Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Quick Hits: Chris Gohomely, Samsung Firing Back and the USA RSVP

October 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Maybe now he can finally pursue that degree in Korean women’s studies

I assume he was struck by lightning just moments prior

So in the wee hours last night, I hate to admit that I was awake watching Superstar K3 live (but to be fair it was with my wife…even if she was asleep), and unfortunately Chris’ rendition of “Run Devil Run” (SNSD), dedicated to a soul-crushing ex-girlfriend, wasn’t enough to get him through to the top 5. To his credit, Mr. Golightly, whose hair was getting progressively crazier each week (as you can see), didn’t whine, cry or complain about his “huge talent” to the cameras like he did the first time he thought he was eliminated, but seemed to almost expect the decision. Really just as the wonderful 윤미래 pretty much told him strait out at the audition, a completely non-Korean essentially had no shot at this winning the competition, so getting this far was probably enough. Personally, I do find him to be a halfway decent entertainer and if he gets some Korean language skills, could maybe have some sort of mini-career here and at the very least continue to write songs and other behind the scenes work in the industry. So with Chris out, we’re now left with Hipster Brad as the only completely non-Korean face, so he’d better to be ready to absorb a lot more of the awkward English attempts, Nic Cage comments and camera shots focused squarely on the big 외국 schnoz. I do predict Busker Busker is on the block next week, but really there’s no competition anymore as vocal group Ohlala Session has essentially already been crowned. Now I’ll go back to pretending I don’t care.

Iconic CEO deaths cannot save you from the power of Patent 234

Samsung's legal department preparing their patent cases

Recent weeks have seemed to mark the decision of Samsung to take of the gloves and go on the offensive against Apple, both domestically abroad, in the two companies’ increasingly tangled legal dispute. In my view, the main difference between the two attacks is that where Apple has based their cases on “look and feel” arguments, Samsung is countering with patent infringement suits, something that has much stronger legal precedence. While Apple might not be shaking at the might of patent 234 “resolving the relevant problems without damaging the algorithm of the current standard system”, I do really have to wonder if they’re prepared for what Samsung can bring to bear. As the world’s largest electronics manufacturer, the Korean giant also has one of the largest technology patent collections as well. While there might not be a single smoking gun patent that can kill the whole Apple product line, the shear amount of patents undoubtedly can create a virtual Hwacha of patent cases, where at least one of the arrows can hit the mark. I’m not a lawyer, but I have to wonder if that’s a fight Apple can actually win (not to mention what will happen if their new part manufacturers isn’t up to task). The first salvo has already generated a ruling in the Dutch courts, with Samsung being told their 3G technology patent is open to use under FRAND (Fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) practices for technologies considered industry standards, however also rejecting Apple’s argument that they didn’t violate patents, meaning if the two companies don’t come to agreement giving Apple licencing to use the technology, Samsung could bring it back to court. Not a win for either side, but a definite example of how muddied this case will become in the near future.

Now this party’s official (and I even hear they’re bringing a case of PBR)

On Thursday, Sec. Clinton and the US State Department officially announced participation in the upcoming Yeosu Expo. The privately funded 12,000 sq. foot Pavillion USA will feature “the United States’ unique shoreline through displays and programming that highlight the diverse nature of America’s ocean environments and coastal communities.” The public face and behind the scenes manager for the efforts is adventurer, author and famous grandson Phillipe Cousteau, Jr and will also feature Student Ambassadors, chosen from US universities, proficient in Korean to interact with visitors. Even a shiny new website has been set up to detail the project,, and twitter as well

Not to sound too Ameri-centric, but I really feel US participation was fairly necessary to making this Expo truly legitimate, so while it might have never been in doubt, the announcement might be a good shot in the arm as the preparations enter the final stages. Honestly, I am also impressed by the scale and depth that is going to be brought by this pavilion, as by all accounts it should be one of the largest on site and having a name like Cousteau involved with an ocean-based event is a big coupe. After many found the USA’s efforts at Expo 2010 in Shanghai disappointing, it would be great to see stronger efforts, even for a smaller scale event like Yeosu. On a mildly related note, the long-running official Yeosu Halloween party is going to be held at the Yeosu Hotel 여수관광호텔 this year, right next to the Expo grounds. Can’t wait to see where the progress has come on the site. (By the by, for those in country, if you have no Halloween plans, how about spending the weekend down here? Quite nice in the fall and a great party. Just bring a costume).

KTO Tourism Videos: Please Watch and Take a Quick Survey

September 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Recently, I have been asked to put together a short piece on the effectiveness of Korea tourism promotional efforts. It would help me out greatly if all readers would watch the four short videos below and share their impression on a brief survey HERE.

