Friday, September 29, 2006

이 게 뭡니까?

이 게 뭐에요? 빨리 대답해요.



Coaster가 아니에요.

For those who know what this is, pardon me for my ignorance. It may be common in Korea but I have not seen it before in Singapore or anywhere that I have been. I was issued this thing when I ordered my ice blended vanilla and tuna sandwich. The staff was explaining its function to me in Korean and I did not grasp any of her explanation. Anyway, I took it along with me to the seat while I waited for my sandwich and drink to be prepared. After a while this thing lighted up and vibrated. It was only then I realised that it was meant to inform me that my orders were ready for collection. How interesting. I was simply amused at my own ignorance.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

예스마루가 뭐예요?

Yesmaru's identity has finally been revealed! I have photos as proof. So "Yes" and "Maru" are actually two apparel brands in Korea. Maybe Yesmaru 씨 can consider buying over these two brands in future and make them "Yesmaru". Don't think it's a crazy dream. Each and everyone is great because we dream.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I first came to know about "궁"(Princess Hours) through its music video aired over "Pops in Seoul". Listening to "Perhaps Love" (title song of Princess Hours), sang by Howl & J, never fail to lift my mood. I bought the 24-episode 궁 VCD not long after they reached the shelf though I am not really into drama. Watching 궁 really tested my patient. 사실, I have yet to complete watching the drama. I am a "goner" when it comes to drama but I will probably finish watching 궁. 여하튼, "Perhaps Love" 듣는것을 아주 좋아해요.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

날씨가 좋으니까 수원에 갑시다

Going to Suwon(수원-水原) was not because there was something that I want to do or see. I was simply captivated by the name "Suwon". Suwon, if translated, literally means "water plain" something like grass plain. When I think of grass plain, I will naturally picture the vast grass plain of Mongolia. So I was thinking that Suwon might have some breath-taking "water plains" to offer as well.

The subway from Myeongdong Station to Suwon Station took about 45mins to an hour and cost 1,400won. On arriving at Suwon Station, I was greeted by a shopping mall that housed both the rail and subway station. On exiting from the shopping mall, I found my way to the tourist information counter, a short walk from the station. The lady at the counter introduced Hwaseong Fortress(화성-華城) to me in flawless Chinese partly because she studied in Tianjin before.


Following her instruction, I boarded the bus headed for Paldalmun(팔달문-八達門). I alighted at Paldalmun and walked my way to the Hwaseong Haenggung(화성행궁-華城行宮). Hwaseong Haenggung was the filming site for 'Daejanggeum' and 'The King and the Clown' which I later discovered. The entry fee for Hwaseong Haenggung was a token 1000won.

Hwaseong Haenggung was in fact only a small part of the Hwaseong Fortress. The fortress was so big that I just did not have the energy or time to walk one round of its perimeter. There was supposed to be this Hwaseong Trolley(화성열차-華城列車) with a cospicuous dragon head that drove tourists around the fortress for 1,500won. If I had just gotten onto one of it, it would have saved me a lot of walking. 다리가 정말 아파죽겠어요.

When I left Suwon for Seoul, I did not manage to see any "water plain". I was kinda of disappointed but I thought if I could have a few more days at Suwon, I might discover some interesting water features that befit the name Suwon. Well, whatever the thought may be, it will have to be next time.

Monday, September 25, 2006

연분을 믿어요?




우연히, 우연히, 우연히 . . . 그러나 . . . 반드시

Sunday, September 24, 2006

서울에서 아직 안 자는데

It was eleven at night. The summer heat of Seoul was still lingering in the air. The crowd in Myeongdong had disappeared together with the pushcarts that lined the walking streets much earlier. But the city had not quite slept yet. I was walking along the street of Myeongdong and a guy came up to me and asked,"찜질방 어디에?"(where to go for Korean sauna?). I replied, "Sorry, I don't know." He walked away.

I could not sleep and my stomach was feeling a bit hungry after a strenuous day of walking. At one corner of the street, a brightly lite building attracted my attention like a moth attracted to a candle flame.

I never thought that coffee, tea, gelato, cake and sandwich could be such a luxurious indulgence. Sitting by the window on the second floor of the cafe and enjoying my gelato and sandwich, the day ended quite satisfyingly. The Myeongdong crowd had left and there was nothing much to gaze out of the window at. But then, I would also not be gazed at by the passer-bys, I thought.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

펄씨하고 은행나무

펄씨 was recently at Kyunghee University attending its 3 weeks Korean language programme. In her daily e-mail to us, her fascination with the gingko (은행-銀杏) trees, which lined the road towards Kyunghee, caught our imagination. Below are the excerpts of her e-mails.

