Friday, July 31, 2009


The Gwanghwamun Plaza is opening tomorrow evening. Here is a quick glimpse of the new attraction in Seoul.

Admiral Yi Shun-shin statue with a new water fountain in front of it.


The Han Style's forum was held at the 국회의원회관 (國會議員會館). As there is a lot to write about, I am splitting this event into a few posts.

Before the forum starts, we were treated to a performance which showcased traditional and modern Korean music. B-boys crew from "The Ballerina who Loves a B-Boy" represented Korean modern music while Samulnori represented the traditional side.

Inside the auditorium of 국회의원회관

B-boys crew from "The Ballerina who Loves a B-Boy"

The B-boys wore overall with calligraphy strokes painted all over.

The Samulnori group was no less interesting than the B-boys.

The Samulnori group was equally capable of acrobatic stunts like the B-boys.

Korean 'Er-hu'performance. The only 'rose' among the 'thorns'.

A 'bibimbap-style' (fusion) performance with Samulnori sharing the same stage with B-boys.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I was trying to explain to a friend what is 국회 the other day. I started by saying that it is the National Assembly located in Yeouido but my explanation drew a blank. So I described it as a place where politicians 'fight' and immediately I got a positive response.

Getting to National Assembly by the subway was a bit troublesome. I have to change from Line 1 to Line 5 and then from Line 5 to Line 9. Line 9 is a new subway line open recently and runs in East-West direction to the South of Hangang. People without traffic card cannot take Line 9 because the gates won't accept single-trip ticket. Anyway, it took more than an hour to get to the National Assembly Station but I later discovered that Bus 261 just outside my dormitory is a much faster traffic means.

My business at the National Assembly was to attend a forum on 'Han Style' (another word for Hallyu or Korean Wave) targeted at foreign students. A visit to KBS was originally planned after the forum but was cancelled. In place of KBS's visit, we were shown around the National Assembly's compound.

The National Assembly building at Yeouido. The building has 24 columns around it. The lights never go off at the building and that is supposed to mean a National Assembly that never sleeps and forever working.

I was trying to take a picture of the dome from inside the building.

The Main Meeting Hall (본회의장- 제1회의장) where 299 members of the National Assembly vote and pass law.

We sat at the upper level of the hall.

Staff giving us a brief of the hall.

A view of the office buildings in Yeouido from inside the National Assembly grounds. We were on our way to another building which housed the National Assembly's memorial hall.

A small memorial hall of the National Assembly (헌정기념관, 憲政記念館).

Some display inside the memorial hall.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

먹음직스러운 한식

From the opulent-looking silverware to the attention given to food arrangement, the Korean dishes shown below are good enough to fill the tables of a royal feast.

I don't have a deep pocket so I can only take pictures of them. The dishes were exhibited at a forum on 'Han Style' held at the National Assembly.

More about the forum coming soon.

장어구이 (Yongsusan-style Grilled Freshwater Eel)

전복요리 (Pan-fried Abalone)

구절판 (Platter of Nine Delicacies)

신선로(Royal Hot-pot)

육회 (Sliced Raw Beef)

자연송이구이 (Grilled Pine Mushrooms)

대하요리 (Giant Prawn)

떡갈비 (Grilled Short Rib Meat Patties)

전유화 (Seasonal Assorted Pan-fried Dish)

개성채나물과 청포묵무침 (Kaesung-style Mung Bean Noodles with Vegetables)

조개탕 (Clam Hot-pot)

해물냉채 (Vermicelli with Vegetables and Seafoods)

흑임자 두부와 신선한 야채 (Black Sesame Tofu with Fresh Salad)

보쌈김치 (Kaeung-style Wrapped Kimchi with various fillings)

I don't have the actual name for the following three dishes so I am 'making' a name for each of them.

Ginseng Porridge

Stuffed Cucumber

'Mul' (Water) Kimchi

Monday, July 27, 2009

발전과 자연의 '갈등'

Which kind of river do you like? A developed or an undeveloped river? The choice is not as easy as its seem.

My lesson today was on the '4-River Restoration Project' (4대강공사).

What I learned about this controversial project was, it is estimated to cost 22.2 trillion won and to be completed in 2011. The project cost almost doubles the 13 trillion won projected for the doomed Grand Canal Project to connect Han River to Nakdong River.

As great as the scale of construction, the destruction of nature will also be phenomenal. When development and conservation cannot go hand in hand, conflict is bound to arise. This project is definitely causing more than just a few 'ripples'.

A developed Han River

An undeveloped Han River


The situations listed below applies to 'Hanja' (한자어, 漢字語) only.

Consonant 'ㄷ, ㅅ, ㅈ' comes after batchim 'ㄹ'

A 'Hanja' noun which has consonant 'ㄷ, ㅅ, ㅈ' coming after batchim 'ㄹ', the consonant will be pronounced as double consonant.

발전 (發展, Development) - [발쩐]
갈등 (葛藤, Conflict) - [갈뜽]
몰상식 [沒常識, Lack of common sense) - [몰쌍식]

Consonant 'ㄱ, ㅂ' comes after batchim 'ㄹ'

A 'Hanja' noun which has consonant 'ㄱ, ㅂ' coming after batchim 'ㄹ', the consonant is pronounced as it is without any change.

결과 (結果, Result) - [결과]
물건 (物件, Object) - [물건]
불변 (不變, Constant) - [불변]


Consonant comes after batchim 'ㄴ' or 'ㅁ'

When verb with the batchim 'ㄴ(ㄵ)' or 'ㅁ(ㄻ)' combined with '어미' (word ending like 다, 지, 고) that begins with consonant 'ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅅ, ㅈ', the consonant shall be pronounced as double consonant (ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅆ, ㅉ).

Note: Combined batchim 'ㄵ' is pronounced as 'ㄴ' while 'ㄻ' is pronounced as 'ㅁ'. As such they 'behave' like 'ㄴ,ㅁ'. Also note that 'ㅂ' is not pronounced as 'ㅃ' in this situation.

앉고 - [안꼬]
껴안다 - [껴안따]
담고 - [담꼬]
닮지 - [담찌]
젊다 - [점따]

Sunday, July 26, 2009


된소리 means 'double consonant'. This post and subsequent posts of the same title shall touch on the situations whereby consonants (ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, ㅅ, ㅈ) are pronounced as double consonants (ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅆ and ㅉ) instead.

Consonant comes after ~(으)ㄹ

Consonant (ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, ㅅ, ㅈ) which comes after '~(으)ㄹ' is pronounced as double consonant (ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅆ and ㅉ).

안정될 것이다 - [안정될 꺼시다]
만날 사람 - [만날 싸람]
공부할수록 - [공부할쑤록]
할것 - [할껏]
할지라도 - [할찌라도]

Saturday, July 25, 2009

중복인 금요일

On Friday, I was introduced to a bit of Korean Literature during class. Our teacher brought us through an article about a Joseon's female poet who is known by her pen name 허난설헌(許蘭雪軒). Her real name is 허초희(許楚姬) and was born into a noble family in Gangneung (강릉, 江陵), Gangwon-do. Her brother 허균 (許筠) is the author of the "Tale of Hong Gil-dong" (홍길동전, 洪吉童傳) while her father 허엽(許曄) is credited for creating the famous dish of Gangneung - Chodang Tofu (초당두부, 草堂豆腐).

Our teacher explained that society during Joseon Dynasty, an era which 허난설헌 lived in was one that values men over women. It was a "남존여비" society.

In Joseon Dynasty "남존여비" means:

자는 (Man is)
대하고 (looked up upon and)
자는 (woman is)
하하다 (looked down on)

But in today society, "남존여비" takes on a different meaning, our teacher added.

위를 맞춰야 한다
(If man wants to exist, he will have to adjust to suit woman's liking.)

That's all for the joke of the day. After class, we have our first class's '회식' (dining together). We had grilled mackerel for lunch. The Korean name for mackerel is '고등어' which sounds like superior grade fish to me since '고등' can also mean high class or high grade. It has been a long time since I last ate fish.

Grilled mackerel which I ate during our class lunch.

Friday was 중복, the mid of 삼복더위. It seemed like the monsoon season is almost over. The overcast sky was partially cleared in the evening. Despite being midsummer, the evening was quite breezy and cooling. It would be good if such cool weather continues until the end of Summer.

Partially cleared sky on Friday evening.

It has been almost one month since the sky started to look like this.

모든 일 끝나야 한다

Line 2 train crossing from Gangnam to Gangbuk. Backdrop is buildings at Yeouido. 63 Building is faintly visible. Picture taken from Yanghwa Bridge.

My time in Seoul is coming to an end soon. I have my time, I did what I have always wanted and I will leave this place with no regret. All said, I still have a few more things I want to accomplish before I leave.

Cheerleader performance at Seoul Plaza. I used to like going to Seoul Plaza and City Hall. But as time goes by, I am going there less and less.

들꽃이 아니라 약이구나

I thought the flower above is just another wild flower. It looks nice with its star-shaped petals. What I did not know is that I knew its name all along. The flower is called 도라지 (Chinese Bellflower or Balloon Flower). I first heard of the name when a passage in my textbook wrote about Bibimbap preparation. 도라지, to be specific, its roots is used as an ingredient in Bibimbap. When I checked its Chinese name, the dictionary turned out '桔梗'. Again, I knew '桔梗' for a long time as a Chinese herb that is effective in curing cough.

There are many other occurrences in life that mirrors my encounter with 도라지. There were people whose name I have known for a long time but could not attach an image to. When we finally met, I still couldn't connect the name to the person until some time later. But when I did connect, I suddenly felt this sense of 'happiness'. I guess it was a feeling of déjà vu.

