Wednesday, January 28, 2009

사랑에 관해

Generally, Koreans have five ways of meeting their life-partners or 배우자 (配偶者). They comprise one '선' and four '팅'. 선 is usually arranged by parents or match-makers and it is meant for people who are serious about marriage. As for the other four '팅', they are 소개팅, 미팅 (Meeting), 채팅 (Chatting) and 헌팅 (Hunting). 소개팅, 미팅 and 채팅 are kinda common so I am not going to talk about them. What I need to explain is 헌팅. 헌팅 means going on the street to 'hunt' for life-partner.

A Korean couple changes their '호칭' (address) for each other according to their state of relationship. Before marriage, they will call each other '자기야'. After marriage, they will switch to calling each other '여보'. When they have children, they will address each other as the father or mother of their child's name. For example, 지영의 아빠 or 지영의 엄마. A change in '호칭' is not just simply a change in address for one another. To look it deeper, it is a reflection of a maturing relationship.

I learn these during my daily lesson. The two music videos below are also related to my lesson. The first mv is called '여자를 내려 주세요'. It is the OST for the movie '신부수업' (Love So Divine). We were made to watch this movie during our Hanja class. Don't ask me the connection between watching movie and the teaching of Hanja because I have not figured it out myself. Anyway, I thought the mv is the best part of the movie. The song and dance shown in the mv is meant to be a performance for a wedding ceremony.

The second music video was introduced to us when we were being taught the differences between nouns that end with ~(으)ㅁ and ~기. 욕심쟁이 as the song is called, is meant to help drill in the usage of ~기. The lyrics of 욕심쟁이 is all about agreements made between a couple. As ~기 is used in making agreement, that explains why the song lyrics is full of 기. It is said that this song is widely played during wedding ceremony. A very nice song that may set you into thinking about getting into a relationship or marriage.

목련의 봄

The Magnolia trees in front of my class are already budding. To be specific, they were budding when Winter was at its peak, when temperature was constantly below zero throughout the day. The weather was extreme but their preparation for Spring has already started. What about me? Magnolia trees know that Spring is approaching but do I know that? I need to start my preparation even when all prevailing conditions seem unfavourable. I must learn my lesson. I am going to welcome the coming Spring. 목련덕분에 나 할 수 있는 걸 알게 되고 목련처럼 나 할 수 있다!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

연휴가 끝나다

The Seollal holiday is almost over. It's back to school tomorrow. It seems like Spring weather has arrived. Daytime temperature has been staying above zero. The undergraduates should be starting their Spring semester soon. Our school has been very quiet since they went off for their Winter vacation. Food choices at the school's canteen are also affected because of lesser crowd. We ended up eating out most of the time. School canteen's food may not be the tastiest but at least it's cheap. 2,500won is all I need to pay to get a decent lunch. Eating out can cost me anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000won and sometimes, 10,000won when we ate in better restaurants. As a student, I need to remind myself to be thrifty.

I have two outstanding homework to submit in the next one week. Next Friday, I will be doing my presentation on a topic related to International Affairs. There will be a lot of preparation to be done this coming weekend. Next weekend, I shall be going to Mt. Taebaek (태백산, 太白山) for 2박1일. It's study first, play later and I am definitely getting my priority right ^^

This is not my class photo but we share the same teachers. The teacher who teaches us from 9-11am, also our teacher-in-charge, is fourth from right. Our other teacher is third from right. Both are very good teachers.

They are some of my classmates. The photo was taken some weeks ago. They are from China, Taiwan, Japan and Kyrgyzstan. Can you tell who come from where? It's not going to an easy task telling them apart just by look. Coincidentally, they are also the better students in our class.

Monday, January 26, 2009

기축년 운수가 대통하세요

Lunar New Year has always been a busy time for me. While some people prefer to take a short overseas trip during the Lunar New Year holiday, I have never for once went away. I value the time spent visiting relatives and friends, people who are close to me but yet I only get to meet once a year. This year is kinda exceptional but I am not feeling homesick because of the festive period. My home is always in my heart so I am never too far from it.

During Seollal, Seoul is significantly less crowded but there seems to be more cars on the road. Eating outlets are mostly closed in my neighbourhood but once I got into town, finding a place to eat was not a big problem.

