Have a fabulous 2012


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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Free Classes for Foreigners in Seoul/Around!

Seoul Global Center is conducting "special classes for foreigners" this July in collaboration with its 8 subsidiary village centers in Seoul. I will highlight the ones that are for 'Free of Charge'and are equally important!

The one I'm taking part in is :

1- Making Lamp with Hanji (traditional Korean paper) at Seorae Global Village Center

if you would like to participate as well then call: 02- 2155-8916

2- CPR and First Aid Training Session at Itaewon Global Village center (02- 2199-8883-5).

3-Painting on a Traditional Fan also at Seorae Global Center (2155-8916)

Apart from these there are cooking classes and an event for multicultural families (for those married to Koreans).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Where to Stay in Seoul: Find Various Types of Accommodations in Seoul

A Hanok Guest House in Jeonju

After finalizing our trip outside our hometown, the first thing that one has to deal with is of course, accommodation as well as the options available in our budget. Particularly, if it has to be an overseas trip...then, finding a room is more difficult.

I will suggest a few options for accommodation depending on the length of stay while coming to Korea. The most important question is how long one gets to stay on their trip to Korea? If you are looking for an accommodation in Seoul then this post will surely help you find in finding a place to stay.


Some of the choices are below:

Hotel is the most common option that we all know  of however, some cheaper choices include - motels, inns, youth hostels, guest houses, home-stays etc. - that are littered all over the place, in every neighborhood and city. They are very economical compared to Europe and the US with price ranging from 10,000 won or 10USD/night ~ 50,000 won (50 USD) and of course more expensive options are there.

A very typical /economical types of housing in Korea include:

- "Sauna" or (Jim-Jil Bang=찜질방)
- "Hasuk Jib"or (하숙집)
- "Go Shi Won" or (고시원)
- and "One-Room" or (원룸)

The above mention places are good for a short term stay. If you don't have a lot of luggage and you are mainly traveling during the day, youth hostel & guest houses are a very good choice with deals starting from 25,000 won per night(25 USD) - depending on its location and size of your room.

If you are a backpacker - then start off with SAUNA (sweat rooms) :-) Korea is full of Saunas - where entrance fee starts off with 7,000 won (7USD) and stay there as long as you want! One easy sauna option is at Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon starting off at 8,000 won.!

Hasuk Jib(하숙집) is the same as a Bed and Breakfast in Korea's case (my detailed post on it is HERE), sometimes, breakfast and a dinner is also provided. There are all different types of these Hasuk jibs...price ranges from 300, 000 won - 500, 000 won(300-500 USD) and onwards - they are located in 3 to 4 story building with a laundry room on each floor. At times they provide for a kitchen - where one has an option to do their own cooking (with slightly different rent). The owners or caretakers are middle age women- called Ajummas (아줌마), they are responsible to cater to all our problems etc. The average price of a Hasu Jib room is between 350,000 Korean won (about 350 ~ 400 US dollars) to 500,000 Korean won (about 500~550 US dollars) per month, depending on how big your room is. Major localities for Hasuk Jibs are the university neighborhoods.

Go Shi Won(고시원) is basically a building with dozens of small rooms inside - this can be a choice only if one needs enough time before moving into a better/bigger/descent room or house but in the past few years newly built Gosiwons have improved incredibly. However, I will never recommend them to anybody but since a lot of people are living there - its important to introduce them to those who just wanna explore few options! I have visited one Goshiwon - with a friend and it was scarey...the room is slightly bigger than the bed with no windows at all and just an exhorst fan - a small desk/chair+bed! The prices starts with 250,000 won (250USD) a month and goes upto 600USD.A very comprehensive Goshiwon site is Gosi1.net (in Korean but get help from your Korean friend) and also another website for Goshiwon and hasukjib search in English is Goshipages dot com.

Before finalizing any deal, make sure to check every thing out and also the contract to avoid serious problems there. 

One-Room is another option and it is what we call a 'studio' in the rest of the world. There quality and style are gtting better by day. They can be furnished or unfurnished and often, one has to pay a deposit money to move into one of these. This refundable deposit starts with 5 million won (5,000 USD) in addition to a monthly rent of 550,000 won (550 USD)minimum. Utilities are billed seprately! They can be as expensive as 1300 USD. One important thing to note is: the bigger the deposit money, the less amount of money one has to pay as rent! Check out this website in Korean: Oneroom dot com and Oneroomtel dot com (in Korean only but comprehensive covering the whole country).

