Have a fabulous 2012


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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eid Mubarak from Seoul (이드 무바락 여러분!)

EID MUBARAK Everyone on this special day!

Muslim Federation of Korea announced that Eid will be celebrated today (Aug. 30) - which is the first of Shawwal here. Detail is here.

So the Eid prayers (congregation)will be performed on the 30th of August (today), 2011 on TUESDAY at 10:00 in the Seoul Central Masjid, Itaewon.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Touch Korea Season 1: Seoul Tour for Bloggers (Samulnuri & Bukchon Hanok Village)

All the pictures are taken by the author.

Have you played Samulnuri or visited Bukchon Hanok Village near Anguk Station yet?? If yes, good, and if not: No problem because you can take part through a program organized by Buzz Korea's (Korea Tourism Organization:KTO)trip of Seoul. Well, in this post, I will exclusively talk about Samulnori and Bukchon Hanok Village tour that was part of the trip!

As I said before - after a warm welcome by Buzz Korea team, the trip kicked off in a very friendly manner with loads of excitement for the bloggers on one of the most exciting rainy day excurtions. Buzz Korea did some unique things which include:

1. Giving us beautiful blue passports for the day trip that had our personal info. to be filled by participants and also to keep the record of the activities - under all three themes of samulnurri, ssam and hanok, the passport pages had special spaces,we had to paste photos taken by our Korean group leaders through polaroid cameras...a very cool feature, very unique and we got it stamped by the officials too.

2.Korean bloggers - who teamed up with KTO - covered our activities. One of them was their photographer - whose photos can be seen in the FLICKR account below. He has done an excellent job despite difficult conditions and I heard that he is a famous blogger at Naver.

3. Organizing lessons in Samulnuri from Mr. Seo - a passionate teacher...who tried to teach and disperse important information as well as hands-on experience with Samulnori and especially Janggu.

4. Experiencing Ssam (wrapped BBQued meat in leaves+rice+sidedishes) and

5. Bukchon Hanok Village (복촌한옥마을)- visit - where many dramas & films were shot ( such as Personal Taste in which Lee Minhoo starred or the very famous Winter Sonata - main catalyst of the Korean Wave). A very authentic hanok village in the heart of Seoul with its original residents still living there - you can't help admiring creativity, simplicity, beauty, tradition and modernity in just one place!

6. We got memorablia & gifts (souveniers) too - a set of key chains (with 신부:bride/신랑:bridegroom)+ a card holder inlaid with mother of the pearl on lacquer coated wood, both very traditional Korean representative gifts - well chosen!

First I'll talk of Samulnuri - A music in folk genre - the teacher explained that the word refers to the four instruments (kwaengwari, jing,janggu, and buk). With roots in farmers music each of the four instruments represents a different weather condition( most important thing for farmers): the janggu represents rain, the kkwaenggwari thunder, the jing the sounds of the wind, and the buk clouds.

He said that yin and yang is also reflected in samulnuri: the buk and janggu - both drums (leather) represent the sounds of the earth, while the jing and kkwaenggwari (metal) represent sounds of the heavens. We were asked to brainstorm on where this tradional folk genre becomes one with other countries sounds such as Janggu and Tabla (Indian drum) was one example. As we all know that music transverse borders and touches hearts and minds of people and so is the case with Samulnuri which was followed up by Mask dance.

After this class we had lunch of Ssam - the Korean barbequed meat wrapped in various leaves and sidedishes - at a beautiful restaurant in Insadong and then we headed to Bukchon Hanok village. We all met up with a guide - an expert in this area and even though it rained all through the trip: the excitement never ceased for any of us.

Bukchon Hanok Village which is only 100 meters from Changdeokgong [Palace], at walking distance from Anguk station (exit.2 - go straight) and also a walking distance from Gyeongbokgung [Palace] is a site where tradition meets modernity and where ancient times meet modern times, where east meets west and where traditions and culture meets globalization. 'Buk' means North and 'Cheon' means stream and thus it is a 'village on the nortern side of the stream (our Chonggye Cheon) hence - the name.

