Have a fabulous 2012


Gaga: Rest in Peace (b.2002 - d.2010)

Saturday, May 28, 2011


In Nanta, four chefs react the sounds of samullori using all sorts of kitchen utensils as they prepare for a wedding reception in an open kitchen. As they get ready to start the day, the unpleasant manager gives them some unexpected news. Not only do the chefs have to prepare the entire wedding meal by 6pm, but they also have to give the manager’s nephew some cooking lessons. None of them are happy with the situation, but they set out to work.
In the process, they must solve a whole array of difficulties. Gradually, the audience and the players become one. Finally, they pull all their ideas together to finish the cream cake, and the ceremony proceeds without any troubles. In the course of the fantastic wedding party, the audience bonds through lots of laughter and humor, the friendly kitchen atmosphere, and above all five characters whose magnetic spirits create the various rhythms and sounds.
For more information click here

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Seoul: Salat (Namaz) Schedule for MAY, 2011

Muslim Prayer times for the last week for the month of May are below, this post is especially for the participants from the muslim countries in the 22nd World Congress of Dermatology in Seoul, (May 24 - 29, 2011).

SALAT/NAMAZ Schedule for MAY (click on the table for a bigger image).

For more information regionwise please click here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Heewon's Pictures from Jeju-do (제주도/濟州島)

The day I left for Stockholm, Heewon - a high school student, a fantastic person and my neighbor left for Jeju. She was very excited as this was going to be her first flight taking her out of Seoul.

She wants to travel around the world and already knows a lot about many countries including Pakistan, its history, culture, greetings and food. I told her we can travel together and she suggested me how about going to Pakistan? I think that would be fun - all she needs is an air ticket and that is all!

Back to Jeju island - so this place is a Volcanic Island and contains Lava tubes hence designated as one of the UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. Jeju is famous for dol hareubang (돌하르방), its women divers, stone statues park, Cheongjiyon Waterfall and volcanic caves.

A painting of Diver Women - Seoul Art Magazine

Cheonjiyon Waterfall

Sunday, May 22, 2011

E-Books in Korea

A very interesting article was published recently by Hankyureh which highlighted how tablet PCs have change the attitude of people towards e-books in less than a year. Tablet PCs are a common sight and Kyobo Book Store announced that e-book sales have increased 6 times in the first quarter of this year. Statistics from online mobile device application stores also reveal the popularity of e-books. Among Korean application sellers, Apple’s App Store recorded sales of 16,440 e-books and 7,260 educational books, while T store sold 20,596 e-books and 5,068 educational and foreign language books. Analysis by experts says that South Korea, where the growth rate for smart devices is high, is entering the tablet PC e-book era directly, without going through an era, like that in the United States, of dedicated “electronic ink” readers such as the Kindle. The market for “self-publishing” services, which allow users to make their own books, is also growing such as textore, Autopub and Bucci, have also appeared.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Korean Wave (Hallyu) is a phenomenon that kind of started and evolved ever since the FIFA WORLD CUP of 2002 took place here. Korean music, dances, dramas, movies have made vibes across the globe and have captured the hearts and minds of people around the world. Korean entertainment industry is riding high on the Korean Wave and with its numerous stars big and small, lighter and brighter - in their own right...are seen everywhere.

I believe that the main driver of change comes from within irrespective of what one chose to do and particularly, its melange with passion makes it stand out and so is the case of my very favourite group, they brought change in the dance scene in Korea and inspite of hardships remained passionate and persistent - the Korean B-BOYS!

B-BOYs is an abbreviation of "breakdancing boys" says some whereas others argue that it is the "Beat-Boys" - who dance to the beats! This genre of dance mixes traditional breakdancing with modern hip-hop...and Korean B-Boys ranks among the TOP-5 in the world, have won many contests and championships and you can read about their achievements here.

In its early day, back in the 80s, these guys were stigmatized as trouble makers, problems kids and associated with crimes but this was nothing but a myth.

