Saturday, January 09, 2010

Invitation for Lunar New Year Ski Trip 2010


This is an invitation for our 4th annual Lunar New Year ski and snowboarding trip.  This year, it will be tough to head out of the country because of the short holiday, so why not spend your holiday skiing with us?  The cost is easy to handle and every year, everyone has a great time.

Visit this link for all of the details:

What: Our 4th Annual Lunar New Year Ski Trip: 2 days and nights of skiing/snowboarding including lift tickets for afternoon on first day, full day on day 2, rental of snowboard/skis, our own chartered buses, choice of accommodation style for 2 nights, and travel insurance. Our accommodations are literally 3 minutes from the slopes. Optional: Yongpyong has a great indoor water park and spa called Peak Island. We are able to get discounted tickets for this, so you can add that to your package if you want to enjoy an outdoor hot tub, water massage in the jacuzzi and some wave-pool and water slide action.

When: Depart 7:30-8am Saturday, February 13th and return at 12pm on Monday, February 15th. Monday is a holiday for everyone (Lunar New Year)

Where: Departure from Suwon, Bundang and Coex Mall in Seoul. Our destination is Yongpyong Resort in Gangwon Province on the East Coast. Yongpyong is the largest and most famous ski resort in the country and we are going to take over!

Who: Any ASK Now-ETO clients, friends of theirs, and anyone else that would like to join the family. We are open to all who want to have a great trip in a positive, friendly and communal environment. Note: We have chartered 2 buses, so we will be 90 people. That's a party!

How Much: 
Full Ski Package Individual: 187,000 (165,000 + 22,000 for bunk bed)
Full Snowboard Package Individual: 197,000 (175,000 +22,000 for bunk bed)

For an individual who wants to snowboard and is using the bunk rooms, it is 197,000 won including travel, rental, lift, accommodations, and travel insurance. For someone who wants to ski and get the bunk room, it is 187,000.

We also have separate rooms available for groups of 3 or groups of 7. So, if you have a group and you would like your own Ondol-style room (K-style floor sleeping with mats etc...) then you can reserve one of those rooms, but you must be a group of 3 or a group of 7. The benefit is that you and your friends get your own private room, your own private bathroom/shower as opposed to sharing in the bigger bunk rooms. For the bunk rooms, you get to save about 20,000-25,000.

For a tool to calculate your cost for a group, visit 

Price for separate rooms: 
3-person Ondol: 140,000 for two nights (min. 3 people in group)
7-person Ondol: 280,000 for two nights (min. 7 people in group)

Note: If you are reserving one of these rooms, you MUST pay all at once. So, one person should gather all of the money from your group and transfer at one time and the group leader will be in communication with us.


Water Park Ticket: 30,000 won

How to reserve:

1. Provide payment

Go to a bank machine or to a bank teller and transfer the money to this account:

KB Bank (Kookmin Bank)
Brant Kim

Note: Be sure your name is sent with the payment if you go to the teller. Don't send it as "Ski Trip" or anything else. Lots of payments come through, and if it says "Ski Trip" we don't know who it is from.

2. Send confirmation email

Send an email to the address below (Subject: Ski Trip Payment) with this information:

Name of Payor:
Amount Sent:
Date Sent:
Number of skiers:
Number of snowboarders:
Number of water park tix:
Accommodation type:
Name(s) of Traveler(s):

Send to: Jason's email (available on site)

3. Fill in information on sign-up form and print reservation number 

Note: It may take a couple of days to receive confirmation due to high volume. Please be patient and wait at least 72 hours before contacting us to re-confirm.

Once we confirm that payment has been made, we will send you an email with a link for you to enter the required information and to generate your reservation number. Each person in your group needs to fill out the info. Here is what will be required:

Name, email, phone number, departure location, Alien Registration Number, Passport Number, or Korean registration number (for travel insurance). 


