Living in Korea – My Life VLOG #7

I was recently asked by a long-time friend to help out his daughter’s World Geography Class and talk a little about my experiences about living in South Korea. So without further ado, here we go.

Hi Adara and class! My name is Steve Miller and I’ve lived in South Korea since 2009. If you’re unfamiliar with South Korea, here it is on a map. It is a small country, about 100,000 square kilometers. That might not make a lot of sense, so in terms of an American state, it’s about the same size of Indiana. For another point of reference, it’s also just a little smaller than Australia’s Tasmania.

It’s also very densely populated. Currently, there are about 50 million people living in South Korea, half of which live in the Seoul Metro area. By comparison, New York City only has a little over 8 million residents. So we have three times as many people living in a very compact space.

Because so many people live near the nation’s capital, new cities are being built all the time. I live in one such city. Dongtan was only built a few years ago and is only about 6 years old. A “new city” means that it was planned out in great detail from start to finish, much in the way that a “master planned” community is done in the US. The only difference is that this is an entire city, rather than just a single neighborhood. Dongtan is located about 30 km from Seoul and about 100km from the DMZ that separates North and South Korea.

Am I worried about North Korea attacking? No. It’s a really complex situation, but the real threat of a large-scale war is fairly remote, since it would mean the end of the regime’s control.

So what do I like about living in Korea? A lot of things.

First, Korea has one of the fastest Internet connections in the world. The backbone was put into place by those wanting to play online games. The technology has also expanded to mobile phones.

I also really enjoy the incredible public transportation system. When I was in the US, I needed a car to travel around. Here, I have no need to own one. In fact, Seoul’s subway system is one of the best in the world, allowing me to travel from south of the nation’s capital all the way to some of the ski resorts in the neighboring mountains.

Then there’s the food. It’s a delicious combination of flavor explosions I’ve never experienced before. However, one of the things I really do enjoy doing it traveling. I usually take time to visit nearby historical sights like palaces or temples so I can learn more about Korea’s past.

In the past 60 years, Korea has developed into a major economic powerhouse and brands like Samsung, Kia, and LG are known throughout the world. In fact, life here isn’t much different from my old life in the US. If you have a specific question about what it’s like living in South Korea, you can leave it in the comment section or message me at

VLOG: You Are Awesome

I just wanted to take a moment to express my thank to each of you for making the last six months really awesome. Everyone at Arirang Radio has been super and I will miss them all, but nothing would be possible without you.

Viewer Question: The Fate of North Korea?

This week’s question comes from Sophie in the UK:

Firstly, where do you see North Korea heading in the next few years? Will they fall? Will their be an “arab spring”? Why or why not?

Secondly, do you see them actually following through with any of their threats?

Thirdly, do you think their new leaders more “western” perspective, due to his education, as an influencing factor to decisions that will be made?

Here are my thoughts…

If you have a question for me, please email me at

VLOG: What’s your first piece of tech?

This summer, I finally purchased a new computer. Julia, my 2007 17″ MacBook Pro is still working hard, but can no longer keep up with some of the demands of my publishing requirements. So, I took the plunge and got a new one. This new computer is screamin’ hot and does so much more than I ever imagined. But it also got me thinking about the very first item of technology I bought.

digital watchLooking back over the years, I believe it has to be a digital watch. There’s just nothing else it could be. Watches today are amazing, with several alarms and can tell time across time zones and be plunged to depths of 250 meters. In the 1970s, not so much. They all had the same red LED display that if you wanted to see it, you had to push the button. There were only three modes as well (Hour/Minutes, date, and seconds).

I loved it.

So as I marvel at this new piece of technology on my desk, please share with me the first piece of tech you bought, not that you used, but that you actually paid for.

VLOG: The End of School

The end of the semester has come and I already miss the interactions I have with my students.

What teacher has impacted you the most and why?

Note: This video was shot with the Canon EOS C100 which was provided for my EYE Project. This video was to test the camera, lens, and mics for vlogging purposes.

The 20D – My 2005 Camera Gets New Life

I grew up with a camera in my hand. My first compact camera was a Kodak 110-film based unit that I loved dearly. I especially loved the crazy four-sided flash cubes. In 2005, I opted to go digital and never looked back. My first DSLR was the Canon 20D. Over the years, I’ve snapped close to 20,000 photos. Not a lot for some, but it was for me. When I ventured into videos, I slowly put the camera away and it sat in its backpack.

Last fall I took it out again and started playing with it. I found the process of framing enjoyable and I wanted to do a few experiments. Life had other plans, for as soon as I made that decision, both of my batteries decided to die. Neither would fully charge. The power they did have wasn’t enough to power the camera. A quick look at GMarket in Korea, found replacement batteries too expensive… so we turned to Ebay. This weekend, I slipped in the new power source and crossed my fingers.

steve miller 20dsteve miller 20dsteve miller 20dsteve miller 20dsteve miller 20dThe above photos were taken with the Canon 20D, 50mm/f1.8/400 ISO at 1/250. I am happy to breathe new life into this old dog again! Happy shooting.

A Limit to Japanese Freedom?

shinzo abe - japan - steve miller - qirangerIt’s no secret things are changing in Japan. Since taking office last year, Shinzo Abe has caused quite the stir. Not only has he supported visits the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, but has also made statements leading many to believe he is trying to rewrite Japan’s Imperial past. One agenda item on his list he hasn’t mixed words about is his desire to change Japan’s constitution to allow the nation once more to have a military. This is something I don’t have a problem with, since Japan’s Self Defense Force is a de facto military entity. If something looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then call it for what it is. However, the changes Abe is after don’t seem to end there according to recent reports. In the article, the proposed alterations could fundamentally curb basic human rights in Japan.

“The current constitution … provides protection for a long list of fundamental rights — freedom of expression, freedom of religion,” said Meiji University professor Lawrence Repeta. “It’s clear the leaders of the LDP and certain other politicians in Japan … are passionately against a system that protects individual rights to that degree.”

The proposed changes would eliminate some essential human rights and would require citizens to submit to what the government would deem in the “public interest and public order.” The military would be empowered to maintain the “public order.” Military force to control situations of civil unrest isn’t unheard of, and I don’t have a problem with the military stepping in to assist civilian authorities should situations get out of hand, but if the goal of the amendment is to make it easier to curb organized civil descent and discussion, that is worrisome.

Just how likely is it that these “reforms” could take place? Very. Under the current Japanese constitution, any amendment or alteration must be first approved by a two-thirds vote in both houses of parliament. Currently Abe and his supporters have a two-thirds majority in the lower house and look to be able to secure the two-thirds majority in the upper house by July. If this happens, the measure would be taken to the public for a simple majority vote. Given Abe’s 70% approval rating, it’s likely to pass.

On a more “stealthy note” part of the measure would change the two-thirds requirement in parliament to a simple majority. If this occurs, each incoming ruling party would have the opportunity to radically change the constitution at any time. Imagine the power then given to the government. They’d have the power to propose constitutional changes with a simple majority vote and as log as enough of the public supported them, they’d be enacted. Enabling a system where the constitution can so easily be changed is always a bad idea.