399310_10151580147929128_134664302_nAnnyeong, namaste, selamat. And the rest.

A Few Words on Your Valiant Hero:

Stupid Ugly Foreigner is Michael Em, a guy who is from Canada. He lived in Incheon, South Korea, where he taught English, and fought the powers of evil with dark sorcery and master robotic kung-fu. Then he left Korea to go on a magical journey to the heart of darkness in the exact centre of the universe, or maybe just backpacked through Asia. Then he lived in Canada, where he was an unemployed bum who spent too much time in the internet. Currently he is back in the world, most particularly China, where he teaches grade ones at an international school and acts as a vigilante in old town of Suzhou. This blog is the chronicle of all the wondrous and dumb things he does: teaching, writing, eating, travel, living in Korea, living in China, learning languages, taking photos, jumping into volcanoes, protecting the children from unicorns and Catholicism, and saving the environment through green energy.

You should read everything he has ever written, subscribe to the blog, then tell your friends, and then make up additional emails and wordpress accounts so you can subscribe again. He’ll probably be your best friend.

See you on the road.

64 thoughts on “About

  1. Good luck to you! I lived in Korea for two years, 20 years ago. Sounds like it is still very similar to when I was there. I admire your sense of adventure – best of luck.

  2. Just a Merry Christmas from our home to yours. Hope it is one of the best. We are Friends of your Father and Grandfather. Take care.

  3. Pingback: A Year (or Sixish Months) in Blogging « Stupid Ugly Foreigner

  4. Hey! I stumbled across your blog whilst looking for Yeonhwa’s address…. I’m THE Lisa that you replaced!!! I hope that you’re enjoying Korea as much as I did.

    • What?! Hah, wicked that you found me! I was intensely curious to talk to you, and mainly to thank you for keeping the apartment in such good shape. I walked in to a tidy space with loads of extra stuff lying around that I didn’t have to buy (people also thought I was crazy generous, because I gave away some of the slightly more ladylike items that I didn’t have much use for). The couple that moved into the apartment down the hall were not as lucky (did you know the people there before?), and spent a good week cleaning and de-greasing the entire apartment. Should we ever cross paths in real life, I owe you a drink (or a dozen bottles of shampoo, whichever you’d prefer).

  5. P.S. I cleaned that apartment like no other, went through nearly four bottles of cleaner! It was in a much worse state before I got there.

  6. ha ha ha! No, I didn’t know the couple personally but I do remember them in passing…. caught a few glances into their place, heaps of junk definitely! And they had wild parties. Your friend, Thanh, is the replacement for my New Zealand friend. I’m sure the alcohol came in very handy! Only two of the shampoo bottles are actually my purchases, the rest were from friends (perhaps they thought I had offensive hair). When I moved in, there was only one, lonesome, crusty towel to greet me. Have you visited the restaurant downstairs? (we call it Orangey due to its bright orange sign); they’re friendly folk and give away free stuff if they like you.

    You’re a fellow Canuck and from the Toronto area (where abouts in TO are you from?) so the drink may come in the foreseeable future….. Annyeong!

    • Wild parties? That apartment is barely any bigger than mine! How could you manage to fit a party in there? Thanh, indeed, found the alcohol very handy, and was pleasantly surprised to find that on arrival. Do you know David? He moved into Dooson Mecca in the summer, before your contract ended. He mentioned that he knew the New Zealander who lived in Thanh’s apartment ahead of time.

      I was a little confused to find that much shampoo upon arrival. I assumed that you were being overly generous, or, on first glance, that shampoo was more difficult to find in Korea. Even giving some away, I think I will have enough for most of this year for sure (four months in, and I haven’t even fully drained one of the big jugs yet). I was also stoked to see the piles of extra blankets and towels (more than I could even keep, really). It entices people to come to Yeonsu when my place acts as a crash pad.

      Hmm… the Cheonguk? Or, which side is the restaurant on? I’m not sure if I know that one.

      I’m from Rexdale, in the Etobicoke area. Are you also from around TO? For whatever reason (from co-teachers and the kids), I got the impression you were a west coast person. This is cool, though! A drink for certain. Not soju.

  7. Hi!!! I stumbled across your blog and it’s been instantly added to the Google Reader. I was adopted from South Korea when I was 3 months old. Then I was boxed and shipped over to the heart of the United States to rural Iowa. It’s so fun to read what your observations because I’ve always been curious to see about my “roots”.

    Keep it up! It keeps me completely intrigued.

    • Hah, awesome! Happy that I could provide a window into this country. You can click some of the links on the sidebar for some other foreigners in Korea. I haven’t really found too many good English-language blogs written by Koreans in Korea yet, though, so most of the stuff available will be a little skewed towards the Western ESL teacher bracket.

