Have a fabulous 2012


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

Monday, July 30, 2012

Camel Milk in Islamabad

  <--Milking camel

Many of us have experienced drinking milk from the cows or the goats but have you tried camel's milk? I have the pleasure of drinking camel's milk in Islamabad and it was an absolute accident.

I saw two women and a kid herding 3 camels - right in front of my house. I took some shots and thought that I must go near them to get some clear/closeup photos. I never saw a camel in Islamabad and this was an awesome experience. I've to confirm that Islamabad is not a dessert or anything close to it. It was my first time ever to see an actual/real camel in this city and hence, the excitement. I asked the woman if she sells milk and she said yes, and added: that's her livelihood. I asked how much for a litre and she said 100 rupees or 1USD or 1000KRW only. I got hooked and bought a liter. I had absolutely no idea what it would taste like but then I just wanted to give it a try and curiosity lead to this experiment.

Camels in front of my house

One of the woman milked the camel right in front of me ( see the video above). I also paid her some more money to allow the baby camel to drink milk from the mummy camel - since these people do NOT allow them to drink. It was a great experience for all of us. 

They were constantly eating, on extreme left is the baby-camel

Camel's milk tasted almost the same as cow's milk. If I had NOT seen her milking the camel I wouldn't have guessed it. The consistency was very watery may be they feed them too much water before going for business or may be for some other reasons. I shared this milk with a cat and her 3 kittens + two dogs. All these animals kept smelling it for a while but then they drank it - it was so funny to see how suspicious they were about the milk. Since the milk was organic and was super fresh and this is absolutely rare. 

I've previously tried horse, buffalo, cow, goat and sheep's milk. Amongst them all, goat's milk was really difficult to drink since it has a strong smell of some sort that I didn't liked. If we look around then we will see that people have been drinking milk from the yak, the water buffalo, the reindeer, the elk and a few other animals. 

Anyhow, a lot has been said and written about the benefits of camel's milk: stories about how good it is for the diabetic patients; how it work wonders against food allergies; it's benefits for children with autism and so on and so forth. I do NOT believe any of this but still I don't care if this is for real or if it is just a hype.  Autism is a genetic disorder and hence, except for God's miracle nothing might work. Diabetes has nothing to do with how much insulin camel's milk has - since we can't inject camel milk directly into the body unlike insulin via injections and no wonder if that would have been the case - countries like the United States where kids at young ages are suffering from it would have O.Ked it through FDA but they have not. 

In Pakistan, we can sell anything with ideas as wild as you can fly by drinking this or you will go to heaven by killing that and so on. In reality, it is NOT that easy. 

Aside all these facts, figures, religion and science, I,  for one, thoroughly enjoyed drinking camel's milk. I felt very full for a long time, may be it was psychological. 

I believe that there is nothing wrong with trying this new idea, if not much, you will just get to know another type of milk. No wonder it has been around for thousands of years and was one of the main sources of food for nomads. In addition, this will surely run the kitchens of these women/ families who were herding them in difficult weather conditions. I will not mind drinking a cup of camel's milk every day. 

On a final note, I wonder what happened to CDA's law on prohibiting animals  like donkeys,  horses and like to roam around on the streets of Islamabad. :-0

Friday, July 27, 2012

South Korea Breaks the First World Record in London Olympics 2012

Im Dong-hyun, who is legally blind, broke his own individual record for 72 arrows and joined Kim Bubmin and Oh Jin-hyek to set a new team mark for 216 arrows - smashing the world record by 18 points.
For more: Read at the Daily mail.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What to eat during Ramadan in South Korea

Yache (야채) Bibimbap

When one travels to Korea for the first time then there are two major concerns, one being the language barrier and the other being food. I'll talk of food since one can NOT do without it.

Particularly, if somebody is traveling to Korea and does not belong to the eat-whatever group of people then life is a little tough. I'll definitely recommend everybody to google Korean Cuisine and then see what works for them before their trip to Korea starts. By the way, I've to say that one has a lot to choose from within Korean cuisine since it is very diverse. Korean Cuisine revolves around vegetables, seafood and meat that comes in combination with a rice bowl or noodles and loads of side dishes called panchun (반찬). If somebody is a vegetarian or is barred to eat a few things due to religious reasons or otherwise, I see no point that they be worrying too much.

I will focus on how to find halal food within Korean cuisine and there is plenty. (However, I'll suggest only a couple of dishes in this post).

