Tag Archives: history

LSAT and so on

Standard

I finally finished climbing the toughest hill – LSAT, and now working my butt off on all that optional essays and personal statements.  Yes, I feel far much more relaxed than working on LSAT, but it still feels like there is another stone  hanging on my neck.  But, comparing that to my LSAT studying, I really can’t complain.  There’s a short story written by Haruki Murakami – all of sudden, a small middle-aged woman pops up out of nowhere, and just stick herself to the main character wherever he goes.  I feel for the main character.

Three days before the October LSAT, I took prepatory tests, using the three most recent tests.  I did really well – in fact, far better than I expected.  So I was in a good mood.  Maybe it’s because that bread incident that my dad still pests me about, but the result wasn’t good.  In fact, it was far lower than my most recent prepatory tests.  I still think I deserved a bit better score.  I cried my eyes out after I got my scores  – it is upsetting when you really tried hard but get crappy result.  But then, it isn’t my first time and life isn’t fair.  There’s nothing I can do anyway at this point except applying.  I’ve used up my test limits, and I already took a good one year off, devoting everything for the test.

On a positive side, the test was tough.  Actually they set a record for score curve.  LSAT is getting more difficult.  There are schools that weight your undergrad GPA, and I am glad I graduated from university with great national reputation.  Thanks to the economic downturn, I heard that schools give more credit to those who have work experience.  I do have one.  And I will be categorized “international student,” though it feels weird to me.  But as long as my passport stays as Republic of Korea, I will be one, and it doesn’t hurt for application process.  And I’ve been working on my personal statement for a while, so unlike many others, I really don’t have to hustle.  So all I need is to marry off with some American guy and get a green card. Hell yeah. (JK)

Meanwhile, my ex – an US military officer – visited me.  It was surprising.  Since breakup, we didn’t contact each other for about good 2-3 years.  Then out of blue, he contacted me about 2 years ago, saying he will be deployed to Iraq soon, and he wanted to apologize me for unable to handle the situation better.  I accepted it.  Then another 2 years passed.  He e-mailed me, saying he’s temporarily stationed in Dongducheon, got a few days of vacation and would like to spend some time with me.  Sure, why not.  To me, he was distant friend at best.  I expected things to be cool.

Maybe it’s me who is overreacting, but things weren’t so cool.  He said how it is good to see me again.  Alright.  Despite my objection, he insisted on paying for everything.  I did not like this, since I really didn’t want this to be like a date.  He kept checking on me, sometimes just looking at me.  I guess he has some feeling left for me.  Or maybe it’s just because he didn’t get to see many civilian girls.  Or maybe it’s because he went to Afghanistan and Iraq, blowing stuff up.  He is a gentle, caring person.  But I really don’t want to get back into whole romantic relationship thing with him again, unless he is better at handing a relationship with woman and out of military.

Besides, having a conversation with him was a tad bit boring.  When I reunite with a friend, I want to know what changes were there in his/her life.  His stories were pretty much same, since his life revolves around military base.  I don’t know I will send him a Christmas card.  If we were casual friends, I’d sent it.  I still feel bad for him, since he is away from his family, pretty much all alone, and doesn’t get to see his family (I know it can be hard.  Trust me.  CCK with boarding school experience).  But we didn’t start from “casual friends.”  I don’t want to give him any wrong signs, and I really don’t want another headache.  I don’t know.

The Shoe Journey #1

Standard

Maybe it was that random inspiration little voice talking in your head, maybe it was the compass item to be carried with TCKs as souvenir, or maybe it was because I was way to annoyed by my spatially challenged apartment’s shoe shelf overflowing with shoes.  I really wanted to write about something on my blog, but I couldn’t figure out what to write about.  Today, as I walk down street, suddenly with a lightbulb I thought of shoes.