All these accommodations are fast evolving to be better by providing air conditioning, free Internet (Wi fi) and heating, cooking options!

Another option is HOMESTAY!

In homestay, you get to live with a Korean family in their house...either teaching English to their kids or having have a cultural exchange.  This form of accommodation is Seoul is fast evolving and is getting very popular. Students are preferred over others but then anybody can give it a try. There is whole website committed for homestay in which you have to register first and send in your personal information and finally also have to pay the fee which is a percentage of the homestay. From this website almost all homestays are asking for some monthly rent too but conditions vary so check this website: HOMESTAYKOREA dot com. There are many people interested in homestays and hence, one can also make a good use by posting your ad. at either "Seoul Craiglist" or Seoul Global Center's Forums. . This is not an easy option to get hold of but nevertheless, one of the many ideas that u can work on and !

Also check out: Korea4Expats website and WorknPlay Korea. They are frequented by expats and expats living in Korea also offer accommodations, sublets, homestays, sharing of room/house hence, check that out.

Some Options for Accommodation in Seoul w.r.t. Guesthouses are:

1) Seoul Youth Hostel

2) Kim's Guest House

3) Seoul Backpackers Hostel

4) Guest House in Jeju-do

5) Kimchi Seoul Guest House in Hongdae Area (김치 서울 게스트하우스 is located close to Sinchon - Ehwa/Yonsei/Sogang Univ.)

6) BLU Guest House

7) Bebop Guest House near Hongik Univ

8) One Room Residence (in Korean) here.

9) Goshiwon (in Korean) - follow the link provided.

A very nice introductory article by 'Hi Seoul' on Housing in Korea!

A list of Guest Houses is HERE!

All the best in finding accommodation, I know it is a stressful process but maybe you will go through a wonderful or interesting and memorable experience.

Happy house searching to you all!

Please share your tips and sites that have helped you in house search so that it benefits people who visit this page.

Photocredits@ David of Randomwire

Duck Eggs!

These two duck eggs were used to make an omellete for lunch.
Fresh, organic and tasted great. I remember, when I was a grade 1 and 2 student one of my classmates Saira used to bring scramble duck eggs - tasted different, more orange and of course for a kid - an interesting experience! It has been decades and it took me back to my early school days ~ wow!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mushrooms and Carrots!

Rain in Seoul: Heater is on (June 25th, 2011)!

(Dripping Umbrellas outside the rooms)

We have entered day 5 of continious rain...though many are battling with the rain to prove that it is still OK however, I came across a lot of people who have finally taken out their spring jackets again...It is the end of June and the highest temperature was 15 degree celcius and the lowest was 13 degree celcius, when I last checked it!

It is really cold/wetty and I have turned on the heater, had a few cups of coffee, tea and a simmering hot soup for dinner!

The good news is that on Monday & Tuesday, we will have a partly cloudy day and hence, a bit dry but light showers are expected in the evening!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pakistani Cooking Shows

Chappati in the making!

When I went to Pakistan last year - I saw an explosion of cooking shows, morning shows, curret affairs or breaking news - this defines television in Pakistan. I think TV means entertainment but if this is an entertainment then I'm better off without it. The result was to move TV from my room and keeping it to a minimum operational level - it turned out much entertaining!

I will talk only of cooking shows which I have no clue who do they cater to? The ingredients that they use (which actually make any recipe tastes good) such as chicken, mutton, dry fruits, cheese, mushrooms, broccoli, endless quantity of oils and ghee (purified butter) etc are not in a common man's reach with many mouths to feed and meagre salaries that the majority gets - such programs are of no help to these folks however, they do create a kind of categorization within masses within the food culture. Food for "haves" and "have nots"!

In a country where people have to wait a whole year to get hold of meat which they get during Eid ul Azha (in charity)- what sort of a purpose do these programs serve??
Use of ovens and high tech gadgets in a country which has severe power shutdowns - it is beyond my comprehension! I have personally emailed a few TV shows to do variations within Pakistani cuisine, trying fusion...but to no avail. I also suggested to inculde palak/saag (spinach), dal (lentils), yogurt to add to their receipies...but well, this fall on deaf ears!

Will we be able to create a cooking show with a premise of creating tasty, creative, budgetted and nutricious recipes?? Recipies for all - recipes for someone who doesn't have much more than the super basics in the kitchen?? Recipies for "haves" on our cooking shows must avoid to try them out if they want to live longer and healthier because these folks are already over weight - having problems such as high cholestrol levels, heart diseases, diebetes etc.

All I have to say is that these cooking shows must follow some ethics, some considerations and some basic common sense: "A Sense To Cook with a Purpose" - here I mean keeping in view our economic, cultural, religious, agricultural and most important of all the nutritional and weather related needs!

I will conclude by saying that simpler and easy to cook foods are the best. If I were to ask to give suggestions to these dorks - I would have suggested them to travel to villages and request these folks to share with us their age old "food habits", "their traditional recipies and ingredients" - no wonder people are still healthier in rural than in urban areas - physically, spiritually and mentally!

Dedicated to a Continious Rain...

...which of course bring all sorts of memories!
Song:비오는거리 (Bee O' nun Khourie)
Singer: 이승훈 (Lee, Seung-hun)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Walking Tour Contest for Students in Korea

Starting on June 15th, Korean university students can team up with their foreign friends to explore Seoul on foot and develop tour courses of the Korean capital city with such themes as culture, shopping, ecology, etc. The teams will then submit their thematic Seoul tour course scenarios to the 2011 Seoul Walking Tour Scenario Contest by July 18th for the preliminary round of evaluation. Subsequently, 50 teams will be selected to proceed to the next and final round, for which they will try out their proposed tours, make necessary revisions and submit the final scenario along with multimedia contents like photos and user created content (UCC).
More info☞ Contest PeriodPreliminary Round: June 15–July 18
Preliminary Round Results: July 27 (Total of 50 teams will be selected.)
Final Round: July 28–August 4
Awards Ceremony: August 18
☞ Participation InformationMaximum 4 people per team, with at least one non-Korean.
☞ Homepage: walkingtour.visitseoul.net (Korean)
☞ Inquiries: +82-2-3788-8123 (Korean, Japanese, Chinese), +82-2-724-7783 (Korean, English)☞ 1330 tt call center: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)

Official Site of Korea Tourism Org. (KTO): Islamic Cultural Spots in Itaewon

I have blogged about Islam, muslims, mosques and halal food in Korea and in Seoul - here at this blog and would highly recommend to read the link below by KTO.
Major reasons to put up this link include problems muslims face while visiting Korea and particularly, when they don't know the language of the land. Though Koreans speak English pretty well but they are 'way too shy' to practise their language skills.
Read in detail KTO's: Islamic Cultural Spots in Itaewon .

Season of Roses!

These days roses are all over the place..
..in abundance!
The pathways are full of them!
I love this rose bush and this shade blooming and the air around has rose aroma - it indicates that summer has finally - fully kicked in!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pakistan for a Common Woman!

Rankings may sometimes be misleading but not in this case, Pakistan is the third most dangerous place for women in the world . What can make any country dangerous? Some of the characteristics that are common among the list of countries deemed dangerous include: political instability, feudalism, anarchy, extremism (on every front), failed governments, patriarchy, poverty, illiteracy and militancy to name a few. According to Trust Law – an organization that works on women related issues stated in its report about Pakistan that:

Deeply entrenched cultural, tribal, and religious norms are at the root of the risks posed to Pakistani women. Child marriage and forced marriage are a threat. Women who defy expectations have faced acid attacks as well as punishment by stoning. Indeed, more than 1,000 females die in honor killings every year, Pakistan's Human Rights Commission reports, and 90 percent of women are victims of domestic violence at some point.

Some examples are :

- Acquittal of five of the six men convicted in a high-profile gang rape case of Mukhtaran Mai earlier this year

- Images of a girl being whipped by Taliban

- Woman being stoned in Pakistan, these are amongst the few stories that made headlines around the world.

I have lived in Pakistan and so have in a few other countries and I can confidently say that Korea and Japan are among the few countries that are the "safest for women". Day or night, rush hours or not, crowded places or not - women have been given their space and respect, something I always longed for in Pakistan, South Asia and Muslim countries in particular and others in general. I am grateful to Korea and Koreans for making us women feel safe, in our new home away from home.

