In search of a more perfect you
‘There is this notion of beauty. I think people should just be the way they are’
By Sonya Beard

briefly Photo contest dishes out millions
The third CheongShim Calendar Photo Contest is calling for expats to participate in this year’s competition. Prizes include 5 million won (first place), two prizes of 1 million won and 12 more people will be awarded 300,000 won. All winning entries will be printed in the 2011 Cheongsim calendar. The theme for this year is “family.” The text for the contest is: What does family mean for you? There are many kinds of families bonded together through sponsorship and lifelong soul mates based on friendship deeper than love. Discover the meaning of “family” in your everyday life. The contest period is May 24 to July 15. A JPEG must be over 3,000 pixels to be eligible. An exhibition of winning photos will be held Oct. 11 to Oct. 17. Go to www.cheongshim.com/contest to register and for more information, visit the Cheongshim blog, http://blog.naver.com/cheongshimc. (mattlamers@heraldm.com)

In a perfect world, the 160 cm Dayna Ahmad said she’d be 13 cm taller. That way her excess baggage would be more evenly streamlined over her frame. But this is an imperfect world, where the average-size American woman is only 163 cm according to health statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. That’s an inch taller than she was in 1960, but that same woman is 11 kg heavier. It’s only natural that Ahmad would have body-image insecurities living in Korea, one of the thinnest nations in the World Health Organization rankings. “I’ve never heard so many people comment on my weight until I moved here,” said Ahmad, who teaches English in Gangneung, Gangwon Province. Ahmad has gained more than 9 kg in the last three years. She was once a confident size 8, but now she’s as uncomfortable with her fuller figure as she is with the running commentary on her new shape. She could do without the not-so-subtle hints from coworkers and unsolicited advice from school administrators. She’s confronted these pudgy demons before. “I’ve done cardio until I was purple in the face and I couldn’t breathe anymore,” said the 24 year old. The self-proclaimed “crappy eater” suspects her metabolism is partly to blame. “I don’t eat a lot, but I need to know which foods I should avoid,” said Ahmad. She realizes she can no longer get away with the same culinary choices she made in college. Ahmad is the first to admit she needs to make some changes. And she has no shame if those alterations are rendered with a little surgical assistance. The New Jersey native had contemplated getting a nip and tuck back in the States, but was turned off by astronomical prices and couldn’t convince her mother to front the bill. Now that she was making her own way, she could afford to make her own decisions. Still, that didn’t mean her mother was on board with the idea. “She didn’t think Korea was that advanced,” Ahmad said. Korea, though, is a burgeoning hub for medical tourism with patients traveling specifically to take advantage of elective and non-elective procedures. More than 60,000 foreigners sought medical attention here last year, said Elly Kim of the Korea Health Industry Development Institute. That’s more than twice the number treated in 2008, an increase correlating with recent healthcare legislation spurring more aggressive government regulations. Korea, too, has become a cosmetic fixer upper’s paradise — the place to go if you’re in search of a more perfect you. Ahmad’s search led her to the Beauty Belt of Seoul, at Hus+Hu Clinic,

KOTESOL conference in Jeonju
On Saturday the Jeonju (North Jeolla) wing of KOTESOL will host a regional conference, open to both card-holding members and non-members alike. Leading the charge is professor Allison Bill, a former International Conference chair and long-serving lecturer at Jeonju University. Her central role in coordinating events is pillared by the qualified expertise of professors Phil Owen, Ingrid Zwaal and Shawn DeLong. For the first time in the chapter’s history, the conference will be held at a central and independent high school — Jeonju Geun Young — in a bid to make KOTESOL more accessible to all tiers of the educational pyramid. There will be a focus on practical teaching for young learners and teens and an ATEK speaker has been added. Another goal of the newly constructed executive is to work hand-in-hand with local non-academic groups such as Jeonju’s acclaimed art coalition. Plenary speaker and seasoned international representative Scott Miles heads the lineup on “Critical Conditions for Long-Term Language Acquisition” — and supporting strands along with various other special interest groups and commercials fill out the multifarious bill in the company of both local and national publishers. (Tori M. Elliott)

Dayna Ahmad takes in some shopping last weekend. Her search for a “more perfect her” led her to the Beauty Belt of Seoul, at Hus+Hu Clinic, where she and her supportive boyfriend recently went for a consultation. Sonya Beard

where she and her reluctant, but supportive, boyfriend recently went for a consultation. “We were a campus couple,” she said of Chris Kobrzynski, a fellow New Jerseyan and teacher in Gangneung, who was there to watch her bags during the appointment. “I was skinny when we met.” Expats visiting the upscale Apgujeong med spa are greeted by a witty English-speaking staff that instantly eases any nerves associated with doctor visits, especially in a foreign country. Prospective patients are ushered to plush leather sofas where they can browse through glossy catalogs to select from an array of upgrades such as flawless skin or a brighter smile. Ahmad checked out the body contouring procedures. She’s had her heart set on Smart Lipo, a laser surgery that dissolves fat from localized area directly underneath the skin. “I could go to work the next day,” said Ahmad, not a fan of invasive forms of Liposuction that would require her body up to six months to recover. Liposuction is a popular pick for the 2,000 foreign teachers, soldiers and embassy personnel who frequent Hus+Hu each year, says Yeo Myung-jin, a spokeswoman for the clinic. The growing reputation in the international community is one Yeo credits with language ability and affordable prices. During the consultation, Dr. Chang Seung-ho asked Ahmad what she’d like to have done. “I’d like my stomach and thighs and arms to be smaller,” Ahmad said. Chang probed her about diet control: “I eat what’s fast and cheap.” He inquired about appetite suppressants: “I tried diet pills but they all increased my appetite or made me feel sick.”

