Have a fabulous 2012


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

Friday, February 22, 2013

FREE Classes in Seoul (Starting March)

The classes will cover: Origamai, Jhanggu, KPop Dance, Korean Language,Hanji, Traditional Painting Class and Ceramic Painting. There are separate classes for children and adults.

From March, Seorae Global Village is offering a KPOP dance class and a Janggu class once a week besides Korean Language classes that are free of charge except for the textbooks (they can be bought in any book store).

Documents required for registration of Korean Class: 2 pictures + a copy of passport.
Registeration can be done by an e-mail. Rquired personal information required:
Name / Nationality / Phone Num. / E-mail / Korean level

Other Classes:
Wed: 11:00~12:00:
Ceramic handpainting

Sagunja is a traditional Korean Art of drawing. It means the “Four Gentle-men” and refers to 4 plants that represent the 4 sea-sons:
- The Plum Blossom
- The Orchid
- The Chrysanthemum
- The Bamboo
Don’t hesitate to join the class if you want to learn how to paint Sagunja!

Hanji : for this month Hanji teacher will help you to make this bedside cabinets.
Yes, a bedside cabinets made of paper!
Don’t worry, it is stronger than you may think. It will be perfect for yourself or a gift.

Yummy Yummy Macarons Class
March, 22nd.10:00 – 13:00 hours.
« L’école douce » is a famous baking school in Seocho. Their Macarons are quite excellent!!!!! The course usually costs 80 000W but if you register through our center you’ll have the possibility to assist the class for 25 000W!!!!! Don’t miss this amazing opportunity! Only 10 places are available!

Origami Class:
It is good for children’s cognitive development! Children will have fun while making an object they can really use for their own.
Don’t hesitate to join and make this pencil / picture holder!

To join one of the activities, please visit Seorae Global Village  in person or send an email at: seorae@sba.seoul.kr 

The following information must be included in the email:

Activity you want to join / Name / Nationality / Phone number / Email address.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

On Vegan Diet and Cancer

I was reading a yahoo's "loser" article :can vegn diet prevent cancer?
and I usually read one top comment at the end (because it gets most thumbs up); so here's the comment... it cracked me up..

"Best way to avoid cancer completely is to be dead. "

This reminds me of a funny comment I saw a while back.

A man walks into his doctor's office for his appointment and asks him a simple question: "Hey Doc, do you think I'll live to 100?"
The doctor looks at him and asks him the following questions:
"Do you smoke?" The man replies "No"
"Do you drink?" The man replies "No"
"Do you party?" The man replies "No"
"Do you eat unhealthy at times?" The man replies "No"
"Do you ever have sex?" The man replies "No"

Then the doctor asks him: "So why the heck do you want to live to 100!?"

Point in case, no sense of judging quality of life by the amount of years, better to make those years count instead.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Fever + Flu UPdate

It all started with shivers and then fever that was totally out of control. Followed by flue.

I drank some 3 litres of Cinnamon Tea and also 2 litres of water with hney and lemon, a couple of boiled eggs, 100gms of garlic (raw), Chuck ( Korean Kichree made with rice and vegetables).

I'm much better.

TOPIK Applications Open

Applications to take the Test of Proficiency in Korean opened Monday.

The TOPIK covers listening, reading, grammar and writing and takes place on April 20 in Africa, Europe and the Americas and April 21 in Asia and Oceania.

The test is available in three grades. Beginner (levels 1 and 2) and advanced (levels 5 and 6) exams take place at 9:30 a.m. The intermediate exam for levels 3 and 4 starts at 2:30 p.m.

Results of the previous test were made available Feb. 4.

Each test costs 40,000 won and lasts 3 hours.

Applications close on Feb. 25. To apply, or for more information, visit www.topik.or.kr.

South Asian Language Teachers Wanted

Busan Global Center is seeking expats from Southeast Asia to teach their languages and introduce their culture.

Languages sought include Vietnamese, Indonesian, Tagalog, Mongolian and Thai.

