Tuesday, February 9, 2016

School Graduation

It's February 2016, and the 2015 school year is officially over, in the case of Yangmyung Elementary School being denoted by the sixth grade graduation ceremony.

It always begins with some entertainment by underclassmen, usually some choral group or a pianist or two. This year I arrived (10 minutes early) to be treated to a play about, as far as I could tell, events in the future lives of this year's graduates.

There is a bit of speechifying, then the awarding of diplomas:

I caught a couple of pics of the happy grads:

The top scholars and leaders of the class get special recognition.

The last thing before that final, sad, dreary song they always do, is a slideshow with pictures of sixth graders over the years:

Congratulations to the sixth grade class of 2015! I'll look forward to seeing some you on Teachers' Day next year when you drop by to see old Tuttle. Until then, Have A Good Time!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

School Electioms

The US Presidential election season is underway, with the Iowa caucuses just finished and New Hampshire primaries coming up fast. Yangmyung Elementary was a hotbed of political activity this week, as well, as students chose their student government officers for next year.

A few mornings this week I arrived at school to find canvassing underway, with chants and signs supporting about 10 candidates for the four offices (class reps are chosen later). So I took a few pics:

Om Wednesday morning, the candidates gave their speeches over the closed circuit TV system, then the students went to the polls, one located on each floor--this one outside my classroom, where the third graders exercised the franchise:

The results are in, but I don't think I'm supposed to say. Anyway, congratulations to the winners, and condolences to the losers (or is that the differently winning?)

I have previously blogged about the high school elections at my old school: start here.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Street Art Make Better World

Hongdae, or Hongik University entrance area, is a trendy, artsy, bar and restaurant-dense area popular with younger people and expats. It's brightly lit for Christmas; I met up with some pals for drinks and dinner.

We happened across this display, which is probably an advertisement for some local art institute, although this first one looks more like an advertisement for Capri, a Korean beer brand.

It was very cold Friday night, about -15 C, but this advertisement, the walking one with his head in his hand, is dressed for it.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Winter Camp

After my Winter Vacation (about which, more soon), I had two weeks of Winter Camp. Week One was for third and fourth graders, an omnibus conversation class I called "Let's Talk!" I took a few pictures. Set one is from Wednesday, when we watched the Mr Bean video where he takes a baby to the amusement park, and the students end class by designing their own amusement park.

On Friday, the first half of class was "Around the World", famous tourist spots. The last half of class, students made posters to extol the tourism virtues of Korea. I'm not sure how they got the extra n on "Welcome to Korea".

The second week of camp was Movie-Makers. After four or five hours learning about genres, settings, story-telling, character, etc, the students write their own stories. I act as producer and cameraman. I made two or three corrections, and supplied the punchline.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Cake 2015

It's Christmas Eve here in the Seoul Patch, and I am enjoying one of the peninsula's holiday traditions, the Christmas cake. While nicely decorated, this one is less ornate than some others I've had over the years (links at bottom of post). It is a Choco-crunchy-saeng-creme cake (the saeng technically means 'fresh', but really means 'imitation').

I've always got mine from Tous les Jours or Paris Baguette, but as I mentioned a couple of posts down, the new bakery in the neighborhood is called Napoleon:

You can learn quite a lot about the Korean tradition of baking, Christmas, cakes, etc, and view previous cakes, all different, by clicking on the years: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Lovely Beef Restaurant in Guro Digital

The Stumbler and I were turned away from our usual beef place in Guro Digital Complex, on account of it being packed full up on a chilly Tuesday night,so we made our way around the corner to a newish place called 산더미, which transliterates to Sandeomi, and sounds rather similar to a naughty sexual practice.

It appears very similar to most "Korean BBQ" places, a butcher at the front, exhaust hoses dangling over charcoal table grills, lots of people.

