This is the movie my 4th through 6th grade students made as part of the 2012-13 Winter English camp I held as a Teach and Learn in Korea (TaLK) scholar. It was almost entirely created by them and I edited it using the free trial of Wondershare Video Editor. All music was obtained/used freely and legally through Some parts may not make a whole lot of sense and they hilariously read the script during some parts of the film (I didn’t realize this until I was editing), but I think they did a fantastic job anyway.

Here is the brief lesson plan:

1. Talk about what makes “good” and “bad” characters, including colors, expressions, clothing, etc.

2. Show example short animations and other movies made by Korean EFL students.

3. Brainstorm plot ideas and draw out the basic story outline.

4. Write the script.

5. Film the movie.

6. Work overtime editing -_-

7. Turn off the lights, close the shades, and enjoy the movie with hot chocolate and popcorn!

Some cultural notes:

-Korean students play ALOT of computer/phone games. Whenever I ask my students what they did during the weekend or after school they frequently say they played games

-Anipang is a very popular cell phone game in Korea

-Many Korean children hate rice with beans in it

-Gangnam Style…enough said


I have about a month left in Korea and am hoping to check out the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art before I leave. I was checking out the permanent exhibition of Korean modern art and stumbled upon sculptor Kwan Jin-Kyu (1922-1973).

Photo of Kwan’s self sculpture from the Leeum, Samsung Museum

Although I’m no art historian, or anywhere near that expertise, I’ve come to appreciate art after a university-sponsored trip to Florence a couple of years ago. After having works of art explained to me, I realized I found museums boring because I didn’t understand what they held. I find the most interesting of pieces are those that convey social commentary, that expose the reality around us.

After some cursory internet research into Kwan, I found his lens ironically unique.

Here’s an excerpt from a biographical piece on Kwan:

Kwon took note of the ancient arts of Mesopotamia and Egypt, as well as the Cycladic, Etruscan, Greek, Romanesque, and Renaissance arts, in addition to the artistic principles associated with Cezanne, Rodin, Antoine Bourdelle, Shimizu Takashi, Aristide Maillol, Giacomo Manzu, Marino Marini, and Giacometti. While integrating such a wide range of art traditions, he sought to highlight the fundamental and basic structure of objects. He would say: “Every object has a structure, but Korean sculpture lacks a deep search for that structure.” This statement should be understood from a context of his own deep, personal introspection. Ultimately, his artistic pursuits were focused less on national consciousness or ideology, and more on the pure spirit of art and its universal nature.

Indeed, the various pieces I saw by him blurred the differences between each figure in a way that is different from any one artist having a certain style. The article goes on to say that Kwan focused on conveying a “basic structure” rather than an “external appearance”. 

The following photos were taken from Kwan’s 2009 exhibition at the MOMAT

Chi-Won  1967  The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

Chi-Won 1967 The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Nun Shunyo 1967-68
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Nun Shunyo 1967-68
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Knight 1953 
private collection, Korea
Knight 1953 
private collection, Korea
Horse 1960 
private collection, Korea
Horse 1960 
private collection, Korea
Self-Portrait Wearing a Robe
Korea University Museum
Self-Portrait Wearing a Robe
Korea University Museum

I find his commentary sobering and hopeful at the same time. He didn’t focus on the beauty of man or the particularities of objects, people. Rather, he expressed how mundane it all is. His busts are all of a triangular, drooping shape, lacking a particular expression. Mindless even. 

Yet, they are beautiful, especially in what they reveal and in the fact that Kwan chose that theme as his niche. If only others recognized his significance.

A social misfit, Kwon suffered greatly from the cold reception of his work from the community of sculptors in Korea. In 1973, he made a plaster self-portrait in a red robe of clergy and upon completing it, committed suicide in his studio.

I look forward to seeing his work up close.


Excellent Article: Who Do You Love?: Korean Ethnocentrism, International Couples and the Dating Dilemma

Apparently it’s written by a high school senior! Great insight into the three topics stated in the article title. It also touches on gender roles and the scale of social liberalism and conservatism in Korea, which I would add, is much more conservative in general than those of the U.S. or “the West”.

I have my Wednesday 5th and 6th graders take turns acting as the teacher to begin the class. They have to ask about the date, weather, and each of their peers’ as well as their teacher’s moods and depict them. Guess which one is the teacher.

I have my Wednesday 5th and 6th graders take turns acting as the teacher to begin the class. They have to ask about the date, weather, and each of their peers’ as well as their teacher’s moods and depict them. Guess which one is the teacher.

View from my classroom of the first day of snow for the 2012 winter season…not looking forward to this, especially when it’s coupled with lightning…ridiculous! At least it makes everything look nice.

View from my classroom of the first day of snow for the 2012 winter season…not looking forward to this, especially when it’s coupled with lightning…ridiculous! At least it makes everything look nice.


Creating a calendar with my 1st graders with the depiction of every month done by fingerpainting. This is a boy swimming in the sea during the month of June with abnormally large lips but a happy mood.


I was a day late, but I guess he didn’t care. When I called him, he said, “Oh! Suejin-ah!* My granddaughter!” I was in between classes so I had to keep it brief, but we talked about some upcoming plans—my cousin’s graduation from law school, when I was returning to Oregon, etc. He asked how my cousin in Seoul was doing. I said her stomach was growing from pregnancy, but she was healthy and happy.