And exercise? “I’ve worked out, but nothing has worked.” The surgeon told Ahmad the words she feared most. “I can’t recommend liposuction at this time because there are too many risk factors and side effects,” Chang advised. Point blank: She needed to lose weight. Ahmad looked crushed at the cycle of bad news. She’s not heavy enough for more drastic measures such as lap band or gastric bypass procedures. But lipo wouldn’t produce her desired results. The doctor prescribed a healthy eating plan and exercise routine for Ahmad. “Surgery is not a solution to weight loss,” Chang said. “But exercise and dieting don’t fix the entire problem either.” Chang cautions against rapid weight loss so skin retains elasticity and healthy toning. He explained that surgery is most effective after a well-scheduled diet program and referred Ahmad to a nutritionist. “If you operate without changing those habits,” he said, “the fat will grow back in other areas.” Ahmad was appreciative of the honest advice and thorough explanation, something lacking in the consultations she’d had with American doctors. “He could’ve just taken my money and done the surgery.” That would not be likely in Korea, so horror stories about double-eyelid surgeries gone wrong and rumors about psychiatrists performing tummy tucks should not concern foreigners. There have been dramatic changes in the industry, Kim said. “Medical institutions that treat international patients must meet certain requisites.” According to the KHIDI,

International Medical Com­ munications Office — A 24-hour hotline for pre- and post-op health-care concerns, legal questions or customer concerns ▪ Web: www.medicalkorea.or.kr ▪ Phone: (02) 5777-129 The Korean Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons — Offers a directory of certified practitioners ▪ Web: http://plasticsurgery.or.kr Skin clinics TengTeng Skin Clinic Web: www.tengteng.com ▪ Phone: (02) 337-4066 ▪ Location: Sinsa Station Nova Skin Clinic ▪ Web: www.novaskin.co.kr healthcare facilities must abide by tougher safety protocols, staff certified physicians based on the areas of specialty, and guarantee insurance coverage. These standards are compliments of a Medical Service Act passed in May 2009 to protect the rising number of foreign patients. Empowered and informed, Ahmad left the office, nutritionist referral in hand, determined to get in fighting shape for her Smart Lipo. Yeo offered encouraging words as they walked to the elevator. “We will get in shape together,” Yeo vowed to Ahmad with a pinky-swear. Kobrzynski had little to say about the day’s events once the two were taxi bound. “I just came ▪ Phone: (02) 563-7977 ▪ Location: Gangnam, Seoul STARS KIN Aesthetic ▪ Web: www.starskin.co.kr ▪ Phone: (02) 775-0886 Plastic surgery K’s Plastic Surgery Clinic ▪ Web: www.kksplastic.co.kr ▪ Phone: (02) 541-7533 ▪ Location: Apgujeong, Seoul Beauty and health YE Medical Center ▪ Web: www.yemedical.com ▪ Phone: (02) 541-7533 ▪ Location: Gangnam, Seoul Hus+Hu ▪ Web: http://english.hus-hu. com ▪ Phone: (02) 1577-3782 here to hold the bags,” he said. “Everyone wants to buy into this notion of beauty. I think people should just be the way they are.” Ahmad shot him an easiersaid-than-done look. “Well what am I supposed to do?” she asked, after failing to make it to the dietician’s office before it closed. “When you do all this work and you have nothing to show for it, it makes you give up hope,” said Ahmad, as she continues her search for the perfect body or at least one resembling the one she had before. To comment, send a message to mattlamers@heraldm.com; to reach the author, e-mail sonyabeard@yahoo.com — Ed.

Seoul, Shanghai expat teams clash
Expat rugby team the Seoul Survivors will host their archrivals the Shanghai Hairy Crabs on Saturday at Jamwon Rugby Pitch, Apgujeong. According to a press release, this international rugby match is the most anticipated clash of the 2010 Yellow Sea Cup and will play a large part in deciding the fate of this year’s trophy. The Seoul Survivors and the Shanghai Hairy Crabs were the top-ranked squads from 2009. Four of Asia’s top expatriate rugby teams compete for the Yellow Sea Cup. The Beijing Devils, the Shanghai Hairy Crabs and the Guangzhou Rams — all representing China’s expatriate populations — as well as the Seoul Survivors, South Korea’s sole representative, compete in the annual round-robin competition. Shanghai has edged out the Survivors to retain the title of Asia’s top expatriate rugby team for the past three years. As host team, Seoul hopes to win the trophy for the first time since the inaugural championship in 2005. The game starts at 2:30 p.m. For more information, go to www.survivorsrfc.com. (mattlamers@heraldm.com)

