Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Heading home soon (but not yet).

I sat down with J.R. Breen for two hours on January 28th, and the result is in the Korea Times today. We talk about me, my blog, and what it will become when I leave Korea. Expect fuller comments in a few days, and expect regular blogging to continue for the next month or so.


Jill said...

I see..thanks.. I've read the article from KOrea times... glad to know that you'll not be leaving yet.

littlelisa said...

Sorry to hear that you'll be leaving. I enjoy reading your blog.

John said...

Thanks for the very nice blog - by far the most interesting and informative. We'll miss your investigative reporting.

Keep this in mind. There are other countries. Korea is OK. The food is OK. The culture is... OK. The people are... individuals; any collective is problematic, but people are more or less the same everywhere.

In Japan we used to think that three years was the maximum. At that point, you've gotten all of the cultural benefits and started into the drawbacks. You've been here for four, right? It's enough.

Good Luck. Teaching English can be rewarding, so do get your MA and explore the world.

Jordaan Allison said...
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Jordaan Allison said...

Hey Brian, I just want to say your blog has kept me sane for the last 6 months. It was a comfort knowing that I wasn't the only one going through ups and downs here in Korea. Thanks for being honest in spite of the costs.


vasa123123 said...

you've earned money and somehow made a living by coming here. all the time you were pretending to become an authority in korean culture and used your pen to give an warped picture of what korea is all about.

there's every reason that a english-speaking korean feels betryaed by your so-called blog. you were here in korea to make a living for heaven's sake. and what have you done? you made fun of us, you belittle us, you pretended to be a martyr or someething for those short-term english teachers who should otherwise be thankful for the opportunities they're given (that includes you.)

hope someday employers will see your blog and judge you by what you wrote. that's my honest opinion.

Rich said...

vasa123123 -

And hopefully, they'll judge him as someone with enough independent thought and guts to write an honest opinion about some people he disliked, regardless of the fact that he was getting a paycheck from someone who happened to be of the same nationality.

If I write bad things about an American person, does that mean I hate America? No, it means I dislike he actions of one person or group of people. Commenting negatively on a Korean person is not the same as hating Korea.

Brian said...

Vasa, I do "hope employers will see your blog and judge you by what you wrote." They'll be like "hey, remember that time you told that shithead Vasa to fuck off? That was awesome." I would qualify that a little more, but I don't owe drive-by trolls any explanation. I'm appreciative of all the support I've received over the past couple years, and I'm appreciative of the critics as well. Thoughtful comments by people who disagree have helped me grow as a writer and as a teacher in Korea. Asshole comments by people who've never written before, and never contributed anything, are hardly worth the time it takes to reply. Thus, I won't be replying to you again, so you should take that to mean you won't be commenting here either.

Puffin Watch said...

Word of warning, Brian. The haters will always turn out when you leave for greener pastures. Your success and your ability to make your own world is always a mirror to their stunning mediocrity and it serves to confirm they're small people in a big world.

How did Stafford of the SeoulPodcast describe your blog? "Updated frequently, accurate, and almost always the right opinion." Or words to that effect.

Brian said...

You'll have to direct me to that episode, Puffin Watch, I didn't catch it.

Anyway, I'd like to keep this thread free of too much bickering and nastiness. People are free to post their opinions, good or bad, but as you all know I have my limits. No sense giving an unfair amount of space to nastiness. Thank you to Jill, littlelisa, John, Jordaan, Rich, Puffin Watch, and everyone else on the other sites and Facebook for their readership and their kind words, both today and over the last couple years. I'll have more to write on this issue later, and like I said I have plenty more new posts coming up. Hell, I'm still catching up on everything I missed in January.

Kya said...

I'm so sorry to see you go, Brian. I have to agree with Jordaan that your blog has helped me maintain my sanity throughout my stay in Korea. I was unaware that netizens attacked you and sought to have you fired, but am not in any way surprised. Blind national pride drives the people of this country to madness. I am sorry to hear you say that your blog has possibly done you more harm than good. On the contrary, it has been a voice for a group of people that are not always allowed one. Your more controversial posts brought to light some serious problems of this country. I found you to always be fair in your discussions of these issues. If people took offense to what you wrote, it was their own fault. Reasonable people have the ability to take an honest look at themselves and use criticisms to change for the better. It just so happens that this is Korea's weak point. Although I regret that I will no longer be able to read your blog, I am happy that you are moving on to a better life. After more than four years, I am finally leaving this country myself and couldn't be happier. Thanks for all the quality blogging, and good luck.

