Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mark's big 2-9

Last week officially ended the three-month period that Mark can refer to me as the "older woman." Another 9 months of being the same age before it starts up again. I can only imagine how bad it's going to be next year when he can tell me I'm in my 30s and he's still in his 20s...

Anyway, on his birthday, we both had to work in the evening so we planned a fun little day out.

When Kevin & Alicia visited us, Birth Father took us to a total hole-in-the-wall restaurant that had the most amazing grilled beef and kimchi bokembap ever. Actually, that seems to be a common theme I've noticed here in Korea... the places that look like total dumps that you wouldn't take a second look at, seem to have the best food. Anyway, this isn't really a place we can go regularly now that we're back to being broke students, but it was a special occasion so we went for it.

So this restaurant seems really old school, and they start by giving you a cast iron skillet over a flame with a piece of fat in it to grease it.


Since it was Mark's birthday, I assumed the responsibility of cooking so he could focus on stuffing his face.


And here's the birthday boy looking soooo excited to dive in.


The meat is absolutely delicious, but I must say the kimchi bokembop (basically fried rice with kimchi) is my FAVE.

They start by cooking the kimchi, then they add the rice.


Then they mix it up and spread it out so the bottom can get all crispy and brown... mmmmm... Wish I could eat it every day.


As we were finishing our meal, out of nowhere, the blue sky turned gray and it started to absolutely pour. We had no umbrella, so we sat around and waited and waited for it to let up. But it wasn't happening and the subway was at least a 5 minute walk away. When we went to stand at the door to make a dash for it if there was a little break, the ajjumma who owned the restaurant came up and handed us an umbrella. She said to just take it with us. I have to say, that's one of the things that I love most about Korea. Every now and then people will just do the kindest, most unexpected things to help you out.

After we made it to the subway station, we went to a theater to see Predator. (See, I told you the day was all about Mark...)

Then the following night we met up with some friends, and Mark got his party hat and cake.

Mark Birthday 1

Mark Birthday 2

Mark's hanbok fitting

Here's the video of Mark getting fitted. How teeny tiny is the lady measuring him!??!

Friday, August 27, 2010


I can't remember how much information I've posted about Emily and SangKwun's wedding. So, at the risk of being repetitive, I'm going to share it again. SangKwun and Emily will have their Korean wedding ceremony on October 3rd at the Sheraton Walter Hill. Then on they will have their Chinese wedding in Emily's hometown (a little outside Beijing) on October 16th. And we're going to get to attend both weddings. SO exciting!

For the Korean wedding, Mark and I are both going to be wearing hanboks (traditional Korean clothing). So last week we went with Emily and SangKwun to a hanbok-maker and all of us picked out the fabrics, colors, and styles we want. We probably won't get them for another month or so, but I have to admit that I'm e.x.c.i.t.e.d. These hanboks are beautiful.

It's really overwhelming trying to choose - there are so many options.


Here's the hanbok-maker. And check out the samples behind her.


Mark was very sure that he wanted NO pink on his hanbok, so he and SangKwun ended ordering the exact same colors and very similar styles. The navy will be the pants, the cream is for the top and the light blue is the vest.


Emily and my hanboks may be somewhat similar too, but we chose a few different colors. If you can look at the picture sideways, that's Emily's design. And the guy's hanbok is almost exactly what SangKwun and Mark's will look like.


Then here are my colors. Unfortunately, I don't have the style picture, but it won't be that much different from Emily's. My skirt is going to be the pink color, and the top is white with a navy blue vest to match Mark's.


Pretty exciting stuff, right? I have an amazing video of Mark getting measured that I am in the process of uploading and will post shortly. :)

Goodbye Andy!

Remember little Andy from Poly School? You know, the super-genius kid that stole my heart? Well, he had his last day at Poly School a week and a half ago, so Mark and I went back to Poly to say goodbye to him. He was doing his little blinky eye thing trying not to cry... and according to some of the teachers the whole class had a cry at lunch about his leaving.

Bye Mr. Andy Bernard, I'm sure you'll do great things and it was so much fun knowing you!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sogang KLEC Semester 1 Recap

Hard to believe the first semester of Korean classes is over. It's been a great 3 months and I've seen huge improvements in my Korean. (Basically went from being able to say hello and thank you to forming coherent-ish sentences.) I've said it before, but I'm really glad we chose to take this little life detour.

Here's the building we studied in... Arrupe Hall. We were on the 8th floor. Next semester we'll be in another building.


We started every day with an hour of writing. Here is our writing teacher. She was incredibly patient and never seemed to mind when she had to correct the same mistakes over and over in my book.


And this was our main teacher, who we had for 2 hours every day for speaking class. She is so spunky and has a great sense of humor. If she wasn't our teacher, I'd have totally tried to be friends with her. Our classmate is having a party for the class and the teachers tomorrow night... maybe there's still time to make this friendship happen. :)


Oh and do you see all the cards on the board? That's an example of the little conversations that she would put up that we would then practice with our classmates.

Last is our listening and reading teacher. She was really good at explaining difficult things to us in Korean. For example, one of the new vocabulary words was an importing/exporting business. I'm not sure how she did it, but she managed to make us understand that while explaining entirely in Korean.


