The Philippines on a Whim

Along with my long work hours, I’ve been going through some relationship problems recently. So the past month or so I have been ultra stressed. So I decided to take a vacation on a whim.

Started searching for semi affordable places in Asia and somehow I got to the Phillipeans, which is a country I cannot spell for the life of me. I mean… what is it… 4 L’s? 6 P’s? We all get a free pass on the spelling right? And I was just considering going to Manila for the heck of it. So I just bought a ticket for 5 days / 4 nights leaving in less than 48 hours for less than $1000. Not bad I guess.

But then I started searching for things to do after I got there. Now I’m not one of those resort snobs, but I’ve been stressed. I’ve been through a lot the past month, and I thought it would be nice to have  some relaxing beaches, maybe a spa, something nice to look at… but right after I bought the ticket and started getting excited, I found out that in Manila, apparently it’s just some cathedrals, casinos, crimes and hookers. Sounds like  some more stress. Serves me right for buying a ticket without checking it out.

So I’m in the middle of trying to cancel my ticket / hotel reservation right now so I can go to Boracay, where I’m sure they got what I’m looking for. I just need to chill out for a few days, be by myself, write a little, read a little, and just BE a little. Sometimes we all get too busy living, we forget being (am I being profound or a plagiarist?).

At this point, I’m pot committed. I’m going to Boracay, whatever the cost. This is going to cost me an entire month’s salary, but whatever!! I’m going to buy my sanity back!! And if not, I’ll just go to Manila and get some hookers with the money I steal at the casino on the sabbath :)

I Need to Start My Own Web Business

The other day while I was teaching English, a student asked me: “Are you proud of your job?” Wow. Ballsy kid. But the truth of the matter is, I’m not going around proclaiming to the world that I am an English teacher. It’s fine. I’m having fun while I’m doing it, enjoying the ride as I go along, but it’s not something I’d like to have engraved on my epitaph. I’ve got other things I’d like to get accomplished.

So here are a few things that I’d like to do.

  • Start a site – with a focus on the newcomer to Korea, I’d like to provide survival Korean lessons, visa information, things to do, ways to meet people, etc. – I’m having a hard time trying to figure out a monetization strategy, but getting it up and running with some substantial traffic would not be a problem.
  • Write a screenplay – The story would focus on how I met my fiance and our life of daily miscommunication – all based on our common secondary identity.
  • Compile a Book – What I mean by compile is to kind of do something along the lines of Sh*t My Dad Says. Except being more positive.

And yup, all these are great and fun, but just gotta get started on doing it.


On a more personal note. I’m growing my hair out. I’ve had short hair for most of my life, minus a wild year in college when I didn’t get a haircut just out of laziness/poorness. But I’m at it again.

Don’t know where this is going. But might as well!

The Making of a Webisode

Monday Night I got to learn again a bunch. There was a filming of a webisode, taken at Mui Mui in Apgujung. It’s designed in that oh-so chic, trendy, upscale Soho style design that Korean women, and social elite are in love with, including outdoor seating, which is where the filming took place.

We got our web manager Yaeri Song to corral her gal pals just to talk about dudes to whole entire night. There was some  smack, I do believe, but in the politeness, most classiest way possible. These girls are straight up classed out to the max! Super supportive, and very encouraging to each other. When they were talking about each other, only the best adjectives, kindest words, and most endearing terms were used. Totally different from what men would be like. Our director said it best… If it was a bunch of dudes talking, they’d be like “You want to know about this m*ther f*cker? Let me tell you something about this c*ck s*cker!”

Was great to watch women just interact together, and also to learn, of course, about the making of a film (or webisode at least). A good sign that I’m learning is the questions that I came away with. Questions of women are too many to count. But I do have a few questions about filming. If anyone would be so kind to enlighten me, please do so!

- Filmed with the light in the shot, not behind. Why? (My guess: intimacy)
- What’s the lamp on the table for?
- There was a gray space on the top and bottom of the camera. What’s that for?
- Since most of the shots were closeups, what kind of headspace was allotted, if at all, and why?
- I saw a few times the camera being zoomed all the way to the closest possible setting, then to the desired shot . Is that for focusing?
- Why was a shotgun mic used in this setting and not lapel mics?