Classes are to be given in Korean and will last 90 minutes. They will take place on weekdays once a week for 10 weeks starting March 18. Several time slots are available.

Preference will be given to those with teaching experience and computer access.

Teachers will receive 30,000 won to 34,500 won per class, depending on the number of students.

For more information, or to apply, visit www.bfia.or.kr or email busanglobalcenter@gmail.com.

Bus Fares to Rise

The fares for intercity and express buses are poised to go up next month for the first time in two years and seven months.

The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said Friday that the fees for intercity buses and express buses would respectively rise by 7.7 percent and 4.3 percent on average, starting from March 2.

“We have frozen the corresponding rates over the past two years and six months, out of consideration for the economic stagnation and the resulting burden on the people,” said a ministry official.

“The hike, however, was inevitable due to the steep rise in transport costs, which was triggered by the soaring oil prices and labor costs.”

The fees for a standard express bus from Seoul to Busan will be increased 600 won to 22,600 won ($21), while the price of tickets for the premium bus will be raised by 900 won to 33,700 won.

With intercity buses, the fares for the Seoul-Yeosu route will be raised from 24,400 won to 27,500 won and from 6,300 won to 6,700 won for the East Seoul-Chuncheon route.

The change, however, will not have a retroactive effect, meaning passengers who reserved tickets before the fares went up will not have to pay extra for the price difference, officials said.

The new rates were a result of a compromise the government reached with the bus companies that had originally demanded a 20.41 percent hike for intercity buses and 6.59 percent for express buses, ministry officials said.

Authorities will also improve the current bus ticketing system so that passengers may book return tickets at all 87 express bus terminals throughout the nation.

Last December, shortly after the presidential election, the ministry increased the fees for water supplies and privately financed highways by 4.9 percent and 400 won, respectively.

Insomnia patients wanted for study at Kyung Hee

Kyunghee University Hospital in Gangdong, eastern Seoul, is seeking people who suffer from insomnia to participate in clinical research using acupuncture.

The Hwabyung Stress Clinic at the hospital said it is looking for insomnia patients aged between 18 and 65. A total of 10 participants will be chosen among applicants after they have been interviewed and confirmed to have the condition. Those who have communication, vision or hearing problems, or who have received acupuncture treatment for insomnia during the past month will be excluded.

 The participants will be provided with counseling on insomnia as well as acupuncture treatment. For further inquiries, contact the clinic at (02) 440-7133 or 7134.

Bibimbap ad on New York Times

Actress Lee Young-ae has been featured in a full-page ad in the New York Times promoting bibimbap, the healthful Korean dish of rice with assorted vegetables. I saw this ad. for the first time in the autumn of 2012, on all billboards at Itaewon. I looked for the photos I took while in Itaewon but amongst thousands that I have - I couldn't find this specific picture. Lee, Young-ae is the only actress that I know by name and her dramas and movies.

The ad was paid for by enthusiastic promoters of Korean cuisine including Seo Kyoung-duk, a public relations expert and professor at Sungshin Women's University. It is also said that Young-ae volunteered for this ad. and it's amongst her first assignments after becoming a mom to her year old twins. She is 43 and doesn't look like in her 40s at all. She majored in German language and literature from Hanyang University and got her Masters in Film and Theater from Chung Ang Univ.

Lee, who played the lead role as a court cook in the hit TV series "Jewel in the Palace or Dae Jang Geum," neatly dressed in hanbok or traditional Korean dress is in vibes in and across Korea.

"We wanted to promote the beauty of hanbok along with bibimbap," Seo said.

UNIQLO: to be Sued by a Korean Designer

Navajo patterned socks by Coevel, left, and Uniqlo on right.


Japanese casual apparel giant Uniqlo may face a lawsuit from a small Korean designer for allegedly violating intellectual property rights.

Coevel said on its blog Tuesday that the Japanese brand illegally copied its “Navajo” patterned socks. The fashion accessories company was established in 2010 by two male designers.