Email any questions to Jason's email (available on site)

Happy Lunar New Year!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Important info about Criminal Background Check in Canada

Here is a message I sent to our partners and independent reps about a potential major roadblock for Canadian applicants who want to teach in Korea due to some changes to the criminal background check issuing rules:


I just wanted to let you know that this morning I received an email from a company we work with in Canada that provides background checks.  They let me know that as of November 25th, local police agencies are no longer supposed to issue background checks and that basically all background checks should be processed through the RCMP with fingerprints.  The RCMP check is said to take about 120-180 days (4-6 months).  Obviously, that has a major impact on any applicants in Canada.

He advised me that the agencies involved are trying to fight the change to allow local agencies and private companies access to doing the checks.  This is a major source of revenue for local police services as noted in this article:

Anyhow, at this point, technically, a local police department can still easily type in a name and DOB into the CPIC database, get the results, and print out a background check locally. It seems as though it is taking some time for this rule to trickle down to all local police departments, so it may be a window of opportunity for teachers to get the CBC done quickly.  But, if this does result in a change across the country, then we may see it take 4-6 months to get a background check which may really cut down on the number of viable Canadian applicants as how many people will actually wait that long and then not change their mind? 

We are of course hoping that this will not remain for long, but if you have a look at the RCMP site about processing times, it makes me embarrassed to be a Canadian:

They say that they've noticed a massive increase in the number of requests over the last 7 years! Yup, years, not'd think that someone would say, "hey, it's been 7 years now, maybe we should make some adjustments." Then they go on to say that they are working on a project to increase the processing time but that it will take "another few years."  Wow!  How can we possibly be so inefficient? 

So, if this does change, we are going to have a bit of a mess on our hands for Canadians. 

Just wanted to give you the heads-up on this. If you are Canadian, get your background check done asap!


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Veggies, and Pumpkin Pie and more. Very Limited Space

Need we say more? If you missed out on getting some home-style turkey for Thanksgiving, don't let this opportunity pass you by. We are currently getting ready for our Annual Christmas Party. This year, we are starting off right at Chef Meili's in Itaewon. We have reserved the entire restaurant.

For those who don't know, Chef Meili is an Austrian Chef with is own restaurant and deli in Itaewon, just behind Gecko's. They serve amazing food and the atmosphere makes it feel like you are back home enjoying Christmas dinner with your family and friends at someone's house.

Chef Meili is booking the place for us on Saturday, December 19th and preparing a special turkey dinner with all of the fixings for us. Since we are taking the whole place, we'll be doing it earlier in the day, just like Christmas Dinner usually gets started back home. We will meet there at 4:30pm, get settled, and have a relaxing dining experience till about 6pm. After that, we are going to head the 20 steps down the street to the Wolfhound Pub. Wayne and our friends there are preparing a little special for us and he'll be letting us know what it is soon.

So, there are only about 40 spots available for the turkey dinner and it is first paid/first in. I would assume that we will be full before the next couple of days are up, so if you want turkey, get you and your crew together quickly and send off payment. 

Treat yourself this Christmas as this will be one of your only chances to get your hands on homes-style cooking with a great group of friends. A meal like this at a hotel around Seoul would be around the 70,000 won range, but Chef Meili is putting it on for us for 35,000 won again this year. (for anyone who wasn't there, Chef Meili catered for us last year and I think everyone fell in love) 

OK...enough blabbing, here is what to do to reserve your spot: 

Since spots are really, really limited, we are taking reservations on a first-paid, first in basis. 

Step 1

Send 35,000 won to this account via bank teller and be sure that your name goes through as well:

KB Bank (Kookmin Bank)
Brant Kim

Step 2

Send an email confirmation to with your name, date of payment, and amount of payment. If you are more than one person in your group, please all pay together and send all names that are in your group in one email. We will confirm payment and confirm your seat. Subject: Christmas Party Payment

Refunds? Sorry...please be sure you can make it. If something comes up and you can't, you can send someone in your place, but once payment is made, we can't refund.

That's about it! If you are only able to make it to the Wolfhound, then we will be arriving there between 6-6:30pm. 

Gather your group, get the payment sent off, and send me the confirmation email as soon as you can. It's going to be a great start to a fun night!

Jason and the ASK Now-ETO Team

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fascinating Story from an American Teaching in Korea in Late 70's

I received this email from someone that is currently writing a book about his time in Korea. All I can say is that
I want to sit down with him and hear more stories!