B-Boy dance scene is now a cultural phenomenon in Korea and comprised of about 3,000 strong - young boys and girls - hailing from high schools and universities. A lot of passion, dedication and rigorous practice is evident from their performances. During an interview of the current American Ambassador to Korea, Kathleen Stephens, mentioned how excited her teenage sons were, when she was posted to Korea, a country they associate with B-Boys.

B-Boys have been a continuous source of entertainment and fun for me over the years. I have a chance to meet a few groups and talk to them....they are EXTRAORDINARY! B-Boys have made many memorable performances but if I have to chose one, my answer would be, the teaming of the B-Boys with Gayagum (traditional Korean Harp) students of Sookmyeong Women's University. Besides this, they have performed with Nantha as well.

B-Boys have not been able to make 'big money' compared to others, the strife and struggle has been long, arduous but has started to bear fruit. Now as the official ambassadors of Korea Tourism, Kookmin Bank and some other projects - they have started to gain the rightful place in Korean entertainment industry. Still, for many, the road to success is a hard one - unable to make a niche for themselves in a hyper competative industry. I hope that universities and colleges specializing in Performing Arts must work on projects, where the talented B-Boys must be given a chance to develop courses, classes for those interested, where they can teach, choreograph and lecture on this form of dance.

More on Planet B-Boys can be read here

Another North-South Korean Planet B-boyz performance is here.

The Jakarta Post on B-Boys.

From Street Dancers to Cultural Icons an article by Korea Times

Thursday, May 19, 2011

From Bundang to Yongsan..

...I took a few pictures today on my way to Yongsan......!

LG building in Gangnam - and this is the place where we have COSTCO (Yangje).

I would love to eat there (looks yummy)- very soon!

This road is almost always jammed...going towards Pangyo.

Korean Rice sprouting......

Beautiful lush green rice field in a Bundang XYZ dong - ready for rice plantation this week!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


The 4th Together Day this year will be held on May 20th (Friday), from 16:00 - 21:00 hours, in front of Seoul Plaza. This event is sponsored by the Ministry of Justice. This day has been celebrated for the past 3 years since Korea's foreign population hit a million mark in 2007. Major foreign community include migrant workers: both skilled( professors, engineers, language instructors, researchers etc.) and unskilled migrant workers(those involved in manufacturing, construction, agriculture, service sector, livestock and fisheries. Besides this group the second biggest community is that of marriage migrants (particularly the women from several Asian countries who are married to the Koreans and their offsprings) and then comes the foreign students.

This day is celebrated especially to bridge gaps between the local population and the foreign community in South Korea.

The special events include:
1) International Fashion show
2) International food stalls and booths for information on the respective countries
3) The folk games
4) Writing Contest on Life Experience for foreigners in Korea
5) Thesis Contest on Korea’s Immigration Policy

For more information on this event please click the link below:


picture credits @naver.com

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Among the most important possessions in Korea is a cell phone. Everyone starting from age 3 or 4 has their own set and it is more of a status symbol besides whatever these little - do everything-devices offer.A study done by Electronics and Telecommunications Research Groups (ETRG) suggested that smartphones ownership indicate 'income gaps' and not just that it also indicate 'education gaps'in the apparent use of smartphones. After doing a survey of about 800 people (btw. age 15-49) they suggested that people with higher education are more likely to use the smartphones....this was interesting!My personal opinion is the choice of games one can play on it - here, these computer games are huge and hence, these phones have made life much easier.

I read in Korea Times that Samsung will triple its sale of Smartphone - Galaxy series of Android handsets to 60 million handsets in 2011 from 20 million in 2010 and just 0.9% in 2008. Samsung is the world’s second-largest mobile-phone manufacturer behind Nokia, but has been struggling to compete with Apple in consumer smartphones. However, with Google’s Android mobile platform beginning to duplicate Apple’s strength in operating systems and applications, Samsung is now a leading provider of Android devices. An interesting article by daum is here.

