Drunk, Dying, or Both: Korea.

Today, I called several 5th grade students, one from each class, to my office after lunchtime. My intention was for them to bear witness to the nail-biting drawing that would determine which of the 5th grade classes would be the recipient of one Ultimate Prize known as the “Ramen Party”.

You mean we can eat Ramen? In class?!
You mean we can eat Ramen? In class?!

But of course, this is Korea, so instead of that I ended up dialing 119 with a homeroom teacher while the 12 year olds stared out the windows and chattered amongst themselves about the man who had just collapsed and appeared lifeless in the field behind the school.  Continue reading

Stuck in Seoul Without a Hostel? Siloam Sauna

Hypothetical scenario:

MERs has already run its course and killed off the weak. It is once again safe to leave your apartment in Korea.

You decide on a whim that it is totally possible to have a fun-filled weekend in which you travel from Daejeon to Seoul for a concert on Friday night, and then leave from Daejeon at 8 AM Saturday to go to Gwangju for the remainder of the weekend. That’s reasonable.

Because foresight is for losers.

Until, of course, you realize on your way to Seoul, that the concert, located well away from Seoul Station, doesn’t end until 11 PM, and the last train to Daejeon is at 11:30.

Still doable, in theory, right?

Except you’ve been to a concert before and know there are always encores, because fans are demanding and artists are narcissists. Also, once you’ve scratched and bitten your way close enough to the front to bathe in Tablo’s sweat (because you know that’s your true goal in life), you’ll have to fight just as hard back to the back and out of the building.

Oh, and the other 1,000 people who attended the concert are also going to want on that metro.

Honey, you are not making that train. Tickets sold out on Thursday anyway. Don’t worry about it.

But I don’t have a hostel booked! I don’t want to be wandering around by myself looking for a room!

Yeah, I don’t want you to do that, either. Terrible planning on your part, really. You should be ashamed. This exact scenario has most certainly never happened to me.

What do I do?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Stop ugly-crying, you'll be okay.

Step one: Stop ugly-crying. You’ll be okay.

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Can My Korean Neighbors Hear Me?

Back in February and March, a fresh crop of EPIK teachers flooded the schools, noraebangs and samgyeopsal restaurants of Best Korea and are now settling into their new lives.

This public service announcement is for you, new GET’s.

I see you, sitting in your matchbox sized apartment, eating your 83rd stir fry because how do you even cook with one burner, flipping through TV channels, searching for that one station you can’t remember the number of that plays the English movies and an occasional Law and Order episode. It’s 26, I think.

Anyway, by now, you’ve probably become familiar with the fact that your walls are a little more thin here than what you’re accustomed to, and you may find yourself wondering, “Just how much can my neighbors hear?”

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Lost Your ARC While Abroad? Don’t Panic!

Oh, you went on vacation recently, too? Cool!

What’s that? You also had your wallet, holding your precious Alien Registration Card, stolen by your scumbag taxi driver 45 minutes after landing in Shanghai, resulting in an almost ruined vacation and a Cambodian jail cell? Strange how commonplace that is! In Shanghai, of all places!


I have a lot of irrational hate for China I’m trying to work my way through right now, y’all.

That, however, is a story for a different time.

So you lost your ARC while outside of Korea. What happens next? Can you get back into the country with no ARC and, let’s say, only a passport with an (expired) visa as proof that you are legally allowed to be in Korea?

Good news: Turns out, yes! You might even be able to speed up the Incheon airport immigration check this way! (I would not recommend losing your ARC just to get through the line quicker.)

After my wallet, ARC inside, was stolen, all I wanted in life was to be safely back home in Daejeon, curled up in bed, rather than traipsing around Cambodia, discovering love at first sight and eating curry. Unfortunately, it was almost two weeks before I had the answer to the three questions constantly eating away at my good time:

1. Can I even leave Cambodia without my ARC? Will they even let me on the plane?

2. Will I get stuck at immigration in Incheon airport?

3. How do I replace my ARC?

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“Whatcha Got There?” Featuring Elementary Students: Episode One

“Liz-teacher! See this?”

Jaejoong was at the front of a rogue gaggle of 6th graders, walking towards me and thrusting a paper shopping bag in my direction as I reached the top of the stairs. I eyed him warily.

“Jaejoong, school ended at lunch time. What are you all doing here?”

Jaejoong ignored my question, leaving me with only the growing suspicion that somewhere in the school, somehow, something important was broken.

“Liz-teacher, see?” He continued to hold the bag in front of him as an offering. Jaejoong, however, was a 6th grader. A graduating 6th grader, at that. In three days, Jaejoong would be forever free from the halls of elementary school and begin afresh as a middle school student, far out of my reach. In effect, Jaejoong was invincible…and an untrustworthy, tricksy little 13 year old shithead.

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