Yeah, yeah, I can picture the male readers of my blog cringing at the corner, thinking “holy hell, Ceberus was another shoe-crazy woman” and expecting a posting bombarded Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, and other brand names with kill hills you can’t possibly pronounce, let alone wear.  Well, no worries, because it won’t be my posting.  I thought of shoes, because, regardless of your place of birth, background, nationality, school, occupation, etc., shoe is something you can’t completely separate from your life, and one of the few things people have in common all over the world.

That being said, I ought to write my first posing shoes about Dr. Marten’s legendary 1460 8-hole boots:

 

Dr. Marten, 1460 8-hole in black

 

My father first became Dr. Marten fan when I was still living in South Korea.  That was before when Dr. Marten started their official exporting to Korea.  So how did he know about Dr. Marten?  Living in the center city, it is very easy to be exposed to cutting-edge trendy stuff, voluntarily and involuntarily.   My guess is, my dad was looking for a new pair of shoes, stumbled into local shoe store carrying their direct import shoes, introduced to these sturdy and comfy pair of shoes, and fell in love with them ever since.

Through him I got my first two pairs of DM.  One looked like 2976 (Chelsea) but with more round, upward toe, black.  Another one was the famous 1460 in black.  When my parents’ friends visited our home, they would joke “so your kid is going to army soon?” upon seeing my 1460.  I wore it pretty much all the time with anything.  When I was leaving to States, I carried 1460 with me in my luggage.  Even in States, I would wear it constantly.  Though lesser than when I first got them, I would still keep them, carry them wherever I go and wear them frequently.

One night in my college junior year, I found I can no longer wear my beloved first pair of 1460 black.  Being DM, it was ever-sturdy; but the sole started to crack everywhere visibly, and where the yellow stitch holds sole together with leather started to crack too.  My toes would get cold.

Only then I realized, that this 1460 travelled everywhere with me for more than 10 years.  In Michigan, in Illinois, in Indiana, in Japan, in Korea.  It ran the grass fields of Illinois with me.  It walked the snow-covered fields of Michigan with me.  It walked the campus parking lots with me in Indiana.  It walked the busy pedestrian roads of Tokyo with me.  It walked around Incheon Airport multiple times with me.  Physically, it was closer to me than my parents for the past 8,9 years of my life. Me and my 1460 black – by then we have been together for 12+ years.   But it has to go – its time came to the end.

So just like that, with a small vacuum in my hand, sitting on my bed, I was staring my old pairs of 1460 on Friday night, with lot of melancholy and emotions swirming in me.

Next day, I took my 1460 to the dorm’s shoe donation box.

Then, I ordered another pair of 1460 black. Unlike old days, this new pair isn’t made in UK.  But it’s still that black 1460.

We all know DM is such a unique iconic shoes for rebels and counter-culture movements.  Kurt Cobain wore it.  Joey Ramones wore it.  Joe Strummer wore it.  When Sex Pistoles and their gangs trashed the club, DM was on their feet. Charlatans are still wearing it and so does Avril Lavigne. Sure, it is special because it is a certain statement: screw you, leave me alone.

Yet DM is special to me because some other reason.  Would my 2nd pair of 1460 black will travel all over, like my 1st pair?  I can’t tell, but I hope so.  One thing I know is, no matter how old I am, wherever I am and what kind of journey I am on, I will carry my 2nd pair of 1460 with me, just like my 1st pair.

Simple Updates

Standard

I have been somewhat busy.  Two companies that I am very interested had their job application due March 19.  That’s a day before my birthday.  And as I mentioned before, many Korean applications want the candidates to write out “personal statement.”  In other words, (and in average) there are three to five questions where you have to answer within the given word limit.  Many of these questions are interview questions in US.  In addition, depends on the company the word limit is such a variety – a firm that I am most interested in limits the answers to be no longer than 2,000 words.  Then one of the firms I applied last week limited the answer to be less than 300 words.  Of course they are pretty much asking same stuff.  So now I applied three companies so far – I keep my fingers crossed.

