Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Day 3 in South Korea-Lee Jong Seok, Marketplace, and a Kitten

The marketplace.
 On this day, I went to a marketplace. After the usual morning Korean class, they divided us into separate groups: Russian-speaking, Japanese-speaking, Chinese-speaking, and English/other languages-speaking. When we the "mostly English speaking" people gathered in our little circle, a pretty girl came over to us who our tour guide said spoke English. She said her name was Iyeong and yes, she spoke a little, and we started on our journey. I can't remember well, but I think we pretty much bombarded her with questions on the way to the subway station/while waiting for the train.
From left to right: Myself, Florence, Sandra, and Iyeong in the Hanyang University subway station.
Somehow, while we were riding in the subway, our conversation drifted to Korean dramas and celebrities. After that, Iyeong and I hit it off. We talked about so many dramas and artists I can't even remember now. She really likes Lee Jong Seok, one of my favorite actors, so we discussed his dramas (okay, and his good looks!) for quite a while.
When we arrived at the marketplace, I discovered (with Iyeong's help) that they have this very interesting 'token system' in which you take five thousand won, which is a little less than five USD, and they give you ten tokens in return. The tokens were these cool, Chinese-style coins and they hung them on a twisty tie for me to carry them. Then the idea was for the students to walk through the market with their little coin-strings and trade them in for food, which the sellers scooped onto our trays.
Yes, it's like a giant buffet.
But oh-so-good.
I tried a lot of things I had never eaten before, but I tried to make sure someone else had eaten it to ensure that I wouldn't eat any tree nuts. I can't entirely remember what I had to eat (I shared with a few friends) and I didn't take any pictures, but I remember the seaweed, sweet potatoes, and sweet ddeokbokki that I had. The Korean mayo salad wasn't my favorite dish but that's okay because I'm glad I finally discovered one of their dishes that I didn't find myself addicted to. :)
I think the deokkbokki might've been a varition of 양념 통닭, a sweet and spicy fried chicken, which the vendor had made in a thicker sauce and added ddeokbokki to. It was incredibly good and I want to try remaking that version of ddeokbokki sometime soon.
Recipe for sweet and spicy fried chicken-(http://aeriskitchen.com/2011/04/sweet-and-spicy-tongdak/) 
After picking out our food, we were to travel upstairs to a cafe where we could sit and eat. Bowls of rice cost us somewhere between 1,000-2,000 won (I can't remember), but I couldn't eat all of the rice they scooped out for me! After eating, Sandra and I decided to part with the group for a brief moment to order ourselves these fruit smoothie drinks. I ordered the grape flavor and discovered it was delicious! I asked her if it was artificial, because I had never tasted 'grape' flavor like this. She said that every grape flavored thing, from candy to juice, that she had tasted while in Korea had this same flavor. I soon learned that this is true. I don't know if it's artifical or not, but it's in everything grape-flavored! Maybe I should try some real grapes next time and see if they taste similar to this flavor. :)
I took a video of the marketplace while we were leaving-

After the marketplace, I thought we were on our way home, but instead we visted a museum having to do with the Blue House and Korean presidents, I believe. I never caught the name of the museum, but it definitely had a lot to do with Korean diplomacy and becomming actively involved as a respected first-world nation in world politics.
This was one of the displays, showing some of the most incredibly popular Korean dramas of all time-

I took even more pictures because I liked this display so much. I'll be honest-if it weren't for Korean pop music and drama, I don't know how long it would have taken me to discover the gem that is South Korea. When I saw my first K-pop music video, which was as far as I can be absolutely sure was MIROTIC by DBSK
-I thought, "Wow. They make catchy music, but Koreans are really weird". I thought my friend that liked DBSK had gone crazy-the guys in the video looked alike, sounded alike, dyed their hair a lot, and looked girly.
However, around the same time I discovered Big Bang, which with a more American sound and style, managed to hold my attention longer (plus, I happened to like a certain member quite a bit). I then started watching the drama Coffee Prince, and after that, I re-evaluated MIROTIC with a less critical and more culturally understanding eye. I didn't think the video was so strange any more. I won't force you to suffer through my further re-evaluation of the now somehow stunning faces of Micky and Yunho. I'll just say one glance was all it took-
I'm not sure what 15 year old me was thinking...
Yes. She was blind. =P

