Friday, February 26, 2010

천사처럼 이다

Me and my girlfriend, Sejoung. ^^
We took the picture in Masan. This is out in the wilderness on some mountain. We explored the area and took some photos before going for lunch. If it looks like I'm hungover, unshaven, or didn't shower, well... =)

Monday, February 22, 2010


Over a year ago I made this blog in anticipation of my impending arrival and ensuing adventures in Korea. Finally it has lived up to it's name. I've moved to Seoul. My school contract finishes in 2 or 3 days, but I'm using my vacation days now so I came to Seoul two days ago on Saturday. My friend 세정 (Sejoung) came to 김천 (Gimcheon) with her car to help me. Together we made 김밥 (Kimbap). It's a common korean food, you can find it at restaurants, street food stalls, and convenience stores. The flavor can vary depending on the special ingredient u choose to add. Common varieties are Kimchi, Tuna and mayo, or Cheese. No matter which type you're making, you'll probably be using the 김 seaweed wrap, 밥 rice (mixed with sesame oil and salt), 단무지 pickled radish, 우엉 the root of lettuce that is soaked in some sauce that turns it to a dark brown color, 햄 ham, 게 crab, and 단근 carrot.

Sejoung and I made tuna kimbap, so we also added tuna and a dark green leaf. It tastes so great when its fresh and the rice is still hot!

After that we started the trip to Seoul. It is only about 130 miles and we took the highway the entire way but it still took about 5 hours because of traffic. Korea has alot of traffic, especially on highways and in and near Seoul. We arrived at my new apartment saturday night, but it took me 48 hours to get everything situated. I had pretty much everything i needed... but I had to go to Home Plus with 나윤 (Na-yun) yesterday to get a blanket and pillow. My first 48 hours in Seoul have been great, but I have the feeling that they are much more meaningful to me than to anyone else reading this. To sum it up, I have spent time with friends, set up my new apartment, and explored my school campus and the areas near to my apartment and school. And I already have a few more plans this week. I think Seoul will be great, especially once I start my school and get some private lessons to make money. I like to be busy !

In conclusion, my new room is a bit smaller than my apartment in Gimcheon, and the price is about exactly the same. The Gimcheon apartment was a little bigger in the main room, plus it also had a kitchen, bathroom, and laundry closet. In my new place I share those things with other people on my floor, so its kind of like college dormitory all over again... but I don't mind it (yet). I wish there was more space so that I could invite friends over more often, but other than that I don't need more space for anything. And since I don't have family in Korea, I can feel a little bit of community here. I'm on the 4th floor, so there are only 3 other people sharing the kitchen and bathroom with me, and Korean people usually shower at night so I haven't had any problems with waiting to shower.

I've come to realize in the last year that so long as you have enough money, space, and things to survive, they really are not important. The one thing that is truly important is people.

I guess I'm not quite Buddhist yet. Buddhism says we should detach ourselves from everything in this world (including other people), because everything is only temporary. It seems noble, but it also seems very apathetic.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy New Years !

Happy New Years!! That's right, the lunar new year is a much bigger holiday in Korea than the New Year of the solar calendar. This year, the lunar new year is this weekend. It's a three day holiday from Saturday to Monday (Feb 13 ~ 15 this year). Today is the main day of the holiday, and coincidentally is Valentine's Day also. Of course, Valentine's Day here is quite different than in the USA! It's not quite so romantic. Men don't have to buy anything or make any special plans. This day is just for women to give a gift to her boyfriend/husband/special guy.

I think this must be the most important holiday in Korea. It's called 설날 (Seul-nal). This and Korean Thanksgiving, 추석 (Chu-seok) are both given three days. I guess its hard to imagine because we don't have any 3 day holidays in the USA. The first day is spent preparing the food. The second day you are with family and extended family eating a big meal and just spending time together. I guess the third day is flexible... some people might spend it with family and some people just go about life as usual.

And the special dish that Koreans eat on New Years is 떡국 (Ddeok-gook). 떡 (Ddeok) is the korean word for rice cakes. 국 (gook) means "soup". And thats what it is, a soup made with rice cakes (and other things). This seemed like the perfect time for me to try my hand at cooking Korean food, as this dish is relatively simple and an important dish. So yesterday I bought the ingredients that i didn't have at home and here you can see my photo of all the ingredients that I prepared before I started cooking !!

This photo has pretty much everything I'd be using, except the dumplings which were still in the freezer! I could probably make this in the states too, if I could find the rice cakes at an asian market.

Pretty much everything has made its way into the pot at the point and the rice cakes and dumplings are cooking nicely in the water and broth!

This is the finished product !! Garnished with some lightly cooked egg yolk and crumbled seaweed!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

the whole

where to begin? I haven't had a serious entry in more than a month.... as such, i doubt anyone reads it these days.

This is my last month in Gimcheon. Rural, country, quiet Gimcheon. As such, I've been doing things a little differently. The last two weekends i went down south to Masan, Changwon, and Busan to meet old and new friends. Before I went down there I only knew Viruck and Miji. Now I know Viruck, Miji, Hyunok, Hyuna, Jaegyoung, Changhee, Yuhee, Jingu, Jenny, Hyebin, Sejeong, Sunhwa, Myeongsa, and Mina. Feels like i'm forgetting someone though? I wish I could live there... its almost as good as Seoul! There are two downtowns in Masan, one or two in Changwon, and a few in Busan! All the cities are so close u can get anywhere by bus and there are many cool people.

Jenny is one of the coolest foreigners I've met, and the only one besides me who has more korean friends than foreigner friends. Saturday she wanted me to blind date with one of her friends, so we went to a coffee shop. It didn't really seem like a blind date though, more like just meeting each other. Anyhow, it was kinda boring til we went out for dinner and drinks afterwards. Suddenly it's me, Jenny, and 4 korean girls! They were all good at drinking too! Soju, beer, or some combination thereof. They were all really cool to talk to. Two of them were english teachers, one was a radiologist, and one some sort of office worker.

This weekend I'm going to Seoul. I hope I can hang out with 현민 for a while. But i'll be busy. I'm gonna spend a day (probably saturday) looking at places to stay... most likely one room apartments and maybe a boarding house or a multi-room apartment, if i can find a potential roommate. Saturday night is temple, and I'm planning to meet Sejeong on Sunday. When I travel on the weekends i always book every minute of my time. I hate having nothing to do when i'm not at home. When I went to Japan it was the same way !

Also, I knew I was in a bad neighborhood but i never really knew how bad until recently. My korean is good enough that I can understand the names of places like 꿈의 파크 (Park of Dreams) and 항상좋은그날 (Always a Good Time). Since its my last month here, I was taking a walk down some of the side streets that I've never been down before (really theres not much reason to ever leave the main street). I saw alot of shady places. 다방 is a special word for a coffee house... but at this type of coffee house there are women and other activities involved. Some other shady places that i dont need to mention also, and then the motels and places that are shady but at least they don't pretend to not be shady !!