Thursday, 30 September 2010

Skallabrak -- "Sandveldboertjie"

Die knapie weet darem maar hoe om daai bekfluitjie te blaas. In egte boere-bluesstyl.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Girls' Generation, Prostitutes and Pygmalian

This music video of Girls' Generation reminds me of the first time I ventured into a red light district in Korea. It was during my first few months in Korea. I was in the Yongsan area -- I went to the digital market to get some computer gadgets. I decided to take a short cut down one alley on my way to another subway line. I didn't really take much notice of the mannequins in the windows. Then suddenly, from the corner of my eye I noticed that the mannequins moved. It nearly freaked me out, but I soon realised that these were not well dressed mannequins displaying boutique clothes, but in fact prostitutes displaying another type of merchandise. I remember being shocked at how beautiful these model-like women were; hence me originally assuming them to be mannequins. I've seen some beautiful mannequins in my life and can sympathise with Pygmalion. I've often wondered who sculpts clothing store mannequins and if they are cast from real models.

South Africa's Media Freedom Under Siege


I've just signed an urgent petition calling on the ANC to protect our democracy and basic freedoms by reversing an unconstitutional secrecy Bill and a new proposal to gag the media. I thought you would want to join me. If enough of us come together now and oppose these initiatives, our outcry will be too loud to ignore.

You can read more below and sign the petition here:

Here's the original email ---

Dear friend across South Africa,

South Africa's democracy is at risk -- a draconian and unconstitutional new secrecy Bill is in Parliament and a Media Tribunal could be endorsed by the ANC Council this week, muzzling the media and letting the security agencies operate without accountability.

The secrecy measures in the "Protection of Information Bill" and the proposed "Media Appeals Tribunal" threaten press freedom enshrined in the Constitution and will hamper public scrutiny of the government and security agencies, blocking the media from exposing corruption and abuse of power. Hundreds of prominent South Africans, business executives, civic leaders and journalists have condemned the measures and submitted amendments on the Bill to Parliament, but so far the ANC is defending both proposals. Only massive pressure from citizens across South Africa can wake them up and preserve hard-won freedoms!

We have just 3 days to be heard at the ANC Council. Let's raise an irresistible outcry -- join the call for the ANC to listen to the people, respect the Constitution and promote accountable and transparent government! Click to sign the urgent petition, then forward this message to everyone – it will be delivered at the ANC Council:

43% of South Africans survive on no more than R16 a day and half of our youth are unemployed, while Transparency International claims "corruption is increasing at an enormous rate and it impacts severely on the poor. Revenue destined for the poor is misappropriated". These new proposals would obstruct the media's bold efforts to expose bribery, corruption and fraud and would lead this proud democracy towards autocratic control.

The proposed Protection of Information Bill would allow any national or local government department or agency to classify and make secret any information that they consider against the 'national interest' and would punish whistle blowers or journalists with up to 25 years in jail if they leak or publish information that was classified, even if it was in the public interest. This violates Section 32 of the Constitution -- which protects the citizens right of access to any information held by the State.

The Media Tribunal would replace the Press Ombudsman with a state agency accountable only to the ruling party, tightly regulating reporting, and imposing penalties on journalists.

Just like when citizens came together to call for effective treatment for HIV and AIDS in 2007, if we rally now we could change the course of these repressive policies and efforts to silence the media can be stopped.

The ANC Council meeting is the decisive moment -- if we lose this chance, the ANC's 60% majority in Parliament will most likely push these proposals through unchanged. Inside the ANC Council COSATU delegates and others are strongly against the gag law -- if we raise a massive citizens' outcry this week, we could support their efforts on the inside to overwhelm an elite who attempt to railroad through these undemocratic proposals.

Sign the petition and forward this message to everyone.

Many fought, and died, for these freedoms. Now, if citizens stand up together to protect South Africa's democracy, our outcry will be too loud to ignore -- and we will beat those who want to protect their power and privilege by curbing constitutional liberties.

With hope and determination,

Alice, Paul, Ricken, Benjamin, Emma, Giulia, Pascal, Iain, Paula and the whole Avaaz team

More information: was launched in January 2007 with a simple democratic mission: work with citizens everywhere to help close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want. In three years, Avaaz has grown to over 5.8 million members from every country on earth, becoming the largest global web movement in history. Avaaz's largest membership is in Brazil and France and Mexico and India are two of Avaaz's fastest growing memberships this year. This campaign is being launched with the nearly 60,000 Avaaz members across South Africa.


