Wednesday, February 28, 2007

내일 가는날

Almost three months have passed since I decided to go to Korea to study Korean language. Well, I am just one day away now. My mind is ready. My luggage is about to get ready. The weather forecast says that it will rain in Seoul on Sunday. Temperature may drop to sub-zero starting next Monday and there is perhaps some chance of snowing next week. Will be going to Jisan Ski Resort this Saturday before course starts on Monday. Hope the weather will be fine. Bought a LG brand 12.1" screen notebook for the trip. Not that I am Korea-mad, the notebook is actually quite good value for money. Have not revised for the placement test on Friday. Will try to browse through my textbooks tonight before sleep. Kim Seon Saeng Nim, who just return to Seoul from Singapore, says she may take us for the 3-week course. How fortunate. Looking forward to learn Korean and meet new friends in Kyunghee. Seoul nice.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

사랑이 몰 까?

"What is love?"
The film crew of "Alone in Love" (연애시대-戀愛時代) was asked this question in a special segment at the ending of the Korean drama. Of course, different people have different interpretation about love but the most popular answer is love is trust. Somehow I quite like the answer by the director - "I don't know". For a person who directed "Alone in Love", it can't be possible that he doesn't know anything about love. It is probably that any spoken answer will not suitably describe something that is best felt. 사랑이 몰 까? 저도 모르겠어^^

So I have finally completed watching one Korea drama. However while watching it, I have forgotten the number of times that I have fallen asleep before the disc has finished playing. Not that the drama is uninteresting, it is because I make watching drama the last thing of the day. Still I am not about to start watching another Korean drama anytime soon. It is not really something that I enjoy doing. 마지막으로 연애시대 어때? 나는 마음에 너무 들어요.

한국말 과정

NUS Extension students are normally seen attending Korean language courses in Sogang University or Kyung Hee University. Sogang University only offers 10-week course while Kyung Hee University offers both 3-week and 10-week language courses. Previously, there was one-week immersion programme to Sogang or Kyung Hee organised by NUS Extension but it has since been discontinued. Singapore Management University students, on the other hand, will be seen attending a 4-month exchange programme in Yonsei University. While individual can apply directly with the universities in Korea, it is always good to go through the local institutions as there are discount given. There are some blogs by NEX students out there that recorded their experiences of studying in Korea. I have compiled them in chronological order below.

"1 week in Sogang!" by SSChan. The blog covers the first 1-week immersion programme in Sogang University in September 2005. I was told that the theme for this programme was Korean food and students were taught to make Japchae (a Korean dish) during class.

I have written in my blog about the 1-week immersion programme in KHU in March 2006. The theme for this programme was Korean drama or something like that. That was why we were arranged to visit MBC and Nami Island (filming site of Winter Sonata).

When the 3-week Korean language course at KHU was opened to NEX students, Spicebears and Aini were among the first to apply for the course in August 2006. Learn about Spicebears's experience at "Simply Korean".

Aini first venture into the blogosphere started during her course in KHU. Since then, the blogger has never looked back. Read about Aini's experience at "Solely Seoul".

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Three months after coming back from one week vacation in Shanghai, I am about to pack my bag again for a 3 week language course in Korea. As I look through the photographs taken in Shanghai, I kinda of realise that I have yet to write on the People's Square (人民廣場).

[Left] The Shanghai Art Museum. [Right] Glimpses of the People's Park.

I wonder why it did not cross my mind to write about this places of interest in Shanghai. I walked passed the place daily to get to the People's Square Subway Station. I shopped frequently at its underground mall, D-Mall & Hong Kong Shopping Plaza (迪美购物中心) where things are so much cheaper than Singapore. It is also a focal point of Shanghai where arts and people meet. Within its compound are the Shanghai Art Museum, the Shanghai Grand Theatre and the Shanghai Museum. I guess when one is exposed to a common stimulus too frequently, the senses just get immune regardless of how special it may seem in the beginning.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

1주후 가겠어

One week from now I will be at the airport waiting to board the plane bound for Korea. I should be excited but I am not. It seems strange that I am not excited at all. Afterall, this is what I have been looking forward to for a long time. Many thoughts are passing through my mind as I am typing this posting. First of all, office works are piling up faster than I can clear them. Even if I work everyday until 10 pm each day for one month I may not be able to finish them. Not to mention the additional work that will be waiting for me when I am back from Korea. I hate to disappoint people but I am afraid I have to let a few people down this time.

