금요일, 1월 13, 2006


You read it here first--the first real snow of the season hits Sokcho . . . finally.

While the rest of the country has been inundated with up to 1.5 meters in one day (Gochang, see picture from Dong-A Ilbo), Sokcho, known for skiing and other winter activities, has been left bald and dry.
We did get a dusting on New Year's eve, but it disappeared before I could snap a picture. Tonight, though, it is falling in chunks. I'm glad I got one of the last underground parking spots this evening!

Pictures to follow tomorrow.

Canada Election

I won't be voting in this election either, but it seems that we're headed towards another minority government. Perhaps that's a good thing.

I'd recommend all you undecideds think about voting strategically for the Green Party. They aren't all pot-smoking zombies (that would be the Marijuana Party): basically, they want Canada to take steps to take care of the land that we've been given in a sustainable, practical way. I would think that this should be something on the Christian Right's agenda, too. Careful stewardship of public resources is a conservative idea, is it not? At one time I thought it was.

I don't agree with everything they say, but I'm not ready to swallow any of the platforms whole.

They won't likely win any seats, but I think they at the very least deserve funding as an official party to make their point of view known.

Not a bad way to spend your vote, IMO.

Or, you could just vote for Nobody.

수요일, 1월 11, 2006

Gangwon Sights

I've recently come across some very nice pictorial toursof some of the many beautiful places along the east coast of our province.

Ulleung Island is about as remote as you cn get in Korea, since these rocks are stuck all by themselves (along with the infamous Dokdo) in the middle of the East Sea (aka the Sea of Japan to those of you who live in China, Vietnam, or Northern Europe, and to whom the East Sea refers to other bodies of water).

My wife has been there, and does not wish to go back, due to the severe seasickness she suffered on the speedboat. If I go, it will be solo.

The best pictorial I have found is
Lao Ocean Girl's Ulleung-do Album

there's more at
haunting ulleung island

and if you go you'll find a few secret treasures at
Sanchon Hunjang

And a site with so-so visitor photos:
Stefano in Corea

As well, there is a nice park next to Gangneung's Gyungpo Beach--it's especially nice in the spring for seeing the cherry blossoms.
Check it out in the fall at Wild Korea.

Jus a bit of what you might see if you decide to visit our lonely province!

일요일, 1월 08, 2006


At least once a week, my mother-in law gives us a big box of food, more than enough for a family twice our size. We eat what we can, but sometimes the box has surprises that we’re not sure what to do with. This week my mother-in law gave us grits.

That’s right, my southern friends, GRITS. My understanding of what grits are is hulled starchy corn. I’ve seen these only a handful of times in my life, and never expected to come across it in Korea. My mother-in-law found them at a store that makes and sells rice cake (), took them home and steamed them for my wife, who was sick last week.

My wife told me that a long time ago (post-Korean war), when rice was too expensive in Gangwon-do, many people ate corn instead. It’s quite healthful, but not something my wife particularly enjoys, so she told me to do something with it. After a bit of research into the various ways to prepare grits (there are a lot), I came up with my own recipe.

My grandmother was from Missouri, and loved many of the high-cholesterol southern foods. (I have especially fond memories of fried okra.) I’m pretty sure she would have enjoyed this dish, so I’m dedicating this recipe to her.

Fried (fraaah-d) Grits

Calories: about a billion

3 cups Cooked Grits (hulled, whole corn, steamed or boiled—still firm)

5 rashers bacon chopped fine

1 large onion, chopped

bouillon powder



cream – fresh or sour (as much as your heart can handle)

Chop the onion, and mix together with the grits, adding the cream, salt, pepper, and bouillon powder to taste. Fry the bacon until slightly crispy. Drain the bacon, leaving the grease in the pan, and mix together wit he grits mixture. Fry the mixture in the bacon grease until browned, mixing occasionally (like hashbrowns).

This dish would be especially good served with a generous sprinkling of grated cheddar on top.


When I lived in Canada, I thought that the only good Lasagne could be made with cottage cheese, something not easily procurable here in rural Korea. Even though it is sometimes available through the mail-order companies (shipped along with dry ice), it is usually days from the expiry once it arrives. I was quite happy then, to find a recipe on the back of a box of Montegrappo lasagna noodles (a cheaper and more authentic choice for noodles than the North American brands) at the Hannam Imported food store in Seoul, a recipe which used a type of béchamel sauce in place of the cottage cheese.

To make a béchamel sauce, make a roux of melted butter and flour over moderate heat, an then wisk in some milk until it is the desired consistency. It has a nice flavour, especially with a bit of salt, pepper, and nutmeg for flavouring. This particular sauce also has some parmesan and mozzarella stirred in at the end.

My sister’s lasagna is still the best in the world, but my lasagna is a close second.

Someone ought to go to jail for this . . .

Goseong county, which is split by the DMZ on the east coast of Korea, has some of the most beautiful stretches of undeveloped beaches in the country. Driving up the coast to my wife’s hometown each weekend, I often envy the soldiers who get to walk up and down the undisturbed sand on the inside of the barbed wire. It’s only a matter of time before some of these beaches are developed for tourism, with high-rise hotels, garish food stalls, and huge paved parking lots.

It’s happening already, and some of the plans are quite unique. In Geojin, there is Ocean Santeville, a high-priced, (300 million for a 30-pyeong furnished apartment) high-rise apartment going up just a few metres from the water’s edge. (Who was it who built his house on the sand?) At Songjiho Lake, they are building an observation tower next to the lake, and what seems to be a huge camping/RV ground next to the beach. And there is talk of a nude beach coming to the county next year. (No doubtedly complete with hundreds of college boys waiting surreptitiously with their cell phone cameras . . . I highly doubt if beachgoers will be shedding their suits in any great numbers.)

Just south of Banam beach is one of these long, untouched beaches, that is, untouched until a few months ago. I noticed one day that one of the rice paddies was being cleared away by digging equipment. Within the past few months what used to be beautiful rice paddies by the deserted beach have become this, three gaping sand pits growing bigger and deeper by the day. Sand mining is a very profitable business these days, and where better to get sand than from under a beach, right?

Any kid who has played with puddles knows what will happen next. With less than 50 metres separating the big blue sea from these huge holes in the ground, it is only a matter of time (2-10 years) before the ocean breaks through, washing away what’s left of that beautiful beach and the adjoining rice paddies. Not only that, there is nothing in place to keep the sea from encroaching further, and eating away the highway, leaving points north (Geojin, Daejin, Hwajinpo Beach, etc.) without a suitable link to the rest of the country. So much for the “the endless golden sand” County governor Ham, Hyeong-gu is bragging about.

There’s a good bit of money being made off of the steady stream of gravel trucks rolling out of there, but it will cost the government trillions of won to clean up the mess, not counting the lost revenue from future tourism possibilities.

Whoever signed the permit to do this sort of thing was either drunk out of his mind or receiving a fat little envelope under the table. I wouldn’t put either past some of the officials in Goseong. Their office has replaced the old timecards with a fingerprint-recognition device outside the doors so that public officials can record their work hours. However, workers have been seen on more than one occasion leaving early to go drinking, then staggering back at a late hour to record their “overtime.” It’s nice to see our tax dollars hard at work.

Heads ought to roll in the Goseong-county office. . .