"SA journalists fight proposed media laws", Mail & Guardian

"It's your right to know, public reminded", Iol/Cape Times

"Media Appeals Tribunal" proposal in the ANC Discussion paper on "Media Diversity and Ownership"

South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign: Combining Law and Social Mobilization to Realize the Right to Health, Mark Heywood

Van Coke Kartel

"Daar was 'n tyd toe musiek nog vir ons heilig was; toe die dwelms not besonders was; en toe jou vriende nog verstaanbaar was . . ." -- Van Coke Kartel

Besonderse Afrikaans.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Kim Jong Il's Successor?

The Washington Post reported yesterday (Tuesday, September 28) that dictator-president Kim Jong Il promoted his youngest son and his sister to high military rank positions. It has been rumored for quite some time now that the young Kim Jong Eun (27), the youngest of three sons, is considered the likely heir of the cultic dictatorship. That he should promote his sister, Kim Kyong Hui (64), as a four star general as well is quite a surprise. Then again, Kim Kyong Hui’s husband is none other than Vice-Chairman of the National Defence Commision, Jang Song Taek.

I doubt the Worker’s Party will accept a woman as the ailing Kim Jong Il’s successor, but they could possibly accept her as regent while her nephew is groomed into his role. But will the Army accept them? Neither Kim Jong Eun (who spent his childhood in Swiss boarding schools) nor his aunt Kim Kyong Hui served in the military, so there new general statuses are basically “honorary degrees.” Will the other military generals who served for decades in the military value the ranks of these Kims?

Monday, 27 September 2010


Fallen from Sascha Geddert on Vimeo.

Enlightenment often comes during moments of crisis. A really beautiful little movie.

Top 10 Action Heroes

A recent poll narrowed down the Top 10 Action Film Heroes, with Sylvester Stallone at the top. Here's the list:

#10: Jason Statham
#9: Will Smith
#8: Chuck Norris
#7: Angelina Jolie
#6: Stevel Seagal
#5: Jean Claude Van Damme
#4: Bruce Lee
#3: Bruce Willis
#2: Arnold Schwarzenegger
#1: Sylvester Stallone

If I have time later I'll see if I can come up with a list of my own, which would have looked somewhat different and would have included Keanu Reeves -- not merely for his Matrix films, but also his other action movies like Johnny Mnemonic, Speed, Point Break and Constantine. Who would you consider an important inclusion on your list?

Sunday, 26 September 2010


The last couple of days I spent in Jeju-Do, Korea's largest island -- south-east of the peninsula.

Last week Wednesday was Chuseok in Korea, whereupon people return to their respective "home towns" to bring tribute to their ancestors. It is a holiday focussed on family and food, similar to Thanksgiving in America. Both the day before and after Chuseok is customarily public holidays as well. My work also gave my Friday off so I had a holiday from Tuesday until today during which I went to Jeju.

I went with a group of people, none of whom I know, but most of them were quite amiable. I met a handful of individuals whom I hope to enjoy their company with again. The highlight of trip was definitely the days I went open-water scuba diving -- the first on a small island off of Jeju called Moonseon, and the other a beach dive. In all I did four open-water dives as part of the scuba diving certificate course I started with a while back.

If I have time I will write up some of the experiences I had on the trip and hopefully include some photos.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Consider This

The first season of my brother's youth related unscripted talk show is nearly finished. He sent me the links to the following three segments of their pilot episode. The show will be aired on the Hope Channel and on other interested networks. My brother acted as director / producer for the show; he is also the chief post-production editor.

At the beginning of the year while they filmed the show I was invited to sit in on one of the discussion panels, discussing Christianity versus Secularism.


On Wednesday it will be Chuseok -- Korea's Thanksgiving Day during which people trek back to their home towns where they spend time with their family and bring honour to their ancestors. The days before and after Chuseok are also public holidays so that people can travel. The traffic during Chuseok is horrendous and public transport like busses and plains are often sold out weeks in advance.

For Chuseok I'm going to Jeju, the big island off the south of Korea. My intention is to go scuba diving but I came down with the flu. My first scuba dive is planned for Wednesday; I'm hoping that I will feel better by then. It is dangerous to dive when you're ill, since with congested sinuses one cannot properly equalize under water. So today I spent much of the day just sleeping and although I'm commencing my travels tonight, I will try to spend most of it resting. The same for tomorrow -- I'm hoping to spend as much time sleeping as possible.

I'll be sure to take photos and share them when I come back in about a week.

