Categories
Asia

What do people who are not a K-pop fan think about South Korea?

South Korea is an amazing place to be as a foreigner.

Everything is so convenient and easy to access. Convenience stores are literally everywhere, sometimes even 10 seconds walk from each other.

Seoul is truly is a 24 hour city. If you go to Itaewon at 4 or 5am in the morning, it’s full of people, partying and clubbing etc Gigantic 2 or 3 story cafes and great Korean restaurants are everywhere, and most of them are open until 5am or 24 hours. Clubs are open until 6am and it is literally full of people until then.

Subways are very convenient, and so are buses and taxis, which are not that expensive.

Most Koreans eat out – because the food is not that expensive. Conversely, the supermarkets tend to be much smaller and more expensive than in the West.

Korea is incredibly safe, I mean you see girls wearing the shortest of shorts or skirts walking on the street at 3 or 4am in the morning without a care in the world. If this was the USA…

Attention to appearance and fashion sense – I LOVE that everyone is so well dressed and almost every girl wears makeup and dresses very feminine. So different than in the West where everyone dresses so casually all the time.

Cosmetic stores are everywhere and often very good quality. There’s literally surgery to fix everything. Too fat? too much acne? Eyes are too small? Nose is too wide? going bald? want to never have to shave again? any kind of cosmetic issue can be easily fixed in Korea for a reasonable price.

Service is amazing. I always wait to cut my hair in Korea’s hair salons because you get your hair cut and styled by one (or two) beautiful hair stylists, they give you a great head massage and you get escorted out to the door. No tip required or expected. And price is reasonable.

Lots of couples on the street. (This can also be a bad thing if you are single – it makes you feel more lonely)

You can go to Korean spas at anytime of day and they are almost everywhere. I would usually go there at around 4am or 5am and just soak in the saunas and hot and cold springs. You can even sleep there for an extra fee. I don’t believe you can do this anywhere else.

Most Korean franchises and stores are actually using English names and their menus will be in english. the only websites that are restricted are porn websites. You can use your Visa/Mastercards everywhere. These are especially convenient to a foreigner in comparison to traveling in China.

and just the number of people outside at all times. Coming back to Vancouver or San Francisco, it was like a night and day difference. by midnight in a Western city, the streets are completely dead and all the shops are closed. In Seoul, people are everywhere, in the shops, bars, cafes, alleys etc up until the early morning. I remember taking a midnight bus from Seoul university to Gangnam, its full of people, and seeing 4 girls on the bus that looked like they came out of a model magazine, no one else is paying attention to them, this is just a usual bus in Seoul at midnight and thinking ‘this could never happen anywhere else in the world’.

for traveling of course, Seoul / Korea is amazing. For living – well the work and school conditions are not so great.

Categories
General

2018: Year in Review

Every year, I do a year in review, with highlights and lowlights and a summary so this is my year in review for 2018.

Highlights

-spent more time with my best SF friend Tony this year, went on  Lake Tahoe trip
-Sold my SF apartment for a profit. Bought for $515k, sold for $835k ($748k after fees) for a 45% profit in 5 years.
-Took 3 months break to travel Korea and Asia for a much needed rest
-I broke up a toxic relationship I had with a friend who was never really a friend. see here

Lowlights

2018 lost money:
-$60 phone broke after shipped to customer
-$80 stocking fee for watch
-$80 extra for sony blu ray player
-$75 DVD/VHS player doesn’t work from ebay
-$40 for free watches that I never used
-$80 for Lyx Pro that I threw out
-$300 for defective Klipsch earphones
-$70 for coolermaster keyboard that I gave away to ebay customer
-$40 extra shipping for OQO model 2
-$150 for ebay fees that I shouldn’t have paid
-$2300 for screwing up a chanel bag usps delivery. Chose first class instead of priority – tracking number doesn’t go into Canada – package got lost – forced to refund.
-$1100 for lost Sony A600 camera + lens
-$100 for broken Hendrix statue
-$80 for extra airplane baggage fee
-$800 due to missing kickstarter items

36 wire transfers x 30 = $1300
First Republic service fee x 4 years = $1200
Crypto Insiders payment = $700
origination fee + loan interest + CC fees = approx $7500
Credit card interest = $1000
Parking space = $1400
repairs + fixes = $1250
Renovation = $8000

QuadrigaCX becoming bankrupt took away $405k of my money – almost all my savings.

-$16k of my money was lost (above) due to financial issues
-$10.6k in renovations and repairs were needed to sell my apartment
-$15k of fake ‘masternode’ ponzi coins and $8.5k worth of fake ICOs were scammed from me
-Lost a third of my net worth this year due to the crypto crash including the majority of the 3 loans I had taken out to dump into crypto (stupid I know).
-the rest of the my net worth was wiped out due to QuadrigaCX becoming insolvent as a result of the CEO suddenly dying. Really bad luck, I know.
-Korean gf broke up with me partly as a result of my financial setbacks and thus being unable to visit to visit her in korea.
-suffered through bouts of anxiety and depression this year as a result of both those financial setbacks and the breakup.
-forced to sell my SF apartment to pay off the loans
-Most of my good friends left SF
-Was sick even when I took a break to travel
-My main phone died in Korea AND my replacement phone was lost leading to no data plan or phone number as of end of 2018 right now

Summary

This was easily my worst year in recent memory. If 2017 was the year I doubled my net worth, this was the year when I felt I lost it all. Financially it was horrible. At the beginning of the year, I had over $80k in profit from crypto and had the opportunity to send it to my gf’s Korean crypto account to make an additional 40% in profit at that time. I didn’t do it. When one of the ICOs I invested in last year debuted in Feb, I could have sold it for $30k profit. I didn’t do it. I instead took out personal loans and dumped it into altcoins in late Jan. I lost almost everything. I was selfish, and greedy and FOMO got me too much. I could have had over $100k if I had taken all that profit. But instead, I went down $150k. That’s a swing of over $250k!