All these while, I have been completely driven by my emotional mind to pursue a wish of studying in Korea. I ignore what my rational mind is trying to tell me. My emotional mind tells me that this is perhaps a once-in-a lifetime chance. My rational mind tried to ask me what I am doing all this for? I refuse to answer its question directly. I just stubbornly state that I must go because my heart says so. I am just following my heart. There is no need for reasons. It was a decision based on impulse rather than rational thinking and now I am beginning to ask is this a silly decision? I have to pay high cost to study in Korea and I have to let my work snowball and what do I end up with after the 3 weeks over?

A sculpture found near Institute of International Education, KHU

I know why I want to study Korean langauge but I don't know what I want to study it for. It could be for business, for a special person, to communicate with Korean friends or to understand Korean drama but none of these are my objectives. I have no objective even though I told others that studying a language opens a new channel of communication for me. My rational mind is laughing at me for giving such a lame answer. How far can an interest carry me? My rational mind is arguing that lacking a specific objective, what I have learnt will soon go to waste. The natural path of regression will set in when I do not use the language for its purpose. I am beginning to see that happening.

If reality has not hit me hard enough yet, my rational mind has one more trump card. How much and for how long do I want to study? I can't possibly be studying to university level as time and tide is not to my advantage. I am stuck. I have no answer. The more I study about the language the more I feel that I know less about the language. I am demoralised time and time again. Taking into account all the considerations, the likelihood of me achieving good proficiency in Korean language is quite remote. There is not much learning opportunity for Korean language left in Singapore and it is also unlikely for me to go to Korea to study. The end of my Korean learninng is perhaps sooner that I thought. A 3-week course in Kyunghee University would not have helped to change the ending anyway.

I have been thinking what will I do after I stop learning Korean. Perhaps I will close down this blog and move on with my life. But I hope I don't have to do that too soon. It doesn't matter whether I stop learning Korean or not, I know I will stop blogging one day. Impermanence is just part and parcel of life. That is perhaps why "Carpe Diem" is such an attractive word. Yes, I will seize the day. I thrive on irrationality sometimes and this is one of those time :)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


The Baedudaegan (백두대간-白頭大幹) can be translated literally as the "White Head Great Ridge". I guess the term "Baedu" or "White Head" has something to do with its snow-capped peaks. It is termed great ridge because it stretches over 670km from the northern end to the southern end of the Korean Peninsula. The ridge lines of Baedudaegan are shown in the map to the left.

Baedudaegan's start point originates at Mt. Baedu (백두산-白頭山) in the North and its end point terminates at Mt. Jiri (지리산-智異山) in the South. It includes most of the Korea's highest peaks and is the main source of water for rivers that feed the fertile lands at its base. The flow of water is synonymous with the flow of "qi" or energy and when there is flow of energy, the land gets its life force. Baedudaegan has an important role to play in the Korean agriculture and for this, it is revered and many of its mountains are made sacred by worshippers.

What I find interesting about Baedudaegan is that it is described as the "spine" of the tiger. In order to illustrate this, I have arranged three pictures side-to-side below. The first picture is a map of the Korean peninsula. The second picture is a picture of a crouching tiger. Without the picture, you may need a lot of imagination to picture a crouching tiger inside a map of the Korean peninsula. I am quite amazed by how somebody can actually make that connection which is Korean peninsula is shaped like a crouching tiger. For the third picture, I have superimposed the Baedudaegan's ridge lines on the tiger. Are you able to see that Baedudaegan is like the spine of the tiger?

From the fengshui perspective, Baedudaegan, being the backbone of the Korean Peninsula, needs to be properly preserved and managed to ensure its well-being. Only with that will the Korean Peninsula continues to receive its steady stream of life energy and vitality.

Now that I see a tiger in the Korean Peninsula, I am also seeing a tiger with a deep gash of wound at its stomach area. Sorry for being a bit political here but Korea to me is like a wounded tiger. There is so much that a wounded tiger can achieve. It cannot leap and jump until its wound is healed. China was once described as the sleeping lion and when the lion is awaken the world will hear its roar. We are indeed hearing its roar getting louder day by day. Hopefully, the tiger will heal its wound and the world will also hear its roar.