A happy Chuseok to everyone!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Cuppuccino en slapelose nagte

Gistermiddag moes ek bietjie tyd omkry aangesien ek vroeer stad toe was, voordat my Taekwon-Do-klas begin. Wel om die tyd om te kry het ek in 'n koffiewinkel/kroeg gaan sit met 'n boek in die hand. Die plek het nie warm sjokelade gehad nie so toe bestel ek maar 'n cuppuccino. Ek behoort van beter te weet. Aangesien ek byna nooit koffie drink nie, affekteer kaffeien my nogals sterk. Ek is na een in die oggend bed toe. Dis nou byna vyf in die oggend en ek is reeds wakker. Ek is moeg maar kan nie slaap nie.

Vanoggend moet ek op kantoor wees vir 'n 8:30 vergadering. Gelukkig het ek dan 'n paar ure oop voor my eerste klas. Dalk kan ek terug kom huis toe en vinnig 'n uiltjie knip.

Alexander McQueen's the Man! [And so is Lady Gaga. And let's not forget about Bjork.]

I love Alexander McQueen's designs. His 2009 Fall Men's Collection was one of the most interesting fashion collections I've taken note of. I wanted to blog about it but forgot completely. Then suddenly, the following design by McQueen reminded me about it.

Again McQueen impressed me with his great ingenuity. Yes, it's Lada Gaga dressed in a frock made of raw meat -- or at least it resembles raw meat. I doubt it's the real deal. And wasn't it for the connotations, it could actually be a "beautiful" dress. Lady Gaga said that it was meant to make a statement about [women?] being viewed as "a piece[s] of meat." This was one of the outfits she wore during the recent MTV Video Music Awards. Credos to Lady Gaga for making the pop world more interesting.

If you don't know it yet, Lady Gaga won eight awards, including the best video of the year.

This meat dress is probably the most talked about outfit since Bjork showed up as a swan for the 2001 Oscars.

Monday, 13 September 2010


So paar weke gelede het ek twee Sondae in 'n ry die heeldag, vandaf 8:30 tot 17:30, deur gebring in 'n noodhulpkursus. Gister het ek my twee amptelike sertifikate gekry, een vir "First Aid" en die ander vir "CPR Course for Adult/Child/Infant," uitgereik deur Korea se Red Cross. Ek het op laerskool laas 'n noodhulpkursus gedoen en het gedink dat dit hoogtyd is om weer my vaardighede op te skerp.

'n Daaropvolgende Sondag het ek 'n inleidende kursus tot Hapkido gereël, wat 'n 5de Dan vriend van my aangebied het. Dit was 'n goeie werkswinkel en lekker om weer die basiese beginsels van Hapkido te verfris. In 'n onlangse skrywe op by Soo Shim Kwan-blog het ek terloops daarna verwys, maar het nog nie 'n kans gehad om werklik daaroor ter rapporteer nie. Ek het dele van die seminaar op video vasgelê en hoop om dit eventueel te redigeer en êrens beskikbaar te maak -- dalk op YouTube.

Verlede Sondag (gister) het ek die eerste deel van 'n skubaduikkursus gaan bywoon. Gedurende volgende week is Korea se Chuseok-vakansie. Chuseok is Korea se dankseggingsdag waartydens mense terugkeer na hulle tuisdorpe om daar tyd saam met die familie deur te bring en ere te bring aan hulle voorouers. Aangesien dit vir my byna 'n hele week van vakansie inhou het ek besluit om na Jeju-eiland, Korea se grootste eiland te gaan. Daar wil ek graag gaan skubaduik, en dus dan die rede vir die "Open Water Course" wat ek gister bygewoon het. Ons het in 'n swembad geoefen. Dit was lekker om myself soos 'n seeleeu te gedra. Volgende week sal ek die res van die kursus by Jeju-eiland gaan voltooi. Ek moet sê dat ek my tyd onder die water baie geniet het en kan byna nie wag om dit in die ope see te gaan doen.

Ek probeer my Sondae vul met verrykende ervaringe. Sabbatte spandeer ek gewoonlik rustig, maar Sondae is 'n aktiewe rekreasiedag vir my. Ten minste daardie Sondae waartydens ek die vorige aand nie te laat opgebly het nie. Twee Saterdagaande terug was so 'n aand. Ek het uitegegaan om 'n vriend te ontmoet wat oppad landuit was. Ons het so lekker gekuier dat ek my moltreinrit verpas het en het toe maar die hele aand opgebly en gewag vir die moltrein om weer die volgende oggend te begin hardloop rondom vyfuur die oggend. Sulke Sondae doen ek nie veel nie. Slaap maar laat en gaan kyk dalk 'n fliek in die agtermiddag.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Parkour, Friends and Stuff

A couple of years back I started doing Parkour. I met up with the "father" of Parkour in South Africa, Dane Grant and we just hit it off from the start. A wonderfully strange friendship developed practically immediately, which have stayed consistent even though we have only been in each others' company a handful of times. Dane has started to make the most of his Parkour experience and has recently starred in the Dunlop Zone advertisement below.

