Korean Culinary Delights

Korean Culinary Delights

Many bowls, many flavours, fresh and delicious.  These features come to mind when I think of food here in Korea.  There is rice and soup available at every meal not to mention kimchi, chopsticks and spoons.  There are over 100 varieties of kimchi.  Women used to make it in their back yards and preserve it in crockery while now you can order it on homeshopping network and likely have a special fridge for kimchi.  There are over 100 varieties; it is a great antioxident.  Also, if you observe carefully, the five primary colours of Korean food are also likely present somewhere in the bowls of food: yellow, white, green, red and black.  Often the pottery bowls will feature blue paint.  The pottery and nuts are decorative embellishments to make the food look even more delicious.  Bibimpap is a healthy traditional mix of vegetables, noodles, sauce and rice often served at lunch.  It can come with or without meat.  We have eaten green tea shortbread cookies and ice flake… with red bean paste and with mango.  The snacks here are different than what we have back at home and fun to try.

Go Bears Go!

Go Bears Go!

At the Main Gate.
At the Main Gate.

A group of us went to the ball game tonight.  It was the Bears against the Twins.  We cheered for Haley’s team, the Bears.  Each player had a walk up song and the fans cheered and sang along to each tune as the player went up to bat.  It was lots of fun! The game went into extra innings.  The Bears lost to the Twins at the bottom of the 10th with a score of 3-2.  We watched the last two innings on David’s phone on the subway home so we would make curfew.  He has unlimited data, like we can get unlimited calling… so we could do that!

Post note:  Here is a fun tidbit… Did you know that the bottom ranking team fans often have the face of Buddha superimposed/photoshopped over their face.  We are learning about religions of Korea this morning and the key word of that religion is suffering.  Hahah… They suffer with a serene smile on their face!!  Check out this video for the sound effects at the game.

Seokguran in Gyeongju

Seokguran in Gyeongju

We climbed many stairs today with the ultimate goal of seeing Seokguram Bonjonbul.  This is a UNESCO World Heritage site and we saw many national treasures today. It is known as one of the most brilliant pieces of cultural heritage.  This incredibly large buddha, created in white granite was being restored when we viewed it, so we did not see it properly, but it was impressive none the less. No pictures please! (Of Buddha himself that is).

We also saw the grotto, the three story stone pagoda and enjoyed the peaceful stroll to the top of the mountain.  Such a peaceful morning!

 

 

 

 

 

Visit to the Folk Village

Visit to the Folk Village

Today we visited a traditional Korean folk village.  It is a Cultural Theme park and it does a great job of portraying life as it might have been back during the Joseon Dynasty.

Saturday Shopping!

Saturday Shopping!

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Riding the subway train 1.

Saturday after lunch we headed off to the Yongsang Electronics Mart and I-park Mall for some shopping.  I got my audio recorder and found a lovely Orange top marked down to a mere 10,000 wan. Wow! Alice was able to use her cute foot stomp and “that’s too much… Can you give me a better price?!”  routine on my behalf and this lowered the price by $5,000 wan.  Then, we had such fun looking at clothes and I found a lovely top for a mere $10,000 wan.. It was a steal!  Then road back to the neighbourhood around Seoul Women’s college.  The highlight of the trip was stopping for ice flake with our new friends.

Music, Drama and Comedy

Music, Drama and Comedy

 

imageI am still vibrating with happiness today.  The beat of the drum and the music resonates right to the bone when you hold and beat the drum, hard and right in the sweet spot. The student club who practice traditional music preformed for us and then taught us each how to hold and beat the drum.  We we learned one basic traditional rhythm and  then also got to dance and drum on the grass in the warm summer sun. In the evening we went to see Nanata.  Words cannot describe the music that resonates deep within one’s chest as we got to watch, listen and feel the music at the Nanta theatre.  The artistry, and talent are undeniable and the comedic timing and facial expressions were priceless. Audience involvement was so much fun to watch and take part in.  What a most excellent day. I fell into bed completely exhausted and happy.  What a great day!  Today I am enjoying a lazy Saturday morning before an afternoon of shopping fun in down town Seoul with the girls (my roomies and the BIP girl staff).  Can’t wait!!

Here is a link to the show cookin’ Nanta.