I like in this picture that there's the lightbulb above my head and "참!" which is what Koreans say when they realize/remember something. :)

Anyway, what a great first semester. Looking forward to what lies ahead, but am incredibly grateful to these awesome teachers for getting us to the point we are now.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


It's official. We've both passed level 1 and will be moving onto level 2 in two weeks.

::huge sigh of relief::

Monday, August 16, 2010


Every now and then Mark and I run across things that seem kind of crazy, but we try to brush things off as cultural differences.

But today's incident was by far the most insane we've experienced yet.

Mark joined this crappy little gym by our apartment in an effort to save some cash. Normally gyms in Seoul cost about $75-100 per month, but this one was $30/month. So I'm sure you can guess the condition of this place...

Anyway, the other MAJOR downside to this gym is that there is no A/C. Right now Seoul's temps are in the 80s and super-humid - actually I have no idea how Mark can stand it.

Today, as Mark was running on the treadmill and (understandably) sweating profusely, the owner came over and yelled at him for sweating. I'm not talking a short warning, it was a long lecture yelled at him in Korean. While everyone in the gym stopped and stared. And he proceeded to point to sweat on the ground and to tried to wipe it up.

Mark ended up feeling so awkward about the whole thing that he quit his workout early and just came home. Totally one of those times that I can't learn Korean fast enough. I was so fired up, I just wanted to go straight to that "gym" and explain the concept of a working out to this idiot. You own a GYM, buddy. You should expect some sweat along the way. Grrr...

Guess he was wanting Mark to work out Korean style, which is basically lift one weight, take a 10 minute rest on the machinery (reading the paper at this point is optional), switch to another machine and lift something once, rest, and then walk on a treadmill more slowly than a normal person would walk down the street. Oh and if you're feeling exceptionally ambitious there's the vibrating machine that basically just shakes your body to "loosen the fat." I'm not kidding. This is probably the most popular machine at the gym.

So if you ever go to a Korean gym, now you know the proper way to work out. Oh, and make sure to keep your sweating to a minimum, lest you get scolded by an ajosshi.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

This is why I love Korea

Mark sent one of his students a picture of the two of us and she said to him, "Wow you're really tall. And your wife is tall, too." Only in Korea would I be considered tall... I've been waiting my whole life to hear that. I don't think I'll ever leave. :)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Old and New

On the way to the dual citizenship seminar, Mark and I saw this.



Not sure what it was all about, but love the mix of ancient warriors in a modern setting.

Dual Citizenship Details

Yesterday, Mark and I attended a GOA'L seminar to learn more about the possibility of me getting a dual citizenship.


We learned that this is the first program by any country that will allow adoptees to reclaim their citizenship in their birth country. It's a great first step in recognizing adoptees as citizens of the country, even though they were sent abroad many years ago.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to getting the dual citizenship. A few of the major advantages (at least from my perspective) were:
  • being recognized by Korea as an equal citizen
  • ability to vote in elections -- which would, of course, be contingent upon my Korean getting much, much better
  • any children Mark and I had would be allowed to be dual citizens as well (though for males, they WOULD be required to serve in the military... so we probably wouldn't go that route)
  • Mark would qualify for the F2 visa, rather than the E2 visa -- so should we ever come back to Korea, high-paying jobs would be abundant for him. Seriously, all the good jobs around here seem to be for F2 visa holders.
  • And as a Korea citizenship, adopting from Korea would probably be easier (and hopefully cheaper). Actually -- Mark read that this is the first year that domestic adoptions in Korea outpaced international adoptions. That is mainly because the Korean government is really tightening up on international adoptions. They actually want to completely eliminate international adoptions by 2012. Who knows if that'll actually happen, but my being a citizenship would open a LOT more doors in that area.
The main disadvantages I saw were:
  • Since this is such a new program, there are still a lot of open ends and unanswered questions about some of the particulars.
  • I will have to sign a pledge to only use my Korean citizenship within Korea. So, services from the U.S. consulate and embassy would be unavailable to me when I am in Korea. That point was of concern to me, but having an American husband would allow me access to these services should I ever need them. (And I haven't yet.)
  • Oh and along with only using my Korean citizenship... once I became a dual citizen, the casinos will be closed to me. It's odd -- there are a couple casinos here, but they're for foreigners only and Korean citizens are not allowed to go. I told Mark before I start this process, I want to go check it out. Or it'll be something I'll always be curious about, just because I can't go. :)
  • My Korean passport will show my Korean name and my American passport will show my English name. They have said there could be some issues with airline tickets and general confusion with paperwork initially.
  • And this is a small factor -- but the general headache of all the paperwork, etc. that will go with changing this. Government agencies in Korea are so confusing to me.
A couple additional points I learned, were:
  • To apply for dual citizenship, you need to do it from within Korea. The whole process should supposedly take 5-6 months. But there were unanswered questions about whether it's necessary to stay in Korea for the entire process.
  • We can actually fill out an application now! I guess the magical January 1, 2011 date signifies when they will begin declaring people dual citizens.
Wow, so much information. If this process applies to you, I wouldn't rely on this. This is what I heard and what mattered the most to me. There's a really good link on GOA'L's website here that you can check out for more information.