Wednesday, July 28, 2010

12 years of Korea

He came in June 1998 to work in the world's number one shipbuilding industry for 2 years. Those 2 years soon became 3, then 5 more popped up, then... Well, it turns out in June this year 2010 he proudly completed 12 years of Korea. This awesome guy is my dad.

 My dad Mr. Pereira or just Celso, as he likes to be called, in his former office at Samsung Heavy Industries, Geoge City, early 2009. -- Now he works at Hyundai Heavy Industries, in Ulsan.

Friends tend to ask me how he's managed to stay in Korea for so long, and I always say that he loves his job and Korea, of course, he is really good at what he does and a true hard worker, really. Well, if you want to work in Korea, you'd better be a hard worker. My father, who turned 54 this year, is a naval architect currently working as a hull superintendent at Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) - the world's largest shipbuilding company - headquartered in Ulsan. 

When his Korean journey started back in 1998, he was working as a site inspector at Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) - the world's second largest shipbuilder - located in Geoge. There, he worked on two car carriers and one bulk carrier until 2000. Then, in 2001 he moved to Ulsan to work on seven container carriers at Hyundai Heavy Industries. But, it was in 2002 that he had the job opportunity of a lifetime: to work on five LNG carriers as a hull/cryogenic inspector at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) - the world's third largest shipbuilder - located in Geoge, not far from SHI. Thanks to his experience working in the construction of Angra Nuclear Power Plant's Angra II reactor years before in Brazil, he was able to work on this 5-year LNG project which he successfully completed in 2006. Since 2007 he's been working on a "K" line (Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd) project that involves four LNG carriers and 14 container carriers. That's a lot, huh? The project started at Samsung Heavy Industries, but then moved to Hyundai Heavy Industries mid last year. From what I understood, he still has a good year and a half left there until the project is completed. -- Well, right now he's actually back home in Brazil on a 4-to-5-month "forced break" from the project, due to the world economic crisis. Many other projects across Korea are suffering from the crisis at the moment. It's only temporary, though.          

--- If you wish to read about LNG (liquefied natural gas) and its great importance and also concerns in today's world, please click here.
-- Oh and yeah, Korea owns the three largest shipbuilders in the world, widely known as the "Big Three". Pretty cool, huh?   -- My father says that his favorite is Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) - the third largest - for its privileged location surrounded by nature, its breathtaking internal gardens and, therefore, pleasant atmosphere. It is, as a matter of fact, the most environmentally friendly of the three.

As you can see, I love talking about my dad's years of work in this awesome country and I believe all that can be helpful to you if you had interest in reading this. In the end, that's pretty much why I decided to make this article anyway; well, to help expats like you (which is what I do here on the blog) and also to honor my dad, which is obvious, I guess. :)  However, just as much as I admire his accomplished work life in Korea, I personally find his journey all the way here equally inspiring, and not only as a daughter, but as a human being. My father was born to a somewhat poor but extremely hard-working family in a mostly middle-class (but still very rural and very provincial) city called São Gonçalo, about an hour away from the great city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His childhood and teenage weren't easy. The youngest of 4 boys, he, just like his brothers, began working pretty hard at a very young age to help his parents bring home food and clothes. Though the money was little and he had to work before or after school, he was always encouraged to study hard and had to bring home good grades. Whenever he looks back, proudly, he says that every step of the way was important for him to get this far and that his wonderful parents raised him just the right way.

I first came to Korea in 2002 to visit my dad for a month in Geoge City. I fell in love with Korea and my dad's work never failed to fascinate me. He took us (my little sister and her mom too) to see the inside of this huge LNG tank he was working on at the time in this huge LNG carrier. I remember dearly how excited he was about that project, showing and explaining to us exactly what he did at the shipyard. He told us once that he would go to his empty office on a Sunday sometimes just so he could advance his work a bit and not have to worry about any kind of competition or headache in the office later. I don't understand exactly how things work at his workplace, but I guess I just took that as an example of determination and hard work.

At his birthday party, May 2009. The cake was a kind present from a Korean friend who owns a company called E-Max, hence the huge word on the cake. :)

"Korea (more specifically Geoge) feels like home to me now", my dad said to me not long ago. He has a special love for Geoge, its green, beaches and coziness. He's also made some really good friends there over the years, including a few Brazilians. He remembers how back in 1998, when he arrived, the Brazilian community living in Geoge was pretty much formed by him and about 5 other people, only - all working in the heavy industries. According to him, it wasn't until 2007 that many groups of Brazilians began to arrive in Geoge to work in projects connected with Petrobras (Brazil's oil company). By this time, the number of Brazilians living in Geoge has probably reached the 200. What I know for sure though is that, right now, there are over 400 Brazilians (including the ones in Geoge) working in the heavy industries across Korea, and more and more keep coming every year.