In Pakistan, in some cases, even if a husband and wife go out together- they have to keep with them their Nikkah Nama (marriage deed), because in the past, couples have been humiliated, harassed and abused. Female students of all age groups have been abused mentally or physically on daily basis and the list goes on. Here I do not want to highlight wealthy, well -off families - that hardly make up 5% of the country - but the masses in general and the deplorable conditions that these women have to go through. Many of the women can not even identify with what I just wrote because while talking to another fellow Pakistani student, she told me that she never used a public transport in her entire life while living in Pakistan...in such cases how would they ever understand, what one has to go through as a woman in Pakistan. Women in rural areas have a very different set of difficulties than those in urban areas...but life on both ends is really tough!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What do we call this?

It is sold in traditional oriental medicine related herb markets in Korea.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mackerel from Andong (안동고등어)

I cooked Andong Mackerel or Kodong-au (고등어) this week. It was my first time to cook it myself, usually I go out in a restaurant to eat seafood. It turned out great. Nevertheless, my room was smelling like a fish for a few hours - gosh!

Andong is famous for many things such as its centuries old traditions that are still well kept in many ways, Hahoe Maeul(UNESCO: World Cultural Heritage site), Mask dance festival, Food : Andong jjimdak and Andong Soju. I spent 3 days in Andong for the famous Mask Dance Festival (2002) and it was my first trip outside Seoul. It is indeed one of the most memorable and exciting ones in Korea thus far .

Now back to the fish, Andong's Mackerel is also very famous ...and compared to the fish in other countries, here fish smells a little too fishy/it's smell is quite strong but it tastes great too...somebody told me that maybe, I am used to freshwater fish rather than the seawater fish...so I feel that way, anyhow!

The pic. below is of 고등어 (Mackerel)
Salted Mackerel is washed thoroughly in vinegar water ( add 2-3 table spoons of vinegar in bowl of water).

My recipe was simple (see pictures) and tasted very good. Entire preparation and cooking time took 20 minutes. I have to say that I don't have a kitchen and most of the things I cook either go into the microwave, toaster oven or a small hotplate that is solar powered, hence, I have limitations but I only cook what I really crave for, thank God!

Pieces on the right side were fried whereas, on the left, used in a soup!
Here, I have to thank my neighborhood farmer friends - who have always provided me with fresh supplies of their farms -picked up just before cooking - totally free of cost, have no words to express my thanks to them. These farmers and their families are a fantastic company - a much needed change, I really want in my life and also a window to Korean farming communities of Unjeong Dong - a 300 years old small village which is now nestled between hightech Pangyo(a solar-powered neighborhood with the first wi-fi neighborhood in Korea from 2012) and Bundang, why I mentioned here coz, I used their redleaf lettace!

1. Sprinkle salt, red chillie flakes (or Tandoori masala: if available), cumin and rub it with garlic paste (more the better) and fry in olive oil.

2. Add in a few slices of onion and garlic along with fish, so they fry together.

3.Fry both the sides and serve with a bowl of rice or bread (pita etc.)

4. Wrap a piece of fish, a spoon of rice and squeeze lemon and fold it in a lettace leaf and eat!


- Wrapping fried meat,(chicken, fish), rice and red pepper paste or with lemon juice in a combination of lettuce and sesame leaves gives a very nice taste to the dish ~ it can be called lettuce wraps or ssam.

- Korean Lettuce wraps: a very traditional way of eating Korean BBQ by folding it in assorted lettuces/sesame leaves and kimchi + side dishes(반찬), the process is called ssam and this is a good way of eating meat of any sort!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Department of Korean Studies in Pakistan

Hangul Tree by Ha-won Kim

This is one topic that I wanted to write about for quite some time. Today while looking for the options, available in Pakistan, for people interested in Korean Language - I stumbled upon this website of Department of Korean Language at National University of Modern Languages (NUML)in Islamabad, Pakistan. Now, to my surprise, this website was last updated in 2009. From the websites' Korean department history, I found out that in collaboration with Korea Foundation (국제교류재단) and The Embassy of Republic of Korea in Pakistan, Korean language department was established in July 2006. It's first head of the department was Prof.Kim, Myung-joon, an alumni of Korea University with his PhD in Korean literature. He was assisted by 2 Korean teachers and one Pakistani teacher at the time. NUML offers a summer program and regular 3 levels which they call:
- course (6 months)
- diploma (6 months)
- advanced diploma in Korean studies ( 1 year)

While looking into the activities of Korean language and literature, things are fast changing but one thing is for sure, maintenance of a proper website to help people connect to and get information about Korean Studies in Pakistan. Korea ranks on top in e-government in the world so at least, e-information must be readily available on Korean Studies and Korean language acquisition and development in Pakistan for the general public.