1) Bibimbap tops my list.  Bibimbap is a large bowl of rice topped with a rich variety of individually prepared sitr-fried vegetables and tuna or beef etc. and served with seasoned red pepper paste. Some of the very standard ones come with a fried egg on top of it. Order "Yachae (야채:vegetables) bibimbap or Chamchi - dolsot (돌솥 비빔밥) bimimbap (stonebowl tuna bibimbap). It is one of the most representative foods of Korea and has been officially sponsored by the government for the globalization of Korean cuisine. I still remember that our university neighborhood in Sinchon had this dish starting with 2500 won (2USD) and was better than a 10,000 won (10USD) bibimbap in Insadong.

Sundubu Chigae

2) Sundubu Chigae or 순두부찌개 (chigae is also spelled as jjigae) is my second most favorite food. Chigae is a Korean stew and this is roughly called tofu+seafood stew. The type of tofu (dubu) used in this stone pot dish has a texture so smooth it is almost like custard or yogurt. Among the seafood oysters, mussels, clams and shrimp are common ingredients, vegetables include mushrooms, onion, scallions, and kochujang or kochu garu (chili powder). It is pretty spicy and is eaten with plain rice.

Ssang-song kui - grilled mackerel.

3) Ssangsong Kui (생선귀)is grilled fish. Usually, grilled mackerel is served with a variety of side dishes, lettuces and rice. It is a good choice for anybody looking for a halal food in Korea.

Doenjang Chigae

4) Doenjang Chigae or 된장 찌개 (Fermented bean paste stew) is also a good choice but most probably it will take time to  build a taste for it. It is considered as one of the healthiest among the already healthy Korean cuisine. The key ingredients are, as the name suggests, Korean bean paste and tofu. It has an array of vegetables and sometimes anchovies are added while making a broth. It has strong fermented smells hence, if you are NOT good with the fermented food, seafood smells then avoid it.


5) Phajeon or Korean Pizza:  It’s fairly inexpensive and generally really well balanced nutritionally. It is completely unpretentious and delicious. It looks like a pizza and we can say that it is a big/ plate sized pakarora or a pancake with kimchi or seafood or vegetables or cheese in it. People love to have it on a rainy day or a really cold day.

Lotteria's shrimp burger: Source

6) Shrimp/Fish burger at Lotteria: Among the fast food chains my favorite is Lotteria. They have a very fantastic shrimp burger set as well as fish and squid burger sets. They are halal, they are 'really' tasty and they are inexpensive. You can also enjoy how the idea of fast food changes from country to country and how some countries have taken it to next/better level, hence try a Korean version of fast foods at Lotteria.By the way, Lotteria's shrimp burger has been around since 1977.

I will give Lotteria "A+"- I'm hooked to them through their spicy squid burger set. They have changed it a little since it used to be super hot but super tasty!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cartoon of the Day: Ramadan

I like to read "the Indonesian Tifa" often.
This cartoon is from her blog that was further sourced to ESunnah

Monday, July 23, 2012

Buyeo Seodong Lotus Festival, 26-29 July 2012

Buyeo Seodong Lotus Festival is kicking of within a week. Do NOT miss!

DATE: Thursday 26- Sunday 29 July 2012
VENUE: Seodong Park (Gungnamji) area, Buyeo-gun, South Chungcheong Province

DESCRIPTION: This festival celebrates the beautiful lotus flowers and highlights the importance of preserving wild flowers. The festival’s program contains many events related to lotus flowers, making paper lotus flowers and making lotus flower soap are two particularly popular programs with international visitors.

INFO: +82-41-830-2921~2 or for help getting information in English, 041-1330. Festival website has some information in English.

GETTING THERE: From Seoul Nambu Bus Terminal, take an intercity bus to Buyeo. From Buyeo Intercity Bus Terminal, take a taxi to Gungnamji. (5-7min).

Sunday, July 22, 2012


If you are traveling to Korea then some of the very basic phrases are below besides Ann-yong Ha-say-yo - 안녕하세요! (Hello)! and Kham-sa-hamnida - 갑사합니다 (Thank you).

Saying Yes or Agreeing to something
Yes – 네 (Ne) or 예 (Ye)  **Note that 네/ 예 is also used to denote that you agree or understand what the other party is saying or just applying that you are there.** Eg. When someone calls out your name, usually Koreans will answer 네/ 예 to state their presence.
Yes, I am – 네 그렇습니다  (Ne, kurosumnida)
Correct! or Right! – 맞아요 (Majayo)
It’s true – 정말이야 (Chongmariya)
Okay – 좋아 or 좋아요 (Joh-a or Joh-ayo) It also means good (I am okay with it)
I am okay -  괜찮아요 (Gwaenchanayo)
Certainly or I know/understand – 알겠어요 (Algesseoyo) or 알겠습니다 (Algesseumnida)
I think so – 그렇게 생각해요 (Kureoke saengakhaeyo)
Yes please (do so) – 그렇세요 (Kureoseyo)
Of course or Absolutely yes – 당연하지 (Dangyeonhaji)

 Saying No or Disagreeing
Saying no is as important to saying yes too!