Samsung’s flagship product in smartphones is the Galaxy S, an Android device it managed to sell more than 10 million since its launch in June next year, with more than half of the sales coming from North America and Europe.The company also markets handsets that run on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile. Samsung also sold more than 1.5 million of its Galaxy Tab tablets to become virtually the only company to provide competition to the Apple iPad.


Koreans enjoy the benefits of the go-anywhere Internet services offered by smartphones with more than 10 million people(24% of the entire population) using the high-tech gadgets here in Korea. A very interesting article can be read here.
For Korean citizens the package to own these phone is again - long term contracts.
What I noticed and learned from fellow students was quite interesting. Why almost everyone has a smartphone? Reason is simple...telecom companies which are SK, LG and KT..have an offer: a foreign student who will sign a contract for 2 years they will get a free phone, all they have to do is to pay about 30$(USD) a month! Another interesting fact I found out was: if a student is fluent enough in Korean to convince the dealer they can get these phone for even one year with almost same benefits.[Requirement for having a cell phone include: minimum 6 months visa BUT there are more ways than one to own a cell phone...such as having have a trusted Korean friend would land you with a phone. Koreans can register more than one phone on their names whereas foreigners can only own a "single phone" on their ID card verification etc.]


All this comes down to the who is smart?? The phone, the companies or the customer? Is it a win-win strategy to own a smartphone, a zero sum game??

I would say that all this makes customer less smarter. Personally, I have made up to a month of call/text messages for just 10 dollars(USD). I really would NOT like to pay extra 20$ each month - on top, I have a landline phone...so, having have a smartphone is not too smart a deal for me!

Having said all this: I must say that when I got lost in Sweden....and when I asked from people for some pointers to find my way...they took out their smartphhones....and told me exactly where and how should I go....at that moment, I was not only thankful to the people in Sweden but to all those who developed "Smartpones" - they are too damn smart!!!

An ad. in the Newspaper ( 메일경제)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

List of Mosques in Korea

Besides the official Seoul Central Mosque in Itaewon (my post here) , the list of mosques in other provinces in Korea is below, this list doesn't include the mosques (masjid)/prayers rooms that students or other private individuals have established:

Gyeonggi-do/ Paju Masjid
Located near the Imjin River , the Paju Masjid is mostly frequented by Bangladeshi and Pakistani Muslims in the vicinity.
Address : 421-9, Yeongtae-ri, Wonreung-myeon, Paju-si, Gyeonggi-do
Tel : +82-31-946-2110

Bupyeong Masjid
Located in the east end of Incheon, Bupyeong Masjid is a place of worship for immigrant Muslim workers in nearby areas, including Namdong Industrial Complex in Incheon.
Address : 574-19, Sipjeong-dong, Bupyeong-gu, Incheon
Tel : +82-32-512-2612

Anyang Masjid
Anyang Masjid, not far from Seoul, is operated independently by Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Address : 618-132, Anyang 5-dong, Anyang-si, Gyeonggi-do
Tel : +82-31-444-7757

Ansan Masjid
An imam from Bangladesh serves at the Ansan Masjid, which is operated independently by immigrant Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Indonesia working at the nearby Ansan Industrial Complex.
Address : 741-5, Wongok-dong, Danwon-gu, Ansan-si, Gyeonggi-do
Tel : +82-31-492-1948

Gwangju Masjid
In Gwangju (Gyeonggi-do), which is adjacent to Seongnam, Icheon and Namyangju, Gwangju Masjid, Korea 's third masjid, was opened in 1981.
Address : 48-9, Yeok-ri, Gwangju-eup, Gwangju-gun, Gyeonggi-do
Tel : +82- 31- 761-3424

Jeolla-do/Jeonju Masjid
Matching Jeonju's reputation as a city of tradition and art, Jeonju Masjid shows the harmony between Korean and Islamic architecture. Traditional Korean roof tiles adorn the Islamic dome.
Address : 1562-10, Inhu-dong 2-ga, Deokjin-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do
Tel : +82- 63- 243-1483

