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ESL Watch

ESL Watch is a very useful website for teachers looking for jobs. Like Yelp or Trip Advisor it offers reviews of employers worldwide in the field of English as a Second Language. If you want to avoid a horrible job, checking this site can help you steer clear of the dodgy employers.

Like anything, you have to discern whether the reviewer is a hot head or the employer pretending to be a satisfied teacher. Despite this, it’s a step in the right direction.

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The Last Princess

The Last Princess (2016) captivated me with its dramatic history. It’s a film about a Korean Princess named Deok Hye, who lived from 1912 to 1989. Her father was Emperor when Japan was invading most of Asia. The Japanese wanted to control him, but couldn’t so they poisoned him. A few years later when Deok Hye was 13 she was sent to Japan to be educated. Though she didn’t want to go, she did to protect her mother.

As she grew, she realized she would never be allowed to return to Korea. The Japanese feared that this young, determined woman would stir up rebellion. When she was young, her father had hoped she’d marry Jang-Han Kim comes to Japan hoping to find a way to save her. He’s an officer in the Japanese army, but works with a group of underground rebels, who’re plotting to get the princess and her uncle back to Korea and to attack the core leaders of the Japanese army.

Throughout the film, the main villain isn’t a Japanese officer, but rather a Korean turncoat, Han Taek-soo, who was behind the emperor’s poisoning and will stop at nothing to please the Japanese by manipulating and spying on the Korean royals.

It’s decades before Deok Hye has a real chance to return to her home country. Along the way she bravely faces hardship, sorrow and betrayal.

Japanese Ice Cream

Ice cream is a summer delight, but somehow Japan adds its own spins, usually cute ones, to icy treats. I just happened upon Simon and Martin because YouTube thought I’d like them. Maybe because I’ve been watching 2Hearts1Seoul videos by a couple in Korea.

I just read that in a given week more video minutes are uploaded than were produced in the last 30 years of television. I’m not sure whether they’re counting all the television produced worldwide, while counting all worldwide YouTube videos. (Statistical problem there if they are.)

It’d be cool if a couple or family in China had a YouTube channel, but how could they with the sanctions and censorship?

Korean Skin Care

When I went to Seoul a couple weeks ago with my friend Tanis, she really noticed the Koreans’ beautiful, bright and clear skin. She was awfully impressed and made me notice.

Back in Jinan I did some investigating and this article in the Wall St. Journal caught my eye as did an article in Allure. Intrigued, I’ve been scouting around for shops that sell Korean skin care products. It’s something of a challenge and new hobby. So far I’ve found seven. I’ve been to Tony Moly where I started with a purchase of 3 sheet masks. I didn’t think I’d like them, but wow, my skin is so soft after I use them. My new routine is to use them on Saturday and Wednesday mornings.

tony-moly-I'm-real-mask-sheets

After reading the Wall St. Journal article and checking out some blogs like Soko Glam, I figured I ought to try this two-step cleansing. The idea is you need to use an oil-based cleaner to really get your skin clean and follow up with an ordinary cleaner. So I went back to Tony Moly, which is in Parc 66 downtown and got their Lemon Oil cleaner, mainly because I figured it would smell good and it wasn’t too expensive. That’s a great thing about a lot of these Korean products — they’re easy on the wallet. (Though you can get some pricey department store items that cost $159 for a 4 ounce jar.  No, thank you.)

On my second trip to Parc 66 I found banila.co down the way from Tony Moly. There I got Clean it, another kind of cleanser, which I alternate with the lemon cleanser. What’s great about banila co is they give samples. Bravo!

I knew I needed or wanted something to exfoliate so I’m trying Skin Food’s Rice Mask Wash Off. I found Skin Food at Shinmao International Mall.

the-skin-food-rice-mask-wash-off-211-zoom-6

I’m not up to a 10-step regimen and doubt I’ll go that far, but I’m sure there will be more. In the mean time I’m educating myself with videos like this one by Joan Kim. I like that she does these in Korean and English. I admire anyone who’s bilingual. Watch with subtitles.

Hotel Review: Grand Hyatt Incheon

For the long Qing Ming weekend, I’ve come to Seoul. My friend and I arrived at 9:15 pm and I figured it would take an hour to get through immigration (which turned out to take much longer) so we opted for a the Grand Hyatt Incheon which promised a 24 hour shuttle and was just a short distance from the airport.

The problem was the lines in immigration were so long and we didn’t get through till about 11:30pm. The lack of signage at Incheon airport caused a short delay in finding where the Hyatt shuttle stop was. At the Information Desk we were told that the shuttle stopped at 11 so we should use the free airport shuttle. Once we found that stop we saw that the next shuttle would be at 12:12. Ugh!

Had I known, I’d have done something different. We considered getting a cab, but were tired and the idea of changing money and sorting through the touts and cheats seemed too much.

The bus appeared on time and several of us got on board. A few minutes later we were dropped a few blocks, yes a few blocks away from the hotel. The driver who spoke little English just pointed in the distance. We got out and searched for a hotel sign. It was dark and desolated. Not what we wanted upon arrival. We eventually saw what looked like might be our Hyatt. Then the bus approached and the driver, who’d just been waiting for his next run, pointed across the street. That’s the Hyatt.

We crossed and entered a building that had a dark sign that you couldn’t read from the sidewalk. Inside we determined we were in the back of the hotel amidst the restaurants. Eventually, we found the lobby without the aid of a sign.

The receptionist was graceful and apologetic but offered little  to make our unpleasant feelings dissipate. She told us we could have called them and we’d have been picked up. Well, then instruct the staff at the airport Information Desk to tell your guests that. We just did what made sense — asked Information and followed their directions.

