Saturday, July 31, 2010

마음의 휴가

마음의 여름 휴가는 본격적인 시작됩니다

시원한 계곡에서 신나는 물놀이를 하고 싶다

Friday, July 30, 2010


Campbell Early Grape, with a layer of frost, just taken out from fridge

My friend likes it for its "gummy taste" and strongly recommended it. I am ambivalent about my like for Campbell grape or conveniently known as the 'Korean grape'. On one hand, I like it for its rich grape flavour but on the other hand, I am dismayed there is not much flesh to chew on. I would rather have the grape made into juice or added to desserts or confections. For pure munching delight, I will go with 'meatier' option.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

헤어지지 않음

"다시 태어나면 나무가 될거야"

"나무가 될거야 한번 뿌리를 내리면 다시는 움직이지 않는 나무가 될거야 그래서 다시는 누구하고도 헤어지지 않을거야."

"I want to be a tree; I want to be a tree that won't move once its roots are laid. So, I won't have to part with anyone ever again.", said Eun Seo in the drama "Autumn in My Heart".


In summer, I like to walk in the shade of trees (나무그늘). I don't want to part with '나무그늘'. I don't think anyone will like to walk in the open under hot sun.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


One of the enjoyments of summer - wild flowers by the roadside

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Yellow irises look golden under the summer sun

Yellow irises lined the side of the pond

Friday, July 23, 2010


6:04pm, Wednesday, in one of the subway stations in Incheon. Isn't it supposed to be evening peak hour? Where is all the crowd?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

해를 향해 보자

The Korean word for sunflower is '해바라기'. Initially, I had problem remembering it because it was a 'long' word. However, '해바라기' is actually quite intuitive after I learned to break it down into its two root words - '해' and '바라다'. '해' means sun and '바라다' has three meanings:

1. Wish or hope (for something you think of)
2. Desire (for something you want)
3. Face (something) and look (at it)

In the case of '해바라기', '바라다' takes the third meaning and the whole word means "face the sun". '해바라기' originated from the same-meaning Chinese word "向日葵". The question now is, which of the following sentence is correct?

1. sunflowers face the rising sun
2. sunflowers face the setting sun
3. sunflowers always face the sun
4. it's a misnomer, sunflowers don't face the sun

Frankly, I didn't know the answer until one afternoon when I was taking pictures of sunflowers in a field. I tried to find a sunflower that does not have the sun at its back because shooting into the sun can cause image to darken. But, after walking one round, I found none. It seemed like all sunflowers had 'conspired' to put the setting sun behind them. At that point in time, it hit me that sunflowers only face the rising sun. Now, that's awesome - imagine the scene of ten of thousands of sunflowers in a wide open field 'paying tribute' to the morning sun as it rises above the mountain peaks. (The truth of the matter is not only sunflowers face the morning sun but most plants do.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


To look at things better, go closer, go very close. But most important of all, you need an idyllic and undisturbed mind.

Standing in the middle of the flower bed behind Gwanghwamun Square. It was a warm summer evening but the blossoms replaced feeling of discomfort with a sense of peace.

Sitting by the lake in the Peace Park trying to enjoy a moment of peace but the developing rain clouds above threatened to terminate it prematurely. Soon, it was another round of 'hide-and-seek' with the summer rain.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


When it comes to social news, there is tendency for reporters to group people showing similar social behaviours into families. Such grouping, on one hand, can help to simplify explanation of social issues while on the other, provide a common lingo for public to engage in discussion of social trends.

To have a quick feel of a society, an easy way is to look at the various families which constitute it. More often than not, these 'families' reveal the dysfunctional side of a society. You are warned.

Have you come across the following Korean 'families'? The name of the families may sound unique but the related social phenomenom may not be altogether unique to the Korean society.

Helicopter Family (헬리콥터족)

In a survey conducted by a 'temporary job' portal (알바문) in Sep 09, 64.8% of the 839 undergraduates whom responded, believe they are 'mama boy (girl)'. The reasons given are they will first look for their parents when difficulties arise, their parents have great influence over their decision and they rarely disobey the wish of their parents.

When it comes to decision making, 63.2% of them will rely on their parents while only 20.6% make their own decision. Among those who rely on their parents, 29.4% said they trust the judgment of their parents because of their age and experience. 17.1% said past examples show that following the wish of parents will usually bring good results. 16.4% said they don’t want to go against their parents’ wish.

About half of the undergraduates think that their parents belong to the ‘helicopter family’. Helicopter family refers to parents who will ‘hover’ around their children like a helicopter, watching their every move and exerting their influence regularly, be it their children's study, marriage or work. (Source: 한국경제, 24 Sep 2009)

Kangoroo Family (캥거루족)

'Kangaroo Family' refers to the group of young people in their twenties, who are still financially reliance on their parents. Some of them are not keen to look for a job. Those employed, lack the ability to think independently although they are supposed to be old enough to take care of themselves. These young people resemble baby kangaroos which sit comfortably in the pouch of their parents.

