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Dried Frogs


Learning to read and write all over again...

Life in Korea gave me the chance to be conscious of learning to read and write all over again. Sure, I can read and write Spanish, but this was different. At first, all the signs looked, well, Chinese, but with a little time the 24 characters of Hangul, the Korean alphabet, could be learned and all their pheonetically correct application. So during all the bus rides to work you could practice reading all the street signs. By the end of two years living there, I could sing Nori-bang (korean karioke) reading the Korean subtitles, but of course, I didn't know all of what I was saying...just saying it.

This is the backstreet of the area called Seo-myun in Pusan. It was a predominately cosmopolitan shopping area but had these back streets with small restaurants roasting vats of pigs head and such. I would spend some of my mornings here on my way to work since I didn't have to be there until around 1 PM.

Seo-myun market

In Seo-Myun was the Cowboy bar where alot of teachers would meet for a western style beer. The traditional Korean style of having a beer is usually sharing...You would order one or two big bottles and then serve your elder or higher ranking co-worker by cupping your elbow while pouring (a sign of respect). Very interesting stuff, but it was nice to hold a frosty mug of brew and chug it at your leisure. And we did.

The Truth about Korean Cats and Dogs...

I shared a small aparment with Alyson, from Canada, who taught at another small school. I went through a phase of painting on everything. I took in a small cat, "Kim Chi", who was a bit of a rascal but cute. Cats aren't really liked in Korea and viewed as kind of a rat. I tried to have here shipped home to the states before I went to Thailand, but it was difficult to arrange and I wasn't given much comfort that she would even survive. So I left her in the hands of some other teachers that were staying on.

Dogs are considered much more acceptable than cats to have in your house....the small and squeaky kind. They would dye their hair all sorts of colors and dress them up. The big beautiful dogs were....well...the ones that were eaten. Dog (bo-shi-tang) is actually considered a delicacy and an aphrodesiac for the men. A common misconception is that it is used to substitute beef, but actually it is considered a higher quality meat.

The houses and apartments were heated by a system called "Ondul". It is where the floor was heated by pipes of hot water. It was also a fabulous way to dry clothes. All houses were shoeless and most people sleep on futon style mattresses which keeps you warm next to the floor.

In the market I saw these cats in a mesh bag. I never knew what they were for, I could only imagine. It is easy to be shocked by things you see in other countries, but even if I tried to make changes, I was soon to realize I was one person to their millions.

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