“I found out about it a few days ago when I went shopping in a Uniqlo store. I was just dumbfounded that day,” Coevel CEO Kim Ji-young said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

“As you already know, there are so many SPA brands out there that just constantly copy designs from small- and medium-sized firms. It’s not fair. If necessary, I am ready to take legal action against Uniqlo,” Kim said, adding that he will make a decision once Uniqlo announces its official stance.

Coevel said it first designed the socks back in the summer of 2010 and manufacturing started in April 2011, whereas Uniqlo’s first production date was December last year. The Uniqlo socks are available in stores in eight colors.

 “The Navajo print, a traditional pattern of the Indian tribe, has been used in such items as scarves, skirts and socks in different sizes or details, but Uniqlo used exactly same the pattern, detail and size as ours and put it in the same position with the same ratio. It’s basically the same stuff. It can’t be a coincidence,” Kim said.

Uniqlo head office in Japan posted a public apology on their Korean website Thursday, admitting that they did copy the designer’s pattern.

“We should have been more careful about the use of the pattern. We are stopping the sale of our product,” the company said.

This is not the  first time Coevel has been in this situation. It posted claims on its blog in February last year that 8 Seconds, a SPA brand owned by Cheil Industries copied the design of their socks without permission and hence violated copyright. 8 Seconds made an official apology on their blog and Facebook, admitting that they did illegally copy Coevel’s design.

Kim said the matter has been settled but declined to elaborate further, citing the sensitivity of the issue.

According to industry insiders, similar issues occur quite often in the fast-paced fashion industry.

“For us, we analyze and set new trends and designs about a year and a half in advance and regularly present our collections at the same as all designer brands, but brands such as Uniqlo and Zara can almost immediately produce similar items,” said H&M PR manager Cheong Hae-jin said Wednesday. “There are thousands of items designed every month and year so some of them can possibly overlap because fashion trends repeat themselves. But I think it’s an ethical issue. Big companies should try to constrain themselves from copying creations by small ones.”

For small fashion firms, when it comes to design infringement scandals, it is hard for them to protect their rights due to the high cost of hiring patent lawyers and registering their designs with the Korean Intellectual Property Office.

“There are two ways for them to appeal ― the design protection act and copyright laws. But the problem with small companies is that they can’t afford to pay the design registration fee, which is around 600,000 won per pattern so they won’t be protected by the design protection act. Copyright laws work differently, and protect them even if their designs are not registered,” a local law firm said.

The Korea Copyright Commission told The Korea Times that both sides will need to show circumstantial evidence to the court to decide whether there was an infringement of copyright.

The Coevel CEO said he hopes to see more consumers and producers becoming aware of the “unfair” situation that small companies are facing so that no more patent disputes happen in the future.


Source: KT

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Day Break: HIgh Fever and Flu

Finally fall sick, lost mobility...., can't even walk and on top, I have so many things to do....sucks!
Wear many layers and try to avoid crazy winds. Else, it's always painful to be sick where one is all alone and there is no comfort of home.

Prevention is better than cure. Right!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls:Sarmale (Halal) in Seoul

Stuffed cabbage rolls have a long history and many countries have them in their cuisine with a different name. Turks and Armenians name them “Dolma”. Russians call them "lenivye golubtsy" (lazy cabbage rolls). Poles call them “Gołąbki” meaning ‘little pigeons’ while Czechs and Slovaks refer to them as “Holubky”. They are known as “Sarma” to Serbs, Croatians and Bulgarians and “Sarmale” to Romanians. Swedes and Danes call them “Kåldolmar” while in Finland they are known as “kaalikääryle”. Whatever their name, stuffed cabbage have a filling of rice (cooked or uncooked), meat and sausage, and a variety of spices. They are either baked, steamed or boiled. In India we deep fry them with a vege-filling.

Since meat is used in Sarmale, I chose chicken and turkey sausage - both halal.
Sarmale is simple and tastes much like its cousin from Russia, it is a bit more sour and salty though.

For a friend whose national dish is Sarmale, I searched the internet and prepared it for her as a birthday gift. I know it is a strange gift but it is likely that it will be appreciated - since it is hard to prepare and then there is not a single restaurant from her country here in Seoul.