In the middle of daily job hunting, I got a connection invitation on LinkedIn from my college alum.   It’s good but I wondered why on earth he would like to connect with this young gal alum at a small Asian country.  It turned out that he saw my profile randomly on my college community on LinkedIn, saw my status as “seeking employment” and wanted to help me out.  In addition, he hosted homestay an exchange student from Korea and his daughter visited South Korea several times.  What a small world!

He offered me to call him so we can talk about possible career opportunities and practical advice.  Yes, I had to get up at 6 am and am pretty sure some of my answers did not make sense, even with strong black tea.  But it was incredibly helpful – he introduced me to several new ways and connections.  On the top of that he gladly revised my English resume.  Though that early morning international phone call really screwed up my normal sleep cycle, I am not going to complain.  I can’t.  I guess all that karma paid off – for sure I’ll do more good.

Meanwhile I had some strange contacts, too.  A guy whom I sent a job-lead e-mail said he will try to call me.  So I emptied that day’s schedule.  But he ended up not calling me.  At the end he did call me, but then started to go on and on and on about my last job and duties.  Well…I would not have sent him that job-lead e-mail if I am still related to my last work.  I said I am no longer involved in that work.  Then he went on about how the things in his company works with much detail.  Some of it was helpful, but my job-lead e-mail was not about that.  It was simple: “I know you, and here’s my background.  Please let me know if you know any fit opportunity for me  or can spread the word.”

And then, another guy whom I met through one of the recruiters, is flirting with me.  Yes he is a very friendly guy, and thanks for your interest in me…but I really don’t want to initiate a romantic relationship who is +10 years older than I am.  I haven’t been dated for two years and consider myself pretty open person, but still.  No.

My Korean-style job session is over for now.  And there are more employers who posted their openings – and luckily some of them are the field I am interested.  To be honest it is a bit frustrating that I have an open schedule but not THAT open.  Now it is the major hiring season here, so I would not dare to take a luxury of vacation trip away to Bali.

I hear stories that many Koreans made it through big name grad schools, because the competition rate was lower than before, thanks to bad economy.  Maybe I should have gone to the grad school.  But what I care most is what AFTER grad school.  If I am to go to grad school, I want it to be a “ticket” out of here, or at least not having to deal with bunch of mono-cultured Koreans.

Seriously, if only I was born 5 years earlier, my life would have been much easier.  This morning I read an article regarding the international economic depression, written by an economic professor at Yale.  He, too, said no one can really predict what would happen – when would this depression end? How long would this depression continue? We really don’t have much data to predict.  In human history there was only one economic depression that affected every single country on earth.  The one at 1930’s.

I know, I know – the life itself is a bet.  It takes turn at the most unexpected part.  Or, when you expect it would be curvy, the road is straight.  Someone said there’s no road ahead because it’s all about what I make of it.

Yeah…I should’ve graduated college in 90’s.

‘Bbalee Bbalee’ (빨리빨리, Quick quick!)

Standard

A Korean reporter of well-known English newspaper in Seoul shared a fun story on his personal blog.  His boss – editor – gave him a copy of Clive Crook’s regular submission on the Financial Times, saying, “hey, read this and try your best to write something like this one.  Will get more readers.” Upon this, the reporter replied, “Boss, but Crook has to write only this one per week.  I might be able to pull out something as good as Crook’s, if only you can give me more time.” The boss simply answered, “y’know how South Korea developed its economy, right?”

For those of you who do not find what is funny in this story, I’ll give you a shorthand explanation.  After reaped and shredded into pieces by colony exploitation by Japan for World War II and Korean War, Korean peninsula was a blank sheet of paper – no nothing, dirt poor.  Korean War ended on 1953.  After 57 years, South Korea has become the country with 15th highest GDP in the world from once-poorer-than-Phillippines.  All in 57 years, pretty amazing.  The key action was doing all the big projects, constructions and planning in extremely short amount of time, thanks to long-term dictatorship.  If you would like to know more about this topic, click here (economy) and here (dictatorship).