This Is Me Posting said...

Hey, Brian, remember that time you told that shithead Vasa to fuck off? That was awesome.

In all seriousness... This sucks. Man, I love your blog. I visit it multiple times a day. You keep me informed about Korea and abreast of social rights situations which I feel are incredibly important. Furthermore, you've allowed me to vent in your comments section, which, believe me, has been incredibly therapeutic for me and allowed me to be a better teacher because of it.

I was so happy when February rolled around and you posted this onslaught of posts. I was waiting for just the right post to thank you and welcome you back. Now, I'm dreading March.

But que sera, sera. You've had an amazing run and you will be greatly missed here. You definitely deserve the reprieve from all this madness. Let someone else carry the burden. I wish you all the best in all your future endeavours.

VASA said...

Let me give some tips to you guys who're on a short-term visit to Korea that consider (or have already been) blogging about Korean affairs.

Leave us alone.

The funny English expressions, injustice and corruption in the school system, people who have been rude or polite or what-not--

This is Korea.

Far from perfect, I know. But it is up to you guys to adjust to this society. No one has invited you to come here. Just accept the situation.

As for English usage, I urge you guys to keep in mind that English speakers (including me) have no saying in correcting them. I admit I sometimes find them funny too. But they are part of Korean culture. Whether you like it or not, that is.

Those who have been treated unfairly--Please do aware that the same thing can just as well happen to Korean nationals as to foreign nationals. We find the whole system basically corrupt and far from reliable, yet it is precisely Koreans that have to take care of.

As for what you write on the blog, or life in general. Be positive. Korea's pretty easy place to succeed, since your ability and your achievement is as much important as accepting the situation and always be positive about the things. It will do you good to try to come up with positive things about your life and this country rather than trying to change or revolutionize the current system. The correct English on the website, the easy access to foreigners--those are up to Koreans to take care of. Please stop complaining on the web. You'll be surprised at how many people will appreciate your blog then.

VASA said...

I find it a bit disheartning that far too many people from outside who come to Korea have thoughts, whether they realize it or not, that Korea is somehow less developed and they have every right to change it for the better. It's as though they have been granted automatic authority to voice over Korea's own affairs.

No way son.

We have our own ways. Some Koreans find many aspects of this soceity too conservative, some might find them too progressive. Just like everywhere else. It is precisely people like them, manifest in the blogs like this, that Koreans want out.

Let me remind those of you who're in Korea as a language teacher, once and for all, that if they can't stand the country they're always free to go somewhere else. Simple as that. Like I said, who granted you to make a blog, complain like crazy, bash the system? It's as though you guys think you're "superior"? Because you speak some powerful language as native language? Because all the students whom you teach treat you like a king/queen? You know better than others to behave as long as you are in Korea and continue earn money.

VASA said...
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VASA said...
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This Is Me Posting said...

Fuck off, Vasa, you stupid cunt.

That's the biggest load of bullshit and you know it.

People have a right to complain no matter where they are or who they get employed by. It is the right of any human to complain. Just like its your right to say the stupidest, most fucked up, moronic, idiotic shit out there.

You don't think Koreans who move to the US or Canada or Britain or Australia don't complain about their environments? They do. Oh, believe me, do they ever. Know why? Because they're allowed to. It's their right.

You guys keep fucking over non-Koreans, guess what? We're going to say something about it. We're not pussies like you are, you dumb bastard.

And as for your childish "If you don't like it, get out of our country" bullshit, here's one for you: Until the government passes a law that makes it illegal to complain or until they start completely barring people from entering the country, then you're just going to have to live with those ex-pats in Korea and you're just going to have to get used to them having voices. This is the new Korea. If you don't like it, you can get the fuck out. Because we don't want you here. You're not good for Korea. Korea itself doesn't want you. Exit's that way>

There. Not so much fun when you're on the receiving end of it, is it you coward?

VASA said...
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VASA said...

