Monday, March 05, 2007

시장에 가자

The weather was fine on Sunday morning. We walked our way from dormitory to the Cheongnyangni market. The cold morning air made the walk so much more enjoyable or should I say "no sweat". There wasn't anything that we wanted to buy in particular. It was more of a sight-seeing at a typical Korean market. When we reached the market, the dog lover among us was very conscious of not walking pass those stalls selling dog meat. So when she saw the handwritten sign "개고기" (dog meat) from a afar, she quickly diverted us to walk another direction.

A good way to experience life of the locals is to visit their market place.

At one of the stalls which we stopped by, the stall owner was interested in knowing where we came from as we were not conversing in Korean.

"일본사람 (Japanese)?"
"아니요 (No)."
"한국사람 (Korean)?"
"아니요 (No)."
"외국사람 (foreigner)?"
"네, 싱가포르에서 왔어요 (Yes, we came from Singapore)."

Not too bad. I never thought our Korean was good enough to handle simple market conversation like that. But I am not too sure how we would fare if we have to buy something. Anyway, we started from Cheongnyangi but ended at Jegi-dong. I thought it was a good "educational" walk as we got to practise the Korean terms for the different food stuff we saw along the way.

Interesting foodstuff like beondegi and dried stingray can be found.

At Jegi-dong, we went looking for Homeplus, a Korean equivalent of Carrefour. Things were generally cheaper at Homeplus as compared to the neighbourhood stores. If only Homeplus was nearer to our dormitory, it would have been our default destination for daily necessities and grocery.

Packets of "gochu garu" or chilli powder selling at Homeplus.

It started to rain again in the afternoon. We stay inside our dormitory for the rest of the afternoon. In the evening, the rain stopped and we went out for dinner at 죽&김밥 (Porridge&Kimbap), a Korean eating house located beside Hoegi station. We encountered some problem ordering our food initially as the ajumma in the eating house had problem understanding our poorly-spoken Korean. However, she managed to get one of her customers, who understood English, to interpret for her. Through the "interpreter", we managed to get the ajumma to understand our order.

Porridge and Kimbap outlet at Hoegi

While having our dinner, we spoke about our day in Mandarin and people at the other tables were thinking that we were Chinese students. Our conversation soon caught the attention of an old man. He was listening attentively to our conversation for quite a while before coming up to speak to us. He told us that his hometown was in Jilin Province. Though once living in China, he was of the Joseon ethnicity. Many years back he migrated to Korean but had since regretted giving up his Chinese nationality. He analysed that China is getting better and stronger each day and will soon become one of the great powerhouse of the world. He further added that he had no choice but to remain in Korea now as his children had since become Korean nationals.

I could feel that the old man was homesick. It kinda set me off thinking about the meaning of home, ethnicity and nationality. The three things are not necessarily the same. Home, to me. is a place where my heart wants to go back to regardless of ethnicity and nationality. I am of Han ethnic group but with a Singapore nationality and my home is in Singapore. Actually I used to be a stateless Permanent Resident of Singapore in the earlier part of my life. I did not receive my Singapore nationality until I started paying income tax. So it seems like I am a bit of something. I would think that there will be more people like me in the future as the world becomes more globalised and people become more mobile. As it is now, the line around home, ethnicity and nationality is already becoming blur.


  1. The fruits reminds me of oranges I had in jeju island..

    yummy :)

  2. Jeju Island's oranges or "gyul" (귤-橘) are well-known in Korea. What I did not show here is the yummy-looking strawberry which can be found everywhere now.

  3. 한국인입니다. 한국버스는 안내견조차 태워주지 않아요. 한국에서는 maltese, golden retriever, poodle, chihuahua, every kinds of dogs 먹습니다. 유기견보호소의 개들은 몰래 식당으로 팔립니다. 먹기위해 전기고문, 살아있을때 칼로 마구 찔러 죽입니다. 너무 잔인해서 상상조차 할수없습니다. 먹지마세요. 한국인들도 안먹습니다. 할머니,할아버지,개싫어하는 성인남자는 먹습니다. 내 chihauhau개가 my dog had to go to hospital, cause 개 싫어하는 아줌마가 나의 개를 삽으로 마구 찔렀어요. 왜냐하면 개를 밖으로 데려와서요. 아파서 버스를 타야했어요. 하지만 버스운전자 허락하지 않았어요. 우리 강아지 태우는것을. 결국 우리 강아지 죽었어요. 모두들 웃었어요. every korean said it's pathetic for me to cry about dog's death

  4. 어떻게 그런 일도 있어요?
    개도 생명이잖아요.