Sunday, 30 December 2012

2012 in Retrospect

As is the custom, it is time for me to reflect again on the monthly highlights of the past year. Unfortunately, unlike the previous years (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) since I started doing this, I have not been very good at chronicling my life, mostly because I've been working too hard, leaving me seldom in the mood for blogging. Hopefully I can recall the most significant events. But sometimes life is not about what happened, it could also be about the things that didn't happen. For instance, 2012 was the year in which I should have gotten married, but didn't.

January / February

January started with a trip to Hong Kong. This was my second trip to Hong Kong and I enjoyed it every bit as much as the previous one. I was there for only a few days but I did a variety of things and felt much more at home this time round. This time I got to see the fish, bird and flower markets which I missed out on the previous visit. I also went to some more of the artsy places and also went to a "blind"-tour which I highly recommend. Unfortunately I did not have time to look into the local martial arts on this visit. Hong Kong is definitely one of my favourite cities. From Hong Kong I continued to South Africa for my annual trip to visit family and friends.

My visit in South Africa was exceptionally exhausting as I traveled almost ceaselessly. Stops included Cape Town and surrounding areas, Vanderbijlpark, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Pinetown, Durban, Polokwane, Tzaneen and Potchefstroom. I did some touristy stuff in Cape Town while visiting with my brother and also met up with some friends whom I haven't seen in years, including doing some parkour for the first time in a very long time after I had hurt my knee. It was good fun. I also had a number of martial art stops, including a Kyukushin Karate school in the Cape Flats; and I present Taekwon-Do seminars in Pinetown, Pretoria, and Potchefstroom. My trip in South Africa furthermore included attending a family reunion in Pretoria with family members I had literally not seen in decades.

You can see some posts and photos of my journey in Hong Kong and South Africa, particularly Cape Town, here.


Birthday Photo
At the end of February I returned to Korea to start with the first semester of 2012, teaching six modules, of which two were new classes that I had not taught before: Short Stories and Proze Reading & Writing. March is of course the month of my birthday. I had the flu, but I nonetheless made time to meet with some friends for dinner. I was quite tired since the previous night I went to the wake of my Taekwon-Do instructor's father-in-law who had passed away. I stayed with Master Kim-Hoon until around 3am.

There was one other interesting moment in March. I had the opportunity to meet with a famous Korean actor that used to make kungfu movies in Hong Kong during the 70s, master Wang-Ho, founder of the “Heaven-Earth Martal Art Way,” that mixes traditional Korean martial techniques with some Chinese elements, and Korean cultural arts, such as dancing and calligraphy. It was truly a fascinating encounter.


April was a very strange month. Let's start with the non-strange. I had my annual health check and all seems fine. I attended an awesome Traditional Korean music and dance performance. I also attended a theater production of a friend of mine. Slightly strange was a student that acted terribly disrespectful. An interesting occurrence in April was when I met with a Professor at Kyunghee University to discuss the possibility of me doing a PhD there. Little did I realize the import of that meeting. (See December.) The weirdest thing during April was when a friendship suddenly turned head-over-heals and turned into something unexpected. Somehow all my precautions went out the window.


In April I saw the amazing theater adaptation of the graphic-novel The Arrival. It was pure magic. Another highlight for May was when I modeled for the artist Jang Yeongdoo who exhibited his work during the 2012 London Olympic Games. It was a great experience. Also martial art related, I co-promoted two students to black belt. I furthermore attended a Taekkyeon demonstration and hosted a Jeet Kune Do workshop, presented by a Dr Zee, a doctor of Chinese medicine and Jeet Kune Do exponent. I also went on a very interesting Buddha's Birthday tour, visiting some of the most significant Buddhist sites in and around Seoul. Then there was also a trip to a farm in Heongseong with a Korean-American friend who came to visit her parents.


June was slightly less crammed. I visited the Seoul Flower Market for the first time, which was very nice and I hope to go there again, and went to a rather boring Brazilian Jiu-jitsu tournament. I thoroughly enjoyed Ute Lemper's cabaret performance.

Also in June, I officially joined Facebook. #sigh#


July was a terribly sad month for me because my spiritual father Oom Andre passed away after a battle with cancer. At the same time one of my "mothers", Tannie Jenny, was in the hospital, also with cancer. I'm very thankful that she is still alive, although her struggle with cancer continues.

In July I did something interesting, I reviewed what I want in a partner.

As for trips, I went to Changgyeonggung Palace for the first time, and also visited Busan for the first time, even though it was a very short visit.

I think I wrote one of my best Afrikaans poems, "Boek en boekmerk", in July.


