Sunday, August 30, 2009


The speed of change in Seoul is quite amazing. A shop may be there today but the next day it will be torn down and within a week or two, a new shop will be up and operating. This sort of change is so common that I don't really feel much about it. However, when my favourite cafe in Myeongdong is gone, I could no longer hold back.

Two months ago, Cafe Pascucci's flagship cafe at Myeongdong was still there but now it is gone. Cosmetics chain, 'Nature Republic', has taken over the building and covered it up from ground to roof in wooden planks. The scene of coffee-drinking crowd sitting inside the building and looking out at the street of Myeongdong is now a thing of the past.

Tea'Us, a newly-open cafe opposite of Cafe Pascucci, must be very please with its disappearance. As for 'Nature Republic', its ability to take over such a prime location, demonstrates one very clear fact - cosmetics is the number one selling product in Myeongdong and an extremely lucrative business.

I was quite disappointed when I discovered that my favourite cafe is gone for good. But lost is gain and it is not that contradicting at all. Recently, I was introduced to a new cafe, Restree, in Myeongdong which I think is very good. It is a book & spa cafe. The drinks are not more expensive than other cafes. Furthermore, coffee, tea and toast are free-flow. As a book and spa cafe, latest magazines and doctor fish foot massage (cost extra 2,000won) are provided for customer's pleasure. The ambiance is so nice that I can spend the whole day lazing there.

This iconic Cafe Pascucci of Myeongdong is no more. My good feeling of Myeongdong originated from this building. I miss sitting by its window and looking down on the busy street of Myeongdong.

Nice decor at Restree. The tap at the right bottom corner is meant for feet washing before and after doctor fish foot massage. The doctor fish's pool is beside the tap. Outside the window is the busy street of Myeongdong.

자장면 먹으면서 생긴 생각

Is it call 자짱면, 짜장면, 짜짱면 or 자장면 for this bowl of stir-fried bean paste noodles which originated from China? I am quite sure I saw them all. If you are struggling with the pronunciation of 'ㅈ' and the double consonant 'ㅉ', ordering this noodles at different restaurants will surely make you understand the meaning of '짜증스럽다' before you can even read the word correctly.

This post is written in memory of those days when I have to struggle with my Korean pronunciation. I am much better now but there is still more room for improvement. After getting my pronunciation right, the next thing is to fine-tune my '억양' or intonation. I am doing this by watching news clips and following after the newscaster.

Many people have suggested that I should make more Korean friends so that I can practise my Korean language. I am not against the idea but I have not befriended someone because he or she could be of help to me. Koreans need English more than I need Korean so I have no qualm using English with them. If need to, I can also speak Mandarin with them since the Chinese language is rapidly gaining importance in Korea. Despite that, I believe I can still perfect my speaking though it may take a longer time.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Today is very cool and windy. Morning and evening temperature is slightly above 20degC. Even when the day temperature reaches 28degC, the wind that blew was very cooling. I like this sort of cool weather of autumn.

This morning, for once, I turned myself into a fan. Actually I was running an errand for a friend. I need to be the first 300 persons to buy an album at the newly-open Myeongdong's Yeongpung Bookstore in order to get a queue number for a fan signing session.

In order to ensure a good chance of getting a queue number I was in Myeongdong at 7:30am although the bookstore opens only at 10am. I may not be a fan of any singer but when the task requires it, I will think like one. After a long wait in the queue, I managed to accomplish my task. Not too bad for a first-timer fan.

빛나는 벽

The Seoul Museum of Art is having a light show titled 'Light Wall' every night from 8-10pm (except Sun and Mon) until Sep 19. I believe such light show is not uncommon (N Seoul Tower also has it) but it is the first time I am seeing it. It is quite amazing to see projected images matching nicely with the facade of the building. I was wondering in my mind how they do it. Its so spectacular. There is a Christmas theme in the show which I thought would be quite nice when shown during winter. A full light show lasted only 20 minutes with 10 minutes interval between shows.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

비가 그쳤다

The rain which started yesterday stopped before noon today. Due to the rain, today's weather was quite cooling. Perhaps this is the start of autumn weather.

Rainwater beads on 3-leaf clovers.

A rainwater puddle outside of Gyeongbok Palace.