I would also like to know, is NUML working with the new initiative of funding/expending of programs within the Korean Studies discipline taken by the Korean government?? If so how and if not, why???

Here I would like to highlight India's Korean Language and Korean Studies program that started in June 1970 in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi with almost no facilities of learning Korean language to conduct in-depth research in the field until the Centre for East Asian Studies (CEAS), incorporated an elaborate curriculum of Korean Studies. Presently, the M.A. program of this center offers courses on the Korean Peninsula in International Affairs and the M.Phil program has courses on: Political & Economic Development, Modern History of Korea (1876- onwards), Korean Peninsula in International Affairs and lastly, the Korean language.
While studying in Korea, I have personally met a number of students from JNU doing exchanges in Korea for 6 months to one year ( where studies and living cost is fully covered by scholarships). Do we have any such thing in Pakistan yet or any time soon??

Another such university is the Delhi University (DU). Their Department of East Asian Studies (DEAS) was established in 2001. Presently, this department offers Certificate of Proficiency, Pre-degree Diploma, and Advance Diploma programs of study in the Korean language. Some courses pertaining to Korean history, culture and politics are offered for M.Phil and PhD students. They are aggressively working and planning to introduce an M.A. programme in Korean Studies in near future in DEAS.

Concluding Remarks:

How can we improve the Korean Studies in Pakistan? As mentioned, it is already 5 years that we have this program at NUML. I have hardly met any exchange students from the Department of Korean language at NUML in any major universities here in Korea.

Government of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) is aggressively working to globalize Korean studies in general and Korean language in particular and therefore, how is Pakistan responding to this very important field of study - where not just the support but the desire to enhance relations and foster long term ties depend on such educational exchanges.

Korea and Pakistan have progressively entered the 28th year of diplomatic relations between the two countries and there is a long way to go. Pakistani universities must focus on introducing Area Studies discipline and particularly a Korean Studies program - and with this, they can definitely learn a lot from the Korean experience in all the different spheres of excellence of Korea.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Pakistan and Korea in 2006, when the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan vistied South Korea to foster ties through educational exchanges. What became of it? Science and Technology was covered and we have a strong student body at KAIST, SNU and a few other unversities but we must focus on other areas as well. Pakistan is the 10 biggest supplier of unskilled workers to Korea and many Pakistanies have settled in Korea, there is a need to foster relations through more and more educational exchanges between the two countries is the need of the hour!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

How to get to Norrkoping

Before starting a workshop or attending a conference, the main question is how to get to Norrkoping campus of the Linkoping University. I was one of the students coming from really the other side of the world and my route was Seoul to Beijing to Stockholm. Once I was at Arlanda Airport , I went to the information booth, this same place sells bus tickets to all the cities in Sweden but the first stop is always the downtown of Stockholm (from where these buses leaves)- called City Central, which is 37 km (23 miles) from Arlanda. I bought my ticket for Norrkoping from Arlanda's Information desk and for downtown Stockholm, I did my little research.
There are two 7 Eleven Stores, one - right across from the information center and the other, towards Terminal C - 10 minutes walk.
Bus for City Central - Stockholm
The guy at the 7 Eleven near Terminal C gave me much cheaper ticket and also a few tips to get around in Stockholm...he was very very kind. So, first I took a bus for which I only paid 30 Krona's -SEK - (5$) to get to Marsta. From Marsta, I took a subway for which I had to pay 60SEK to get to City Central.A total of 30 USD. It took me a little over an hour to get to Stockholm.
Information Desk at Arlanda
On my way, while waiting for the bus to Marsta, I saw this other gentleman, who was also waiting for the bus - he said hello and I found out that he could either speak Spanish or Swede...well, I tried my Spanish of "si, si" and "gracias, gracias"...but that was the moment when I really wished I could speak either Swede or Spanish. Well, he later helped me locate my bus stop to Norrkoping too. He was from Chile and had been living in Sweden for 8 years. I am really grateful to him and another family to be so concerned for me that I get to the Central Bus Station which is just across from the City Central Station - probably 5 minutes walk.
I went to the area for buses that goes to Norrkoping. It cost me 160 SEK (others paid 180 SEK.) which is 30USD.
In about 2 hours, I was in downtown Norrkoping - right next to city's railway station. Unfortunately, I took a taxi, which cost me 150 SEK. for 2 minutes ride to my hostel which I found out later was only 5 minutes walk from the bus-railway station of Norrkoping.
I always regret taking taxi, here again, the same old story.
Later on, people told me that taxi's in Sweden are amongst the 'most expensive option' one can imagine! I have a first-hand experience, 2 minutes ride and the price was same as coming from Stockholm to Norrkoping by bus (2 hours ride).
I must say that Fare on Airportshuttle start at SEK 150 per person.
Fare on The Flygbussarna Airport Coach is SEK 110 to Downtown Stockholm and I paid 90 SEK.
It was indeed a wonderful experience to be there!
I hope this helps people how to get to their destinations from Arlanda Airport (see #6)!


