An English teacher's blog about his travels and his digital art.

Month: March 2013

Tension in Korea

Just a note of reassurance to my friends and family who read this blog. As everyone probably knows, there is a high level of tension right now between South Korea and the United States on one side and North Korea on the other. In my opinion, the U.S. didn’t help matters any by sending over B-2 bombers to participate in ongoing military exercises, which set off the fools in the north to declare that their rockets are now in stand-by mode “to settle accounts with the U.S.”

It’s highly unlikely that the North will commit itself to all-out war, since their leaders are renowned for bombastic rhetoric. Most of their crap is intended for domestic consumption to prove just what a tough “warrior” Kim Jong-eun is. I’ve not talked to any Korean that is all that concerned about a war breaking out. More likely is that the North will wait until the current U.S.-S.Korean military exercises are over at the end of April and will then commit some provocation to inflame the South, as has happened many times in the past. The problem there is how far can the South be provoked, and how many times, until their patience gives out.

So, yes, there’s probably a bit of worry right now, but no one that I personally know of is freaking out about the possibility of war. The other expats here and I are not going to hunker down in our apartments losing sleep and worrying about the childish behavior of Cousin Kim to the north. Let’s hope that cooler heads prevail, though. More later.

Korean News

There have been a couple of big, recent news items that you may or may not have heard about. In a nationwide attack, several bank sites and TV broadcasting sites were hacked today, including NongHyup bank, where I do all my banking, including online bill payments back to the states. I checked it out a little earlier, but it doesn’t look like my account was affected. Of course, amid all the tension with North Korea, suspicion has fallen on that country being responsible for the attacks. You can read about it here if you haven’t already seen it on the news.

Locally, however, a tragic, accidental explosion took the lives of 7 workers and injured 13 others last Thursday evening at one of the petro-chemical plants in Yeosu. Apparently, welding work was being done on a supposedly empty and fume-free tank when the explosion occurred. Strangely, I’ve seen very little coverage of this in the international news community. Was it on CNN International? I didn’t see any coverage, but I may have missed it. Anyway, you can read more here. My sympathies, of course, go to all the families affected by this calamity.

Stay safe everyone, wherever you’re at. More later.

Mountain Hike

Wow, long time, no see! There are various reasons for that, as usual. The spring semester has started here at the university, and we’re using new textbooks for one of the classes. Writing lesson plans for that class seems to be consuming a huge amount of my free time. We’re also having some gorgeous spring weather, so I’ve been spending a lot of time outside.

A few weeks ago, a couple of other teachers and I hiked to the top of one of the nearby hills, a walk I’ve made before, which you can read about here. It’s about a 30- to 45-minute hike through dense trees and vegetation, so there’s not much of a view going up. At the top, however, the view of Yeosu is spectacular. I took this panoramic shot, stitching together 8 individual photos into this single view. Click on the photo below a couple of times to get the large view.

Panoramic view of Yeosu ocean

Panoramic View of Yeosu Ocean

Although it was a bit on the chilly side and somewhat breezy, there was abundant sunshine, and it felt like true spring was just around the corner. Here, Rob and Corrie ham it up at the summit.

Rob and Corrie

Rob and Corrie

There were a few trails back down on the other side of the mountain, but we couldn’t decide whether to take a trail to the top of the next rise or a trail down to the valley and then on to the ocean. Rob and I played rock-paper-scissors to decide, and I was the valley route competitor. I won, so we hiked down to the valley floor. Scattered throughout the hills of Yeosu, and, I assume, the entirety of South Korea, are these little pagoda picnic/shelter areas. Rob and Corrie are enjoying the view from this one.

Yeosu Mountain Pagoda

Mountain Pagoda

On the way down we got a great view of the bay, as did a busload of company employees enjoying the day.

Ocean view

Ocean View

Finally, at the ocean, we stopped at one of the local cafes and had a small lunch. All in all, it was a great early spring day.

The next post will be about my recent stroll through the Yeosu outdoor market. See you then!

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