No – 아니오  (Anio)
No, I am not  – 아니오 틀립니다 (Anio, teurimnida)
Wrong – 틀립니다 (Teurimnida) or 틀려요 (Teuryeoyo)
Never – 절대 아니야 (Cheoldae aniya)
No way! – 말도 안 돼 (Maldo an dwe)
That is not right – 그렇지 않아요 (Kureoji anayo) or  그렇지 않습니다 (Kureoji ansumnida)
I don’t know – 몰라요 (Mollayo)
Of course not – 물론 아니지 (Mullon aniji)


One very helpful website to learn Korean online is Teacher Rob's Website HERE.

I hope that you already know about the website: Talk to Me in Korean


Korean Class 101

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Grievances on Cleanliness in Islamabad: Sanitation Department of CDA

Hardworking Cleaning Staff of CDA's Sanitation Department, Islamabad

During my stay in Islamabad, I made sure that the neighborhood's cleanliness be maintained. Neighbors (especially shopkeepers and their families living in apartments on or under the shops) here are quite comfortable throwing garbage bags in front of others' house and particularly if it is located in front of the green belt. If you have a market (big or small) close-by then it is definitely going to add misery to your life.

Cleaning campaign by CDA

I called Sanitation Department of CDA, Islamabad (Capital Development Authority) over one hundred times, only 7% of the times action was taken in that regard. I wanted them to fine/penalize the residents for throwing garbage all over the place in spite of regular visit of janitors door to door but was told by the Director that CDA does NOT have the power to fine the people. Viola!

Scavenger's horse grazing

How will we ever have the writ of law in a country like Pakistan where people know that they can get away with everything....even killing a person or burning a person alive  to minor stuff like throwing garbage anywhere and justifying it in the name of Allah or whatnot.

Garbage being picked up by CDA: A very wrong method which will make the janitor a lifetime back-ache patient (change the damn trollys)

I called my residential area's supervisor for sanitation and also the cleaning staff. They told me that people are abusive and are even ready to beat them up. I fully understand the situation hence, I gave up on the staff. I called Chairman CDA's office. They were kind enough to listen to me and referred me to Director General Civic Management: Mr. Rawal. I submitted written applications. Actions were taken, cleaning campaign kicked off and lasted until 8:00pm in the evening (I'm thankful to them)  but then this is NOT the solution that may last long-term. Here, I have to say that everything is based on short-term solutions, sadly.

Scavenger woman in search of recyclable garbage in Islamabad

I believe that in this particular case, solution lies in punishing the culprits. This is a time tested rule worldwide. Singapore is the world's cleanest city/country. Why? Are people law abiding or genetically different from the rest? NO. Laws are tough & are enforced. In Singapore, heavy fines, punishments and penalties are something you can NOT escape from and hence, resulted in creating the cleanest city of the world.

Cleanliness is close to Godliness...I guess???
In a Pakistani culture where mosques, madrassas and mullahs have increased a thousand times in the past 10 -15 years, society per se has become less God-fearing and more mullah-fearing. It is very, very unfortunate. Looking deep, Islam's philosophy revolves around self reflection and considering God (Allah ) as supreme. Man - God relationship is direct without any intermediary. This doesn't seems to be the case anymore.

Lal Masjid: Melody Chowk - Islamabbad

The other day, at the end of Jummah (Friday) prayers, the Imam asked on a loud speaker to pray for Mr. XYZ to have children since his wife couldn't bear a child for the past 3 years. I was literally shocked to hear that but what I want to say is: would our Imam also add up to his priorities - the importance of keeping a clean neighborhood, not throwing garbage etc. to his sermons and doa?

Mosques in Pakistan have failed to give back to the society as much as they could. They have surely taken a lot. NOT once in a khutbah have I heard the Imam of a mosque to focus on some meaningful topics to address and there is plenty to talk about. All I heard was: give us money we have to expand the mosque and thus, build yourself a house in heaven....!  Mosque (masjid) is a place where people can really learn a lot - historically, it was a hub of social networking and also a seat of learning. Organizing lectures on basics topics such as cleanliness and good moral values through Imams can be a very effective and good start but that is NOT the agenda of mosques - Jihad is. Family of the Imam and the moazzan of our neighborhood mosque throw garbage on the main street. I witnessed his young daughter doing so. What will he teach  to others?? Charity begins at home...right?