I'll continue after a nap, I'm so full after eating these, a large cup pf coffee and a couple of chocolates. My post after the nap kicked off with posting pics.

Sungnyemun Unveiled to Public

The mostly restored Sungnyemun meaning the Gate of Exalted Ceremonies or commonly known as Namdaemun meaning the Great South Gate was unveiled to the public early this week. Namdaemun is a historic gate located in the heart of Seoul, the capital of South Korea. It is the first among the National Treasures of South Korea.

The wooden portion atop the gate was severely damaged by arson in the 2008, an arsonist set the gate on fire on the final day of Seolnal hoiliday in 2008. The entire country saw the this gate turned to ashes on Seolnal of 2008. A sad moment indeed.

The city gate, made of wood and stone with a two-tiered, pagoda-shaped tiled roof, was completed in 1398 (610 years old) and originally used to greet foreign emissaries, control access to the capital city, and keep out Korean tigers, which have long been gone from the area. Construction began in 1395 during the fourth year of the reign of King Taejo of Joseon and was finished in 1398.

The restoration project is due for final completion in April of this year because the unusually cold weather delayed construction work and at this point, an administrative office is unfinished.

If you are in Seoul, don't forget to visit the Namdaemun gate as well as the traditional Namdaemun Market, it has become much more touristic than any other other traditional market however, it's easy to access. Prices and some souvenire are sold at lesser prices than anywhere else.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Seolnal Discounts!

Its Seolnal and the holidays have already kicked off. During this time, almost all stores and outlets have huge sales. The last time we had such a sale was during Chuseok. If you want to buy gifts or even groceries then this is the right time.

During Seolnal, the marketing in Korea revolves around: Buy ONE, get one FREE! This leads to huge sales. When I went to Lotte Department Store, Lotte Mart and Home Plus,I saw promotions on almost every thing...

On Sunday and Monday that is:10th, 11th.of this month, almost 70% of the places will close down. So please be careful before venturing out of your home.

새해 복 많이 받으세요!

Source: naver/Jaesa Table setting

It's a Korean New Year called Seolnal (pronounced as: sol-lal). Three days holiday has just kicked off. It is one of the most anticipated and important holidays in Korea after Chuseok. In China, it's celebrated as the Chinese Lunar New Year and people wait for it the whole year. During this time, people visit their hometowns and enjoy the festivities with family members. It's like a family reunion event combined with events very close to those that Muslims experience at the time of Eidul Fitr. Day kicks off with  visiting ancestral grave sites. Bowing to the elders and then getting money from them is the same as during Eid. Several Korean games are played and gifts are exchanged amongst family and friends.

Some of the important events during Seolnal are:
New Year’s bow: Saebe/ 세배
One has to bow, paying respect to the elders and expressing thanks. When giving the bow, one should say “Allow me to present you my bow (세배 드리겠습니다)” to be polite. In return, the elders gives words of blessing and money, which symbolize a thriving life for the children.

Ancestral rites: Charae/ 차례 or Jaesa /제사
Ancestral rites is a way to show respect to their ancestors. For that a table prepared with  tteokkuk (a rice cake soup /떡국), fruits, sikhye (sweet rice drink 식혜), dried fish, and rice cake is the highlight of the day. It is believed that eating the food after the rites is for the descendants to receive the virtue from their ancestors.    

New Year’s dress: Sulbim (설빔)

People wear new clothes to greet the new year. Everybody wears the traditional Korean dress called Hanbok (한복) - that comes in beautiful styles and colors of all age groups.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tokyo and Karachi: Most Expensive & Cheapest Cities

A scene from weekend bazar also called Sunday market in Islamabad

When I was in Pakistan, I did an experiment and lived in only 4 $/week. One can even live for less than that and still enjoy all the seasonal fruits, vegetables and even chicken.
I had cherries, oranges, mangoes, strawberries, melon, grapes (seedless), nans, ready to eat meals and it was really not a problem. I felt bad for our farmers and even businesses where everything's sold for a throwaway price.

