Saturday, January 25, 2014

Watch current Korean movies with English subtitles at the cinema

To find where you can watch some Korean language movies showing in the theaters with English subtitles (I'm talking real physical theaters here, not websites), try one of these:

Image: Drama Fever


Frequently check the KOBIZ website ( Sometimes this page is blank (no showings listed) and other times it will randomly spring to life with information, so bookmark it and come back to it now and then. They have Twitter/Facebook but those feeds are overwhelmingly just film business news.

All in Korean

"Like" this awesome Facebook group "All in Korean: with English subs please" ( Updated way more often than the KOBIZ site.


The CGV site now has a section devoted to Korean films with English subtitles. Visit here for the "Now Showing" page in English, and click on (duh) "English Subtitles" in the banner menu.
Update Feb. 2017: The link is now here.

Lotte Cinema

Lotte has English booking too now, but I don't see a way to filter specifically by movies showing with Eng subs. You'll have to manually check if the film shows with 영어자막. They used to have an event page for these but it 404s now.

Emu Artspace

They show lots of Korean indie films with English subtitles, along with popular artsy foreign films, almost daily. Check out their site here ( or in separate post I made about them here.

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Rooting your Android phone in Korea with Tegrak Kernel

You bought an awesome Samsung phone in Korea, and want to root it. But because it's the "Korean" version and not a US or International version, it's a pain in the butt. Custom ROMs like CyanogenMod don't seem to work. Fret not: here's the easiest way to do it.

In two words: Tegrak Kernel.

Disclaimer: Everything here is my personal opinion. I'm neither an Android developer nor paid endorser. I am just a guy who spent a hellofalotof time trying to figure this out. There could be an easier way out there. For me, this worked, and I hope it might work for you.

I'm not going to lie to you-- there is a huge variety of custom ROMs out there for Korean-model phones. The Korean developer community is, unsurprisingly, extremely prolific. But if you're like me, you don't really care about all variety of custom builds and wacky configurations and bleeding-edge features. Also, you don't read Korean. You just want your phone rooted so you can get rid of the bloatware and make it as speedy as possible.

Why choose Tegrak?

It works on almost all Samsung smartphones, from the humble Galaxy S1 to the Note and S4. I also like Tegrak because it's relatively low-risk: it is NOT a custom ROM per se. It's only a kernel, so you are still keeping whatever stock ROM your phone came with. In addition to giving you root, it has Overclock features and a Lagfix, though in my experience the lagfix is less noticeable on newer models.

How do I install it?

Basically the whole process boils down to this:
  1. Download the files for your phone from the internet.
  2. Install them via Odin (see below).
  3. Install the Tegrek app from the Google Play Store.
That's it.

Tell me more, tell me more

What? You don't know what I'm talking about? Alright, I'll give you a bit more.

Step 1: Though there are many mirrors, hosts, fileshare lockers where you can find the files from a Google search, skip that crap and go to the source. Find your phone's model ("SHW-M110S" for example), and click through to that page. Scroll down.

See what he did here? There are multiple version of the Tegrak Kernel files, for each phone model and even for each Android version for each phone model. Therefore it's important that you PAY ATTENTION here. Don't go downloading any old "Tegrak Kernel Build" files. You need the ones for YOUR phone and YOUR Android stock software. So double-check that you're downloading the right files.

Scroll down to where the files are available for download (near the bottom of the page, just above the comments section. You'll see the little zip-file icons). Again, find the files for YOUR PHONE MODEL. Only the latest verisions will be displayed, so you might need to click the blue bar reading 이전 버전 다운로드 접기 to expand the list to see all the offerings. Check the end of the filename before downloading to make sure that it matches the software version displayed in your phone's "About Phone" (or similar) settings. You might not need (or even be able to use) the "latest build" but whatever.

Download the files. Note that some are in 2~3 pieces, so you might need to combine the files with 7zip after downloading.

Step 2: Shit just got real. Time to flash. You are going to need a copy of the Windows program Odin, which Tegrak conveniently makes available here:
This will allow you to flash the kernel files to your phone. THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO DO THIS, AND ALSO THIS COULD BRICK YOUR PHONE but it always works for me so please do not complain if it does something wacky. If you are seriously in trouble, there is a lot of useful information at the XDA forums. Search there for your model number.

