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Merry Christmas December 26, 2009

Posted by jorkat in Seoul.

Well, it’s Christmas Eve and I’m sitting at a Starbucks in Seoul, Korea. If you had told me five years ago that this is where I’d be, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. It’s a balmy 10 degrees out and we’ve had two minor snowfalls in the past few weeks which amounted to zero accumulation on the ground. Any snow back in Eastern Canada/US?

Today also marks our 10- month anniversary here in Korea so I decided to sit back and reflect on where we are, where we’ve come from and where we’ll be going. I guess the ultimate compliment I can pay Korea is that this feels like home. Maybe it’s because I know there’s an end to our time here that has always been in sight. Maybe it’s a tribute to our ability to adapt to new surroundings, but I often forget that I’m on the other side of the world until I walk outside and everyone is Asian. Even then, I’m completely comfortable and capable of going about my day without any stress or frustration. It’s a nice feeling.

It also feels more like Christmas than expected. Christianity is the religion of choice for most Koreans so it’s hard not to notice all the Christmas holiday sales and décor on display. Especially the area we live in, which is as commercialized and superficial as it gets in Korea.

We actually had our last day of classes yesterday in which most of it was consumed by a Christmas talent show performed by all of our Kindergarten classes. Each class, with ages ranging from 4-7 years old were responsible for putting together a 5-minute performance with a Christmas theme. We’d been practicing with our respective classes for weeks so it was pretty entertaining to see the finished product from the 10 respective classes.

This is the video from Katie’s class (taken during practice the day before)

This is the video from my class (also taken during rehearsal)

My class starts off with a skit in which the infamous Jack is the teacher and is leading the class through the opening routine that we do each morning. The idea for this skit was borne out of Jack’s impression of me that he would do every Friday. I would walk into class where they’d all be seated and Jack would be sitting in my chair. I played along and went and sat in his chair. He proceeded to start the class and lead them through my opening monologue. It was hysterical. This kid couldn’t speak a word of English 10 months ago and now he was doing an impression of his teacher in front of the whole class. I wish I had taken video of it, as he became extremely shy in front of a larger audience and didn’t perform with the same charisma that we all came to expect. Not bad for a 5-year old though.

Speaking of 5-year olds, today marks the fifth birthday of my dear little Adela. She is the youngest and by far the cutest little girl in my class. We had her party on the 22nd as the school was closed on the 24th. Christmas now has new meaning for me and I’ll always remember that Jesus was born on the 25th and Adela on the 24th. Here are some pictures.

Way back in late-Spring, one of my students named Nathan brought a hat to wear on a field trip we were going on. He never actually wore it but I found it when I was putting books into his bag. I spent the next few months pleading with him occasionally to wear it again so we could take a picture of us wearing our hats together. After months of persistence, he finally wore it and I brought mine to school the next day for a photo opportunity.  He hasn’t taken it off since. We also both liked the John Lackey signing and agree that we need another big bat in the lineup, preferably Adrian Gonzalez or Miguel Cabrera.

We recently completed a social studies unit in which I taught them all about different sports from around the world. I brought in different jerseys from various sports and found videos of these sports to show them on our laptop. I’m pleased to report that hockey was by far their favourite to watch as they are still asking me to bring in my laptop again so they can watch some more. They especially like the hockey fights and I even did a live demonstration with Jack and Nathan to show how to jersey someone in a fight. Jack tries to fight me almost every day despite the fact that I’m still undefeated and I’ve stretched 3 or 4 of his shirts beyond repair. (Editor’s note: These kids are 5-years old).

I also combined my explanation of North American sports with Geography (which we studied a couple months before) and showed them on a map where all the cities for these sports teams were located. I then took it to another level and combined the unit we did on animals and taught them about team names and mascots. Throughout this entire process, I was careful to remain objective and never demonstrate an obvious bias towards a certain sport or team. I wanted to expose them to everything that I was capable of explaining to them and allow them to judge for themselves which team was worthy of their support.

So you can imagine my surprise when one day out of nowhere, this chant started out of nowhere and shook the entire school to its foundation. Fortunately I had my camera in hand by sheer coincidence.

