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Korea: Drink, strike and underarms - Updates from the foreign correspondent's desk.

An update from the foreign correspondent's desk:

  • The hotel workers where I'm staying have been on strike for the last few weeks. It's interesting to watch the rallies and protests from my window, hearing the drums and chants for whatever it is they are demanding. Organized labor seems to have it, well, organized here.
  • Jang and I hung (hanged?) out on my first Sunday here, had lunch and went on a walking tour of downtown Seoul, including a visit to Kyongbokkung Palace. Part of the tour involved a crash course in reading Hangul, which made the rest of the week a whole lot easier.
  • Linguistic hardship continues, although I can now interpret about 90 percent of Hangul characters, so I can at least sound out signs and such. However, and in general, I have found something that kicks my epistemological butt: not knowing the language spoken around me.
  • The hierarchy of the business world is definitely not something just written about in travel books. The concepts of seniority, age and rank play a very hefty role in the way people relate to each other at work. More on that here.
  • There is a beverage in Korea called "Pine Fresh" which tastes like a combination of Pine Sol and funky construction worker underarm. It is the kind of thing one enjoys once, or multiple times, depending on one's own proclivities. I may take a six pack of it home.
  • I will have to buy a pair of bottles of soju to take home. The stuff is something like a combination of window cleaning fluid and Everclear, and is simply the best thing I have found out there to set me to sleep.

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