  8. Hey, I just stumbled upon this blog and I’m so glad I did! I’m moving to America for a year in August and it was refreshing to read your blog as I can relate to a lot of things you’ve written. Good luck with everything.

  9. Hello! I came across your blog on the entry portal of WordPress. Silly, I know. However, I am applying to teach English in China, and was immediately drawn to your blog’s picture of a room – it looked like a Chinese apartment! Upon further inspection I of course discovered that it was not Chinese, but Korean. Anyways, I have greatly enjoyed your anecdotes about living in Korea. Hope to make it to that side of the world soon!

    • Silly, nothin’. That’s how I’ve gotten most of my hits over the last few days.

      Most of the teacher apartments in China and Korea will probably be similar, in that they try to maximize space and generally will give you a studio. I don’t know much about Chinese apartments… is there a chance you might get a fancy loft studio? Several of my friends have those, for which I am very jealous.

  10. Hi. Just randomly stopping by your blog!! I live in Seoul, Korea. Welcome and hope you will have a wonderful experience and unforgettable memories with all people you meet here.
    Well I am very sure that you will meet lots of good and amazing people here indeed!
    I can say that your choice to come to Korea is right to do =) Enjoy Korea!
    Annyung! 🙂

    • Annyeong haseyo!

      As you know, I’m not far from there, just in Incheon (the southern neighbourhoods, anyway). I’ve already been having an amazing time, and indeed, the people I’ve met have been great! Thanks for reading!

  11. What is it with having to leave Ontario to find a decent job to get experience in your field? I just left and moved to Iqaluit, Nunavut…not quite so far as Korea, but just as much of an adventure I’m sure. Congratulations on your leap of faith, and on being Freshly Pressed so that I (and apparently hundreds or thousands of others) could discover your blog. Truly enjoying your writing so far – thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for reading!

      Indeed, it sucks to have to move so far away from home just to find work in your trade. I’m not going to lie, I fell in love with the schools and students of Toronto as much as I did with teaching, and I do miss them. That said, it forces us to be resourceful and cast a wide net in terms of teaching. I have some other friends currently up north too. One said it was -47 the other day. I think I’m glad I went with Korea.

  12. I will have my teacher certs. in the Spring of ’12. My dream is to teach abroad! Preferably Germany or Japan. I look forward to reading more about your experiences there in S. Korea.

    • Wicked! Always glad to have more people (and ostensibly more people in Korea) reading.

      And, of course, if you *cough cough* wanted to link me again on waygook, or say positive things to drive people to this blog, I wouldn’t be opposed. Just sayin’ is all.

  13. I like your blog, and want to read more! Can you make it easier to find articles by adding a calendar or archives or categories or something, unless i’m just not seeing them?

    • The WordPress format I chose makes it a little work to find. On the right-hand bar, scroll down and there’ll be a box with five buttons across it. Each of them corresponds to different archive functions.

  14. A good blog that I stumbled on today. I used to teach in Korea: one great job at Sogang Univ. and a horrid one at Korea National Univ. of Education. I’m now in China. Guangzhou is a lot like Korea culturally. I suppose this builds character and helps the pocketbook. Many days I don’t know.

    I admire your tenacity and enjoy your wit.

  15. I love your humor. Witty! I’m still browsing your site…and I’m glad I stumbled upon this one. I want to see ROK too in the near future. ^_^ Keep up the good work!

    • Hey, thanks a lot for this!

      I really do appreciate people coming back again and again to read, and it makes me especially feel good as a writer when someone takes the time to comment (or, in this case, write about me elsewhere)! I really do appreciate this.

  16. Hi! A friend directed me to your blog because I’m planning to go and teach English abroad (what, you mean I’m not the only person in the world to ever do this?!) and I have no idea where to go. She’s in South Korea and is trying to persuade me that way. I think I will need to read lots of your posts to help me decide! Great blog!

    • Cool! I’ve got a lot of posts on Korea, and some about how teaching there is. (There’s also a lot of blogs about teaching in Korea, too, so you can finds lots of accounts of what it’s like.) I have other countries on here, but those are mostly about travel to those places, and travel and living there are verrrrry different things.

      I guess my advice on choosing a place is not just to think about where in the world you want to go. There are opportunities everywhere, but you are also going to be working, and your work is going to be a big part of your life. Go to a place that feels right for you in terms of teaching and work rather than a country that just looks cool. (Of course, you need to find a balance, but you’re going to be a lot happier wherever you are if you’re also satisfied with your job!)

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