Friday, 26 February 2010

middle of nowhere

As far as I can remember, this time around last year was a lot colder than this.

Spring, which I'm supposed to be (kind of) excited about, comes earlier than expected.

I feel like I'm still somewhere around cold-freezing-snowy winter, though.

Is it 'middle of nowhere'?


Anyhow, Starbucks was full of those who rushed to grab iced coffee and Frappuccino, while there was something going on MBC when everybody's attention was arrested to Yuna Kim's somewhat magical show.

I had, so to speak, one of the busiest day, in many ways.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

At the Heart of the Empire

Like once I already mentioned on this blog in the past, I'm not a big fan of Starbucks.

Also I'm still feeling uncomfortable with the fact that USFK(United States Forces Korea) are occupying vast amounts of land in Korea.
(Those issues surrounding the debates on its justification or whatever people argue are another matter.)

And now, you know what...

I'm working at Starbucks, located just inside of Eighth U.S Army, in Yongsan.

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Sounds weird enough, kinda...?

I applied for this job, for this particular branch though, to tell the truth.

1. I was eager to learn how to make coffee,
2. thought I need to build my sociability more, (you know what it means to me)
3. and felt the progress had been rarely made on my English, especially speaking part of it.

As soon as my application was accepted, with all kinds of interviews and paper work things etc, I started working as a part-timer from last week.

So far, not too bad.
I cannot make a cup of coffee just yet, but I think I'm doing just OK. Reasonably acceptable. Not brilliant, but not disastrous, shall I say. Hundreds of thousand things to memorise, as it stands, that's the real worry for now though. Things will be all better as time goes, as it is, I hope.

One good thing about working at Starbucks anyway is that your money won't be spent. On the other hand, however, your labour force will be theirs resources.

Bearing in mind that, I'm just trying to get maximum of what I'm allowed to get. I've got a right to have two cup of coffee when I work, which I never miss. That's just a small part of it, anyway.

My thoughts on both organizations will remain unchanged, while I think it won't be a bad experience, will it?

Fingers crossed. :0

* Title is from one of my friend's quote:
"You're just at the heart of the empire."

Am I?

Monday, 8 February 2010

iPod Classic

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I miss my iPod Classic.

iPhone is smart and neat, no doubt about it,
but still, I don't feel comfortable when I listen to music with iPhone.
It's just kind of feeling that I'm not used to do so.
To short, iPhone has got iPod-function in it, but obviously it's NOT iPod.

Perhaps I've been missing it since I sold it off so hastily.
There are hundreds of occasions which remind me of iPod Classic...
Which is sad enough.

I knew that I'm gonna miss it.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

How I Became the Gunners? - Part 2.

How I Became the Gunners? - Part 2.
(for part 1, click here)


There were five London teams playing in a first division of English football league. Arsenal and Chelsea share their world-wide reputation whilst Tottenham Hotspur, Westham United, and Fulham FC with a national reputation. One of those fine afternoons on Saturday, I was walking down on the street, somewhere around the centre of city, trying to find something interesting enough to spend rest of the day. There was always something attracted me in London so I used to go out without any plan, with no concerns. Then I saw people shouting and cheering themselves in front of screen at the pub. They were watching the live coverage of football match! From my point of view, they looked a bit mad or crazy, but I found as well that they really enjoy themselves. With a cup of beer on a hand, they were singing, shouting, laughing and talking. There it is! I decided to go into the pub. But in less than five minute from I went in, I found that I am an alien with no team to sing a song for! I felt that I am completely excluded from those who are enjoying their time. So what? I am kind of force to decide which team to support.

Given the choices I had, it was not much difficult for me to choose. Even though I had never been Gunners or identify myself as a supporter of Arsenal, I used to watch their game and liked the way they play football. Also I had an Arsenal replica shirt already, which I bought in 2003 with no kind of loyalty to the club. I knew several players and their name in the team, I knew how they like to play, I knew who the manager is, I knew a little bit of their history and so on. So there were enough reasons for me to be an Arsenal supporter! After that decision, everything was already set up for me. I joined the Red Membership which guarantees the basic accessibility of the every match tickets including some exclusive items such as DVD, book of previous season’s review, and Arsenal-logo-printed bottle opener. And I will never forget the moment when I felt my newly-made identification for the first time. After such a long waiting period, I finally had a chance to get involved the whole mad crowd when I visit Emirates Stadium, of course the home ground of Arsenal, for the very first time. The atmosphere inside of the stadium was just amazing. Over 60,000 people shouting and singing, chanting player’s name together, it was incredible experience for me. I had a similar one in the past when the World Cup was held in Korea in 2002, but I felt, this one is for me something special. I think the difference that separate two occasions and make latter feeling special for me was because I thought that is my decision! Nationality is, of course, out of my choice, but I thought that somewhat I decide to be Gunners, I thought I have the control in shaping my own identity. It is true that identity involves some active engagement, but the there is something beyond my choice. The process of identification is more than my decision or choice, I found.

