A New Chapter at UlsanOnline

By , October 10, 2014 4:24 pm

It is with mixed emotions I write this note.

My time here as Editor in Chief of UlsanOnline has come to an end. In the next few weeks I will be starting a very big personal project that is likely to eat up all of my time and energy for a while to come. Because of this, I have been working with Jason Teale so that he can take over running the site and the Facebook community group.

Jason has been involved in UlsanOnline since before it even existed; he was a founding member of its paper predecessor, the Ulsan Pear, and also worked with the short-lived Ulsan Sun magazine. He’s also well known in Ulsan for his stunning, vivid photography, and runs his own website and photography blog, so he knows a thing or two about websites. I hope you all join me in welcoming Jason as the new Editor in Chief!

He has some exciting ideas for updating and improving the site, so watch out over the next few months for some streamlining and tidying.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the site during my run – in particular, my former tech crew, Carl Schreep (who put together the Interactive Map, among many other tasks) and Veena Srinivasan (who did the movie updates, re-did the drop-down menus, and a multitude of other work); my editor David Alexander (news updates, restaurant reviews); Jake Corre for his numerous restaurant reviews; and Marty Martinez, who took on the movie updates after Veena moved home. I’d also like to thank the moderators on the Facebook group that were not already mentioned above, for helping keep a check on the spam postings and inevitable random fights that break out over the oddest topics – Hazel Smith and Meg Sheppard.

And of course, a big thank-you to Fin Madden and Marty Rehder who started it all, and then trusted me with their baby when they both left for new adventures in other lands.

Finally, thank-YOU. Thanks to the readers of the website and the members of the Facebook group who have created such a vibrant community in Ulsan, both online and off. It has been a pleasure to be involved.

Unfair Firings: One Teacher’s Story, and What You Can Do if it Happens to You.

By , October 8, 2014 12:46 pm

This piece was requested by UlsanOnline.com after a recent unfair firing in which the teachers actually stuck around to take the process through the Labor Board. Too often, for various reasons, people who are fired late in their contract, often for suspicious reasons, decide to leave Korea rather than fight for their rights, which unfortunately leads the bad hogwan owners untouched, and ready to do it again to the next unsuspecting teacher. Often known as the “11-month firing”, as some owners prefer to save the severence and airfare they’re due to pay upon completion of a 12-month contract, if this happens to you, please consider taking the time to file with the Labor Board – they will help, and if the same owners show up again and again, perhap they can actually do something to protect other workers in the future. – Ed.

Special thanks to the author of this piece:

My Hagwon contract was supposed to be finished in November. How is it that I’m enjoying coconut milk from a coconut on a beach in Phuket, Thailand in mid October? No, it’s not Chuseok; I was fired from my Hagwon.

This article will hopefully give you some insight on what you can do if you were unfairly fired from your school. It is all too common for some schools to fire their foreign teachers for budget cuts, or ways to avoid paying the severance and flight bonus. If you’ve been fired, whatever the reason stated, there’s a chance that you’ve been fired unfairly.

I came to Ulsan in September of 2013 hoping to save for a Masters in Education, something I am currently working on. I was joined by my life partner and we thought we found the perfect school to grow with, and for me to work on my master classes with the guidance of a strong leader and director. After our first month working at the school, we rarely saw our director, even though we had a lot of questions. He was never around to give assistance like he said he would do, and after working for 8 months in the school, with no warning, he called us into a classroom.  Our director began to scold us for not teaching in the way he wanted us to. We were perplexed and asked him to explain and to tell us what he wanted. He talked to us in circles and concluded the meeting with these words “I must finish you contract”. I was crestfallen, my classes were starting soon and I was supposed to be teaching while enrolled.

We asked why we both had been terminated, and our director (and owner of the academy) said that we were “bad teachers”, but gave no specifics (this is a common 11-month firing tactic. You may also hear, “A mother complained”, again without any specifics. If there are specific reasons, consider the fact you may actually be a bad teacher, and this firing may be legitimate – Ed). This is when we started to ask other friends around us what we should do? Our boss had made up an arbitrary reason to get rid of us, so we had to get ready for what was next.

My partner and I asked a friend to help us translate our trouble to the labor board. The first advice I can give to anyone who feels they were unfairly fired is to find a translator and go to the labor board (see below for details on this –ed). I can tell you from experience, after our boss decided to fire us, the following month was hell. His wife verbally attacked me in the teacher office one evening. A few days later, he gathered all the teachers into his office to yell at the two of us in front of everyone, trying to get us to agree with his decision for him to keep our last month’s paycheck.

