Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Monster Jam!

Coming back to winter after living on an island for the past 5 years presents some practical difficulties- mainly no winter clothes! My mother-in-law greeted us at the airport with winter coats that she bought for the kids, and I dug out my winter coat, which I had saved from my Minnesota days. It was 10 degrees when we arrived in Chicago, and since then, the temperatures have dropped below zero. We’ve also gotten fresh snow!

My kids liked it for a day or two, but now don’t ask to play outside. Despite the cold, my daughter still walks around the house in bare-feet and even takes her shoes off in the car! You can take the girl out of the islands, but not take the island out of the girl I guess! Another new thing for my kids- static electricity! Jack just tells everyone- DON’T TOUCH ME! He is zap-paranoid!

Something fun that we got to do that we don’t get in Guam: MONSTER JAM!! I was thrilled we were able to go. I’ve spent a fortune thru the years on monster truck toys and video rental, but this was the real deal. We got to see Monster Jam plus go to a big-rig truckers show. My son said this was the Best. Day. Ever!


God Bless Papa

Early on January 22, 2007, my father-in-law passed away. He had been a long-time cancer survivor, battling lung cancer for almost 13 years. Even at the end, he was still taking visitors and proudly showing off photos from his Christmas trip to Guam. Sadly, once he left for Guam, he never did get to return home. He entered the hospital as soon as they arrived in Peoria. Thankfully, my husband was able to be at his father’s bedside for the last week of his life. Literally, my husband did not sleep in a bed for over a week, never wanting to leave his Dad’s side.

My father-in-law was very active in church and cancer support groups for many years. Since he passed away, my mother-in-law has been swamped with cards and letters from people she doesn’t even know telling her how much he inspired him and helped them. I know when we went on a family cruise trip last summer, he had many strangers approach him and commend him for taking such a trip while on oxygen and moving slowly. I’m so very proud for his loving spirit and his ability to care for people. Most all, I will never forget how much he adored his grandchildren. He loved them with all his heart and soul, and even at my kids’ young age, I know they will have a lasting memory of this love.

I’m in Peoria, Illinois, now helping out my mother-in-law. From the day I received news, I started working on plane tickets, but the soonest I could get to Illinois was one week later. The kids and I missed the service, but we are staying for almost a month to help my mother-in-law get settled. She is doing well and is such a strong person. I know having the kids around helps keep her occupied as she tries to cope with losing her partner of over 40 years.

One of the things I’ve liked best about watching Korean dramas and studying Korean culture is learning to appreciate the family hierarchy. I love the way children are suppose to respect their parents in Korean culture, and in particular, how daughter-in-laws should honor their in-laws. Now, I realize that this is often idealized in the dramas, but I’ve been inspired by the many obedient, loyal, hardworking daughter-in-laws I’ve watched through the years. I hope that I can be even half as good to my mother-in-law. I will do my best to be there for her, whether by her side or from a distance in Guam.

God Bless You Papa! You will always live on in our hearts!!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Back Again!

Time to dust off my blog and post again! So many dramas yet to review and new drama fans to recruit!! In addition to a busy schedule in December, I've spent the last month engrossed in timing JuMong. I’m totally addicted to timing fan subs. It combines my love for dramas with my Korean language studies (ok not as much with JuMong because they use “old style” Korean). I’m so into JuMong anyway, and it makes no difference that I’m timing it as I see an episode for the first time! I get completely drawn into it. I’ve been timing with tears running down my face or cheering on a main character. Ok, aside the hours I’ve spent on timing, let me share some of the other cool things that we have been doing!

For Thanksgiving, we got together with many of our closest friends and friends of friends for a get-together on the beach at the Outrigger. For those that saw the KBS Sunday show Heroine 6 that was filmed in Guam, this is the hotel that they filmed at. In fact, one of the families that came runs Skydive Guam, who took many of the KBS celebrities tandem skydiving. I talked to the skydivers that were on the show. They of course had no idea who all the Koreans were, so I explained that they were indeed big celebrities in Korea. They did say that KBS did a great job in editing the skydiving footage, and they were impressed with the outcome of the show. Anyway, a great time was had by all and it was a wonderful way to spend Thanksgiving, given that we all live so far away from families.

One week later, we hosted a huge party for my son Jack’s 8th birthday! I invited all the Korean students from the English school where I teach to join us. For many, it was their first chance to attend an “American” party. It was fun to show off a traditional American party with American food because my students are always teaching me Korean culture. We ended up with a house full of people and kids everywhere! My favorite kind of party! It was also fun to have my Korean friends there to have someone to share all my Korean pop music with. Outside, my husband and his buddies were playing “classic rock-n-roll” while in the kitchen, I got everyone dancing when I cranked up MC Mong!