There are much more elements which effect what I called ‘my decision’. I might have chosen Arsenal because of their continually promoted images, because of the image of success, or even because of the fact that while most of Korean people support Man Utd., I probably try to identify myself as a person who is aware of nationalism, in other word; I am a ‘real’ football fan! Those elements are countless and also it has to be said that any decision we make in shaping our own identity is sometimes beyond our self-consciousness. There is a moment when identification process is kind of force to developed, especially when it links with commercial benefits. If you just want to go into the stadium, then you just pay for the ticket. That is fine. But that is not fine from the football club’s point of view. Basically they are doing business. In order to sustain their business, it is fairly important for them to have stable basis of revenue. Apart from match day’s gate receipt, there are hundreds of ways where they make money from. In case of Arsenal, they made a profit of 36.7 million pounds in 2008 , and while most of profit was made from gate receipt and TV broadcasting deal, it has to be pointed out that retail part played a significant role as well. Supporters are often encouraged to show their loyalty to the club by spending their money on those commodities and services provided by the club. To be an Arsenal fans, I spent a lot of money. Especially considering my length of time as a supporter, I felt I had to spend my money to show other fairly loyal supporters my loyalty to the club. Yes, I have made a decision, but after that, to develop my identity as an Arsenal fans, I had not much choice. I had to buy an Arsenal shirt, pay for the membership and subscription of Arsenal TV Online Service, and of course, for the match tickets. So it is not far wrong to say that I might just have ‘bought’ my identity. In this modern society, you can ‘buy’ your own identity.

Although I decided to be a supporter of Arsenal and thought that was in my control, but now it seems to me that it is no longer in my control. Identity is often produced and reproduced by consumption in many ways. Therefore as long as we are living in this capitalistic society, the process of identification is hardly in our control in many case.

(End. kinda. -_ -)


* I think now that I was born to support Arsenal. That's just what it is, you know...

** I don't spend that much money to 'buy' my identity any more. There are several reasons.

1. Here, in Korea, there are not much things to spend my money on. It's all Man Utd. world, you know. Even Seoul is one of those 'official' sponsor of Man Utd. I don't want my tax to be spent in that way. I've never approved it, no way. Just weird. :(
2. I don't feel I have to prove my loyalty to the club any more because I'm just feeling it with my heart. (Oh God... What have they ever done to me?)
3. I don't or can't buy a match ticket. Of course I'd love to if I could.

*** I'm considering whether to extend my Arsenal TV Online subscription, which cost me 45 pounds a year, or not. 45 pound is not nothing although it's worth spending. I'm fed up with listening to those one-sided Korean commentary. Nationality has nothing to do with English Football!

Monday, 1 February 2010

How I Became the Gunners? - Part 1.

after being so frustrated by yesterday's performance....

How I Became the Gunners? - Part 1.

I am the Gunners. I am proud to admit that I am supporting one of the most successful football clubs on earth, playing the most beautiful football in the entire world. And that is Arsenal Football Club (Arsenal). Gunners is the name everybody call us. I have been supporting this club (with such an awful lot of loyalty) for about 3 years and being an Arsenal fans has been a huge part of my life. It really is. Every weekend I sit in front of the computer, watch them playing football so beautifully with a live commentary which is provided from the official homepage of Arsenal. I like to submit what I think of ‘our’ game and how should ‘we’ improve etc during the match by emailing ‘our’ commentator in minute-by-minute. I really like the feeling that I am one of those who support the best football team around the world. There is a sense in many occasions that WE share something. From UK to US, from Africa to America, from Islington, where the club has its home ground, to a small town in Ivory Coast, there are millions of people whom I share something with. And I am one of them. It is just like I have got millions of friend and I really love that feeling.

At this point one might argue that given the fact that Arsenal is take their home in a small town in north London, then how did I become such an insane supporter of that club? How do I identify myself as Gunners? And also there are thousands of football team in the world, even in Korea there are several football team including Daejeon Citizen FC which has its home ground in my hometown. But I know almost nothing about Daejeon Citizen FC. So why is that? How it works? Obviously the way I became supporter of Arsenal is not a miracle. There is every reason to look at how it works, I mean, how I became supporter of Arsenal, not Daejeon Citizen or any other club else. Now you may get a little bit of clue from the remaining part of this short-essay.

In the summer of 2007, I landed at the Heathrow Airport, in London, with all the excitement and great deal of expectation ahead of me. I was going to stay in London for a year with a great ambition of beating English. At that time I was just normal football fan. There were general interests in English football and European football in Korea, mostly affected by the fact that Ji-Sung Park, one of the heroes of Korea national team in the World Cup 2002, joined Manchester United (Man Utd.) which is one of the most famous football clubs in the world, and was playing very nicely. With a kind of feeling that ‘our’ player shows his ambition and ability to play in that high-level football team and league, every journals in Korea started to bring extravagant amount of report and news from England to Korea, insisting that ‘we’ can now be proud of that. He got a huge amount of support from Korean people, and soon became the hero for almost every football fans in Korea. Man Utd. is regarded just as the another national team in most of reports, Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager of Man Utd., became more famous than anybody else in the football world. From that context, I was aware of sort of nationalism so I really did not like that general mood. But at least, I have to say that from that moment, my interest in European football has been broadened. Although I was supporting none of those teams, I enjoyed some fantastic football in general. Things had to be different however, when I started to find my feet in entirely different life in London. First of all I just wanted to be a Londoner, not a visitor. I was trying to go deeply into their life to look at how they live, how they think, what they like, and even what they eat. I thought that is the best way to spend my time in London. What I wanted to learn is much more than English which makes sense a lot to me. Spending such a huge amount of money then you get clumsy British-accented English, knowing almost nothing about their culture? I was not convinced with that at all. And that kind of thought led me to become highly madly addicted football fans in the end.


* Part Two will be followed in the very near future.

** Come On Arsenal!
"We've got to stick together."
Rightly so.

*** Ji Sung Park killed us once again.
Ooops... we've already got enough killers against us.
Too many, actually.

**** Was Denilson just jogging yesterday, anyway?