I told the Director General of Civic Management  (CDA), that people are very offended by me. Since, we are in a habit of abusing, torturing, throwing acid at, killing, shooting or burning people alive - I see myself as a potential target when I leave home for morning walks. With this fear in my head, I continued my daily walks and was stubborn to tell people not to throw garbage here and there, if and when I saw that happening. Nevertheless, this is really NOT the cause worth dying for! My close friends and family said to me again and again: come back alive, please. I can NOT guarantee anything but then, life is in God's hand.I know HE is watching over me. I'm NOT asking too much, though.

I hope people realize that clean mind, house, street, neighborhood, city and country are really a blessing and no wonder, Islam has emphasized on it, again and again.
I wish, people could understand this simple yet beautiful idea!

Maybe in Ramadan, we will learn to practice this habit of NOT throwing garbage all over the place except the designated bins. Abide by law, I know that it is hard in a lawless country but still. Technically, it  takes 15 days only to make something your lifelong  habit. I will surely pray for that...

I'm utterly grateful to CDA management for addressing my grievances but they MUST CHANGE the rules of the game!

How to get to Directorate of Sanitation, CDA, Islamabad: It is across from Lal
Masjid, A huge board will indicate the directions. The sector is G-6/1-3.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ramadan Mubarak!

Ramadan Preparations at the Badshahi Mosque Lahore, Pakistan

It's first of Ramadan in Korea, Japan (Northeast Asia), Kazakhstan (Central Asia), Europe and  North America, probably in many other regions across the world too.

I wish everyone a very gracious, wonderful and a memorable Ramadan!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rush TIckets for Performances at Daehangno Theaters

When I first saw a performance at Daehangno, I remember that I loved it but the ticket was very expensive. Many a times, I thought why are theaters empty and do not sell discounted tickets so that at least they get some money instead of none. It was more of a thought but recently,  the Korea Tourism Organization(KNTO) plans to open a website that will sell "rush tickets" that are sold on the day of performance at discounted prices starting August this year.I personally think that it is great. I stopped going to performances because Korea is over expensive compared to other countries but now, I'll reconsider.

Anyhow, the website will offer 50 to 90 percent discount on the rush tickets for major performances to be held at Daehangno, a theater district in Seoul, as well as major art centers, according to Korea Herald.

Do visit Daehangno, you will love it whether you see a performance or not. Evenings are a good time and so are the weekends.
Red Bean Porridge Granny and the Tiger by Yoon Mi-suk

For more information, call (02) 729-9536.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ramadan ( Month of Fasting) in Korea

Iftar at a Mosque

Ramadan is just around the corner and hence, a post.

Principles of Ramadan across the countries, cultures and families are the same: time for inner reflection, devotion to God, self-control and cleansing of body and mind however, the celebrations varies from place to place and people to people.

Muslims fast (do NOT eat from dawn to dusk) during Ramadan. Young and old, men and women everybody wants to fast but then there are exceptions to the rule for those who shouldn't be fasting. It is observed at a national level in Pakistan and culturally, there is a prohibition of eating in public, even if one doesn't fast for whatever reasons. Rules are NOT as strict as is the Middle East: nobody's sent to jail or heads are shaved, though.

In Islam, religion is not limited to the private life but instead, it is often exhibited publicly through social obligations and rights. Over the years, we have really twisted a few things while practicing this idea but I don't want to rant about it now.

I think my best Ramadan was when I was a kid while living in Pakistan. A Ramadan day used to start with sirens for Sheri ( also called Suhoor) and the fast used to start with the Fajar Azzan  (also called Adhan) at dawn and ends with Magrib Azzan at dusk. There was always a lot of excitement in just waking up at Suhoor (also called Sehri) and I guess waiting was the essence of it all.

