Well, who wouldn't be?

One of the headlines on the front page of today's Korea Times reads "President Embarrassed Over Angry Buddhists". The article relates how the Venerable Abbot of one of Seoul's major temples was pulled over in a traffic stop, and in his estimation, dealt with unfairly by the police. Hidden agendas loom, and this can only be indicative of this Christian President's disrespect for the traditional ways of the Buddha. The story is inoccuous enough, but it is headlines like these that I enjoy when reading the Times, along with a decent Sports section and the crossword puzzle.
While the staff reporters technically adhere to the rules of English grammar and employ an ample vocabulary, they add a certain, and likely unintended, flamboyance that I rarely saw in their Canadian counterparts. To wit, the first paragraph of a page two article regarding recently implemented Internet regulations states "Enduring haymakers from angry regulators, politicians and newspapers, the country's top two Internet companies, NHN and Daum, find themselves dazed and confused." When's the last time you read of haymakers or disgruntled monks in your morning newspaper?


Six sad cicadas

Try saying that five times fast. Summer brings these boisterous beasts out aplenty in Korea. For OOFALWOians who have not heard the cicada's incredible song before, as we hadn't before moving to Seoul, it is a very distinctive high-pitched, vaguely metallic, almost electrical-sounding drone. And loud - no, loud doesn't quite cut it - how about cacophonous? The trees along the river path are teeming with the insects, and the noise is nearly deafening.

Using my newfangled language skills, I stopped a passerby to ask what the bug I was pointing at on a tree is called in Korean. They are called maemi, so all the way to school I practiced the sentence "Oneul maemi noraerul bureumnida - The cicadas are singing today" to awe my teacher. Turns out that Koreans don't say that the maemi are singing; instead, the maemi are said to be crying - which is a turn both more solemn and more poetic than the English.


The Seagull

We are currently in the deluge of Tropical Storm Kalmaegi, with pounding rain and a strong breeze ensuring a cozy Sunday spent inside the apartment. Thankfully we are at the dissipated tail-end of the typhoon's path, as it has already cut its swath to catastrophic ends in Taiwan and southern China.



A fifteen minute speedboat ride from the main beach of Saipan takes you to the islet paradise of Managaha. On the way there, we slowed to see a nearly perfectly preserved and intact Japanese fighter plane just metres below the surface, which served as a visceral reminder of Saipan's importance in the WWII Pacific theatre.

Once on Managaha, there's not much to do besides enjoy the magnificent setting.


Jeoneun haksaeng imnida.

While I had managed to pick up plenty of words and phrases and learn to read Hangeul since our arrival in Seoul, I had not taken any formal direction. So, in an attempt to not be a total chump for the rest of our time here, I signed up for a one month, four days a week, three hours a day Korean class as a way to pass my summer holiday. We started a few weeks ago from the very beginning, with the formation and proper pronunciation of the letters. Straight-forward enough, until the sounds we so assiduously practiced morph in combination to become something new. Then onto grammar, so devilishly labyrinthine and not entirely logical to this Western thinker. To wit: the straight English transliteration of the Korean sentence "The pencil is on the desk." reads "The desk on the pencil there is." Factor in thirty or so new vocabulary words each day and review tests to ensure we are doing the hours of expected homework, and this has become a challenging, rewarding, and very enjoyable mental exercise.


Blue skies, clear sailing

We have visited our fair share of islands and beaches, but neither of us have seen water as clear and blue or sand as fine and white as Saipan. Combine the snorkeling and tanning with identical daily weather reports (high of 88, low of 79, 70% relative humidity, and a 20% chance of isolated showers), and we were wishing for a longer vacation.


Happy Canada Day

141, really?! You don't look a day over 129!