My second piece of advice is to not agree to anything and record everything. Take your phone into any meetings and record proof of your boss’ supposed claims. Be ready for anything, and I mean anything.  When we made our claim with the labor board, our former boss made a rebuttal saying I have dyslexia and am unfit to teach – something he had no problem with when he hired me, or for the first 8 months of work. We had to provide the labor board with medical information on dyslexia proving that it does not affect one’s ability to teach. We had to prove that every lie our former employer made was, in fact, a lie. Our former employer made up so many things about myself and my partner, and he even had current employees making up things about us as well. We were not protected by the slander laws as foreigners.

The best thing to do is to stay honest and to keep it to yourself. Do not say anything about your drama at the bars, and DO NOT put the school on the blacklist until you leave the country. Korea has INTENSE slander laws, so even if it’s true you may still get in trouble for it. Play all your cards very close and be very careful who you trust. People you once thought of as friends may turn on you in order to keep their own jobs.

If you want another job in Korea, get a release letter AS SOON as the firing happens. This will allow you to get another job at another school.

Once you leave the country, make sure to blacklist the school ANONYMOUSLY. Stand up for yourself; if you take your school to the labor board for firing you unfairly, the bad school owners and directors will learn that we are not their toys, we are real people and we deserve respect. As long as you are being a good employee, your school should be a respectful employer. When they are not being respectful, if someone crosses a line, stand up for yourself and do not be afraid.

At the Labor Board

The labor board is a big building on the main road in Okdong (the location is pinned on the Interactive Map, under Government – Ed) . We walked in with our translator and waited to speak with the next officer. When the officer and our translator spoke, our translator explained that we had been fired with no cause. The officer explained that to be fired in Korea from your School, public and private, you must receive three warning letters and a month’s notice to arrange for what is next in your life. You must also receive a release letter, in order to find work at a new school. Without the release letter you will not be able to work at a new school. We went to the labor board after every incident with our school, keeping our translator very busy. It’s important to report everything to the labor board officer.

After we made our initial claim, we had to return to the labor board office after our last day of work. We submitted our claim in full, and the officer then faxed our claim to the offices in Busan.

After our claim went to Busan everything became foggy. We moved out of the school-provided apartment and in with some friends. For a lot of the paper work we filled out, we needed an address and our friends generously provided us with that. The process took about two and a half months and we received a little less than a month and a half compensation. (This time frame, and the fact that most teachers are living in a school-provided apartment until they’re fired, is part of the reason why many people don’t bother sticking around to go through the Labor Board process – something the bad hogwan bosses rely on when unfairly firing foreign staff. It can be a tough decision to make, but to follow through not only helps yourself, but helps future teachers coming to Ulsan. Please consider this if this situation should happen to you – Ed).

We had been told that we would receive many different amounts of compensation at different times, but walking away with something was better than nothing at this point. Our school put up a dirty fight, our former employer lied on official paper work, saying awful and untrue things about myself and my partner. This, unfortunately, made an impact with the Busan Labor Board. My partner and I had to prove all our former employers claims were indeed lies. This became such a nightmare and a financial drain that we were really hoping to make an out-of-court settlement as much as we wanted to make a public trial.

We could have ruined our former employer, we could have destroyed the school’s reputation with a public trial, but we didn’t, we took the settlement of a little less than a month and a half pay each, and went on our way. After the dust cleared and we had received our settlement, our former employer asked if we could come in and sign a document saying that we would not black list the school. Upon hearing this news from our translator we declined. Our translator urged us to consider the generosity of our former employer in his settlement, but the nightmare of working at that school was too real and too harsh for us to hide the truth. I feel it is my duty to black list this school in order to help future English teachers coming to Korea. We signed no paper and went on our way, never to return to Korea.

If you have any questions, please contact me, I’m offering this article to help and my email is here (greenteathug /at/ yahoo.com) if you need advice or have any questions. Be safe globe trotters!

Angle Magazine’s First Birthday Party

By , September 23, 2014 7:37 pm

On the night of October 4th Angle Magazine promises an audiovisual feast at Ulsan’s Sticky Fingers in honour of our first birthday celebration.

Over the past year, Angle Magazine has worked at showcasing the work of the tremendous talent and creativity that, although abundant, is at times overlooked in the southern regions of the peninsula. It was started by Philip Brett and Joshua Hanlin in Ulsan, with the hope of providing a platform to expose this work and to improve and increase the creative community in the south. Whether connecting musicians to their audience, connecting artists with artists, or in one case, connecting musicians with a spoken word artist for an impromptu collaboration, the work that we have been fortunate to feature has inspired people to go see some shows and to create their own art, and that has been truly rewarding.