참 쉽죠

My Japanese classmate said that unlike in Japan it is quite easy to see 'stars' in Korea. I kinda agree with her because big stars, talented stars, budding stars, pop stars or trot stars, I have seen many of them here.

Seeing stars up close may be a pulling factor for some people wanting to study in Korea but my Japanese classmate is here for the sake of love which may be another pulling factor for some.

I am not too sure how many people know the Korean singer Wheesung (휘성). I don't have to queue for ticket or squeeze through crowd just to watch him sings. Furthermore, he was singing right inside my campus. I just wanna say, 한국에서 '별'을 만나기 참 쉽죠 (It is really easy to meet 'star' in Korea).

Wheesung performing at one of the evening concerts during KHU's 60th Anniversary celebration. Some say he is handsome, some say not but he is definitely a good singer.


The following building is my campus's central library. I have not once study in it. First of all, there is no need for me to do so. Second, I do not have the habit of studying in library. Lastly, I am a student in the morning but a tourist in the afternoon, so going to the library after school is never in my mind. Despite that, I still like to admire at the building from any point in my campus.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Some time ago, I saw an advertisement inside a subway train. It caught my eyes because it was special in that it uses Korean proverbs to sell its message. Proverbs which are associated with great ease and benefits are printed all over the advertisement space. Basically, the marketing message is you can have your cake and eat it and that you can do it with great ease.

There are 3 new proverbs about benefit which I learned incidentally from looking at that advertisement.

1. 누이 좋고 매부 좋다 - Both sister and brother-in-law like it.
It is used to describe a win-win situation which is mutually beneficial to both parties concern.

누이: A term used by man to refer to his sister or female cousin (in the same household)
매부: A term used by man to refer to his sister's or female cousin's husband or sister-in-law's husband.

2. 도랑 치고 가재 잡는다 - Catching crayfish while clearing the ditch.
It means getting 2 benefits from just doing 1 job. In the proverb, the task is clearing the ditch and the benefits are a cleared ditch and crayfish for dinner.

도랑: ditch or drain
가재: crayfish

3. 꿩 먹고 알 먹는다 - Eating the pheasant as well as the eggs.
It means getting 2 or more benefits from just doing 1 job. Isn't it good to have both grilled pheasant and omelette for dinner?

뀡: pheasant
알: egg

I believe in this adage - "If it is too good, then it is too good to be true." I will not even bother to ask the question, "If it is so good, why don't you keep it for yourself." Because any question can always be answered convincingly by others who are out to deceive me. In short, just don't be too greedy.

여름의 들꽃

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Of all the mountains I have gone up so far, Achasan (아차산, 峨嵯山) is the easiest to walk. First of all, it is a low mountain at only 285m. Its mountain track is also well constructed and the gradient relatively gentle. At the top, there is a good view of the eastern side of Han River. In short, Achasan gives the best of two worlds - it is easy to walk up and has a good view.

At the top of Achasan

This is the view of Han River from the top.

나로호 재발사

I am glued to the goggle box again waiting for the successful launch of Naro rocket from the Naro Space Center at 5pm local time. All 3 national TV stations are showing the launch 'live'. One more hour to go and we should know if history can be made today.

Edit (5pm local time): Lift off. Naro has a successful lift off.


'Soyo' (소요, 逍遙) has the meaning of carefree, worry-free. The name 'Soyosan' seems to suggest that any one who goes there would be freed of their worries. Getting there is really quite easy. It is located at the opposite side of Soyosan Station (Line 1).

People eating their meal in the stream with their legs soak in the cool stream water. What a cool way to combat the heat of summer.

The stream water looks so clean and refreshing but I didn't dare drink it after seeing people soaking their feet in it. There are however water points along the way where I can drink water that seeps out directly from the mountain.

Admission charge through this gate and to Soyosan is 1,000won.

This picture shows the easier part of the mountain trail. The rest of the trail is more 'treacherous' than I thought.

On top a peak at 560m above sea level. Although the trip up to the top was difficult, I relish my moment at the peak.

This is supposed to be the favourite food of squirrels - acorn. At least this is how cartoon depicts it to be. The mountain trail has many of these acorn trees.

The summer heat has yet to fully recede but some of the maple trees have started to turn yellow.

A small natural waterfall in Soyosan. It is the first time I see a waterfall inside a mountain.