Dane learned Parkour from the founders of this art while he lived in England. When he returned to South Africa he started up Parkour - South Africa, to develop the art locally. It has grown tremendously; practically all major cities in South Africa has troupes of traceurs (people that practise Parkour) enjoy the freedom to be gained from this art of movement.

The video below is "The Making of Dunlop Zone", and shows how the add was put together. I'm sure my friends in the advertising business and video production will be interested to see it. The cinematography and editing are excellently done and, of course, my Parkour brothers are amazing!

Unfortunately I haven't done much Parkour since I've been in Korea. My time have mostly been taken up by all my martial art training. As the season changes and it becomes less hot and rainy, I do hope to go for a couple of runs before it turns cold and icy again.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Darth Vader Does the Tai Chi Sword Form

As a fan of both Star Wars and martial arts, this is just right up my alley.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

"Life Goes On" -- Burning Hepburn

The title track from the Korean punk-rock band Burning Hepburn's latest album. I like Korea's indie music scene. They are not afraid to be different in a culture that prizes conformity.

Credos to Indieful ROK.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Pohang Fishermen

Pohang: Homigot-Sonsopkomsplein

Op die buitewyke van Pohang ('n hawestad aan die ooskus van Korea) is 'n plein gebou ter ere van die nuwe millenium en die sonlig wat hier eerste aanwal gekom het. As ek dit reg verstaan is die Homigot-kaap die mees Oostelike punt van die Koreaanse skuureiland. Buiten vir die plein is daar verskeie ander strukture, insluitende 'n misterieuse hand wat uit die see uitkom. Die beeld vind sy maat aan land. Die twee bronshande simboliseer harmonie en voorspoed. Onder aan is 'n klompie fotos van die seehand en een van sy maat.

Pohang: Songdo Beach

During August I visited Pohang City on Korea's East Coast. Walking around I discovered a run down peer at Songdo Beach. It must have been a flourishing market district at one time, but development elsewhere had probably damaged Songdo's economy. Or maybe a typhoon struck it and it just never recovered. The once beautiful peer with its many open-air restaurants had become a "ghost town," leaving behind hauntingly beautiful images. Here are some photos I took.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Thailand: Grand Palace / Temple

Some photos I took of the artwork that is part of the temple at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand.

Thailand: Grand Palace

Some photos of the Grand Palace and surrounding architecture -- Bangkok, Thailand.

Thailand: Guardian Figures

On the second to last day of my trip in Thailand last month I went to the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The following are some photos of guardian statues I saw there.

Friday, 3 September 2010


I'm not really crying like an anime school girl because this emotional roller-coaster week ended with my poetry class being cancelled. Nonetheless, I am disappointed. But for the first time since I started this job I will actually have the teaching hours of a normal university lecturer. This means that I can do other things, channel my energies into things that I have neglected. I have more than one option and am considering doing one (or two) of the following over the next couple of months:

  • Study Korean
  • Write an academic article
  • Start a research project
  • Edit and submit my poetry to a publisher 
  • Get a Korean driver's license 
  • Start a creative writing / poetry writing club

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Typhoons, Poetry and the Case of the Vanished Basil Continues

Typhoon Kompasu hit Seoul much earlier than expected – even before I went to work this morning. On my way to my office it was all too evident that a terrible storm had hit us, all unbeknownst to me. The campus is littered with leafs, broken branches and the odd uprooted tree.

This morning only five students showed up for the poetry class. Later the number of registered students dropped to six and I started to make my peace with the fact that I won’t be teaching it. Later the day the number changed back to seven students again. By 3pm it was still seven. I thought that would mean that everything is safe and that the class would not be cancelled. It turns out that the deadline was not 3pm today, but 3pm tomorrow. So the suspense continues.

As for the Case of the Vanished Basil, I sent the following little email to the other residence in my apartment building:

Dear Residence of Building 4,

This morning when I went to the department meeting all my herbal plants were still on the wall in front of our apartment building. When I returned an hour later, two of my little basil plants had disappeared and a new little orange pot plant stood on the wall.

If any of you had moved my basil plants could you please put them back, or if anybody you are acquainted with (i.e. movers, family, friends, etc.) took them, I'd appreciate it if you replace them. They may look a little shaggy but I am quite fond of them nonetheless.