Dear Jason:

I "fell into" English teaching back in 1974 in Seoul.   I was a broadcaster
at AFKN (Now AFN) from February, 1974 until June of '75.  I liked the place
so much, I got out of the Army, bought a one-way ticket back (with a tourist
visa) and picked up on my old contact right away.

I did not go to college. (Unless you count Defense Information School, where
I earned broadcasting and journalism titles or my Nuclear Instructor and
Classroom Subject Developer Certificate) Instead, I stumbled across a
Hoq-wahn in Namdaemun and ended up jumping straight into the job.  A
sidewalk loudspeaker was playing my own voice, reading a two-month old
newscast, recorded off of AFKN.

Inside, a hard working student was trying to transcribe my own words to make
class room material.  When I announced who I was, the place went wild.

The upshot was, I ended up teaching for almost 5 more years on my tourist
visa.  Seoul AFKN English Institute had me transcribe movie dialogues for
$300 a pop. (I can transcribe almost as fast as a person speaks in clear,
printed longhand)  Movies took 3-4 hours each.  I also transcribed the TV
show "One Day At A Time".  It was a daily, 30-minute comedy that ran on
AFKN.  I was paid $15 an hour (3X hog-wahn rate) for the hour a day it took
for me to transcribe, then tell him what the grunts and snickers actually
meant to a native speaker.  His classes filled.

About this time I had three lucky breaks.

First, I was given a $35/ hr advanced English Conversation class at Sam-Sung
Mulsan Corp.. It was in the Dong Bahng building @ 7-8a.m.

Second, I invented a unique, chalk talk style of teaching that
revolutuionized the concept.  It was not so much of an English Conversation
class, but an "Accent Removal'' EXERCISE.

You see, Jason, as a person who "read the News" I can stand up in front of a
crowd and deliver.  As a broadcaster, I also did the weather. (That is,
stood at a chalk-board map of Korea and drew in the meteorology.)  Also, I'm
a graphic artist.  They used me at AFKN to draw up story boards for our
live, Black and white performances. Then there is my current part-time
Instructor Position at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

Third, I recalled a movie about Helen Keller.  When this genius was taught
to speak by placing her hand over her teacher's and learning to form the
necessary sounds, a light bulb went on.  I developed a kind of symbolism
that looked like Ancient Aztec "Glyphs" for the students to follow with the
harder-to-pronounce parts of our language. (See the attachment)

The movie made me realize something.  Koreans move their mouths very little
when speaking Korean. Their language uses tone, we use accent.  I had to
wrestle countless time with students to get them to show their teeth.  Some
of the ladies of my Korea Airlines account, had to actually hold their hands
in modesty over their mouths in my class.

"Mr. Don!  My mouth hurts from speaking English!"  I heard that line over
and over but I knew I was winning the battle.

My "Glyphs" consisted of a single-line contour of a human head, showing the
nose, the teeth of the upper jaw, roof of the mouth, tongue, teeth and lower
jaw.  With this tool, I found I could get rid of those pesky habits of "Sis"
instead of "This" and "Rub" instead of "Love.  I developed a glyph for all
sounds that are difficult for Koreans to make.  They copied it in their
notebooks and I prospered.

For the "V" in love, I'd draw a glyph, show them how to curl the lower lip
under the front, upper teeth and gently hold it there.  After the "LLLLLL".
Pop the lower lip foreword and say "Love"!  To see 140 students at Korea
Explosives have it "dawn on them" was extremely satisfying.  I felt honored.
I also liked their $30 an hour... a month in advance.

Then came the final revaluation.  It was in two parts.

See, I taught very advanced business students, airline stewardesses and
They could, with help, speak each word properly.  But it sounded artificial,
computer generated.  I taught them to SPEAK like an American.

First, notice how we jam our words together.  (Must be the German in us.)
See how I've written "How are you today?"  Spoken, it comes out "Hower YEW
today?  I'd exercise them with "YEWt'day, YEWt'day, YEWt'day." until they
got it.