Monday, February 19, 2007

한국 축하 축아

Song provided me with a link to a Korean blog after I wrote my Valentine's Day posting. The blog listed all the special days in Korea that fall on the 14th day of each month. All are well except the blog is written in Korean. I was thinking of translating the blog but ditched the thought eventually. After all my Korean language standard is not good enough to translate with ease. So I decided to search the web and found a few sites that wrote about those special days of Korea.

TVNZ One News
KBS Global

After reading the sites and comparing with the Korean text in the "original" Korean blog, I was quite confused because different sites have different names for some of the months. Anyway I decide to use the version written in a blog from Naver for this posting.

January 14 - Diary Day
Couples exchange diaries to start the new year, with important dates such as birthdays or anniversaries written in.

February 14 - Valentine's Day
The day when girls and women present their boyfriends with chocolate and confess their love.

March 14 - White Day
The day when boys and men present their girlfriends with chocolate and confess their love.

April 14 - Black Day
The day when people who have no lovers eat JJajangmyeon (noodles with black bean sauce) together.

May 14 - Yellow Day (Singles) / Rose Day (couples)
Yellow Day is the day when those who were unable to eat black noodles on Black Day go to eat yellow curry rice. Rose Day is the day when lovers present each other with roses to express their love.

June 14 - Red Day (Singles) / Kiss Day (couples)
Red Day is the day for singles to eat Ddeokbokkgi with the hope of finding their love at the Ddeokbokkgi stall. Kiss Day is the day when lovers kiss to confirm their love.

July 14 - Blue Day (Singles)/Silver Day (couples)
Blue Day is the day for singles to mull over their plight. Nothing best describe than the colour blue. Silver Day is the day when lovers exchange silver rings to make a promise for the future.

August 14 - Green Day
The day when couples are supposed to dress in green and walk in the woods. For the singles, Aug 14 is a day to drink a particular brand of Korea soju called "green soju".

September 14 - Music Day/Photo Day
Music Day is the day of presenting a CD with love songs. Photo Day is the day when lovers take pictures to keep memories of their love.

October 14 - Wine Day
The day when lovers drink wine and share love.

November 14 - Movie Day
The day when lovers go to see a movie holding hands.

December 14 - Hug Day
The day of giving hugs to your loved ones.

According to NZTV One News, there are about 21 special days in Korea which lovers can celebrate. So besides the 12 days of special days which fall on the 14th day of each month, Korean lovers celebrate the 100th, 200th and 300th day mark of their relationship. Then there is also the one year anniversary and both birthdays. Lovers also celebrate Christmas Eve, Pepero Day (November 11) and the "First Snow" (첫눈) - Lovers are supposed to mark the first snow of the winter season with a romantic date.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

경희대 수료증

I recovered this course completion certificate recently while doing my spring cleaning for the Chinese New Year. It was almost a year since I completed my one-week Korean language programme at Kyunghee University. We were probably the first and the last group of students, from NUS Extension, to attend the programme at the university. There has not been a similar programme ever since. My teacher used to tell us that she was not making much from organising such immersion programme. What she wanted was to provide an opportunity for local students to experience studying and living in Korea. Unfortunately, immersion programme has since been stopped. I was fortunate to be in time to catch the last train before it departed. Since then, I have been reminiscing every moment that I have spent at Kyunghee. That's why I am going back again after one year and that will happen in less than two weeks time. For that, I will probably get another similar certificate like this but I know the memory will be of a different kind.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

오늘은 설날이에요



Friday, February 16, 2007

이메일 잘 받았는데

In ancient times China, parents had high respect for teacher because only through his teaching can their son be given a chance to succeed in his life. Education was seemed as the only means to break the poverty vicious cycle. It was true in ancient times and it continues to be true today. In ancient times, parents had no qualm about kowtowing to teacher or offering him gifts so long as he was willing to educate their son. The success of Chinese immigrants in any of their adopted countries is partly due to their emphasis on education for their children. With this emphasis comes the natural respect for people who take up the profession of teaching. The fact that teacher is called Seon Saeong Nim (선생님) in Korea also shows that teacher as a profession is well-respected in the society. As recent as my parents' generation, they would still instruct the teachers to beat their children if they are naughty or disobedience. It shows the trust and respect that my parents' generation had on teacher to know what was the right things to do. But these days, things don't seem to be the same anymore . . .