A lot of different varieties of mouth watering food was prepared that we only used to get in Ramadan and the taste always seemed enhanced, magically. It was a full blown family reunion thing, first ever fast was celebrated as a party for anyone turning 12 years old or sometimes even  much younger, reciting of Quran every morning and afternoon, Tarveeh (Tarawhee), and  of course, endless shopping to celebrate Eid (Eidul Fitr or Idul Fitri) - which follows Ramadan were some of the initials. On the last day of Ramadan, we, the girls,  used to have Mehndi/ Henna. I still remember, we all used to go out in the lawns and used to try our luck to track the new moon for Shawwal to celebrate Eid and to say adios to Ramadan but then with time, TV took over the tradition of moon sighting and people started to wait in  front of TVs to hear if the moon is sighted or not.  Dang :-(

Anyhow, new clothes, shoes, sweets, gifts, money given to kids by the elders in the family, sharing life with the less fortunate and making sure to give Fitra (charity) was very important for ever household irrespective of their economic standings. Over all, we as Muslims are obliged to give charity, repent sins, make an effort to do good deeds, read Quran and act on it as well, pray, and offer iftar (breaking of the fast) to those who fast are some of the basics of Ramadan.

I still remember that neighbors used to share their Iftari (special  food prepared to break fast) with others living in the same street or invite guests on Thursdays and  Fridays. Extra food was also prepared to share with those who fasted and those who could not afford it. Special Iftari was prepared to send to mosques where a lot of people used to gather to break fast. Markets and bazaars used to bustle with people. It was beautiful times and Pakistan was also a wonderful place to live unlike now.

Then what happened? Actually,  Globalization hit us as an epidemic and people started moving to other countries more often than not. Families broke down and dispersed. We also moved out and then experienced an entirely different Ramadan from country to country where we got to live. I will specifically talk of my Ramadan experience in Seoul, South Korea since I've spent 10 Ramadans here, seriously!

One thing is that Ramadan is NOT a public affair anymore. It is an individual/private affair. I still remember that I was taking an exam on Eid day (Eid has the same importance as Chuseok or Christmas for some). It was  a strange feeling. Unlike Pakistan, no short working hours, no Azzans (Adhan) to be heard, not much celebration to see at a mass scale but the good news is: if you want to feel/experience Ramadan then stop by Seoul Central Mosque in Itaewon. The Itaewon's mosque neighborhood has an air  of festivity and of the holy month. Fridays are very special there but almost every day of Ramadan is good. Seoul Central Mosque offers Sahoor, Iftar and Taraveeh. Many embassies as well as Muslim businessmen and others contribute to keep the traditions going. Seoul Mosque offers separate services for women and men . Itaewon's Muslim restaurants from Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh and the Middle East also offer free Iftar. Sometimes, Embassies also offer Iftar for it's nationals. Uzbek, Malaysian and Indonesian embassies are amongst them.

At a personal level, local people are quite curious about Ramadan and wants to know more. For many, it is their first time to actually meet somebody fasting and they are quite concerned about it in a good way. Many of your friends or colleagues would ask you all sort of questions so be prepared. I was surprised when friends prepared special food for me despite the fact that they were NOT Muslims and they told me that Eid is a national holiday in the Philippines. Philippines: you rock! A few Koreans wondered why we do NOT fast the year round? 

 I know that Ramadan at home and homeland is an entirely different story however, there are many ways in which you can enjoy it while still away from home. Invite friends from other Muslim countries to join you. You can offer a place to invite others fasting in your neighborhood to gather together for Salat (Namaz), preparing food together for Iftar and organize your Taraveeh in case you live far away from Itaewon. Even if you are living closeby it is NOT necessary that you'd be able to make it to Itaewon. Try to be innovative and use your skills and follow the old school of celebrating Ramadan, meaning spirit of sharing and giving!

Wish you a happy and gracious Ramadan.

To dig further:

Namaz or Salat Times (also:Ramadan/Ramazan Schedule) for the month of Ramadan, 2012 in Seoul, Korea: click HERE

How to get to Itaewon Central Mosque: click HERE

List of Mosques in South Korea: click HERE

How to get to Daegu Mosque/Islamic Center: click HERE and scroll down to comments.

How to get to Daejeon Mosque and Islamic Center: click HERE

Blog posts on Ramadan in Korea by an Indonesian is here and a Malaysian is here. Very interesting writeups.

MosqueKBS documentary on "Muslims in Korea" : HERE and Arirang's Islam in Korea HERE (Interview with the Imam of Jeonju Mosque).

A YOU TUBER has uploaded a very nice video  HERE on Seoul Central Mosque, its governing body and the neighborhood per se.

Cats versus Humans (a hilarious blog)!

If you are a cat owner or knows somebody is then you are surely gonna enjoy this blog by Yasmin Surovec!
This comic depicts life of many a cat owners and it is hilarious. Check it out here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Solar Powered Steel Forest of SIngapore

It is a great idea and the tress are beautiful but these tress are NOT the only tress powered y solar tress, I guess every tree on earth is solar powered however, they are not made of steel and gladly so.

