Back in October, I had a taekwondo tourney. I was interviewed at that tourney but never saw the article. This isn’t uncommon. My parents and I were interviewed twice during their visit (for TV) and I saw neither of those.

Last night I asked Master if he’d ever seen the article. He went off somewhere and dug out about a half dozen copies of November’s 스포추월드, Sports World. I bopped him over the head with a newspaper. “11월??”

He grinned sheepishly, “Sorry, Amanda, very tired.” Master, his wife and I laughed; before class I’d said, “관장님, 피곤한 것 같아요.” Master, you look tired. He’d disagreed at the time.

Sports World, November 2007



I could read most of it. The words I didn’t know I could mostly guess. The reporter did me no favors, since he made the entire piece all of six sentences long, one of those sentences being that long paragraph after my quote. He made good use of that relative clause… (Many thanks to Good Man for helping me translate!)

Amanda (elementary school assistant teacher) American female taekwondoist.

“Working in Korea is very interesting and fun.”

While teaching English at an elementary school, she has become a dan certificate holder and has experienced Korean life and culture through practicing taekwondo. Last week she participated in the poomse division of The Lifetime Sports Taekwondo Competition, at Gwangmyeong City Gymnasium and sponsored by the governor of Gyeonggi province. She participated in the competition well.

She is planning to come back to the states next July. She earned her first black belt grade eight months ago, and she plans to earn her second grade in 2008. She told me that she will continue to practice taekwondo in Minnesota. She is still single and she single-mindedly devotes herself to taekwondo practice at Tongil Studio (Master [Master’s Father’s Name]).

Love Love Motels

Monday night I must have slept funny, because my back has hurt since then. Last night I did 2,000 turns of the rope again (in 20 mins with a single 1-2 min rest to stretch), which didn’t exactly help my back.

Today there are elections, so Good Man and I had the day off. I asked him to find a love motel with whirlpool baths, because I figured the heat and movement would be good for me.

Oh, heaven.

I can not remember the last time I took a bath since (private) baths are not common in Korea and the last house I lived at in the States only had showers. Such a dream. Just one more reason to love love motels.

After love moteling, we headed Jamsil station to have some dinner and study Korean. I spotted this man and had to take a photo as I’ve never seen anyone so creative with their shoes here. I mean, I’ve seen really ugly shoes on women here, but never this. Reminded me of what we did with our socks in fifth grade.

After some dinner, we had some coffee and studied Korean. Yesterday I found a copy of The Giving Tree in Korean at the subway book stall where I bought The Little Prince. The woman gave me a discount because she wants to encourage my Korean.

I read it with Good Man. I read the first half out loud and translated, then he read the second half out loud while I translated. I mentioned that I remembered that in the English edition, the tree is female. Good Man wondered if this was normal (like cars and boats usually being female). I said no, and he couldn’t figure out why the tree had to have a gender in English. Using pronouns, especially gender pronouns, is so rare in Korean.

I like this story for some reason, but it’s so depressing! Give, give, give and be happy! Take, take, take and never say thank you! I read it like the tree is the boy’s mother, which makes it no less depressing.

Nothing too special, but a nice, relaxing day.

Good Man


Because He Is…

“The new parents asked me if I was staying another year. I told them no and they got upset until my co-teacher explained why I’m leaving. Then they were happy.”

Good Man grinned. “It’s because I’m Korean.”


Last night at the restaurant, I left the table for a moment. While I was gone, washing my hands, I trust [Good Man] popped into my head.

Before coming to Korea, I was with a man who flirted with women in front of me. He did it just enough to make me feel like maybe my mind was playing tricks on me.

But whenever I complained, he told me I was overreacting. My friends generally excused the behavior—either I was “jealous” or “controlling” or their boyfriends/husbands did the same thing so was it “normal.” (Or, worse, I played it off as nothing with my closest friends, giving them no way in, so they couldn’t tell me the truth.) When faced with these responses, I concluded my discomfort was due to my own issues, and had nothing to do with him and his disrespectful behavior.

I ignored my intuition, instead calling it insecurity.

But Good Man doesn’t makes me feel uncomfortable. Whether we are alone or with friends in private, in public, or in a public-turned-private space, I feel like he only has eyes—and a heart—for me.

One Year Ago Today…

…I was evicted from my apartment because my boss didn’t pay my rent.

Today I spent a lovely day (gorgeous weather) with Good Man, Diana, Jennifer, and a friend of hers. We went to the bookstore, hung out near the Han, and then Good Man, Diana, and I had Indian food.

A whole lot has changed in a year. A lot will change two months from today.

While at the bookstore, two middle school students found us to do one of those Interview a Foreigner assignments. I think these assignments are terrible but always do them. These two hit the jackpot when they came upon three of us in one spot.

Middle School Interviewer

And Han River Park Diana, Jennifer and I studied Korean. My goodness, aren’t we exciting?


I spotted this older couple and this younger couple and liked the contrast. I do wonder how that woman will walk when she’s older considering that her ankles are already turning out. Most young Korean women really don’t like their feet.

Turned Ankles

I think Good Man took this photo. Apparently someone spotted him…


Good Man took the next two.



This couple appeared to be playing their hand-held video games.

Playing Games

Good Man took this one, of course.

Sneaky Smile?

I took this one. I really like it.

Amanda and Good Man

Cherry Blossoms I

Cherry Blossoms II

Diana has red hair, and Koreans won’t let her forget it.




Good Man wasn’t feeling too well. He said his nose was “malfunctioning.”