"In my morning walk, I have been watching the two rows of trees planted on the way to Kyunghee University. If I am not wrong, they are gingko trees. I love to eat gingko and will eat it especially during exams as I was told that it helps in memory. Perhaps, that was why I did rather well in my past exams. So I enjoyed looking at gingko trees and just wondered whether I can see the fruits . . . . ."

"Have observed the trees by the sides of the road to Kyunghee today and saw a lot of fruits like green grapes on the trees. Now, I am wondering whether those are really gingko trees. I thought their leaves looked like those gingko trees I saw in China . . . . ."

"After last night's encounter, thought I need some energiser. My Dowoomi confirmed that those trees leading to Kyunghee are indeed gingko trees. Wow, so many gingkoes on the trees and I am wondering when they will drop for me to gather some . . . . ."

"One stretch of the ginkgo trees leading to Kyunghee had their branches chopped off as they were doing some drainage or sewerage work. Where did the gingko trees disappeared to?"

"I had unravelled the mystery of the gingko nut today. Had been wondering why the fruit of the gingko is soft while those we bought had a hard shell till I saw a lady gathering the riped gingko which turns orange when ripen. The lady then removed the outer 'flesh' and then the nut is exposed. So the nut is inside the flesh. Wow, so easy to gather gingko nuts. Next time I see the gingko fruit ripened and dropped to the floor, I will gather them and keep the nuts as there are so many of these trees almost everywhere."

Living a simple life is a pleasure and to be fascinated with simple things in life is happiness. That is why I thought it would be nice to share a simple joy of my friend.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

쉬어야 해요

Ever wonder why I like Totoro? I think it is because Totoro can sleep very well. Nothing is as heavenly as a good sleep to a city-dweller. City life is energy draining not because of the hectic schedule but rather because of the irregular sleeping habit. For now, I would just like to find a nice place and rest well. I am sure when I am back, I will be full of energy again.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

현지학습 - MBC방송국

MBC방송국应该翻译成"文化放送局"吧。MBC可以和韩剧和韩流画上等号。《大长今》,《我爱金三顺》和即将在新加坡播映的《宫》都是出自MBC这韩国的"梦工厂"。参观MBC是庆熙大学一周韩语课程的其中一个"福利"。来到MBC时,大家满心期待想看到韩剧里的明星。结果大失所望,只能看到阿姨级的演员 - 如在《天堂的阶梯》里演崔智友妈妈的女演员。

MBC means Munhwa Broadcasting Cooperation and Munhwa means culture. MBC is almost symnonymous with Korean drama and Hanryu (the Korean wave). Popular Korean dramas like "Jewel in the Palace", "My Lovely Sam-Soon" and "Princess Hours" (soon to be aired in Singapore) came from this Korean "dream factory". The visit to MBC is one of the field trips of the one-week immersion programme in Kyunghee University. We were all excited about the visit, particularly because we were anticipating to meet some famous Korean drama stars. However, no luck. All we could meet that day were "ajumma" actresses like the actress who acted as Choi Ji Woo's mother in "Stairway To Heaven".


We visited the variety shows studio, the news studio, the costume department and the radio station. Among the places visited, I thought the news studio was quite interesting. It was no sweat for us to become the "news anchor" for the sake of just photo-taking. We could also swop to become the weather reporter or the sport news reporter and watched ourselves appeared in the studio's monitors. All our vanity, it seemed, could be satisfied at one go.

带领我们参观MBC的向导,很有责任感的为我们介绍MBC的每一个部门。可是大家只顾拍照留念,时常把他冷落一旁。或许他最后也"领悟"到了, 所以自言自语的说了几次:"사진찍기만."(只要照像罢了)。对不起了大哥, 我们是来自新加坡的人嘛! 请多多见谅。不过,可以请您再为我们再拍一张团体照吗?对了,以下的照片就是这位大哥在录音棚里帮我们拍的。

There was a guide from MBC who took us on a tour of MBC. He dutifully explained each studio and department of MBC to us but we were mostly concerned about taking photographs. We did not give him our attention for some of the time when things got a bit interesting. Finally, the MBC guide kinda of realised it and murmured softly to himself repeatedly, "사진 찍기만." (only want to take photographs). I am sorry big brother, we came from Singapore, that's why. Please accept our apology. But could you just help us take another group photograph? Yes, the photo below was taken by the MBC guide in the radio studio.

Monday, September 11, 2006

한국말 어렵지요?