For more see here at CNN.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lotus Lakes in Korea

Lotus Season these days in Korea

Lotus lakes are a common sight in Korea.
They have a lot of significance religiously and many temples have small ponds with a lotus there. Lotus flower represents one symbol of fortune in Buddhism. Over and over again, lotus, a beautiful flower appeared here in there in life while in Korea irrespective of the season. We indulge in its beauty, its story and its making  during the Lotus Lantern festivals at Buddha's birthday. We came across it while it was in full bloom during my temple stays in Gawondo, Daegu, Pyeongtaek and Ganghwa.

 It grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flower’s first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment.

The second meaning, which is related to the first is purification. It resembles the purifying of the spirit which is born into murkiness.

The third meaning refers to faithfulness. Those who are working to rise above the muddy waters will need to be faithful followers.

The color bears importance in the meaning of the lotus flower in Buddhism. A white lotus flower refers to purity of the mind and the spirit. If a lotus flower is red, it refers to compassion and love. The blue lotus flower refers to the common sense; it uses wisdom and logic to create enlightenment. The pink lotus flower represents the history of Buddha and the historical legends of the Buddha. A purple lotus flower speaks of spirituality and mysticism. Finally, the gold lotus flower represents all achievement of all enlightenment, especially in the Buddha.

The stage of growth the lotus flower is in represents a different stage of enlightenment. A closed lotus flower represents the time before a Buddhist follower found Buddha or enlightenment. A lotus flower fully bloomed and open represents full enlightenment and self-awareness.

The mud represents an importance in the meaning of the lotus flower in Buddhism. All humans are born in a world where there is suffering. This suffering is a vital part of the human experience; it makes us stronger and teaches us to resist the temptation of evil. When we banish evil thoughts from our mind we are able to break free of the muddy water and become one with the Buddha. The mud shows us who we are and teaches us to choose the right path over the easy one.

Finally, the lotus flower represents rebirth, both in a figurative and a literal sense. The rebirth can be a change of ideas, an acceptance of Buddha where there once was none, the dawn after one’s darkest day, a renaissance of beliefs or the ability to see past wrongs. In a literal sense, the meaning of the lotus flower in Buddhism represents rebirth as a reincarnation, such as in the Buddhist religion, when a soul leaves this world in its present form to be reborn in another.

By the way, I wonder how is the Lotus Lake (Kanwal Lake) in Lok Virsa, Islamabad doing? At one point, it was maintained quite well but  has it come to ruins like many other things?

photo credits@ ChosunIlbo and here.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Boryeong Mud Festival Kicks Off Today (July 14 -July 24)

The Boryeong Mud Festival at Daecheon Beach, South Chungcheong Province, opens for 11 days of annual mud-themed madness on Saturday and runs until July 24.

The festival has been soaring in popularity over the years. Last year, it welcomed 2.26 million visitors, including 200,000 foreigners. This has generated over a 100 million dollars into the regional economy and hence gaining importance to boost Chungcheong region. This year's festival will be two days longer than last year's, while the number of events and programs has increased from 49 to 53.

The festival has drawn attention as visitors are able to experience mud-themed games and have a chance to use mud products which are known to have cleaning properties. Mud sucks the body's waste out of the skin's pores and supplies the skin with minerals and moisture. It is also believed to be beneficial in treating certain skin diseases.

Started in 1998 to promote Boryeong's natural mud, the festival also sells a range of cosmetic products made from mud extracts taken from the shore near Daecheon Beach.

The festival offers lots of fun programs, such as mud slides, mud massages, and body painting using colored mud.

Mud Festival's website is HERE in English, Japanese, Chinese and Korean to to know all the events, contests, and how to get to Boryeong.

Source: Chosun Ilbo

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Korea’s First Adoption Center for Rescued Animals Opens

The country’s first adoption center for rescued animals opened Saturday on Toegye-ro ( Dongdaemun - gu), Seoul, ironically, on a street lined with pet shops and puppy mills.

Director of Coexistence of Animal Right on Earth (CARE) Park So-yeon explained that she specifically chose Toegye-ro as the location for CARE’s Adoption Center because the area is famous for puppy mills.

“Hundreds of animals are locked up in small cages for reproducing pets. When the breeding dogs become useless, they are handed over to dog meat sellers. CARE wanted to boycott the ‘puppy mills’ at Chungmu-ro and promote our ‘Adopt, Don’t Buy’ campaign,” explained Park.

