Thursday, April 30, 2009

A student sent me their assignment with the self-evaluation "lubric"---oh god, I can't stop laughing!

Just tried to go to Woori Bank to do a money transfer--and they're closed--uhm, why?

Update: Oh . . . it's "May Day"

Anyways, back at my desk I open my email and see something from a student. Inside the email is an attachment labeled "lubric"--and I start laughing . . . and I can't stop.


I love it when my students give their lubric--is that wrong?


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

2009 Foreign English Teachers Living in Korea: Best and Worst Living Conditions Contest

I was talking to Julianne tonight about some of the things I went through while living and teaching on Ganghwa Island in 2005--my first year in Korea.

When I have the time I'm going to do a rewrite of my own Ganghwa Island story . . . but for now the link above will have to do--though there's TONS of stuff I didn't put in that post. (Another post you might find interesting, though not about living conditions but rather teaching/work conditions, is my A Foreign English Teacher's Reflections On 3 Years of Teaching in a Korean Public School English Program)

One blogger, Waygook Next Door (now blogging at Living Life Frame By Frame) has a collection of blog stories about when she first arrived in Korea that are written with a straightforwardness untainted by toxic negativity in spite of the unbelievable crap she was dealing with from the beginning of her time in Korea. For example, Kelsea's story about mold in her apartment . . . pretty bad.

Some recent videos . . .
I'm out of the mold pit!
A little chilly . . .

I've read and heard a large number of horrific new foreign English teacher in Korea living condition stories . . . and decided that it's high time more of them get documented.

Perhaps more importantly, however, is that I haven't really read any stories (not that they aren't out there somewhere, I'm sure) about people being thrilled, happy, and ecstatic with their living conditions--these stories need to be told too!

But it's not just about gathering more ammunition for expats to complain about Korea. This is about getting these stories out into the blogosphere so that newbies preparing to come to Korea, and/or just arriving in Korea, can learn about what to watch for, and learn about strategies and get advice from expat teachers who have been through these things and came out the other side . . . relatively unscathed, and hopefully wiser (lol, though not always!).

With all of these things in mind I am creating the first ever (to my knowledge),

2009 Foreign English Teacher Living in Korea -- Worst Living Conditions Contest

and to balance this out,

2009 Foreign English Teacher Living in Korea -- Best Living Conditions Contest

I am hoping that bloggers will link to my blog and tell their stories with pictures, video, and stories.

Some suggested guidelines . . .

1. Take pictures.
2. Make a video.
3. Write about everything you can think of.
4. Do not use names of schools or teachers or people involved.
5. Try to write about what is happening without swearing and other extreme language--it undermines credibility, etc.
6. Keep a log of times, events, and descriptions of what goes on during each step of your experience. (And updates with more pics and video, of course.)
7. Keep in mind that the advice and suggestions that expats might offer do not work for everybody, and consider that age, nationality, and gender play an enormous role in what you can and can't do in Korea, and the kinds of reactions your choices and actions will receive when following an expat's advice.

Please post other suggestions for the guidelines if you think of anything . . .

I'll try to put in my own entry about what I went through on Ganghwa Island over the next few weeks--but don't know how quickly I'll get it done as university teaching life is nuts in May and June.


UPDATE: Prizes! Duh! Uhm . . . I will buy dinner at the Smokey Saloon in Itaewon for the winners of each category of Best and Worst stories. If you think that's a 'cheap' prize it isn't! Dinner at the Smokey Saloon, the home of the best freaking hamburger in Korea, is pretty pricey but definitely worth it!

Below are the links to a series of posts I wrote originally in an orientation book for new foreign English teachers. I hope people find the information in them useful. I would also appreciate being cited as the author, Jason Ryan, because I spent a lot of time and energy writing them.


