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Check out my Slide Show! November 6, 2007

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Red Fever June 24, 2006

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Gold medal day March 4, 2006

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My sister Jennifer tipped me off to an event happening in Korea featuring Torino Olympic gold medalists Jennifer Heil and Canadian turned Australian Dale Begg-Smith. The event was a sanctioned F.S.I. World Cup freestlye moguls competition held at the Jisan Forest Resort, about an hour outside Seoul.

It was very exciting seeing these amazing athletes in action, and the low-key casualness of the event meant it was easy to mingle with the participants and meet them. I was lucky enough to get pictures with both Jennifer and Dale, both of whom easily won another gold medal for their growing collections at this event.

Click here to see more pictures from the World Cup moguls and Jisan Forest Resort.

Globe and Mail: Heil backs up Olympic gold with World Cup win

"It’s great to be in Shanghai!" February 24, 2006

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For almost a year I have been waiting for someone worth seeing to come to town. Kenny G or Michael Bolton anyone? Until last night those were the most viable options (I think the obvious comment about Korean tastes best goes unsaid…).

Well, the long wait was definitely worth it. Last night was more than just a fantastic, entertaining concert — I witnessed the performance of a bona fide living legend, none other than the Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown. Not wasting anytime with an opening act, the hardest-working man in show business took the stage and delivered a solid dose of soul in Seoul (sorry, I couldn’t help myself).

Considering the man is now in his seventies, Brown can still move. And sing. I was actually quite taken aback with the quality of his voice, and the spiritedness of his performance. Running through his deep catalog of hits backed by a powerful band of standout musicians, James worked the stage and drove the crowd wild. That said, he did manage to silence the stadium when he declared: “It’s great to be in Shanghai!” The awkward moment passed though, and everyone was more than willing to forgive the classic wrong city faux pas.

Another blogger wrote this review of the show, and I think her comments are spot on. Click here to see my pictures of the big event, and click below to see a video clip (apologies in advance for the poor quality).

That’s the East Sea to you buddy February 18, 2006

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I notice that Yahoo! has buckled to pressure from a Korean lobby group, the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea, and has added the label “East Sea” to their online maps (alongside the more commonly used “Sea of Japan”). This did not escape the attention of the Korean government who didn’t miss a chance to crow about it on their official English-language information site.

Wikipedia has an interesting article on the naming dispute.

This reminds me of the faux pas I made when I first got to Kuwait and made the unforgivable error of referring to the Arabian Gulf as the “Persian Gulf”. It only took a few stern corrections on the subject before I learned not to make that mistake again. Wikipedia has the background on this dispute also.

Behind the gates February 17, 2006

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Quiet suburban street in small town America? No — well, actually kind of. This idyllic neighbourhood is part of the Yongsan Garrison, the headquarters for United States Forces Korea.

Up until recently, the closest I could get to seeing behind the walls of the base was the view from my room. That changed a couple weeks ago when Anna’s friend Karen and her American G.I. boyfriend invited Anna and I for lunch on “post”.

I wasn’t able to take a lot of pictures, but you can click here to check out the few I was able (or allowed) to get.

To appreciate the true incongruity of this scene, you have to know the context within which Yongsan Garrison sits. Using the amazing Google Earth you can get an excellent “bird’s eye-view” of Yongsan and see the base as it is situated in the geographic center of Seoul. Click here to download a file that will plot all of the locations that I photographed in Google Earth.

Kimchi conditioners February 17, 2006

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LG Electronics is introducing a new line of air conditioners that purport to guard against bird flu. Their secret? What else, kimchi!

I’ve documented the supposed health benefits of kimchi previously, but this article from The Korea Times detailing LG’s kimchi air conditioners is all a bit much. LG claim’s that the kimchi extract used in the air conditioners is odorless, which I can tell you from my own experience, is a very good thing. I have no quibble with kimchi as a pleasant side dish on the table at dinner. However, recently my Korean neighbours been making kimchi, and lets just say I’m very grateful that the powerful smell of the rotting cabbage doesn’t waft into my apartment!

Wax so bad, they’re good February 13, 2006

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A couple weeks ago, Anna and I took in the World Wax Museum exhibition at COEX. This was kitsch at it’s best!


Apparently some Korean millionaire has bought up some of the assets of the now defunct legendary Movie Land Wax Museum in Hollywood, and plans to construct a fancy new museum in Pusan as a permanent home for these figures.

As you can see from my pictures, many of these figures haven’t aged that well, and others are so laughably bad they are almost unrecognizable. All in all, the exhibit made for a very enjoyable afternoon.

Lotte Mart February 12, 2006

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Going shopping in a Korean grocery store is an experience — and unless you enjoy people yelling at you at ear-piercing full volume, it is not usually a pleasant one. In almost every aisle of the store there is a “helpful” representative of some product, usually offering a sample, but almost certainly sounding like a carnival barker as they implore you to add whatever they are hawking to your cart.

Western-style grocery stores are all the rage these days. Relatively new on the scene, they resemble any grocery store back home, and are part of a larger department store. The most popular chains here in Korea are homegrown E-mart and Lotte Mart. These stores are clearly modeled after Wal-Mart, which interestingly enough does have a presence here in Korea, but is not very popular, and has actually had to close stores.


Recently I took my camera with me when I went shopping at my local Lotte Mart. These ladies are working the tofu case and paused their selling long enough for me to snap this picture. To see more pictures from my shopping trip, click here.

Barbie: art or commerce? Discuss… February 10, 2006

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Recently I took in “The Barbie Story”, an exhibition at the Hangaram Design Museum. Billed as the world’s largest Barbie doll exhibition, the display was sponsored by the Austrian Embassy in Seoul. (Huh? — can someone please explain the connection?). This was a fascinating experience on many levels, and raised some interesting questions about consumerism vs. art — not to mention the fetishization of a tiny plastic doll!

The growing cult of consumerism is explored in an excellent BBC World Service series on the subject. The programs can be heard on-demand at the web site for the series.

To see my pictures from the Barbie exhibit, click here.

To learn more about Barbie, read her entry on Wikipedia.