Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Raindrops keep falling on your head…….in Korea it implies “buckets of rain”…..

Today it’s the 8th day, in a row, rain is pouring down on us, this spiced with a typhoon during the weekend. Today main post closed before lunch due to overflow. Nevertheless, we had a dry and hot period yesterday afternoon. Most of the spouses made use of the sunshine by taking their kids to the pool. However, I didn’t need to go there for I got a pool in the front garden ;)


One of my "pools", the only one thriving outside for the past week are the "busy Lizzies"

So Barbara (Swedish delegates Secretary wife) and I took the opportunity to go to the market to buy “gummi slövlar” (rubber boots), which probably will be the most used purchase this summer. Just made one mistake, I should have bought boots with a higher shaft! Next opportunity with nice weather that will be on my program.

No Barbara that ain't "gummi stövlar".

But these are! Although too low for the water level ;)

Through the front window of the car with the highest speed of the whipers on.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Voices from the North

The passed week I attended a seminar organized by the US Army and held at Youngsan Base; two defectors from North Korea told their views and life story.


Brave men that gave us an insight from what is said to be the most closed society in the world – DPRK (Democratic Peoples Republic Korea)

We got information about the living conditions in the North both described and with pictures. 

Kim Kwang Jin, a former operative in Kim Jong Il’s financial network, sees a society at the point of collapse. Economy is in very bad shape, millions of people have died and are still dying of starvation, suicide rate is sky-high and hope does not exist. 


What a defector says of Kim Jong II, see kinks above, is "complete nonsense," a lawyer for the North's firm says.

The Kim-Jeong Il dynastic is about to be hand over to the third generation and intelligence reports a lot of unrest and instability, for the leaders aren’t able to feed their population.

The few people that manage to defect, mainly through China, take enormous risks and leave their family with not much chance to ever see them again.
Joseph Park (not his real name) greeted us by asking “Good afternoon, did you have lunch”? and explained that it’s the normal way of North Koreans to greet each other. When he was 15 his father told him that he needed to get out of the country after finishing high school, for then he would be drafted to do his military service, which is twelve years. At the age of nineteen this young man fled with his life at stake and only taking with him the clothes he wore a hand full of rice and  ten dollar. He got three advices from his father with him before undertaking this difficult trip and leaving his family.
1.   Do not sleep on the train
2.   Always be polite
3.   Have big dreams
Joseph made it over the boarder due to his persistence, a great deal of good luck and helpful people. This was ten years ago and he adapted to his new surroundings describing it as him being “Tarzan” for he had to learn all the new techniques. He’s finished he studies at a prestige’s university in Seoul is now looking for a job. His family doesn’t know if he made it, he doesn’t know how his family is doing for no contact has been established with his family since he fled. But Joseph has HOPE that this will be happing in the future.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Upon Anja's request some more lines about Defense Ministers Tolgfors visit to ROK

As you already know we had our minister of Defense HE Sten Tolgfors visiting South Korea, this on invitation of minister of national defence Mr Kim Kwan-jin.
To receive a minister level visit far away from your homecountry when working abroad, is always highly appreciated. It shows the country you work in, the value shown by our government and the network you need to perform gets bigger and more interested in our opinions.

HE Sten Tolgfors and I in front of Conference Row

Except for the high level talks with minister of foreign affairs and minister of national defence Sten Tolgfors payed tribute to the 46 sailors who lost their lives when the south Korean corvette Cheonan was sunk by a North Korean torpedo last year.

Four photos showing the damage to the ROKS Cheonan — clockwise from upper left: (1) stack-damage; (2) front portion (port side) showing the break point; (3) water pressure marks on the hull bottom; (4) a large fragment is lifted from the sea.

Ambassador, HE Lars Vargö, held a reception at the Swedish residence in honor of the visitor and at the same time thanking the four officers who worked at NNSC and their spouses for the past year and introducing the new delegates who will stay for two years.
The defence minister ended his trip with visiting NNSC at the camp in Panmunjom in the demilitaraised zone (DMZ).  Visiting Conferance row, the communication hub between North- and South Korea (see blue houses introducing the 38th paralell by my wife). HE Tolgfors gave several interviews to ROK different medias and took part in the Swedish delegation internal Bell Hill ceremony were outgoing delegates were honored and incomers introduced.

Bell Hill Ceremony

The minister shared my concerns of the frozen and tensed situation on the Korean peninsula.