New Foreign English Teachers in Korean Public Schools -- Health and Homesickness in Korea

New Foreign English Teachers in Korean Public Schools -- One Foreign Instructor's Take On Some Major Cultural Differences

New Foreign English Teachers in Korean Public Schools--Summer and Winter Camps Checklist

Korean English Co-Teacher Issues: Techniques, Challenges, and Strategies

TESL/TEFL Teaching Method and Theory Books, Lesson Plan and Teaching Resource Books For New Foreign English Teachers In Korean Public Schools

Extra English Conversation Classes: Setting them up; Mixed levels; Getting paid; class size limits and levels of students in the class

"I can’t think of any English lesson topics . . ." Lesson Plan Topics List For New Foreign English Teachers In Korean Public Schools

Introduction For New Foreign English Teachers To The Korean Public School Environment

First Day At School For New Native English Teachers in Korean Public Schools -- Checklist

New Foreign English Instructors -- First Day In Your New Apartment Checklist

8 Tips for Foreign English Instructors Co-teaching with a Korean English Teacher

Saturday, April 25, 2009

If you're the new troll that's wandering around my blog posts--start thinking before you post comments!

Hello Troll,

You need to start thinking before you make comments on my blog.

The following comment is from an old post of mine about using Morse code in English class.
Anonymous said...

Your idea to have Korean kids work a little with Morse is a good one. However, you could bypass the English; there is a Korean version of Morse. You can see the table at


Jason said...

Hi Anonymous,

Please think about the fact that I'm teaching ENGLISH to the students.

Why would I "bypass the English" to teach them Morse code to be translated into Korean?

Before making a suggestion about how I might teach my ENGLISH classes you might want to put a bit of thought into what the goals of an ENGLISH class are . . .


I have turned on the comment moderator.

Have a nice day,

Friday, April 24, 2009

The COOLEST FREAKING NEW CAR I've ever seen: the Ariel Atom

Watching TV tonight I saw the "Ariel Atom" being demo'd on Top Gear TV show.

SERIOUSLY THE COOLEST NEW CAR DESIGN I've ever seen! The guy's face had G-forces rippling over it and his mouth was doing the Hail Mary wiggle from air pressure and Gs he was pulling as he drives around a test track.

3:10 seconds into the youtube video--AWESOME!!!!

To give you an idea of how fast this car is Wikipedia entry says, "The following year, the Atom won Autocar's 0-100 mph challenge as the new Ariel Atom 2 300 bhp supercharged edition achieved a time of 6.86 seconds, and then stopped from 100 in 3.8 seconds."

Watch the vid on youtube to see what that kind of speed does to your face! Awesome.

From youtube,

Jeremy Clarkson challenges the Ariel Atom to prove more fun than a motorbike - with astounding results. The speed is unlike any car or motorcycle on the road today, Top Gear investigates!

The youtube video link is here (embedding options are disabled).

And what is the price of this ultimate fantasy toy? Wikipedia has the specs too . . .


  • 0-60 mph : 2.7 seconds (manufacturer's claim)
  • Top Speed: 140 mph, 225 km/h (155 mph, 249 km/h supercharged)
  • Power: 245 bhp (183 kW; 248 PS) @ 8200 rpm (300 bhp supercharged)
  • Torque: 210 N·m (150 ft·lbf) @ 6100 rpm
  • Weight: 456 kg (1,005 lb)
  • Transmission: Honda six-speed with reverse
  • Price: £20,000/£29,000 supercharged (cost in the US is over $65,000)
  • Engine: 2.0L Honda K20Z, 4 Cylinder, i-VTEC
  • Manufacturer: Ariel Motor Company Ltd
  • Length: 3,410 mm (134 in)
  • Width: 1,798 mm (70.8 in) / 1,828 mm (72.0 in) with 225 Tyres
  • Height: 1,195 mm (47.0 in)
  • Track: 1,600 mm (63 in) front and rear
  • Wheelbase: 2,345 mm (92.3 in)
  • Designer: Nik Smart
Only $65, 000 US? Hmmmm . . . if I teach in Korea for another . . . years . . . I could buy one in . . . . . . years . . . ohhhhh.