Is Korea the Center of the World?

Obviously it’s not the center of the world. Hawaii is. But it’s still an interesting question to pose since I’ve been here for only 6 months, I’ve seen and met people from all times and places of my life. I’ve met people that I haven’t seen in literally 15 years, people I used to hang out with everyday, people I’ve only met once or twice in my life, and also people that I have never met face-to-face.

People from New York – My friends and family end up here because, well, most of them are Korean. I’m not the main reason (except in my dad’s case), but we end up getting together and hanging for the first time in a long time.

Internet Friends – there’s a bunch of people I met over the internet the past few years. The site I used to work at was of course aimed to teach the Korean language and also culture. So Korea is naturally the place where I would get to meet a lot of Internet buddies.

Friends from Japan – I guess you could say a big chunk of my world in Japan was somewhat related to Korea. Although I could communicate in Japanese a bit, sometimes Korean is obviously much more comfortable. So I made quite a few friends that were either Korean, or they were intrigued to some degree of Korea.

So I guess the answer is yes, Korea is the center of the world, or at the least, my world. Most of my friends are Korean, and/or they are interested in Korea in some way or another. The nexus of the universe.

So if you’re in Korea, give me a holla!

Mt. Bukhansan – Climbing is Great!

This week was pretty laid back, and I spent a lot of my time doing nothing. So I decided to take some time by myself to climb Mt. Baekdusan, located right in Seoul :) It’s really amazing that a national park is located in the nation’s biggest metropolis.

I didn’t know how to get to a certain course, so I went to the general area and took any bus, asking if the bus went to 북한산. The bus driver said there were many places to get off, and he didn’t know where to drop me off. So I just kept my eyes out the window until I saw lots of mountainness and there definitely was a lot of mountain.

One of the coolest things was the temple located in the mountain, 금선사 (Geumseonsa). I stopped by on my way down to drink some fresh water that was coming from the mountain. That was some good water.

I’ve Got Some Love for North Korea

While watching soccer this weekend – of Portugal thrash North Korea – I found myself rooting passionately for North Korea, even more so than I did for the Southern brethren. It’s the whole underdog, loveable loser thing that North Korea’s got going on. But it’s a bit more than that for me.

As a 2nd generation Korean (aka Gyopo), I find myself oddly connected to them as if we grew up as neighbors and have a common cultural heritage. It’s the same reason I root for any Korean athlete over American athletes; it’s also the same reason I feel a sort of familiarity and connection with some famous Japanese athletes when I find out they’re actually Korean. It’s the hope and belief that yes, we are connected through some long and old history, displaced in this world as long lost kin. I ended up in America, North Koreans ended up on the wrong side of the border.

It’s too bad it’s over for them in the world cup. But maybe you’ll catch good ol Jong Il off guard one of these days. And even if you get crushed, I’m still rooting for you :)

Post Birthday – Work-mania

My birthday passed last week. Thanks everyone for the well wishes! Turned a loser, to a overnight sensation. Ok maybe not. But thanks anyway. It really did mean a lot :)

My dad has always told me to do what I wanted to do, and to work hard. Any job that I’ve had, I’ve always worked hard. When I worked at my Aunt’s dry cleaners, I tried to do something every moment I wasn’t doing anything, but she just told me to chill out. When I first taught English at YBM, I came in early to prep, when there wasn’t really any prep involved. It was regurgitating material that was given to me. While working at Innovative Language I worked hard there too. I didn’t mind the long hours, or the low pay. I just thought it was just a part of life. But when things turned sour, I refused to work. So for a few months, I did nothing. Like absolutely nothing. I was rotting both mentally and physically.

Now that I’m out of there, it’s hard to get back to working hard. I found myself having the inability to focus, the inability to close. I’m a great starter, but I can’t seem to call the closer from the bullpen. I just leave things hanging. So when I started teaching again just last month, I found the adjustment tough.