Well, again, just because you hate the system doesn't justify that you have the right to go on-line and bash whatever you want.

People wouldn't mind them bashing and complaining in private. Food, climate, bureaucracy, etc. There's no taking the easy way out when it comes to living as an expat. But then, they shouldn't probably have come to Korea in the first place.

What bothers me, though, is how come more and more people won't admit that we have it different here. This individual who writes this blog is a prime example. I wouldn't even have cared were this person is not "famous" He's on the payroll for goodness' sake.

Honestly, I am not quite sure the difference between korea and other countries in terms of attitude towards job and so on. But one thing is clear: if you're on the payroll at korean employer, it's doing them no good to write such nonsense, insensitive blog. Just what good will come out of it really? Like I said, we have our own ways. I understand their frustations when dealing with the authority, the possible massive difference in attitude and so on. If they won't embrace it, why are they here in Korea in the first place? Why would he and many other bloggers just won't accept this simple fact? They're in Korea! Despite what you may have heard from people, Westernazisation or Americanisation is not what Korean society is striving after. Far from it. Even though Koreans think there are many things to learn from them. But still, it's a different country built upon different traditions from what most people from other countries have gotten used to in their whole lives. It is them who should try to understand the culture, not the other way around.

VASA said...

i'm repeating again, in korea, bashing in any form is intolerable and one has to face a dire consequences. Please don't argue too much about it even though that's not understandable. that's Korea whether you like it or not. The blogger will be aware of the recent case of Jaebum of 2PM.

Haven't I told you tips? At least in Korea, however you hate it, just write positive things and compliments on the web. Oh I love this and that about Korea. Even though you don't mean it. Exagerrate as much as you can. No harm done then and everyone will be happy. Just one bashing line and you never know what you might face in the future. (remember Jaebeom?) Again, this is Korean culture and it's pretty easy rule to follow too:)

This Is Me Posting said...

Wrong again.

People are ABSOLUTELY justified to come online and complain about. JUST LIKE YOU ARE DOING NOW. Stop trying to take away people's rights simply because you don't like it.

Your next argument makes no sense. Stop being an idiot.

No one's surprised that Korea is different, retard. We understand that its a different bloody country. We complain about the injustices, like corporal punishment or Michael White. We chastise its bastardization of English. We laugh at your zealotry over the Laincourt Rocks.

And guess what? We're allowed to. We do it because we can.

That doesn't mean that we hate your country. It doesn't mean that we think everyone there are a bunch of idiots (although you're fast proving us wrong on this one). It means we see things that we want to see improved SPECIFICALLY because we do like it there and we want to see things done BETTER. If we DIDN'T care, we wouldn't be talking about it. We're not complaciant robots like you are. We actually speak up. Suck it.

Whether Brian is famous or not makes no difference. Whether he gets paid by a Korean company or not makes no difference. How on Earth can you justify being paid by a Korean company equating to a demand to keep quiet? Do you know how the world works? We're not being paid to shut up. We're being paid to teach. And once again, unless you can SHOW ME a LAW in Korea that says he's not allowed to talk about these things, then you have absolutely NO LEG to stand on. WE CAN DO AND SAY WHAT WE WANT ON OUR OWN TIME, ON OUR OWN WEBSITES. Meaning, once again, that you can suck it. Suck it long, suck it hard.

As for Korea's Westernization: AH-HAHAHAHA! Have you even looked at your country? You guys want to be America so badly it's hilarious. You want America to acknowledge you so badly its pathetic. All your actors want to be in HOLLYWOOD movies. All your musicians DREAM of breaking into America with English albums. All your people want America to eat bibimbap for lunch. All your athletes target American athletes at international events (after the Japanese of course). Your President has said numerous times how Korea should run its businesses more like America. Hell, EVERYONE THERE IS TRYING DESPERATELY TO LEARN ENGLISH JUST BECAUSE YOU ALL WANT TO SOUND LIKE YOU'RE MORE "INTERNATIONAL" OR "AMERICAN". I know its not because you all love England, Australia or Canada.

I'm not even American and even I can see how desperately Korea wishes it were like America and strives for people to take it as seriously as America. Even your most famous celebrities don't feel they've made it unless people know who they are in America. Its pathetic really. Grow up, Vasa.

