Posts Tagged ‘seoul’

IF the person who signs your contract goes to jail…

March 23, 2010

Most of the English teachers who work within the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) would have had their contracts signed, or pre-signed by Gong Jeong Taek (공 정 택.) Now this may be an assumption based on my own personal experience, I will say that. But, I have a mock up of my contract, which I had to print out and sign. This was co signed by Mr. Gong.

When I was looking for a specific article regarding my exit allowance I showed my co teacher my document.  He explained to me that Mr. Gong is now in jail for corruption. I have not found any articles stating that he did go to jail, however. I did find that according to this Korean Herald article, he was forced to resign from his post. At the time of the investigation, many principles and education staff were arrested as well. Apparently, he was accepting bribes. These bribes would then determine which candidates would become principles within the education system.

This is from the Korean Federation of Teacher’s Association.

The allegations of widespread corruption and abuse of power at the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education reveal an organization that is rotten to the core. What are our children to learn from these “educators?” What kind of education can such a dysfunctional education office offer? It is time for a complete revamp of the education office.

You can find the link here.

I guess all the worry regarding native English teachers, might be diverted for a little while.


Seoul Horse Racing.

March 15, 2010

Well, I went to the horse races. It was pretty fun!

We arrived there and made our way to the foreigners lounge, a somewhat quiet and smoke free lounge mostly filled with foreign born Koreans or Japanese men. Later on there were a few western stragglers, probably too hungover from the night before to make it there any earlier.

Coming out of the subway the crowd diversity narrows into a steady stream of 40 – 50 year old Korean ajjoshis (married men – assumed). As you make your way into the pavilion you first see a small track where you can check out the horses from above as they walk around or stand in their paddock. I skipped that part and made my way inside. When we figured out that the foreigners lounge was down at the far end of the grand stands, we set off to find it. The place seemed endless and everywhere you looked were old men and a few women set up with their weekend guide book to see who would be the favorites to win. Everyone was checking and rechecking numbers and stats to figure out which horse was going to be their payday.

I have to admit I got pretty into it. Once we figured out how to read the guide book we started making bets. There are a few options with the bets, you can pick who will place (in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd), who will get first, who will come in 1st and 2nd (in any order, and also in the correct order) it goes on from there. My favorite bets were who would come in 1st – 3rd, it just seemed most logical to win. Most of the guys, however, would place bets on the quinella, where you have to determine which horse will come in 1st and 2nd. My bet choice had the best odds for winning, worst for payout. I placed my bets, they can range from 10 cents up to 100 dollars. I chose to bet 2 dollars on one, and 5 dollars on another. In the end I lost $1 and made the rest of the money back. After that I was hooked, once I cashed in my ticket and placed my second round of bets I had a smile on my face that was hard to erase. By the end of the day I watched about 6 races and I was up 7 dollars, then down 2 dollars, then up 4 dollars then back down and finally lost 1 dollar. Pretty good entertainment for the price. I really like the fact that you can bet small amounts of money, you still feel bummed when you lose 50 cents, however.

Oh I should probably mention that this is the only place near Seoul where Koreans can gamble. The other was near my former town of Taebaek. Which explains the vast amount of people in attendance.  As well, the seats outside are quite a sight, everyone smoking frantically, ash flying in the wind, silence, then at the home stretch, curse words and very few cheers.

This is my short video of what it’s like.

Macaroni Market

February 10, 2010
What makes a food critic? I will look that up when I finish this sentence. How do you become one? Do you just have to like food a lot because I do.  Okay, well I looked it up. As I figured, you should probably study journalism. Some other tips included co owning a restaurant, working in a restaurant, researching and reading about food all the time. Write lots of reviews.

Okay so I don’t have these important qualities, but my only jobs (until now) have been in the restaurant industry. In fact I’m not even sure I have read a full review on any sort of food. For me, I want to know how the food and service are and then see a picture of the dish. How developed is the regular persons pallet? If I eat something and think it’s average, did the person that wrote the review thought it was great, does he have some hidden insight or did I just “out taste” him.

My food review without any previous experience or knowledge on the practice.

Restaurant: The Macaroni Market in Itaewon

Food: Macaroni and Cheese

Price: 12 000 won

It looks as though this is a popular dish to review. A quick search on the internet for this restaurant brings up a number of reviews. Why do I have to write another one? Perhaps my take is a little different, I’m not sure. I didn’t read their reviews, but I did see key words which led me to believe it was a really delicious dish. After living in a small Korean city for a year, my cravings for western food have become a lot stronger. Even though I have lived in Seoul for almost five months I have still not eaten a huge amount of western cuisine. When I went to this restaurant I intended to review the food. The reason I chose this restaurant was because of the description and pictures of another food blogger.

I assume the recipe changed a little between the time that myself and the other blogger went to the restaurant, as the price and presentation were slightly different. As far as the restaurant goes, as a building, it’s nice. There is nothing to complain about other than being confused about where the washroom was, but that was quickly resolved with the help of the staff. The complimentary bread and balsamic and oil were a nice touch. Something I haven’t eaten in quite a while. From what I remember other people gave this dish a pretty good review, reading parts here and there.

For me the other pictures looked more appetizing, I was hoping for some cheesy, home cooked style macaroni. That is what it looked like to me. The thing that disappointed me when I got there was that it had changed, it wasn’t the same at all. I thought I ordered the wrong thing,but when I got home and checked the picture I realized just the presentation and perhaps the amount of bacon had changed. The reason I didn’t find it  amazing was that the noodles were swimming in a pool of sauce. I don’t think the sauce should be overindulging, it should just coat the pasta. I’ve noticed this trend in a few places that I have eaten. I did enjoy the dish to an extent, I felt the use of lemon peel interesting, but in the end overpowering. I agree with what the other food blogger said, share the dish and get a salad or something else to go with it. It’s a bit too much for one person to eat, sure I ate it all, but by the halfway mark it was getting kind of bland and repetitive. Overall I would give it 6 out of 10.

Conclusion: I would go back to the restaurant, the service was great. I wouldn’t get that dish again though, I would like to try something different. On a side note I arrived at 3:00pm just as Sunday brunch was ending. We got turned away and had to wait till 5 till it opened again. They said that we couldn’t order from the menu. I’m not sure why since the brunch had ended, and the staff would only be prepping for the dinner rush and the restaurant did not close till four.

Paul Ajosshi’s Photo