A recent incident compelled my teacher to send out an emotionally-charged email to her students. In the email, she gave us a lesson on the true meaning of respect. I have taken the liberty to edit her words with the hope of expressing her thought better.

"I am not just teaching a language, I am also imbuing respect in my students. Learning the language is a way to understand why respect is important in the Korean culture. Korean language is surely more than just Korean dramas. Culture and language are inseparable. To me, there is only one human race and I respect good teachers regardless of nationality."

What touches me the most about the whole incident was that she stands by the group of teachers who work for or with her. My teacher demostrated a simple fact that only through respecting others can one wins respect for oneself. During a time when intelligence has robbed people of their morality perhaps it is a good time to reflect what are we losing to our own intelligence.

브루나이 갔다왔어

This is the second time that I have visited the Empire Hotel but none of the time did I stay there. Nonetheless, I always like to visit its lobby and man-made lagoon. The view from inside or outside of the hotel is just beyond words.

This royal carriage, displayed in the Royal Regalia Building, was used during the coronation of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah. An extravagant piece of art. You can watch a short clip of this carriage at youtube.

Lifted off the brochure, the Jame'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque is the largest mosque in Brunei Barussalam. It was built to commemorate the 25th anniversary of His Majesty's reign. The mosque looks magnificient at night with its lightings.

In the heart of Gadong, one of the few shopping districts in Brunei, traffic was slow but there wasn't any jam. The weather was hot but not hot enough to be baked. The sky was definitely more blue in Brunei.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

제국 호텔

For the past few days, I was in Brunei Darussalam. Brunei is a country situated at the northern edge of Borneo, the third largest island in the world. Brunei has one-tenth the population size of Singapore but ten times the land area of Singapore. Pace of life is so much slower in Brunei that I feel relax even when I was working.

One of the places I visited during my stay was the Empire Hotel. This hotel is awesome. Besides the standard facilities provided by any other reputable hotels, the Empire Hotel has its own golf course, in-house cinema, and conference hall. But what I like most about the place is its man-made lagoon that provides an unobstructed view of the South China Sea. The view of openness and the deep blue sky was simply exhilarating.

남중국해의 하늘

Here I am, standing at the northern end of Borneo, looking out into the South China Sea.

The sky is sapphire blue. The cloud is creamy white. Is this what people call the tropical paradise? I must be dreaming.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

스파게티를 먹고 싶어

It was half past eleven and I was looking for a place in the vicinity of Myeongdong to have my lunch. Pizzamore, an Italian restaurant, caught my eye. By the time I was seated comfortably on the second floor of the restaurant, the lunchtime crowd had yet to trickle in. I ordered a plate of pasta and a cup of warm lemon tea. The decor and atmosphere in the restaurant were great. I had a quiet lunch. The cup of lemon tea tasted so refreshing.

사랑할 수 있는 날

I find its interesting in the way Koreans celebrate love. Besides Valentine's Day on February 14, there is the White Day on March 14, the Black Day on April 14 and the Pepero Day on November 11. This is way too much a reminder for some Singaporeans who just cannot wait for Valentine's Day to be over every year. In Singapore, they only need to be reminded once a year but in Korea, they will be reminded four times a year. I just wish them well if they happen to be staying in Korea.

In Korea, during Valentine's Day, women are supposed to give gifts to the men. This is quite unlike Singapore where the men are kinda expected to give rose, gift and treat to the women. In Korea, men who received gifts on Valentine's Day are expected to return the favour by giving gifts to the women on the White Day a month later.

Confession Song - Click the picture to see the flash animation.

What happen to those men who did not receive or give gifts on Valentine's Day or White Day? They celebrate the Black Day, one month after the White Day, on April 14. Lonely men called themselves "Solo Unit" (솔로부대-单身部對) and grouped together to eat JJajangmyeon (짜장면-炸酱面). I guess the reason why Jjajangmyeon is chosen has something to do with the black bean sauce. Men should not be overly worried if they have to eat Jjangjangmyeon on April 14 as there is "beauty in black" - like what the flash animation below is trying to say.