I have no affiliation with the KTO and data from this survey will be used solely to help me put together an article for a business and economic discussion on Korea Business Central. Thanks for your time and participation.


Video 1: “Come! See! Play!”


Video 2: “Charm Lee – Head of KTO”


Video 3: “Traditional Korean Experience”


Video 4: “The More You Know, The More You Want to Know”


Again, the survey can be done HERE. It’s my first attempt at such a survey, so don’t expect to much. Just a brief form to register some opinions. Also if you have any other thoughts or comments to share, please feel free to converse below.


Welcome to Yeosu

August 8, 2011 2 comments

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Since I came to Korea in ’09, I have lived in Yeosu, Jeollanam Province. I will admit it was by chance that I ended up here, but for a variety of reasons I am glad I did. It really is a beautiful place, even if it is about as far from Seoul (physically and mentally) as you can get and soon may acquire just a bit of international fame as the host of Expo 2012, which will be about the biggest thing to happen in these parts since Yi Sun-sin came down and made some Turtle Ships. In just the short time I’ve been here the Expo has done a lot to change the face of Yeosu, mostly for the better, however even with this event I don’t feel that there is enough Yeosu information out there to guide the would-be traveler. This post will be the first in a, hopefully, continuing series of guides and recommendations mined from the time I’ve spent here. To start, here is a quick run-down of what I think are some main points and must-dos if you make the trip, starting with:

The Beaches

While it’s certainly not Hawaii, the Yeosu area does have some of the best beaches I’ve seen in Korea. As it’s a very contained coastal area, the seas are very calm and the views are always dotted with the nearby islands. In most places, these islands are parts of the same geological formations as the coastline, making for very dramatic views as wooded hillsides dive down to the water and peaks rising back up out to sea. Speaking of islands, there are somewhere around 300 of them that are considered part of Yeosu. Most are tiny and uninhabited, but some are reachable via ferry (such as Sado or Gemeundo)  to get even further away from metropolitan life.

As far as where to go, the Yeosu guidebooks and websites will talk up Manseongri (만성리) as it is the only “black sand” beach in Korea, however I put “black sand” in quotes because really it just looks dirty. All in all, I think it’s about the worst example of Yeosu beaches and I would only recommend visiting on summer nights. This is because the beach does have a little boardwalk-type area with small carnival games, fresh seafood restaurants that serve on platforms overlooking the beach and shops to buy fireworks to shoot into the night sky. Nearby, for a much better daytime experience head to Mosagum (모사금 해수욕장) which is just a few kilometers away. This is a small beach in a crescent cove with nice soft sand, good views and plenty of room for swimming.

If you’re willing to spend some time getting out of town and further down the peninsula, then my absolute favorite is Jangdeung (장등해수욕장). This is a long, open beach with great water and USUALLY isn’t crowded, in fact if you’re out of the “beach season” from June-August, you might be one of the only people out there. I highly recommend bringing a tent, building a fire and camping out on the beach here. No one will bother you and it’s a great experience.

Temples and Shrines

One of my favorite things about being in Asia is visiting the various historic and cultural areas such as temples. Everything is just so different than what I grew up around that they are one of the few places I can really feel Korea anymore. There are a wealth of Buddhist temples and shrines in Korea and Yeosu is no exception. Known to most is a place called Hyangiram (향일암), an area on Dolsan Island that has multiple temples and shrines located along a trail reached by climbing 291 stone steps. One of the main buildings (the Gold Temple) burned down last year, but the main attraction here is the nature and setting of the cliff-sides overlooking the South Sea. This is also one of the most popular points from which to view the first sunrise of the New Year and the temple hosts a Sunrise Festival during this time. Be aware that this area can be quite busy with tourists on nice days and requires a good bit of walking and hiking, but it’s a Yeosu landmark for good reason.

For a  little more peaceful experience, I would recommend Heungguksa (흥국사) a decent sized temple complex located in the mountains north of Yeocheon. It’s pretty much only visited by locals and hikers and over the half-dozen times I’ve visited there’s never been more than a handful of people. The most popular time to visit is undoubtedly during the spring when the hillsides are in bloom with bright purple azaleas. Year round, several hiking trails begin and pass through the temple and inside are several sights and artifacts from the over 800 year history of the temple where monks trained to fight during the 16th century Japanese invasions.

There a few other locations in Yeosu (such as Odongdo or the new Expo areas such as Yi Sun-sin Square) that are well covered by other resources and they are worth a visit as well. As said above, I will try to add more information and more locations as time goes on.