It’s common at this time of year to look back at the year that was and acknowledge what you’re thankful for. The following are a series of pictures and videos from the past 10 months which we’ve wanted to share with everyone but haven’t had the chance until now.

We’re thankful for our favourite restaurant. We don’t even know what it’s called but we call it 2am because the first time we ate there was at 2am after a few beverages. Katie and I eat here on a weekly basis and the total bill comes to less than $25 total. This place probably deserves an entire post on its own, but here’s a sneak peak at a typical Korean galbi experience. Note how many side dishes are on the table. These are delivered within 10 seconds of sitting down, with your drinks and main order arriving a few minutes later.

We’re thankful for new friends – Darren Grimes, Kirsten Binstock, Brielle Morgan, Stephen Fulton, Nazli Prisk, Clay Condon, Cody Stone, Jared Teitel, Naomi Santiago, Eunjin and Hooyoung. When we started discussing moving to Korea I remember acknowledging to Katie that we would likely end up making new friendships that would last a lifetime. This statement could not have been more prophetic as we’re blessed with an incredible group of new friends from all corners of North America. Even though Darren insists that a BBQ is a sauce and that the actual device is referred to as a grill, we still love him dearly. This is a picture from my birthday where the only thing I asked everyone to do was wear one of my jerseys for the entire night, regardless of where we ended up. Everyone was happy to oblige and we even did a draft to decide who got to wear which jersey. It was awesome.

We’re thankful for old friends who have become even closer. Sean and Erin, commonly referred to as the Mulloskey’s. They were the couple that inspired us to move to Korea after following their experience via their blog. They decided to come back and we’ve spent the past 4 months together and will be waking up on Christmas morning in each other’s company. We are blessed to have them in our lives and I will cherish our time together abroad for the rest of my life.

We’re thankful for Norabang’s, commonly known as Karaoke Rooms. I’ll let these pictures and video do the talking.

This is our favourite Korean song. I think Darren kinda likes it too.

Mullin really enjoys the Norabang.

We’re thankful for wonderful family and friends back home that give us something to look forward to when this adventure ends. My only regret from this entire experience was missing the weddings of very close friends – Matt & Michelle, Laura & Matt, Mike & Heather, Mark & Vanessa, Dave & Suzanne, Szabolcs (this isn’t a typo) & Julia. Thanks to the power of the internet we haven’t felt that out of touch but we will be sure to make up for lost time upon our return.

I’m thankful for Katie’s incredible fashion sense. This is an inside joke for everyone on the Algate/Clapperton/Harnden side of the family. We brought this shirt to the other side of the world for one picture and this is it.

We’re thankful for the opportunity to see parts of the world that we never imagined possible. So far we’ve visited Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai in China, Taipei and various cities in Korea including the 3 coasts and North Korea. We leave for a 7-day trip to Japan tomorrow where we’ll be visiting Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto and spending New Year’s in Tokyo. And we just booked our flight to leave Korea in March and start our real traveling in Thailand. We’ll have two months to cover, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

I’m thankful for a select group of friends and family that are lugging my golf clubs across the globe to meet me in London in May 2010 so I can play St-Andrews. The clubs started their journey at my parents place in Montreal and departed for Toronto on Nov. 25th. They were then passed off to my in-laws (Ron & Brenda) who held on to them until my brother-in-law (Jamie) came for Christmas brunch on Dec. 20th. Jamie is currently in possession of the clubs and responsible for meeting up with Josh (my best man) who currently resides in London, England but is back in Toronto for the holidays until Jan. 4th. Josh will then lug them across the Atlantic and keep them at his place until we arrive in early May. It’s a thing of beauty, and the best part is that I organized this entire effort from the comfort of our couch in Seoul. I fully recognize that the entire process is completely irrational, but I haven’t played golf on an actual course since October 16th, 2008 so forgive me for wanting to play my next round with my own clubs at the birthplace of golf. It’s also Tiger’s favorite course and anything he does, I have to do likewise. Well, almost anything.

We’re thankful for Slingbox, and modern technology in general. Keeping in touch with loved ones and the rest of the world is so much easier than it was even 3-5 years ago. We can see and talk with anyone on Skype, or record and watch live TV with Slingbox whenever we want. It’s a nice luxury that has made this transition much easier.