Some of my readers who take the time to watch this video may be thinking I'm crazy, which is perfectly fine, but this is honestly what led me into liking Korea at the time that I did. Of course, I would have discovered more about South Korea on my own without the K-pop and K-dramas, but I probably wouldn't have discovered it at such a young age.
Which, in my opinion, was instrumental to my teenage years (and still is). I would not have wanted to spend this part of my life in anything else other than learning about this culture.
Yet, I can't continue telling you about my journey from fangirl to international traveller since this is more about the end-product than the process. That is a later post. :)
Most of my pictures inside the museum are sadly rather blurry because my tablet doesn't take good pictures when there isn't a lot of light. I'll post the good ones here. I did get a really cute video of a little boy talking about a big fish in a fake pond that they had inside the museum, but I think the video speaks louder than words.

(my friend from Singapore, Florence, waved to me while I was filming this video! We both thought he was so cute. When we left, we told him '안녕!' which is 'bye' in Korean, and he replied, '안녕, 누나!' which is 'bye, noona/older sister(s)!'. We were so pleased he responded to us. =D )

There were some very interesting interactive things in the museum-
(this was at the Korean security service display)

(and this was concerning the Blue House-the building which the president lives in)

(this was, of course, concerning the president! :) )

A drum.
Korea National Parks

Signatures of past presidents.
Accomplishments of Park Geun-Hye
Little president-still version. :)
You took your picture and then wrote something about it.

Nawaphan giving Iyeong a hard time. XD It reads 'Iyeong is stupid'.

We saw this grandfather and his little boy a little while before we saw them at the fish pond, where I took the video above. :)
I don' t know what to call this display other than 'Korean Pride', and I'm perfectly okay with that. It definitely show-cased their recent accomplishments.

Focus on hope and happiness? I think so.
Such a great choice of words! This happened whenever you jumped on the fish pond. ;)
Guess that boyband! Hint: not the remaning 2 members of DBSK. =P

I was told this is the Palace? But perhaps it was lost in translation what it really is. XD

I was watching people constructin' stuff in Southwest Virginia just last week, Korean Construction Sign! :D

My reflection. Interesting souvenier shop

Awesome artwork on walk back home.

Subway entrance.
Kids on subway.

Handsome man on subway. I actually got to sit next to this guy because I started talking to Iyeong and we found out that I am the 막내 (youngest) of the group. So, Iyeong and our other tour-guide-helpers decided I would get the next empty seat ^^
After the museum, we walked back to the subway. On said walk, our Korean American group member began talking with one of his friends on the phone. The conversation was in simple Korean, so most of our group could understand him. I won't detail the conversation but it was incredibly humorous, and so we kept laughing at him. He switched from Korean to English in hopes most of us couldn't understand, however, myself and several others started laughing more since we could now grasp the situation fully.
After that, he told his friend 'there are too many bilingual people here, hyung-I'm going to speak Spanish!' which cracked us up even more because several of us could understand his Spanish! At which he gave up speaking altogether.
When we were entering the subway, two people who looked like they were chasing each other ran out and knocked my tablet out of my hands and nearly ran me over. However, the tour-guide-helper guy I was talking to at that moment picked up my tablet and asked if I was okay, because I was too shocked to pick it up. I nearly missed the train I was so surprised. After that, I clutched the tablet much more tightly when entering and exiting subways! We talked about learning English and different professions on the subway ride-the guy I spoke with is an Engineering student. Iyeong looked at him at one point and goes "I thought you didn't speak English that well."
He looked at her and shrugged, casting his eyes towards me, "not when I need to use it."
Iyeong turned to me and said, "but he's really shy speaking English," she laughed, "I'm so surprised, really!" *elbowed him*
Lee Jong Seok, mentioned before in my conversation with Iyeong
Jong Seok was located outside of a make up shop in Wangsimni, near Sandra and Winnie's dorm. I seriously kept from being forever lost in Wangsimni through this picture.
Thank you, Jong Seok. =P

I can't remember. At all.