Neet Family (니트족)

Neet is short for 'Not in Education, Employment or Training'. Normally, it refers to people (15 -34 years old) who are not attending school and are jobless. According to a report released by the Hyundai Economic Research Institute in 2005, Korea has about 187,000 Neets in 2004. By 2015, it is predicted the number will swell to 853,900 forming 11.7% of the population. The increasing Neet population will lead to drop in productivity and fall of GDP. Many social problems related to joblessness will also gain prominence.

NG Family (NG족)

NG is not 'No Good'. NG (No Graduation) Family refers to those undergraduates who choose to delay their graduation until they find a job. To do this, they would either take temporary rest from study or take their time to fulfill the credits necessary for graduation. With the introduction of ‘graduation delay system’ this year, undergraduates who fulfilled all the graduation criteria can also choose to delay their graduation as long as they want to. Undergraduates who make use of this system, together with the existing NG Family, is called the ‘Pan-NG Family’. Korea runs a four-year university system but it is not uncommon these days for students to take 5 years or more to graduate. It was reported that employment rate for graduates in Korea hovers between 50% and 60%. This means for every 10 graduates there will be 4-5 of them who will be jobless.

'Momo' Family (모모족)

'모모' means '모두 빛' (everything is debt) and '모두 짝퉁' (everything is fake). 'Momo' Family refers to a group of people who like branded goods but could hardly afford them. In order to satisfy their desires, they will either go into debt to buy genuine stuff or settle for fake goods.

Gallery Family (갤러리족)

Gallery Family refers to employees who have no sense of belonging to the companies they work for. They go to work for the sake of working and when better opportunity arises, they will have no qualm quitting their current job.

The term ‘Gallery Family’ became entrenched in 1997 following the outset of the Asian currency crisis when many employees were retrenched due to enterprise restructuring. Before the crisis, employees would most likely consider the companies they work for as their lifetime workplace. For the sake of their companies, they were willing to bury themselves in work even if it meant working overtime everyday. But with the massive retrenchment, the mindset of company loyalty was demolished overnight. Promotion was no longer an effective tool in retaining employees as job security was not guaranteed. To keep their jobs, employees would do the bare essentials and when better offers came, they had no hesitation jumping ship.

To the ‘Gallery Family’, the fate of the company is the least of their concern. They are just like the gallery (spectators) in a golf match; when a better player emerges, they will cheer and move along with that player. It was reported that out of 10 Koreans, 3 considered themselves as the ‘Gallery Family’. However, 8 out of 10 will consider switching jobs if they are offered something better. So much for capitalism's contribution to a better society.

Rice-'tudy' Family (밥터디족)

It is a combination of ‘meal club’ and 'study club' wherein a group of friends come together to eat and study. For the sake of getting better exam results, 'Rice-tudy Family' will revise and discuss about the study notes they took during the day over their meals. Life as a Korean student must have been very stressful, so much so that they can't even enjoy their meals in peace.

Re-born Family (리본족)

'Re-born Family' refers to those financially stable men who are divorced but have intention to remarry. This group of men tends to be also more well-mannered, sophisticated and sensitive to the opposite sex. It was reported that women, regardless of singles or divorcees, are slowly finding them attractive. In particular, the case of Gold Miss* marrying man from the 'Re-born Family' is getting more frequent these days.

*Gold Miss (골드미스) refers to female singles between 30 and 40 years of age who are well-educated and accomplished in their careers. This term is said to be created by the commercial sector for marketing purpose and is derived from another Konglish word 'Old Miss' which refers to old unmarried women.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Mugunghwa or the rose of Sharon (무궁화, 無窮花, Hibiscus syriacus) is the national flower of Korea. 'Mugung' has the meaning of infinite. It symbolises perseverance and endurance. This is one flower that wins you over by its characters rather than its beauty. Summer is the season to see Mugunghwa blossoms.

Monday, July 12, 2010


What will you do when rain clouds start forming over your head. Will you run to the nearest shelter, open your umbrella or let yourself caught in the rain?

Dark clouds over Namsan

Sky started to break over Hangang

That day, after I left 'Sky Park' (where I took the above photos), it started to rain. I didn't run into a shelter, I didn't have an umbrella, so I was 'kissed' by the rain.

Kiss the Rain (비를 맞다) - Yiruma (이루마)
Album: From the Yellow Room

Sunday, July 11, 2010


How do you know rain is coming? "Look at the dragonfly.", said my friend. When the dragonfly is flying high beyond anyone's reach, there will be no rain. But when rain is imminent, dragonfly will fly low, close to the surface of the water.

Now when I see dragonfly (잠자리), I don't just think of bed (잠자리), I also think of rain and the rainy season.

