Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Tag: Korean Stuff (page 1 of 12)

Nice Parking, Dumb Ass

2018-04-01 15.56.29Usually, bad parking in Korea doesn’t annoy me (yes, it does, but I am trying hard to be nicer these days), but when I saw the way the driver of this car parked in front of a fitness club next to my apartment, I couldn’t look the other way.

To be fair, it was Sunday and there was no parking available outside the fitness club, but to park like this, simply defies logic and public decency, not to mention safety.

All The Right Moves

All The Right Moves 001

If you’ve walked past the 3rd floor gymnasium on Tuesday mornings between 9:00-11:00 you’ve probably heard a lot of shouting. Don’t be alarmed. It’s just Dr. Kim Choon-won conducting one of his Taekwondo classes.

Flying into Panmunjom with CNN — June 14, 2001


Of all the cool things that I got to do when I was a feature writer for The Korea Times, one of the coolest things was flying into Panmunjom in a Blackhawk helicopter with CNN on June 14, 2001.

In 2001, the U.S. Army switched from their green/camo fatigue hats to black berets and the 8th Army would be one of the first commands to don the new head gear. Given the attention to the Korean peninsula following the North-South summit in the summer of 2000, not to mention the 50th Anniversary of the Korean War, the USFK and the 8th Army decided to make it a big media event. All the major US TV networks were invited to Korea to cover the “beret changing” event as well as CNN. Because I had written many stories about Korean War commemorative events as well as various articles about USFK, I was invited to join CNN for the beret changing ceremony at Camp Casey (home of the US Second Infantry Division) and later fly to Panmunjom.

That was one sweet ride, flying over the Imjin River and landing inside Camp Bonifas where we were met by Col. William Miller the JSA Commander. I got to meet Sohn Ji-ae, who was the CNN Seoul Bureau Chief at the time (now she’s the CEO of Arirang TV).

Although I was just along for the ride (I didn’t file a story) I did take some cool photos including this one of Ms. Sohn conducting an interview in front of The Bridge of No Return.

See, The Accidental Journalist, Part 2

On the Waterfront

On the Beach

I’m not sure what’s going on in this photo via the Chosun Ilbo. Doesn’t look like too many people want to go swimming. Maybe the waves are too high.

Where’s the fun in this just standing on a crowded beach?

Korean Maemi


Starting to feel like summer in Daejeon which means summer is just around the corner and the return of the Korean maemi (cicada).

They are noisy little critters.

How well do you know the two Koreas?

Waking Up Cover 1

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So, you think you know everything about Korea

With the two Koreas in the news a lot these days (much more North Korea) it might be hard to understand for non-Korean pundits how things have gotten to the current intensity level on the Korean peninsula. To best understand what is happening one needs to turn to some classic studies about Korea.


The Two Koreas -- Don Oberdorfer

Mar 29, 2013
The Two Koreas -- Don Oberdorfer
Mar 29, 2013 - - 15
The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future -- Victor Cha

Want to know what's really going on in North Korea? Read this book.


Korea's Place in the Sun -- Bruce Cumings

Mar 29, 2013
Korea's Place in the Sun -- Bruce Cumings

Troubled Tiger -- Mark Clifford

Mar 29, 2013
Troubled Tiger -- Mark Clifford

One of the first books I read on Korea. Too bad it's out of print.

Mar 29, 2013 - - 15
Korea: The Impossible Country -- Daniel Tudor

Korea, A Walk Through the Land of Miracles -- Simon Winchester

Mar 29, 2013
Korea, A Walk Through the Land of Miracles -- Simon Winchester

The Cleanest Race -- B.R. Meyers

Mar 29, 2013
The Cleanest Race -- B.R. Meyers

The Aquariums of Pyongyang -- Kang Chol-Hwan

Mar 29, 2013
The Aquariums of Pyongyang -- Kang Chol-Hwan

Ice Fishing Anyone?

Korean Ice FishingAlthough I’ve never enjoyed the fine art outdoor of ice fishing, I am sure this is not the way you go about it.  This photo, which comes via the English Chosun, was taken at some ice fishing rodeo in Korea. Could someone please tell me where’s the fun in all this? And if anyone caught a fish it would probably be a miracle with all the folks tramping on the ice above. I’d be worried about all the holes in the ice, too.

Crowds. Got to love them in Korea.

Korea: Up Close and Personal — A Review of Korea: The Impossible Country

Korea The Impossible CountryWhen I came to Korea in 1990 to live and work, my knowledge of Korea was what I was able to glean from a South Korean Fodor’s travel guide, travel information from the Korea National Tourism Agency, a couple badly photocopied pages of firsthand experiences by English teachers at the language school I would be teaching at in southern Seoul, and a feature story in a 1979 issue of National Geographic magazine.

Nowadays, finding out information about what life is like in Korea is easy thanks to all the websites and blogs devoted to Korea and the trove of books which have been published about Korea in the past 20 years (including one from this reviewer: Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm). There is no dearth of information about Korea and it seems with every new book or blog about Korea another “expert” chimes in.

Well, another expert, Daniel Tudor, has chimed in with Korea: The Impossible Country and this is one expert who knows his stuff about Korea. Indeed, this old Korean hat found a trove of fresh insights about Korea as well as some succinct explanations of Korean customs and traditions and one of the best explanations that I’ve ever come across of that ever so explanation-evasive Korean “cultural code”, han.

It’s all here. Anything and everything you’ve heard or wondered about Korea is explored here, up close and personal. He examines everything from Shamanism and Confucianism to the rise of democracy in Korea and nationalism. With journalistic flair and the desire for getting at the truth, whether to satisfy his own curiosity or not, Tudor unravels all that is mysterious, intriguing, and sometimes frustrating about Korea to get at the very heart of what makes Korea, Korea.

Although this is not an academic study, (those looking for a more of an academic study about Korea might want to choose Don Oberdorfer’s, The Two Koreas or Bruce Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun) there is much to be learned and digested here. And even if you have already lived and worked in Korea for any length of time, Tudor offers fresh insights into contemporary Korean society whether he’s talking about Korea’s drinking culture or the role of women (though he might need to update his book soon with the election of Park Guen-hye).

Though a bit heavy on the historical, cultural, anthropological, psychological attributes of Korean society and things Korean for short term visitors to Korea, it should be standard issue for anyone who is going to be here for the long term. Tudor excels with his ability to describe the Korean-ness of Korea. Additionally, it should be required reading for anyone doing business in Korea: from students and military personnel to business persons and diplomats.

Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm (ebook)

Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm (paperback)

Steady as she goes

The Lespo Standard.

Your all-weather bicycle.

And why do we say, “steady as she goes?” Why not, “steady as it goes?”

Either way, this gentleman was not about to be dissuaded by snow and ice. Look closely, you’ll also see his cane and an industrial-strength chain to make sure no one steals his Lespo.

Kimchi Chocolate — Namdaemun Market, December 2002

On assignment for the Korea Times in 2002, I decided to write a story about Christmas shopping at Namdaemun Market, Seoul’s oldest, traditional market where you can find practically everything including Kimchi Chocolate.

And the taste?

Never tried it.

Like this photo? Want to see more?

Want to read about what living in South Korea was like in the 1990s?

Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm

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