Beauty in Black - Click the picture to see the flash animation.

To wrap up a year in Korea, there is still a Pepero Day to celebrate. Pepero Day is somewhat similar to Valentine's Day. On November 11, mostly young couples and people, exchange Pepero sticks, candies and gifts. Pepero (빼빼로) is a Korean snack made by Lotte. Pepero stick looks identical to a Pocky stick - a biscuit stick coated in chocolate. November 11 is so called Pepero Day because 11/11 resembles four sticks of Pepero. Its association with lovers comes about because 11/11 also symbolises pairing up of two individuals. However, contrary to Korea, November 11 in China is known as a day for the singles. I guess that is because China doesn't have Pepero sticks :)

Pepero Song - Click the picture to see the flash animation.

싱가포르 사랭해

In Singapore, there is probably only one day for lovers which is Valentine's Day. Yuanxiao (元宵, 15th day of the 1st month of the lunar calendar) and Qixi (七夕, 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar) although known as the Chinese's equivalent of Valentine's Day are not celebrated here. Yuanxiao has not much significance to the Singaporean Chinese. It is probably taken as the last day of the Chinese New Year celebration. As for Qixi, it falls in the what is known as the "Hungry Ghost Month". Generally, Singaporean Chinese halt all major life events like wedding ceremony, house-shifting and opening of new company during the 7th month of the lunar calendar. Love will, of course, have to take a back seat during this month.

Going by the extent we celebrate love here, it is not too wrong to assume that Singaporeans are generally not a romantic bunch of people. Several years back, there was a movement to promote romance among Singaporeans during the month of February. The organising committee must be feeling the heat of trying to soften the heart of the ever-so-pragmatic Singaporeans. I have not heard about their programme this year so I think they might have given up fighting an uphill battle. It will probably take quite a while for things to change. As of now, a proposal for marriage can be something like, "shall we register for a flat?" So if the woman says "yes" that is sort of an agreement to marriage. Singapore public housing policy only provides married couple with subsidised-rate flat and low-interest housing loan. To register for a flat, that comes with all the perks, means a couple must ultimately be married by the time the flat is ready for moving in.

Honestly, romance is not dead in Singapore. Singaporeans can be romantic but, most often than not, we will cringe whenever we are being described as romantic. Perhaps we are shy to the extent of self-denial or perhaps we are afraid to be the centre of attention by being associated with the word "romantic". To take out the goosebumps every time the word "romantic" is mentioned, we have kinda given "romantic" a Singlish twist and pronounce it "lomantic". All these may sound strange and even funny to foreigners but trust me, we are not a nation of oppressed people. Romance is in every one's heart. It is just the method and language of expression that differs and one of the shaping factor is the culture of a society. Singapore is an immigrant society. Immigrants are not known to be a cultured lot. It is only true as culture means nothing when the stomach is empty. However, decades of stability and economic growth has taken away the fear of survival in us and it is only natural that our society moves towards developing its cultural aspect. With the right culture, love will bloom in Singapore like bougainvilla under the scorching tropical sun.

To love is natural and romance will naturally follow. But until that happens, perhaps Korean dramas can serve as comfort food for those in need of love and romance in Singapore. By the way, I am currently watching the Korean drama "Alone in Love" (연애시대-戀愛時代) which was recently released here. It was quite demoralising for me to listen to the dialogue in Korean. I just don't know how to breach the language gap so that I can understand the plot without looking at the Chinese subtitles. But I think I am improving with time though not a lot. I am now able to pick out bits and pieces of conversation which I can understand. Perhaps I should just let nature takes its own course.

Friday, February 09, 2007

해피 발렌타인 데이

A rose picture taken in a nursery in Cameron Highlands (West Malaysia) plus some photo editing using Photoshop and this is my Valentine's Day greeting ^^

Valentine's Day always creates mixed feeling among people. I think Kim Yeon Woo (김연우) may have just the right love songs for the two groups of people.

For those who are in love, going to love or love in progress, "Lover" (연인) may be the right song to listen to. The music video is quite heart-warming in that it has real-life lovers as its cast. Listening to their awkward but sweet words of affection for each other just touches me.