Entrance into all the palaces in Seoul is free during the Seollal extended holiday. I was at Unhyeongung (운현궁, 雲峴宮) in the afternoon when it suddenly snowed. It was a passing flurries but it still brightened my day to see snow flakes slowly descending from the sky. From Unhyeongung, I walked to the National Folk Museum which has some Seollal programme but its was closing for the day. So I ended taking photos in Samcheongdong. I realised it is the first time I have been to Samcheongdong during daytime but I still think it is more beautiful after dark.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

설날 전날

The Namsangol Hanok Village (남산골 한옥마을) is holding a 3-day Seollal Festival from Lunar New Year's Eve until the 2nd day of Lunar New Year. This afternoon, while I was on my way there, it snowed for quite a while. It seems like every cold wave always ends with snow. As such, today weather is not as cold as the last two days.

The Namsangol Hanok Village is listed as the top of must-visit place this Seollal. The event is publicised as 기축년 운수대통 설날큰잔치. After studying Korean for some time, I have come to equate 잔치 with a joyous occasion although I have not been to one before. Anyway, the festive mood of Seollal is a lot milder. I don't really feel that Lunar New Year is tomorrow.

Snow-covered roof at Namsangol Hanok Village

Lanterns all up for the Seollal big feast

It's the Ox Year and let's hope it will be an extremely good year

Korean lanterns hung up in a garden

A low-hanging lantern partially covered in snow

Like any other festival, there are performances to watch, food to eat, games to play, things to watch and do and most importantly, there is provision for people to make wishes. I wonder is it a Korean thing but Koreans do seem to like making wishes and have their fortune read. Even Yunnori (윷놀이) can be used to tell one's fortune. To know your fortune, you need to throw the Yunnori sticks 3 times. Once you have 3 outcomes, you can then read off your fortune from a board which has all the combinations and their corresponding fortunes. Anyway, here are more things which I saw at the festival. Though this festival is nothing near the scale which I have come to associate with Lunar New Year festival, it is still worth a visit since I have nothing better to do here. Actually, my classmate asked me out for drinking but I am "anti-social" you know. I will choose sightseeing over drinking anytime.

I still can't figure out how to throw the arrow into the container for Tuho

There are traditional performances everyday and for today its percussion

Wishes are written on coloured paper. All the colourful "ribbons" which you see above have people wishes written in them. There are 12 ropes that correspond to the 12 "Ddi". Wishers are supposed to tie their wishes to the rope that represents their "Ddi".

Traditional fare for sale at the food fair

Unfiltered rice wine, 막걸리, is also on sale

This is the tool for popping the corn. The air-tight container containing the corns, is turned automatically by a motor and is heated up by a flame. Once the time is right, the built up pressure in the container is released with a '뻥' and the popcorn are collected into the cage and yellow net.

The popcorn is sold at 2,000won per bag. I bought one. The popcorn smell nice but tasteless. I am more used to sweet popcorn.

To make the traditional sugar candy, 뽑기, white sugar is first melted to a brown sugary liquid over a small flame.

The brown sugary liquid quickly solidify into a soft paste once taken off flame. The paste is flattened by a press and star-shape or love-shape is then pressed onto it.

Chop for amulet printing. This chop is meant to print amulet that bless drivers with safe journey on road.

Another chop for amulet printing. This is meant for people who want to get rich and become wealthy.

Hanboks are available for wearing and photo-taking but the charge is 1,000won

Wishing everyone happiness and longevity

얼음과 강물

I planned to go Gapyeong (가평, 加平) yesterday but ended up in Cheongpyeong (청평, 淸平) instead. I actually wanted to visit a frozen river beside Gapyeong which I sighted last week on my way to Hwacheon. But since I landed myself in Cheongpyeong, I thought I might as well enjoy myself at the quiet and chilly Jojong River (조종천).