We had expected that since our booking was done by a friend with Diamond status that we’d get access to breakfast in the lounge. That’s what happened in the past. The receptionist said we didn’t and that he didn’t have Diamond status, which I know is wrong. In the end we got newer room, but it was a long unpleasant experience. It was really odd that a staff member offered to assist us with our bags and then took us to the elevator put our bags on it and left saying goodbye.

Now I do feel guilty for whinging about “First World problems” but we did pay for this hotel room and chose it based on the 24 hour shuttle promise on the website. Just change the website to state what actually is offered. 6am to 11pm is not 24 hours. Every 15 minutes is not twice an hour.

Considering a Job?

Dear EFL Professional,

If you’re wondering whether to take a job with Yucui “Education” Consultancy, Xiang Jiang High School, or Korea National University of Education, contact me. I can give you the low down. Not just my opinion, but that of others.

Remember I’m here to help.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Angular

Shandong Art Museum

Shandong Art Museum

Palace, South Korea

Palace, South Korea

DSC_0618 DSC_0600

Chicago Skyscaper

Chicago Skyscraper

 

1. Each week, we’ll prov ide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced. 2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag. 3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other great photos:Weekly Photo Challenge: Angular (daily post)

 

Standing Up for EFL Professionals

I ran across Association for Teachers of English in Korea (ATEK), an interesting professional association’s website this morning. My first guess was that some professionals in Korea were tired of KOTESOL’s lack of advocacy, much needed advocacy for teachers and they banded together to get some equity. Yet later as I read through the website, I saw that they state that advocacy isn’t their main mission. Evidently, the Korean government prohibits foreigners from engaging in local politics, even foreigners who have lived and will live in Korea for years and years.

Here’s a portion of a letter they wrote to the Korea Press Ethics Commission:

DATE: July 13, 2009

TO: Korean Press Ethics Commission

FROM: Association for Teachers of English in Korea

RE: Negative Representations of Native English Teachers in the Press

Recently, there has been an alarming increase in the number and severity of negative articles about foreign English teachers living in Korea. This is not only damaging to teachers, but also to the society as a whole because it weakens the social contract for everyone.

The Korean Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and the press as a basic right of citizens, with prior censorship banned, but qualifies free expression. Article 21(4) provides that “neither speech nor the press shall violate the honor or rights of other persons nor undermine public morals or social ethics. Should speech or the press violate the honor or rights of other persons, claims may be made for the damage resulting there from.” This association is not seeking damages; only fair treatment in the press.

It is the duty of a free and independent press to present the news as it happens, and to provide facts, context, and analysis. Professional news organizations, and indeed all mass media outlets, have a responsibility to adhere to the agreed upon journalistic standards of practice.

The current trend in reporting on foreign teachers does not meet the standards set in the Korean Code of Press Ethics.

[Click to read more]

Bravo! It’s good to see professionals taking the high road and holding people accountable.  Too often EFL teachers behave like they need to suffer any and hall hardship and disrespect just so they can take some breadcrumbs and scrape by. Sad to see college educated people do so, but it’s common. I’m not sure how successful ATEK is, but they fill a void. KOTESOL puts on a good conference and maybe should stick to that while other groups get teachers the rights they deserve for their hard work.

Who Knew?

As I’m still digging up information and dreaming about the 1893 World’s Fair, I happened to learn that Korea is hosting the 2012 World Expo.

Huh? There’s a new World Expo coming up? Really? When does it start? Where is it?

Today. That’s right today. In Yeosu Korea, wherever that is.

I have seen nothing about this. I went to Shanghai‘s World Expo in 2010 and didn’t know there’d be another so soon.

I do watch, read and listen to the news regularly and although I live in neighboring China, I haven’t heard anything about this event.  Are they even bothering to make this event international? I suppose there won’t be any best selling books written about this 110 years from now.

Pavillion for the World Expo

Why is this such a well kept secret? Are they finished and ready to begin? Would they rather people wait before coming?

Published

Although I became resigned to the fact that the Korean police weren’t going to exert themselves in investigating my cyber crime, one friend of mine kept trying to find ways to move forward. I knew it was a futile effort, but I also know that this friend is more or less stuck in Korea till he retires in 10 years and that he was getting some satisfaction from the project. Every now and then he’d ask me to provide information as he tried to get lawyer friends to intervene.

While it was a lost cause, sometimes I think people can’t be talked out of things and that circumstances are the best teacher. I often liken this to learning to walk. The best coach is gravity. You can’t tell a child “If you try to go to fast . . .” or “If you put your foot down like that, you’ll probably fall.” They need the experience not words to teach them. So finally, my friend has concluded that nothing can be done. He needed several lawyers to convince him. When I started to try, he thought I was a quitter. It was best to let it work out this way.

Well, I did see that that experience should not be for naught. Ne’er do wells got away with something and they’ll try again. Yet vengeance is is foolish. One big problem that was as bad as the crime itself was that the police didn’t follow through and acted in a strange fashion. They went to the crime scene and collected evidence. They did some interviews and never looked at what they collected. Also, they refused to contact the internet services like Yahoo! and Google to obtain evidence. They gave me a song and dance about not being able to obtain the evidence, but both companies told me what was needed and I found out that Korea and the U.S. have a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty so investigation beyond the evidence they sat on was possible. As time wore on it was easier to see that any foreigner and many Koreans would have been ignored.

The only thing I could do, though perhaps not all that effective would be to write to the newspaper. They did publish my editorial which objectively calls for better services for crime victims. I realize few will read it, but I have the satisfaction of having done all I could. Here’s the editorial. Not my best work, but okay.

Also, if there’s any crime victims who need the text of this treaty along with the form and directions on how the police should fill it out and submit it, contact me.

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