But now that I’m back in the groove of working, I’m starting to get back into working hard. Staying late, working at every free moment, on the subway, waiting for a friend. I find myself hustling, which is good. I’ve been so dead for so long, I need some hustle in my life.

Now that I’m starting to get my groove back, I’m starting to pick up as much work as I can. Teaching early in the morning, internship during the day, working at night. It feels good to be working hard again, and to feel somewhat of a freelancer. Although I have a full-time job, the hours are flexible enough that I can pick up some other projects on the side. I just hope I don’t burn out in the process.

By the way, if anyone is looking for an English teacher, Voice actor, internet marketing consultant, spread the word homies! I’ve got my hustle back ;)

Famous Korean Foodie

김수진 (Kim Soo Jin), who makes food for dramas (식객 | Gourmet) and movies (왕의 남자 | King and the Clown), and also appears often on the popular TV show Sponge 2.0, was kind enough to grace the 오방색 (Obangsaek) documentary a few hours of her time. She’s a totally classy woman, who made some awesome food. We didn’t get to eat any of it, but just the look of it made me feel like I was an awesome king. Except.. I was an intern. Haha, no complaints at all. I would never meet awesome people like her if I wasn’t doing this awesome project.

If anyone is interested in taking cooking classes in Seoul, give her academy a try. She has staff that speaks Japanese, Chinese and English. They’re super friendly, and you get to make amazing Korean food.

First day filiming obangsaek

Today was the first day I was on production and it totally exceeded expectations. I didn’t do much but boy was it a great experience. I learned a lot not just about just film but also the process of documentaries.

Documentaries are basically about life. Human relations. And yes, that is true for life, but the challenge of docmentaries is to capture that human relation. Whether it be on film, audio, pictures or even written form, it’s all about the capture of that relationship.

Instead of trying to artificially construe a situation, it’s all about capturing the essence of that relationship.

And even if you wanted to construe a situation or scene it’s still about capturing genuine opinions and thoughts. And the important thing there is to make people comfortable. And how do you do that? Simple. Human relations. Build a rapport with your subject and you’ll be in the clear because once you have that relationship everything is genuine.

Life lessons from the film industry!

Not Doing Much, but Doing A Lot

I’ve been pretty busy the last few weeks.

I just started a new job at an English academy. The hours are great, from 4 PM to 10PM, which leaves a lot of time during the day. But there’s also a lot of work that needs to be done outside of work. I don’t mind that very much, cause I need to make that paper boy! But it’s still a lot more free time than I can get else where. It’s also fun to get in the classroom and hang out with kids. Just the other day, I taught them the words “doo doo butter.” A lot of kids took real good notes.

I also started a new internship as a production assistant. I’ll be helping produce a documentary about Korea and Korean culture in the modern day. It’s about a musical that portrays that subject matter, and the documentary is about that musical. Kind of confusing, I know. Basically it’s this:

Korean Culture -> People making a Musical -> Documentary about the musical.

Still don’t get it? it’s cool, cause I barely get it myself. Something about Obangsaek, which I just learned recently.

Anyway, here’s a trailer for it:

Obangsaek: a documentary portrait of modern Korea. from Benzo Media NYC on Vimeo.

I took this internship (aka no money), so I could learn about the film industry, but also, so I could learn about the process about making a documentary.

To help with the process of learning, I also just applied to a radio documentary job for an English radio station in Korea at TBSeFM. It’s not much money, but I’m guessing it’s going to be somewhat of an internship. It’s all good, cause I’ll still get a chance to learn to do some stuff that I’d like to get into.

So that’s a lot of stuff on my plate. But I’m still not doing much.

Not doing much in the sense that I’m working on other people’s projects and not my own. I’d like to do radio documentaries, get back into podcasting, get into some voice work, and maybe write a screenplay while I’m at it. I’ve got a lot of dreams and ambition, I just really lack a lot of will power and drive.

This is a personal blog for the time being, but at some point, I plan to have 5 different projects that I’ll be writing about here. Several different links each linking to different projects that I’m working on.

It’s an aspiration for the time being, and one that I don’t think is too hard to achieve. Hopefully, in a few weeks things will start to roll.