It's highly likely that this is what I'd actually be able to buy . . .

Watch the video on youtube--seriously awesome.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Visiting a Korean Emergency Room -- Gangwon National University Teaching Hospital: a nurse gave Julianne a needle full of "red stuff" tonight . . .

Earlier today, around lunch, Julianne developed a severe headache. She suffered through the rest of her day at the middle school and then came home.

When I got home from work she was sleeping, and I thought that other than a headache she was okay. Around 6pm she woke up--and I realized she was NOT okay.

I started asking her to describe the pain, but she wasn't verbalizing herself very well--so I simplified it to asking her to give me a number from 0-10 so I could assess whether or not she needed to go the emergency room at nearby Gangwon National University Hospital.

She told me her pain was an 8, maybe a 9.

0 – 10 Numeric Rating Scale

Indications: Adults and children (> 9 years old) in all patient care settings who are able to use
numbers to rate the intensity of their pain.

0 = No Pain
1-3 = Mild Pain (nagging, annoying, interfering little with ADLs)
4–6 = Moderate Pain (interferes significantly with ADLs)
7-10 = Severe Pain (disabling; unable to perform ADLs)

So I got her up off the bed, dressed, and then asked her if she could manage walking outside to get a taxi.

While getting Julianne ready to go outside I called her co-teacher from the first semester of her contract. This woman is an awesome human being. Her English is great, she understands Western culture, and she's very helpful. I didn't waste time calling Julianne's current co-teacher whose English is terrible, who lacks Western cultural awareness, and who just seems to amplify Julianne's stress on a daily basis.

We found a taxi and headed to the hospital. Julianne's old co-teacher told me she'd keep her phone near her in case I needed her to translate and communicate with the doctor if he/she didn't speak English well enough to assess Julianne, and let us know what they wanted to do.

During the taxi ride the car went over several speed bumps, and the driver accelerated in the usual floor it style . . . needless to say this didn't help Julianne's pain level, and a few tears were shed during the short trip.

Arriving at the hospital we went into the main entrance to find a dark almost too dark main foyer with an empty waiting area, and everything closed down for the night. Walking in even further we saw in a back corner a set of doors with Emergency written on them in English. We headed in that direction.

Walking into the Emergency Room I began having flashbacks to the last time we had to go to the hospital for Julianne . . . I told myself to wait and see what kind of doctor we got, and what level of English he/she had.

I sat Julianne down at the entrance of the ER and walked forward to find someone to help us. A doctor and ? (another doctor) walked over to me and I explained that Julianne's head had "shooper pain"--I dropped the Konglish (Korean English style pronunciation) talk the second I realized the doctor was able to speak English.

The doctor gestured for Julianne and I to follow him and took us to an area with 14 hospital gurneys, seven on each side of the room. (Later on I pulled out my Flip Mino and took a few pics).

Something I still dislike about medical care in Korea is the completely communal organization and structuring of space. Fortunately for us there only 3 other patients in the area, and the doctor took us to a gurney that was 3 beds away from the nearest patient.

Then he began asking Julianne questions. Some of the questions were about her pain . . . and a few were about other basic things like allergies, etc. The doctor asked twice if Julianne had diabetes and I began to see where that inquiry was heading and firmly said no she doesn't.

Julianne could barely keep her head up and eyes open due to how much her head hurt. I tried to help with the communication without getting in the way too much of the doctor or Julianne giving an answer (though she was having trouble thinking clearly, and a few of the doctor's words had some pronunciation issues).

At this point I called Julianne's GOOD co-teacher and asked her to confirm what the doctor was telling us. He wanted to do a blood test, a urine test, and X-rays of Julianne's chest and head to make sure nothing serious was going on . . . we thought this was a little excessive, but when in Korea . . . you have to go with the flow--to a degree.