(November on Earth – Photo by Stephen Elliot at Big Day South)

The one year mark boasts a trail of events that have shared a sentiment Angle strives to promote, that of an inclusive, dynamic, creative culture that gives a sense of community to locals and foreigners, appreciators and creators alike.

BIG DAY SOUTH _ April 26th. from rainmaker on Vimeo.

We have four musical acts performing on the night. The Elsewheres have been a staple of the Ulsan music scene over the last few years, and as their recent victory at the Daegu Battle of the Bands shows, they’re starting to play more shows around the country before recording their debut album. Fellow local act Swanny will begin the night with the infectious guitar melodies of his British songwriting style.

(The Elsewheres – Photo by Stephen Elliot at Big Day South)

From Daegu we welcome post-rock band November on Earth who recently took part in the Round Robin event in Seoul hosted by Super Colour Super, and are gaining plenty of international attention online.  Also from Daegu are Drinking Boys and Girls Choir, who bring a burst of skate punk swagger!

(Drinking Boys & Girls Choir – Unknown photo credit)

On the visual side we have our friends from Moim who will be offering Projector Portraits for 1000won, with all proceeds going to the Ulsan Parents of Child Cancers. The portraits involve standing in front of a screen while an artist draws around you via an overhead projector. A quick picture later and you have a one of a kind image which will be available from the Angle Magazine Facebook page.

(Moim Launch Party by Lee Younghan)

There will also be visuals playing through a projector all night, and a wall for for the crowd to draw or write on, and create your own mini-masterpieces.

Make sure you come out on October 4th to help us celebrate our first birthday, and to help us support a growing and thriving arts scene here in the south! Hear some new music, watch some live art, and help out a good cause.

Doors open at 9pm and 5,000 won gets you in and access to four musical performances, back-dropped by visuals and interactive art.

For more information, visit our website at anglekorea.org or come say hello on facebook.com/anglemagazine

Ulsan World Music Festival – Oct 2-5, 2014

By , September 23, 2014 4:13 pm

Arguably the best festival held in Ulsan, the World Music Festival brings musicians from different countries and different musical genres together in a weekend of great music. It takes place this year from Thursday, October 2nd to Sunday, October 5th at the Ulsan Culture and Arts Center (울산 문화 어술회관 – Ulsan Moon-hwa Aw-sool-hwee-gwan for a taxi driver) in Namgu (the location is pinned on the Interactive Map under “Culture” and “Cultural Center”), next to the Namgu-cheong office (Namgu-cheong also works for taxi directions).

The website for the festival doesn’t seem to have an English page or a very user-friendly navigation this year, so I’ve written out the UWMF line up below.  All venues are in and around the Culture Center. There are usually lots of tents with food, beer, souvenirs, and lots of other stuff to check out.

For a preview of the musicians, check out this awesome YouTube playlist put together by Tyson Monk!

King Theatre

10.2 – 19:30 – Palsandae – Traditional Korean drummers

10.2 – 21:30, 10.3 – 20:30 – Myele Manzanza & the Eclectic – Funk, Soul – New Zealand

10.3 – 18:30, 10.4 – 21:00 – Lau – Celtic, Folk – Britain

10.4 -19:00, 10.5 – 19:30 – Maya Kamaty – World Folk – Reunion Islands

10.5 – 17:30 – Arifa – World Jazz – Romania, Greece, Germany, Turkey/Netherlands

Small Theatre (this information isn’t on the website, but is on the schedule as posted to their Facebook page – all bands are Korean, I believe)