Busan/Busan Masjid
Busan Masjid was the second masjid to open in Korea. It was built in 1980 with financial support from Ali Fellaq, the former minister of finance of Libya .
Address : 30-1, Namsan-dong, Geumjeong-gu, Busan
Tel : +82- 51- 518-9991

Islamic Centers/Macheon-Geoyeo Center
Address : 186-26, Geoyeo-dong, Songpo-gu, Seoul
Tel : +82-2- 431-6850

Suwon Center
Address : 320-15, Dangsu-dong, Gwonseon-gu, Suwon , Gyeonggi-do
Tel : +82- 31- 295-2956

Jeju Center
Address : Rm. 1215, Jeonghan Officetel, 939, Nohyeong-dong, Jeju
Tel : +82- 64- 712-1215

Daegu Center
Address : 202-6, Jukjeon-dong, Dalseo-gu, Daegu
Tel : +82-53- 523-2171

Gwangju Center
Address : 894-7, Wolgyeo-dong, Gwangsan-gu, Gwangju
Tel : +82-62- 972-5136
Website of Korea Muslim Foundation: http://www.koreaislam.org (Korean, English)

For Pocheon, Cheonnan, Kimhae  and  Jinju please look at the this blog post by an Indonesian blogger.


Visit Korea Muslim Federation website, here they have  updated a list of mosques in various cities but it is in Korean language however, one can get help to locate phone number and address.

Credits: Korea Tourism Corporation


The food above was served during one of the semester get-togethers!

These past two weeks I had to select restaurants within the confines of vegetarian (not in its strict sense) and halal. Had to search for hours every day and thanks to the project that I am involved with - I did learned a lot about restaurants, menus, places and everything related to 'eating in Korea'.

Many of us come to Korea with a very conservative image of 'food choices'. I must say that please, be open minded because here nobody will go hungry and the country has almost all the choices (from wherever u are) for everyone who plans to visit or is visiting Korea. I will only say that Korean Cuisine is diverse, tasty and beautiful too. :-)

What has the government as well as the media been doing about globalization of 'Korean Cuisine' project you can read in the article here.

One very interesting piece of news was in KT about CJ Foodville, the country's leading food service company, who have launched a bibimbap-specialized restaurant Bibigo, with an eye firmly gazing on the overseas market.

The highest number of visitors coming to Korea belong to China and Japan and hence one Chinese Newspaper highlighted on Korea's growing investment on globalizing of Korean food. The article, though published in 2009, can be read in full HERE and gives an idea of how things are moving in this sphere.


Blogger Down...

..for 36 hours in my case. I tried to log in but it wasn't possible - the message was that there is a maintenance problem.

Like everything else in life, moved on and honestly speaking, I accomplished more tasks in a day than I usually am able to do.

Anyhow, before going to bed, I thought I should also start a blog in Wordpress, since everyone has a blog there. I signed up and made one for myself but honestly speaking, it took me so much time to figure out where is what and finally, I did not post anything? Nevertheless, it offers more choices than blogger but sometimes simpler versions on anything are good enough!

One important reminder is how simply can we lose control and access to our own little space on the web (which technically is not not even ours)! Should we be calling it "ours" in the first place???

Anyhow, a few years back, a bitter experience of mine is that with hotmail account (they used to be very popular) - when one day after logging in - I saw that all the emails, folders, pictures were gone..........there was nothing - EMPTY...which also led to emptiness within me. I first signed up with hotmail in 1995. After losing important materials ... MSN and hotmail became history.

Anyhow, in bloggers case, we are back to the normal routine....
Just wonder what these technical problems may lead to..?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Breaking News in Korea

Explosions at the Seoul station and the Express Bus Terminal today at 11:20 a.m, Thurday, 12 May, 2011.
Thank God nobody got hurt and the investigation is underway for details read HERE

Korean Soldiers

Soldiers from the Korean army praying at the Seoul Mosque in South Korea

Photocredits@Korea Times

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Seoul Global Center (서울 글로벌 센터)

Seoul Global Center for Foreigners (SGC) is the only one-stop service organization in Korea to provide support to the expat community. The Seoul Global Center offers expert services to foreigners, advising them on how to conduct successful business activities and have a comfortable living experience, as well as helping them to enjoy the local culture to the full. Experts and volunteers (also from the expat community who have lived for 2 or more years here) in various fields provide professional services to foreigners visiting the center. From multi-language consultations in English, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Mongolian, Tagalog and Uzbek, to business consultations, comprehensive administrative services, various educational courses and international exchange events, the SGC provides foreigners with an opportunity to experience diverse aspects of Seoul. Seoul is quickly developing into a “clean and attractive international city” and a “foreigner-friendly global city.”


