Saturday, 1 March 2014

Some of the stuff I did in February

So here are a couple of the things I did in February.


Kim Jaehyuk and me
My friend Jaehyuk and I hadn't had an opportunity to hangout in a year. When I realized that a year has passed, I called him up and told him it is high time to get together. It is not that we are not in contact -- we occasionally chat on KakaoTalk and are KakaoStory friends, so we are up to date with each other's activities. However, it was just nice to sit in each other's auras again. (Something that electronic communication cannot offer.) With our mutual schedules so full, we decided to make appointments about every other month, long in advance.

Jaehyuk, who is Mr Korea 2013 and went on to represent Korea at the Mr International pageant in Indonesia last year, and I met during a martial art photo shoot some time back.

Seoul Art Center & Myung-Il's Play


When I lived in Korea the first time, one of my favourite places to go to were the Seoul Arts Center. I especially enjoyed going there on Sabbath afternoons, as their is a beautiful little mountain just behind it with some short trails, and in the evening there is a music fountain, or other enjoyable activities to do on a Saturday night. Unfortunately I don't live close to it anymore, so I seldom visit it these days. However, my friend Myung-Il, who is a theater director recently had her production "The Closed Door" there, so it was wonderful to go there again and reminiscent about the "good old days". Myung-Il's play was probably one of the best in her ouvre I've seen so far. I'm also starting to notice some recurring motifs, so I'm starting to think about writing an article on her work sometime.

Road FC

Since the gym I'm associated with also practise amateur MMA we sometimes attend MMA competitions. Road FC is a touring pro MMA championships in Korea -- it was a nice evening, although the fights were a little dreary at times. Luckily my friend John joined us so we had great conversations through the boring parts.

Friends' Graduation

Dr John, me, and Dr Leo

Speaking of John, he and Leo, another close friend, graduated recently--both getting their PhD degrees. It was nice to attend the ceremony and get a taste for what will hopefully also be my achievement this time next year.

Temple Stay

An interesting cultural experience was staying overnight at a Buddhist temple and partaking in the religious services. Their was much of the experience that I enjoyed and many things about Buddhism that I found appealing, but the experience also confirmed some ideas I had about the basic Buddhist worldview that I am at odds with. It is a religion that I can appreciate, but not one I can fully embrace.

Community Supported Agriculture

I decided to join a CSA-group here in Korea, which provide me with fresh, organic (i.e. non-GMO) produce from local farms once a week. I ordered a sample package (picture above) and after thinking about it, decided to join as of this (March) month, so from next week I will be getting my weekly supply of fresh organic food. Here is an explanation of CSA:

CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, is a mutually supportive relationship between producers and consumers where farmers are able to have a reliable market for a variety of products and the community is able to attain fresh organic produce from responsible local farmers. Consumers pay for a specific time’s worth in advance and every week, or every other week, a box of fresh in-season produce is sent to the consumer’s doorstep directly from the farm. This lump sum payment provides the necessary capital and safety for the farmer to successfully grow his/her crops and in turn the farmer provides the consumers with trustworthy, fresh organic food. While both producer and consumer may share and reap the benefits of a successful harvest, they also share the risks that are undertaken while farming.

See some pro's and con's of CSA here. CSA are also part of a greater WWOOF-network, something I'm thinking about -- even as a form of holiday. As a tourist, I'm not really into the typical touristy places. Instead, I like to see how the locals live and get my hands dirty with local activities. This I find to be a much better cultural experience that just going to tourist sights (although I may do that too). One way of getting involved with the "locals" in a country, and actually living with them and interacting directly is to go work on a farm. Here is how it works.


During January and February I saw a number of movies. The Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle are both really good films, but I found them disturbing. With both, after seeing them, I felt that this is exactly what is wrong with America (and the "West") today. Hedonistic greed. Speaking of problems in America, Dallas Buyer's Club was very touching with great performances. A story about HIV/AIDS and pharmaceutical companies' hording of medicine. (Greed again.) The most recent movie I saw, and the one that probably touched me the most was 12 Years a Slave. I came out of the cinema with an awful feeling in my stomach, as if I have just been given the news of a death in my family. It is not an easy film to watch, but it is a superb film. I force myself to watch these things, to remind myself of the evils man are capable of and hopefully be inspired to be a better person -- daily.

The new Robocop was a pretty good remake of the sci-fi action movie of my childhood. Similar to the remake of Total Recall, I found the new Robocop to be close enough to the original, but inventive enough for a new audience used to superb special effects and CGI. It didn't disappoint. I also watched some children's animated films. I strongly discourage anyone to see the new Tarzan movie. While the CGI was brilliant, I found the story to be quite poor and highly sexist. These gender stereotypes are not the values you want to teach your children. On the other hand, Disney's Frozen. It was beautiful on many levels and did a great job at dispelling gender stereotypes. I saw it twice.

I also watched Stephen Chow's new Kung Fu comedy, Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons. Such fun!

Students' Poems

After quite some time of editing, I finally got my students' poems published. Download the ebook for free here.

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