대서인 목요일

Thursday was 'Daeseo' (대서, 大暑). Although, this seasonal division marks the commencement of intense Summer heat, the day was far from intensely hot. At Hangang, the temperature after sunset was a cooling 25degC. This is a Summer that doesn't feel like Summer. When the cool breezes blew into my face, I thought Autumn has arrived.

Sogang Bridge (서강대교) with N Seoul Tower in the background.

Seongsan Bridge (성산대교)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

여름의 남이섬

The number one scenery in Nami Island - the Metasequioa Lane.

I went to Nami Island today for my field trip. Similar to Winter School, Summer School's field trip is only one day long. By far, Spring Semester's trip was the best. I had a 2 days 1 night trip to Ganghwa Island was provided with four meals and one night stay in hotel. In comparison, only one lunch was provided for this field trip. My advice to people who want to get their money worth, apply for Spring or Autumn Semester's course only.

Frankly, I wasn't looking forward to this field trip since I have been to Nami Island 3 years ago. I was rather disappointed when I knew that the school had selected the place for our field trip. My classmate, who went there last Summer said that Nami Island is very beautiful during Summer but the ironic part was she absent herself from this field trip.

Anyway, since I was in it, I thought I might as well enjoy it. My trip turned out quite alright. The bus ride from our campus to Chuncheon took nearly 2 hours. We arrived at the ferry point to Nami Island around 11pm. Since we were at Chuncheon, our lunch was the famous Chuncheon's Dakgalbi. We took our lunch in one of the eating houses near to the ferry point. The Chuncheon's Dakgalbi which we were served was not one of the better ones which I have eaten.

The famous Chuncheon's Dakgalbi waiting for us.

We talked and took pictures while waiting for the dish to be cooked.

There was just too much to eat. We all have leftovers.

After a hearty meal, we queued up at the ferry point and waited for our ferry. By the time we reached Nami Island, it was about 1pm. Our departure time from the island was 4:30pm. Taking away another hour for workshop, we have effectively 2.5 hours to walk around the island and that is quite sufficient since the island isn't very big.

Our bus-drivers who double-up as cameramen, stand at the entrance to ferry point.

The queue at the ferry point.

My classmates inside the ferry. 3 out of 4 are Korean Government Scholars.

After arriving at Nami Island, we were given a short brief before breaking out. For my class, the first 2 hours was free and easy and after that we had our handicraft workshop from 3-4pm.

A gallery of posters that pays tribute to the late King of Pop.

Tiger has 'cute' look in traditional Korean painting. In Korean folklore, tiger is frequently portrayed as a 'babo' (stupid) animal.

Colourful feathered mascot of Nami Island for sale.

Inside Unicef Hall. Two cuddly polar bears.

Hand-made dolls on display in Unicef Hall.

Remember to show your support for Unicef.

A fire stove outside the pottery workshop. Don't know what's cooking inside

Inside the pottery workshop. The pottery master in the midst of working.

Hello Kitty-like banners hanging inside the workshop.

More feline-related display items.

Afternoon sun illuminating the workshop.

Compared to 3 years ago, the island is a lot more developed with much more thing to see and do for tourists. It seems like the charm of "Winter Sonata" continues to 'live' in the island though 7 years have passed since the drama was introduced to the world.

A photo spot outside a restaurant.

Gift shop is filled with drama-related items.

A photo gallery on "Winter Sonata".

Outdoor photo spot

A filming site of the drama.

A popular photo spot on the island.

A tiny red heart that was pinned onto a tree trunk.

The four-wheel vehicle, called the Namycar, is for rent.

Cycling around the island by the river side is one way of enjoying.

For our handicraft workshop, we were taught to made a 'wood' necklace (나무 목걸이). The way to make the necklace is quite simple. We were each given a piece of wood. We designed the wood surface by gluing coloured stones and plastic beads onto it.

Sunrise Village, the place where we have our handicraft workshop.

At the workshop place.

There are 5 types of handicraft which can be made at the workshop.

We are in the shade though some parts of our workplace are exposed to sunlight.

The materials for our handicraft - stones, beads and glue.

My Polish classmate at work. Another Korean Government Scholar. She will be pursuing her Masters in Korean Language Education starting this Sep.

A completed sample which we used as reference.

When we completed our workshop, it was almost 4pm. As I walked towards the ferry point, I managed to take some more pictures of the island's lush greenery.

I like this open field on the island.

Looking at the open field from another angle.

I like this view the most.

Autumn seems to have quietly commenced.

The island's shore as seen from our departing ferry.

My Myanmese classmate (first from right) is also a prospective Masters in Korean Language Education. Another Korean Government Scholar, she dreams of opening her own Korean language school in Myanmar. By the way, there are many more scholars in my class. I have been wondering why they have to be 'forced' to take language class at all. They are already so proficient in the language.

Last but not least, my classmate shall demonstrate how to pose for a good photo in the Metasequioa Lane.