For those who are out of love, going to lose their love or recovering from love lost, 사랑한다는 흔한 말 (I think it means love is a common language) - OST of the Korean movie "Lost in Love" (사랑을 놓치다) may be a suitable song to soothe those heartache and pain. Sometimes love can be just like fine sand that slips easily through one's fingers.

Whichever the case, Kim Yeon Woo's emotive vocal is just so suitable for belting out sentimental ballads.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

자기 소개

I was tagged by Song to do this posting. I wonder who would want to know who I am or my thought or my interest. I hardly write about myself simply because I don't think anyone would be interested in my humble life. Too humble to be worth a mention. But then again, I am blessed to be able to lead a humble life. A life that does not have many ups and downs. A life that is not rich enough for me to take life for granted and not poor enough for me to fear for my existence. I am supposed to write six things about myself so here I go.

I grew up in a big household. There were four families and about twenty people living together under one roof. My grandmother, being a traditional Chinese elderly, liked all her children and their families to live together. A big household to my grandmother was a sign of prosperity and good luck because those who were not blessed would not be able to maintain a big household. Living in a big household had its good and bad. The good thing was, as a child, I was never lonely. The bad thing was that there were frequent argument between the adults. In the household, I was exposed to a myriad of languages. My father talked to his mother in Henghua (a Chinese dialect originating from Putian in Fujian Province). When my father talks to his siblings he would use Cantonese. My mother communicates with my father in Teochew. My aunt speaks to us in Hokkien. When I speak to my cousins, I would use Mandarin. To make thing worse, I have to learn English in school. It's kinda of "chaotic" and I later attributed my poor grasp of languages during my school days to this environment that I was brought up in.

As a student, I have always done well in both Chinese and Mathematics. My English standard was so-so in primary school (elementary school) despite the fact that I didn't have the habit of reading books. I usually joke that the reason I don't wear glasses is because I did not strain my eyes reading books when I was young. I was fortunate to have perfect eyesight until now because Singapore is known to have the highest rates of myopia in the world. However, the impact of not reading enough was shown clearly later in my secondary school (middle school) English results. I could not speak or write English well enough to save my life. I failed my English Literature for once and I never forgot because I never failed a subject in a proper examination, not even my university examination. I only began to piece together my English after I started my working life. Of course, I also started to read books and that helped a lot.

My liking for Chinese language prompted me to join the Chinese Cultural Club in my junior college (high school). Frankly, I did not have a strong Chinese language foundation. When I said that I have always done well in Chinese, I mean I have done well in Chinese according to Singapore standard and that standard is not that high. To illustrate my point, firstly, I could not pronounce Chinese words accurately. Secondly, I did not know much about Chinese literature and lastly I was quite ignorant of Confucius, Mencius or any other Chinese historical figures. It was during this period that I got deeply involved in learning Chinese. I was more conscious of my pronunciation of Chinese words. I read more about Chinese literature and got myself interested in staging Chinese plays and performance. Despite having weak knees whenever I went on stage, I enjoyed those memorable moment of acting on stage.

I used to have this ambition of becoming a doctor. A not very imaginative ambition. In the world that I once knew, the common occupations were jobs like doctor, lawyer, engineer, accountant or teacher. Among these jobs, doctor as a profession appealed to me most. However, my biology lessons in junior college days kinda of killed this interest. Firstly, I was put off by the smell of formalin (a chemical used to preserve dead specimen). I was also not into dissecting animals. Furthermore, biological terms were too overwhelming for me to remember well. As a result, I majored in chemistry as an undergraduate in the National University of Singapore. As a science undergraduate, I spent a lot of time in four "Ls". They were lecture hall, laboratory, library and loo. While studying chemistry, I didn't view it as a science subject but rather as something like a life lesson. Many of the theories and principles of chemistry could actually be translated into great life philosophies. I did wonder sometimes whether I was studying chemistry or philosophy. If you do find my postings philosophical sometimes, you should know by now where this tendency originates from.