You have no idea what you're talking about and it shows. Get out of here. Go on. You have nothing of any importance to say.

This Is Me Posting said...

I just read your last post, Vasa.

You disgust me.

We're done, you bloody troll. I'll be glad when you're banned from here.

VASA said...
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VASA said...

as for liancourt rocks or whatever it is called... call it dokdo, just because, it is. however you are sick and tired of this "propoganda". even if you firmly believe the island starts with "T". Just tell the koreans what they want to hear. Is it really that difficult? Just how many seconds it takes for an expat in korea to pronounce it really? and i assure you, despite what the wikipedia article says, it's not a disputed island. So there!

Matt said...

And I was worried that things would slow down here. Goddam I love trolls.


Get effing bent. Brian can write whatever he wants about Korea or any other topic. Who are you to judge? You're just a silly little troll with terrible English. Go back to the naver forums. You're not welcome here.

Brooke said...

I've been in Korea for 2 years and will also be leaving soon. Just wanted to say that I've really enjoyed reading your blog. It's kept me informed about a lot of interesting things I wouldn't have otherwise known about. Thanks and good luck!

necrone666 said...

Epic LOLs @ VASA. Really, it's hilarious. I just hope you're a troll and you don't really mean everything you're saying otherwise, well, you kinda prove TIMP's point.

Back on topic,
Congratulations Brian. I've been following you're blog for a long time now and check it multiple times a day. You say that "Sometimes I think whether starting a blog was a good idea. I think more harm has come from it than good," "I don't like opening myself up to criticism and threats to my livelihood."
Well even though you think it's done you more harm, you've definitely made many expats' lives better by doing this. You provide us with a space to vent our true feeling and to be up to date on important information that concerns us. Your leaving will leave a hole in my day (and in my bookmarks :P)

Jason said...

VASA: I do see your point because I have lived here for some time, but I have a question for you. How about treating the foreigners with the same notion or "tips" that you want us to bestow upon Koreans?

I find it strange that you are so critical of Brian, his blog, and foreigners in general and then in the same comment tell us to forget the bad, don't complain and go with the good. Why don't you do the same?

If you took the time to read through this blog and many others you'll see a general interest and positive attitude towards Korea. Just smile and be happy that we are giving Korea so much attention!

VASA your attitude is understandable given that you are probably intelligent and speak English incredibly well, but must I remind you treat others how you want to be treated. By reminding people to shut up because we are on the payroll is not the way to go about it.

As a former employer of Koreans overseas, that sentiment would be far from acceptable, even to Koreans living and working abroad. Trust me, there are many blogs and cyworld pages bashing foreigners and teachers alike (I am sure that you have heard of the anti-English Spectrum) So why would this be acceptable? Do you see the point I am trying to make?

VASA I wish you'd only take the time to get to know and understand the foreign community before judging and chastising us. Basically your comments say to me "GET OUT! I DON'T WANT TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR CULTURE BUT YOU MUST UNDERSTAND OURS! IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT GO HOME!"

To me that is childish and it is a stumbling block that many foreigners face while living and working here. Please take the time to learn about us, use these blogs for a positive experience (like you suggest we do) and we will all get along.

Kya said...

Why do you feel the need to litter this board with your bitter rants, VASA? Brian is leaving Korea. His blog will soon cease to exist. Isn't that exactly what you want? Why choose now to take your bold stand against expat blogs? I know you hate it, but Brian's blog has meant a lot to so many expats struggling with life in Korea. Whether you agree with him or not, allow him the respect he deserves.

Ryan.G said...

Brian, I found your blog a little over a year ago, and the various points you have brought up have been a constant source of healthy discussion between my wife (Korean, but lived in Australia for 8 years) and I.

The good thing about your blog is that you do point out the injustices here, but you also point out the good things too. I will definitely and without a doubt miss your constant posts about the country I am living in.

I know all things come to an end, but I will really miss this one!

Sarah said...

Oh, I'm sad now. I loved reading your blog. I really appreciated the hard work you put into it. Good luck in the future~
BTW, my husband also enjoyed reading it and he's of the few who can both love his country, but see its shortcomings...and laugh. :D

Renee said...