Turn off your phone and put it into recovery mode (I feel lazy, so Google it yourself to see how to do this; on mine it was holding down the Home button and Power button simultaneously).

Oh, by the way: You're going to need to Samsung USB drivers for your phone and you need to ensure that KIES is not running. How?
  1. Install KIES. Somewhere there is a menu option for installing USB drivers. Do it.
  2. Uninstall KIES. Done.
IT IS TIME. You might want to follow along visually by looking at the screenshots he provides.
Load the Tegrak Kernel files in the "PDA" option of Odin. Connect the phone (which is in recovery mode). The yellow light in Odin should show up. "Start" the process. Let it do it's magic for several minutes. When it's all done, the phone should reboot. Let it do it's thing. Don't get antsy. Hopefully, you're done.

Step 3 should be obvious. Note that there is a free version and a "donation" version. Both are identical except for ads in the app itself, which you will only likely use once. This guy has done an amazing job, so once the process is done (and you've used the free version to set it all up), please consider replacing the app with the Donation version (like I did). It's a couple bucks to bring new life to your phone (I used my prior phone, Galaxy S1, for over 3 years thanks to the speed boost from Tegrak).

Open the app, enable rooting, and feel the rush of power surge to your brain. Enable lagfix and enjoy a speedy phone. Enable overclock and burn a hole in your pants don't bother.

Final thoughts

Again I am NOT an Android developer. I'm just sharing what worked for me. Please do not ask me how to fix X, Y, or Z because I, like you, am just a normal guy who scoured the internet looking for information. XDA Forums have it. I hope this little guide was helpful.

Major props to Tegrak for making this possible. Donate to him, minions!

P.S. If, like me, you did all this and discovered that your Galaxy S1 now had very little space for installing apps (an unfortunate side-effect of the lagfix process), I recommend Matpclub Hackpunch. It plays nice with Tegrak and gave me a much larger install space.
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Automatically post you Blogger, Blogspot posts to Twitter, no 3rd party app needed

You have an absolutely amazing blog, but no one uses RSS anymore. Google will automatically share your Blogger posts to Google+ but come on, who actually uses that? You could have your Blogger posts sent to Twitter using IFTTT, but why bother?

Ok, well it's sort of a 3rd-party app. The sort answer is: Feedburner.
If you enabled "Subscribe via Email" then your blog's feed is already burned.
Login to Feedburner -> click blog's title -> "Publicize" -> "Socialize"
Here you can connect your Twitter account. Voilà!

More here:
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Monday, January 13, 2014

Fixing encoding problems with Korean subtitles

So, you've managed to get a legal, paid-for copy of your favorite film, and want to share the moment with your Korean-speaking friend. You dim the lights, turn up the speakers, and hit play, only to have the mood ruined by this:

Ah yes, the random characters that ruin any 미드 (= 미국 드라마 = American dramas) viewing. Your face now looks like Hotch here. What can you do about this?

I can recommend basically two choices:
  1. Use GOM Player.
    Seriously. I know you love your VLC or whatever, but trust me, fighting with your video player to make it accept your subtitle file is more frustration than it's worth. Just download GOM Player: it's free, it's fast, and it handles subtitles files better than anything I've ever seen. Continue to watch your porn educational content on VLC; but use GOM for anything with subtitles. 
  2. Change the encoding or format of the subtitle file yourself.
    This might sound like a hassle, but it's not. I highly recommend Batch Subtitles Converter. This app rocks because (1) it's self-executable, i.e. you don't have to install it; just double-click it (2) it's super lightweight and clean (3) it does multiple / batch conversions (4) it can convert both the file type and the encoding type.
    For example, I had an old set-top box with a USB port. I'd copy movies onto a USB stick, but that damn set-top box was so picky. The subtitle files had to be named identical to the video file, they had to be in EUC-KR encoding, and they had to be in SAMI (.smi) format. Loads of subtitle files I downloaded were UTF-8 and SubRip (.srt) format. This app took did it all no sweat, in a flash.
Good luck. And by the way, if you're looking for where to get subtitle files from, check out this post.
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Korean subtitles for English movies/TV

Let's say you want to show your favorite English-language movie or TV show to your Korean girlfriend as a prelude to hot sex friends, but her their English is not very good. So, you want to show it with Korean subtitles. But where can you get them?