A couple of days later, my Emma danced in her ballet recital. She was adorable of course and made her parents very proud.

Finally, the last two week of December we hosted my brother-in-law and my parents-in-law. My father-in-law is in the last stages of a lengthy battle with lung cancer. We offered to travel to Illinois for Christmas, but he was adamant about coming to Guam. He absolutely wanted to spend Christmas in the tropics with his family. He and my mother-in-law braved the long trip out here, despite all his pain. We were very limited as to what we could do while they were here because of his condition, but he did have some very enjoyable times with the kids. They also attended Korean Church with me. The church members did a beautiful “laying on hands” prayer for him after the service that was very moving. Prayer transcends the language barrier and God’s spirit could be felt. My in-laws were very touched. The highlight of the trip was the two days we spent at the Hilton (just a mile from our house!). We got a suite for my in-laws, and my father-in-law was able to enjoy two memorable days sitting on the balcony, viewing beautiful Tumon Bay. Thankfully, the weather was perfect and the ocean colors spectacular.

Happy New Year from our family! I wish everyone a blessed New Year!!


Thursday, November 16, 2006

My New Hobby

My drama addiction has reached another level. Ironically, I’m spending less and less time watching dramas too! First dramas helped me fall in love with Korean culture and bring it alive for me. Then, I became obsessed with studying Korean. For the past year, I’ve regularly been attending Korean school. Many evenings, I will study rather than watch the dramas. Next I started this blog about k-dramas. Now, recently I joined a fan-subbing group. For the past year and a half, I’ve been in awe of the great work that the fan-subbers do at to allow English-speaking drama fans to watch Korean shows. Most of the dramas I watch these days are from d-addicts with fan subs. I was particularly grateful when the fan sub group D-Fansubs was formed to sub the drama Ju Mong. Ju Mong is a 60 episode historical drama, and I knew this would be a big task for any group. However, it was a drama I really wanted to see. Sure enough, D-Fansubs was up to such a large project and has now released subs through episode 20.

Wanting to help out, I contacted D-Fansubs about becoming an editor. I was hired! LOL However, with Ju Mong, they are now getting the translation from MBC, so they really didn’t need editors, only people that could "time" the subs to the video or do quality control (i.e clean up the subs if needed and double-check the timing). For these jobs, I needed to understand how to use timing software. So, I’ve spent the past week learning how to time. I started by editing some existing sub files that I had, then last night, with the hubby out of town and an evening to spare, I stripped all the timing out of an existing Ju Mong sub file and retimed episode 16 of JuMong…well 10 minutes of it anyway. It took me about 2 hours to time 10 minutes of a drama! I had always heard that timing subs is well...time consuming! Actually, it is quite addictive, especially for a Korean language fan like me. I can’t come close to translating the dialog, but I soon realized that I all my Korean study was very helpful in matching the right sub with the right dialog. There was almost always a transition word, clause, phrase, etc. that stood out when I was applying the sub. I think this new found hobby is going to really help me with my Korean listening skills, which need tons of work!

I’m signed up as QC person on 2 episodes of Ju Mong. If all goes well, I’m going to try timing next! Who knows when I’ll have time to actually watch a drama again!!


Guam Living

In so many ways, Guam is like living in a small town in the mainland US, with its quirks and quaintness. However, there are many experiences that are unique to Guam that keep life interesting. Here are some examples of life on Guam, just from the past week!
  • I reset the clocks this morning. We have "dirty electricity" so all the clocks gain about 5 minutes per week. Before you realize it, your house clocks will be 15 minutes off. Never trust an electric clock in Guam. Only your watch will be right.
  • For a couple of months now, we have been planning a Sunday Brunch with friends to eat and enjoy some live college football together. We held the party last weekend, but the electricity went out mid-party. It was out for a couple of hours. No football, but the food was still good.
  • I went to the post-office to buy stamps. The first stamp-vending machine ate my money. The second machine was out-of-order. I had to go stand in line to buy stamps to mail one letter.
  • My beloved Gold’s Gym is closing at the end of November. This summer the same family that owns its competitor purchased it and now Gold’s is closing its doors. No surprise I guess, and the other gym is ok, but Gold’s has been my fitness home for the past 3 years. I’m very sad.
  • After I read the announcement of its closure, I worked out, stopped by the post office to mail a letter (see above item), then went home to find out we had no water. It was back about 24 disgusting hours later. I hate losing water more than losing electricity. No flushing toilets, no doing dishes, no showers, etc. I’ve heard the typhoon horror stories of no water for 45 days, so I know I shouldn’t complain. The worse is yet to come!
  • The kids’ school bus was late today. It ran out of gas. Go figure…

With all that being said, our almost three years here has flown by, and we aren’t in a hurry to leave. I know one day we will move on, but for now, I’m really enjoying the Guam experience. Oh wait… the lights just flickered as I typed this! OOG! LOL now the internet is down too. Looks like I will have to reset the cable modem and router. Oh yeah, I get to reset the clocks again too!


