Archive for January, 2011

Korea pictures of outside of Seoul

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Those of you that check in regularly with my picture page will have noticed that there is a certain structure in it. Country first, sub-folder (city, occasion, etc) next with possible recurrences and pictures therein. While my country of residence has been South Korea for 8 months now the only subfolder I have had in Korea so far is Seoul.

That’s changed now.

Behold Yeosu!

Yeosu is a . . . .  industrial town on the south coast of South Korea. In the middle of winter it’s . . .  not touristy. I will write more of Yeosu some other time. For now, enjoy the pictures under the link earlier and I will add pictures every day I’m here. Well, maybe.


Quote of the day:

“The bad plowman quarrels with his ox”

– Korean proverb

Seoul, 37°

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

Not Celcius. North
Seoul lies 37°34’08” north of the equator as can be seen from wikipedia on the relevant page (and we all know not to doubt the great wikipedia)

It lies a good 15 degrees lower than my former place of habitation.

If we were to look at what we’d find at 37°34’08N 4°21’24″E (Seoul’s latitude, Delft’s longitude) we’d be just north of the coast of Algeria in the eternally pleasant Mediterranean. If I had to put it in holiday spots you might recognise I’d say: Sicily or perhaps Alicante. Both noted for their warm summers and mild winters.

That’s the longitude I live at. Everyone that talked to me during the summer will know that we certainly do have warm summers. Turn it down a tad, would you, I nearly went crazy without A/C.

Winters here, though, are not mild.
Living at a longitude of the southern most Grecian islands one might have expected this.

In the Netherlands we have winters. They’re characterized by some freezing, though not enough to skate 200 km between Frisian towns, a lot of rain but little snow, lots of wind and ludicrously little daylight.

Living south of this I would therefore expect: longer days, less frost, maybe rain instead of snow and a little less cutting wind please.

I was wrong. We don’t get rain, we get snow (which our neighbours clear from the street every time it drops), the pond in our park would have no problem holding a couple of thousand ice-skate enthusiasts, it’s fucking cold here and the wind isn’t helping with that.

Our shortest day of the year was over 90 minutes longer than the one in Delft though.

But seriously. This is our front door (which is made out of metal . . . I’m not sure who thought that was a good idea)

The moisture in the air condenses on the door and then freezes.

And this is the local water tower. Which, as you can tell, leaks

This is what you’ll find underneath it

It hasn’t been above 0° (Celcius this time) for a month now.
I’m conditioned for Dutch winters. Freezes don’t last this long back home, much to the annoyance of the Dutch skaters, and don’t generally go as low as this.

It’s cold here. Proper cold.

I kinda like it =)

More pictures in the winter album. Including those of the ice-skating rink


– Quote of the day:

Friendship is like wetting your pants, everyone can see it but only you can feel the warmth

– Anon

De Global Starcraft League ervaring

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

OK, tijd voor wat uitleg
Starcraft is een real time strategie computer spel, je manoeuvreerd je legers, managed je resources en vecht tegen lelijke aliens. Of als de lelijke aliens. Wat je leuk vind.

Als lezer van dit blog ben je misschien niet bekend met Starcraft en dat kan ik begrijpen Real Time Strategy (RTS) spellen, of gewoon computer spellen zijn niet iedereens forté.

Daarentegen, als je een Koreaan bent en je weet niet wat Starcraft is krijg je misschien binnenkort bezoek van een stel serieuze mannen in witte jassen en zul je je nooit meer zorgen hoeven te maken over meubilair met scherpe randen.

Starcraft I is in 1998 uitgebracht en over het volgende decennium zijn er 9.5 miljoen versies van verkocht.
4.5 miljoen hiervan in Korea.
Het is hier nogal populair. Vorig jaar is deel 2 van Starcraft uitgebracht, en sinds dien zijn er redelijk wat professionele spelers die hier hun geld mee verdienen hier. Met prijsgeld van €70k per gewonnen tornooi, sponsor contracten en televisie sterrendom (automatisch gevolge kennelijk) kan je hier redelijk van leven kennelijk.

Een van de toernooien, een van de grootste toernooien, is de GSL. En de finale van de GSL II was toevallig 20 minuten lopen van m’n huis. En gratis.