I was on vacation during August, but can't really say what I did during this month. There are very few photos in my August folder and my blog posts for Augusts reveals very little personal details. I know it was a very hot month and that I spent much of my time at home, probably just watching TV series on my computer. I know that I was close to burn-out the previous semester after those six modules I taught, so I really needed to just rest. I did start a new blog in August: "Korean Minute". One highlight for August was when I went to the National Museum of Korea to see the Ottoman art exhibit. I also went to some coastal town for a work "team building" trip. Each room had it's own en suite Jacuzzi, which was pretty awesome and my job gave all the employees a pair of Nike sneakers.

In August I bought a Horum Slow Juicer. I'm not sure if that is a highlight or not, but it does makes making nut milk much easier.


Starting with this semester I renewed my work contract for another two years, as of this new contract I was also promoted from Full Time Lecturer to Assistant Professor. The new title did not mean a raise in pay, however.

A nice September event was my tour of Buddhist sculptures at the National Museum of Korea. I also saw a number of performances: Pierre Rigal's "Theatre of Operations" and a harp recital.


My trip to Andong was definitely a Korean highlight for 2012, allowing for many great photo opportunities. A most unforgettable and magical production I saw was Murmures des murs by Aurélia Thierrée's.


In November I did capoeira for the first time. It was great fun. I also attended an anatomy drawing class. The theater production for November that I went to was "Opening Night" by the Amsterdam Toneelgroep. It was brilliant. I also saw three other dance performances, the most awesome one was by the Doo Dance Company founded by choreographer Jung Young-doo. His production "Forethought: Prometheus's Fire" was one of the most soul touching things I have ever experienced. It was soul-enriching. I know it sounds a little pompous to say that it was life changing, but I truly believe that to be the case. I walked out of the theater feeling as if I had heard the Gospel again anew.

In November, Guillotine, a literary publication I worked on as Creative Director and graphic designer went on sale in selected bookshops in South Africa. It was an exhausting but fulfilling project.

Standing in the snow

December was a busy month. As is usually the case at the end of the semester, I was very busy. I'm also teaching a winter class, Research Methodology, which kept me continuously busy even after the normal semester duties came to an end. In fact, I will be teaching the last class today, Monday December 31. This does not mean the end, as students will still hand in their final research papers at the end of this week which I then have to grade, so my holiday will only start well into the New Year.

Apart from being crazy busy, I did make time to visit with friends, particularly friends leaving Korea like Patricia, one of the first people I met coming to Korea for the first time in 2006.

Maybe the most significant thing that happened in December is that I received the news that I got accepted into a PhD program, starting next year, at one of the high ranking universities in Korea. The major is quite different from my previous fields of focus, so next year will definitely see a new chapter in my life. I'll still stay in Korea and continue my work at the same university that I'm presently working at, but I'm also starting my life as a PhD student in another major.


I'm sure I missed many other highlights. I know that I went to see some performances, such as a traditional dance performance at a palace, but I don't know when exactly it was. I also saw some movies that touched my deeply, like for instance Tree of Life and We Need to Talk About Kevin. Then there are other events that are too personal (personal in the sense that it is related to other people) so that I don't feel at liberty sharing it to the world, but which changed my life significantly. I mean significantly significantly, which caused me to re-evaluate my whole identity. 2012 was, in many ways, a shocking year for me. Unlike previous years where I had traveled to new countries, my journey in 2012 was a deeply personal one, taking me to new aspects of myself. I will always remember 2012 as a pivotal year. And, the world did not end.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts

I have a wonderful collection of music with many of the popular musicians, but also some much less famous artists. People sometimes ask me how I got to know about this or that obscure artist. In truth, it is often just by accident really. However, I will share with you one place that has introduced quite a number of interesting (usually American) musicians: NPR Tiny Desk Concerts.

Bob Boilen from NPR (National Public Radio) invites musicians to come do tiny concerts (around three songs) literally at his desk, in his office. These "tiny desk concerts" are recorded and shared on the NPR website and many can also be found on YouTube.

It was about three years ago that I started to listen to the Tiny Desk Concerts and one of the earliest performances I heard at the time was of The Avett Brothers after which I promptly got their album "Emotionalism".

The Tiny Desk Concerts are by there very nature (i.e. the very setting) often unplugged. This of course loans itself more to those types of music such as folk rock that can comfortably play with a guitar and some percussion, but Bob Boilen's office has hosted even some electro-gurus and brass ensembles. Below is a cheerful group making a merry Christmas noise. I won't be getting their album, but it was nonetheless fun to listen to.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Mmm . . .

