Life in Korea, 2014: Year in Review

Wow, it’s Christmas time already. Time passes by so fast. Merry Christmas everyone, and have a happy new year.

As many of you know, I’ve completed my transition to Korean life, since I sacrificed a lot to move here, I am determined to make good use of my time year.

A few things I want to say about life in Korea compared to life in Western culture. One thing is that gender roles are very separated here, another thing is that people really care about appearances here, and lastly, there’s less individuality here than in America/Canada.

Firstly, I appreciate that gender roles are very clear and distinct here. You don’t have to worry about making a possibly sexist remark, or having feminists complain about something controversial, because it’s very clear here that men have an advantage over women. And Korean women accept it and don’t complain about it. As a guy this makes it much easier to live here.

Secondly, when people care about appearances, society is better for it. Would I rather live in a place where people dress up all the time, where women wear high heels all the time, to a place like Silicon Valley where people can come to work unshaved and in their pajamas? Yes I would. I can compliment a girl on her appearance here and she will react positively to it, whereas in America if I called a girl pretty she would probably glare at me. I never got called handsome when I was in America/Canada, but here I do get compliments sometimes, which is very nice.
We often associate caring about appearance with the word “shallow” which has a negative meaning in western culture. But caring about appearance is not a bad thing. Caring about appearance too much is a bad thing sure, but caring about looking good and hygiene and stuff is generally a good thing and people look much better and cleaner because of it.

Lastly, if you’ve seen different kpop groups on TV, you can see how similar they dress and act. The same is true of Korean society. Everyone dresses and acts similar. Of course, everyone has a distinct personality as well, but there’s less individualism as in Western culture, and more of a group culture here. Doing things alone isn’t very common here. Korean women might have less personality than Western women, but in general they are very nice, polite and dedicated to their boyfriends, and care more about their appearance, so you know more or less what you are getting with them.

Ok, so now onto my annual year in review.

2014: Year in Review

-Found a job that lets me work remotely
-BitTorrent helped my career experience a lot
-Korean improved
-Rented my SF apartment out to my good friend
-Found my own place in Korea!

-Financial situation unchanged
-Bedbug infestation which hurt (both physically and financially)
-Nothing new with relationships
-Made very few good friends
-Unexciting year in general

Let me start the summary by comparing this year to the previous 2 years:

2012 was probably the most exciting year of my life. I was still new to California, I went to language exchange meetups, made a lot of good friends, traveled to almost all the good places on the west coast (SF, Napa, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Stanford, Berkeley, Monterey, Carmel, Santa Cruz, Point Reyes, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, LA, San Diego), work at my company Switchfly was flexible, and I often hung out with my good co-worker friend to play badminton, tennis or video games after work. That whole year from the beginning where I toured my brother across SF, to the end where I spent Christmas and New Years in San Diego with a Korean girl, was amazing. If I had any year I could go back to my life, it would be 2012.

2013 was a year of ups and downs. I went to a lot of parties and clubs, met a lot of people, went to Korea for the first time, went to Vancouver, and got a job at BitTorrent. On the other hand, I suffered a lot of financial loss, a lot of heartbreak, and in general was disappointed with that year compared to 2012.

This year in comparison to 2013, is a year of steadiness. Not a lot of exciting things happened this year, mostly because I was focused on two main goals: 1) Improve my Korean and 2) get to Korea. Ever since I came back from Korea in Sept 2013, I found California very uninspiring, and needed some motivation.
So for the majority of this year, I was hanging out with my good American friend who I met at a meetup, didn’t meet a lot of good friends, went to very few clubs and parties, studied Korean a lot, went to Korea for one week in May, and focused on my goals a lot. So compared to the ups and downs of 2013, this year 2014 was basically a straight line, until the last 4 months, where I went to Toronto, found a job that lets me work remotely, dealt with a bedbug infestation, property tax, SFMTA towing citation, paperwork for renting out my place, ramped up my Korean with a tutor, said goodbye to my SF friends, took out a 1/3rd of my savings to fund my move, found a place in Korea with very limited Korean, and settled down in Korea working from a different time zone. All of that in the last 4 months of this year.

So yeah, this year was relatively unexciting compared to the last 2 years, but at least I achieved my goals by the end of the year, and that’s all that really matters.

General Tech

2013: Year in review

Happy New Year everyone. Once again I’m doing a yearly review of the highlights and low points of each year for me, and so this will be for 2013.

2013 ended up being one of the worst years for me. Why? Here are my highlights and low points:

-Moved into my new apartment
-Paid off $10k in mortgage payments
-Got a new job at a well known company with a higher salary
-Went to Korea for 2 weeks
-Met a lot of cool people
-Saw my family again after 2 years
-Taking Korean class was a good call

Low points:
-Paid out $5k in parking/impound fees for my scooter
-Didn’t get my driver license in time for the end of the year, so couldn’t renew scooter license
-Broke my wrist and in a cast for 2.5 months
-Lost over $10k in stock options
-Lost $1k in Apple stock due to Scottrade’s errors in reporting gain/losses
-Missed an opportunity to make $50-60k With Bitcoin
-Lost some good friends this year due to misunderstandings
-Despite trying as best as I could, didn’t meet any girls who liked me this year
-Most of my close friends went back to Korea this year
-Korean only improved marginally