Malfunctioning Good Man


It’s a Dying Cat, I Think and Korea Loves Nazis. Again.

“How do you say ‘a dying cat?’ I was using 죽고 있는 고양이.”

Good Man’s eyes are closed, but I see him smile. “죽어가는 고양이.” There is a long pause, but he can’t stop himself. “Why?”

“Tonight in class I wanted to tell [Crybaby] that her whining made her sound like a dying cat.”


In true Totally Ignorant of World History but We’ll Tell You All About the Fabulous Joseon Dynasty form, a Korean company is once again using Nazis in their advertising. Apparently “even Hitler didn’t get East and West together” has to do with Coreana makeup. How? Well

A Korad official, Seo Sang-hee, confirmed the ad was meant to invoke a Nazi soldier and Hitler, which she said symbolized “revolution” in keeping with the lotion’s “revolutionary” moisturizing and calming effects.

Ooooh! Yippe! Let’s use the name and imagery of a man who killed millions of people! Cause you know, using a Korean revolutionary like Yu Gwan-sun, now that would just make too much sense. Maybe that’s a Klogic lesson for another time.

According to Good Man, the advertised product is…whitening cream. I could not make that up if I tried.

For as much as Korea likes to issue lame apologies and claim they know nothing about Hitler, and for as much as many Koreans refuse to let Japan go re: the Occupation Period, I can’t figure out why nobody has realized that Hitler and Hirohito (Showa) were a team. The same Hirohito who was around during the occupation.

Many thanks to Brian for loading these. Head over to his blog for a bit more info.

“Do You Ever Want to Be Thinner?”

Today Cool Co-Teacher and I got talking about Korean women and how much plastic surgery and dieting is done in this country. She asked me if I ever want to be thinner.

I thought about my weight over the past ten years. About how the scale hasn’t proportionally matched the waist size of my jeans. About being able to wear anything in a store. About the side effects of the Pill. About giant clumps of hair falling out in the shower. About how every doctor I’ve discussed it with has warned me that my PCOS makes it “extremely difficult for [me] to lose weight and keep it off.” About denying myself something and thinking that denial made me a better person than I was before. About jumping rope 2000 times and earning two black belts and dashing up the stairs after a student. About losing weight without trying, probably due to the stress of a really bad work situation. About not being comfortable eating. About loving running and how it damaged my knees in a way that $500 orthos (after insurance!) couldn’t repair them. About my taekwondo involvement fluctuating with my general level of happiness in Korea. About “love weight.” About the fact that many Korean women are thin but still mostly made of fat, even if they look tiny. About how my current crop of friends—and Good Man, most definitely—don’t give a damn about my weight. About which dresses and cuts of clothing look great on me. About being emotionally and mentally consumed with calories, fat, fiber. About being consumed with this and yet being told by society that this obsession was perfectly appropriate and considered “healthy.” Healthy?!?

I looked at my co-teacher. “Do you know Margaret Cho?” She shook her head. After a brief explanation, I quoted her.

“‘For me to be ten pounds thinner is a full-time job, and I am handing in my notice and walking out the door!'”

山 Comes In Useful

금강산도 식후경

Last night I started actually learning the 2 Dan form, 금강. Geumgang is a mountain in North Korea, right over the border, and is considered may many Koreans the most beautiful mountain on the peninsula. (I believe Sorak-san is considered the second most beautiful.) You can do tours to the area or drive in your own car, but I haven’t gone and probably won’t before leaving.

Now, Geumgang the taekwondo form is another beast entirely. There’s this waist-twisting, foot-stomping thing that confusing the heck out of me. When you do the foot stomp, you end with your arms in the air so that the shape of your arms and head makes the Hanja for mountain: . The shape of the entire form (as seen from above) is also that of a mountain.

Sabumnim the Man could tell I was struggling a bit. He patted me on the back and said, “어려워요.” It’s hard.

“이상해요.” It’s strange, I replied.

During our break I started jumping rope while Sabumnim the Man started doing stretching exercises. A student would sit in front of him, legs spread, and he’d also sit, legs outstretched, pushing his feet against their legs while pulling their body forward as he leaned back as far as possible. My studiomates were whining, but I really wanted to try it. After I’d done 600 turns and it looked like he was going to start class again, I said, “그 하고 싶어요.” I want to do that.

He seemed surprised and pulled me into position. He also seemed impressed by how far I stretched. It felt really, really good though. Sometimes you need that extra push.

Tonight’s class was good, too. Lots of kicking drills and then some sort of calisthenics obstacle course. It was hard work and my entire body ached by the end of it. A nice feeling.

“비밀! 비밀!”

Good Man came over Monday night and we ended up speaking Korean—only Korean— for a good 45 mins to an hour. At one point I lay down on my bed to think about what I was going to say next. I was trying to formulate something or other in my head.

We also got into a minor cultural tiff over something. I didn’t know the word for “private” but kept speaking Korean with “비밀! 비밀이야!” Secret! It’s a secret!

It was nice only speaking Korean with Good Man. I need to figure out how to convince him to do it again.

Finally, I’ve started working on the 3A workbook. One thing I like: the grammar summary at the back of the workbook, meaning I don’t have to tote around the textbook while working on the workbook. Things I don’t like: the grammar summaries no longer seem to include irregular rules and the examples in the workbook are in this faux handwriting font.

Also, I’ve passed the midway point of the graphic novel version of 어린왕자. Despite the ups and down of studying Korean, I know the only way I’ll become fluent is to keep at it.