I wanna have pride like my mother has,
And not like the kind in the bible that turns you bad.
And I wanna have friends that I can trust,
that love me for the man I’ll become and not the man that I was.

-- From "The Perfect Space" by The Avett Brothers

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Korean Indie Band 10cm / 십센치

As I've mentioned on numerous occasions before, K-pop isn't my cup of tea; however I find Korea's independent / underground music scene to be full of wonderful discoveries. A recent such discovery is the indie band 10cm.

The title of the song in the video above is "Kingstar". It is a humerous song about someone with a stalking fetish. Here is a translation of the lyrics courtesy of xxsashaxxx:

Big moist eyes, scattered red lips, breast that looks like it's going to burst,
I turn my eyes away calmly, to your stockings
The scent I want to touch, the sound of scarlet high heels,
my eyes are turned on sensually exposed thighs and ripped stockings

The more the skin gets exposed, the more my fantasies thicken, my senses are sharp like a pin
When the lights flicker and the ceiling collapses, my body goes numb to the tip of the toes
Even I pull my skirts together and straighten up, thick orgasm doesn't calm down easily
Your stockings, stockings, stockings, stockings, stockings, stockings, stockings

The wind blows when I go up the stairs, oh, my little fantasy
Dancing Marilyn Monroe, oh her stockings
While my lips get dry and the cigarette gets wet,
tantalizingly thightening my waist, your stockings

The more the skin gets exposed, the more my fantasies thicken, my senses are sharp like a pin
When the lights flicker and the ceiling collapses, my body goes numb to the tip of the toes
Even I pull my skirts together and straighten up, thick orgasm doesn't calm down easily
Your stockings

The panty hose on my body, all my senses are electrifying
When I get home I'll look at me in the mirror
Stockings on my body, stockings, stockings, stockings, stockings, stockings, stockings

Such lighthearted lyrics are typical of 10cm. The following song, "Americano" tells of the coffee drink and how it is a good choice in different situations: it's uncomplicated, it's relatively cheap, it quinces thirst, and so on.

10cm is a two member band with only two main instruments -- drum and guitar, giving them a very light unplugged sound. While the instrumentation feels quite simple, the overall sound doesn't sound lacking. In fact, it is a wonderful break from synthesizers, voice tuners, and all the other pop music gimmicks we are forced to listen to. Even when they do covers of pop music, it is with a gentleness that soothes the ears, rather than artificial beat pumping. Listen for example to their cover of "Hit Me Baby One More Time":

Here are links to some more covers: "Viva la Vida"; "Geek in the Pink"; "Sunday Morning".

Sunday, 9 December 2012

This is an advert . . .

So in this post I'm going to advertise two services that I really make use off and hopefully you can benefit from it too.

The first is iHerb.Com. Since Koreans are more prone to use Oriental herbal medicine, it is very difficult to find other natural medicines that may be very common elsewhere. Take for instance echinacea which is an awesome immune booster that is proven to cut the chances of catching a cold by half. While one can easily find echinacea tincture in any pharmacy in South Africa, it is practically impossible to buy in Korea. Similarly eucalyptus oil is not sold in it pure state--only as an ingredient in body washes or shampoos. And so the list goes on of herbal medicine commonly found in the "Western World", but not found in Korea, which one can order at iHerb.Com. But medicine is not the only thing one can get from iHerb.Com. I also typically order some mineral solutions including colloidal silver. Something I recently ordered which I have had no success in buying in Korea is coconut oil. The array of uses of coconut oil (see here and here) is just staggering, which makes it an indispensable commodity in any "natural" household. I especially use coconut oil for cooking; not only is it one of the healthiest oils for cooking, it also imparts a wonderful aroma to the food.

So if you do plan to use, feel free to use my discount code: KOL385. Any new customer that uses this code will get a $10 discount on their first order of $40 or more (or a $5 discount if the purchase is less than $40), and I will in turn get some credits with

Dropbox is a cloud storage service which I have been using for years now, and it just makes my life awesome. Not only can I save important information securely online in case something happens to my computer, it also makes my most important information instantly available from any internet accessible device, like my smart phone. It is furthermore my service of choice to share files with my friends since it is so straight forward. The great thing about Dropbox is that it is available on all platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, even Blackberry, which means that you can use it from any device. Google Drive, for instance only functions on iOS and Android. Dropbox can also integrate with Facebook, allowing you to share files via your Facebook account on Facebook groups.