Dit was op m’n lijst van dingen die ik absoluut wil meemaken in Korea, dus . . .

Naast dat het gratis was hoefde ik niet in de rij te staan voor de kaartjes

En onze plekken waren helemaal vooraan.

Dit is het stadium waar her gehouden werd. Normaal gesproken een worstel arena kennelijk (zeg maar sumo, maar dan zijn de sporters wat dunner)

En je kan mooi zien hoe de arme Koreanen op de ring moesten zitten terwijl wij dezelfde zitplekken hadden als de journalisten die je hier vooraan ziet.

T had ook een nadeel. Als je de twee cellen links in de foto ziet. Daar zitten de spelers in. Wij konden het scherm mooi zien, de Koreanen kunnen 2 mensen in een cel zien terwijl ze . . . typen.

Voor het middelste van de drie schermen zaten ook de koreaanse commentators en die gaven mooi commentaar over . . . . Starcraft? anti-roos shampoo? De Noord-Zuid Korea politieke situatie? Weet ik veel. T was int Koreaans

We kregen waar voor het geld toen NesTea in een krappe 4-3 sets de 100 miljoen won prijzengeld, de beker en de titel bij BoXer wegkaapte.

Zeker een culturele ervaring. En iets dat ik wel vaker wil meemaken. T is niet m’n forté, maar ik vind RTS wel wat hebben. En om het zo mee te maken, gezeten tussen een paar duizen schreeuwende, stampende Koreanen? Niet slecht.

Meer foto’s hier.


Quote of the day:

My butt does not deserve a website *12

– Bart Simpson

The Global Starcraft II League Experience

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Let me explain.
Starcraft is a real time strategy computer game whereby you control your army and resources and fight off . . .  someone else. It’s got a rich story and intricate history, good aliens, bad aliens, ulgy aliens and ugly humans and you can fight all if you so please.

If, as a reader of this blog, you are not familiar with Starcraft I can understand. Real Time Strategy (RTS) games, or indeed computer games are not everyone’s forté.

If, however, you were to not be familiar with Starcraft as a Korean you might soon be visited by some serious gentlemen in white coats and you would never have to worry about hurting yourself on hard-surfaced furniture ever again.

Starcraft I released in 1998 and in the next decade sold 9.5 million copies worldwide. 4.5 million of these in South Korea. Since it’s release over a decade ago there has been a thriving gaming and tournament industry on this platform in Korea. Up to the release of the sequel SC II in 2010 there were quite a number of professionals making a living on this decade old game, where between sponsorships, prize money and television careers (yes) these players could live in relative luxury.

Last year the sequel was released. Starcraft II.

Pretty soon tournaments were planned. Actually there were active tournaments while the game was still in beta.
When the second season of the GSL (Global Starcraft League) had it’s final 20 minutes walk from my house I decided I must attend.

I looked long and hard, for this is all in Korean, and found . . . GomTV. I had to register at the website and mail someone my intention to attend.

Access was free

I did not have to stand in the queue

And we were escorted to our front row seats.

The stadium was massive, usually used for Korean wrestling matches (think a slimmer version of sumo)

And you can just see the poor Koreans having to sit on the bleachers while we had the same view as the sports reporters you see at the front of that picture.

This, of course, was actually a drawback. You see those two “cells” on the left hand side of the picture? That’s where they put the players, so we could see NesTea of BoXer furiously . . . . clicking

We did have a very good view of the screens showing the action fortunately.
And a good view of the commentators, sitting on center stage between the two massive screens screaming about . . . . Starcraft? anti-dandruff shampoo? North-South Korea political tensions? We don’t know.

In the end, in a close 4-3 victory, we saw NesTea emerge victorious over BoXer. Fraught with emotions, wiping away tears he came forth to accept the 100 million won (€70.000) prizemoney.

It’s not football level (yet), but together with his sponsorship, the money paid for interviews and all that . . . not a bad haul.

And not a bad way to spend an evening. Sitting amid a shouting, roaring mass of enthusiastic Koreans watching their game of choice.

More pictures here.


Quote of the day:

My butt does not deserve a website *12

– Bart Simpson