You basically have two options: (1) GOMPlayer or (2) manually download them yourself.

1. GOMPlayer

GOMPlayer is by far the most popular desktop video playing software among Koreans. I'll be honest: I've never gotten GOMPlayer to work properly when it comes to its feature of automatically downloading Korean subtitles. My friends say they just load the video and something pops-up saying "ooh you want Korean subs for this? YOU GOT IT BUDDY" but I've never had such luck. Maybe they are using the Korean-language version of GOM (I use the English), or a newer version, or a magic version. Whatever. I'm stuck with the manual route. Not like it's that hard anyway (that's what she said).

By the way, GOM (곰) is Korean for "bear" thus the paw icon, and although I can't get me some automatically downloaded subs, I still choose it for watching the videos once I've got them, as some apps (I'm looking at you, VLC) seem never to get the encoding right. GOM Player has always displayed the subtitles correctly the very first time.

2. Manual downloading

For manual downloading, ignore any English-langauge sites; only the Korean sites will have a decent selection. There are many out there, but my go-to site is Cinest. Add the title of the movie you're looking for in the search box (the smaller one, next to 제목 ("title")) and hit search. A list of subtitle files comes up. Click one, and download the .smi or .srt file on the resulting page. I usually download 2~3 as the timing will be off on some. Load it in your favorite video player after loading the video.

For example, here's the results page for a search of Korean subtitles to the critically-acclaimed 2009 film "Bruno"

UPDATE - JAN 2014:

Here are some additional useful sites (for television and/or movies):
Usually you can search for the film/show's name in English, but if no results are coming up, you can try it in Hangul. In this case, Naver Movies is your friend. You can also sometimes do a YouTube search for the name in Korean + "자막", and might find it with burned-in subtitles.

Once you've got the subtitle files, check this post if you have any issues with encoding.
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Friday, January 10, 2014

Korea Times' mobile site for faster reading, less ads

Although you hate yourself for it, deep down you know you prefer the absurd, poorly-edited, barely-news "journalism" of The Korea Times to its serious and seriously bland sibling The Korean Herald. But you hate all those damn flashing ads and don't give a poo-poo about the side-by-side Korean translation. There's just got to be an easier way to get your fix of hard-hitting articles like this.

There is! Just bookmark the KT's mobile site and browse there instead. Way less ads, no Korean translations, full-size photos, no stupid comments section.
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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Elementary schoolboy loses soul

The title on this picture was "김시향과 함께 넉 나간 초딩" meaning something like "soul-departed elementary schooler with Kim Si-hyang".

That face.
Those sandals.

"Dad, do I have to?"

Poor boy looks a little too young for tits this.

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Massive loads

Best news article line I've read in ages (emphasis mine):
Four artificial insemination plants are set to start pumping out massive loads of pig semen next year.

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Seoul Players RSS feed

If, like me, you love:
  1. RSS readers
  2. The Seoul Players
You'll want to subscribe to their RSS feed. It's not featured promenantly on their website, but you can find it here:

UPDATE 1: the website is updated infrequently, and this is reflected in their RSS feed. For more up-to-date news, subscribe to their Facebook page RSS feed, which you can find here:

Here also is their Twitter feed, if you're into that sort of nonsense:

UPDATE 2:  If you fancy the Seoul Players, you may also be interested in the Seoul Shakespeare Company blog.
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Friday, January 3, 2014

Korean Trolling example: "Shutdown"

Let it never be said that Koreans don't understand that trolling is a art.

This is a cute comic illustrating how one would make an icon on the desktop that apparently launches Internet Explorer, but actually makes the computer shut down. Nice troll. Also illustrates that so many Koreans use IE... But at least we can all have a laugh, together, and that's what counts.

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Monthly doses of K-boob exposure

Here's a hot tip from a creepy fan cafe. Bookmark this Google search to keep "abreast" of the past month's Korean indecent exposure pics. Because that's something you want, I guess.

