Sunday, April 9, 2006

Going to Korea

Hi all,

I've decided to go to Korea to work as an English teacher. After many delays (I first thought about this back around January) I'm just about ready. A few weeks ago I had to send some documents off via US Postal Service, now my papers have been approved by Korean immigration and on Tuesday I should be able to pick up my work visa from the Korean consulate in downtown Chicago. I'll be living and working in northern Seoul, about one hour's drive south of the DMZ. In fact, if the North Koreans ever decide to invade, I guess I'll be right in their way! lol

I have not been to Seoul since 1992, and I'm sure many things have changed since then. I used to see old men in traditional clothes and straw hats sitting (or crouched resting on their feet, rather) in the middle of a busy street, scenic overlooks with a stall nearby selling microwaved corn dogs, discarded VCRs in a drainage ditch, and, the most unusual to me at the time, a female attendant in the men's bathroom. I remember my friend Pete, from the UK, found a perfecty good working telephone in the trash behind the KBS offices. At the time, the Seoul subway system had no English signs, only Korean, which I did not know how to read at the time (until an older British missionary who had been in Korea some 40 years gave me an index card with some language notes on it, for which I am eternally indebted to him).

image above: National Broadcasting Corporation/NBC tower in Chicago that houses the Korean Consulate)

For those of you wondering just how many people live in this here place I'm going to, here is a list of the world's top 30 cities and their populations (hint: Seoul's #4, Chicago is #28):

1Tokyo36 769 213Japan
2New York22 531 069United States of America
3México City
22 414 319Mexico
4Seoul22 173 711Korea (South)
5Mumbai/Bombay19 944 372India
6São Paulo19 357 485Brazil
7Jakarta17 928 968Indonesia
8Manila17 843 620Philippines
9Los Angeles17 767 199United States of America
10Dilli17 753 087India
11Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto17 524 809Japan
12al-Qāhirah/Cairo15 707 992Egypt
13Shanghai14 871 156China
14Kolkata/Calcutta14 681 589India
15Moskva/Moscow14 520 800Russia
16Buenos Aires13 470 240Argentina
17London12 524 316United Kingdom
18Tehran12 183 682Iran
19Karāchi11 969 284Pakistan
20Dhaka11 918 442Bangladesh
21Istanbul11 912 511Turkey
22Rio de Janeiro11 826 609Brazil
23Rhein-Ruhr11 793 829Germany
24Paris11 633 822France
25Beijing11 537 036China
26Lagos11 153 863Nigeria
27Krung Thep/Bangkok9 996 388Thailand
28Chicago9 464 886United States of America
29Kinshasa-Brazzaville9 343 416Congo (Dem. Rep.)
30Xianggang8 855 399China

No, I did not spend any military time in Korea. I was a worker for a missions/aid organization and visited 5-6 different cities on a ship. Mostly we sold books and collected medical and dental supplies for the newly-opened port of Vladivostok in Russia (which we visited that summer). I was in the army between 1993-94 but never went overseas (just Colorado) and finally was able to get a medical discharge and go to college on a scholarship... military life was just not for me!

I did try some dog in a Korean restaurant in northern China (when I was there in 2005); my mistake, I ordered the wrong soup, the menu was not in English or Korean, only Chinese. There were pictures, but they weren't very clear! Only after I had drank some of the soup and tried some meat did my friend let me know I was having dog. Not anything that you may want to eat, I think. I'll stick to kalbi and bulgogi instead!

My cell phone number will probably get cut off at some point, but give it a try anyways... and if all else fails, e-mail me! That's actually the best way to contact me, even in Korea (I'll probably spend most of my non-working time down the street at the local PC-방. As soon as I get to Korea, I'll let you know what my cell phone number is. I have three cell phones, all of them made by Samsung, and at least one of them should work in Seoul!


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