I went to Jeju Island this week, and on Friday I took a solitary hike of one of the main attractions: 성산 일출봉, or Sunrise Peak at Seongsan. Well, the hike wasn’t so solitary. I brought my camera, and many other tourists were there too. Here are the better of the pictures I took, in chronological order. I got off the bus way too early out of an abundance of caution.
I and lots of people from my church went to Thailand last week. Our church has a new missions operation starting in north Thailand, near the city of Chiang Rai. Three of our people recently moved there to become missionaries. They’re going to start a school in the area for local village kids. Also, and not completely unrelatedly, an old member of our church named Beau who is Thai got married in Bangkok at the end of the week.
Here’s an email I sent recently about a cooking failure and a big success: Hello there cooks, Have you had any triumphs in the kitchen lately? Or perhaps a terrific flop? I’ve had both in the last month or so. On December 30 I undertook to make apple butter. We had ordered a box from a farm about a month earlier and time was running out to make good use of them.
This picture taken on my friend 진희’s phone looks so much more classic than the actual occasion it represents: That’s her, Pastor Choi, our friend Aining visiting from Malaysia, and me out to dinner last Sunday. There are a few aspects to this amusing and unintentional scene: It looks like a classy parlor. It’s actually Mr. Pizza. I’d say Mr. Pizza is the Korean Pizza Hut except they have Pizza Hut here too.
Due to the surge of the world population in recent decades we are used to thinking of the problem of having too many people. Those concerns are still reasonable, but many places in the world are facing the opposite problem: catastrophically low birth rates. South Korea’s birth rate is just about the lowest in the world, and it’s become a major public policy goal of the government to encourage people here to have more children.
There was a lot of excitement this week over the new trailer for the big Star Wars sequel out later this year. Among the big revelations was a villain after the tradition of Darth Vader, complete with deep voice and black costume. But here in Korea, you don’t need to play pretend in order to ride like a Sith lord! You see, here in Seoul, we’ve got air pollution! A city of 25 million and all of its traffic must produce its fair share, but the worst of it is what blows over from China.
I just posted a video explaining how to read Korean. You can go from zero to literate in eighteen minutes! Here’s why I made it and why I think you should study it. Korean looks terrible when it’s transliterated into English. The common sense pronunciation of transliterated Korean is at best an approximation (hangul), often falls very far from the mark (annyeong haseyo), and at worst is inscrutable (tteokbokki). As a result there is little insight to be gained through transliteration; I might as well use nonsense words instead.
I made you something that will make it easier for you to read this blog and for me to write it: An American's Guide to 한글 from Nicholas McAvoy on Vimeo.
Dinner last night. The funniest part of this is the shaker of black pepper they provide: So you’re telling me this soup which is made out of red pepper might be a little bland, and to season according to my taste? I’ve seen peppercorns here, and I’ve seen shakers of ground black pepper, but I have not seen a pepper mill. In the kitchens I frequent we gave up pre-ground black pepper for the pepper mills a while ago, because it’s bland.