I bought these fruits and veges for 1.5$ or 150Rs. or 1500 won last summer (2012)

When I saw the list below and saw that Karachi is the cheapest city of the world - I wasn't surprised at all. However, I disagree that Karachi is the cheapest city in the world, if we will go to smaller cities within Pakistan then we will find that prices are much less than those in Karachi.
We are in a habit of doing survey on just about anything without digging deeper. Surveys themselves are often misleading, anyways. Back to the prices, Islamabad is pretty expensive compared to other cities in Pakistan. I was based in Islamabad for the most part and well, quality and prices are both unsatisfactory there.

Spices and dry fruit stall at Itwar Bazar (Sunday's Farmer's Market)

Tokyo is now the most expensive city in the world, according to the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit.

According to the EIU’s Worldwide Cost of Living 2013 report on Tuesday, the Japanese capital was listed as the No. 1 expensive city. It was followed by Osaka,  Sydney,  Oslo, Melbourne and Singapore.

The apples above (golden apples) were sold for 40 cents or 400 won for a kilogram in Islamabad

Seoul was ranked as the 37th-most expensive city on the list.

Switzerland’s Zurich, which topped the list last year, descended to the seventh position this year after revising its exchange rate and stabilizing its prices.

The EIU price index is calculated by comparing the prices of 160 top consumer products in 131 countries, according to the analysts.

The cheapest major cities were Pakistan’s Karachi and India’s Mumbai, where the general price level was some 44 percent of that in New York.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Socks Vending Machine

Vending machines are a very common sight in Korea. From coffee and soft drinks to snacks and books are all sold through a vending machine . In Japan, there are rice bags, ramyeon, lunchboxes etc. all sold through a vending machines however, in Korea a young designer has kicked her business off by selling socks via vending machines. Very unique.

Her brand is called: I hate Monday and the vending machine is located in Sinsa-dong but now she is  going to install one in Myrong-dong and and other in Jamsil.

To read more about Jung-mi's story click here.

Weather Update: Still snowing in Bundang

After 20 or so hours of continuous snow, life has come to halt. I know that our teacher will be here no matter how bad the weather gets - hats off!

I went out at 7:00 am in the morning but returned to cover myself with a few more layers.............piles of snow is all over and it was hard to walk! There wasn't any wind though so it wasn't as painful.

 Tress are in a shade of black and white and it looks beautiful.

Update:8:45a.m: Sun has come out so let's see.
The sky is really blue and wind is not very strong.
Blanket of snow looks like it's made of silver and when we walk, the crispy sound of snow crushed under the feet is like eating chips.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Snowing again!

View from my roof

Just finished lunch and when I went out, it was snowing- voila!

Had to go out for some errands but not anymore, honestly, I'm sick of this!

Stay safe and warm!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Halal Food in Korea: Pizza School

Pizza is one of the most loved and liked meal in the world. Korea has all sorts of Pizza chains from Mr. Pizza to Dominos and Pizza Hut etc. Amongst them is Pizza School which appeared in 2007 and life has become much easier in terms of grab-and-go-sort of meals. Pizzas in Seoul used to sell for about 25USD or 25,000 won (medium size and hardly enough for 2 people) which was obviously very expensive but that isn't the case anymore. Pizza School gave an option of an economical yet tasty  pizza.

Most important of all, their outlets are found in every single neighborhood, usually near schools. They are not located on the main streets but instead, one has to go backstreets to find this chain.

If someone is strict on eating only halal food then Pizza School can be one of places where you can go. They have a couple of choices such as: Cheese Pizza, Vegetable Pizza, Sweet Potatoes Pizza and Shrimp Pizza - ranging from 5,000 won for a basic cheese pizza and going up to 9,000 won for shrimp pizza. However, their most expensive pizza sells for 12,000 won only. In addition, if you know Korean language then ask the person at the counter to minus meat from the numerous pizza varieties that they offer. In this manner, you may have many choices.

If you are coming to Seoul or are visiting places other than Seoul, look for Pizza School for a halal food choices in Seoul. I'm not saying that it's the best pizza in the country however, it is good for the price. 