Friendly regards,

It turns out that my email offended some of them, saying that I clearly accused two of them in particular. What can I say? If the shoe fits . . . In the meantime I’ve moved my remaining herbal plants inside to protect them from further storms or other mysterious raptures.

How does the accompanying image fit with this email? I'm not sure either.


A man destined to hang can never drown . . .
A man destined to drown can never burn . . .
A man destined to fry can never ever ever die . . .
in any other way.
Lucky that I’m dying by hanging and not by drowning.
-- from “Daniel Cowman” by Regina Spektor

Typhoon Kompasu Coming for Korea

The video above shows Typhoon Kompasu as it made landfall over Okinawa, Japan, yesterday.

Kompasu is heading for Seoul, but is expected to have lost much of its initial streagth and may only be a level two storm by the time it hits us later today. However, its effects are already felt. Subway Line 1 is down -- the weather is suspected. This means that many students won't be able to get to the morning classes on time.

How will this affect my Poetry Class? If there are fewer students for the class at 10am this morning, some students may assume that the class will not continue in which case they may decide to drop this class and enroll for other classes to fill up their required credits. Is it the weather that will be the deciding factor as to whether I'll teach this class this semester? How poetic!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The Case of the Vanished Basil

Outside my apartment building I have three small pots and one large pot with basil. This morning when I went to work for our weekly department meeting (at 8:30am!) I inspected my little plants with a sense of pride. I've harvested basil leafs just a couple of days ago and the basil plants had already sprouted new leaves. After the department meeting I returned home for breakfast, but as I passed my plants two of the small plants had vanished. I have my suspicious as to whom might have taken it, but I cannot prove it. It really upsets me that people could just feel it appropriate to take something that clearly belongs to someone else. I know it is just two little basil plants; still, I'm quite fond of my basil plants. I grew them from seeds and struggled to get them to the size they are now where I can harvest from them. Not to mention that it very difficult to get basil in Korea, whether dried or fresh. I'm quite upset, too be honest. If this person had asked me for some, I would have given her/him a plant.

National Book Week

Next week, starting 6 September, is South Africa's first National Book Week.The best way to celebrate it is to help with the promotion of reading amongst our younger generation. There are absolutely excellent children's and youth fiction -- youngster just need to be introduced to the pleasure of reading and I'm confident they'll be hooked.

My own enjoyment of reading comes from my mother who encouraged me to read at a very early age by providing me with all sorts of interesting books. Although I did not regularly read as a child the seed was planted and by the time I reached adolescence I rediscovered reading and have been reading both fiction and non-fiction regularly ever since.

I suggest supporting programs like the Metz & Bob book donation (see the poster) or visit your local library and see how you can support the programs they will be running. If you're a parent or if you have nephews and nieces, why not by them an interesting book to celebrate National Book Week. And while you at it, get yourself a good book and instead of watching TV next week, switch of the noise and settle in rediscover the joys of reading. You could even challenge yourself to read at least one book during National Book Week!

Poetry (Class) Blues

So my poetry class is down to seven students. One student, when I asked her why she thinks this is, told me that the Korean students prefer to receive literature instruction from Korean lecturers because its easier for them to understand. Studying English poetry in a language other than English seems to beg the question, but then again, I'm the foreigner in this country. Since 19th & 20th Century American Poetry is not a required course, if the student number drops below seven it will automatically be canceled. The deadline is tomorrow at 3pm. Alternatively, I can decide to cancel the class now if I so choose. Or I can hope that the number will stay at seven students and if it does the class will continue with a handful of dedicated students that are truly interested in poetry and accepts my teaching style, which requires critical thinking -- a rare requirement in an education system that places its emphasis on memorization.

If the class is canceled it would mean three extra hours a week for me that I will have free, not to mention the time it would free up that I would have spent on class preparation and grading. The con is that I will get a cut in my pay check of around $300 a month for the next six months, which adds up to a loss of $1800 (nearly R13 000).

To be honest, I would like to teach the class as it is the only literature class I'll be teaching this semester. I love teaching poetry; I see myself as a teacher of poetry before a teacher of language skills and academic literacy. It is the only class on the list of classes that I'm teaching this semester that truly gets me excited. However, if I were not to teach the class, the extra off time could be greatly spend on research and academic writing -- something I've been grossly neglecting over the last two years. I would also have the time to start an extra-curricular class in poetry writing. My master's degree is in Creative Writing and I'd really enjoy teaching creative writing, particularly poetry writing. With extra time available I'd be able to start an "English Poetry Writing Club".

So the count down starts. There are about twenty six hours until tomorrow 3pm at which point I'll know if this class will continue or not and how the rest of my semester will be affected.