10.2 – 18:30 – Yi Sung Yol

10.2 – 19:50 – Sun Woo JungA

10.2 – 21:10 – Baraji

10.2 – 22:30 – Uhuhboo Project

10.3 – 18:00 – Bidulgi Ooyoo

10.3 – 19:20 – Electric Samulnori

10.3 – 20:40 – Idiotape

10.4 – 18:20 – The Tune

10.4 – 19:40 – Acoustic Ensemble Jebi

10.4 – 21:00 – Juk Juk Grunzie

Open Stage

10.2 – 20:00 – Jambinai – Post Rock – Korea

10.2 – 22:00, 10.3 – 20:00 – DakhaBrakha – Contemporary Folk – Ukraine

10.3 – 22:00, 10.4 – 21:00 – Abby – Electronic Rock – Germany

10.4 – 16:30, 10.5 – 18:30 – Depedro – Latin Rumba – Spain

10.4 – 18:30, 10.5 – 16:30 – Dino D’Santiago – World – Portugal, Cape Verde

Party Tent

10.2 – 20:30 – Jin Geum Soon – Traditional, Folk – Korea

10.2 – 22:30 – Wadada Sound – Roots, Reggae – Korea

10.3 – 19:00 – 4 in Nori – Traditional, Folk – Korea

10.3 – 21:00 – Kim Ban Jang & Han_Madangs – Roots, Reggae – Korea

10.3 – 22:30 – Hoarang, feat. Ahn Ji Suk – Roots, Dub – Korea, France

10.4 – 18:00 – Ji Chang Soo – Traditional Performing Arts – Korea

10.4 – 20:10 – Funkafric – Soul, Funk – Korea

10.4 – 20:30 – DJ Soulscape – Soul, Funk, Hip-Hop – Korea

Cheoyong Madang

10.3 – 21:00, 10.4 – 21:00 – Busquito’s – Jazz, Gypsy – Netherlands


To read up on the bands, go to the Website, and click the purple button on the picture of the man (행사일정펴), then

Click the purple button on his butt.

Click the purple button on his butt.

on the next page, under “Events” click the fourth option (UMWF is in brackets) – that will take you to the full line up with descriptions of each act – the link for the page just takes you to the main web page again, sadly.


Click the fourth option under Events – (UWMF)

This page! Scroll around! Read about the music!

This page! Scroll around! Read about the music!

Your Rights When Being Stopped By The Police

By , August 13, 2014 2:30 pm

What if this happened to you?

Police Officer: Hello, could you please stop? I need you ask you some questions.
Subject: (startled) What? Okay, what?
Police Officer: Please show me your ID. There’s a protest scheduled nearby, and you’re suspicious.
Subject: What? No, I’m late for work already, I can’t stop and answer questions.
Police Officer: In that case, please accompany me to the police station.
Subject: ?!?!?!!

In Korea, as anywhere, the police may have need to stop and question individuals. Their responsibilities – and your rights in the situation – are outlined in Article 3 of the Act on the Performance of Duties by Police Officers (경찰관직무집행법). As foreigners, we have the same rights and responsibilities under the law as Korean citizens, with one exception.  According to immigration law, foreigners must carry identification at all times and show it on demand.

In short: Police have the right to stop people (even for no apparent reason) and ask them questions. As foreigners, we must show identification when asked. However, when randomly stopped by police, like anyone we also have the right to refuse to answer questions, and the right to refuse going to the police station.  Please remember, even with this right, you don’t have to refuse. After all, the police officer does have the right to ask you and they might very well need your help.

In the case above, the subject would have the right to refuse, and could continue to work without penalty.  The police officer didn’t identify himself, the protest nearby is not a valid reason to arrest someone, and refusing to answer questions isn’t a reason to go to the police station.

Aside: If you see a crime being committed, according to Article 212 of the Criminal Procedure Act, anyone (not just a police officer) may perform a warrantless arrest. Even as a civilian, you may temporarily arrest such a person until police arrive. You must also inform the arrestee of their rights.

Translated by the Korea Legislation Research Institute:

Article 3 (Police Questioning)

(1) A police officer, by using reasonable judgement from a suspicious act or surrounding circumstances, may stop and ask a person questions when he has a considerable reason to suspect that the person has committed or is about to commit a crime, or when the person is believed to have knowledge of a crime already committed or to be committed.

(2) When it is deemed to be disadvantageous to the person or interfering with traffic flow, to ask questions at a certain place as referred to in paragraph (1), the police officer may demand him to accompany to the police station, area patrol unit, substation or branch office (hereinafter referred to as “police agency”, which includes a district marine police agency) in the vicinity to ask questions. In this case, such person may refuse the demand of accompanying the police officer.

(3) When directing questions to the person as referred to in paragraph (1), the police officer may investigate whether or not he carries any dangerous weapons with him.

(4) When a police officer asks questions or demands the person accompany him to the police agency under paragraph (1) or (2), he shall present to the person credentials indicating his identity, disclose the agency to which he belongs, his name, and explain the purpose and reason thereof, and when accompanied, disclose the destination to the person who he is accompanying.

(5) When accompanying the person to the police agency under paragraph (2), the police officer shall notify the person’s family or relatives, etc., of his identity, the destination to where the person is being accompanied, and the purpose and reason thereof, or offer the person an opportunity to make such contact immediately, and advise him that he has the right to receive an attorney’s assistance.

(6) When accompanied under paragraph (2), the police officer may not have such person stay in the police agency in excess of six hours.

(7) In the case as referred to in paragraphs (1) through (3), such person shall not have his body bound without recourse to the laws governing criminal procedure, and he shall not be compelled to answer any question against his will.

In short:

1) A police officer may stop, question, and ask for ID from a suspicious person whom the officer has reason to believe has either committed a crime, or is about to commit one, or has knowledge about the same.

