Thursday, September 21, 2006

Emma turns 6!!

Today is my beautiful daughter Emma’s 6th birthday! Of course, we had a party last weekend and celebrated with all our friends. Ok, I’m a mom and have to brag! Emma is such a sweet loving confident child. With my son, who is such a momma’s boy, I feel that all I do effects him, yet with Emma, I feel that I’m just along for the ride. She has developed into this cool little person, and all I’ve done is watch. Friendly and outgoing, Emma is always ready to share a hug- be it a best friend or a stranger. She loves her music, singing, and dancing and is always ready to perform! She is especially hilarious singing Korean pop songs- she “knows” all the words…ok not really, but it sure looks like it. She once took the “mic” at a party at our house and sang along with Jewelry’s Superstar for some of my Korean friends. It was sooo cute! I do know she has the entire High School Musical OST memorized! Her teacher told me the other day that Emma is “all girl” which is so true, but she’ll still pick up frogs, geckos, and lizards too! I love it!

On her birthday, I can’t help but think of her birthmother. On this day, I feel a bit inadequate as her mom. Yeah, I’m her mom, but I’m not responsible for bringing her into this world. I have her birthmom to thank for that. In a world where abortion is readily available, I’m grateful for her b-mom’s courage to carry the pregnancy to term and then go through the pain of placing her for adoption. I can’t imagine a greater love and sacrifice. So, on this day, I pay tribute to her b-mom, who is no doubt, consumed with memories of the short time she spent with her daughter. I cannot share with Emma what her actual birthday was like….what the weather was like, where her b-mom was when labor started, who was at the delivery, what her first days of life were like. These are precious and most likely bittersweet memories that belong to her birthmom alone. I can only hope that one day, Emma can sit and hold her b-mom’s hand and hear her story first hand. For my part, I will do my best to love and raise my wonderful daughter well.

Happy Birthday my sweet Emma! I love you!!


Monday, September 18, 2006

US Envoy's Wife Violates Korean Work Laws

In the Korean Times today, there is an article about the wife of the U.S. Ambassador to Korea. Apparently, she is a jewelry designer and is now being accused of breaking Korea’s work laws because she sold jewelry through a gallery in Insa-dong without a Korean work permit. She said that she checked with embassy staff and no one saw a problem, but I find this hard to believe. It doesn’t seem like this would be the first time this issue has come up. I would think that even military spouses living in Korea have to deal with this issue. You would think the Embassy would be all over this one! In addition, the article stated that she handed out her business card at diplomatic receptions. To me, there is just no way that can be ethical. I won’t even take my son’s Cub Scout Popcorn sales sheet up to the office because my husband is the boss, and I don’t want people to feel obligated to buy! She said she shielded herself because she didn’t know the identities of the buyers at the gallery, but even she acknowledges that her jewelry gets recognition because of her status. Finally, she said she hopes that the laws can be clarified because as she states: ``It helps general morale of an embassy if more people are able to do what they have skills to do. It's very hard to expect somebody to pack up, move to another country, give up their job and be thrilled about that.'' I think this is a strange statement from the wife of a career diplomat. U.S. Government employees live all over the world, and all have to deal with the laws of the country in which they reside. Spouses make these types of decisions and sacrifices all the time. Why does she think her situation is unique? It seems like Korean laws are clear- she just didn't follow them. Again, I found it difficult to believe that the US Embassy did not find this a conflict of interest to begin with.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Drama Review: Winter Ballad

Winter Ballad (KBS 2002)
Number of Episodes- 20
Main Cast- Bae Yong Jun, Choi Ji Woo, Park Yong Ha, Park Sol Mi
Korean Wiz link:

I would be remiss to have a blog introducing people to Korean dramas and not include Winter Ballad. This 2002 drama is one of the leading "Korean Wave" dramas. It was a mega-hit across Asia and gave the lead actors super stardom status. You can even plan a Korean vacation based on the filming sites for this drama! When the drama begins, Yujin (played by Choi Ji Woo) is a happy carefree high school student. Her constant companion is Sang-Hyuk (played by Park Yong Ha). They have grown up together, and while she doesn’t think of him romantically, he is completely in love with her. One day a quiet mysterious new student named Joon Sang (played by Bae Yong Jun) joins their school. Joon-Sang is the son of a famous concert pianist, but she was a single mom and refuses to reveal his birthfather. Joon-Sang has had a difficult life without a father, and he has now moved to his mom’s hometown in the hopes of discovering the identity of his father. All the girls in the school are attracted to this good-looking student, and he ends up in a relationship with Yujin. They are suppose to meet on New Year's Eve, but on the way to meet Yujin, Joon-Sang gets killed in a car accident. The drama then jumps ahead ten years. Yujin is soon to be engaged to Sang-Hyuk when she meets Min-Hyung, who looks exactly like Joon-Sang. Yujin thought that Joon-Sang was part of her past, but meeting Min-Hyung rocks her world. How can this man not be Joon-Sang?

