Letter from Korea, April 2013


Suwon, South Korea
April, 2013

Dear Ireland,

I’m not sure if I should gloat but I thought I’d mention the fact that spring is in full swing here. I should also point out that that was an unintentional rhyme  but I digress. Yes, April is warming the bones and joints enough for me not to dread the walk to work, and I am optimistically eyeing the month of May on the calendar in the kitchen. The shorts and t-shirts shall be dusted down soon.

We love spring here in Korea. It’s full of things to be happy about, such as the end of winter, but also the cacophony of blossoms which explode bit by bit throughout April. Right now we’ve bright yellow kenari decorating the sides of the roads, and slowly the purple azaelas and bulbous magnolias are breaking free. Of course the nation awaits the arrival of the cherry blossoms and the plethora of festivals that accompany them.

I should give a special shout out to the yellow dust, which is another of Korea’s wonderful spring characteristics, but it seems to have died down somewhat. Still, if you saw my car you’d wonder which building site I drove through beforehand.

But anyway, what class of an Irishman am I to be complimenting the weather and it’s not even shorts and t-shirts weather yet?

As it’s April I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate myself for no reason other than the fact that I think I deserve it. The topic of this personal celebration? Well it’s this blog I tell you. Yes, your favourite blog in the whole world is approaching its third birthday (in WordPress years). We started off in blogspot in the winter of 09-10 but I soon grew bored of the complete lack of hits and gave up. When I came back to Korea I decided at some point to reignite this blog in WordPress form.

You see, it would be thanks to its WordPress form that I would probably like to offer some gratitude. Any WordPress blogger will be familiar with WordPress’s ample selection of statistics, including graphs, views by country, and a chart which allows you to compare the number of hits month by month right back to the birth one’s humble scribblings. It is nothing short of blog porn if you ask me, and this would be the full extreme gang-bang variety.

I do look back at the early days and wonder, first of all, what the hell was I writing (here is something though, the first Letter from Korea!), but also how the hell did I manage an epic 124 hits in the month of May alone, and then an awe inspiring 204 in June? Things went out of control in July of that year, I think because I learned how to link it to my old Facebook account where I had something like 400 or 500 “friends”. However n in July of that year I deleted that account because I felt lonely and distanced from my friends, and the readers vanished.

From then on in I really had to learn how to blog. I had to learn how to connect with other writers. I had to learn how to find what people wanted to read. I had to find a way to find new readers outside of my former friendship circle. And I think I managed it. I read other blogs and commented. I found out about the Korean blogosphere. I wrote about things that happened, and I trolled topics so that I could give my own take on them. I stopped thinking about myself so much but kept what I thought about things as a central element in what I wrote. But more importantly, I kept writing and writing and writing. And before long things started to catch on.

Roboseyo over at, well Roboseyo chose my blog as blog of the month for 10 Magazine some time last year, which was a nice hat tip to all the work I had been putting in. It gave me the impetus to keep writing, because at that time I had been considering laying off posting because I felt it was getting in the way of other things I was writing. I know that this is still the case, but I’m discipling myself more these days not to throw down any old post idea that comes into my head. I’ve an Evernote account with about seven or eight notes all with potential blog posts on it, many of which where never acted on purely because I lost interest or time just drifted too far away from the topic. I’m always thinking about what I want to write, because I know now not everything I do needs to be written about.

What has been a nice comfort though, and we’re back to these statistics again, is that now my blog receives on average over 2000 hits a month, with many of these people coming from all corners of the planet, but mostly from Korea. I get a minor kick out of knowing that my blog could be considered a blog of note, although I have no idea who reads it. I’m sure more people read the kind of English teacher in Korea blog which there are plenty of here, but that doesn’t really bother me as we’re writing about different things to different audiences.

