Thursday, October 31, 2019

만추가경 (晩秋佳景)


As fallen leaves pile up on the ground, autumn is also reaching its end. Autumn ends beautifully and so should everything. Our desire to hold on to things and not let them go, makes us blind to the allure of an end. Let everything go, even the last fallen leaf, and enjoy the lightness of the autumn breeze sweeping across the courtyard on a late autumn afternoon.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

천고마비 (天高馬肥)

하늘은 높고 말은 살찐다 - In autumn, the sky is high and horses fat.

천고마비 (天高馬肥) is the Korean adaptation of the Chinese idiom ‘秋高马肥’. It describes the feel-good atmosphere of autumn - beautiful high blue sky and well-fed horses. However, this idiom does not always carry a positive vibe, it was originally meant to suggest something ominous.

During the Warring States Period, the Xiongnu, a federation of nomadic tribes, would infringe the northern border every autumn to raid and plunder the southern states on horseback. The 'horse' in the idiom refers to the horses bred by the Xiongnu. When their horses became 'fat' or strong during autumn, it signified that invasion of the south was imminent. Perhaps that explains why another idiom exists: 다사지추 (多事之秋). It can be literally translated as an autumn with many happenings; it means a period in time when many problems and issues erupt. 

If autumn was peaceful, the idiom passed down would have been 천고우비 (天高牛肥) or 천고양비 (天高羊肥).

천고양비 (天高羊肥)

Thursday, September 26, 2019

억세의 계절 (芒花的季节)

Plume-like flowers of silvergrass shimmering under the sun

When the wind blew, the field of silvergrass flowers in front of me swayed like undulating waves, shimmering under the sun. That was an unmistakably autumn feel. A few clusters of flowering grass may be considered weeds but when exists in overwhelming number, it becomes a scenery of comforting warm hues.

Silvergrass field at Haneul (Sky) Park, Seoul

Sunday, September 22, 2019

불안감

Causeway Bay in November, wet and cold
Anxiety is our mental response to the uncertainties of life. In some way, it is quite similar to the fever that arises due to a viral attack. The fever does nothing to ward off the virus, neither does the fever medication. Similarly, anxiety is unhelpful in resolving any future uncertainty which does not warrant a 'fight or flight' response.

Anxiety and fever are both symptons which can be relieved. Even though sympton may goes away, its cause still remains which has to be dealt with ultimately by our mental strength or immune system. We cannot eliminate virus just like we cannot remove uncertainity from the face of this earth. What we cannot change, we have to live with it.

However, if anxiety is attributed to a man-made cause that may possibly be overcome with a glimpse chance, it is hard to convince people to live with it. Then, anxiety is living up to its real purpose in life.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

양수대교


This is Yangsoo Bridge (양수대교, 兩水大橋), a truss bridge that spans across the North Han River. This is also the same bridge that appears in Hotel del Luna as the 'Sandocheon bridge' (삼도천 다리, 三途川橋) - a bridge spirits have to cross to transit from 'this world' to 'the other world'. The bridge may seem like CGI in the drama but it is real and located at Yangpyeong.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

옛날 사람

Brick and mortar apparel boutique at Anhyeon-gu, Bujang

I do not do online shopping. Convenience, time-saving and maybe some cost-saving are not compelling reasons for me to quit going to brick and mortar store. If there is one thing online stores have taught the world, that is the price of everything but not necessarily its value. Making a special effort to purchase something makes me value it more and I am also doing a little bit for the environment by reducing packaging waste and delivery trip.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

여름의 눈사람

Snowman has a dream, he wants to experience summer; he wants to know what warmth feels like. Winter night is long and dreary; except for the cold howling wind blowing through the snow-capped field, he hears nothing. The view of the vast milky way is magnificent but his frozen heart is not beating, not a bit.

Fellow snowmen discouraged him:

"Without cold, your existence will cease."
"You will melt before you even know it."
"You will not survive, why do you even try?"

Day-dreaming is free but not dream; there is a price to pay to hold one. The night before snowman decided to leave, blizzard came and whipped the barren land. All known exit routes were shut but snowman was undeterred; he used Polaris as a guide and moved slowly away from it.

Snowman finally met summer one day. The heat of summer reached his heart and melted it; it started to beat. However, the rest of his body also began to melt away. There was no magic and fairy dust to reverse the process. Soon the ground which snowman stood on was left with a pool of water and two rocks, a small rock stacked on top a big one.

Took this picture at my old office three years ago when I completed arranging everything after the shift.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

장마 시작


Yesterday morning, hashtag "장마 시작" (start of monsoon) was trending in Korea. Monsoon season lasts for a month and by August people will start hitting the beach as summer reaches its peak. Then schools will re-open for autumn semester and people will be looking forward to Chuseok (mid-autumn) holiday. Then autumn foilages will come and go and soon it will be winter and end of 2019.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

하고 싶은 거 다 해


While browsing in a bookstore in Hong Kong I came a across a travelogue. The authors were two friends who made a round trip of Hong Kong on bicycle. The book was a detailed record of the places they visited, food they ate, people they met and incidents encountered. It was a thick book with load of pictures to go with their stories.

I was thinking, theirs was something I would have wanted to do - take my time, live a life. I used to believe three conditions need to exist for thing to happen; they are time, money and energy. I have since discarded it as the belief provides a convenient excuse for not doing thing I want. At any stage of one's life, one or more of the three conditions will likely be deficient. In essence, life is simple; if I want I will find my way, all stars aligned or not.

Monday, December 03, 2018

햄치즈토스트

Ham & Cheese Toast, not from Isaac Toast though

Isaac Toast was in Singapore close to five months but I only realised it last Saturday. The moment I saw my comfort food, ham and cheese toast, on the menu board, I moved quickly from a state of surprise to joy to disbelief. What? SGD4.50 for a ham & cheese toast? I shed a tear and bought one.

Memory of my language school days in Korea was as sweet as the Isaac Toast's signature sauce. Taste-wise, Singapore's Isaac Toast is the same as those in Korea. The difference, Isaac Toast Singapore is not the convenient neighbourhood snack shop that I knew.