After confirming that was what the doctor wanted, he left, and I helped Julianne to lie down. I then headed about 15 feet away to a registration booth with Julianne's Alien Registration Card and Korean National Health Insurance card/booklet. I handed them to the guy behind the desk and with no questions asked he signed her in and did the computer thing--whatever it is that they do when they sign you into a hospital here.

Getting the cards back I went back to Julianne. She told me they had done a stick test (where they puncture the tip of your finger to get blood), and I groaned. I assumed, rightly so I think, that because Julianne is "fat" (according to Korean norms) that they must think that Julianne has diabetes and that that must be the source of her problem.

The stabbing throbbing pain in her head was still severe and Julianne was not doing very well. I was not happy that the diagnosis wasn't going faster.

And then the nurse walked up with an IV stand on wheels and began setting up a tray full of syringes and IV kit. She began to set up an IV--and Julianne and I both look at each other with a WTF is going on instant communication.

We stop her (Julianne a little more vehemently than me, lol) and ask her why she's setting up a saline bag when no diagnosis had been made, and the problem wasn't clear.

The nurse unfortunately didn't have a lot of English, but actually she did quite well after a moment's hesitation (probably due to us refusing the treatment--I suspect that most Koreans just let her do whatever she's doing without questioning it).

At this point the doctor also walked up. Julianne was about 3 nanoseconds from going ballistic--which actually might have had very high entertainment value if the situation wasn't medical, lol--and I tried to calm her down so that the doctor could explain what was going on and why.

We told him that it seemed very odd, when compared with Canadian and American medical practices, for an IV saline drip to be started when Julianne did not have any medical symptoms of dehydration . . .

The doctor backed off on the IV bag, and we agreed to the IV catheter being put in to take blood. The nurse explained fairly well that she wanted to put in an IV catheter because Julianne needed to have blood taken (possibly more than once) and her veins are small and hard to get to. She never really explained why she ALSO had been planning on putting Julianne on a saline drip . . .

The nurse put the rubber hose tie-thingy around Julianne's elbow and after 90 seconds Julianne and I both looked at each other as the nurse got a quizzical look on her face, and began lightly smacking Julianne's arm trying to get a vein to pop up--nothing.

Julianne told her to use a vein in the top of her hand, and gestured to back up the communication. The nurse moved the rubber band tie down to just above her wrist, and then spent the next 2 minutes waiting and tapping and smacking Julianne's hand trying to find a vein. She finally began probing with her fingers searching for the vein, and after a moment of hesitation decided that she'd found it.


Blood was drawn with the ole fashion style needle with a plunger--as opposed to the vacuum needle blood drawing that most of us are used to back in North America.

We were then told that it would take 90 minutes for the blood test to be completed.

AFTER taking blood the nurse then proceeds to take Julianne's blood pressure, and her temperature using an ear thermometer.

I notice two things. The first is that the blood pressure cuff doesn't fit Julianne's arm--seriously, she's not that big! So I put my hand on the velcro to help keep it secure while the nurse finishes up.

The second thing that I also see is that she doesn't swab the head of the thermometer to sanitize it before sticking it in Julianne's ear. Later, on another patient, I watch even more closely and see that nothing is done to sanitize the ear piece before and after . . . . sigh, why do I torture myself with these things . . . ?

I mention this to Julianne and her reply is, "They don't use gloves so why bother with little things like sanitizing a thermometer?"

Julianne was still experiencing stabbing throbbing pain behind her eyes and forehead, and things were not good.

After about 15 minutes of watching her in pain we talk about it, and I got to find the doctor and tell him that something needs to be done about the pain. He says we should wait until after the blood test . . .

He shows me a computer screen and sas that only part of the blood test results were available and that we needed to wait longer.

Five minutes later Julianne's pain jumped up another notch, and she started crying. I returned to the doctor and while I was telling him that something needed to be done now to manage Julianne's pain levels a nurse was behind me at the bed administering a needle full of "red stuff" through the IV catheter . . . needless to say I was shocked.