And of course, Korean meals come with 반찬 banchan, side dishes, including usually kimchi, "wild sesame" leaves, sprouts, onions, and lettuce for wrapping the meat in. You can also see some garlic, peppers and samjang on the right in the first pic:

But the key thing is the main course, the meat. Here we have 1,100 grams of sirloin and "rib meat" for 48,000 W.

Highly recommended.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Homemade Brunch Cafe

I'm not sure what the 37.5 in its name means, but that's only part of the reason I was intrigued by this new restaurant that opened in my neighborhood. Well, not merely my neighborhood, but my building, around the corner from the 7-eleven.

Who even knows what 'brunch' means in this country? Well, they do have it: 늦은 아침밥, meaning a late morning meal. But this cafe takes the more American meaning, serving light fare: soup, salad, omelettes, French toast. I was also intrigued by who would dine in a place so clearly non-Korean. Mok-dong, for all its virtues, is a very traditional area--most of your dining out choices in my neighborhood are sit-on-the-floor traditional or chicken hofs. Although that is changing. McDonald's won the Lotteria-Mickey D's battle here, even if I suspect that is because they have a rare drive-thru; one of the kimbab shops was replaced by a churros stand; and the Paris Baguette was kicked out by the swanky Bakery Napoleon.

I enjoy Korean food as much as the next guy. Actually, probably considerably more than the next guy, if the next guy isn't Korean. And not just so-called Korean barbecue, either: soups, stews, pajeon, kimchi, anything except octopus and stewed fish. However, the Korean flavor spectrum is rather like Mexican food: a limited number of ingredients, combined in lots of different ways. A man wants cheese and bread sometimes, too.

Therefore, I have eaten my "brunch" at 37.5 on successive Sundays, when 75% of the tables were filled. I first had the ham-cheese panini set, which included soup and salad for 10,000 W. It was quite good, although it had, dare I say it, one more slice of melty cheese that was strictly necessary. And that's real-and-true balsamic dressing for the salad.

Today, I went back and tried the ham-cheese French toast: the ingredients were in total balance, and the salad had more fruit and a nice dollop of cream cheese. Yes, that's a raspberry jus. Delicious. 12,000 W, a bit pricey.

Being a cafe, it offers a variety of coffees, a number of "ades" and fruit drinks, and an unexceptional list of beers, but I opted for something called a Godiva Oreo chocolate frappe. Wow! Perhaps the richest milkshake I've ever had. Pricey at 6,500 W but yum!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Seoul Lantern Festival 2015

The Seoul Lantern Festival (서울빛초롱축제) began on November 7th, and closes tonight. It is held on the Cheonggyecheon, a "stream" running through downtown Seoul. I made it there last night, as my previous attempts at the foray were delayed by poor weather. I also attended this event in 2009 and 2012--click on the appropriate tag in the cloud to your right.

Since it was the last weekend, I knew it would be crowded, and it was. I don't really remember much of a line to go down to the "stream" area itself, but on this day, the line snaked around for 25 minutes. Credit to the organizers is due, however, as it was very sensible and smooth.

First, a few shots from street-level:

The first series of lanterns as you proceed from the ramp are all large-scale models of historical Korean buildings. These are lanterns--paper-covered, traditionally-built, although as a nod to safety they are lit by electricity.

The most charming lanterns, in my opinion, are the ones that depict everyday peasant life, such as children playing paengi, a spinning top game, or people sitting at a restaurant counter.

Of course, with thousands and thousands of visitors, it's not all paper lanterns the size of parade floats, There's also real people sitting at real food counters. for example, grilled squid, ddeokbokki, "egg bread", and chicken on a stick:

The Cheonggye stream was a signature project of Seoul Mayor, later Korean President, Lee Myung-bak, and although it was very controversial at the time, it is today a very popular recreation spot for Seoulites. I think it is well-done, and among the elements is a massive "room" under one of the bridges, where any number of events can be staged. During this festival, you can write out your message and wishes for the coming year. You can see the lanterns arranged behind me:

Many of the lanterns are best viewed from one side, but here's one which took viewers on each side of the stream into account: