Thursday, October 30, 2008

살면 살수록

I once heard such remark, "싱가포르에서 살면 살수록 좋아해져요." (The more I live in Singapore, the more I grow to like it.)

The remark sent me thinking about what I have taken for granted while living in Singapore. Soon, I came to realise that I can never grow the distinction between "like" and "dislike" for my country because it is part of me.

The Esplanade at the near end. The Singapore Flyer at the far end.

The Merlion Park's extension with Marina South as the background.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

(으)면과 다면

In Elementary-level Korean, I learnt how to use the grammar ~(으)면. In Intermediate-level Korean, I learnt how to apply ~다면. But there is always this question that has been bugging me. What is the difference between the two grammars? It seems like this question will only be answered in Advanced-level Korean.

(Making an assumption, based on known facts or accepted belief, which is quite probable to happen )

The conjunction (으)면 is normally used when a person knows a certain fact, truth or information which is probably true. By making certain assumption using (으)면, the person can emphasise a fact, give a warning, an advice or an encouragement. (으)면 is also used when time is being talked about (for e.g. 시간이 나면, 밤이 되면).

Example 1: 계속해서 운동을 하지 않으면 건강이 나빠질 것이다.
The known fact here is that exercise is good for health and the lack of it means health will deteriorate. The assumption made is, if that somebody continues not to exercise, then let him be warned that his health will deteriorate. In this situation, (으)면 is used to give a warning because it is already known that the lack of exercise will eventually mean deteriorating health.

Example 2: 나이가 들 누구나 흰머리가 생긴다.
In this example, the truth is that everyone will have white hairs when we grow old. (으)면 is used in this situation to emphasise the fact to those who may not have fully accepted the fact that if we grow old, we will naturally have white hairs.

(Making an assumption, based on personal feeling or belief, which is quite improbable to happen)

Example 1: 네가 도와주지 않았다면 일을 그렿게 빨리 끝낼 수 없었을 거야.

What this sentence is trying to say is, "I believe that if you had not helped, the task would not have completed so expeditiously." The speaker is trying to give credits to someone else for a task well done. The truth may be that 'someone' did not actually contribute much and the speaker is fully deserving of all the credits except that he chose not to accept them out of humbleness.

Example 2: 내가 너라면 이번에 받은 장학금으로 영행을 갈 거야.
(Note: ~다면 includes (Action Verb + (은/는)다면), (Stative Verb + 다면) and (Noun + (이)라면). In this sentence, "너" is a noun, hence "라면".)

In this example, the assumption made is definitely not probable since 'I' cannot be 'you'. However, this improbable assumption is still made to create a scenario for the speaker to express his thought on what he will do in that particular scenario. It may sound strange for someone to assume a scenario in order to speak out his intention, but it won't be strange if you know that the speaker (in this context) is trying to tell the other person indirectly that you are not using your scholarship for what it is worth. '다면' can be used to tell someone about your opinion or proposal in an indirect and subtle way so as to avoid offending someone who may not like to be told what to do directly.

The grammar 아/어서 may be my most frequently-used grammar but (으)면 and 다면 are the grammars that "witness" my progression from Elementary to Advanced-level Korean. For this reason, I have to write this post ^^

이퀴녹 축가해. 여기까지 닿을 수 있는 건 쉬운 건 아니야. 나도 너무나 놀랐어. 그래서 잘 했어. 파이팅!

Sunday, October 26, 2008


When I saw the list of flims to be screened for the coming Korean Film Festival, I was kinda disappointed. Among the 7 films selected, there are probably only three that are worth watching and I have already watched two of them. Between the two, I think "Forever The Moment" is the better one, even though "The Good, The Bad & The Weird" may be the highest-grossing Korean film in 2008. If I have to say something about "The Good, The Bad & The Weird", it would be that it is neither good nor bad but it is "weird". I can't figure out why it is so popular in Korea. The plot is quite lame in my opinion. All I can remember is that the film is packed with actions, with lotsa gun-shots, explosions and mindless blood-shedding. I must say that the 3 hunks in the film display great acting skills though. In particular, the 이상한 놈 (weird guy) is very comical. Without him, I think the film will be less watchable. With no other better choices, I guess I am left with only "Crossing" to watch.

Friday, October 24, 2008


I used to stay back after my Korean class on Saturday to watch what I called the "Saturday Afternoon Matinee". Our teacher would usually prepare some interesting Korean programme to screen after class. One of those Saturdays, the programme screened was the highly-popular KBS programme - "1박2일" (One Night Two Days). In that episode, the task given to the "1박2일" team was to participate in another highly-popular KBS programme - "전국 노래자랑" (Korean Sings). When two highly-popular programmes meet, there are bound to be explosive fireworks. It was so much fun watching the "1박2일" team preparing and rehearsing for their participation number - "무조건" [無條件, Unconditional (Love)].

"무조건" is a very famous 트로트 (trot) in Korea. Trot, unlike Korean pop, has mass appeal and long staying power because their melody and lyrics are both simple and catchy. In Korea, trot is as popular as Korean pop, if not more. I used to think that trot is only meant for the elderly but the "1박2일" team's hilarious performance of "무조건" changed my impression completely.

I was recently reminded of "무조건" by the "1박2일" team because our teacher was asking if we would like to participate in the K-Pop Talent Contest (This contest is held in conjunction with the Korea Festival 2008 which will happen in Singapore between 1 Nov and 18 Nov). I am not about to join the contest by the way. I am just thinking that if there is any participating team out there which can perform "무조건" as hilarious as the "1박2일" team, they will probably win a lot more points from the judges.

Monday, October 20, 2008

이상한 한국어

Recently, we had a dinner with our ex-Korean language teacher. During the dinner, I sprung a question at her.

"싱가포르에서 살다가 영어 실력이 많이 올라갔어요?", I asked.
(Living in Singapore, has your English proficiency improved by a lot?)

"아니요. 이상한 영어만 말할 수 있어요.", She replied.
(No. I can only speak "strange" English.)

While I thought her answer was kinda "cute", I felt the same way when I have to speak in Korean. I couldn't help muttering to myself, "나도 마찬가지예요. 3년 동안 공부하는데도 이상한 한국어만 말할 수 있어요." (It's the same for me. Even though I have been studying for 3 years, I can only speak "strange" Korean.)

It seems like environment and interest alone are still not enough to master a foreign language. I guess to master a language, it needs to be an integral part of my life. That's my realization from the simple conversation.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

돌담길을 걷는다면

돌담길 is a small and picturesque road located besides the quaint stone-wall of Deoksu Palace. In the 1970s, the road was almost synonymous with dating. It was the top favourite dating place for couples. So it is not surprising that 돌담길 has a special place in the heart of many Seoulites. Everyone will probably hold some special memory about the road.

But there is also this urban myth that says couples who walk along 돌담길 will eventually be separated. I probably can guess how this myth came about but that is not important. Regardless of the myth's origin, nothing can undermine the beauty of 돌담길. It is a nice and peaceful place to take an evening stroll even if you have no date. (Just to check if you are observant. Did you notice any magpie somewhere in the pictures?)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

닭꼬치되게 좋아

닭꼬치 looks mouth-watering good. One stick is never enough.

닭꼬치 (chicken-on-a-skewer) is one of my favourite 간식 (snack). I need no introduction when I bought my first stick as it tastes as good as it looks. 닭꼬치 can be differentiated by its length and taste. At its longest, 닭꼬치 can be as long as 50cm. I was eating this 50cm-long 닭꼬치 and the wooden stick actually bent under the weight of the chicken meat. For the taste, there are generally the 매운 맛 (spicy) and 안 매운 맛 (non-spicy). I cannot forget that day when I decided to try the 매운 맛. The degree of spiciness burst my threshold and I almost teared up. I must admit that I do not take spicy food very well.

There is something that I find quite interesting about eating 닭꼬치 in Seoul. Scissors are provided at the stall for customers to cut away the exposed stick after a chuck of meat is bitten off. It is not uncommon to see short pieces of stick being strewn all over the stall. I have yet to adopt this habit though. My stick will stay as one piece before and after eating as I prefer to nibble away the chicken meat from the side. From the way I eat 닭꼬치, people can probably tell that I am a foreigner. What to do, I eat 닭꼬치 like I am eating satay.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

우산없이 살다가

Picture taken at Ssamzie-gil in Insadong

We live our life without umbrella. From time to time, we get completely drenched because we are caught in a passing shower. But all we need is the courage to walk through it to know that there is still sunshine after the shower has passed.


많이 드세요

When it comes to food, I usually have nothing much to say. More often than not, I just look, eat and pay. Food that I will pay money for is one that I will eat (I am kinda selective about the food I eat), looks decent and affordable. I can't say that I am not bother about the food I eat but I am far from being a food critics. I have no interest in describing the taste and smell of food or how it simulates the gastronomic senses. Simply put it, when it comes to food, I am more than happy to just eat it. Due to my mild interest in food, I don't usually read food reviews or recommendations. But that doesn't mean I don't know where the good food are. The best indicator of good food is the queue or the crowd. While following the crowd may not be wise in some situation, if it concerns food, I am all for following the crowd. The majority can't be wrong about the food they eat.

Monday, October 13, 2008

배를 타고 일본에 간다

Cruise ferry's route between Busan and Osaka

I have never been to Japan but I think I am going to make my first trip there soon. I have more or less decided to make my first entry into Japan via the sea route. It will take about 19 hours for the cruise ferry to sail from Busan to Osaka. It may be a long journey but I relish the idea of watching sunrise and sunset out at sea. Furthermore, the cruise ferry will sail under the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge - the longest suspension bridge in the world before entering Osaka port. That will be a magnificent sight to behold. The cheapest return ticket costs about KRW240,000, probably half the price of an air ticket - quite affordable for poor student like me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

빛나는 세상을 꿈구다

Live broadcasting at Hangang Park, Yeouido

Chilling out at the 60th floor of 63 Building

The Dark Knight beating the daylight out of Joker at Megabox, Sinchon

Thursday, October 09, 2008

예술은 길고 인생은 짧다

A night out at Samcheongdong can be quite inspiring. "Life is short" is not something we can change but we can always choose to live an inspired life.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

잊지 못한다

남자는 첫사랑을 잊지 못한다.
여자는 마지막 사랑만 기억한다.
Men cannot forget their first love.
Women can only remember their last love.

남자는 첫사랑을 평생 잊지 못한다.
여자는 첫사랑을 다른 사랑이 생길 때까지 잊지 못한다.
Men cannot forget their first love for life.
Women cannot forget their first love until their next love.

Why do men and women differ in their memory about love? There is some logical explanation to this difference. Men and women will fondly remember their first love and last love because those were the times when they tried their very best. For men, the emotional barrier to overcome get lower with each confession they make. For women, the emotional barrier get higher with each love they accept. In other words, it get easier for men to confess but it get harder for women to accept new love. Men or women, regardless, will only treasure those things that they work hard for. It is not about the number of attempts but rather the amount of effort that each put in that determines how each experience will be remembered. The more effort put in, the more memorable will be the experience. If we could always give the same amount of effort, then perhaps every love will just be like first or last love.

Anyway, I read the above explanation in some Korean sites. So it is not exactly my thought. All I did was to translate it. ^^

심심하니까 바보 같은 질문이 하나 생겼어요. 삶이 지루할 때만 맞춰 보세요. 정답을 맞출 수 없으면 나를 때리지 마세요. 미리 바보 같은 질문이라고 했거든요.

그럼 질문은 개구리가 무엇을 항상 잊어 버렸어요?

아랫부분을 커서로 가리키고 하이라이트하면 정답을 볼 수 있습니다.

정답: 올챙이입니다. "개구리 올챙이 적 생각 못한다"는 속담이 있잖아요.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


예쁘게 장식된 음식이 더 맛있어 보인다는 뜻으로 '보기 좋은 떡이 먹기에도 좋다'는 속담이 있잖아요. Food that looks good, tastes good as well.

부대찌개 - Budaejjigae

녹차 치즈케이크 - Green Tea Cheesecake

Friday, October 03, 2008


"Gochujang" (Nickname of my Vietnamese classmate. The actual meaning of the word in Korean is chilli pepper paste) wanted to show me something. "예쁘죠?", she asked while showing me photos of her in Asiana air stewardess's uniform. She was ostensibly very pleased with her look in the photos.

Gochujang was one of the 20 finalists in the Inaugural Kumho Asiana Vietnam Undergraduate Korean Language Speech Contest (제1회 금호아시아나 베트남 대학생 한국어 말하기대회). The event was held earlier this year on July 3 at the Daewoo Hotel Hanoi. The Hanoi TV was on location to broadcast the event which was witnessed by a full-house capacity crowd. Gochujang emerged from the contest as one of the third prize winners.

All 20 finalists were sponsored on a one-week trip to Korea. One of the places they visited was the Asiana's air crew training centre - the place where Gochujang had her make-over photos taken. For coming in as one of the six winners, she also receives a scholarship which will pay for her university's tuition fee until her graduation. The fully-sponsored 3-week summer course at Kyunghee is also part of her prize.

Limited by her petite frame, Gochujang is resigned to the fate that she will never become an Asiana's air stewardess. But she has since made up her mind to become a Korean language teacher. Her participation in the speech contest is a turning point. I bet she will be a good Korean language teacher in future because internally, she is already a "Korean".

Click to enlarge
"Gochujang" (standing row, 10th from left) is a 3rd prize winner.

Click to enlarge
Full-house capacity crowd and media coverage from the Hanoi TV.

The 4th Singapore Korean Language Speech Contest, jointly organised by the Republic of Korea Embassy and the Singapore Korean School, is scheduled to take place on November 22, 2008 (Saturday) at the RELC International Hotel from 2-5pm. Registration period is between Oct 13 and Oct 29.

The Singapore speech contest may be a smaller-scale event with lower prize value but I think the true worth of participation remains unchanged. It could well be a turning point in life for some. I cannot quite express the exact feeling because its kinda nebulous. You will probably have to experience it first-hand to understand what it is like. I have no doubt that Gochujang will agree with me that the speech contest is our turning point. 꼭 한번 해 보세요. 결국은 그 전에 모르는 의의를 분명히 잘 알게 될 거예요.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

괜찮다고 생각해

Picture taken at the National Palace Museum's cafe - 고궁뜨락

A year ago, I would be screaming "비싸요" for a Cafe Latte that costs 5,000won. Today, I would just say "괜찮아요". That is how much difference a year can made. Singapore Dollar has strengthened almost 25% against Korean Won over the last one year. Early last year, SGD1 is only worth about KRW600 but it has since shot up to over KRW800. Singapore dollar is so much in love these days for obvious reason. However, my gut-feel tells me that I should be stashing away Korean won now. It is not possible for Korea's economy to nose-dive to destruction just because Uncle Sam's economy is wrecked. When it rebounds just like it did from the 1997 financial crisis, I can imagine myself laughing my way to the bank.