Earlier, I have covered the Season 1: Seoul Trip here and here

Our bus parked in the Constitutional Court of Korea and from there we marched to Bukchon Hanok cultural center.

This entire area has a touch & air of its own. Bukchon was once famous as the residence for the royal family and high-ranking officials (yangban or 양반). Tile-roofed houses from late Joseon Dynasty (late 18th Century) are in plenty here and almost all of them have been rennovated.

Choong Ang High School: Location of Winter Sonata

This place is nestled right next to Insadong as I mentioned earlier and for more information please visit KTO site. Our first site was Choong Ang High School- which has indeed a beautiful and unique architecture copmared to other schools - a few episodes of "Winter Sonata" or 겨울연가 were shot here and is a favourite spot of Japanese tourists where this drama was a mega hit. Have you heard of the "Korean Wave" or Hallyu/한류/and pronounced as 할류 if not then this drama is one of the major contributors of Korean Wave in Japan, Asia and in the world and opened doors wide open for Korean entertainment industry to the world at large! Near the Choong Ang High School was a huge "Kagae/shop" selling postcards/stickers of K-Pop, K-Drama and film in the Bukchon area. As we were walking to the main attrations, I saw a bench ouside Bukchon Art Gallery called "Two Men Eating a Biscuits".
Bench named as: Men eating biscuits

Bukchon Hanok preservation project started with a full swing in 2002 and that was the first time I visted it with the main architect who was assigned to restore Bukchon. People still live in these house and since it is a major tourist attraction: it offers a lot to tourist attractions from Bukchon's Hanok style guest houses to restaurants and museums to coffee shops.
A beautiful way to use menu for the Coffee Shop on an Old TV: Very Creative
Mr. Chang Hanok: he built it himself and is considered as a living national treasure.

300 years old Tree: part of it is nside one of the rooms!
Hanok : Tile roofs.
Hanok under cables!
Alley to a Hanok!
Beautiful Hanok

It was a walking to an ancient Korea or Joseon dynatsy.

In a Hanok village to enjoy it a little further is to know what are they: the traditional Korean house is unique in itself: it is made with bricks and loads of woods...and is in harmony with yin and yang and importance is given to 풍수 or fengsui according to the owner of one of the hanoks we visted during our Seoul Tour.

Windows are unique and beautiful and so are the main doors and roofs!
Traditional Window made with Wood and Melbury Paper linings!
A front door with palace seal !
Another Door!
The beautiful main doors made with pure wood and iron combination.

We visited the panoramic street in Bukchon that is famous for its view and took photos.
Most famous alley
Another Alley among Hanoks!
Walls of Hanok

There are also a lot of art galleries, coffee shops, restaurants with really great & beautiful interior and unique stuff.

Wall of a school: typical Korean pattern seen on palaces & temples only!
A suggested spot to take photos of the panoramic view!
Elegant Korean "Dojagee" or Ceremics: 도자기!

I will highly recommed people to visit Bukchon in all 4 seasons. You will love it!
One can also register on Buzz Korea's website and apply for a trip. This tour was for bloggers so if you have a blog - hop on and buzz Korea & participate.

Photos taken by Buzz Korea can be seen on Flickr here.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Seoul Flea Market for Used Books

2011 Seoul Global Center’s 6th Foreigners’ Flea Market

-Special Flea Market of Secondhand Books-
Looking to clear a little space for new additions? Come and share your love of a good story with fellow expats and Seoul residents at the Seoul Global Center's 6th Foreigners' Flea Market of 2011. This month's market is for the sale of secondhand books only. Vendors must be foreign nationals or part of a team including foreign nationals. For Korean citizens who wish to participate as vendors, please apply on the website of the Ttukseom Beautiful Flea Market (http://www.flea1004.com). The vendor registration should be completed in advance and there is no fee to participate. All customers are welcome to visit without registration.