Saturday, July 10, 2010











Friday, July 09, 2010


During summer, wild daisies grow freely in the fields. They are so minute and common that most people will not pay them any attention. But to someone who comes from a place where plants hardly flower, a field of wild daisies is an awesome sight.

Countless like stars in the sky

Thursday, July 08, 2010


The topic of discussion was smell. My teacher started talking about '청국장' (Cheonggukjang, fast-fermented bean paste). He pointed to a place in Cheongnyangni which sells very good '청국장찌개' (Cheonggukjang Stew). He was seen (or pretending to) wiping away his drool as he went about describing how delicious the dish was. I could not imagine myself enjoying it in any way despite some convincing 'sales talk' by my teacher. 'Cheonggukjang', like smelly tofu, is notorious for its strong 'stench'. A must-try for those who are adventurous with food.

From Cheonggukjang's smell, we moved on to talk about people and smell. It was a rather sensitive topic to dwell on, especially when you have to associate certain people to certain smell. One misstep and you may get people calling you a chauvinist or racist. However, the discussion was meant to be taken in good faith. It was meant to be some sort of a cultural exchange.

My teacher, a Korean, started the ball rolling by saying that Koreans have the smell of '마늘' (garlic). The baton was passed next to my Japanese classmate who gave a rather decent answer. She said Japanese have the smell of '간장' (soy sauce).

My Chinese classmate was next in line.

"중국은 너무 커서 지역에 따라..." (China is very big, depending on the region...), before my Chinese classmate could finish her sentence, my teacher interrupted.

"...냄새도 달라요.", (... the smell also differs) my teacher completed the sentence. The cause of my teacher's behaviour had to do with him hearing too much of the same old answer. Such is the Chinese students' dilemma. Because of the size and cultural diversity of their country, whatever answer they give will hardly be representative.

When it was my turn to speak, I gave a very frank answer but I won't reveal it here. Instead, I will write what I would have wanted to say, "싱가폴의 경우에는 인간미가 강하죠!" (In the case of Singapore, the smell of humanity is very strong, don't you think so?). I hope we will arrive there one day, the sooner the better. '인간미' (人間味) is what we should strive for and not the smell of some metal.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

더운 여름밤

Fortunately, there is no Cold Stone Creamery in Singapore. For the time being, my piggy bank is safe.

KHU students get free waffle when we flash our student card at the Kyunghee branch. Ice cream is nice but expensive.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


I am not a gourmet. I won't go around looking for good food, let alone queuing up for them. However, I do go back for good food and they need not be excellent, just good food will do. My standard is not very high to begin with.

I was a regular customer of "The Story of Porridge" (죽이야기) because it is very near to my dorm. I like their "Mushroom and Vegetable Porridge". A bowl costs 6,000won (~S$7) which is relatively expensive. But if I compare it to "Abalone Porridge" (their most popular porridge) which costs 12,000won (~S$14), the price looks quite decent. Fortunately, I am not a big fan of abalone. The other porridge chain, "The Original Porridge" (본죽), sells only "Vegetable Porridge" (without mushroom) for 6,000won. So I think it is more worthwhile eating in 죽이야기. I have lost count of the times I had been there.

I was also a regular customer of "Omurice" (It can't get any simpler) because it is near my campus. My favourite dish is called the "Roll Sausage Omurice" which costs 6,500won (~S$7.50). I like how the roll sausage was pan-fried till slightly charred. A scoop of omurice followed by a slice of sausage was a perfect combination. In Singapore, omurice simply means plain white rice (not fried rice) topped (not wrapped) with omelette. I think that's doing omurice a great injustice. I prefer the omurice in "Omurice". Somehow, I feel there is passion in their cooking.

Monday, July 05, 2010

시원해지는 방법

Summer evening at Cheonggyecheon (near Dongdaemun)

It's summer and I think there is a need for a simple guide on how to stay cool in the midst of soaring temperature.


1. Cold noodle
2. Ice cream or popsicle
3. Dessert like patbingsu, snow ice or yogurt
4. Watermelon
5. Samgyetang

Buckwheat noodle served in clear broth and crushed ice

A quarter of a watermelon sold at 3,000won

Patbingsu topped with a scoop of ice cream

Snow ice served with cut fruits

Go to

1. Beach
2. Water theme park
3. River, stream or lake
4. Water fountains
5. Public swimming pool

Enjoying cool sea water and breezes at Haeundae Beach

Table, chairs and legs all inside the cool stream water

Free water fun at Gwanghwamun Square's fountains

Last but not least, watch horror movie. If you are not convinced that horror flick can cool you down, think of these: Watching the horror scenes will send a "shiver down your spine" and "freeze you in fear".

If you do not know, cinemas in Korea will, without fail, screen horror movies every summer. People like the 'cooling sensation' of being frightened. For the same reason, you won't find horror movies during winter unless someone want to be frozen in fear literally. By the way, the Korean horror movie coming to a screen near you this summer is called " The Blood Pledge". Watch out for it.