North Korean soldiers checking happenings in South Korea on Conference Row

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Swedish Minister of Defense, HE Sten Tolfors, visiting South Korea.

Last evening the Swedish Ambassador, HE Lars Vargö, hosted a reception in honor of Minister of Defense, HE Sten Tolfors, visit to Korea.
This was also a good opportunity for the Swedish Government to thank the leaving Delegates of the NNSC and their families for the efforts done during the past year.
The Minister of Defense is having a three day program and I’ve asked Anders to guest blog after his return to Sweden.

Minister of Defense HE Sten Tolfors handing over plaques to:

NNSC's Secretary, Major Rick Grundevik

NNSC's Quartermaster, Major Stefan Månsson

NNSC's Operation Officer,Lieutenant Commander Martin Engdahl

And I took the opportunity to show HE Sten Tolfors a picture of Anders' new car ;)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Great golf cource bad golf for Anders and me but fabulous sceneries.

This Saturday we were invited by MG Suh Hyoung-Seok, Commender of the 1st ROKA Division, to join him and his wife for golf at Seowon Valley Golf Club last Saturday.

I was a bit nervous for I'm at the moment not very good in playing (a nice way of saying that I suck). However, the couple mentioned that they were beginners which made me relax.
We met them at their house and then drove about 20 minutes to go to the Golf Club. It was unbelievably beautiful and so was the course, ranked as 8th best of Korea's 350 courses by Golf Digest!

A caddy prepared our cart and off we went.

She started with cleaning our clubbs, which I thought Anders had done before they were shipped to Korea.............. (he said he did, but apparently not very well)

It took about two strokes from the couple and I realized that we weren't playing with beginners. They were very, very good and showed us how one should play.

Nevertheless, it was a friendly game (I stopped counting my strokes after three holes!) and we enjoyed being with them, the course and sceneries. We had a short “pit stop” eating Korean cold noodles soup and while walking in the heat to our balls we talked about many things, this thanks to their good English (our Korean is still very under developed ;)).

This small woman hit drive after drive of 170 to 180 meters,on the Fareway!   
 Unbelievable impressive.   

 Enjoying the game, weather and scenery?

Afterwards we made use of the luxurious shower facilities, had a drink (orange juice, Anders got his beer after 12 holes ;)) at their home on the 1st divisions Head Quarter. Upon arrival of the Swiss HoD MG Joss and his wife Kristine and Col Kurt Taylor, Head of UNC (United Nations Command) we left for dinner.

This unbelievable dinner concisted of an immense number of different dishes, was at a traditional Korean Restaurant, MyoungGa Won.

About 1,5 hours drive from the multi million city Seoul you can find several original buildings from centuries ago.

We ended this full day with traditional tea drinking in the hosting couple’s home.  

Preparing & drinking tea a very appriciated tradition in South East Asia.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Anders' new "love" in his live.................

He surely looks happy or???

Today I believe my husband found a new love in his life…….
We picked up “his” car this morning. The first car he “owns” since we got married in 1982! Due to the fact that I’m the dependent (really funny) only he has the “power” to purchase a vehicle on base.
But I think it’s very nice to see how happy he is with the Grabber blue Ford Mustang, of cause did he chose the color as well, must remind him of the sea, which I think he misses.

Nevertheless, I’m thrilled too, for the car will make our stay in Korea more flexible and it will give us a chance to see and do more on the Peninsula. Besides that I will have much easier to do the grocery shopping’s or get quickly to one of the 20 different gates, most suitable for taking the public transport into the city.

We had fabulous support from Tony Hall, the Program Representative here on base,  with all the administration, which is needed before you own and have all the paperwork ready for full registration of a car. This I can tell you America and Korea differs from Sweden.

On the picture above you see Tony busy going trough all the papperwork for Anders.

Then it was time to drive, of base without the number plates, which a taxi driver pointed out to us (for we of cause had NO idea) to the office called Camp Kim in order to get our number plates.
Number plates in place :)

Several steps were needed, but when the number plates were screwed on a Korean official came out to seal the back number plate, preventing theft. I'm sure our son Vincent would love to have that system in Sweden for his number plates got stolen for a couple of weeks back.

Now we hope to have many save miles with access to lots of new adventures. 

Anders enjoys looking outside our livingroom window. Wonder why.....

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Luncheons, dinners, new delegates wife and a fifth Grade Promotion Ceremony.

My life has lately consists of planning and making luncheons and dinners. Yesterday I had and all Korean lunch with Italian food J and of cause me, at the table.