I get back to the bed and find out from Julianne that a nurse had just given her a needle full of "red stuff" and I was furious with myself for not keeping her in sight at all times. I had thought that the doctor would tell me he had told the nurse to give her an injection, but he didn't. The nurse also didn't try to tell Julianne what she was doing, and Julianne had had her hand covering her eyes due to the pain in her head so she didn't realize a needle was being put into the IV catheter until it was too late . . . yeah.

I decide that I'm going to remain calm and not freak out that someone just put "red stuff" into my girlfriend and hope that it lowers Julianne's pain level.

About 10 minutes later I decide that I should ask what they are testing Julianne's blood for. If they were just testing to see if she was diabetic I was going to nip that in the bud and suggest that other avenues of diagnosis be explored. The doctor tells me that they are looking for "infections in the blood" . . . odd, but okay . . .

The drug kicks in after about 10 minutes and Julianne's pain levels drop to about 6, though I still feel her pulse beating regularly for about 5 beats, and then racing for 5, as the pain ebbs and flows in her head.

About 25 minutes later Julianne's feeling better, and she says the pain is down to around a 4. She's a little more talkative, and her mood has improved slightly--and so had mine. It's hard to watch your girlfriend in pain . . . never a good thing.

Looking around the room I notice the little guy with an IV--it seems like EVERYBODY who goes to an ER in Korea gets an IV--and an evil thought enters my head.

I tell Julianne, "Wouldn't it be funny if I walk over there and tell him that we're going to have an English lesson" because I'm bored. Can you imagine the poor little guy thinking, "Oh my god! I can't escape being forced to learn even when I'm sick and in a hospital bed!" Lol . . . I didn't do it, but for a moment I thought the entertainment value might have been worth it.

After about an hour the doctor returns and goes over the blood test results with Julianne. He tells her a few things are slightly elevated. He then says that he thinks that stress must be the trigger of the headache, and that she needs to rest and take some 'oral medication.'

We wait for about 20 minutes and he comes back with the meds. Julianne and I look at them and ask him to explain what each pill is--there were THREE. One was the uber-tylenol that apparently only ER's have, the second was a mild sedative (this got Julianne and I raising our eyebrows), and the third was for Julianne's stomach/nausea to help it calm down.

The doctor walks away, and I quickly grab her cell phone to take a pic of the pills. Julianne examines each pill to see if she recognizes any letters, the shape of the pill, and the size or color . . . her mother was an ICU nurse back in America, and her step-mother is also a Radiology nurse . . . so Julianne has a bit of a background in drugs to say the least.

After trying to find out what kind of drug the "red stuff" had been in the injection the nurse gave her while my back was turned for all of 90 seconds . . . and the pronunciation the doctor had while trying to say the name, and then after we didn't understand he tried to describe it which came out as this, "something-flammatory something-steroid something something" . . . he was trying, and if we'd really been concerned we'd have asked him to write it down--but seeing as the drug had already been administered it was a little late to say hey, no, stop . . . sigh.

Julianne pops the 3 pills and then we wait a little more. At this point I'm really ready to get out of there--I hate ERs.

I ask the nurse if we can go, and she goes to Julianne and takes out her IV catheter, and then goes to print out the bill.

The bill was 70,000won. By American standards the pricing it's a fabulous price. By Canadian, a little expensive as the system there is different. I didn't mind paying the fee, and would have paid more without complaining because the doctor was friendly, kind, caring, and spoke pretty good English all things considered.

While I paid the bill the doctor returned to say goodbye to Julianne, and make sure she understood the instructions for the 3 days of meds he'd given her of the same stuff she'd just taken.

I give him my name card and invite him to visit the university. He enthusiastically pulls out his wallet to give me his own card but doesn't have any, lol.

I tell him his English is very good, and thank him profusely for helping us. He gives the typical response, "No, no, my English is poor." Julianne and I thank him again, and then leave.

Overall, a positive experience in spite of the delays in getting Julianne some pain meds, and a few odd attempts to put her on an IV saline drip when there wasn't really a reason to do so.