Walk 50m towards the Press Center from Exit 4 of City Hall Station (Line 1)

Walk 300m towards the Press Center from Exit 5 of Gwanghwamun Station (Line 5)

Tel : 02-2075-4130

Business Hours : Mon-Fri. 09:00-18:00 (Lunch 12:00-13:00)

Multilingual ConsultationThe Center provides a wide range of useful information through consultations on day-to-day issues, business consultations, professional consultations, and others.


English, Chinese, Japanese, Mongolian, Tagalog, and Vietnamese (Mon-Fri: 09:00-18:00)

Uzbek and Russian (Wed and Fri: 09:00~13:00)

You can visit the SGC website here. It is very detailed and a must visit website for anyone who wants to visit, work and live in Korea.

More information on the moving of their office to the new building can be found HERE.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Korea: Buddha's Birthday Today

I took this picture on a trip to a temple in Southern Part of South Korea in 2004

In Korea, Buddha's birthday (a national holiday in Korea) is celebrated today according to the Lunisolar calendar. This day is called 석가탄신일 (Seokga than-sin-il), meaning "the day of Buddha's birthday" or 부처님 오신 날 (Bucheonim oshin nal) meaning "the day when Buddha arrived".
Koreans celebrate this event with great fervour and its 20,000 temples nationwide have special ceremonies and festivities for each and everyone from all faiths and from around the world to celebrate the event with them. Seoul's Jogye Temple will be holding traditional services not just today but for the whole month. Jogye is Korea's largest and most influential Buddhist order. In East Asia, the Buddha's birthday is celebrated on the eighth day of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar.

Lotus lantern festival is the biggest event that was held this year between May 7 - 8, 2011 - with lantern parades (starting from Dongdaemun gate and finishing at Jogye-sa), music, concerts, drum festival, meditiation techniques and lantern making events being offered for everybody to try their hands on. Morning hours are allocated to religious festivities and street fair is follwed later in the day in which Buddhism-related products and Korean traditional crafts can be found in plenty. This week holds great significance to all Buddhists, it provides a fun opportunity for foreigners in particular and the rest of the public in general to see some of the most distinct contrasts between the Old and the New by providing a glimpse into some of Korea’s oldest cultural and religious traditions and how they are still practiced today.

White lanterns have a name of the deceased relative for whom the temples do special prayers

Lanterns in all the different colors cover the entire temples throughout the month which are also seen as the special decoration on both sides of the streets/roads all over the city. Many temples provide free meals and tea to all visitors.
It is one of the most colorful and aniticipated events in Korea and is my favorite Korean holiday.
For information on temple stay visit here .

photocredits@ Korea Times and Matt Kelly

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

In Canada, the US, Pakistan and China- 8 May is "Mother's Day", whereas in Korea it is the "Parent's Day". I wish all the mothers all over the world a wonderful mother's day as well as Parents' Day. My mother is in the US and my sister gave her roses on behalf of all of her children. It was wonderful. We all talked to her and that's how her day started.

It is important to note that different countries have different dates on which this day is celebrated but a rather large number celebrates it in MAY and the dates are: 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13, 15, 16, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30.

I will briefly go to how Korea and Pakistan celebrate it?

In Korea, May 8 is a "Parents Day" - which initially was celebrated as Mother's day. Carnations are given to both the parents and it is a holiday. Gifts are given to them and children visit their home or hometowns in case they are living seperately or away from the parents.