The Potter and His Wheel

The Potter and His Wheel

imageToday we visited the potter.  Today I became a potter…. hahahah!  Okay, I did put my hands on the clay, but it was the master’s touch that allowed me to produce anything of beauty. The feeling of the clay beneath my hands was cool and smooth.   I wonder if I could every master such a craft? The first part of the process, of being able to just mold the lump of clay into something useable, takes at least three months to perfect.  We each were able to take turns, with the help of a master potter, to turn the lump of clay on the wheel into a beautiful pot, vase, cup or bowl.  The creative and artistic ability of the students was apparent when viewing all the finished pots, which we, the students were encouraged to use when decorating our own pot.

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Language and Identity

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Language and Identity

First Trip on Seoul Subway
First Trip on Seoul Subway

Today we visited Gyeongbokgung palace, a place of incredible beauty and symbol of national sovereignty.  It was the main and largest palace of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon Dynasty. We travelled by subway to get there!  It was fun to see the palace of the king who was responsible for developing Hangeul, the official writing system of North and South Korea.

There were 14 impressive buildings to view and we had a fabulous tour guide to explain to us the meaning and the significance of what we were seeing.  It was so cool to meet someone who was proud of her history and could share that she was 22nd generation decended from the brother of King Segong!  Did you also know that after King Segong created Hungeul he wrote poetry and also sponsored publishing projects of Buddhist scripture?  This was a good way to make sure the writing system was put to use!  Although King Segong was responsible for this most important event in the history of Korean language, he still used classical Chinese to keep the royal records of the day!  I suppose that is why hungeul was considered to be the language of women, children and poets and not for scholarship, intellectual writings and important legal documents.

Gaurd at the entry gate.
Gaurd at the entry gate.
Map for Gyeongbokgung Palace
Map for Gyeongbokgung Palace
The  first of many buildings on the expansive grounds.
The first of many buildings on the expansive grounds.
Earthen pots for storing kimchi, peppers, soy sauce and chili paste.
Earthen pots for storing kimchi, peppers, soy sauce and chili paste.
Palace grounds
Palace grounds
The King's throne.
The King’s throne.
Where the king entertained his guests.
Where the king entertained his guests.

Gyeongbokgung Palace was burnt to the ground during

Our fabulous tour guide.
Our fabulous tour guide.

the Japanese invasion, but in 1989 the South Korean government started a 40 year intitiative to rebuild the structures that were destroyed by the Colonial Government of the Empire of Japan.

This creature decides if you are good or bad!
This creature decides if you are good or bad!
History, Human Rights and Breaking The Ice

History, Human Rights and Breaking The Ice

Dr. Yoon Yeosang teaches Korean History and Human Rights Violations in North Korea.
Dr. Yoon Yeosang teaches Korean History and Human Rights Violations in North Korea.

Dr. Yoon Yeosang, Director of North Korean Human Rights Archive (NGO) gave us a lecture entitled “Recent Changes in North Korean Society”.  We learned that South Korea is in essence an island because it is not possible to travel through North Korea to reach China and beyond.  The history of how Korea became divided into two separate societies was explained and human rights violations in North Korea were highlighted and discussed.  Here is the powerpoint of the lecture saved as a PDF: Recent Changes In North Korean Society.

The Two Koreas - like night and day.
The Two Koreas – like night and day.

The most striking metaphore in the lecture was the satelite image showing the nighttime darkness in North Korea.

To read about life in a North Korean prisoner of war camp, find the popular book “Escape From Camp 14″available on Amazon.  Here is a Youtube video of an interview with Shin Dong Hyuk, the escapee from camp 14.  You can also check out this website for furthe information: The Database for North Korean Human Rights.

Discovery Magazine article – “The Two Koreas – Like Night and Day” explains the difference in the economic prosperity of the south, with it’s ties to the west and it’s democratic government and the north, with its communist regime the dominates the lives and maintains complete control over the choices of its citizens. Young people’s lives in South Korea are dominated by pop culture and concerns with their own future  and getting jobs (my conclusion through conversation with students), while the lives of the youth born into North Korean Culture is “controlled through state terrorism” (Yoon Yeosang, July 1st, 2014: BIP Lecture).

In the afternoon, we turned our attention to fun in the sun and games to “break the ice”.  Fun times with a chance to begin getting to know each other in a relaxed atmosphere leads to more serious conversations in the afternoon regarding the lecture shared in the morning.  Check out the photos of the games we played together.

 

A New Day Begins!

A New Day Begins!

Ahhhh…. but what a great thing a good night’s sleep is.  I feel like a new person.  We were given a lovely breakfast and the morning to explore.  We had lunch and then our orientation meeting.  We were welcomed by the President of Seoul Women’s University.