On top of that, I though the rest of my net worth was safe right ? I had apartment but I was forced to sell it to pay off the crypto loans. I hurriedly tried to transfer my money back to Canada because I wanted to buy an apartment in Vancouver and take advantage of the USD-CAD exchange rate. Unfortunately I chose the wrong exchange at the wrong time. I chose to use QuadrigaCX which was Canada’s oldest bitcoin exchange but unfortunately their CEO suddenly died on his honeymoon months after I transferred my money over (and still waiting for withdrawal) and he was the only one who had the keys to the bitcoin wallet they were using which resulted in the company becoming insolvent, therefore losing the rest of my money (over $405k gone). I am obviously going to try to get as much of it back as I can, but nothing is certain.

That was enough to make me depressed and give me anxiety attacks for the rest of the year. I was on anti-depressants for a few months. In addition, my company didn’t let me take any vacation at the beginning of the year because they lied to me about our work getting ‘busy’ when really we were not busy at all! Instead I was doing the same monotonous tasks and most of the time didn’t really have anything to do. I spent my days surfing Quora when I was at work. Due to the combination of the crypto crash taking out most of my savings + my company not letting me take vacation, my gf got really impatient about me, and we starting having lots of fights, finally resulting in us breaking up. I am still broken because of it. I really thought she was the right person. I thought I had found my Korean wife at last. It turns out, I still had a lot of searching to do. I’m no closer to finding another gf this year, and that dream of marrying a Korean girl still seems as out of reach and as impossible as ever.

Most of my good friends (except for Tony) had moved out of the SF Bay Area, either to LA or back to Japan/Korea/China/Canada. For most of the year I was stuck living in a place where I had no friends, no opportunities to meet friends, at a job that I wasn’t doing anything at, and every paycheck going to paying off those 3 stupid loans I had gotten at the beginning of the year, and my savings were all devastated from the crypto crash. There were times this year I wanted to kill myself it was so bad. It’s hard to imagine a year being worse than this, but at the very least I can say that I’m still alive, and my family and friends were still doing well, it seems.

The root cause of most of this year’s troubles really was that crypto crash that started on Jan 10, 2018. Before that, I was riding high. $100k in profits. A beautiful sweet loving Korean gf. A beautiful SF apartment. All of it destroyed in less than a year. God really had it in for me this year, but hopefully next year I can come back stronger and wiser than ever. I learned a lot of valuable lessons this year. At least they were better learned early than later, I suppose. I am now starting over fresh, except getting a US job is more difficult due to me having lots of TN visas on my record, and I’m 30 years old instead of 23…

Categories
General

If you won 1 billion in the lottery, what would you do?

Interesting question, I heard that there was a single winner of the $1.6 billion Mega Million lottery today. After taxes and taking the lump sum that’s roughly $600 million dollars. That won’t get you into the $1 billion club but that’s a lot of money.

Now what I would do is actually very similar to what I did a few weeks ago. You see – due to some bad financial losses I had this year and some loans I had to pay back, I was forced to sell my San Francisco apartment. Luckily for me, my SF apartment had appreciated in value about 40% since I bought it back in 2013. So I more than made up for my bad financial losses – I actually came out with an overall profit. So basically I had lump sum of cash after I sold my apartment – not exactly $600 million, more like 0.1% of that ( $600k ish) – but that’s still a lot of cash, and here’s what I did with it:

roughly 2/3rds of it (66%~) – I converted to Canadian dollars to take advantage of the roughly 30%~ gain in Canadian currency you can get right now. Canadian currency is very low right now in comparison to USD so I decided to take advantage of that. Most of that money will be going towards purchasing a residence in Canada (I’m still going to take out a mortgage because Toronto/Vancouver prices aint cheap!)

another 1/6th (16%~) went to an online investment tool I use which is Wealthfront (www.wealthfront.com) which automatically diversifies that money into a pool of stocks/bonds/natural resources/minerals/dividends

another 1/12th (8%~) went to cryptocurrencies (yeah I know cause I’m a millenial and all, and I believe it will recover) but its pretty high risk

the remaining 1/12th (8%~) is sitting in cash to pay off my credit cards right now for my current spending. I am also taking a break to travel a few countries in Asia I didn’t get to travel to before using some of that cash.

If I had a $600m windfall, I don’t think I would use my money that much differently, although I would probably allocate a lower amount to real estate (oh I would buy a few places in Canada/USA/Korea but not that much because it would get hard to manage), I would give away a couple million to my good friends and family, and I would probably shift more money to stocks and dividends so I can generate more passive income off of those. I would also probably travel a bit more and grow my (already admittedly large) computer/phone/guitar collection.

But that’s about it. On the Mazlow hierarchy of needs, Money definitely solves the lower level problems like healthcare, food and survival, but for higher level needs like love and companionship it doesn’t really help solve it. Good relationships are hard to find, and those are priceless in a sense, you can’t really buy a really good friend or the love of your life.. you have to find that yourself. Really, the higher level keys to your happiness in life are not obtainable by any amount of money whether it be $600k or $600m. That’s what I realized, anyways but as far as money is concerned thats how I would use it.