In December I had to go to an ENT doctor for an ear infection. The first time I was there I didn’t get any pictures, but I made sure to get some the second time! The first time I went I was glad to hear that both doctors speak excellent English, but the doctor either wouldn’t or couldn’t speak to me in English except for a few words.

My boss was there to “translate” and pay for the visit. Before going to Korea we were promised medical insurance, but that never happened. Thankfully we didn’t have any major health problems or emergencies this past year.

The doctor put a small needle-like camera into my ears that took pictures of my eardrums which seemed normal. But after that I had to put these things on my ears:

I don’t remember the last time I went to an ENT doctor in the States so maybe they have these too? I felt silly holding these things up to my ears!

The second time I went was for my sinuses. I had a massive headache, and thankfully the doctor gave me some medicine for the pain and sinusitis. After he looked at my nose and ears again, I had to hold this plastic thing up my nose so it could wash my sinuses. About a week later I felt better.


Happy Holidays!

On Thanksgiving we had a party with the students. The 6 & 7 year olds made Pilgrim hats and the 5 year olds made Native American head bands. They had a lot of fun making the crafts and eating snacks.






For Christmas the 7 year olds made a hand print tree and ornaments. We had a lot of fun making it, and they loved the glitter glue I bought for them to use!













On December 21st, a Christian Korean organization that had been coming once a week to teach Bible came and had a Christmas party with the students. 






Last Saturday we went on a tour of the DMZ with the USO. Our tickets cost 92,400 won per person, but it was worth it. Our itinerary for the day was:

  • 5:30am – Left for the Dangjin bus terminal
  • 6:00am – Left for Seoul
  • 7:30am – Arrived at the Express Bus Terminal
  • 8:00am – Found the USO and then went to find breakfast
  • 8:30am – Checked in at the USO
  • 9:00 – 10:00am – Rode a bus to the 3rd Tunnel
Before touring the 3rd Tunnel our tour guide took us through a small museum about the area. Tourists cannot take bags into the 3rd tunnel or cameras, but they provide free lockers. We were given yellow hard hats to wear on our 450 meter descent. The tunnel was smaller than I was expecting. Two people could walk side by side through most of the tunnel. The ceiling was low, even I had to duck (with the helmet on I was probably 5’7″).   We walked single file to the 3rd barricade where we could look through a window to see the 2nd barricade, and then we turned around and exited the same way we came.
  •  11:00am – Left for the Dora Observatory
At the Dora Observatory our tour guide pointed out the only two villages in the DMZ and their flag poles. She told us that when the South Korean village built a new taller flag pole, the North Koreans built an even bigger pole. The tallest building in the North Korean village is mostly empty. It serves to entice South Koreans to defect to the north.
You can take pictures, but you have to stand behind the yellow line painted on the ground. I learned the reason for this is that there is a military base nearby and they don’t want anyone taking pictures of it.
  • 11:53am – Arrived at Dorasan Station
Dorasan Station is the last station before the DMZ. It was built as an international train station in hopes that one day the north will allow trains to pass through North Korea. If South Korea could do this, then it would only take 10 days to ship products to/from Europe instead of 30 days by sea. We bought post cards and had them stamped at the station.
  • 12:30pm – Ate lunch at a Korean restaurant
The restaurant was more like a cafeteria for South Korean workers who work in the DMZ. Hyundai has a factory in the DMZ and employs many North Koreans and about 800 South Koreans.
  • 1:10 – Left for Camp Bonifas
We were briefed at Camp Bonifas, and we signed a waiver so we could tour the Joint Security Area (JSA). We then boarded a different bus to go to the JSA, and we had a new tour guide who was an Army Private. He did a great job and told us many interesting facts and stories about the JSA. When we arrived we all exited the bus and then went in a building and lined up in two lines. There were about 50 people in our tour group. I imagine the tour guide’s feelings are similar to the feelings that I have when trying to line up my kindergarteners. It’s amazing how some people don’t/can’t listen to simple instructions! Our group was pretty good for the most part thankfully.
While we waited for our turn in one of the buildings where they conduct meetings, our tour guide told us about the area and the two North Koreans who were taking our pictures and looking at us through binoculars. We were allowed to take as many pictures as we wanted of the North Korean side. I learned that North Koreans go on a similar tour on their side of the line, and foreigners (except for South Koreans for obvious reasons) can go on tours in North Korea too.
    After awhile we entered the blue building and crossed over the DMZ line into North Korea. There were two South Korean soldiers in the building for our protection. On the table in the middle of the room there were microphones that record 24/7. Our tour guide told us that North Korean tourists stand barefoot on one of the tables and moon South Korea. There was a footprint on the table from someone who had done that earlier that day!
  • 2:15pm – Left JSA
We stopped at one point where we got off the bus and were surrounded by North Korea on three sides. From that point we could see the building were the armistice was signed, a North Korean museum, and the Bridge of No Return. We got back on the bus and then drove by the spot where North Koreans attacked soldiers who were cutting down a large tree that obstructed South Korea’s view. We also stopped and looked from the bus at the Bridge of No Return. I learned that 4 Americans have defected to North Korea, and one (Joe Dresnok) is still living there.
  • 3:30pm – Left to go back to the USO in Seoul