I seriously hope that this trip to a Korean Emergency Room is the last one I ever have to do.

Julianne is sleeping now, and the pain is almost entirely gone. I hope she wakes up with a painless head tomorrow, and doesn't have to take the drugs the doctor gave her. But at least we have them if we need them.

What a day . . .


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Julianne and I LOVE IT!!! when an ajumma looks in the recyling bins after we put our stuff in them!!! Seriously, LOVE IT!

Tonight Julianne and I took our recycling down to the apartment building bins.

As we walk over to the recycling area an ajumma (middle-aged married woman) walks past us and as we pass her the ajumma-radar begins tracking Julianne, and following her. The ajumma's body turns, following its target, and she stops walking towards the elevators in order to fully engage the foreign target she has acquired.

Julianne and I begin putting our stuff in the bins. I say to Julianne, "I bet she comes over here when we leave to see what we put in." Julianne makes facial contortions of disapproval, and I say, "You wait. It's gonna happen."

And sure enough, as we're walking outside to the second location where we have to put the special plastic bags full of trash you buy from the grocery stores here, I see her walking over to the bins and she begins lifting up the lids and peering inside, and moving stuff around with her hands to see what we put in.

I stop, and say to her, "Wey boseyo?" with a slight tone of disgust and disapproval.

She grins, oblivious to my disapproving tone and look. She picks up a glass bottle (KGB, a kind of cooler), and taps the top of the bottle with her finger and says something in Korean. She then returns my garbage to the bin.

Seriously! There's gotta be some kind of cultural taboo against taking someone's trash out of a bin, examining it, and making comments to their face in public--is this normal for Korean culture? Or is it a personality thing? I think some of the more bizarre cultural experiences I've been through in Korea can be attributed to personality--but in this case, I don't think so.

I'm going to ask my 6 month training course in-service trainees about this in my next class. I suspect that most will protest that this is not "Korean culture" . . . and then I'll have to decide whether or not to tell them that this is also a fairly common experience for foreign teachers living in Korea--if not an experience that EVERY foreign teacher has the 'delight' of going through at least once during their time here.


Act on the Treatment of Foreigners in Korea -- Brian in Jeollonamdo has a translation link about this

I saw this on Brian in Jeollanam-do's blog tonight.

Basic Act on the Treatment of Foreigners in Korea translated into English.

I decided to skim the text . . . what a waste of my time.

I did, however, find two little gems . . . lol.

Together Day



CHAPTER Ⅳ Creating a Society Where Koreans and Foreigners in Korea Live in Harmony

Article 19 (Together Day)
①To create a society
where Koreans and
foreigners in Korea
respect each other's
culture and tradition and
live in harmony, May 20
is designated as "Together
Day" and one week
starting Together Day is
designated as Together

"Together Day"? What is this? Why has no one told me about it? When will the first one be? Is it a national day? FUNNY!

And . . . "Together Week"? I can barely contain my excitement . . .


②Matters necessary for
Together Day event may
be determined by the
Minister of Justice or
Mayor of special city,
Mayor of metropolitan
city, Governor of Province, and Governor of
special autonomous
province respectively."

Right. I'm sure the mayors of each city around the country are right on top of organizing this--uh-huh . . .

I decided to skim over the whole document--and quickly returned to the mission statement.

"The purpose of this Act is to stipulate the basic provisions concerning the treatment of foreigners in Korea; to help foreigners in Korea to adjust themselves to the Korean society to reach their full potentials and to create a society where Koreans and foreigners in Korea understand and respect each other with the aim of contributing to the development of Korea and the social integration."
(my italics, my bold).

All I see here, in terms of relevance for foreigners, is the Borg policy put in a Korean context, "We are the Koreans. Your distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile."

As you can see today is one of my "I'm not so happy to be here" days . . .


Saturday, April 18, 2009

2009 Buddhist Lotus Lantern Festival -- Preview of the lanterns at Jogye Temple, Seoul

Last Sunday morning in Seoul Julianne and I ate breakfast and then headed over to Jogyesa Temple (3 blocks from Jonggak Station).