1) Swedes are very very friendly, warm and helpful, almost every single person I met was so nice but I was told that they are cold and non-friendly...really????

2) I ran out of money and one person (Mr. Peter), a perfect stranger, gave me money ( though I wanted to return it, once I came back but he refused!)

3) Avoid taxi's!

4) Some other possibilities to go to and from Arlanda Airport.
5) Swebus Express: to go to hundreds of destinations within Sweden
6) Hating taxis - well I'm not alone here is an entire website on that ;-)
7) From Arlanda to other cities click here.

Full Moon

Full moon from my window!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Be a Doer!

"... be a doer.

I use this line to emphasize the larger point that you don’t have to wait to make an impact. You don’t have to wait for wealth, status, or age. This is true more so today than perhaps ever before.."

@ Rye Barcott/ Kristoff's blog at NYT

Mukhtaran Mai (on BBC)

A lot has been said about the case of Mukhtaran Mai. Here is a recent interview that she gave to BBC. This interview is in Urdu hence, some of her main concerns are translated in English...!

Mukhtaran's case is an example of justice delayed is justice denied!

She was gang raped in 2002 and instead of committing suicide as the tradition goes, she challenge the authorities, raised her voice against the heinous crimes - women in this part have to go through.

Nicolas Kristof of the New York Times also covered her story among many others - a story of perseverance, bravery and standing against the odds, he considers her as 'one of his heroes'. In one of his articles on Mukhtaran he wrote:

"...although I did not find Osama, I did encounter a much more ubiquitous form of evil and terror: a culture, stretching across about half the globe, that chews up women and spits them out.
We in the West could help chip away at that oppression, with health and literacy programs and by simply speaking out against it, just as we once stood up against slavery and totalitarianism. But instead of standing beside fighters like Ms. Mukhtaran, we're still sitting on the fence. "

Nine years on- Supreme Court of Pakistan's decision led many to lost faith in the judiciary - at least, this is Mukhtaran's strong belief. Moreover, she thinks that if people can get away with crimes -that will only encourage others to follow...the judicial decision in her case may have closed many doors towards crimes regarding women if justice was given to her ( watch from 10.01 min.).

Nevertheless, there is one front that Mukhtaran Mai is ready and willing to fight until the end - and that is to fight oppressive values: these are not rooted in religion (any religion) but in poverty, ignorance and lack of education. Mukhtaran Mai's organization is striving hard to fight these evils - taking a step at a time. Though she does NOT have much financial resources and therefore, most of the welfare work she is doing such as schools that she is running depends on donations - even a dollar can do wonders, can help these young girls & boys to continue their education!

Mukhtaran Mai told BBC that 700 girls are studying at her school - this school started with only a few girl with almost the entire village against opening of school for girls but now, people come and request her to admit the girl child...this change of attitude is the biggest success and reward for her. Her schools' motto is: "Ending oppression through education". Nothing can be a bigger contribution from a woman of meagre sources but strong desire for change!
Mukhtaran Mai's organization is also running a boys school with 300 students registered. She said that boys education is extremely important, even more than that of girls because, it is men who initiate crimes against women, most of the time. She said education is the catalyst to any improvement that we expect to bring in our society. One of the main subjects taught in her schools is about rights and responsibilities as well as awareness...which is also an important factor.
How she generates funding(watch from:16:00 min)for her projects? Mukhtaran Mai said, that the money she received through the book "In the Name of Honor", was used to built a school and then articles by N. Kristof and the New York Times also donated money through which they bought land for women's shelter, mobile team and other projects. The Embassy of Netherlands also helped her to set up a center and also in buying land but after floods things have been a little tough for her particularly financially - one of her schools is completely deptroyed by floods and for a long time the remaining two schools in Miranwala were used as refugee camps for flood victims. Her efforts are extraordinary and particularly in a Pakistani context where Pakistan is the third most dagerous country in the world for women. We must support Mukhtaran Mai at all costs.

