to market, to market

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

As we were walking through the traditional market the other day, I thought about how we no longer think twice about sights that originally seemed so strange. Okay, I will admit that some of them are still strange. I'll add that we don't do most of our shopping here. We buy produce occasionally, but mostly come down for beans (pinto, black, etc.) that we can't find elsewhere and the little foreign food shop that has good prices.

Matthew & Liam exploring

fairly normal produce

dried fish (anchovies on the bottom, with squid strips and shrimp above)

and more dried fish

fresh seaweed

and dried seaweed

many varieties of kimchi

not to be confused with..."Korean freezer food"

and more "freezer food"


the dried squid for which Sokcho is known

and, finally...outside a butcher's stall...I'll let you figure out what it is:

job security

Several times each week Matthew brings home essays and diary entries to correct. Some are from his advanced classes and are well written. Most of them are assigned by his Korean co-workers and those can be the most entertaining. I often help him correct them because (a) I might as well use the degree we're still paying for and (b) they're entertaining.

It's good to know that Matthew's skills as a native English teacher will be needed as long as we choose to stay here.

Here are a few of ones.

#1: Subject: My characterist!
Feb/21 (토요일)

My mom called me.
"[Girl's name]! 2 Socks gave down on street."
but, I gave down one box socks.
So, My mom said, "You're foolish."
And, I come back home.
I thought for foolish.
"[Girl's name]"

#2: Untitled

Today, I went the kumdo academy. And I start kumdo. Today I had worn hogu. After about 10 minutes. Suddenly, I felt the call of nature. So I had tried to go. I nearly taken bamboo knife in bathroom of forgetand. In bathroom, someone turn off the bathroom light. But, my friend is turn on the light. After about 40 minutes, I went home. But, I nearly taken bamboo knife in home. I may be amnesia.

#3: Sunday, Feb. 22nb

Today I ate a hamburger. It is very delicious. embryo was very very sick. So I go to the bed.
I think, 'I may have a stomachache.'
But, no It was Ok.
I will not eat hamburgers...
The hamburger may have spoiled.

more babies, please!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Not for me...for South Korea.

One of my "followers" (using that term makes me feel like a cult leader) commented on how strange it is that the Korean government is monetarily rewarding people for having children. That's because South Korea has one of the lowest (2nd only to Hong Kong) birth rates in the world: 1.08% in 2006. There are several factors that contributed to this decrease.

Forty years ago, the average Korean woman married young and had an average of six children. The shift to urban life, with higher education for women and less need for a "family work force" has dropped that number to 1.17 children per woman.

As each generation tries to create a better life for their children, parents are overwhelmed by the rising cost of pre-school, hagwon (private after-school programs like the one where Matthew works), and university, not to mention all the stuff that modern kids supposedly need. And, let's face it, Koreans are competitively materialistic. The game of keeping up with the Kims puts the Joneses to shame. Most people can't afford to have more than one or two children.

Oh, and then there's the former government programs. That's right, starting in the 1960s, the government discouraged citizens from having too many children. One slogan was, "Give Birth Without Thought and Keep Living Like a Beggar." Subtle, no? The government encouraged and subsidized vasectomies and tubal ligations until as late as 2005. Now they're paying to reverse those same vasectomies. Oops!

I wrote earlier about the debit card I received to defray my prenatal care. Some provinces give money directly to people who have more children, especially in smaller cities and towns where the population is rapidly aging. Our province, Gangwon-do, pays for "kindergarten" (pre-school that children can start as early as two years) for third or subsequent children.

Only time will tell if these measures help. If not, the South Korean population will decrease 13% by 2050.

Further reading:


We've signed on for a second year, so there will be another year of domestic bliss for you to read about.

Sokcho's (non-fatal) Fire Festival

Sunday, February 15, 2009

a picture is worth...?

W10,000 to the first person to explain this to me.
(Location: the waiting room outside the nursery at JoongAng birthing hospital)

another one for the "what were they thinking?" file

Monday, February 9, 2009

Stampede at fire festival kills 4 in South Korea

We have our own Fire Festival (AKA Fire Water Festival) going in Sokcho (right across the main road in Expo Park) this week. Luckily, Sokcho officials seem to be a bit brighter than those in Cheongnyeong. All fires here are self-contained.
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