Second. I came up with a method to show accent throughout a written (read
aloud) sentence.  On my attachment, you can see the line running through the
normally presented sentence.  I'd have them saying, "HOW are YOU today?" in
no time.  It is hard to put into print.  But once you see the value of that
little line, they can take all their workbooks and add this helpful device
with fantastic results.

At the end, I actually taught mostly private students and companies.
Sam-Sung, KoreaExplosives and Ewah University (just to keep my
hand in a classroomsetting) were among them.  In my day, a university
campus could become a battle ground.

If  I found a student was going to visit, South Carolina, for instance, I'd
actually teach them a "Southern Drawl".  Being born in New York City,
raised in Kentucky and well traveled, I was able to duplicate almost any
(even Canadian) accent.

Having "performed" on camera since I was 16, (Dad owned an early Cable
channel TV Station in the early 70's.  I had an "American Bandstand" style
show.) this came naturally to me.  I mean, who can't fake a British accent?
It might sound silly but it WORKS!  To have them realize the almost unfair
fact that if you are doing business with an American Firm and your English
is not up to snuff, they are viewed as "less intelligent".  It's just human
nature. So I tailored their accent to the customers they'd meet.

Now and again, I made $300 per book to place my "accent lines" in their
"English 900" texts.  Mostly they did it themselves as class rolled along.

And roll along it did.  I was making $4500 a month in a place where my
grass-roofed traditional house on Mountain #6 in Ohyadong (near Seongnam-Si)
cost $16 a month, including the woman and breakfast in the morning.  I
married her, kept bouncing "kata-wata" between Korea and Japan and generally
had a grand time.

Then President Park Chung Hee was killed.

When Chun Do-Hwan took over, the rioting got so bad I couldn't even get to
work.  A couple of my private students were government officials.  Some went
to jail.  Others disappeared.

In mid-May 1980, we fled south, trying to get to Wando Island, near Mokpo in
South Cholla Province by train.  The train pulled in to Kwangju station the
night of May 17th, 1980.  We took a inn for the night, two blocks from
Kwangju's Provincial hall.  The next day we were smack-dab in the middle of
"The Kwangju Massacre".

We literally walked out of Cholla province, at one point being smuggled past
the military check points, in a pig crate, covered in Korean radishes, by a
kindly farmer.  We hitch-hiked back home, robbed at gun point, beat up and
stunned by what we had seen. Still I wanted to stay.

Making it back to Seoul, I taught English when the rioting would permit
until October 1980.  A massive riot at Namdaemun Gate saw me trapped and
trying to get home from my Sam-Sung class on my Honda 350. (I'd smuggled the
entire thing into Korea in parts from Japan in my knapsack.) Someone got a
picture of me struggling to ride through a cloud of CS gas.  Another got a
shot of me leaving a certain Transportation Minister's home after his class.
They came and "collected" me and my wife on October 6th.

Her, they let go.  Me they threw me into Suwon Prison.  I had seen too much,
known too much.  Gen. Chun's Korea was under martial law.  They did not need
any witnesses.

Having managed to sneak out a letter, written on a sheet of toilet paper,
hidden in a fellow inmate's blanket hem, to my Dad (The Kentucky
Governor's photographer) I was merely held one day pastmy visa
expiration date and deported with two years probation.  That was the
day before John Lennon was killed, December 8th, 1980.

My wife and I divorced back in '86.  (She's now yelling at someone else.)
But I have often thought of returning to Korea, just to SEE.  I could walk
into Sam Sung, mention a few names and maybe get to teach a few classes just
for old time's sake.  I left Korea for less than a year in 75 and was
stunned by thechange when I returned.  I cannot imagine what it would be
like now.

I chose to live in 1925 conditions.  Grass roof, ice-water hand pump, heated
floor and "Miss Oriental July" to keep me warm.  I could have lived
"Western" if I wanted to but that was not the show I'd come to see.

With a race bike (While everyone else rode KIA-Honda 50 & 90cc Auto-bikes),
my commute was about 20 minutes to Ietaewon, then zip through the Namsan
Tunnel and there was Namdaemun.  I did it in minus-18 degree conditions a
time or two.  Brrrrr!