I wrote about this option so that the people who are new to the city or are living/traveling in budget must have an option.

Seolnal: Schedule for Tourist Spots and Markets

Seolnal, the Korean Lunar New Year, falls on 10th.Feb. on the Gregorian calendar this year. It is one of the biggest holidays in Korea aside from Chuseok. Seonlal is observed for three days from Feb,9th. to Feb.11th. Unfortunately it is falling on a weekend.

During the Seollal holidays, most people visit families and friends in their hometown. Businesses operate on different schedules, and even close for Seolnal and Chuseok.

In order to avoid any inconveniences of holiday traveling, the Korea Tourism Organization is providing an extensive list of Seollal holiday schedules of major tourist attractions in and around  Seoul.

 If you are anywhere in Korea then don't hesitate to contact the 24-hour travel hotline: 1330 Korea Travel Hotline, to ask them any question related to Korea while on your trip. Calls made to them are free of charge.

Some of the places that will be closed during Seolnal are:

Seodaemun Prison History Museum Closed on Feb. 10 +82-2-360-8586
(Korean, English, Japanese)
(Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Insa-dong Closed on Feb. 10 +82-2-734-0222
(Korean, English, Japanese)
Dongdaemun Market Closed during Seollal holiday +82-2-2262-0160
(Korean, English)
Itaewon Street Closed on Feb. 10-11 +82-2-794-5579
(Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Closed on Feb. 10-11 +82-2-3393-0001
(Korean, Japanese (*available before noon))
(Doosan Tower)
Closed on Feb. 9-10 +82-2-3398-2386
(Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
(Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Yongsan Electronics Market Closed during Seollal holiday +82-2-707-4700
Techno Mart Closed on Feb. 9-10
(CGV opens during Seollal holiday)
(Korean, English)
hello apM Closed on Feb. 9-10 +82-2-6388-1114
(Korean, English, Japanese)
(Korean, English)
I'PARK mall Closed on Feb.10 +82-2-2012-0147
(Korean, English)
(Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
The Korea House Closed on Feb. 10 +82-2-2266-9101~3
(Korean, English, Japanese)
(Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Chongdong Theater Closed on Feb. 11 +82-2-751-1500
(Korean, English, Japanese)
(Korean, English)
National Museum of Contemporary Art Closed on Feb. 11 +82-2-2188-6000
(Korean, English)
(Korean, English)
Kyobo Bookstore Closed on Feb. 10 +82-2-397-3451~3
(Korean, English)
Youngpoong Bookstore Open during Seollal holiday +82-2-399-5630
(Korean, English)

Rest of the places are open and read this post from last year, where you can enjoy  Seolnal.

Source: KTO

Seolnal 2013

Lunar New Year or Seolnal (pronounced:seollal) in Korean, will be on February 10. It's one of the biggest and most important festivals in East  and Southeast Asia.

This year 95% of the Chinese students have already gone back home to celebrate the Lunar New Year with family.

Most Koreans would be going to their hometown and spending this time with their families. Some people would be using this time to go on a vacation somewhere. If you didn't have anything planned, here are some events that Korea Tourism Organization chalked out  just click the link and plan where would you like to go.

Read about various festivals in Feb/March, see here.

Seollal Events:

Seollal Events at National Gugak Center Feb 10 – 11 Seocho Seoul
Korean Folk Village New Year's Celebration Feb 2 – 11 Yongin Gyeonggi-do
Celebrate Seollal with the KTO Feb 7 – Feb 16 Jung-gu Seoul

Sunday, February 3, 2013


It took a couple of weeks of blue skies and then rains which made the roads clean and clear from snow...

It's snowing outside AGAIN and it sucks when one has to go out.
I have a dinner invitation by a Korean family and I must go...
It does look beautiful from outside the window though and muddling through crispy and clean snow is going to be a difficult task.

I have already seen a couple of ambulances and I hope that things do not get worst.
Snow is all around! Anyways, have a great weekend and wrap yourself well.