During this year's World Cup he was interviewed for a FLIK special show on the South Africa World Cup, along with other foreigners living and cheering for their countries in Ulsan. My dad is the only Brazilian on the show and was all excited when he showed me this video on the site. He's probably even more excited now that he's reading all this. :) To watch this cool short show just go ahead and click here.
-- FLIK stands for Foreign Life In Korea and is a kind of lifestyle and leisure department and media network of Hyundai Heavy Industries. Established in 2005 and located on the 3rd floor of the HHI Culture Building, FLIK's service center and staff assist expatriates and their families during their stay in Korea.

To wrap this all up, here's a thought I always like to think and ask my father about, -- if you know about how fast Korea has been changing in the last 60 years -- can you imagine how many changes he actually witnessed in this country in these 12 years? Loads. Some of them are, the way people dress nowadays, mostly the youngsters, is very different from 12 years ago - all these "microskirts" girls wear everywhere were nonexistent back then. Food wise, there were barely any fried chicken places or chain coffee shops back then. Now, you can count at least 5 of each on a single street and growing. Shopping malls, which here are actually department stores (백화점 in Korean), are also way more numerous now and they're always either very big or huge. As a matter of fact, Shinsengae Centumcity Department Store, located in the city of Busan, was officially recognized by Guinness World Records™ as the largest department store in the world just last year. Needless to say, Koreans shop way more nowadays than 12 years ago. My dad always talks about how that scares him every once in a while. However, one of the first changes he noticed was a simple but great one. How people began to make more of an effort to speak to him in English at the grocery store, on the street or anywhere really, as years went by. Even though he already knew some Korean at the time.

Now, I wonder what Korea is going to look like 12 years from now... Something fun to think about, for sure.

Photo album...

Ship naming ceremonies

2003, at DSME:

2008, at SHI:

2010, at HHI: 

 Celso's love for Geoge City

Great friends in Korea

 With his best friend Gilles, from Belgium.

Family guy

With my little sister and her mother while visiting in Brazil early 2009.

Him and I at Eden Valley Resort in Yangsan early this year.

And, one of my favorites :)

At a Korean child's 1-year-old birthday party. Probably taken in 2005. Isn't it awesome?

Oh and here's a short video I made of Hyundai Group's annual spring festival in Ulsan this year. My dad participated in some of the competitions. Check it out (just sorry about my voice, I'd caught a cold):

Cheers and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Peace at the DMZ: Woodstock comes to Korea!

Artie Kornfeld, the man behind the original Woodstock Festival way back in 1969, is bringing his festival know-how to the peninsula. The Peace at the DMZ festival takes place August 6th, 7th and 8th this year and features UNKLE, 2 of the original Doors, Skid Row, Young Bloods, Safri Duo, Simple Plan, Keri Hilson, plus many Korean acts!

The 1969 music festival also took place in August, although on different dates, 15th, 16th and 17th, and was billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music". It's being said that the Korean peninsula is now living its most historic and dangerous moment since the end of the Korean War in 1953, which is pretty scary, well, if you live here like me, anyways.
So, how exactly can this interesting peace-driven festival affect this critical moment around here? I want to say that, hopefully, if anything, it could help both governments rethink about their behavior and maybe think about making more of an effort to just get along and respect each other. I believe this Korean version of the Woodstock - originally held during the Vietnam War - could also help promote a culture of tolerance and mutual respect among all kinds of people of various nationalities in the peninsula.

The truth is 3 Days of Peace and Music on the border between the two Koreas doesn't sound bad at all.

The 1969 Woodstock poster

Peace at the DMZ - Hot info:
Tickets: 3-day pass - 176,000 won / 2-day pass - 143,000 won / 1-day pass - 99,000 won. 
Order from this site.
A Korean will be able to help here!
Location: Pyeonghwa Nuri Park, Paju-si, Gyeonggi-do.
Click on the festival's official site also for ticketing and much more info:
-- Apparently there's no full English website, unfortunately.

I leave you with the fun movie trailer for Taking Woodstock, an incredible Ang Lee movie based on a true story. Hmm, could a movie be made about the DMZ Woodstock? I know I'd love to see that!


Peace out!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

English teacher Craig Markley 'reports' from Seoul

36-year-old Craig Markley, an outgoing guy who's been an English teacher in Seoul for over 3 years, was born and raised in the great city of Chicago, majored in journalism and worked in Los Angeles, California, at a public relations firm where he did hi-tech PR and Microsoft. Then, eventually, when he got bored with his other major job in banking where he worked for one of the largest Beverly Hills banks, he got clued into the opportunity of becoming a teacher in South Korea.