I've enjoyed reading your blog. Good luck in the future. If you decide to do a different blog in the future, I look forward to reading it.

King Baeksu said...

"Oh, Vasa, you're such a cute and clever child, especially for a Korean! Here's a pat on the head and a nice lollipop for you -- now run along and play!"

How am I doing, folks?

King Baeksu said...

To Brian -- thanks for the memeories!

Chris said...

Koreans can burn the American and Japanese flags. Koreans and their media constantly lie about foreigners (and foreign companies like Lone Star) and misquote them. Koreans treat "mixed blood" Koreans like shit.

Yet, if someone dare criticise them, you're a hater.

They tell you have to understand them everyday, yet they turn around and tell you you can't understand them because you're not Korean.

They tell you not to generalize about Koreans, yet they are the first to say "we Koreans" when it suits them. At the same time, they generalize about everyone else. I can't count the times I've heard them say they hate Americans (not Korean-Americans though) or the Japanese or even the Chinese.

They tell you you have to integrate into their culture, yet don't allow "mixed blood" Koreans integrate. How can someone with no "Korean blood" in them do it?

They are one of the most insular immigrant groups in the countries they go to, but criticise foreign for being about half as bad.

They shit on foreigners for making money and sending it home eventhough they've been doing the same thing for decades.

If you ever go to Cambodia, or most places in SE Asia, ask a local about the way Koreans act and how Koreans think they are "superior" to them. I did.

The majority of them are nothing but hypocrites. You're better off leaving Korea. Good luck!

Stevie Bee said...

All the best, Bri. Thanks for all your hard work on this blog over the past however many years. It must have often been tempting to fuck it off when you were feeling lazy or unmotivated, but kudos for keeping at it and keeping us entertained and informed.

What are your plans? What are you off back home for?

JSK said...

The funny thing about posters like VASA is that they are the ones who generate the "hate" by misrepresenting Koreans.

They paint this picture of these bigoted, small-minded, mono-cultural simpletons who they claim are "Koreans" who must be "respected" because they will never change and can never change because it's their nature and the nature of their culture.

But first, VASA, it's obvious you know nothing about this country or its people. Second, your attempt to criticize others for essentializing Koreans is pretty hilarious since you end up as the worst essentialist of the bunch by painting the ridiculous caricature of them that you do.

The funniest part of it all, of course, is how oblivious you are to the irony of your actions.

ross said...

LOL @ VASA A little late to the party...

Brian I've enjoyed reading your blog over the past few years. There's gonna be a big Brian in Jeollanamdo sized hole in my Google Reader from now on.

Darth Babaganoosh said...

i'm repeating again, in korea, bashing in any form is intolerable and one has to face a dire consequences.

If it weren't for Brian and other bloggers "complaining" publicly, the government's website to help foreigners register online with their Alien Registration Numbers, would have never been changed, and would still be a complete clusterfuck of a website, unhelpful to anyone except comedians.

I don't hear you thanking Brian for HELPING Korea.

as for liancourt rocks or whatever it is called... call it dokdo, just because, it is.

Not in English, it isn't. Just as I use "The English Channel" in English, and use "La Manche" when speaking French, I use "Liancourt Rocks" when speaking English and "Dokdo" when speaking Korean (and yes, I use "Takeshima" when speaking Japanese, too). That's the the names are in those languages. When I speak those languages, those are the names I use.

fiveppmchlorine said...

Brian, I have enjoyed your blog for a long time. I am sad that you are leaving. Thank you for adding meaningful content and comments to events in Korea.

Peter said...

It's amazing what you've accomplished here, Brian. I, for one, would be interested to see you blog on other non-Korea-related topics in the future, if you so choose. Best of luck to you.

The Sanity Inspector said...

Certainly have enjoyed your blog over the last 9 months that I've been aware of it. Hope you leave the archives up. Fair winds & following seas in your future endeavors.

James said...

Enjoyed your blog Brain. You write well and for the most part balanced.Damn near impossible for anyone to do I know, but you come pretty close. I'll miss your analytical style. Good luck back home!

jehan said...

i'll miss your updates Brian.. no one else blogs about Korea like you do...

3gyupsal said...