Monday, August 24, 2009

환절기에 접어들었다

Maple leaves in Soyosan turning yellow

Sunday was '처서' (處暑), one of the 24 seasonal divisions. What it means is summer is at it's tail end. The day-night temperature difference is increasing because the night temperature is dropping. In a few days time, the difference is expected to reach 10deg. It is time to take care of our body if we don't want to fall sick during '환절기'.

There is a saying that if a person can get sick in summer, even the dog will be sick. What this means is that people rarely get sick during summer. However when the season changes and the temperature difference increases, the likelihood of catching a flu also increases. Korea is now on high alert against possible spread of H1N1 during this seasonal change.

Anyway, only two more weeks to the next seasonal division, '백로' (白露), which will mark the onset of autumn weather. It is said that dew will form on the maple leaves during this period. The remnant summer heat should also be gone by then.

The autumn semester is starting next week but I shall be on vacation, i.e. autumn vacation. I like to believe that this world is fair. While I was busy studying, people were out there enjoying their summer vacation at the beaches. Now it shall be my turn. *Grin*

Friday, August 21, 2009

졸업하는 날

Its time of the season to return to my 'root'. I have served out my purpose and shall now fall back to my origin. I have no regret because it is a natural cycle. I have my spring and summer so I am contented.

This morning before I left my room for school, I did a check on my handphone which is usually put in silent mode. I discovered I had a miss call on Wednesday afternoon. It was from my teacher. Though I didn't pick up her call, I probably know why she called. She probably had wanted me to deliver a speech during the graduation ceremony. I would have accepted her request as I felt obliged to speak since I have a lot of people to thank.

Though there is a bit of regret for not getting the chance to speak, I am still glad that the person who spoke, used the given opportunity to 'great effect'. Someone 'special' in the audience must have been very proud of the speaker.

Now about the ceremony today. Of all the similar ceremonies which I sat through, this ceremony is the most uneventful. I was expecting some performance from the teachers but as it turned out, there was none. The ceremony ended when my classmate completed delivering her speech. That's so much for my last ceremony in IIE.

Prof Kim, Dean of IIE, is a forerunner in promoting Korean language and culture to foreigners and I think he should one day be recognised for his contributions to the Korean's mother tongue. On a personal level, we would always exchange greetings when we meet each other along the road since he recognises me. I don't know how he recognises me out of thousands of IIE students but he does and I can't pretend that I don't know him.

Age is no barrier to studying a new language as this retiree from Japan has demonstrated. He is the model student or top student for Advance 1 level. He is holding to his certificate and prize which is Advance 2 textbook.

My Myanmese classmate receiving her certificate and prize for coming up top in our class. It is her second time receiving the model student award. Until I meet Myanmese students, I thought that Vietnamese students are very good in Korean.

Another of my Myanmese classmate delivering her speech about her study in IIE. She speaks Korean very fluently and is usually the person who spoke the most during our discussion period. I need a few more years of hardwork to speak like her.

It doesn't matter whether it is diploma or certificate of completion we are receiving, we are all leaving IIE for good. Almost 90% of my class are going to start their graduate school in September. I wish I could join them and stay for another two years.

The above scene is what I actually saw after exiting from Crown Hall. It was an autumn sky - high and blue. If everything else was bad at least the beautiful sky made up for all.

I left Crown Hall without feeling sad because the sky was so beautiful. I can't feel any sadness even if I want to. The weather was just so good. Our class had our last gathering with our teacher at one Korean eating house outside the school.

It's my last time walking out of KHU as a student after spending more than 10 months of my time here. If I am to quote what one of my teachers had said, "One thing I like about teaching in KHU is that it is like a forest. You hardly can find another university with such setting."

Autumn sky is awesome. Autumn is the time when all leaves shall fulfil their natural cycle by falling back to their 'roots'. Its also time for me to return. I have my time and I have no regret.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

졸업 카운트다운

I knew that the 'end' of the road will be no different from the start, so I have tried my best to make every day here counts. What is important after all is the journey and not the destination.

I have reached one end of the road but there seems to be another road opening up ahead. I shall just keep walking because I have enjoyed the journey so far. Despite that, I am still curious where it will lead me to next. Unknown is exciting.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


나로호 발사

Naro is going to lift off from Naro Space Center in less than half an hour time after several delays. I am excited that I can witness this historic moment for Korea live on national TV now.

Edit: Lift off terminated at 7min 56sec to go.