“The officially announced number of abandoned dogs is 100,000 a year in Korea, but I’m guessing that it amounts to more than 500,000. The problem comes from an excessive supply of pets, and the problem can be solved by developing a culture of animal adoption.”

CARE, a non-profit organization promoting animal rights, focuses on rescuing abandoned or abused animals. It currently operates an animal shelter, which houses 250 dogs and 50 cats, in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province.

“Most animal shelters are located in the suburbs, which is not very accessible to the public, and the conditions are inadequate at best. Our CARE shelter also needs more improvement, even though it is the best animal shelter in Korea,” said Park.

Animals admitted in CARE’s Adoption Center are brought in from its shelter. “Animals in the shelter undergo an evaluation, and animals only suitable for adoption are handed over to the adoption center,” explained Park. The adoption center is designed to house 16 dogs on the first floor, while the second floor can house 12 to 16 cats.

According to Park, the animal adoption centers and shelters in the United Kingdom set a good example to follow in establishing animal adoption culture here.

“Animal adoption culture in the United Kingdom is very active due to the well-maintained animal shelters. Information on each animal is kept in an organized way, the shelters are clean, and the caretakers even train dogs,” said Park.

CARE plans to open another adoption center in September at Dapsimni, Seoul.

“Along with animal houses, the new adoption center in Dapsimni will have an experience-based learning center for children as well as animal health care center for low-income pet owners,” said Park.

CARE is currently funded by individual donations, but Park aims to expand the funding to include contributions from corporations.

“CARE hopes to build more adoption centers in collaboration with corporations. It is a win-win solution ― the adoption centers will be a good advertisement for corporations, while CARE will have adequate amount of money to build decent adoption centers,” explained Park.

Coexistence of Animal Right on Earth was established in August 2002, and has some 30,000 members.

Korean Taekwondo Fighters Ready for Olympics

Korean Team for Olympics 2012
According to Korea Herald, for South Korean taekwondo fighters, meeting expectations at the Olympics is always a tall order.

Taekwondo is, after all, the country’s traditional martial art and the national game. A medal of any color other than gold is regarded as a disappointment.

And disappointing was South Korea’s performance at last year’s world championships, held on its home soil in Gyeongju, 370 kilometers southeast of Seoul. The host earned three gold medals, tied with Iran, and only one better than three other countries.

Four athletes settled for silver.

But the quartet of fighters entered at this year’s Olympics said it will be a different story in London.

Since the traditional Korean martial art became a medal sport at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, South Korea has won nine gold medals and 12 total medals, more than any other nation.

Source: here@KH

Picture of the Day

A white heron flies over the Dano Festival in Gangwon Province. (by Ka Boong-hyun, Hankyoreh)

Quote of the Day

Death is NOT the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live ... (Norman Cousins),

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Korean Culinary Contest

Can you cook?
If you do then this is a perfect contest for you.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government is holding a culinary contest to raise awareness of high-quality Korean dishes and attract food connoisseurs from around the country.

The first round will see successful applicants picked depending on the quality of the YouTube clips they submit showcasing their culinary prowess. The five two-person teams that make the final will be invited to Seoul for a five-day trip in September, when an offline cooking contest will take place before a panel of culinary experts.

 The finalists will visit tourist attractions, famous eateries, traditional liquor distilleries, and outdoor markets, where they will buy ingredients for their final cooking competition.

They will also have an opportunity to learn about Korean royal court cuisine. The final results of the competition will boil down to their skill in cooking a number of dishes according to the recipes they presented on YouTube.

The competition is also open to people living overseas and it is easy to enter. Applicants simply need to upload videos of them cooking a Korean dish on YouTube (www.youtube.com/visitseoul) by Aug. 10. Each team must comprise two people.

For more details, visit the official website at http://welcome.visitseoul.net/eng/index.jsp.

Source: Chosun Ilbo

16th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival- PIFAN 2012

16th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival, which will be held from July 19 to 29 in the city also spelled Bucheon in Gyeonggi Province, just west of Seoul.

PiFan has showcased various genres of world cinema over the last 15 years under the themes of "love, fantasy and adventure."

Besides horror and thriller movies, it also offers an exciting line up of films available for the whole family.

South Korea to Resume Whaling

Korean newspapers have joined the international condemnation of the South Korean government's proposed plans to resume whaling.

The Korea Herald, The Korea Times, and The Hankyoreh have criticised last week's announcement in their editorials. On Thursday the country's delegation to the International Whaling Commission in Panama outlined plans to start whaling under a loophole in a global moratorium that allows scientific research.