In short, I would not have traded my time as a teacher for anything.  I work
at a nuclear plant now.  Sometimes I teach the particulars of reactor repair
to mechanics, sometimes I illustrate the exploded-views necessary to show
them the way, other times I turn wrenches with them.  But they all stop and
listen whenever I talk about Korea.

I just finished a book on my adventures.  It took 5 years to write. I have
over 100 photographs to go with it.

So what do you think, Jason?  Does anybody still teach "outside of the
system" like I did?  Is it still possible to just walk in a start teaching?


Don S.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Group Picture

From bottom left clockwise.

Melissa, Dave Luth, Kate, Annie, Brant Sr., Jason, Brant Jr.

This pic was taken at our Mudfest trip when we had dinner on Saturday night.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Jennifer McMaster's Intro Video

Here is a video that one of our former teachers and current MVP staff members made about her experience working in Korea and working with ASK Now:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Noraebang Medley Amazing Scavenger Hunt Race 2009

Here is a medley of performances at the 2009 ASK Now-ETO Amazing Scanvenger Hunt Race. As part of the event, teams had to sing a song at a Noraebang (singing room) and the score that they receive at the end of the song was added to their point total.

Overall, it was a great day and the teams did a great job of entertaining us!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Very Funny Experience from one of our Teachers

Hello Jason,

I'm fine, thank you!  How are you?  I'm trying to teach my students other words besides "fine" such as, good, great, ok, fantastic, so-so, doing well, fabulous, not good, terrible, terrific.............ANYTHING besides "fine".   "I'm fine, thank you" seems to be hard wired into their brains.  However,  I was able to teach one student to respond with " I'm absolutely fabulous!"

I didn't go site-seeing very much in the winter, so I don't have that many pictures. I do have some interesting stories though..........

For example, in my early experiments with soju back in January, I met with some friends and had one bottle too many, but felt ok. So, rode the subway (made it just fine), then rode the bus, and missed my stop by a couple. I went ahead and got off the bus, and thought I would just walk the rest of the way home.  During my walk is when the soju really hit me and I fell down in the snow a couple of times, then I passed a place with a big, fancy, and bright neon sign. It looked magical because, as you know, there are not very many big bright neon signs in Seoul. Anyway, it looked like a bar, so for some reason I thought if I stopped and had a beer it might sober me up. I have no idea why I thought having a beer would sober me up.

Well, I went into the place at about 12:30 am and didn't see a bar just a desk and a hallway. But there were many beer signs and bottles of alcohol. So, I asked for a beer and they laughed at me, but I didn't understand why they were laughing. They finally agreed to give me a beer and took me to a room with a large sectional sofa, a big table, a giant tv, and a giant remote control!  I remember thinking "how cool my own private tv and sofa to sit and drink my one beer." I also remember playing with the remote and asking if they had The History Channel.......unfortunately they didn't. Then they asked if I wanted a girl to keep me company........I thought "sure, why not?"  Then they asked if I wanted two......again I thought "sure, why not?".

After that I had a few more beers  and only remember bit's and pieces, like talking away to the girls as if they understood everything I was saying, and then stumbling around town trying to find my way home. The last thing I remember was seeing the sunrise as I finally found my apartment. The next morning I woke up on the floor in the kitchen with a receipt for 175,000 Won and a headache.  As you may have guessed by now, the place wasn't a bar. It was a singing room.  I didn't even know singing room places existed.

Anyway, I learned two lessons:

1. Don't drink more than 3 full bottles of soju.
2. If you do drink more than 3 bottles of soju, don't explore new places without a guide.

Jason W.

Friday, April 03, 2009

ROK Talk Episode 3

Episode 3...We have a Name! from Jason Cresswell on Vimeo.

Our name has been decided!

In this episode, bad blooded dual citizens live in Hanok with women who can't drive. Or something like that.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Paintball April 25

info coming soon to events page. went today to scout. looks fun!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Flash Mob In Daegu

Here is a fun video of a flash mob in downtown Daegu. The foreigners in that city know how to have a party! Promoting a new magazine about Daegu as well. Check it out.