I usually don’t recommend this drama to a first time viewer of dramas only because it is sooo melodramatic that I don’t want to turn off a skeptical American viewer. You have to buy into a memory-loss theme plus Bae Yong Jun’s style (which was immensely popular in Japan) in the drama may be a bit "fluffy" for the American audience. However, that being said, there is something about this one that draws you in and keeps you hooked. I’ve probably watched it at least 3 times now! In addition to being drawn into the intense plot, the winter scenery is beautiful, and the music, which is now symbolic for Korean dramas, is moving. Bae Yong Jun does a nice job of portraying a cool Joon-Sang as well as a charismatic Min-Hyung, and I think Choi Ji Woo is absolutely stunning as Yujin. In addition, as he struggles to hold on to his love against all of Yujin’s memories of Joon-Sang , Sang-Hyuk is a very sympathetic compelling character. So, suspend reality just a little and lose yourself in Korean drama world!

Get a preview by checking out Ryu's Music Video from the OST:


Friday, September 15, 2006

The Downside To Guam Living

The one thing that makes me nervous about life on Guam is the limited medical care. Our only non-military hospital is not accredited and is plaqued with major financial problems. This was the headline in this morning’s paper: "GMH critically short on blood." The hospital urged residents to avoid getting into accidents…like any of us plan to get in an accident! The problem is that Guam Memorial Hospital hasn’t been making their payments to the American Red Cross.

An update was published this afternoon. It sounds like we have blood on the way!

1:45 pm, September 16 — As residents are asked to avoid accidents because the hospital is critically low on blood, the Guam Memorial Hospital expects a shipment of 49 units of blood tomorrow.

The shipment should return Guam's blood supply to an adequate level. Generally, the hospital should have 70 units of blood available on any given day, according to GMH officials.The head of the hospital medical staff said residents need to take extra precautions to avoid accidents. Dr. Thomas Shieh said one auto accident could wipe out half of the island's blood supply.The island is low on blood because the cash-strapped GMH has again fallen behind on payments to the blood vendor, the American Red Cross. GMH Adminstrator PeterJohn Camacho said a payment has been made. He said the hospital was five invoices behind, but should only have two outstanding invoices out by tomorrow.


Tumon Bay

Just wanted to share a Guam photo….Guam was so beautiful today. No matter how many times I see it, the view of Tumon Bay never fails to take my breath away. I never get tired of looking at the ocean! Tonight, we did our usual Friday night gathering at the beach with all our friends. The sunset was amazing. I’m very thankful for good friends and a chance to experience this wonderful island!


Thursday, September 14, 2006

It's Eugene!!

I have to share my celebrity sighting in Guam! I was shopping at Ross the other day…wait, first let me explain. I NEVER shop at Ross! If you’ve never seen Ross, it is kind of like shopping at a garage sale- there are deals to be found for sure, but you gotta be willing to hunt… elbow to elbow with other shoppers through row after row of disheveled, unorganized clothes. Someone on the HI Drama Board described Ross as looking as if it has been hit by a hurricane. Great description! It is a clothes explosion!

Whenever I attempt to shop at Ross, I glaze over within 5 minutes and bail. Of course, clothes shopping in any store is NOT my thing. I would rather do just about anything…go diving, play on the internet, study Korean, pay bills, etc. I am no fashion queen, and I accept this about myself, but lately I just need some clothes. I am now doing things in the Korean community 7 days a week. Three days a week I tutor English, then stay for Korean class. Two days a week, I take Korean at the Korean church we attend, and on the weekend, the kids do Korean school and we go to church. And, dang, those Korean women are sooo stylish!! All the ladies in the English class I tutor are adorable! They always wear the latest fashions, high-heeled shoes and full make-up. Dressing down still means a t-shirt, jeans, and heels. On Monday, after tutoring English, we all went out for lunch. I had on my usual Old Navy t-shirt, jeans and Sketchers. Blahhh... Not only am I the oldest among the bunch, but I am also the worst dressed. It is starting to get to me. So much for being a free spirited, independent thinking gal… It is time to upgrade the wardrobe (much to my husband’s delight too!).

Anyhow, I fired myself up and managed to find a few things at Ross. When I joined the mass of people waiting in line, I was pretty relaxed, knowing I still had about an hour before needing to meet the school bus. As I got within 3 people of the register, I glanced over at the register next to my line, and immediately noticed the girl unloading all her items to be checked out. OH MY GOSH, that is Eugene!! If you don’t know, Eugene (Yoo Jin) is both a K-pop star and a K-drama star. Just this summer, I watched her drama Save The Last Dance. She was wonderful in the drama! I had been told that she was from Guam, and wow there she was shopping at Ross. I couldn’t help myself. I was completely star-struck. I did look around to see if others would notice her. There were too many Koreans in Ross- both local and tourist- for me to be the only one to notice. Sure enough, a Korean couple near me spotted her. Anyway, Eugene was adorable in person and had no entourage in tow. Just her and her mom getting the latest bargains at Ross and hauling it out to their car like the rest of us (carts can’t leave the store!). Eugene can for sure count me as one of her biggest fans!