South Korea carried out scientific whaling for only one season after the 1986 moratorium went into effect, however about 100 whales, most of them minke, are killed accidentally each year by commercial fishing operations.

The Korea Herald said the move to resume whaling appeared to motivated by complaints by fishermen that the "growing whale population is causing them an annual loss worth 438 billion won (NZ$481 million) per year in damages to their fishing equipment and fish consumption by whales".

The Herald said the delegation's argument that killing a small amount of whales is necessary to determine the amount and types of fish consumed by whales was not persuasive.

"If we accept their insistence on whaling for research purposes, to our regret, what seems more reasonable are suggestions by some international experts that Korea could carry out an effective study by using whales that are accidentally caught in fishermen's nets.

The Herald said a resumption of whaling would only serve to earn Korea a negative reputation it could have avoided.

"The whaling case should serve as a lesson for Korean officials to be more careful in handling issues related to international movements that are bound with a stronger sense of global solidarity than they think."

The Korea Times called for Seoul to "retract the whaling plan immediately", saying that Korea had more to lose than to gain by resuming whaling.
The Times described it as "burdensome" to see other countries condemn Korea for its whaling plans.

"In this environment, we believe that the agriculture ministry announced a hasty decision arbitrarily without sufficiently pooling public opinion," the editorial stated.
"More than anything else, the proposal to resume whaling is anachronistic. The government, for its part, can think of other options such as promoting whale tourism like in Australia and New Zealand."

The Hankyoreh said it "makes no sense" to start hunting whales again.
"The government explained the need for scientific whaling by noting a significant rise in the whale population over the 26 years the ban has been in effect," the editorial said.
"Officials have claimed that this has resulted in widespread damages that demand urgent action. But no research study to date has shown that the population has recovered enough since the ban that it would be acceptable to begin whaling again. Indeed, many say that illegal whaling and accidental catches have done enough damage to the whales' ecosystem to offset any effects from the protective measures. In particular, the minke whale population off the Korean Coast has been the subject of special IWC protections after a sharp drop in numbers in years past."

The Hankyoreh also cited a 2009 poll, which found 68 per cent of South Koreans were in favour of protection for whales.

"If whaling itself is legalised, there will be no stopping the overhunting. Measures to offset the damages to fisherman should take the form of things like whale ecotourism, not the permission of whaling."

눈에 13cm 크기의 살아있는 기생충이... ( Live worm extracted from an eye of an Indian man)

한 인도 남성의 눈에서 13cm에 달하는 살아있는 기생충이 발견되어 충격을 주고 있다.

PK 크리시나멀시(75)는 지난 몇 주간  오른쪽 눈이 따끔하고 간지러운 증상이 계속되자 병원을 찾았다.

폴티스 병원 안과 의사들은 검사를 통해 실처럼 가느다란 기생충을 환자의 눈에서 발견하고 즉각 제거했다.

수술을 집도한 의사 시사라만은 굉장이 드문 케이스라며 이 기생충이 환자의 눈을 통해 뇌에 진입했다면 심각한 신경계 질환을 발생시켰을 것이라고 말했다.

이 기생충이 어떻게 눈에 들어간게 된 것인지 알 수 없지만, 제거 후 전에 보이던 증상이 나타나지 않는다고 크리시나멀시는 말했다.

Source: Korea Herald .

Yeoksam Global Village Center is recruiting volunteers!

The Yeoksam Global Village Center is recruiting volunteers for July 21 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Gangnam.

Volunteers will prepare medical kits, clean hospital facilities and spend some time with young patients.The center is particularly highlighting its need for volunteers who have skills or interests in art, music, magic tricks and other recreational activities to help entertain children at the hospital.

No prior experience is necessary. 
For those who would like to volunteer, please contact yeoksam@sba.seoul.kr with your name, nationality, gender and phone number. 
Space for the volunteer group is limited.

Free Korean film screening in Itaewon

Itaewon Global Village Center’s free Korean film screening this month is “Castaway on the Moon ((김씨표류기 Kimssi Pyoryoogi ).”

The screening is on July 17 at 6:30 p.m. with English subtitles.

The film follows a man who jumps into the Han River and wakes up on an island in the river.

He then meets a reclusive girl, who is tempted out of her apartment by her fascination with his seemingly happy life on the island.

Advanced registration is required to attend the screening. You can do this by visiting the center, or by contacting (02) 2199-8884

Source: Korea Herald