Blog Review: Jasmine Revolution brews in South Korea

Rainy Weekend, why so Angry?

Rainy Weekend, why so Angry?

Dalai Lama says, there are feelings we should voice, because speaking out makes us feel better, and there are other feelings we should not voice, because it won’t make us feel better at all, and only lead to feelings spiralling down further.

Which is probably true. But then, where would such a policy leave us bloggers?

MKL’s East Asian network has identified a rising Jasmine revolutionary tide  in South Korea which is set to kick all those English teachers out. Well, not all the English teachers, and not all the English teachers, but all those English teachers. English teachers who are native speakers of English, that is. Not the old ladies who teach in South Korean grammar schools. Maybe not even every native speaker.

If you are familiar with the sometimes ambivalent image of English teachers in China, you’ll know what I mean.

Anyway – some foreigners in South Korea with particularly high moral standards felt offended by the fact that you can find passed-out, i. e. comatose people in the streets who had a few glasses or bottles of alcoholic beverages too many. The foreigners felt so offended that they took pictures of the wine corpses and put them on the internet. They say that they believe that they can educate their host country that way.

By the Dalai Lama standards, they probably should have remained silent about their feelings.

The same seems to be true for the feelings of a South Korean blogger, who has the nerves to compare the pictures taken by the foreign moralists with those taken by American troops in Abu Ghraib.

Both blogs – blackoutkorea and englishteachersout –  are crappy – the content is crappy, and so is the design.

When it comes to MKL’s blog, only the design is crappy. I’d read there much more often if I was allowed to right-click links, to scroll by direction keys, and read the sourcecode. Reading his blog is a bit like walking around a big tank, or to climb it, to read all the messages pasted on it, which is unnecessarily inconvenient on a medium like the internet.

Happy weekend:



16 Comments to “Blog Review: Jasmine Revolution brews in South Korea”

  1. If you hold Ctrl while clicking on a link, it will open in a new tab. Happy weekend.


  2. Thanks for the advice!


  3. JR. Got over me hissy fit. Too few good blogs, and life is too short when one is addicted to posting.

    ESL in Korea. Look the country spends about 4/5% of its GDP on English classes, and to be honest the result is still really appalling English. That said, Koreans are just fabulous students and if you break a Friday night class and head for a soju barn, they are ready to make you president.

    On the downside, the Korean esl biz is swamped by young Americans – loudmouthed, badly dresssd, ignorant and not respectful of Korean culture (which is pretty xenophobic anyway).

    The govt is continually trying to reform the esl industry and their attitude to the horde of foreign teachers waxes and wanes, quite often driven by incidents such as this.

    They don’t need to be told collectively that they are a nation of soju/booze hounds. In 2001, they were third according to WHO stats on alcohol consumption – Slovakia, Russia headed them off at the pass.

    (That said, you would love that big board collage of 1920 cabaret posters I mentioned. Came from an anarchist squat in East Berlin before the Wall came down. These anarchist entrepreneurs were knocking down a wall to enlarge a beer bar they were running, and my friend rescued this truly brilliant cultural artefact. Has pride of place next to his Honeker (sic) portrait.)



  4. The prophet (Honecker) doesn’t count for much in his own country. Frankly, I find it kind of morbid to put the picture of the Great-Wall-of-Berlin-plus-firing-order architect on a living-room wall. But given that there are Germans who put Mao portraits on theirs, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

    As for South Korea, I’ve never been there, and never felt too attracted to go there, but the way English-teaching is organized in so many places in East Asia doesn’t look more promising to me than the reciprocal way of learning the language of ones host country while teaching English oneself.

    From what I’ve seen in China, some of the English teachers seem to do a very good job, but many others would only be good enough for conversation classes, once the students have become able to express themselves basically, and to understand slow English with reduced vocabulary. To get students to that point is the real teaching challenge, in every country.

    I also feel that some English teachers should really learn their own language properly, before wanting to teach it to others.
    There’s this weird ambivalence, too. If a school doesn’t show off some blond, blue-eyed English teachers, it can’t be a good school. And on the other hand, there is quite a degree of xenophobia.


  5. Is it just me or do other people piss themselves laughing when they see these pictures?


  6. I do like some beers and Schnaps myself occasionally, but the misery on those pictures doesn’t really make me laugh – neither the Koreans’ nor the foreigners’ misery. If such is the funnier side of their lives, I prefer not to think of the less funny sides.

    I think it’s normal to have too much alcohol occasionally at their age – but the pictures suggest that to them, it’s a way of life. Anyway – their problem, not mine.


  7. Hello

    I’m sorry to show you my ugly blog (really) as a follower of Dalai Lama 😛

    I just hopped to show them there is a man who (seemingly) continuously shouts “you are on a wrong way to go.”