2) Once stopped, a police officer may ask them to accompany them to the police station in two cases. Either it would be disadvantageous to the person, or interfere with traffic flow if they were questioned on the spot.

3) Once at the police station, the police officer must notify the person’s family about exactly where they’re being held, and for what reason. They must inform them of their right to an attorney.

4) And once held at a police station, such a person may not be detained for more than 6 hours.

5) All of these requests – stop, answer questions, go to a police station – can be refused without penalty, regardless of whether the stop was lawful or not. However, foreigners must carry their foreigners’ ID card and present it.

In fact, if the police do not inform the person of their right to refuse, that is a considerable breach of their rights.

And in the case of traffic stops, a vehicle may be stopped only to test for drunk driving, if there’s suspicion of driving without a license, or if there’s suspicion of driving under extreme exhaustion.

For more details, and example cases, please visit the K-Law Guru’s article on the subject.

Counseling Resources

By , August 7, 2014 4:41 pm

As many people already know, counseling resources can be hard to come by in Korea. Mental health issues, which have a large stigma attached to them in Western cultures, are even less discussed here than at home. But this is starting to change, slowly, and more counseling resources are becoming available to those who need them, both Korean and foreign. This is information that has been gleaned from our Facebook group members in the past few months in regards to English counseling available in Ulsan. If you are struggling with Depression, Anxiety or other health issues, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is available.

In Ulsan, there are a few psychiatrists around town. One is based at Ulsan University Hospital in Donggu, which has an English speaking receptionist to help foreign patients, as well.

Another is at Mother’s Hospital in Samsandong, behind Lotte/Bus Terminal (052-270-7090). Though the psychiatrist here (Dr. Kang) speaks English, the reception staff don’t, so you may want to either go in person, or have a Korean-speaking friend make an appointment for you.

There is also a doctor who speaks English at this address  (한양신경신과 (Hanyang Singyeong Singwa) Office:052-224-9649 Location: 울산광역시 중구 성남동 95-3 2층 (Ulsan, Junggu, Seongnamdong (Shinae)).

And this website, though no one was clear whether this doctor spoke English or not –  http://www.minddr.co.kr/

There are also a few religious leaders around, both native speakers and English-speaking Koreans who maybe helpful. There are several churches and the local Islamic center pinned on the Interactive Map.

Finally, there is this service available from Seoul – Counseling Korea, which offers Skype, phone, and email counseling.

There may be more English speaking psychiatrists in town, so please, share them with us if you know. You can annonomously add information to our Where to Find section if you prefer.

One tip I read online is that if you pay for the psychiatrist through your health insurance, the information may be available to your employer, which may bring about problems with your employment situation due to the stigmas around mental health here. If you want to be assured of confidentiality, you can pay out of pocket instead of through the insurance plan.

Ulsan Summer Festival

By , July 24, 2014 5:47 pm

If you’re a fan of Korean music, then check out the Ulsan Summer Festival sponsored by MBC. It is taking place in various parts of the city over most of the weekends in August.

For those that can’t read Hangeul, here’s a brief breakdown:

Prime Concert – Sports Complex Supplementary Grounds (Next to the basketball stadium, near Megamart in Jungu – pinned on Interactive Map under “Sports”) – August 1,2,3 at 8pm

Acoustic Ladyland? Readyland? – Taehwagang Grand Park (Taehwa River Park, pinned on Interactive Map under “Recreation”) – August 9, 10 at 2pm-10pm

Jinha Beach Festival – Jinha Beach (pinned on the Interactive Map under “Recreation”)- August 13, 14, 15, 17 (not 16!) at 7pm

Open Concert – Beomseo Sports Park (pinned on the Interactive Map under “Sports”) – Auguts 16th at 7pm

You’ll have to check out this article to puzzle your way through all the performers ;)

ulsan summer festival


How to Beat the Heat and Humidity

By , July 21, 2014 6:33 pm

Summer in Ulsan can be hard to handle, as the temperatures rise above 30*C (that’s 86*Fahrenheit for those that are metrically challenged) and humidity soars into the 70%-90% range. Hear are some methods for dealing with the heat for those of you who may not come from similar climates.