This link will pull up all the slow-motion animated near-nipple exposure shots that lonely netizens have pieced together from the past month's TV viewing.

Note that you can also customize the URL if a month is too long to wait and you need a daily dose of slowmo screencap exposure pics. Or if you need a girlfriend.,itp:animated

Don't ever say Koreans dislike Google. They now how to use the correct tools when appropriate. I believe this was the same philosophy for Westernization that the Meiji Restoration utilized.

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VICE "Motherboard" says Baidu top in Korea?

Poor use of data by VICE

VICE's magazine feed "Motherboard" a few months ago ran a piece (now here) on the dominant websites in countries around the globe. It's a fairly interesting piece, with one glaring misstatement, easily spotted to anyone with any familiarity with Korea (emphasis mine):
A second map shows the same data but the countries are drawn according to population instead of geographic size. Viewed through that lens, it’s clear that Baidu, which dominates super-dense China and South Korea, shouldn’t be discounted.
Here's What the Age of Internet Empires Looks Like - Motherboard
Since when does Baidu have such a dominating presence in Korea? South Korea is dominated by its homegrown search portal Naver. Some estimates place Naver's dominance at between 70~80%. Even Alexa knows Naver is #1. Granted, Chinese-originating peoples in Korea, make up the largest amount of foreigners in Korea, but at 780,000/50,220,000 (based on quick Wikipedia numbers, that's still just 1.5% of the population. Naver gets around 30 million unique visitors each month (source). So unless each Chinese-originating person in Korea is secretly 38 people stacked on top of each other in a large trench coat, all of whom are obsessively Baidu-ing things (like maybe looking for shops that sell big size trench coats), the numbers just don't add up.

The real authors knew this

And what I find most damning about VICE's sloppy journalism is that the report they cite already knew this. The Motherboard article is really just a puff piece reprinting of the results of a study apparently undertaken by the Information Geographies at the Oxford Internet Institute.These guys (smarty pants Oxford scholars that they are) were awake enough to catch-on to the absurdity of Baidu dominating Korea, and offered this caveat in their own report:
The situation is more complex in Asia, as local competitors have been able to resist the two large American empires. Baidu is well known as the most used search engine in China, which is currently home to the world’s largest Internet population at over half a billion users. At the same time, we see a puzzling fact that Baidu is also listed as the most visited website in South Korea (ahead of the popular South Korean search engine, Naver). We speculate that the raw data that we are using here are skewed. However, we may also be seeing the Baidu empire in the process of expanding beyond its traditional home territory.
Information Geographies
Perhaps data is being misinterpreted from undersea cable lines between China-Korea? Don't ask me: I'm not a billion dollar media empire like VICE, or a data network analyzer, but as a longtime resident of Korea, I do know that Baidu's "dominance" of South Korea is a highly questionable claim.

Rant on North Korean engagement 

By the way, on principle, I don't support tourist travel to North Korea, when its a useless quirky luxury that does nothing to help the impoverished people there and only lines the pockets of a corrupt regime. Nonetheless, the videos shot by VICE while there were fascinating, even if their condescending neo-colonialist attitudes were not. Seriously, if you're going to play along with that whole facade, then don't act like you're above their whole game. When you're there, financing that corrupt system; you're not whistleblowers, you're their temporary pawns; especially when you dress like hippie bums and speak/act with arrogance, providing fodder (like Dennis Rodman does) for their propagandic notions of WhiteMen™. 

Yet at the same time, I feel there's a certain value in engagement, if it's done right. The people of NK should see that they are not forgotten, not fighting for survival on their own: that the world is watching and encouraging. That's why I'd much rather spend my time/money (were I as generous away from the keyboard as I am in front of it) on efforts like these

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

RSS feeds from specific Wordpress / Blogspot searches

You love RSS and use a reader like Feedly to keep up with your favorite blogs. But, you only want to see posts with a specific label (Blogspot) or posts from a specific search (Wordpress).

It turns out, you can subscribe to specific RSS feeds just for the posts with those particular labels or from those search results.

For results from a Wordpress blog search, subscribe to this sort of RSS url:

For results from a specific Blogspot label, subscribe to this sort of RSS url:

Check these sources for much more on this:

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