To check out her out, see this video from the Save The Last Dance OST:

It is a fun drama and has a great OST! I love Eugene in the ice skating scene where she is wearing the red coat. I think she looks beautiful. Her co-star Ji Sung is pretty dreamy too!


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Drama Review: Sweet 18

Sweet 18 (KBS- 2004)
Number of Episodes- 16
Main Cast: Han Ji Hye, Lee Dong Gun

Sweet 18 ranks as one of the top dramas I recommend to first time drama viewers who want to learn about Korean culture because the drama brings together traditional Korean culture with a modern love story. When the drama opens, the head of the traditional Kwon family agrees to an arranged marriage between his grandson Kwon Hyuk-Joon and his best friend’s granddaughter Yoon Jung-Sook, who has just been born. Shortly after they enter into the contract, Jung-Sook’s family has financial problems, and the family is forced to run away. Eighteen years later, Hyuk-Joon’s Grandfather is ready for him to get married, and he seeks out Jung-Sook to fulfill the promise. Jung-Sook, played by Han Ji Hye, is now a happy-go-lucky high school senior. Her father has passed away, and her mom runs a dry-cleaning business. Her mom pushes her to study hard for college, but she has no aspirations for her future. The complete opposite of Jung-Sook, Hyuk-Joon is now a 28-year-old successful no-nonsense prosecutor. The drama centers around the marriage of this unlikely couple.

I like this romantic comedy for so many reasons. First, it is light and funny and enjoyable to watch. Like Lucy in "I Love Lucy," the immature Jung-Sook is always getting into some sort of trouble after her husband leaves for work. Not only does is she trying to figure out how to be a good wife to Hyuk-Joon, but she also has the added pressure of marrying a husband from a traditional family. All the grumbling elders want to see her be a good traditional wife to hold up the name of the family. Of course, fulfilling this obligation involves intensive studying and practice, not exactly Jung-Sook’s specialty! However, fortunately for Jung-Sook, one of her greatest specialties is winning the heart of Hyuk-Joon’s Grandfather! In addition to the humor, the drama is loaded with traditional Korean culture, thanks to Hyuk-Joon’s family. The scenes that take place at the family home in Andong are a great contrast to modern Seoul where Jung-Sook and Hyuk-Joon live. The ladies of these families are skilled in the fine art of Korean royal cuisine and prepare elaborate meals in the most primitive of kitchens. It is fun to see the ceremony that goes along with this life style. Finally, the drama has a meaningful side as we see Jung-Sook and Hyuk-Joon mature into a real couple. As the couple learns to open up and trust each other, it explores the true meaning of marriage in a very warm and genuine way. This overall message makes the drama well worth watching.

You can find the drama (most of it!) on (ep 1 link- Also, you can rent dramas at: Finally, you can download the drama at:


Sunday, September 03, 2006

God Bless America

Back in 1998, when I first started learning about Korean culture, I used to think that America really didn’t have any culture of their own- it was kind of a blend of all things. However, back then, I used to think that learning about another culture was limited to the things you see at a Culture Camp- things like Korean drumming, fan dancing, and traditional games. But, as I learned more about the Korean way of life, I have come to realize that culture is much more than the traditional stuff. Culture is the way we live our day to day lives. Beyond Thanksgiving, Christmas and July 4th, culture is also about the simple things in our life, like what we eat for breakfast and how we talk to our kids. I feel it so much living on Guam among many different distinct cultures- Filipino, Chamorro, Korean, Japanese, and even the Chuukese.

Yesterday, we started the morning at Korean church, where we are fairly comfortable, but still very careful and always studying others to make sure not to offend. In contrast, later in the afternoon, we went to a potluck up on Anderson Airforce Base. The food was very American- potato salad, bake beans, brats, burgers, chips, etc. I had no worries about what to say or do or how to eat my food. This is my mainland American culture, and while living aboard, indeed it can be very comforting at times. Right now, I’m watching NASCAR live, a rare thing on Guam thanks to time differences. It takes an evening race in California for this to happen comfortably! Anyway, love all the American stuff- Budweiser, Dale Jr, the "man-laws", the AFLAC duck, the RVs in the infield, the National Anthem, and the "fly-over". This afternoon, we will head to the Hilton to swim and again immerse ourselves in the diversity, but for now…Go #9 Car! God Bless America!!