Water and juice ;)

Seemed that my table setting was appriciated :)

In the evening my new friend Theda, her husband Jeff and her two wonderful children came over for Taco dinner. Life at the base is at the moment filled with “heil & farewell” parties. For me who is not really trained in this saying goodbye it’s very emotionally, for I’ve been very fortunate to meet and interact with wonderful people that now are leaving.

The Pedersen family, just two days before moving back to the US, Oklahoma Fort Sill this time.

However,  it also means new people are coming to Korea and one of them is Barbara, married to the Swedish delegates Secretary, who joined me for a visit to Itawon, a fashionable part of Seoul.

I'm sure that Barbara will enjoy the shopping possibilities, not onlu on Itawon but all over Seoul and Korea :)

Today I was invited to be present at the Seoul American Fifth Grade Promotion Ceremony. Jeffery Pedersen, a very nice eleven year old boy, didn’t only say farewell to primary school but even to his friends and classmates. This he did as a Principal Honor. It was a fabulous possibility to be a part of it and a new memory in my string of those.
Jefferey and I after a loud and interactive Ceremony.

Friday, 10 June 2011

My doings this week in warm Seoul.

Monday started with leaving the house at 08:00 for Zumba and Pilates, shower, laying the table and then welcoming Jaeyeon Lee, a young bright woman serving in the ROK Army. Gazpacho and fresh roles was on the menu J. Afterwards she took me to a typical Korean swimming pool/bath, 6 different sauna’s (out of 11), a Latte and plenty of scrubbing later we returned to the base.
first one, six more to go ;)
A drink (mineral water) laying the table and last hand on the dinner for which Unna, another Korean woman I met here, joined us.
Tuesday, I had a UNC/UNCMAC/NNSC Spouse luncheon at the British Attachés residence.  It was also departing from several ladies in this group, a phenomenon everybody is getting a lot of training in. For the “engine” in this group, Kathy Wells we gathered for a thank you present. It will be strange to have these goodbye sessions during the coming weeks when a lot of families are leaving for new assignments.
Wednesday, training schedule again, cleaning, laundry, garden, Nandeamon Market for flowers for new delegates arrival and myself, drink, dinner and a movie. Thursday, leaving at 08:00 with Theda to the Immigration office in Inchadon, trying to get my working permit. An experience I will not soon forget, conclusion: Almost impossible to get, will be followed up! Upon return Anders and I went to the insurance company, IAG, for signing up our soon to be delivered car. To the Dragon Hill for a joined lunch with the new arrived delegates and spouse. In the late afternoon I went to I-Park to shop for some summer cloths and wrapping paper. Evening we spend together not doing too much.
Today, 08:00 leaving for Zumba, hopped Pilatus for at 11:30 I had a “so long” luncheon for Theda and some of her friends here on base. After a wonderful time together it was highly time to clean up and prepare for this evening dinner guests. I’m ready for it and even managed to answer some mails and write this. Not bad for an ordinary week or?

Jaeyeon Lee (but me too), cooling of in the 12 degree sauna

Of cause a good rest is needed before you continue with more heat. 

Partir c'est un pue mourir

Salesman on Nandeamun Market "Where are you from?"

Theda and her friends, Kimberly and Lisa in house 7049A for the "so-long" luncheon 


And after receiving the instructions from immigration I know exactly what I need to do.................................

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Totally prepared for the hot and humid summer ahead of us!

As soon as I mention the wonderful weather which we’re enjoying at the moment there isn’t a person that doesn’t warn me for the tuff heat (read humidity) to come.
But I’m “cool” with this for my new friend Theda took me out shopping to the Korean supermarket e:markt helped me preparing for that period to come.
Besides that we have AC in almost every room, I have two machines “eating” humidity, 18 boxes taking the humid out of my closets and mothballs that apparently also are problem solvers here.
We have electrical mosquito killers, mosquito sticks and a mosquito net hanging from the ceiling and spread around our bed, very romantic ;)
However, I do wonder how people coped with the climate when all this technology wasn’t available……………….
Only problem left is the messy hair I get when it’s humid something Anders doesn’t recognize……………………….
Thank you Theda, I sure will miss you when you move back to the States! But I will use the things you’ve learned me to new comers.

Theda Pederson and I

Anders and one of our "dampeaters"
Our"small" AC in the livingroom

In every closet you'll need at least one........................................

To be changed on a regular basis ;)

Romantic or just effective and troublesome to make the bed?