After learning about his interesting background and personality, it's easy to see that Craig is no ordinary teacher here. In 2008, Craig created his YouTube channel ( and has, since then, shared on there his amazing experiences in Korea, interviews with his fun Korean girlfriend Min Jung and has shown he has a selfless goal to help improve the lives of other expats (especially teachers) who come to Korea to have a great time or even build a future here. This is especially true for newcomers!

       Me and Craig at a chicken place in Hongdae, Seoul, in February this year, when I met him in person. -- I ran into one of Craig's videos on YouTube last year and was captivated by his selfless personality, the various topics covered by the videos, and his interesting transparent approach to amateur documentary filmmaking.

Craig's handycam resembles a handgun (hilarious), which allows him to shoot with one hand and point it easily and steadily to wherever he wants to. He just quickly edits his videos on the camera and posts them on his channel, no formalities. What will grab your attention right away is the smart (funny, at times) things he says, the interesting places he goes to, his cross-cultural experience with his Korean girlfriend and Korean friends, and his visible excitement about sharing his adventures with other teachers and newcomers.

Craig reports from the KBS Performing Arts Hall, Seoul, on RENT - The Broadway Tour, September, 2009 (Craig's video I ran into last year):

To me, what Craig has been doing with his YouTube channel is a model to be followed by all the other teachers who come to this fascinating land to teach a foreign language, enrich their lives and the lives of others - sometimes even more than their own.

Craig and I meet for the first time - Hongdae, Seoul, Feb. 2010 (next two videos):
--I also have a YouTube channel:
Nothing compared to Craig's, though :)

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Vagina Monologues rock multinational audiences in Jinju

The second production of The Vagina Monologues in Jinju City featured two Korean women (!) among a foreign cast and amazed people from various nationalities on the event's both nights -- 04/23 & 24

Second production, in Jinju?? 
That's right! This was Jinju's second time performing The VMs (click to see previous post with ad). Last year, the show was performed at SoundGarden bar in Gajwa-dong, outside the back gate of Gyeongsang National University (GNU). This year's organizer and cast member Jess Anderson also performed in last year's show and told me "it was a wonderfully intimate show since SoundGarden's capacity is about 70 people."
This year, however, The VMs were held in a theater downtown Jinju called Hyunjang Arts Hall, with 150 seats each night, which means they were able to raise more money for the three organizations the event donates to --10% goes to the Congo (more information at, and the other 90% is split between the Jinju YWCA and the Jinju Women's Shelter. Two Korean women took part in the show this year and did an outstanding job, performing in both English and in some Korean. Last year's show featured only one Korean actor. The truth is that it is a pretty big deal for a Korean girl or woman to take part in such a mature and sexual event held in Korea, especially in a small conservative town like Jinju. You can tell by how hard it can be to just get them, Korean girls, to simply come see the show. They will usually look at you shocked that you even invited.           
  This year's cast: Jess Anderson on the far right corner and the two Korean women on the front (one all in black and the other all in red)  
Differently from last year, this year's show had Korean subtitles, so a lot more people were able to truly enjoy the show and understand every bit of what was going on.  
Donna Corns, who is now back home in South Africa, organized last year's show along with a group of women from GNU. Most of the cast last year worked at the English Only Zone, at GNU, and all of them worked very closely in the organization of the show and the fundraisers leading to the show. Many women in Jinju were then invited to join the show, and that was when Jess, this year's organizer, decided to take part.    
Watch a bit of The VMs' Saturday show:  
 CR Dobson, the show's director, opened up: "It was a very rewarding experience!" 
The next day, CR posted the following on his Facebook: "I couldn't have done anything without Jess, my partner in crime", thanking his friend and co-director/organizer of the show Jess Anderson.  
Directors CR Dobson and Jess Anderson being honored by the cast at the end of the show.  
Now, I leave you with some more cool shots I took of Saturday's show. Enjoy ;)  
I like this one :)
I know - I had to take these two!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jinju Vagina Monologues 2010

The Vagina Monologues have come to the Southern Korean city of Jinju for the second time and promise to delight and impact multinational audiences in a can't-miss two-night-performance event.

American Jess Anderson, who teaches English in Jinju, is organizing the event.
Jess posted the following on the Jinju Vagina Monologues 2010 Facebook group page she created:

"The Vagina Monologues is a series of stories about women. Each story describes a woman's experience that has significantly changed her life. The goal of the monologues is to stop violence against women and girls by speaking frankly and openly about things they go through ALL OVER THE WORLD. Some of the monologues represent women who don't know their bodies in an intimate way or who are ashamed of their bodies. Others describe events where women were abused or violently attacked.

The show can be difficult to watch at times and heartwarming at others. It will bring tears to your eyes. At moments it is funny and sometimes innocent, but it is always empowering.