That’s a hefty list of low points, and stands in stark contrast to last year‘s mostly happy experience. Although the major goal of this year was achieved (finding a higher paying job at a well known prestigious software company), I had mostly bad luck this year, mostly financial-wise and relationship-wise. Despite meeting a lot of people, I made very few close friends compared to last year. The friends that I made this year tended to be more transient and the facebook-acquaintance-type rather than the hang-out-every-week type. In addition, my new co-workers at BitTorrent are not as open to having casual conversations over lunch or hanging out as my last workplace. In addition to living by myself, this turned out to be quite a lonely year for me. The brief vacation to Korea was great, and was my only escape in a year otherwise full of stress and financial mistakes. My Korean barely improved, and its frustrating only being able to understand 20% of the average Korean conversation despite having studied it for over 2 years. What an embarrasement. I learn from my mistakes though, and hopefully next year will be much better for me. My tentative resolutions are:

1) Study Korean much harder, watch more dramas to improve comprehension
2) Stop spending money on gadgets and start saving for the next Korea trip
3) Find a room-mate, and/or find more hobbies and interests in order to meet more people

Overall, I felt like I wasted my time this year and it could’ve gone much much better. I should look for more ways to improve myself, be more aggressive in socializing, be more conscious money-wise, and be active in finding more excitement in my life. As 2014 arrives, I will need to remember: to fight for the things that are meant for me, and to let go of the things that aren’t.

Family visit
I went on a road trip with my family to Vegas, Grand Canyon, LA and San Diego. It was a really fun trip and I especially enjoyed seeing my brother again who I hadn’t seen since Jan 2012.

With my brother and parents at Death Valley
With my brother and parents at Death Valley
With my cousins and grandparents at Red Rock Canyon
With my cousins and grandparents at Red Rock Canyon

In other news…
I love old school DOS games and their hilarious sound effects. Check out this game, it’s called Depth Dwellers:


The sound effects had me rolling, especially the ‘HEY’ greeting and the ‘YEAH’ ending. oh my god…

and also the first ever FPS, which came out on March 1992. Check out these reviews:

Ultima Underworld
Ultima Underworld

ACE called Ultima Underworld “the next true evolutionary step in the RPG genre”, and noted that its simulation-style dungeon was “frighteningly realistic”.

Computer Shopper enjoyed its storyline and characters, and believed that the game “makes you feel as if you’ve entered a virtual reality”

Finland’s Pelit stated, “Ultima Underworld is something totally new in the CRPG field. The Virtual Fantasy of the Abyss left reviewers speechless.”

“Nothing can completely prepare you for the freedom the game gives you … It’s about as close to Virtual Reality as you are ever likely to get from your mouse driver.”

He praised the game’s “atmosphere”-creating sound, and called its graphics “stunning”; he stated that, with a high-end computer, “dungeons can move like a film”.

Scorpia was similarly positive, stating that despite flaws “Ultima Underworld is an impressive first product. The meticulous construction of a real-world dungeon environment is outstanding. [It] may be a dungeon trek, but it is certainly the dungeon trek of the future”

Power Play praised its “technical perfection” and “excellent” story, while Play Time lauded its graphical and aural presentation, and awarded it Game of the Month.

Hmm… high praise for a game that we would now consider to be pixellated and outdated compared to the likes of Call of Duty, Battlefield, Crysis, Far Cry, Bioshock, and co, right? Amazing how much FPS’s have changed.

General Politics

2012: Year in Review and thoughts about gun control

Happy New Year everyone. Once again I’m doing a yearly review of the highlights and low points of each year for me, and so this will be for 2012.

First off though, I want to talk about some thoughts on gun control. The recent Newton Shootings have spurred some discussion on gun control. Some gun rights activists have often responded with the following arguments.

If you ban guns, criminals will find a way to get them anyways since criminals don’t care about the law.
My response: Well, yes of course criminals will break the law, but the point is if guns were banned, then it will be a lot harder for them to get guns in the first place. The shooter actually stole the guns from his mom, which wouldn’t have happened if guns were banned. Most shooters don’t become criminals until they start shooting. Until then, they’re just a regular citizen. Plus, people break laws all the time, including traffic laws, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have them there.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. If you start banning guns, why not ban cars and knives too?
My response: Cars are designed for transportation. Knives are designed for cutting food. Baseball bats are designed to play baseball. Guns however, are designed for killing. There’s no comparison here, because its apples and oranges.

Now, I respect people’s gun freedoms, but I really don’t think they need 30 round clips and assault rifles to protect themselves when a mere pistol would do fine. Now, onto the year review:

-Traveled a lot this year.
-First full year of full time employment.
-Steady progress as a front-end developer.
-Met lots of new friends.
-A short relationship, fun while it lasted.
-Improved my Korean.
-Made $8k off of Intrade, and $6k from the stock market.
-Parents helped me buy my own condo in San Francisco.

Low points:
-Friends are mostly international students who go back after a few months.
-Work can be kind of dull at times.


2012 was mostly a year of relaxing, in contrast to 2011, which had a lot of set goals. I traveled to many places this year, including Yosemite Valley, Napa Valley, Point Reyes, Tiburon, Marin County, Lake Tahoe, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Carmel, 17 Mile Drive, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Venice, Las Vegas, and Grand Canyon. And I did all this traveling while only taking one week off, while making use of my extended weekends.

In addition, I am still working on learning Korean and increasing my knowledge as a Front-End Dev, which is always productive for me.


Overall, this year went quite well for me, but lacked the characteristic ambition that I had in 2011. I hope I’m not getting too comfortable – I need that sense of drive for me to succeed and move even farther in life. Like Steve Jobs said, I have to stay hungry, stay foolish.