Cute cat that could have fit in my two cupped hands.  I saw it on my way to find a convenience store near my dorms. The boy who set the kitten-in-a-box outside was nearby and saw me petting and fawning over the kitty, but sadly, I could not take it home. Now, if I were a permanent resident....
The boy seemed so torn about letting the kitten go. I felt bad for him.  The kitty, thankfully, was being left at the local street-cat hangout, where all the other cats and kittens were lounging under trees to escape the hot sun. Maybe they adopted him. Honestly, you could hear the cats meowing over there every afternoon. It sounded like a cat choir. =P

My supper. It cost me $2.00 USD and was incredibly filling and delicous. ^^

I loved the trip but more than that I loved being able to communicate with and enjoy the company of Koreans. It was also an amazing confidence builder for me to discover that knowing a little bit about dramas and singers could help me converse with a Korean girl, something I had never done before with very much success past the first few sentences.

Thanks, Iyeong, for being an amazing 언니  to me that day! ^^

Day 4 and 5 coming soon,


Friday, September 20, 2013

추석(한가위)-Chuseok (Hangawi) Related Photo Spam (Happy Korean Thanksgiving!)

from Pyeongtaek Youth Community Center website (ptycc.or.kr)

Happy Korean Thanksgiving!

Last year, when 추석/한가위 (Chuseok/Hangawi) came I really didn't know much about the holiday or understand what it celebrates. 
Bring on the Wikipedia articles! I love Wikipedia for many reasons, and one of them is their direct explanations for many Korean things. I think the article on 추석 (Chuseok) is very informative and fascinating. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuseok

I also decided to just search 'chuseok' on Google Images this morning, and I found so many pretty pictures that I have to share some of them here. :)

Rice cakes and hanboks, from Allkpop.com's 'A Detailed Explanation of Chuseok'

The dance
"Ganggangsullae" I believe
from english.seoul.go.kr
Songpyeon rice cakes from allkpop.com 'A Detailed Explanation of Chuseok'
Cute kids and their crazy silly faces in the traditional hanbok. From wordpress blog 'The Groovy Bow Sequence Goes Korea' post titled 'Chuseok'

SNSD in hanboks. Picture came up when I searched 'chuseok' so I figure that's why they were wearing them, but if these are more like New Year's hanboks, let me know (and if you want, tell me if there's a difference!) from wordpress blog 'fathiakissop'.
From blog.ningin.com, I liked this picture because 1. It's Super Junior in hanboks 2. It's from a chicken commercial 3. You get to see a variation in the hanbok style when you look at the next picture....

Not sure why there is a difference, but clearly some of them are still wearing the same hanboks and others have changed+they've added the interesting scarves to all but one outfit. I wonder if it's photoshop *suspicious eyebrow raise* It's pretty anyway. From moonlightunes.wordpress.com

Rice cakes? from hancinema.net

Eating rice cakes under a full moon. From blogs.redorbit.com
Latern illustration. From http://cdn8.mixrmedia.com/wp-uploads/ningin/blog/2012/09/chuseok.png follow the link to see more Korean celebrities wearing the traditional hanbok. :) My favorite is this picture-
Yoogeun, a Korean child 'celebrity' from the variety/comedy show 'Hello Baby', in which Korean music stars take care of a Korean child for a few hours every day. Obviously, he got just about as much girl-attention as his handsome caretakers.

Lanterns! From tumblr

Last but not least, Google's own images in celebration of Korean Thanksgiving. When I was in Korea, I automatically accessed Korean Google products instead of American ones. I enjoyed the very different Google Doodles and learning more about the Korean historical events they celebrated. 

Happy Chuseok, everyone! 추석 잘 보내세요~ 

Sorry this is a short post with little writing, I'm busy lately and I want to dedicate my time to studies and finishing my South Korea Journey posts. But I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to spam everyone with gorgeous pictures of this holiday, hahaha. XD