I have written in an earlier posting on what sparked off my interest in learning Korean language. The first Korean word, besides name of places, which I learnt to pronounce was "희망" or "hope" in English. The pronunciation was something like "hee mang" and very similar to what my mother will say "hope" in Teochew dialect. The awareness of this similarity brought me closer to learning the language. However, it was not until eight years later that I started my formal Korean language lessons at NUS Extension. Frankly before I started my Korean language lessons, I wasn't very interested in Korean food, drama or pop song. The main reason why I didn't like Korean food initially was because I don't quite like spicy food. But strangely this has since changed after I started learning Korean. These days, I can eat Korean food quite well. As I get more familiar with the language, I also begin to appreciate Korean drama and pop song better. The "Korean Wave", brought about by the Korean drama, did not sweep me into learning Korean. Rather I meet the "Korean Wave" because I pick up the Korean language.

It is not far from truth if you are to say that what people like are usually those things that they do not have or possess. I named my blog "Mountain and Field" and one of the reason is that I don't get to see them in Singapore. When I was Gyeongju in 2002, the scene of mountain and field captivated me that I long to write about them after returning from the trip. Of course, I didn't write anything until I was introduced to Blogger by my young niece and the rest is history. My blog's nickname "Equinox" is a constant reminder to myself to write with a balanced view. Equinox, as you may have known, is a natural phenomenon during which, the daytime and nighttime hours in a day are equal and it happens twice a year. I have no agenda to push and no point of view to make in my blog. My blog is a place where I write about things that I feel for. It is also a place where I practise my Korean and Chinese. Honestly, I have more things to write about than the time I have. Blogging has sort of changed the way I lead my life. I am now more sensitive to the details of daily life. When I become sensitive, that is when I start to find my life getting interesting. 세상이 좋아지기를 희망합니다.

Finally I completed writing six things about myself but it seems to me that I have just walked my life one round again. I probably have to make it clear that no one should tag me again. I find that writing about other things is so much easier than writing about myself :)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

아름다운 불국사

Have you ever been attracted to visit a place after seeing some beautiful pictures of a place? I was. I bought a pack of postcard with the "beautiful Gyeongju" theme in Busan some years ago. Four years later I visited Gyeongju. In the pack of postcard which I bought there were pictures showing Bulguksa Temple in fall and winter. Different season seems to bring out a different beauty in the temple. When I visited Bulguksa Temple, it was spring. I took a picture of the temple from the same angle as those pictures shown in the postcards and it turned out quite well. However when I compared my picture with those on the postcards, I cannot seem to remember that there were branches overhanging in the position as shown in the postcards. I do suspect that "photoshop" had been used to create a more stunning-looking Bulguksa Temple. To me, with or without photo-editing, Bulguksa Temple still look beautiful.

Update: Song pointed out that there could be a tree behind the position which I took the picture and which I did not notice. She was absolutely right. I have checked numerous photographs of Bulguksa in the internet and all showed that there was indeed a tree. So the picture of Bulguksa in the postcard is genuine.

The first two pictures are taken from postcards. The last is taken by me.

토요일의 모임에

It has been months since we completed our advanced level Korean language class. Finally, our class met for the first time at our teacher's apartment. It is not easy to have a gathering with our teacher as she is always so busy. Korean language learning is becoming so popular these days that she has to work extra hard to meet the market demand.

There was food aplenty at the gathering. There were Japchae (잡채, my teacher's signature dish), kimbap (김밥, seaweed roll), chapssalddeok (찹쌀떡, mochi), ddeokbokkgi (떡볶기, spicy rice cake), beef, curry chicken, durian puff and water melon. Of all the dishes, I thought that the Japchae was the most delicious. Like all good Korean host, our teacher kept telling me, 더 드세요 (please eat more) though I kept telling her, 배가 불러요 (my stomach is full). At the end of the feasting there was still quite a lot of food left. The amount of food prepared could feed 30 or more people but there were only about 15 people eating.

음식 중에서 떡볶기 가장 매워요. 저한테 빨리 물을 주세요.

It is always a nice feeling to meet up with old classmates. Though it was a short gathering, the atmosphere was good. Recent adventures were exchanged, laughter was heard and everyone was enjoying one another company. Though this may the first gathering of our class, it may well be the last. So enjoy it before it is gone. I took some photographs for the memory, hope that everyone will keep them well.

토요일의 모임에 . . . 기분이 좋다. 분위기가 좋다.