I'm somewhat sad that this blog is closing. Brian, you have always provided a good read during down time between classes. You have managed to accomplish a lot in your time here and you have every right to be proud of what you have done.

I just got back from New York, and am somewhat jealous that you get to go go back to the states and spend some time, but I am also glad that unlike many people in my native Michigan that I have a job.
This doesn't mean that I can't complain about how many things in Korean society are unorganized and corrupt, just because I am employed by the Korean government. This is something that your blog has helped Korea to realize as it inches towards the goal of a free society and democracy.

It was only about 25 years ago in Korea when a publication such as this one would have been considered seditious material and could have landed you in jail or gotten you killed. Therefore it is important for both Koreans and non-Koreans have to ability to speak their minds so that this great nation of Korea can further help distinguish it's self from both North Korea and China, where people don't enjoy the same freedoms.

yehjee said...

What, just when I thought I discovered a blog worth reading, you have to discontinue?? D:
Are you still going to blog when you get home though?
Where is your"home"?

Arctic Penguin said...

When you do finally leave, please promise to leave up all this material online. There's such a backlog for me to catch up on and despite the trolls, which is I suppose an inevitable result of posting just about anything worthy of discussion online, you've helped me feel sane any number of times when I thought I was losing my mind. (In truth it was just a loss of context, which your blogging helped me retain.) This blog is definitely a beacon: well reasons, passionate, humorous, and so many other things that are simply impossible to find in popular English language media in Korea.
Kind regards,

Brian said...

Thank you very much for all the kind words. If it weren't such thoughtful readers the blog wouldn't have become what it is (for some people) today. Eventually I'll be posting a fuller treatment of the KT article---it's taking longer than I thought---but I wanted to get to some of your comments and clear up a few things.

First, 47 comments and nobody pointed out I had "I saw down" in the first line?

A few times Breen asked me why I was leaving Korea, and a few times I answered, though it didn't seem to be clear in the article. I'm not being forced out of Korea, and my "anger" didn't make me finally give up. I'm not leaving holding any grudges, and on the contrary I'll be very sad to get on that plane and leave my life here behind.

I've known I was leaving this February for I guess about a year. I've mentioned it a few times on here I think, and plenty of people in real life knew about it. My brother is getting married in May, and of course I want to go back for that. Because I know schools won't give me a couple weeks off in May, I knew I'd have to take a break from Korea. Then, since I got engaged last summer I figured the two of us would just head to the US when my fiance's contract expires in February.

I spent a long time debating whether to stay or leave, and I've had a lot of great job offers both in teaching and in other fields, but it just makes more sense for the two of us to leave right now.

I also want to clear up: I'm leaving Korea, but I'm not leaving the blog. The blog isn't going anywhere, it's not going offline, and it's not being handed over to other people. I will still post occassionally. I don't want to commit to a number per month, but I'll just say "a few times." I have entries post-dated through November already, so don't drop me from your reader if you enjoy the site. I won't be posting multiple updates a day, but I'll be posting on things when the mood strikes. It's just, as you probably know when you've returned home for vacation, very hard to stay on top of things a half a world away, and very hard to find the motivation to do so when you're not living there. I have other things that will place demands on my time: new marriage, new job, new home, new country, new culture, and plenty of other things, that I just don't want to tie myself down by spending hours scouring Korean papers. But, in short, the blog'll still be here, so check back for new stuff every now and again.

Again, I appreciate all the support and all the kind words both in these comments and on all the other sites that have weighed in. I think, through all the shit this blog has started, I got "lucky" if that's the right word. It was a combination of being at the right place at the right time, filling a niche that needed filled, and having the interest and the time to commit to it. I've made some mistakes, but it's been a good few years. And like kushibo said in his post, it was one hell of a send-off.

Brian said...

Oh, and I mentioned in a January thread---I'll be posting soon to explain what I was doing all month---that there's a button on the bottom of my page, "View Random Post." A good way to go through some of the older stuff. Some of it's cringeworthy, but if you haven't read it yet, it's new to you.

Matt Strum said...

We're going to miss you in the blogosphere Brian! You're definitely leaving a huge Brian-shaped hole lol. I'd love to get some link love before you head back if you enjoy my blog at all despite it's complete randomness. Yeah, I kinda feel like a link whore.