1. Koreans swear by eating hot soup on the 3 hottest days of the summer. These days are pre-determined according to the Lunar Calendar (July 18, 28 and Aug 7, 2014), and are not necessarily the hottest in terms of temperature. Nicknamed the “dog days”, some folks still eat dog soup (boshintang), but more and more are moving over to Samgyetang (삼계탕), or chicken soup. Eating hot soup (and you can also spice it up – it’s served with a side of pepper paste and such to mix in if you want) will make you sweat, and when the sweat evaporates from your skin, you’ll feel cooler. samgyetang

2. Another popular summer dish is Naengmyeon (냉면), an icy buckwheat noodle soup where the noodles are served in a cold, vinegary broth filled with crushed ice, and topped by chopped vegetables. It can be an acquired taste, but ask some Koreans to tell you where there is a good naengmyeon restaurant, as quality makes all the difference with this dish.


3. Patbingsu (팟빙수) is a summer favourite in Korea, to the extent that new Bingsu-only cafes are popping up all over the place. The original dish (Patbingsu means red beans with ice) has evolved from being a bowl of crushed ice topped with sweetened red bean sauce, to include other toppings, like ddeok (rice cake) ice cream and fruit salad. In the past few years, cafes started to offer different Bingsu flavours, such as Nok-cha (green tea) bingsu, oreo bingsu, and mango bingsu, to name a few. Be forewarned, this is meant to be a shared treat, so bring at least one friend with you.


4. Hit the water! Here in Ulsan, we’re lucky to be right on the coast, and we have several beaches within an hour’s drive (closer if you live in Donggu or down near Jinha). If you live in the west end of town, and Donggu is a bit of a trek, check out the swimming hole at the Seonbawi Bridge in Guyeongli – right at the end of the Taehwa River walking/biking path. It’s shallow and rocky (swim shoes are a good idea), but the water is cool. Added bonus, Seonbawi (Standing Rock) is one of Ulsan’s 12 Scenic Sites, so you can knock that off your Ulsan Bucket List while you cool off. Just make sure you stay within the swimming areas wherever you go.

Why I avoid Haeundae Beach in the summer...

Why I avoid Haeundae Beach in the summer…

5. Put up window shades. If your apartment gets stifling hot during the day, and you either don’t have or don’t want to use air conditioning (or you want to keep your electricity bills within reason), try adding a blind to your windows. White on the outside helps reflect the sun, and it can make a surprising difference on how hot it gets inside.

6. Cold showers and fans. Again, if you’re air-con free for whatever reason, this is a great way to cool your whole body. Take a cool shower (or spritz yourself with water kept in the fridge), and sit or lie in front of the fan to dry off. Repeat as necessary. If you’re worried about Fan Death, most Korean made fans have built in timers, so you don’t have to worry about falling asleep and being assassinated by an appliance.


7. If you are using an air conditioner, make sure your windows and doors are closed to maximize its effectiveness and minimize your bill size.

8. The extra humidity in the air can cause some wet, sticky, embarrassing problems for some folks. If you’re finding you need to wring out your clothes part way through the day, try buying some athletic gear that is made from “technical fibers” that wick sweat and moisture to the outside of the clothes, allowing it to evaporate quickly. Cotton tends to hold moisture, so while it can feel cooler when you first put it on, if you sweat, it’ll stay damp for ages (which is why it’s not a great fabric for winter wear). Also, choose colours that are lighter, as they reflect the heat better than dark tones, and loose fitting clothes that allow air to move against the skin.

We've all been there...

We’ve all been there…

9. Make sure you drink plenty of (non-alcoholic/non-caffeinated) liquids throughout the day. Being dehydrated raises your body temperature, so drinking lots of water to replace the stuff lost to perspiration is really important, moreso if you’re active. If you’re exercising in this heat, now’s the time to consider sports drinks to keep well hydrated.

Not good for rehydration purposes. Drink water first, then move on to beer.

At night, it’s a different story.

10. Use a homemade cold compress to cool your sheets for a better night’s sleep. Fill a cotton sock with rice, and tie it off. Then freeze the sock for two hours. Then you can either rub it over your sheets to cool the bed, or put it on the back of your neck to cool your body. The rice will hold the cold for a long time, and won’t get everything all wet. It’s like the opposite of a hot water bottle for the winter.

Hopefully some of these hints will help you feel a little more comfortable. Here’s a picture sending cool thoughts your way:




What you should know about BAPS (Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary)

By , July 17, 2014 6:53 pm

This article was written by Leo, one of the two people who run the Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary. It’s pretty much the only no-kill dog shelter in the Busan-Ulsan area. The article was written in response to some negative comments, and posted on their Facebook page. With Leo’s permission, I’m sharing it here, because I think it’s important stuff to think about – not just for this particular shelter, but for any service run by volunteers with the intention of helping others.