I’m thankful for my wife and traveling companion, Katie. This picture was taken at one of the many media poles which you can read about on the Mulloskey blog here that are located in our neighbourhood. Once your eyes recover from the paleness of our faces which feels like staring at the sun, check out the onlookers in the background. This picture perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to be a foreigner in Korea. Even though we’re doing the same things as any other average Korean, they can’t help but watch in amazement and either loath our existence, or chuckle as we attempt to integrate into Korean culture.

In lieu of sending everyone Christmas gifts (read: fancy chopsticks), we decided to sit this year out of both the giving and receiving side (at least with friends and family back home). Best rest assured that a donation has been made in all of your names to the JorKat Southeast Asia Travel Fund. This is a worthwhile cause that will allow us to spend a couple months lying on a beach in Thailand while you all slave away at your 9-to-5 jobs. A charitable receipt will not be issued.

Finally, Team Canada’s Olympic Hockey Team will be named on December 30th while we’re in Kyoto, so here’s my prediction for how the squad will look:


Nash – Crosby – Iginla

Perry – Getzlaf – Heatley

Lecavalier – Thornton – St.Louis

Doan – M. Richards – Sharp


***St.Louis and Heatley are interchangeable on their respective lines and Lecavalier is a natural centre but someone is going to have to move to wing as they have too much depth up the middle.

Notable omissions: B. Richards, Tavares, Stamkos, E. Staal, Marleau, Carter, Fisher and Gagne


Niedermayer – Keith

Boyle – Pronger

Green – Phaneuf


***This is where the hardest decisions are going to come. Seabrook, Weber and Doughty are all worthy of being on this team, but it’s hard to take them over any of the seven listed above.


Brodeur – Luongo – Fleury

***Brodeur starts the first game and alternates with Luongo. Whichever goalie plays better in the round robin will emerge as the starter for the elimination round although I still think Brodeur has a slight edge based on past experience.

Happy Holidays. See you in 2010.


1. Kasia Fink - December 26, 2009

Wow Jordan, that was heartwarming! Well, up until the hockey picks, that is. Merry Christmas you two – we miss you! xo

2. jorkat - December 27, 2009

Your absence from Korea has already left a gaping hole in my heart. Hope you are having fun in Japan. You guys are the awesomest!

3. jorkat - December 27, 2009

OOOps – looks like I am logged in as Jorkat – this is Mullin. I should have just left the message and confused the hell out of everyone. Or perhaps say some inappropriate stuff and get Jordan in trouble. Hmmmm… Should I take advantage of the unrestricted access……?

4. Dyson - December 29, 2009

You’re wrong on Doan, Richards and Sharp.

Rosabel - September 7, 2014

Well done arclite that. I’ll make sure to use it wisely.

5. Erin - December 30, 2009

Katie, I particularly love how you have an inappropriate groin-thruster in your class that you have to reign in mid-performance. I feel a strange kinship with that kid.. that and I’ve always had a thing for bad boys named Edward…. sigh.
Jordan, thanks for capturing some of my less proud moments over the last few months and posting them here. The favour will be repaid.
Both of you, thanks for bearing witness to the amazing drama that was Christmas. So amazing to have you both there. Katie, thanks for letting Mul’s mom flirt with Jordan. Really made her day I think 😉

6. Suranyi - January 1, 2010

You are so wrong on your picks….I guess you don’t know hockey that well after all.

Happy Holidays!

7. Szabolcs - January 1, 2010

great job on the spelling. that’s a super hot sweater Katie, definitely worthy of my desktop background which I will modify shortly. Tell Jordan we all know he’s secretly managing Mullin’s hockey team. peace out

8. Brielle - January 3, 2010

A charitable receipt will not be issued… hahahaha. always bringing it with the salt Jordan. love it.

9. Dyson - January 4, 2010

Were you drunk when you wrote this nostalgic essay? This makes me want to drink.

Way to blow your predictions for the Olympic hockey team.

If I seem bitter, it is the first hour of the first day back at work in the first month of the first year of the decade.

Enjoy your travelling. I am sure we will see a coinciding drop in Mullin’s team in the standings while you’re not near a computer.

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