He told me he couldn’t fully express how happy he was that I had learned Korean and could now speak with him. He said that I was his favorite granddaughter. He may have been drinking a bit and I’ve heard him say that to all of his grandchildren, but nonetheless, it made me all giddy to hear that. I had to hang up because my first graders had paraded into the classroom, and I told my grandpa that I would see him in January. He told me, “I lub-ah youuuu”, and I gave him some lub as well. 

A couple days later, my dad sent me this e-mail:

Hi Jessica,
Grandpa was very pleased to receive your phone call.  He called me to say that he was very proud of you.  I think he was even more excited because you can converse with him in Korean. 
I hope all is going well with you, and perhaps you need to think about a exit plan from Korea.  Take care!

*-ah is commonly added to the end of names as a diminutive suffix. More info here.


In the middle of teaching kinders when I see a kid smack another kid in the back of the head. The hitter had an expression of bitterness and clearly meant to cause pain.

The kinder teacher noticed my alarm and quickly explained the situation. The first kid had thrown the first punch and the kinder teacher was merely letting the initial victim exact revenge. Thus goes the kindergarten retributive justice system.


Had some time in between the end of summer English camp and the start of the second semester and fate took me to Jeju woooo.

I knew some people that cycled around the whole island (roughly 200km) in four or five days and it sounded like an awesome way to check out Jeju. I missed the feeling of propelling oneself with nothing but some metal, rubber, and the lower extremities. I ended up having to do my first solo trip cause I couldn’t find anyone to go with me for various reasons (*sniff* I have no friends…this blog post from a female solo-traveler brought some motivation)

I purchased the ticket through Eastar Jet ( following advice from this brief article on visiting Jeju Island. I spent 170,000 won (~$160) for a round-trip ticket during the peak summer season, the other being in the winter, and bought the ticket about three weeks in advance. 

Packed, finished with summer camp, and off I go!


I wanted to maxmize my time on the island and booked a ticket for 6:30am, but this ended up causing me more stress than it was worth. I contacted my aunt who lives an hour south east of Seoul proper by subway to see if I could stay the night at her apartment and take the first bus to Gimpo airport. This would have worked out, but as my aunt quickly informed me, the first bus to Gimpo is at 5:30am and it takes at least an hour to get there. I wouldn’t get there in time. Aaaaand cue vacation stress.


I wrack my brain about what to do and eventually Googled my way to the Lazy Bird Guesthouse (hostels are frequently called guesthouses in Korea) near Incheon Airport. I give them a call two days before my flight asking for the cheapest room and shuttle to the airport. 20,000 for a bed in a 6 person bunk-bed room, 5,000 for drop-off and another 5,000 because the flight is early-morning (I suspect the manager’s English is decent, but the conversation was in awkward full-on Konglish). I go to an ATM and transfer the 30,000 to his bank account. Aaaaand end vacation stress…temporarily.

Relieved, I hop on a three-hour bus ride to the Incheon bus terminal, ride the subway about another hour to the guesthouse near ICN, and think I’m all set for Jeju until the house manager asks what time my flight is from ICN. I kindly correct him saying that I’m leaving from Gimpo, not Incheon, to which he responds that he thought I said I was flying from Incheon and that transport to Gimpo would cost 50,000 even by taxi. I begrudgingly think I have no other choice until he asks his wife what time the first subway is in the morning and she quickly concludes that I’ll just enough time to board my flight because its domestic…I’ll just have to walk quickly, or run.

Relieved once again, I take a shower and settle in a bit. I din on some oatmeal and a hard-boiled egg I packed for dinner.

In the kitchen

I meet a middle-aged Russian man and slightly younger French woman. The man had apparently been travelling throughout Korea for the past few weeks (I don’t know what he does for a living) and told me about going to the Yeosu expo to only forgo the lines to drink vodka and eat caviar in a Russian restaurant near the Russian pavilion.

The woman was adopted from Korea and came to Seoul for a 6-month Korean language program. She’s unemployed, divorced, and has two children. We made a quick connection sharing experiences having to preface any interaction with new Koreans that we were foreigners and despite our native appearance, not so great at Korean. Both were heading to their respective native countries the following morning. 

I finish my dinner, bid “nice to meet you…safe travels, etc.” to Russia and France, take a shower, and sleep about four hours because the one fan oscillating in the bedroom isn’t enough to stave off the Korean summer heat. I unsatisfyingly wake up while its still dark, collect my things, eat some more oatmeal, and am shuttled to the subway station by the kind manager to ride the 5:25am subway 30 minutes to Gimpo.

This eery subway ride

made me nervous and special. I just had to add top and bottom black borders to make it look like a suspense film. Everyone else must be at work or something…man, I’m a lucky duck!

Just kidding, I got on the wrong subway line and hopped on a train at the end of its line and wasted 5 precious minutes while the conductors changed shifts and headed back to same stop I had just come from…

I find the right train, rush off and proceed to jog to “Domestic Departures”. I get on the moving sidewalk to speed myself up and get yelled at by an old Korean man with a cane who shouts very, very loudly “Don’t run!” I keep on jogging.

Lessons learned. Now on to more.