Snow on top, ice in the middle and river flowing below

A real-life lesson about "walking on thin ice"

Ice melting away after a week of warmer weather

Very nice ice beads formed at the interface between ice and river water

Partially-melted Jojong River turning golden during sunset

Where there are rivers, there are always mountains

Friday, January 23, 2009

회포를 푼다

The cold wave is back after one week of hiatus. The temperature now is -11degC and yet, the coldness has not reached its peak. The peak is expected to be reached tomorrow. It is also quite definite that it will snow tomorrow as all weather forecast sources I follow indicate that. I wonder how many more snowing days are left this winter. The day is getting longer - an indication that winter is slowly creeping away. Somehow, I wish the winter can be longer because I am not prepared to welcome the spring yet.

I have crossed the halfway mark for this term. The results for my mid-term test were out. Actually they were out since Tuesday but I didn't feel like writing about them.

Reading: 92
Grammar/Vocabulary: 93
Listening: 84
Writing: 65

I don't really think I have done well. I was feeling rather restless during my preparation. I couldn't focus on my study and in the end, I spent only about 4 hours on revision. I am quite disappointed with myself for not putting in my best efforts. My writing result should have been much lower if not for the 'generosity' of our teacher. Anyway, I know I will have no problem passing the course because our teacher is quite reluctant to fail any of us. However, that is not my point. What is of more importance is whether I have done enough to justify the time and money I spent to enroll myself in the course. I know that only half of me is studying currently. What about the other half? Where has it gone to? 정신 차려 공부하라!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


This week is the week of field trips. As our cohort is very big, the school has to break us down into four groups to go on trip on four separate days. Starting Monday, coaches left the school every morning for Everland as I was walking to my class. Finally, its our turn today! Five coaches carrying students from the Advanced level and Korean Studies left the school this morning at 5 minutes after 9am. The journey to Yongin, where Everland is located, took slightly more than one hour. The weather is wonderful today - sunny and 'warm'. Outdoor temperature was about 5degC. It is fortunate that the cold wave is only expected to reach the peninsula tomorrow.

Despite being in Korea for many times, this is actually my first time in Everland. Somehow I always feel that I will visit Everland one day, so I never have plan to visit it before. Frankly, I was not really excited about the trip. It would have been more fun if the school could find some place where there is snow and organise snowman making or snow sculpture competition or things like that. But since I was in Everland, I thought I might as well enjoy myself.

Photo opportunity near the entrance. Snowman family on skates.

More photo opportunity on the opposite side. Snowman musicians.

To warm up for the day, I first took the ice-sled ride (눈썰매). The ride down the snow-capped slope was fast and furious but not scary. Yes, the buzzword of the day was "무섭다". For any ride that we want to attempt, the first question we would always ask was, "무서워요?" Other expressions we used commonly to comment on or describe a ride were "무섭죠" and "무섭지 않아요".

At the end of ride. Bringing back the ice-sled to the return counter.

The ride that scores the highest in fear factor is none other than the T Express. Just imagining myself dropping at an angle of descent of 77deg and at a speed of 100km/h was already scary enough, not too mention taking the ride. But it would have been a wasted trip to Everland if I do not go on the T Express. Afterall it is the pride of Everland and the world's steepest wooden coaster. My vanity of getting the bragging rights got the better of me and I decided to give it a try. 45 minutes of waiting and 3 minutes of ride was all its take to complete the scariest ride in Everland. I shall confess that I took the ride with my eyes closed. Although, the ride turned out less scary that way, I was still affected by the g-force. I thought I was seeing "stars" as if my head was hit by something. The ride is really something. After taking the T Express, the other rides, in comparison, seem like kiddy rides.

Challenged myself to the T Express, the world steepest wooden coaster, today.

Another activity which I enjoyed myself was the bus ride through the Safari park. The big cats were awesome but the bears were the most "entertaining". They would stand on two legs to walk or turn-around just for the biscuits that were thrown at them by the bus driver. The bus driver also double-up as a safari guide.

Tiger taking an afternoon nap, oblivious to the din created by curious visitors

A pair of Ligers. Lion face with tiger strips.

A bear pro-actively soliciting for biscuits from the bus driver.

Here are more photos from the day trip.

Live performance for those who don't like rides.

Wishing trees with wishes. We all love making wishes.

Paper windmills never fail to remind me of long-forgotten childhood.

In Everland, I don't know how to stop taking photos.

Yeah, it was a nice day at Everland.

Our time of departure from Everland was 4:30pm. That's all the field trip we are going to get for this term. If you do not know, regular language course can be quite boring.