Featured Blog: Quemino’s World

It’s the last day of September today.  The month wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t devote some space to featuring another blog I enjoy reading.  This month’s featured blog is "Quemino’s World," the musings of a very nice and eclectic lady I met last year at the APEC Summit in Busan (check out the November 2005 archive for more details).  Quemino is my favorite blogger name–I always thought Quemino sounded like a cool brand name, perhaps a clothing line or an upscale establishment.  Nah, in reality, it’s her name transposed in such a way that it fits her personality.  She’s a deep thinker who offers acute observations about life and leads you on a meandering journey through her life in fits and starts (she stopped blogging for awhile but returned earlier this year).  She has been all over the world, from Korea to Thailand to her former hometown of Seattle (we are fellow Seattleites), to Washington, D.C., where she now resides.  We’ll probably cross paths again when I return to D.C. next year en route to Paraguay. 
Quemino will challenging your senses with some profound observations on an diverse variety of topics ranging from squashed pennies to Starbucks coffee.  She is a "hip chick" despite letting her blog languish from time to time (lately, I have no room to talk–it seems I take a week off every two weeks).  Her lists featured web sites, blogs, and books for just about anyone.  While she really wants to do what I do for a living, she undoubtedly has a brilliant job that takes her to exciting places.  After I post this, I plan to write her an e-mail to let her know I featured her blog and hope that she will post a few new entries for you in October.  I don’t think she has enough time to do it in September!
Blog Notes:  I survived an extremely busy week last week.  I’m just starting what will be a 10-day vacation at home with my parents in town (hooray!).  I will try to blog more in the coming weeks, especially if MSN features my blog again, as one editor hinted they may do.  That would be really cool!  I would be honored, as always.

Gaming away their future

Over the past few weeks, the western media picked up on the latest trend in Korea–the alarming rise of addiction to online gaming, particularly among youths.  BusinessWeek published an article on September 11 highlighting this rising problem.  The magazine highlighted the results of a government survey reporting that over 540,000 Koreans between the ages of nine and 39 are so addicted to the Internet that they need counseling to curb their addiction.  That’s about one in 88 Koreans, a staggering number.  Last week the Korea Times reported that the Korean government will introduce "No Internet Day" one day per week at Korean schools to counteract this growing addiction.  The problem is apparently so bad in Korea that Internet addiction has eclipsed alcohol, gambling, and drugs.  Much of the addiction stems from the prevalance of online gaming, which is much more widely available in Korea at a higher less of sophistication than in the United States.  The government estimated that youths spend at least 15 hours per week online.  Some youths spend so much time online that some have died from sleep depravation, starvation, or emaciation. 
Experts concur that gaming is addictive and that men (and boys) are more prone to play video games.  I often see students walking the streets of Seoul, but more often than not, the students are girls.  I have often wondered why.  I have suspected that female Korean students are more apt to socialize with each other in public settings, such as in public shopping areas.  I also believe that male Korean students are more likely to head directly to their local PCbang (computer room) to entertainment themselves with online games; hence, fewer of them are on the streets once school lets out.  It’s just a hunch, but the news of the rising problem of Internet addiction among Korean youths confirms to me that too many are heading from school to the PCbang for gaming.

Getting it all done

Dear Reader, I have not been diligent lately in writing my blog, because life has been pretty hectic for me.  Last Wednesday, I took my Spanish language exam via digital video conference, and I improved my Spanish speaking/reading score from 1/2 to 1+/2.  Althought the improvement was slight, it was still worth the effort.  It’s the best I could expect from difficult testing conditions.  I took the test from 9:30 p.m. until 1:00 a.m., an odd time that accommodated the Spanish testers’ schedules in Washington, D.C.  On Friday, after a long day at work, I attended a dinner welcoming my new boss to Seoul.  Afterwards, I went out with a good friend to wish him well as he returns to the U.S.  Tonight, I ended one year as chair of our community association board.  I spoke to our community and updated them on all that the association has accomplished for them in the past year.  I try not to openly brag about my accomplishments on this blog (although I do hint sometimes, I know).  I do have to write that our board’s advisor, and a high-level official, said that I had done the best job of any association chair he had worked with during his career.  It warmed my heart to hear that.  Serving as chair of our community association was a labor of love.  I’m proud of all we did to improve the community association and the community at large.  I am tired, though, and I’m ready to take a much needed break.  I have to shift gears now and write a report for a conference we recently hosted as well as a magazine article.  I plan to go in early tomorrow, on Sunday, and work on it. 
Tomorrow night my parents arrive for their first trip to Asia.  They will spend the night with us here in Seoul and will leave immediately to spend one week in China on tour.  They will return the following week and spend two weeks with us.  I will take them to the airport on Monday morning, work all day Monday, go to one last community association meeting to hand over the chairmanship, and then have dinner with some acquaintances.  Tuesday night we will host a "hail and farewell" party for colleagues who recently arrived or will be departing soon.  Wednesday is our anniversary, and my wife and I are planning a night on the town.  On Thursday, I have Spanish tutoring and a much needed night at home.  The following Friday, I will join my wife for an evening with her colleagues at the symphony.  My parents return the next day, Saturday.
*sigh*  That is the way life seems to be right now.  Life is much more hectic than I would like it to be.  So many things are happening that my wife and I had to make a special calendar so that we can keep track of all the things we have to do until we leave Seoul.  I’ve had to turn down some engagements.  We had to say no to a goodbye dinner for some friends, because it conflicts with our anniversary date.  I had to forego joining the community choir, because it would be much too great a time commitment for me.  As it is, we have just four more months here in Seoul.  I have a feeling that life will become even more hectic as our departure date approaches.