(By Leo Mendoza)

1. BAPS has no full time employees.

I (Leo) have two full time jobs (university teaching and dog kenneling), a part time job (radio production) and multiple free-lance jobs. Jin has two full time jobs (school teaching and dog kenneling). The other person involved regularly is the worker who comes to clean and feed the dogs Tuesday and Thursday, and she receives a small cash stipend from BAPS to cover her transportation and time. She also has a full time job.

2. BAPS has no government or corporate support.

Despite our best efforts, over the past 6 years it has been impossible to find support from anyone other than individuals who donate graciously to BAPS.

3. BAPS costs 2,500,000 per month to run.

Our main expenses are rent, dog food, and regular monthly dog medical supplies. Over the years we have worked hard to be able to buy the food and medicine at great bulk discounts. If we were paying retail prices, the monthly cost would be close to 4 million. BAPS donations are always used towards dogs. All associated costs (transportation, snacks, drinks, management, etc) are paid out of pocket by Leo and Jin.

4. BAPS collects an average of 1,000,000 per month. (now)


From 2008 to 2010 income from other sources was zero.

From 2010 to 2011 income was around 400,000 per month.

From 2011 to 2013 income was around 900,000 per month.

2014 has seen income at a little less than 1,000,000 per month.


The rest of the money needed to pay for the operating of BAPS has come out of Leo and Jin’s pocket. We don’t say this to show off, but to simply lay it down as it is, for all to see.

One of the many spaniels abandoned when it got "too big", rescued by BAPS

One of the many spaniels abandoned when it got “too big”, rescued by BAPS (from the BAPS site)

5. Medical emergencies, spay, neuter, are additional.

Thanks to the support of friendly vets, we pay great discount prices for medical care. Still, even with that help, the medical costs are significant. We spend an average of 5,000,000 a year in emergency medical care plus spay/neuter and heartworm treatments. The great bulk of this money comes from fundraisers organized by volunteers.

6. We know BAPS looks like crap by western standards, but…

We provide a far superior service to our dogs than do just about all the other shelters in Korea. Remember, the government does not support ANY shelters (just pounds).

These are some of the things we have that you will probably not find in other shelters in Korea:

-We vaccinate ALL dogs against every danger found here.

-We provide Heartgard and Frontline to all dogs

-We have a proven history of regular adoption. About 400 so far.

-We have NEVER had a dog get pregnant at BAPS

-We test EVERY dog for safe antibodies levels

-We are 100% No Kill

You’ll just have to take our word for it, but these things are rare in Korea. And they have been damn hard to achieve. Much sweat, sacrifice, and suffering has been spent to get to this level.

7. BAPS does not own our location.

It is a former pig farm, and looks like crap. But BAPS is thoroughly disinfected regularly, and our dogs almost never get skin infections, and we have NEVER had a viral or bacterial outbreak.  Of course, we would love to move to a better facility, buy we can’t afford the cost of purchasing land and building a proper shelter. When to comes to renting,  the fact is that NO on wants to rent to us. Dogs are loud and smelly, and bring property values down. Hence the pig farm.

8. BAPS will never grow beyond what it is.

This is a hard conclusion we’ve reached after all these years. Every step of running BAPS is a losing fight.

The government will not support dogs in this country. They even refuse to recognize dog shelters as legal charities, and won’t let us register as a charitable organization.

We will never have sustainable donations, because the great majority of people who donate to us are foreigners in Korea, and by definition leave the country after a couple years. No one who’s left has ever donated regularly after departing.

Because it takes time and money to make money, BAPS is incapable of raising money to sustain itself, much less to raise money enough to pay a full time worker, or upgrade facilities. It just isn’t going to happen.

9. Despite all this, the dogs are happy.

Yes, our dogs have to spend months confined in the cages.Yes, our dogs go the entire week without having human contact.

But there’s one key fact: OUR DOGS ARE ALIVE.

These dogs would have all been killed 10 days after arriving to the pound had we not pulled them from there. So what if they have to stay a few months in the cages? When they come out they are happy. They get all the food they need, they are protected from the weather, they have enough space to walk around, and they are socialized with people.

I can cite many, many emails, messages, calls, etc. that Jin and I have received from the families who have adopted a BAPS dog and taken them all over the world. Our dogs are happy and loving parts of these families.

We know that the dogs at BAPS will eventually find their home. It may not be this week, or this month, or perhaps even this year. But they will all live.

10. We won’t quit.

BAPS is a life draining prison for us. It has brought us to the brink of bankruptcy a couple of times. It has drained away all possibility of vacations, hobbies, or even a weekend away. The stress it causes even sent me to the hospital once.

But we do this because we look around and see that NO ONE else is doing it. Thousands of dogs die at the pounds in Busan, and no one else is doing anything. We feel it is our moral duty to give a chance to live to the dogs we can.