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Guam kicked off the Halloween celebration for the US last night. We went trick-or-treating with friends on Anderson Air Force Base. Jack was a Harley rider (like his Daddy!) and Emma was a princess (like her Mommy heehee). A great time was had by all, and the kids are now overloaded with candy! Happy Halloween to all! I hope you have a great time.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Performance To Remember

This past Sunday my kids did a singing/dancing performance in church along with the other kids from Sunday school. This is the second time they have performed since we joined the church. The first time they performed, Emma danced her heart out (as usual), but big brother Jack didn’t move. He was miserable and wanted nothing to do with being up there. That wasn’t Jack’s first experience with stage fright. He hates this kind of stuff, and I’ve sat through many other similar performances. However, he has had some good moments too, so I know it is possible. After he didn’t dance during the last church performance, he seemed to regret it, and the Sunday school teachers have been telling me how well he has been doing in class. They said he has really gotten into their latest routine. Last Saturday evening, I got the call from their Sunday school teacher…Can you please dress the kids in green shirts and blue jeans because they will sing on Sunday? Ugh, I felt a bit apprehensive the moment I got the call because I knew I would have to break the news to Jack the next morning.

On Sunday, once Jack realized they were going to sing, he rebelled, saying he wasn’t going to church. I fired him up and got him out the door, but on the way to church, he started in again. "I don’t want to do it Mommy!" he cried. "I can’t even sing all the Korean words!" I told him it was ok, that he could just dance and not worry about singing. Then, I pulled out the big guns…."Jack, if you dance, I will get you an M&M McFlurry and let you play Game Cube!" (trust me, we have to clear off the dust on the game cube cause I never let him play!) He took the bait and promised to try.

I dropped them off at their class and went to the church service. As the time for their performance neared, I kept looking over my shoulder for the kids to show up in the back of the sanctuary. When they finally appeared, I saw them all lined up and spotted Jack with a troubled look on his face. I knew this was agony for him. While the congregation finished singing a song, they entered the sanctuary. Emma gave me a wave and flashed me a confident smile while Jack was looking at the floor. The Pastor introduced them, and they went up. Jack was next to Emma, and of course, all the kids looked adorable! The music started, and I held my breath. I saw Jack make the first move, but wait…they stopped the music. There was a technical problem, and they had to restart the song. Ugh, could we possibly get him to start again?? But, when the music started, Jack (along with the others) started dancing!! Oh, what joy and relief! My good friend Christine was sitting up front and turned around to flash me a thumbs-up. I was so proud that I had tears running down my face the entire song. I once had a friend tell me she cried through an entire rendition of the very cheery Jingle Bells at a preschool performance because her 3 yr old was singing. That is the way it is when you are a mom! Sometimes you can’t help but cry.

Before I knew it the song was over, and the kids were filing out of the sanctuary. Jack’s eyes met mine, and he gave me a big grin and did his best "AJA AJA FIGHTING" arm-pump. Soooo cute! I pumped my arm back and then gave him a thumbs-up! Of course, Jack was thrilled after church, and the kids got ice cream along with Jack’s game-cube time. On a side note, the Sunday school teachers all wore pink shirts to go along with the kids green shirts. My kids’ Korean School teacher is one of the Sunday school teachers. In the car on the way home, Jack smirked and asked, "Mommy why did Sonsaengnim have on a pink shirt?" He and Emma both giggled. I said, "To match the other teachers." "But Mom, he’s a BOY!" he replied. I told him that in Korea it was ok for guys to wear pink. And, if you watch the dramas, flowers, ruffles, polka dots, and a hint of lipstick are all ok too! LOL Ok, I didn’t tell him that. BTW, my two are at the end of the first row in the photo. Jack is wearing dark green, and Emma is next to him.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Latest in Historical Dramas

This week, my husband and I started watching the historical drama Ju Mong. Ju Mong, a 60 episode MBC drama currently airing in Korea, is the story of King Ju Mong, who founded the Goguryeo Dynasty in 37 BC. The drama stars Song Il Kuk, a favorite of mine from Haesin, as Ju Mong. In addition, the drama has a tremendous supporting cast that drama veterans will be very familiar with. We’ve only watched 9 episodes, but we are completely hooked. As with all the historical dramas I’ve watched, the story line is intense, and the body count high! These were tumultuous times for sure. Currently in Korea, this drama has big ratings, up over 40%. We are watching this drama thanks to the hard work of the fan-subbers at At, you can download the drama in High Definition complete with "hard-subs." It is well worth the time of downloading it.