In Pakistan, it is relatively a new concept and while looking into the history - I got an impression that it's more of a day celebrated by various channels and later on, got acceptance within certain groups of society. It is not celebrated officially or even as an occasion by masses.

Whatever, the case may be, I wish each and every mother a "very happy mothers day!"

Random Pictures!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Peter Gabriel, Michael Stipe and Iqbal Masih (1994)

Iqbal in the US

Iqbal:Cordoba, Spain

The Little Hero: a book by A. Crofts

Name: Iqbal Masih

Birthplace: Muridke, Lahore (Pakistan)

Date of Birth: 1983

Died: 16 April 1995 (shot to death)

Inspired By: Abraham Lincoln & Ehsan Ullah Khan

Networked With: Bonded Labour Liberation Front

Education: BLLF School for former slaves

Sacrifice: His Life

Greatest Achievement: Bringing global awareness to child slavery and bonded workers. Helped identify and encourage thousands of child slaves to seek freedom.

On Iqbal Masih..

Of all the big names, this boy is indeed a hero of heroes, sold into slavery at a carpet factory at age four, he worked on looms until the age of 10, when he ran away from the factory for the first time - a policeman from whom he asked for help - handed him back to the owner of the factory - with a caution to chain Iqbal. All these years he was never fed well, and as a result, his growth was stunted. His back curved, his hands were scarred and callused and his fingers were gnarled from the repetitive work of tying thousands of knots every day. His breathing was labored from the carpet dust that he inhaled and that affected his lungs.

Iqbal never gave up the idea of freedom from bonded labor and eventually on his second attempt he succeeded [BUT with the help of Ehsan Ulla Khan, of the Bonded Labor Liberation Front, (BLLF), he was finally freed). Iqbal thrived and learned, and eventually joined the BLLF as an advocate for Pakistan's 12 million bonded children laborers. Iqbal was intelligent and he was brave.He started attending the BLLF's school and finished 6 years education in just 2 years. An American instiution was so impressed that they awarded him a scholarship to go to school in the US. He was to leave for an educational programme at Brandeis University in a few weeks when he was brutally murdered.

As a worker with the BLLF, he spoke to children about their rights under laws and he freed as many as 3,000 children from bondage. As an international spokesman for the BLLF, he traveled to the United States and Europe calling for an end to bonded child labor.
On 16th April 1995, 25 kilometers from Lahore, in a village called Rakh Baoli, Iqbal was killed with buckshot fired from close range. This death occurred on the evening of Easter.Though he is gone, his actions inspired an international campaign of middle-school students and adults that is helping to free and to educate thousands of child laborers.

"A bullet can't kill a dream" - yes, that is true - a school in the US where Iqbal met with students and shared his life experiences - started a campaign to open schools called:"Schools for Iqbal" which is still raising money to open "School for Iqbal" around the world.

A Spain based SolidarityNet for the abolition of bonded child labor have also made a great contribution to establish schools in Iqbals' name. They are also striving to declare "April 16"-the day Iqbal was shot dead - as The International Day against Child Slavery.

In Sweden, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Netherland, South America, USA and in many parts of the world - Iqbal Masih is a household name.

In Sweden - comic book on life and work of Iqbal has been produced online and in print.

Another magazine can be read here that highlighted Iqbal.
Iqbal is no more but his life and work will keep bringing change in the life of many.

How Iqbal's story brought change for CRAIG KIELBURGER read here.

Saturday, May 7, 2011



Professor Emerita

Department of Cultural Studies and Oriental Languages

The Faculty of Humanities

University of Oslo

More details and list of her work on URDU and particularly SHINA can be found HERE.

China Air for Scandinavia

Well, it was the most economical and not so bad choice to go to Scandinavia via Air China - it took only 9 hours from Beijing...a rather quick flight compared to my trips to other places ..

Entering Swedish Airspace: Extraordinary beautiful skies!

A few minutes before landing.

Finishing my assignment...

When the lunch/dinner is served during the flights - it just smells soooooo heavenly- whether one is able to eat it or not at a later stage.