Seoul Players’ first English musical
The Seoul Players’ first ever English-language musical, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” will be staged Saturday at 8 p.m. Although it took the Seoul Players nine years to tackle the challenge of a musical, director Margaret Whittum is confident that “Spelling Bee” offers something exciting for both the expat and Korean communities. To begin with, the show features both expat and Korean talent, on stage and off. Lyle Bjorn Arnason, a Seoul Players Committee board member who will perform in the upcoming production, said that between 50-60 hopefuls turned up for auditions, outnumbering the usual number of auditionees for the Seoul Players’ plays. Arnason says he and Whittum were both pleasantly surprised by the amount of talent they saw at the auditions. Over the course of its nine-year run, the Seoul Players name has become synonymous with high-quality English theater, popular improvisational comedy performances, and community participation-inducing events. Amy Mihyang, a Korean adoptee from the U.S. with a B.F.A. in Performance will perform the role of Marcy Park, the over-achieving Korean-American. Mihyang said she was particularly interested in this musical. “This show was specifically conceived in terms of having a diverse cast and I think that’s what the future of any type of show really needs to be,” she said. She added that the improvisatory nature of the show can also appeal to those who may not particularly be interested in the traditional musical. Whittum gives the show’s contemporary relevance and its logistical simplicity as the reasons why it was picked to be the group’s first musical. The small cast — only nine members — and short running time — under two hours — coupled with the minimal space needed to put on the show were key selling points. But the show’s ability to draw in a crowd is another special characteristic. The script actually calls for four audience members to participate. “Spelling Bee” opened to wide acclaim on Broadway in 2005 and was later nominated for six Tony Awards — winning two, including one for Best Book. “Spelling Bee” first came to Korea in 2007, but the show was done in Korean. This is the first time it will run in English in Seoul. The show will run for three weekends, May 29- June 13, with three showings each weekend — Saturdays and Sundays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. Tickets are 10,000 won. All shows will be held at Roofers, near Itaewon Station, Exit 3. For more information or ticket reservations, please visit the website www.seoulplayers.com or e-mail seouplayers@gmail.com. For more information about living in Seoul, visit the Seoul Global Center’s unofficial blog www.seoulcityblog.com. (Shannon Heit)

In focus: Maintain stability (Part I)
The Photo Challenge is sponsored by Hyosung Camera (English: 010-7203-9599) and Babo Shirts (www.baboshirts.com). Winners of the weekly competition receive a 50,000 won store credit at Hyosung Camera and a Babo Shirt. To take part in the competition, simply upload your photo at www.flickr.com/groupsseoulphotoclub — Ed.
By Aaron Raisey

Do you need a steadier hand? What should you do? There are several things you can do to get sharper shots and that’s what we’ll look at over the next couple of weeks. A shaky camera (or more to the point, a shaky hand) has been the bane of photographers since the beginning of the art. To minimize camera shake, you need to be aware of both the shutter speed and the limitations of your ability to hold the camera steady. A general rule of thumb is that you can safely hold a camera steady at a shutter speed equal to the focal length of the lens you are using. The situation here is

somewhat analogous to holding a stick. It’s easy to hold one end of a toothpick and keep the other end steady, but much more difficult to do the same with a broom handle. With regards to a camera and lens, this isn’t so much due to the physical length of the lens, but the distance to the subject. With a longer lens the subject is further away for a similar size in the viewfinder — a tiny movement of the camera here translates into a large movement at distance over there. Keep in mind that this formula is only a rough guide for hand-held shooting and it will vary between individuals — some might need that cup of coffee or a little attention to results to see where your comfortable limit lies. So what happens if the shutter speed goes lower? What if we want to shoot our pals in the bar

PHOTO CHALLENGE — weekly winner May 11 — A scene from the Lotus Lantern Festival in Seoul.
Pil Gam Sung

on Saturday night and the camera is telling us the shutter will be at a perilously slow 1/8 sec? If you’re shooting film, you’re out of luck. But if you’re taking advantage of digital’s convenience, just bump up the ISO. The ISO value is the measure of the film or digital sensor’s sensitivity to light — the higher the number, the more sensitive to light, so the camera needs a faster shutter speed for the same exposure. Just dial it up until the shutter speed reaches a comfortable level. Something to keep in mind when increasing

ISO is that more “noise” gets introduced into your image. New DSLRs and high-end point and shoot cameras have very good high ISO capabilities, so it’s not a huge issue, but with older or cheaper digital cameras it is something to be wary of. Another important thing to consider is that blurring from camera shake at shutter time is a function of probability. That is, as you slow the shutter down, blur in the image is more likely to occur. Using an 85 mm lens at a shutter speed of 1/8000 sec,

blur is vanishingly unlikely — you will get a sharp image 100 percent of the time. With the same lens at say, 1/10 sec, the likelihood that you will introduce some blur is quite high. You can, however, increase your chances of nailing a sharp image at slower speeds by shooting several frames, though no matter how many you shoot it is next to impossible to hold a camera steady for a 1-second exposure. Next week we’ll look at some other ways to get a sharper image. (raisey@hanmail.net)

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