Mr. Toilet House

On Sunday, October 2nd, we started the day like any other day and took a bus to go to church. Our first bus was late to the bus station, which meant we wouldn’t make it to church once again. Sometimes we take the next bus back to Dangjin, but it was a nice day so we took a bus to Pyeongtaek and then took the train to Suwon. We went to Suwon in the spring and we weren’t sure what else there was to see so we stopped by the Tourist Information Center near the train station and found this gem:

We couldn’t believe someone actually made a museum about toilets! We were dressed for church not hiking so we thought the museum would be better and funnier. 

For the first part of the museum we were given a brief tour. It was really hard not to laugh while she was talking. The tour guide said that the bathroom in Mr. Toilet’s house was in the middle of the house. He would read his newspaper in his bathroom and was able to see his family from the door sized window. When privacy was needed, he would push a button to fog the window so no one could see in or out.

The museum had medals and information about Mr. Toilet. He was nicknamed Mr. Toilet because of the work he did to improve public toilets in Korea and around the world. According to a sign in the museum, his interest in toilets began as a baby… He was born in the outhouse at his grandmother’s house!

When we were leaving the museum, the tour guide asked us to fill out a survey and gave us souvenirs, two piles of gold dung.

A fun conversation with students

Yesterday I had a conversation with one of my 7-year-old students, Eileen, who is really only 6 in American age. We were in MeySen Station class, and the students were supposed to copy a short song from the white board and then draw and color bees and a beehive.

Eileen: Mrs. Rachel, I can’t write it. It’s too hard.

Me: Yes, you can. Look you already wrote “‘The Beehive’ and ‘Here'”

Eileen: sigh I don’t want to write. It’s too long.

Me: That’s ok. Do you want to color this (a Bible coloring page)?

Eileen: Yes! I want to look at this (talking about the other coloring pages in my hand)!

Me: Ok.

Eileen: A donkey!

I don’t remember exactly what we talked about… There was a picture of Jesus riding a donkey, Jesus with the Disciples at the last supper, Peter and a rooster, Jesus carrying the cross, a Centurion looking at the three crosses, and an angel on the empty tomb. Briefly and as simply as I could, I explained the pictures and asked her what she saw. Then Eileen started coloring one of them.

Sometime during the class Eileen looked at me and said, “Whoa! Your eyes! One is green and one is blue!” The other girl in the class said “Mine are brown!” Eileen asked “What color are mine?” I told her brown, and she asked “Why your eyes like that?” I can’t remember how she said it exactly but basically she asked me if all white people have one blue eye and one green eye. I told her “No, I’m different. Most people have 2 blue eyes or 2 green eyes.

One of the other students finished his writing/drawing assignment so I gave him the picture of Peter and the rooster, and after talking about the picture, he pointed out “Mr. Peter and Peter!” And in broken English he reminded me that his name was Peter in the beginning of the school year before his mom changed it. So I told the students that Mr. Peter’s father is Peter too, and they were surprised. One student said “so many Peters!”