1. Date/Time/Place

 ▷ Date & Time: Aug 27th, 2011 from 12:00to 16:00

▷ Place: Ttukseom Beautiful Flea Market (Ttukseom Resort Station)

2. How to Get There

▷ Subway: Get off at Ttukseom Resort Station, line 7, exit No. 2 or 3

※The area gets easily congested and parking is limited. Please use the public transportation. There is a
charge for parking and free parking or discounts are not available.

3. How to Register as a Vendor/Donator

▷Contact information

- Phone : 02-2075-4105 (Korean), 02-2075-4180 (foreign languages)

- Email: jglim@sba.seoul.kr

- Fax: 02-723-3206

4. Rules and Guidelines for Vendors

The Beautiful Flea Market is a flea market that encourages people to buy and use more second-hand goods and to increase the value of recycling. Some of the proceeds will go to charity for our neighbors in need.
Please follow our general rules for vendors to make your experience more enjoyable.

▷The number of items for sale is limited 40 secondhand books (less than 5 copies of the same book)

▷For more people to participate, only one booth will be given to each team.

▷Please donate at least 10% of your proceeds.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Visiting Yonsei University Intl. Campus (Songdo) for a Conference -1

I was at a conference which is currently taking place here at Songdo- a city built on a muddy / reclaimed land near the Incheon airport.

Songdo is designed to minimize energy consumption and pollution by a combination of design, architecture and information technology. This is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods I have come across here in Korea. I live in Pangyo (Bundang) which is considered as one of the most expensive and high-tech neighborhoods but Songdo has a cool architecture and a different aura to itself...though a lot of construction is still in progress...it is indeed impressive. Anyhow, we are staying at the dorms of the Yonsei University's International Campus at Songdo located at the Campus Town (right across from exit 2).

A dorm roon at Yonsei-Songdo

As the campus is newly built and I'm the first occupant of this room, smell of of varnish and paint is quite strong but its a room with a view and is very bright too. Designed to accomodate 2 students, it is centrally airconditoned and equipped with all that one might need as a student. This building is U-shaped and is connected with two bridges give it an  interesting look!

University of Incheon - Songdo

At 10 minutes drive from the Intl. Yonsei campus is the University of Incheon...which also has a beautiful and huge campus. This area is called the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) and will serve as a hub of local and foreign univeristy campuses in near future as well as economy and information technology. The University of New York and the University of North Carolina will be the next additions here and will open their campus by September of this year according to Joonang Daily.

Kim, Young-sam touring the Yonsei campus, source: joongang daily

 I am happy that I visited Songdo - an artificially built city with no history  of it own - nothing to hold on to but surely a bright future ahead. When I was an intern at the Incheon airport - it was always a hot topic of discussion amongst co-workers - their desire to live in Songdo or to send the kids to schools at Songdo...it is amazing to actually walk around this man made island crossing the beautiful and impressive Songdo bridge - the world's fifth largest supension bridge.

Yonsei Dorms at Songdo

Read a  fantastic article on SONGDO City here at the Independent..

I really enjoyed the venue, the city and the academic gathering at Songdo - my thanks goes to the organizing committee for giving us a chance to share different viewpoints and experience Songdo.

How to get to Songdo from Seoul?

1- From Gangnam station exit 3. walk straight for 3 minutes and at the first bus stop - wait for bus number 6405. This express bus will take you to Songdo. It takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes during rush hours and slighlty less otherwise.

2- From Seonbawi Station (Line 4) take exit 3. There is a bus stop stop on your right, wait for bus 6405. It takes 1 hour and 10 minutes to get to Campus town.

3- From Incheon airport: take bus 303..and get off at campus town.

4- One can also reach Songdo by subway and for that consult a subway map - it is hassle free but a little long trip to get to Songdo.