 members each (maximum 10 teams)

RAFFLE: An additional Raffle will run concurrently for other prizes.

Contact: or 010-6695-8323

You don't have to be American, a Democrat or political. It's just for fun and a good cause!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Who wants free money? Seriously!

My tenure as an expat is coming to a close and I'm in need of a little help. My wife and I are heading to Europe in May where we'll travel for a couple months before settling down in the US. We're excited, but have recently run into a few obstacles. Well, just one really. 

Our dog needs to fly to the US before we leave for Europe. We were originally planning on shipping him in cargo, but the US has changed their laws making that option impossible. At this point, the only thing we can do is pay a pet moving service nearly 2k to move him or I can fly back and drop him off. Both of those cost a lot of money. 

So --and this is where you come in-- I'm looking for a pet courier. If you are going to be flying back to the American Midwest (plus PHX),  all you'd need to do is check my dog in with you. My family will be waiting on the other side to get him. It's legal and you'll have nothing to worry about with customs.

While in Korea, I'll take care of all the paperwork and related cost, plus I'll pay you for your "service" and I'll even take care of your bus ride to the airport. If you're in Seoul, my wife and I will take you out to dinner and drinks before this whole thing happens. 

In the end, you'll make some extra cash and REALLY help me out. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What makes Korean Christmas unique?

Here's the question:
I'm putting together a funny email for my family and was wondering if you knew any unique Christmas traditions that Koreans celebrate. 
That's a pretty general question and I'm sure that whatever I list has been listed millions of times by others. So, I'm going to avoid most of the commercially-imported stuff along with the mandatory Christmas accessory (boyfriend/girlfriend) , Christmas cakes and the gigantic Coca-Cola advertisement that is Gangnam.

I think the most unique part of Korean Christmas is that instead of putting gifts under the tree, many Koreans put gifts next to the heads and/or on the pillows of their sleeping loved ones.  

Anyone care to add something unique to that list?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Buses with Bathrooms?

Here's the question:
Planning on teaching in Korea (of course English) and hoping to travel all over the country. What I am concerned about is the long trips (3 hours or over) that you have to take on bus rides. Do these buses have bathrooms? I heard that during these trips people like to eat and specifically drink? During a bus ride and let's say for lack of a better word have to pee or even worse go #2, what do people do during these types of situations?
I'm a big fan of bathroom-related questions. You can tell a lot about people, cultures and history based on their bathroom habits, jokes and facilities.

I personally stay away from a lot of bus travel for this very reason. First of all, no buses available to the general public have bathrooms on them. Instead, the driver will pull into a very busy rest-stop at the halfway point on most trips over 2.5 or 3 hours. Of course, not everyone has the exact same bladder functions and this presents a problem. 

In all honesty, you have one option: begging the driver to pull over

In most cases, they will. It's not totally uncommon to see a bus in the shoulder and a lone passenger ducking behind the bushes. It's embarrassing for sure, but much better than, say, pooping in your pants.

Koreans have largely gotten used to this arrangement and since they're also the world's greatest transit sleepers, they generally doze through the entire process. 

In other words, make sure that you're empty before the trip and don't booze too heavily the night before.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Buying Real Christmas Trees in Korea: It's not worth the effort

Here's the question:
Do you have any clue where I can buy a real Christmas tree? I've asked all my co-workers and they have no idea. I live in Suwon. Where can I go???
Man, this question never seems to go away.  Before I even begin, let me start with a quote from one of my old pals who lived in Korea for nearly six years. I was chatting with him about this online.
Me: I'm looking for real trees in the Gyeonggi area. It's a brutal search.
Him: Real Korea? Army base?
Me: That's about all I can think of, too.
Him: If you find a place and its owned by a Korean make sure to congratulate him for me on having the most useless business imaginable.
As cynical as it sounds, it's true. Koreans aren't into real Christmas trees at this point and opening a business for it just wouldn't be that lucrative. In other words, there aren't many tree lots opening in the parking lot of Kim's Club or Home Plus. And even if there were, the fire codes in most Korean apartments and villas would prohibit such decorations. Besides, why would Korea need real stuff when they're a leading manufacturer of the fake ones? 

Option one is finding a Korean tree farm. They do exist. A thread on Dave's mentioned a site called, but unless you've got some Korean language skills or a friend willing to do a lot of leg work then I'd suggest you try another route. Chances are that you won't want to invest the time.

Your next bet is to look online and find a company that delivers to Korea. I found this one, but you'll have to contact them for a quote.  There are plenty more out there. Snoop.

You could also try finding a connection within the US military. Yongsan, Humphreys and Osan all have trees for sale on site, but getting on the base and getting the tree out is a challenge in and of itself. Remember, military personal all have ration control cards that prevents them from doing an awful lot with the products they purchase. If you have a friend with a car on one of those bases, then that's your ticket. Don't count on it, though.

Your last bet is a little risky and pretty damn stupid, but if you're really desperate then I'd suggest heading to a sleepy piece of forest and pulling a Clark Griswold. 

Don't do that. 

Chances are that after an hour or two of searching and calling your Korean buddies or friend who has a friend on Yongsan, you'll get tired and start looking for a fake one. Gone Seoul Searching tried the same thing and ended up at Daiso instead, but since there are endless places to find fake trees, there's no need to discuss that.

I know it's frustrating, but luckily after you return home to your respective nation you can rest easy knowing that the Frasier fir you're admiring probably was a native species of Korea. If you think the widely criticized Korea Times article was obnoxious, just type in "아비에스 코리아나" into Naver or Daum for pages of endless nationalism on full display.