We know what your western standards are. We’d love to implement them. But we don’t have the money or the free time to do them.  So, here’s a final thought:

When you feel you have the next great ideas for improving BAPS, don’t just say “Leo, you should do X in order for BAPS to grow!” Please consider that your idea costs money I don’t have, and time I don’t have.

If you really want to help, say” Leo, I will do X in order for BAPS to grow!”

Volunteers on the weekend Dog Walk

Volunteers on the weekend Dog Walk – Sundays at 11am. See their Facebook page for details. (from BAPS site)

THAT’S the kind of action we need. That’s how we got our playgrounds built, the Ulsan fundraiser, and other recent projects that people have enacted.

Whatever happens, we are committed to saving dogs in our local community. This is what we do. We don’t apologize to anyone for BAPS not being up to western standards. This is the best that can be done with zero resources. We do this for the dogs. We do not do it for anything else. The dogs.

(If you are considering adopting a dog, please read this post.)

What to do with a Stray Animal

By , July 11, 2014 5:38 pm

Regularly we get posts on the Ulsan Online Facebook group from kind-hearted people who have found a stray cat or dog (or sometimes even rabbit) on the streets, and want to help the creature out. Here is a post from BAPS explaining the best procedure you can follow should you find yourself in that situation. BAPS deals with dogs, but the advice is similar for other animals.

From the Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary (BAPS):

Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary usually gets 10-20 messages per month from people who want us to take in dogs they find. We’d love to take them all, but it is simply impossible for us. Our funding and infrastructure support maximum 30 dogs on site, and we have to keep those numbers if we want to survive financially.

So, the first thing you should NOT think when you want to rescue a dog is “I can send it to BAPS”. We do not take dogs from people, for a variety of complex reasons related to medical quarantine. (We take dogs from a pound that provides quarantine observation/treatment for dogs pre-selected)

What about other shelters? Well, basically, there are no other shelters in the area that take in dogs and do not euthanize them. This is the sad reality. The only option is for you to follow the procedures below in order to give the dog a chance.

You see a stray dog on the street, here’s the questions you need to ask yourself:

1- Are you able to keep the dog in your house for 2-6 months (or permanently)? If not, do you have a person who could do it?

2- Are you able to afford minimum 100,000won up to 300,000won for basic medical treatment/assessment assuming the dog is not critically ill?

If you answer “no” to either of those questions, we recommend you do not pick up the dog until you have secured both those options.

If you answered yes, go on…

3- Do you have a pet in your house?

If you answered “yes”, do NOT take the dog home. It could present a serious health risk to your pet.

If you touch the dog, thoroughly disinfect yourself and your clothing. Secure a home for the dog, and go on…

If you’ve solved questions 1-3, these are the steps you need to take:

1. Go to a vet with the dog, check for a microchip, and ask for the following procedures:

a) Distemper and Parvovirus ANTIBODIES test. (Note: this is not a negative/positive test). The test should be assessed in a scale of 1-6. If the result is 4 or below for either level, ask the vet to give booster shots.

NOTE that if the result is under 4, the dog could already be infected with either of these deadly diseases. It will take up to 3 weeks for incubation, and if one develops, death is nearly certain, and you will spend up to 600,000 won  trying to treat it.

b) Heartworm test (positive/negative)

c) Age assessment

d) Skeletal assessment

e) General health checkup.

The vet assessment may reveal a multitude of potential mild to serious issues, some which could cost hundreds of thousands to treat. We recommend that after the assessment you consider your finances, and then make a responsible decision about if you will continue to be responsible for the dog,or ask the vet to call the pound.

If you decide to continue, go on…

2. You should know that the vast majority of stray dogs in Korea will not have someone looking for them, so don’t get your hopes up that the owner will be found. However, you should create a flyer in Korea that gives a general description of the dog (size, color, breed, temperament), and a Korean speaker’s phone number. Do NOT include a picture of the dog, or identifying mark information. This is to prevent dog meat traders from posing as the owner. If someone does come forward, ask for photographic proof of ownership.

Post the flyer at local vets, pet shops, police stations,and community bulletin boards.

2. For finding a permanent adopter, take many high quality pictures of the dog, from different angles, and create a profile for the dog on http://www.rescuekorea.org/.

3. Be patient. It can take months to find an adopter…

Picking up a dog off the street is a much more complicated issue than people think at first. We have seen countless heartbreak and frustration from people who get into a situation they are not able to deal with.

Of course we also have seen many dogs go on to beautiful long lives, and give years of love and joy to their new family.

We ask that everyone who takes a dog do so responsibly, and we are here to provide advice and any assistance within our means.