I wanted to see if the colorful paper lanterns were up yet at the temple--they were! And then the picture taking began . . . woohoo!

The Korean Herald has a good article about the Lotus Lantern Festival with great examples of the kinds of pictures you can take if you're into that, and of the activities and everything the festival has to offer. I've also blogged about the details for the 2009 festival here.''

Walking down the street towards the temple there are several shops that sell Buddhist stuff. I think this wood sculpture is awesome.

If you want to buy a lantern there are shops next to the temple where you can do so.

I've never checked out the prices and what's actually inside--might have to do that sometime.

I love going to temples in Korea because they are one of the few places in Korea where I'm fairly sure I'm not stared at because I have a shaved head!

This is the main gate of Jogye Temple, Seoul. At night it looks totally freaking awesome with all the lanterns lit.

View standing inside the gate and looking into the temple grounds.

Just inside the gate . . .

There is a small yard that lies between the gate and the temple building. It is covered with a carpet of lanterns--awesome.

In the lower left corner of this pic you can see the very old tree that this temple is famous for.

I haven't found a website that says in English what pattern or message the lantern design says for this year--anybody know?

Standing to the left of the gate looking at the temple.

Standing to the right of the gate looking at the temple.

Then I saw this group of Koreans making paper lanterns--Julianne is very excited about this and wants to do it at the street festival the weekend of the parade.

View looking back at the main gate and entrance to the temple grounds.

I LOVE THIS TREE! At night, with the lanterns glowing with beautiful colors, the tree takes on a mystical quality.

Dude putting up more lanterns--cool. I think it'd be neat to do a photo montage from beginning to completion of the lanterns being put up . . . if I lived in Seoul I might be able to do something like that, but I'm 2 hours away, sigh.

There are two other smaller buildings on the temple grounds. You can see them in the background here. Don't forget to check out the white lanterns too.

More pics of the tree . . .

Front of the temple building itself. Inside there are 3 giant gold statues. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of pics I can get of them with the new lens I have for my camera. I didn't take any pics of them when I was visiting because Buddhists were inside meditating and praying.

Stone pagoda area across the yard from the tree and temple.

The smaller building in the background here never really seems to have a lot going on. It's still cool to walk up the steps and take a look inside though.

Make sure to try and go to the temple during the DAY and at night. The lanterns make really cool shadow patterns on the ground, and if you're lucky and the sky is actually clear and blue you can also get some really nice pics.

At the far end of the courtyard and side of the temple building there are white lanterns.

See? Cool shadow patterns.

Side view of the temple.

Here's the basic info about the Lantern Festival again.

☞When : Friday April 24,2009 – Sunday April 26 2009
The Lotus Lantern Festival 2009

Event When Where
Lantern Lighting Ceremony Unfixed (in April) Seoul Plaza
Exhibition of Traditional Lanterns Friday April 24~Wednesday May 5 Bongeunsa temple, Samsung-dong
Festival Evening Celebrations: Yeondeungnori Saturday April 25 19:00~21:00 Insa-dong street ~ Front street of Jogyesa Temple
Buddhist Culture Street Fair Sunday April 26 12:00~19:00 Front street of Jogyesa Temple
Eoulim Madang Sunday April 26 13:00 Jangchun Gym
Lotus Lantern Parade Sunday April 26 19:00~21:30 Jongno street from Dongdaemun Stadium to Jogyesa Temple
Daedong ‘Being Together’ Celebration Sunday April 26 21:30~23:00 Jonggak
Buddhist Service & Ceremony celebrating Buddha’s birthday Saturday May 2 10:00 (Ceremony 18:00) Jogyesa Temple & nationwide temples

If you can only see one event of the entire festival I'd recommend going to the parade itself.

Lotus Lantern Parade Sunday April 26 19:00~21:30

It's a good idea to walk around the entire temple building as there are paintings on this side too. And to the left of the temple there is an area with another old tree, some fountains, and a few more buildings too. I've gotten really nice pics over there too.