Teach in Korea

Friday, March 27, 2009

Short Skirts, Bribery, Crazy Canadians and Good Burgers

Episode 2 of the show is up!

Beta Version Episode 2 March 20 2009 from Jason Cresswell on Vimeo.

Update from Melissa in Gangneung

Here is the latest installment from our guest blogger and ASK Now rep Melissa Steach currently in Gangneung.  Enjoy!
I went skydiving for the first time last year. It was a Friday morning in California and like most every day it was a great day to be outdoors. For years I'd listened as others talked about jumping and said, oh hell no -- not me. But this morning was different. I had the day off, it was lovely and what the hell else had I to do but... jump. I made no phone calls to boast my plans. Instead I turned off my cell phone and drove.

As the plane climbed to the required height so did my confidence. Sensing that all I had was the big German whose lap I was now strapped to and the slim but real possibility that this jump could be my first and our last, I relaxed. It was then that I understood how when facing great fear a person can shit their pants: When your mind accepts the plain fact that in this moment you have absolutely no control, the body lets go as well. Kneeling down beside the gaping door of the tiny shuttle I looked at the miniature land below, said a prayer and fell into air. As instructed, my body bent backwards spooning the German and like flying squirrels we screamed, squealed and laughed for what felt like a lifetime of free fall. With my tug, our chute opened silently. Our speed slowed without aggravation. I gasped. My god it's beautiful were the only words I uttered the entire way down.

Spring has broken from Winter's ground. My daily hikes have replaced my morning yoga. It seems that people aren't the only life forces I'm interested in meeting these days. On Monday I met a lovely tree named Magnolia. Tuesday I spied a bunch of shy violets. By Wednesday I'd run into some flirty yellow buds and on Thursday I made the acquaintance of a Maltese named Boris. He in turn introduced me to his caretaker Sally, a young woman from California. We hit it off immediately and made plans for me to join she and her friends for some home-cooked Indian cuisine and knitting. Upon learning that I grew up in Alabama -- Sally pronounced that I will meet her expat friend from Montgomery and so it unfolds...

By Saturday I was off to Seoul. The city was aflutter. Like bees to honey the boys buzzed and the girls dripped. My five months of feeling sexually invisible instantly combusted. Women of every ethnicity strutted down the streets of Itaewon and I joined in the parade. Dinner was followed by dancing with friends and the young morning found us all at a Reggae club. Though a sudden rain had set in, no dimmed spirits were witnessed. We winded and grinded and all out stirred it up. Evidence of our joy marked by a cycle of condensation and sweat on the club windows. The owner / bartender was an unusually tall, but typically friendly Korean. The Filipino waitresses were a cocktail of bubbly personality, shiny eyes, hair and teeth. The establishment wife was an undeniably delightful drunk. The Africans were obviously so, yet distinctly Korean, switching languages as easily as they swayed to Bob.

After no more than a few hours sleep at the jjimjilbang, I awoke tired but relaxed. I was eager to discover what Sunday's jump would show me. My second free fall was tandem with a friend I'd made when last in Seoul. He treated me to his favorite restaurant and introduced me to one of the city's walking river paths. Sitting along the bank, I listened as my new friend shared with me, I watched children playing in the spray that drifted from the fountain. I could feel the setting sun blow warm against my skin, it's breath setting in motion the relaxing of my muscles like an expertly crafted line of dominoes. Reminded of the fifteen minutes I'd spent in awe and silence when it seemed I could touch the earth's curve -- My god it's beautiful were the only words I uttered the entire way down.

Melissa Steach

Monday, March 23, 2009

They're looking for my ride...

...but I'm on da bus!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

South Korea to Host 2022 World Cup?

It's way too early to tell what the results will be, but South Korea is bidding on the 2022 FIFA World Cup hosting.  I will say that the 2002 tournament was one of the funnest times I've had in this country. Renting a car and traveling around with my good friend Dave and his dad Mario was a highlight.  We went to several games and toured around the whole country for the month. 

So, if Korea wins the bid for 2022, it could be a 20 year anniversary for us!  Anyone up for a roadie?