Picture of the Day!

Across from my room (Bundang, 27 April 2011)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

National Assembly (NA) of Korea (Yeouido)

Information-Map of the NA.

Kukheewon-eui- sadang Subway Station
Preparing the stage.
National Assembly is located in Yeouido, Seoul and is also called 국회의사당, 國會議事堂 or Gukhoe-uisadang.This building was completed in 1975. It has 299 members with a unicameral legislature.
On 31 May, 2011, I went there to attend a Conference organized by UNESCO, Korea - it was an important venue with 10 congressmen/women presiding over the conference on multiculturalism with leading experts in the field in South Korea and also from other countries.

Kim Hye-song (Member of National Assembly), Chairwoman of the Multicultural Family Policy Forum

Welcoming remarks on these trademark Korean style standing-spray - 3 step bouquet!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Paper in Migration Studies

I just got news that my paper is accepted and will be published in this years "Korea Yearbook 2011" by Brill.NL. This is a great news and I am overwhelmed by the undeserved grace of God!!

When I sent my paper, the only thing I wanted was a 'feedback' from editors and wasn't expecting to be among the finalists. I'm often in awe how God has blessed me - can't thank HIM enough!

I am involved with this subject since I got here in Seoul back in 2002.
Korea is a monoethnic country and multicultural/multiethnic phenomenon is relatively new here. Nevertheless, the fabric of society is quickly changing. A lot of marriages taking place in Korea are biracial. Moreover, 90% of its 1.2 million foreign population are migrant workers, followed by the marriage migrants, English language instructors, and the rest. The main nations from where these people have come from are China, USA, Taiwan and Thailand (April 2011 Statistics issued by the Ministry of Justice, South Korea).

Total number of Pakistanies as of April 2011 is 10,711 people, out of which 3,068 (28.6%)are living illegally. Most of them come here under the Employment Permit System to do the 3D (dirty, difficult and dangerous)jobs. Minimum wages are about $1500(USD) and by doing an extra time work they make easily up to $2000(USD)per month, nevertheless, life for them is tough. Some workers call these jobs 4D: adding "deadly" to the group of 3D.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

TAKOYAKI ( たこ焼き): A Japanese Snack!

Takoyaki-(たこ焼き)-타코야끼- is one of my favorite snacks from Japan which is very popular in Korea. It is a fresh baked squid or octopus muffins (in shape of a ball - eatable ping pong balls) topped with a very tasty sauce. I think it is the most renowned among the Japanese snacks outside Japan. They are crispy from the outside and are hot and soft from inside.

The invention of Takoyaki was inspired by Akashiyaki - a street vendor named Tomekichi Endo in Osaka, 1935. It was first enjoyed as a popular dish in Kantai and then was introduced to Kanto and other areas.

Takoyaki can be purchased in many street food stalls and in takoyaki specialty restaurants and eateries especially in Jongno and Myeongdong area and usually near the schools. We had a permanent Takoyaki Truck outside Bokwang Dong , on the road heading to German Embassy near Capital Hotel in Itaewon.

One can learn to make this from a very interesting youtube video at the end of the post!

Last night, I saw this guy near Pangyo, it is quite rare!

I requested him to come here every day but I think that's not possible since shop owners running snack shops won't like his presence that would attract clients.

For more information on this particular franchise "WANGTAKO" one can visit their website and can buy the ingredients or tools used, right here in Korea. It is a very elaborate site but the only problem is that it is in Korean only. ;-(

Through their website, I found out that it takes only a 1000$ (USD) to set up this business and the most expensive of all is the tray in which we prepare Takoyaki - which is 300$ (USD). I guess I must ask Takashi- a long time friend from Kyoto to get me a small, easy to use tray-for personal use!

I am already full with ideas of even making "hodeok - kwaja" or Korean freshly baked walnut cookies in this this... ;-)

If you are looking for halal snacks on the streets of Seol, then this particular snack is 100% halal. Try it, I'm sure that you will love it.