After all this time, it seems to me that for Korean pronunciation, the expresssion of "what you see is what you hear" does not really fit. I can give the exact pronunciation for a Chinese word by looking at its Hanyu Pinyin but I cannot say the same for 한글.

I may have learnt the speech sound for the 21 vowels (모음) and 19 consonants (자음) in the Korean language but I am still not too sure if I am going to pronounce the next Korean word correctly. I think that there may be a "price" to pay for adopting lesser vowels and consonants. The Chinese language with its 35 vowels, 21 consonants and 5 tones is able to produce the fluency in speech without much need to modify the sound of each word during speech. With its limited range of speech sound, Korean langauge will have to resort to other means to produce the same level of speech fluency.

The first technique I learnt about Hangul's pronunciation is to carry over the ending consonant of the preceding word to the next word if the next word starts with "ㅇ" or "ㅎ". Example, 읽어요 (read) is pronounced like 일거요. 기억해요 (remember) is pronounced like 기어개요. 일요일에 (on Sunday) is pronounced as 이료이레.

But thing starts to get tricky when the ending consonant does not sound like itself after being carried over to the next word. Example, 같이 (together) is pronounced like 가치 and not 가티. 못 해요 (cannot do) is pronounced as 모태요 and not 모새요. 많지 is pronounced as 만치 and not 만지. It also does not help when 설탕 (sugar) is pronounced like 살탕 or the famous Mt. Sorak, written as 설악산 but pronounced more like 살악산. Not to mention that 한국말 is pronounced like 한궁말 or 박물관 as 방물관.

All said, I am not about to throw in my white towel. 한국말이 어렵지만 정말 재미있어요. I think it's only a matter time before I get used to the uniqueness of the Korean language.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

무슨 띠예요?

저는 돼지띠에요. 꿀꿀. . . . .

돼지띠인 남자한테 가장 좋은 결혼상대. . . . .

돼지띠인 남자한테 가장 좋지않은 결혼상대. . . . .

돼지띠인 여자한테 가장 좋은 결혼상대. . . . .

돼지띠인 여자한테 가장 좋지않은 결혼상대. . . . .

중립. . . . .

Thursday, September 07, 2006

싱가폴의문화, 세계의문화

I like the motto that is written on the tower - The creation of a cultural world. It is a beautiful ideal but as a Singaporean I have to accept that there may never be a Singapore culture. It is not something I will be sad about. To look it in a positive light, Singapore culture is in fact the world culture. Singapore population is made up of immigrants and descendent of immigrants. As our government actively looks outside of Singapore to find the pool of people they need to support the booming economy, more immigrants are expected, in ten of thousands, to come and add their culture into our big pot of culture primordial soup.

Culture or no culture, there is something unique about the Singaporean identity. I can easily recognise our fellow Singaporean anywhere in the world just from the way they speak and behave. I can never mistake a Singaporean for other Asians including our closest neighbours, the Malaysians. Perhaps this unique identity is derived from the Singapore multi-cultural lifestyle. Taking myself as an example, I speak and write in English, listen to Chinese songs, sing Malay National Anthem, learn Korean language and eat Indian Roti Prata. Maybe we are unique because we are culture-less. The other side of thing is we are also free to choose the culture we want to adopt. But in doing so, Singaporeans are prone to identity crisis. The identity crisis arises not because we do not know who we are but rather foreigners cannot really make up who we are and what is our origin.

Keeping our economy vibrant at the expense of culture creation is a price we have to pay. It is a no-choice situation. Without our economy, Singapore will be nothing more than a fishing village.

Monday, September 04, 2006

영원히 친구!


반 친구 - Classmate, 同学
좋은 친구 - Good friend, 好朋友
오랜 친구 - Old friend, 老朋友
진짜 친구 - True friend, 真朋友
친한 친구 - Close friend, 亲近的朋友
절친한 친구 - Great friend, 切親的朋友
막역한 친구 - Bosom friend, 莫逆之交
일생의 친구 - Lifelong friend, 一生的朋友
영원히 친구 - Friends forever, 朋友 万岁
곤궁할 때의 친구가 참된 친구다 - A friend in need is a friend indeed. 困窮时的朋友,才是真朋友。

Sunday, September 03, 2006


This picture was taken in Chang Deok Gung (창덕궁 - 昌德宮). It was taken during spring but I had digitally corrected it to give an autumn hue. Chang Deok Gung , as I remember, lacks the granduer one would associate with a palace. I do not know whether it is right for me to associate humbleness to Chang Deok Gung . But that was truly how I felt about the place. If the Korean royalty, at one time, could live so humbly, would it not be that the Korean people has the virtue of humbleness weaved in their culture?