Thursday, February 19, 2009

Big Bang! for the ladies

These guys are popular too. Cheesy as shit but the video is way overdramatic, which typical of Korean MV's.

Gee Gee Gee!

This is one of the latest hit videos here in Korea and damn it's catchy!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Afternoon Walk

A buddy came to visit me in Korea and we went out to the coast. Here's the souvenirs.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ajuma Power

They say in Korea that there are three types of people: Men, Women and Ajuma. The Ajuma is a the most powerful creature on earth. Having successfully raised a family there is little that can stand in her way, even brides to be. Watch until 43seconds.

Monday, February 09, 2009

A Cold Day Off

I had the day off yesterday so I went around town to do some drawings. I was hoping for better weather. The pencil drawing from the Gyeongpo Beach neighborhood took about 2 hours, enough time to turn my feet completely to ice. The watercolor is of a traditional Korean chimney used for cooking and heating. The face is a watercolor done at home.

Sacheon Beach

Ah, this one's a little better than yesterday's paintings. This was the view from a really nice coffee shop in Sacheon Beach.

Jeong Dong Jin

Last Saturday I took the train to the next stop south of Gangneung: Jeong Dong Jin. Famous for it's train station right on the beach and the shooting location of a popular Korean TV Drama, I thought it'd be an interesting day trip. It's also home to the world's largest Sand Clock, though not pictured here. These watercolor sketches are from a coffee shop near the beach where a friend works. The sketches are....ah....well...ah well, I'll get it right one day.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Resolutions for '09

2009: A year in review.

I came to Korea with such high hopes. Six months in I feel more than a little disillusioned. I had all these great plans to do all these great things and everyone would love me for it. The reality of the situation has set in and I’ve realized the road to fame and fortune is an arduous one.

First, the loneliness and isolation is truly maddening. Once the novelty of traveling wears off, I find I’m stuck with all the same old problems I had back home: stress from work, lack of hours in the day, lack of social skills, etc. Moreover all these problems are compounded by the language barrier. I have no one to talk to on a meaningful level with whom I can share and alleviate my problems. Thank God my Korean co-workers have been sensitive to my situation. They’ve done their best to help me out, but sometimes I feel like screaming mid-conversation because I can’t hold back all the things I want to say but don’t think they would understand.

There are other foreigners, but it’s difficult to find friends that share similar interests and concerns. To be perfectly honest, it’s difficult to find people I’m interested in spending time with. Plus, I was adamant from the start to avoid the foreigner crowd. I didn’t want to come to a foreign country only to spend time with other Americans.

Then there’s the weather. This has been the coldest winter I’ve been through yet and the winter depression has hit harder than ever before. The snow outside is beautiful but it also means I’m stuck inside my apartment. Back home in California it was never so cold that I couldn’t enjoy some fresh air and a bit of sunshine. I’d heard that in Northern Europe the suicide rate is really high during the winter because of the lack of sunshine. It’s probably just an urban myth but after this winter I can begin to understand why.

By early January I was in a terrible state. At what must have been the worst point, I took a trip to Japan. My good friend Dominique lives out there in Kyoto, also teaching English and trying to figure out what to do with her life. Japan itself sucked. The exchange rate was terrible, the weather was dismal and I got sick the first two days there. Spending time with Dom however, was really helpful. The winter was difficult for the both of us and we had a lot of similar experiences and emotions to share. The change of location and time with a friend helped me to get a better perspective on my situation here in Korea. I decided that I need to make a few changes with the way I’m living my life. In no particular order, here they are:

First, I’ll make foreigner friends. It’s time I stopped being such a snob about living abroad and face the fact that all of us foreigners are in the same boat. Besides, it’s not like I couldn’t get to know some of them better and eventually discover something I liked about them. When I really think about it, this was how I made friends back home.

Second, I’m going to stop pressuring myself to write or draw the best piece of Art in the history of Art. It doesn’t help that I have all these other responsibilities and obstacles in my way. F**k this writers block, man. I’m doing away with all my big plans and just making what feels good. When I stop to think about, this has always led to my best and favorite work.

Third, I’m done with teaching. I’ve got another 6 long months to go until my teaching contract is up. Teaching is fun and the kids are great, but it takes up too much time and distracts me from the things I’d really like to be doing. I need to find another way to finance my time out here.

Fourth, the weather is getting better. Obviously that’s no fault of my own, but now that I can see a bit of sunshine I feel a million times better. It’s like the world and all its possibilities are starting to open up again.

2009 is going to be a great year if I can just remember to: make friends, have fun, find another means of travel than teaching and, as always, stay in the moment and try to enjoy what I have instead of berating myself for what I don’t.


Monday, February 02, 2009

Back in Gangneung and on the Street!

Finally the weather is improving a bit. Now I can stand outside for more than 2 minutes without suffering from frostbite. Here are some drawings from the back alleys in the downtown neighborhood.

Proof that I was with people

For all you haters out there hatin on me for my photos, here you go! The girl with the glasses is an old friend from New York. These are her two Japanese friends, Aya and Mikka. They were into the muscles.

Himeji Castle: Sketches

It was a two hour train ride from Kyoto to Himeji castle, but it was well worth the trip. Himeji is the oldest surviving castle in Japan, moreover, it's hella dope.

Himeji Castle

Photos from Himeji Castle, aka Shirasagi-Jo: White Crane Castle. Note the bird in the tree branches.

Hello Japan!

From the Top:
Arriving at Osaka Port
Osaka Port Museum
Nijo Castle in Kyoto
Nijo Gardens outside Nijo Castle
Streets of Kyoto
Kyoto Tower

Pictures from the Ferry

Goodbye Korea!

Ferry to Japan

Sketches from the Busan subway

Map of Busan and some sketches of the ship and port.

Watercolors from the observation deck. I took a 20 ferry to Osaka.

I took a trip to Japan last weekend. It was actually quite terrible. The exchange is totally not in my favor and I got really sick the first three days of my 4 day trip. Here are the sketchbook pages. The good news is that I've decided I'm not interested in ever going to Japan again.

2nd Weekend in Seoul

Took another trip out to Seoul for the weekend. Fortunately this trip was much more mellow, with no incidences of stabbing. Instead of hitting the clubs I took it easy and visited some museums and took these photos. Aparently jumping while taking pictures is all the rage. And that costumed guard wouldn't smile for s**t.