To get an idea of the drama, check out the main trailer at: Many people who have never seen K-dramas like to call them "soaps", or say that they can’t watch them because they can’t stand US soap operas. While some dramas can be compared to US soaps, the prime time dramas are much bigger productions. Trust me, Days of Our Lives has never seen anything like this!

Another historical drama that we will be watching just started on KBS World. It will soon be airing on KBS America as well. It is about Dae Jo Young the founder of Balhae. It stars Choi Soo Jung, who is played Jang Bogo in Haesin. Choi Soo Jung is famous in Korea for his starring roles in historical dramas. Here is a clip showing the drama cast: I’ve seen parts of the first few episodes, and it also promises to be exciting.

Finally, the actress Ha Ji Won will be starring in an historical drama called Hwang Jin-Yi, a story about a geisha. Ha Ji Won, both a movie and drama star in Korea, is well-known for her role in the historical drama Damo. This drama should start on KBS World sometime next month. Here is the trailer for this drama: . I’m sure it will also make its way to KBS America. The above photo is a banner for the drama in Paris.

Have fun watching everyone!


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Drama Review: Emperor Of The Sea

Emperor Of The Sea (KBS 2004)
Number of Episodes: 51
Main Cast: Choi Soo Jung, Chae Si Rae, Song Il Kook, Soo Ae, Kim Heung Soo
Korean Wiz link:

The historical drama Emperor of the Sea is based the life of Jang Bogo (? – 846), who rises from slavery to dominate the sea and international trade during the Unified Shilla Dynasty (676-935). This fictionalized account of his life opens when he is still a young teen, known as Goong Bok. He was born into slavery and raised working as a ship builder. With his faithful companion Yon, he tries to escape to China by stowing away on a merchant ship, but he is quickly discovered, and the boys are sent back to the shipyards to face punishment for trying to escape. Spared because of their youth, the boys are sent back to work. One day, Goong Bok sees a young man named Yeon Moon performing martial arts in their town, and he begs the teen to train him. Yeon Moon agrees to train him if Goong Bok will show him around their town. However, unbeknownst to Goong Bok, Yeon Moon is a pirate and is working to set up their town for invasion. Goong Bok studies hard to learn martial arts, but his world collapses when their town is destroyed by the pirates, and he and Yon are sentenced to death for colluding with the pirates. They end up surviving, but are sent to live their lives as slaves on a horse farm, where the slightest mistake can mean torture or death. It is here that they grow into adulthood, and where Goong Bok, now played by Choi Soo Jung, meets his mentor, Choi Moo-Chang, a marital arts expert, who trains the talented Goong Bok. Yon and Goong Bok finally escape from the horse farm when Goong Bok gets hired to be part of the personal army of Madam Jami, a noble in Shilla and a lead merchant. Eventually, after refusing to follow Madam Jami’s corrupted ways, Goong Bok and Yon are sent to China as slaves. For sure, nothing is easy for these guys! In China, after many trials, Goong Bok begins his rise to power.

This drama has it all, from major production battle scenes filmed in the China desert to the K-drama staples of a love triangle and unrequited love. Every episode is packed with intense fighting and struggles to survive. Exciting for sure, but at times I found it a bit exhausting. Many episodes I watched literally on the edge of my seat. The drama is basically good vs. evil, and the characters are compelling on both sides of the battle. True to his legend, the very admirable Goong Bok, who later becomes Jang Bogo, never waivers from his strong convictions to fight corruption. I really enjoyed watching his friendship with his companion Yon, also an historical figure. The two survive everything together and are true brothers. As Jang Bogo’s enemy, Yeom Moon, played by Song Il Kook, is a powerful fighter, yet a very pitiful character. From the moment they meet, the two are destined to be enemies, but Yeom Moon can’t help but admire and like Bogo. Yeom Moon longs to be released from his fate of being raised by pirates, but life doesn’t ever seem to offer him a way out. He’s the bad guy, but you can’t help but pull for him.

Historical dramas are a great way to learn about the culture on which modern day Korea is based. However, the scenes can be bloody and violent, and this drama may not be for everyone. The ending of this drama in particular is difficult to watch. However, I thought it was well worth the ride to experience the life of the noble Jang Bogo.

This drama is airing on AZN TV starting on Wednesday, October 18th.

Check out the opening battle scene with this awesome youtube clip. The drama opens with this battle, then takes us back to when the main characters are teens. The actual battle takes place midway thru the drama.