Ever since then, South Korea’s business is known for getting the job done in an unbelievably short amount of time, making impossible into possible.  Thus the term “bbalee bbalee” came.  Meaning “quick, quick!,” you will hear this often on the street, restaurants and offices of South Korea.  Sure, I do give major credit to this “quick mentality” as a power engine of Korean economic development.  I hold a great respect to a lot of Koreans for working very hard and getting job done very quickly.  And let’s not forget the spirit of bbalee bbalee contributed lot on South Korean cities’ – especially Seoul – top-notch infrastructure, network installation covering all over the country and over 90% of houses equipped with ADSL/VDSL/wi-fi for internet usage.

But as we enter the 21st century, and after suffering my experiencing an office thoroughly missing any long-term strategy, and reading several failure cases on South Korean smartphone market, I feel like bbalee bbalee, mixed with strong hierarchy, is becoming more of an obstacle, a way that does not get you a solid result.  It does not allow you to sit back, take some time to think twice, draw a big picture and check errors.  Rather, it is more prone to inconsistency and confusion.

Look at my office.  Basically my office is bench-marked from American institutes of similar nature.  How did we get established?  Well, some high personnel went to America, saw the offices and operations, thought it is nice to have one and there you go.  They successfully brought in buildings and classes, but missed the most important ones: how each departments are related to each other, things needed, management system and integration, targets and how to apply this in Korea, rather than simple copycat.  Now it’s not doing its best.  And, there is such a little number of channel to suggest positive changes to people who really have authority to initiate change.  The clients are no exception.  While they ask for a customized service, they want the proposal to be done and delivered in 5 days since their first cold-calling.  It’s not impossible to complete the documentation and such, but would that really get them a good, truly customized result?  I honestly think that if they want some value out of it, both them and us will have to take more time with several meaningful meetings (no, not just lunch and saying hi, よろしくお願いしますish stuff) and share needed information.

You might say that big profit-driven business firms are different.  Of course those firms would be much more systemized and organized than my office, but some recent cases are good examples of bbalee bbalee.

There was a TV show, where you invite loads of non-Korean foreign girls and have them light chit chat about Korean society.  It was not the most brilliant concept but to some degree I enjoyed it.  Some episodes were actually fun.  As time goes by, the show has gotten dumb and unpleasantly provocative, consequently exploded, and was semi-forced to change staffs involved in its production and come up with a new concept.  Well, to my surprise, they came with the new format within a month.  Once fun talk show has been changed to government propaganda, losing a big grip on its viewers.  I mean…your job is to make a good TV show, not racing for a completion!  What year are they thinking this is?

Everybody knows Samsung Electronics, right?  SE recently released their new smartphone called Omnia 2.  On the horizon of official release, SE managers often said that Omnia 2 will defeat iPhone for sure because of its top-notch hardware.  Really?  I don’t think people are crazy over iPhone because it has such a great hardware. Well, here’s several reviews from Gizmodo and Engadget, which are well-known IT review websites.   Gizmodo said ‘Samsung, stop doing this,’ and Engadget said ‘How can so much be right with a phone only to have the whole experience be so… wrong?’ In summary, great hardware, worst software and user interface.

Yes, SE is a well-managed company in terms of profit and such.  However, based on my information from friends and contacts, Samsung Electronics is notorious for assigning shitload of works to be completed within an impossible time slot.  How could anyone would take enough time to think about interface, stability and consistency when you’ve worked and drinking with your boss for 12 hours and yet your boss throws another work at your face, expecting it to be completed by tomorrow morning?  If they really wanted to defeat iPhone, maybe they should have taken more time and research to study it.

If I can sum up the South Korean process of idea, planning, installing and executing it in one sentence, I would say: they start building a skyscraper from walls and later tries to build scaffolding.  Sure, it was necessary and it did work back in 70’s and 80’s.  But can we please, please get over it? Unfortunately, the people who have authority to prove that change are the ones who lived through 70’s and 80’s.  Not only they grew in it and accustomed to it,but also they do not see what is the problem when building scaffolding the later.

This is the worst case scenario of building without scaffolding. Click the picture if you wonder what the heck is this about.