Address Change

October 25, 2011 Leave a comment

This blog has now been renamed and moved to
Visit Kojects for the latest on different projects happening around Korea.

AAJA Seminar and Lunch

August 16, 2011 Leave a comment

On Saturday August 6, the Asian American Journalists Association held a lunch followed by a panel discussion in Seoul. Nanoomi volunteers helped organize and round up AAJA members and anyone else who may have been interested in coming.

It was a casual event held at a great venue, Platoon Kunsthalle in Nonhyun-dong. Platoon is an amazing building made from shipping containers with plenty of space for media, art and other culture related events. They also have a bar and DJ equipment but unfortunately I didn’t get to use either!

We started off with a barbecue lunch that was beautifully cooked by Elaine from Yeonhap and Ramy from CNN International. They did a fantastic job on what was a scorching hot day.

Journalists, bloggers and many others enjoyed the lunch with a drink or two.

After the lunch, Steven Herman from VOA got our attention and introduced us to the speakers for the afternoon.

Martyn Williams from IDG News Service was up first and gave an insightful look into North Korea’s use of the Internet over the past decade and how they are using it now. It was interesting to learn that one of North Korea’s first websites was a gambling site which claimed to be fairer than other sites. He also discussed North Korea’s recent move of opening up the Internet to foreign journalists within North Korea.

I especially liked how Martyn went into detail about when North Korea really started to become active on the Internet and described the different sites plus social networking accounts which North Korea operates. Since most of these sites are blocked here in South Korea, it was great to finally get a look at what modern North Korean websites look like. I was surprised to see that some sites are available in many different languages.

The next presentation was by Myeong Seungeun, CEO of TNM. Unfortunately due to personal reasons he was unable to make the event but Cynthia Yoo from Nanoomi did a wonderful job of presenting it on his behalf. The presentation was about censorship of the internet within South Korea and went into detail about the ‘real name’ system which is currently in place here. You can see the presentation and read a full translation here.

After the presentations there was a Q & A session where we were joined by the CEO of ‘muzalive’, Sungkyu Lee who helped answer questions about Korea’s real name system and portal sites.

I was impressed by the amount of questions that were asked by the members of the audience. There was a lot of interest in the real name system which was linked to the hacking incident a few weeks back. Martyn explained that although a lot of these hacking incidents are blamed on North Korea, it is hard to know if this is the truth or not.

It was an event that was pulled off well by all those involved and although I’m not a member of the AAJA myself, I look forward to attending more events like this in the future. It was definitely great to finally see so many faces I had only previously seen as twitter updates!

Categories: Events

What is ‘ex-pat community’?

June 19, 2011 Leave a comment

As I have casually observed the blogsphere and while interacting with students from various countries at University, one thing that has been bugging me is the use of the term ‘ex-pat community“. It is thrown around carelessly without much thought to the meaning of the word.

I have commonly heard phrases such as “Oh, he is very well known in the ex-pat community”. There are currently over 1,000,000 foreigners residing in Korea as of last year. When people say these words who exactly do they mean? Foreign students, factory workers, wives, husbands, English teachers, engineers down in 울산? and the list could go on. Let’s have a closer look at the meaning of the word according to Oxford.

– noun

Pronunciation:/ɪksˈpatrɪət, -ˈpeɪtrɪət, ɛks-/
  • a person who lives outside their native country:


mid 18th century (as a verb): from medieval Latin expatriat- ‘gone out from one’s country’, from the verbexpatriare, fromex- ‘out’ + patria ‘native country’ So it basically means a foreigner who lives here. Unfortunately when I hear the term tossed around it is used to refer to specifically anyone who lives in or frequents the areas of 이태원 and 한남동, like they are the only important or relevant ‘ex-pats’ in Korea. Often English teachers and well-off businessmen who work here are also implied to be part of this ‘elite group’. Now don’t get me wrong, I currently teach English myself and am trying to work my way into the business world here.

However, there are communities of of ex-pats everywhere, in every city and throughout the countryside. If I were to go back to New Zealand and say to someone “He is very popular among the ex-pat community.”, people would ask you what the hell that meant. I guess what I’m saying is that the term ‘ex-pat community’ does not necessarily mean a bunch of white guys drinking in a 서울 bar on a Thursday night but encompasses a whole variety of different ex-pat communities made up of people who do many different things.
What really grinds my gears is how the media uses the terms accordingly as well. Just search ‘ex-pat’ for yourself on any of the Korean news sites. Now try and search for the word ‘immigrant’ and see what articles you get. According to the Korea Times (Yes, I know not the best source, but it was easy to search), the term “ex-pat” means anyone in the 이태원 and 한남동 area with a decent income. whereas if you are an “immigrant” you must immediately be a South East Asian married to a Korean or a factory/construction worker from abroad.
Now I can hear you saying ‘Well a lot of those immigrants will live here for the rest of their lives while I’m just here for a few years and plan to go somewhere else.’ What a load of rubbish. Construction, engineering and factory workers from places like Cambodia, Pakistan, Russia, Vietnam to name a few will definitely be going back to their countries. I also know plenty of people from the “blue collar ex-pat” community who will or have decided to live here long term. (Myself being one of them)
Does being an ex-pat make you part of the so called ex-pat community? Of course not. Plenty of people do not want to be associated with the articles like this and for good reason. I on the other hand think of myself as part of various communities that I have made for myself such as, my work community, twitter community and university community.
So next time you write the phrase ‘ex-pat’ community, think about who you really mean. Otherwise I’m just going to assume you mean every person here living outside of their native country.

KTX Derailment

June 19, 2011 Leave a comment

The KTX has derailed for the first time ever on Friday 10th Feb approx 300 metres north of Gwangmyeong Station. Luckily it was moving slowly so nobody was injured. Nevertheless it has caused big delays and on the day, all KTXs had to use the original main track between Seoul and Daejeon. If the derailment had occurred just a couple of minutes earlier it could have been disastrous.

Korail says they suspect there was a malfunction with one of the switches but investigating the contents of the black box for any further causes. Judging by the photos, it looks as though it happened right on a crossover. The KTX was pulled out by a loco on Saturday and trains are able to use a single track of the tunnel at a reduced speed of 40 km/h.

The derailment couldn’t come at worse time, especially since they are currently planning to build KTXs for use in Brazil and were also tendering for export into the U.S also.

Only 25 mins late? That’s news?

June 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Coming from Auckland and living in Seoul I have experienced both really amazing public transport and really horrible transport. It is interesting what makes the news over here. The other day Subway Line No. 2, which has the heaviest patronage of all lines was delayed by 25 minutes. It was all over the evening and internet news and it was such a big deal. It got me thinking, imagine if they had a news article every time trains got delayed at peak hour in Auckland!
And it gets better! On one particular morning the delays were so bad the subway stations issued proof of lateness tickets which workers could give to their bosses!