Although the show is about women, it is enjoyable to men as well. We feel that this show will give men a better understanding of women's feelings and needs. We encourage men to join this celebration of womanhood, because it opens a window into women's lives unlike ever before.

Eve Ensler wrote the first draft of the monologues in 1996 after she interviewed 200 women about their views on sex, relationships, and violence against women.

The Vagina Monologues raises money to go towards women's anti-violence groups and women's support groups. Each year between February 1 and April 30 these shows are put on around the world in order to raise awareness and support.

This year, Jinju's production of The Vagina Monolgues will donate funds to the YWCA's women's group, the Jinju women's shelter, and 10% of funds raised will go toward the women of the Congo. Any contributions are welcome and appreciated!"

Way to go, Jess! I'm there!

Although English may be the show's official language (**note that there will be Korean subtitles**), I truly hope that many Koreans (women and men) become interested in enriching their sexual and personal lives, broadening their global perspective on the matter along with meeting some real cool people from all parts of the globe!

Jinju Vagina Monologues 2010:
Night 1: Friday 4/23 at 10:30 p.m.
Night 2: Saturday 4/24 at 7:30 p.m. 

Venue: Hyunjang Arts Hall - 
(Near Zio Ricco's, above the Northface athletic store, downtown Jinju)
Tickets 10,000 won

Contact Jess Anderson for more info:

Check out The Vagina Monologues (V-Day) official Web site:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Exhibition brings the rainforest to Seoul

The internationally famous exhibition Amazônia in Seoul, supported by Petrobras (Brazil's oil company) and the Brazilian Government, has been giving a tropical feeling to Seoul's coldest season since the 12th of last month -- ending this upcoming Friday the 12th.

Amazônia in Seoul is exotic, just like the country where it comes from. The exhibition includes not only photographs of and videos on the rainforest that has the largest concentration of biodiversity in the world, but also a fascinating display of some unique Amazonian handicrafts and tribal costumes as well as another one of mostly vibrant colored seeds found in the rainforest -- lots and lots of seeds.

To be able to see Koreans having this kind of intimate contact with what to them is so strange and different -- that it's almost as if it all had landed in Seoul from another planet -- gives me enormous pleasure as a Brazilian living in Korea.

                         Display of Amazonian handicrafts.


Korean Im Sue-Yeon, an English Education major at Sogang University's Graduate School, was amazed by the exhibition. "What a unique experience! I never saw anything like this and didn't know much about the Amazon before coming here", she shared. "Oh, I like touching these seeds - they feel funny", she added with a shy laugh.

Red Tento seeds: Largely used for making handmade jewellery.


Açaí seeds: Some of Brazil's most popular seeds.

Now, check out these other shots I managed to take at the exhibition:

-- Near Insadong.
Tel. +82-(0)2- 3210-0071

Friday, February 12, 2010

An unusual documentary on North Korea

              Google Images
 City Center, Pyongyang. Barely anyone in the street.

Little is known (and in this case, it could actually mean you know "a lot") about what goes on on the other side of the DMZ border, where an entire nation is 100% ruled by one man, Kim Jong-il. It was driven by the idea of getting into North Korea and showing the world one of the insidest looks one could probably ever get at this mysterious isolated country, that Brooklyn-based VICE and VBS.TV founder Shane Smith, together with 15 other journalists, managed to get a tourist visa to enter NK in 2008 -- after having struggled for a year and a half to get it -- to now be able to share his experience with us.

Divided into 14 episodes, the documentary named 'The VICE Guide to North Korea' takes you on the freakiest journey you'll ever experience. "Perhaps the weirdest thing about North Koreans is that they genuinely don't seem to know that the rest of the planet hates and fears them", says Shane. The VBS founder also says that "being there was like being nowhere else on the planet."

Living here in South Korea, such an open and modern country, already feels a bit weird at times, as people's behavior, way of thinking and customs here are completely different from the ones in the western world. Therefore, I can sort of imagine how odd life must be across the border. I have met a few foreigners here who have gone to NK on package tours which are ridiculously expensive and you must go to China first. However, that's a trip I cannot wait to go on someday!

Now, watch part 1 of the documentary that CNN described on their web site as one that reflects "a very transparent approach to journalism, where viewers are taken along on every step of the reporting process."

For all the other episodes of The VICE Guide to North Korea, visit
This interesting reporting approach is definitely worthy of watching till the last minute of the last episode. So, toughen up if you have to and try and enjoy the ride!
To read what Shane Smith wrote about his crew's bizarre trip to North Korea published on CNN's web site on February 10th, 2010, click here.

VICE is an independent media company and web site based in Brooklyn, New York. VBS.TV is Vice's broadband television network.