Standing on the street looking at the main gate (left) and temple grounds.

Standing in front of the temple looking at Jongno Tower where the Jonggak Station subway entrances are. Insa-dong is about 9 or 10 blocks past the tower. At a major intersection you turn left and you're in Insa-dong market. If you continue past the major intersection you run into Tapgol Park on your left.

One last thing about the lotus lantern parade. It's a really good idea to pick a spot that is along the parade route at least 45 minutes, or even an hour, before it starts. A lot of photography buffs camp out on the best locations (on top of power boxes, and any and every elevated thing you can stand on top of that sits alongside the street) for taking pics. THOUSANDS of people line the streets and if you're short you won't see much--more importantly, if you're trying to take pics and have 4 rows of people standing in front of you taking pics becomes almost impossible.

Bring extra batteries, extra memory cards, and a tripod if you think you need one. I've found that I get the best pics if I use the nighttime flash settings on my camera because the people in the parade move by fairly quickly and camera shake and nighttime blur can make a wonderful picture mediocre at best.

One year (of the last four I've gone) I walked along the street in front of the crowds taking pics. I got some nice stuff, but wonder if I'd have gotten better pics if I'd camped out on an elevated position . . .

Anyways, the point is: find a good spot that is ON the parade route, and camp out early. The reason I stress ON the parade route is last year they changed the ending part of the route a little, and I missed some of the bigger floats--argh!

Hope to see you there,

2009 Buddhist Lotus Lantern Festival -- Cheonggyecheon stream lantern sculptures at night

Last Saturday night Julianne and I went for a walk along the Cheonggyecheon stream that runs for 6km through the downtown core of Seoul.

We didn't know that Buddhist lantern sculptures had been set up on little platforms set up in the water. I think that the lantern sculptures are the same ones that will be used in the Lotus Lantern Festival parade that takes place every year. Check out this link for more info on the parade.

Lotus Lantern Parade Sunday April 26 19:00~21:30 Jongno street from Dongdaemun Stadium to Jogyesa Temple

The parade is one of the best experiences one can have as a foreigner visiting Korea as a tourist, or as an English instructor living and working here. I strongly urge anyone who has never gone to make time and go. This year will be my fifth time going, and I'm totally excited about going again.

I also strongly recommend going to the Buddhist Culture Street Fair held on Sunday April 26--the same day as the parade that is held in the evening. The main city street is shut down and tons of tent booths are set up with live performances with exhibits of Buddhist culture everywhere, and you can make your own paper lantern . . . it's also, of course, a photographers heaven in terms of picture opportunities, lol.

Here's some more info.

☞When : Friday April 24,2009 – Sunday April 26 2009
The Lotus Lantern Festival 2009

Event When Where
Lantern Lighting Ceremony Unfixed (in April) Seoul Plaza
Exhibition of Traditional Lanterns Friday April 24~Wednesday May 5 Bongeunsa temple, Samsung-dong
Festival Evening Celebrations: Yeondeungnori Saturday April 25 19:00~21:00 Insa-dong street ~ Front street of Jogyesa Temple
Buddhist Culture Street Fair Sunday April 26 12:00~19:00 Front street of Jogyesa Temple
Eoulim Madang Sunday April 26 13:00 Jangchun Gym
Lotus Lantern Parade Sunday April 26 19:00~21:30 Jongno street from Dongdaemun Stadium to Jogyesa Temple
Daedong ‘Being Together’ Celebration Sunday April 26 21:30~23:00 Jonggak
Buddhist Service & Ceremony celebrating Buddha’s birthday Saturday May 2 10:00 (Ceremony 18:00) Jogyesa Temple & nationwide temples

We walked along the section of the stream that has the lantern sculptures and took a lot of pics. I'm not going to write comments for each picture because they really don't require narrative or comments to understand them and hopefully enjoy them too.