I know my blogs are long and I know that maybe some people look at the web page before they read, give it a quick scroll and go “fuck that” before navigating away to some other less text heavy page. I’m assuming there’s a large amount of that, as I don’t get many comments or reactions, which I suppose would be the mark of a more successful blogger. Despite this, I think that the blogs I write don’t really look for comments. I hope that anyone who reads these posts  reads them and takes in what I have to say, and then goes for something else to read. That’s how I feel about much of the things I read at least.

I don’t think I’m right or wrong about anything, I just have my thing to say and I am happy that some people are reading, because as a writer that is what I aim for, to be read.

As a writer in Korea I’m going to continue telling my side of the story through my eyes and through my own reckoning. One of these days someone might pay me for this, and I would love it if they paid me a shit-load, but I’m not holding out. I will still be here, money or none, and I hope that I can continue to attract you back.

Sound.

P.S. If you’re a regular reader, say hello, it would be nice to meet you.

Letter from Korea, May 2012.


Dear Ireland

I feel obliged to offer an apology for a lack of social commentary on life in Korea. Being Irish, I complain all the time, even when things are going well. If you were to sit with me for a relatively short period of time, I would undoubtedly complain about plenty of things I can do nothing about. It’s kind of an old-man syndrome I suppose.

The thing is, complaining about life in Korea doesn’t interest me as much anymore. Well, at least complaining about it on the internet and pointing out all the failings and the misery and normality of living here doesn’t interest me much. I suppose it’s just not productive. It doesn’t make my life any better, and while I’d love to attract the swathes of readers across the waeg readership who are itching for scandal and tales of depravity and inadequacy, I’m pretty happy to keep to myself these days. You see, it’s not just Irish people who like to complain all the time about things they can do nothing about.

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The Whole Blogging in Korea Thing…


The whole blogging thing started kind of randomly back in January 2010. It wasn’t a new year’s resolution. It was the means of maintaining a new year’s resolution, to write more. At the time I hadn’t a clue about what I wanted to write about, or whether or not I could expect anyone to read what I had written. In the beginning it was random and desperate.

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Happy Birthday to Here!


It’s not my birthday. It is not even the birthday of anyone I know. However, it is the (belated) birthday of this beloved blog, If I Had A Minute To Spare I Would Probably Say Something Like This.

Alas, I didn’t get a birthday cake for the occasion.

Weep ye not. I feel a little, hmmm, aggrieved that I didn’t notice this most important of days passing about a month ago (maybe longer), but perhaps I can blame the business of that most evil of trivialities, work – in this case I mean real employment where a service/product (my wonderful ‘ness) is exchanged for monies, and not writing blog posts and poems.

But still, the birthday of If I Had A Minute To Spare is a special occasion. After just one year and with very little publicity and fancy internet tricks to make more people visit, If I Had A Minute To Spare has had an epic 8,339 hits. Continue reading

12 Rules for Expat Life in Korea Contd.


Today has seen the Korean blogosphere dancing in the delights of this recent article of sorts on CNNgo.

Shocking stuff altogether.

Fortunately a few bloggers have jumped to protect Korea because Korea is such a wonderful perfect place that has never done anything wrong and shouldn’t be criticised for the realities its society presents. Grrrr. What I couldn’t get over was the general belief that this post was taken so seriously and the defence of Korea was so patriotic. So in defence of decency I will try to add my own flavour and sense of balance to this debate.

But first take a moment to read what has already been said:

Roboseyo: CNNgo Trolls Bloggers; 12 ACTUALLY useful tips for Expat life.

Re: 12 rules for expat life in Korea | Chris in South Korea – Travel and life in Korea.

12 Rules for Expats in Korea | David S. Wills.

Of course, no one here is right or wrong. It’s just … well… so what? As David S. Wills makes the point, anyone who reads the CNNgo post will – hopefully – realise that this is a little bit of jolly finger-pointing…at least I think that’s the point he made (I only had a few minutes to read so I read quickly, as in quicker than ‘scan’ reading).

Anyway, the balancing act courtesy of me. Drum rolls please!!!! Continue reading