    Strangely all English bloggers call mine as EnglishTeachersOut. But as you know, mine is WhoTeachesEnglishInKorea.. You know? I introduced it to Korean people with the real name, ‘누가 한국에서 영어를 가르치는가(= Who teaches English in Korea)’.

    Also, it made me down.. your expression “crappy”.. it’s my first time to see(or hear) the word. (because of my poor English.. keke)

    But okay 😉


    ※ I’m a design engineer who designs ‘mechanical logics’ in machines. Usually don’t like to get involved in social problems in which everyone easily has a conviction until his generates another (or more) big problem.


  8. Morbid!!!! Forget the high horse JR. He was also in Nicagarua during the Sandinista revolution and Guatamala when the death squads were operating with impunity. So the lounge room has a wide range of artefacts suited to all political persuasions. I certainly would not have taken such risks photographing recent central American history. Nowdays it is easy. One blogs away as a vicarious experience.


  9. Thanks for commenting, Bintz! I stand by my objections against your blog’s criticism, as you can imagine. That said, if I always followed the Dalai Lama policy, I wouldn’t have written about the whole story at all. I’m a blogger, and a story is a story. So nobody of us is free of fault here.

    Talking about freedom of fault / high horses, King Tubby:
    anyone is free to put on his livingroom wall whatever he or she likes, but I do find a Honecker picture on the wall morbid, whatever you say. Your Nicaragua story is another part of an explanation as to why it was so easy to get Honecker into exile (there were a lot of democratic Chileans who owed to him, too), but it is an unsuitable explanation as to why I should put H.E.’s picture on my wall.
    You could as well suggest that I should put a Khomeini picture on my wall, simply because he opposed the Shah of Persia.


  10. It’s interesting, anyway.

    Several years ago (or before the go-go era of the 1980’s, at least), many foreigners were surprised to find some drunken Japanese (most of them male) with business suits sleeping or passed out on the streets, and wondered whether this is the source of the so-called Japan’s miracle. Some said that the country is so safe that people can fall asleep on the roads.

    Now, it’s not the norm here. Alcohol consumption is steadily declining in the country, and many local bars are in line for bankruptcy. It’s in part due to a chronicle stagnation suffering the nation for so long time, which has made salary-men cut unnecessary spending like wandering for beer or sake. Japan’s beverage companies are looking for the other markets, especially China, for survival.

    I didn’t know drunken Koreans sleeping on the streets at night. They don’t look like businessmen, except a few, as long as I see in “Blackout Korea”. It might be kind of youth culture.

    One thing that I remember on Korea’s drink (not limited to alcohol) culture is that it’s polite for juniors to look the other way and drink with hands covering their mouth when they are with seniors. One of my Korean classmates once told me so. It sounds like strange, but I’ve found it the case giving that Korea is a very hierarchical nation even from the point of the Japanese (the Japanese which I know, of course).

    Anyway, Asia, including my country, is full of cranky netizens, who are supposedly calm and obedient in a real life but become very virulent on the net. I’m wondering whether it’s because societies are too oppressing that people cannot express their emotions at will. It’s just my opinion.


  11. “Binging” or “boozing” is “popular” over many places in Europe, too, Nihonjin. But if ppl lie there and don’t move, someone will usually call an ambulance in my town, to make sure that there isn’t someone dying of cold or poison.

    Is alcohol consumption really declining in liters, in Japan, or is it only declining in pubs, as ppl drink more at home?


  12. Japan’s overall consumption of beer has become less than one-half in 15 years. There is a kind of beer called “Happoshu”, whose ingredients are a bit different from beer. It was once very popular, but the consumption has declined to almost 40% of the peak in 2002. I’m not an expert of alcohol statistics, but I guess wine or Japanese sake also has the same decline.

    The change in lifestyle, as you said, has more or less influence in drinking liquor, as business people, the largest consumer of alcohol, tend to go straight home rather than drop by pubs. But it’s, as I wrote above, due to stagnation, in which the middle-class income has shrunk in 15 years. So, few people can afford to drink much either in bars or at home.


  13. Purchasing power has been going down here in Germany for almost a decade-and-a-half, too, but given that drinks can be bought cheaply in supermarkets, I believe consumption at home has risen in my country.

    Is there no big difference in price, between alcoholic drinks/beverages in Japanese pubs and in supermarkets?


  14. If you are satisfied with a beer-like taste, you can buy “Happoshu” (or some calls “low-malt beer”), which is about 30% cheaper than beer in grocery stores. That’s one of the reasons why Happoshu has recently become popular. I don’t think pubs serve Happoshu.

    I guess drinking generally costs you more at pubs. It usually includes more than the liquor cost. They have to hire someone to serve you, keep beer cool in refrigerators, or something else. Some pubs have cut retail prices dramatically to be competitive in the markets these days, so you may find a cheaper place.


  15. And smoking isn’t banned in Japan’s pubs?


  16. There are no laws to ban smoking at pubs in Japan as far as I know.


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