A few minutes later, Eileen asked me “Mrs. Rachel, do you mother?” I asked her (to make sure I understood what she was saying), “Do I have a mother?” She said yes, and I said yes back. She then asked me, “Where is she?” I told her, “She’s in the United States.” She then asked me, “Then why you come here?” I said, “To teach you!” And then she giggled and went back to coloring 🙂


A few weekends ago we had a three-day weekend, and we had planned on going to Busan, but we didn’t make any concrete plans in advance. So the week of we were looking for train/bus tickets. We wanted to take the train because it is faster, but it was sold out! We looked for hotels/motels but we didn’t find anything reasonably priced online. So by Friday we had decided just to go somewhere closer. After school on Friday around 5:30 I was talking to our boss’s wife and she was saying that they were going to her mother-in-law’s house that is near Busan. I told her that Peter and I wanted to go to Busan, so we ended up riding down to Chilseo in the yellow school van. In the morning our boss’s wife showed us around her in law’s orchard. Around 11:30am our boss drove us to the nearest bus terminal in Masan. It took about 30 minutes to get to Masan and 40 minutes to get to Busan. Once we got to Busan we started looking for a place to stay. We tried 3 hotels with no luck. The 3rd hotel was Lotte Hotel, and it looked amazing and expensive. Their concierge called another hotel to see if they had any rooms, and thankfully they did. We headed over to the other hotel and dropped off our stuff.

First we went to Haeundae Beach. That weekend a sand festival was going on so there were many sand sculptures. There was a music festival going on too. The first day we walked along the beach and stuck our feet in the cold water. We walked along a pathway along the water to a lighthouse, and then stumbled upon the APEC building. We went inside and looked around, but there wasn’t anything too special. For dinner we went to an international seafood buffet that was down the street from our hotel, and afterwards we went shopping nearby.

The next day we ate breakfast at our hotel and then checked out because there were no open rooms for Sunday night. The breakfast was more traditional Korean style, so we only ate toast and eggs that were filled something that reminded me of the inside of dumplings. After leaving our bags at our new hotel we went to the Aquarium. It’s near Haeundae Beach, and it’s underground. It was only 18,000 won per person, and we had a coupon from our hotel too. They didn’t have any unusual fish, but they did have a shark feeding show. The show was very lively, and most people were pretty excited about it. They had two glass tunnels, which are always fun. After lunch at Outback Steakhouse (because Bennigan’s was closed…), we went on a cruise. It lasted about 2 hours. We went out to four islands, circled them, and then went back. On the way to the islands we stood at the back of the boat and had a great view of the beach and the city. After the cruise we took the subway to the train station to see if there were any tickets available. There weren’t so Peter called our boss and arranged to ride back with them. We saw a sign that said there was a foreigner’s market nearby so we checked it out. It was kind of creepy, and there weren’t many open shops. After that we went to Busan Tower, and after looking around a little we headed back to our hotel.

On Monday morning we had to check out and take our bags with us. We eventually found lockers for our bags in one of the subway stations, and then we headed to the bus station to buy a bus ticket early so we wouldn’t be stuck in Busan. After buying bus tickets we headed up to Geumjeongsan Mountain to see part of the fortress. We didn’t spend much time there because we wanted to get to the beach, but next time we would probably wear hiking shoes! The beach was relaxing. We were only there for about an hour, but it was nice to be able to get a little sun.

1st Field Trip

On Friday we went with the kindergartners on their first field trip. The trip was originally supposed to be the second Friday in April, but it was postponed because our boss was worried about radiation. The calendar also said we were going to a playground, but we ended up going to a garden. It was a lot of fun. There were animals at the gardens too, so we got to ask the kids “What do you see?” And they would answer “rabbits, sheep, birds, etc.” There were statues that the kids enjoyed climbing on too. We stopped for pictures a lot, and the kids had fun posing with the different statues. For the most part things weren’t very organized, but it didn’t help that our boss’s wife hurt her back two days before the field trip so she couldn’t go. She’ll be in the hospital for the next week, so this next week will be busier than usual for us. Anyways, I would have preferred that the field trip was more organized that the kids knew that they shouldn’t run off and that they should walk in a line like the other students that were visiting… But we didn’t lose anyone so that’s what counts right?

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