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Happy Holidays

Here’s wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year. Yesterday was the first day that has really felt like this time of the year, with below freezing temperatures and a vicious wind contributing to very chilly weather. At least the sun is shining and there’s been no snow, yet. (Fingers crossed)

The first two weeks of my vacation have flown by and I assume the final week will go just as fast. I wish that working days would go by so quickly because the first 4 weeks back are going to be killers. I told my boss to give me as many hours as she could, if she needed someone to fill in some extra slots, and she obliged me. I’ve got 7 classroom hours a day, 5 days a week, from Jan. 3rd to the 28th! That’s a heckuva schedule when you figure in lesson planning time. I’ll be teaching 4 regular Language Center classes, the usual number for this time of the year, but I’ll also be teaching (babysitting, actually) a children’s English Camp another 3 hours a day. My first class starts at 9 a.m. and the final one finishes at 7:30 p.m. The few hours that I don’t have classes will probably be spent doing the next day’s lesson plans. I figure I’ll be pretty burned out by the end of those 4 weeks, but at least I’ll be making a lot of overtime pay, if I survive to collect it. 🙂

Again, Happy Holidays to everyone, everywhere. More later.

Crisis Postponed

Due to foggy conditions, South Korea delayed their shelling of the ocean until Monday or Tuesday, so there was no disastrous news from that part of the country. Hopefully, the fog machines will get reloaded and working for the next few days, also. 🙂

No such weather problems here; in fact, it seemed more like the beginning of spring than the beginning of winter. The temperatures probably weren’t all that warm (mid- to high-forties), but there was abundant sunshine and the wind was quiet. I was able to take a mid-morning jog wearing only my running shorts and a t-shirt, and I was sweating profusely when I finished. Quite nice. More later.

North and South at it Again

A few days ago I received a warning from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul as part of their emergency warning system to U.S. citizens who are enrolled in the program. The email’s subject line is “Announcement of One-Day Military Firing Exercise in Northwest Islands Off the Coast of Korea Between Dec. 18-21, 2010.”

Yes, it seems that South Korea is going to conduct live-fire exercises on the same island that was attacked by the North a few weeks ago. The email goes on to say:

This warden message is being issued in response to the announcement on December 16, 2010, by the Government of the Republic of Korea that it will “hold a one-day live-fire drill on Yeonpyeong Island between Dec. 18 and 21.” The Embassy does not assess that there has been an increase in the threat environment in South Korea.

Given the increased tensions since the North Korean shelling of Yeonpyeong Island on November 23, 2010, it is understandable that U.S. citizens would be concerned regarding the security situation on the Korean Peninsula. However, the Embassy reminds U.S. citizens in the Republic of Korea that military training exercises are routinely conducted throughout South Korea throughout the year, to include civil defense drills normally held eight (8) times a year. U.S. citizens should stay informed through local media about upcoming military exercises and civil defense drills that sometimes occur at short notice and for which the Embassy will not routinely provide advance notification. The Embassy continues to closely monitor the current situation. Should the security situation change, the Embassy will update this warden message.

Now, South Korea, which claims the island as part of its territory, has every right to conduct the drill, but I thought at the time that it would be a very provocative action. Sure enough, there are many reports, including this one from the Wall Street Journal, that quote North Korean officials as saying that it will “attack South Korea more violently than it did last month if Seoul proceeds with plans to test-fire artillery from the island Pyongyang shelled.” Most South Korean and American officials are downplaying the likelihood of that happening, but who knows about the crazies up north.

Since today is the 18th, we’ve got about 4 days to see how this plays out. Stay tuned for more.

Finals

It looks like we’re going to survive through the S. Korean-American war games without our northern neighbors going ballistic on everyone. I’m sure my students will be happy about that, because the next few weeks is final exam time.

So, I’ll be busy with oral interview assessments of and classroom presentations by the students, not to mention all the paperwork I’ll have to do. But, that’s only until December 10, when we have a three-week vacation.

Unfortunately, my financial situation right now dictates that I not travel abroad like I normally would do. So, I’ll stay in Yeosu, take some photos, and whatnot, depending on the weather.

I’ll probably go up to Seoul to do a little shopping for some books and hard-to-find spices, and perhaps to Andong. Anyway, I’m really going to miss getting out of the cold Korean winter weather for a few weeks. I’ll just have to keep summer on my mind.