What do I get out of it? Well for every new referral that joins Dropbox through these links, I get 500MBs of extra free space. What do you get? 2GB of free start up space. Even if you don't think you are going to use it, you'll still do me a great favour by signing up for your free no strings-attached cloud drive, which will give me some space online. Also, Dropbox is very secure with a double security system. Of the current three common cloud services, Dropbox has been running the longest with excellent customer satisfaction and is therefore, in my opinion, the best option.

Well, that wraps up my adverts. :-D

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Tune-Yards' Whokill

I just got the album Whokill by Tune-Yards yesterday and I'm only listening through it now, but goodness what a feast! Every track is a carnival of sounds. I haven't heard of Tune-Yards until quite when I accidentally read through Times Magazine's list of Top 10 Albums for 2011, which included Adelle's enjoyable album 21 and PJ Harvey's Let England Shake, of which I have both. I liked how Times described Whokill  as an "experimental album by a woman unafraid to try something new" so I thought it worth it to try and get hold of it.

How I did not hear of this album beats me. It was listed by the Pazz & Jop Poll as the top critics' album  of 2011. It has been more than a year since the album was release in April 2011 and I only discover it now. I'm guessing that the weirdness of the album has made it disappear under the accessible sounds of other artists like Adelle, which is unfortunate because while Adelle is great, I think Merrill Garbus is awesome! Then again, I don't own a television and do not listen to conventional radio, and of course I live in Korea, so it is very possible that I should miss many things that is quite mainstream. My exposure to pop culture is very serendipitous. If I don't stumble onto something by accident on YouTube or some other such way, it may go by completely unnoticed. Which was almost the case with the Whokill album.

Whokill is an unusual album with a hodge-podge of genres and styles that I'm sure many people will find just too unconventional for their taste. But I guess this is the very reason I like it. Whokill isn't trying to conform to popular expectations. It is what it is. And what it is, is something uniquely fun, interesting, and creative.

Gay Marriage and the Separation of Church and State

Image Source

Gay marriage is a hot topic these days, in particular in the United States where the issue will be decided upon by the Supreme Court. So herewith, my two cents:

Personally I think this is a matter where there is confusion between the powers and authority of Church-and-State and that this issue is one that mixes Church-and-State. The United States was built on the idea of the Separation of Church and State, something I especially support. The history of mankind is full of examples of the evils that result when a proper distance between Church powers and State powers is not adhered to.

Why do I say this whole marriage controversy is a Separation of Church and State issye? I say so because there is confusion between the religiously sanctioned marriage covenant, and the state sanctioned civil union. See, in the past the clergy would announce something like this: “By the authority invested in me by God, I now pronounce you Husband and Wife.” The clergy has the authority to oversee a covenant between three parties: the couple towards each other, and the couple towards God. Their marriage is a covenant, a sacred promise, that they make to each other and to God. Somehow, this covenant became mixed up with a legal contract between partners that is enforced by law where a government official can declare: “By the authority invested in me by the State, I now pronounce you legally bound.” For some reason, the civil union became a “civil marriage” where the government official could “marry” couples and clergy could “legally bind” couples. It is this concept of a “civil marriage” which I disagree with because it brings together a legal contract (“civil union”) with a religious covenant (“marriage”) and pretends as if they are the same thing, which they are not. A civil union, which is a legal contract, is based on the authority of an earthly government, the State. While a marriage is based on the authority of a religious system, God. The two ought to stay separate functions.

How do I feel about homosexual marriages? Well, the same way I feel about heterosexual civil unions. They are two separate couplings (one being a legal contract and the other a religious covenant) that should or should not be obliged by the separate authorities that oversees such matters. You do not need one to have the other—i.e. you can get married during a religious ceremony or you can get a civil union by signing a legally binding contract, or you can do both. If you want to be legally bound to someone, then you should get a civil union. This is a legal contract between two parties and it doesn't differ in any way from any other legal contract between two parties, whether they are of a personal nature or a business nature. If you want to make a religious covenant with another person, then go to the religious authority that oversee and condone the type of covenant you wish to make, and if one sect (i.e. one denomination) doesn't condone your coupling, find one (another denomination) that does. And in truth, depending on your religion, you don't even need to have a clergy present. Two people can by themselves make a covenant between themselves and God—no clergy or government authority need to be involved—it is a matter of the heart.

In short: People, regardless of their sexuality that want to be legally bound to each other should sign a legal contract by getting a civil union. Similarly, people that want to make a religious promise of fidelity towards each other, should engage in a marriage covenant. Keep the Separation of Church and State by keeping these two matters distinct.

Read a thought provoking article by a gay man who is against gay marriage, here.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

So what do you think is happening over there with Palestine and Israel?

And what you hear in the news all the time is that Israel as a sovereign right to protect itself. From whom? And what about other nations?