Archive for February, 2010

Last resort

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

In Korea, the risks part I I told you of Kimchi.

I am pleased to report that should I for some reason be overcome by my revulsion of the stuff, if I can no longer stand it on the breath of everyone I interact with, if the woman I love’s kiss becomes shear terror through the consumption of the stuff there is now a way out.

South Korea has opened what officials say is the world’s first purpose-built prison for foreign convicts.

The prison offers Western food and satellite TV programmes in English, Chinese, Russian and Arabic.
The number of foreigners in South Korean jails has more than doubled in the past four years to about 1,500.

The prison’s director said the inmates would still be able to pursue the “Korean dream” that had led them to the country in the first place.

The prison is about 100km (62 miles) south of the capital, Seoul, in Cheonan.
Inmates are given classes in Korean culture but can also view satellite TV from around the world and eat non-Korean meals.

Sweet, sweet release will never be outside of my reach.


Row! You incomprehensible, horizontal-eyed, Western trouser-wearers! Eurgh! You all look the same to me! How I despise your lack of subtlety and your joined-up writing! You, who have never committed ritual suicide in your lives! SILENCE! Unceremonious rice-pudding eaters! How I abominate your milk-drinking and your lack of ancestor-worship and your failure to eat your lunch out of little boxes!

– Tsutomu Sekine

Korea, the risks. Part I, the food

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

When I went to Kenya I was urged by several people within my field of friends and family to reconsider. Kenya was a most dangerous place indeed. I would certainly get mugged, raped, eaten and converted to some heathen religion (not in that order). I expect the same people would be mortified with my move to South Korea.
Not because of the mugging or raping, most people will realize a 1.95m tall white guy in a country of 1.65m short asians isn’t prime target for that. No, it’s the neighbours. South Korea is next to North Korea and they’ve been huffing, and puffing and mostly just blowing steam for well . . . 5 decades now? They make the front page a couple of times of several newspapers every month with nuclear something, firing somethingother, launching whatchamecallits and mostly aggressive other stuff. I’m basically not worried about it much. Partly because of how the western media portraits the North Koreans and partly because nothing military is going to happen anytime soon. America is still very on their toes regarding the state of this peninsula, Japan isn’t NK friendly and China recently basically told them they didn’t have their back unconditionally.

So, what will I worry about.


Korea’s most notable contribution to world cuisine is Kimchi. Health Magazine has named it one of the world’s most healthy foods because it is loaded with vitamins A, B, and C, but its biggest benefit may be in its “healthy bacteria” called lactobacilli, found in fermented foods like kimchi and yogurt. This good bacteria helps with digestion, plus it seems to help stop and even prevent yeast infections. Best news of all though: Some studies show fermented cabbage has compounds that may prevent the growth of cancer.
Now, call me a skeptic, but I like to review my sources. Currently, I fill my days checking sources and whatever for my final thesis so the first thing I did was try and track down some of these sources.
Thin. Very thin.

What I did find was this: Kimchi and soybean pastes are risk factors of gastric cancer, by Hong-Mei Nan

Hell, if you google Kimchi cancer you will get a lot of links to either side of the arguement. Some of them indicate it being the cabbage that is responsible to the anti-cancer properties, others the pickling. And then others indicate the pickling is directly related to gastric cancer.
All in all it’s a hotly debated topic it seems and whichever side of the arguement I believe it’s not likely to affect me for years of regular use anyway.

But, here’s my stance on Kimchi.
To introduce and conclude: Kimchi, is a pickled dish made of cabbage, some other vegetables and various seasonings.

It’s pickled cabbage.


I like neither pickled foods nor cabbage. Case closed. It could give me superpowers and I’ll politely pick at it during official functions and ignore the hell out of it during the rest of my stay there. But considering it’s served with every bloody meal and aelle seems to actually like it (I knew I should’ve questioned her tastes when she fell for me) I’m sure I’ll have enough exposure to it and so: Worry about it, I shall.


Being a parent is wanting to hug and strangle your kid at the same time

– Bill Watterson