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Learning2gether in Hangout with David Winet introducing us to PopupChinese

Webheadsinaction.org - Thu, 2014-10-23 17:28
Hangout on Air withDavid Winet introducing us to PopupChinese

Sunday Oct 19, 2014 1300 GMT

For further information on all our upcoming events please visit


(redirects to ... 

Archive of this event: http://learning2gether.net/2014/10/19/learning2gether-with-david-winet-discussing-popupchinese-com-and-other-podcast-language-learning-sites/


How this worked at showtime Oct 19, 2014

  • You can listen to the stream in the video embed above
  • You can chat with us in real-time in the Chatwing space below
    or open it in a new window here http://chatwing.com/vancestev
  • You can listen to the stream at its YouTube URL http://youtu.be/-Is_q0qALA8 
  • If there is space available (up to 10 people) you are welcome to join us in the Hangout on Air
    • It is a public hangout in the profile of Vance Stevens on Google+
    • It has an event page: https://plus.google.com/events/cv6ofmjjicc83hrng6628rnj97k
    • You can join us in HoA via the direct link (posted here when the HoA is live)
    • If the Hangout is full, listen to the stream and interact with us in the text chat
      • You can let us know if you want to join the Hangout
      • We will let you know when space comes available
      • When you enter the Hangout
        • Wear a headset to avoid broadcasting speaker sound back into the Hangout
        • Switch OFF the stream as it is on a delay and will create an echo for you

During the live event, you can chat with us in the chat space above

Connect with this Chatwing from any browser at http://chatwing.com/vancestev


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Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

Lessons For The Teacher- What We Learnt To Expect When Teaching In Korea

Koreabridge - Wed, 2014-10-22 06:45
Lessons For The Teacher- What We Learnt To Expect When Teaching In Kor

We came to Korea to be teachers, to help children to learn. Turns out that working as an English teacher in Korea has taught us a lot of things too: lessons in leading, discipline, understanding and eternal patience (ok, still working on that last one…). And, we’ve learnt that school in Korea is completely different than in England; would you ask about a teacher’s relationship status in the UK? Most probably not. In Korea? It’s one of the first questions you’re asked (and repeatedly asked again, and again, and again).

So travelling across the world to teach is a learning curve, to say the least. Here are some of the things that I’ve come to expect as a teacher working in Korea:

Everyone Says Hello

You simply cannot walk down the corridor without being bombarded by greetings from students at every turn. It was quite a shock at the start, although a nice one, of course. Waving, children calling your name, sometimes even giving you a hug. So this is what it feels like to be a celebrity…

Inappropriate Questions

“Teacher, do you have a boyfriend?” “Teacher, do you live with your boyfriend?” “Teacher, why aren’t you married?” “Teacher, how old are you?” If I had ever asked a teacher their age, I think I would have received detention or at the very least a good telling-off.

And I don’t really mind the personal questions, but it’s a bit disruptive when you’re answer that  “yes, I have a boyfriend”, causes about 10 minutes of giggling from your class full of embarrassed teenagers.

Students Being In Awe 


You’d think that the students would be used to Westerners, having been taught by them for years. But still, they are continually amazed by a Westerner’s appearance. If you walk past students who haven’t seen you before at a neighbouring school, their stares are as incredulous (and sometimes as scared) as if you had just arriveded from another planet. Seriously.

The most common feature which leaves the students awestruck? Height: if the male teachers are 6 foot or above, they are regarded with such amazement it’s as if they’re some kind of freakish giant.

K Pop Rules All


I guess working with teenagers, you’re going to expect adolescent obsessions whatever country you’re in. But the love for K Pop really is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. All I need to do is say the word ‘EXO’ in class, and the screams are so loud you’d think that the Pop Band had actually appeared in my class. K Pop pencil cases, wallets, mirrors, photos, folders, makeshift tattoos… Korean schools are definitely in the midst of K Pop mania.

Exams Will Cause All Kinds Of Stress

Exams are a stressful time for anyone, but in Korea it’s a new extreme: students crying in the hallways, accosting their teachers to find out why they lost one mark in their test. And a day of total depression the day the results come out; every student you ask “How did you do”, you’re answered with a tearful “Not good.” Surely everyone can’t fail? Well, it sure seems like it here.

The worst I’ve seen was a student in our office for 2 hours, crying over one mark in her English test; she only finally left because it was time to go home. And no, she didn’t get the extra mark in the end either.

The Parents Are Very Involved

For this reason, I’m very glad I don’t speak Korean. Parents will text and call teachers, come into the school, and again it’s usually to argue over their child’s exam score or because they’ve been put in bottom set. One of our co-teachers was called until 11 pm by parents during exam time; she is a better person than me… I think I would have changed my number! Oh, and then there’s the parent who came into our office and cried over her daughter’s exam score for an hour… which really made it quite awkward for everyone in the room.

Sleeping In Class


So when I was at school, anyone who dared to sleep in class would be thought of as a proper rebel. In Korea, it’s pretty weird if you get through a class without someone falling asleep (or trying to at any rate). I guess the reason for this is the long days they have studying, as I discussed in my Korean Education post.

Still, it would be nice if I didn’t have to spend half my time prodding students awake when it’s all become to much for them. And the individuals who decide to bring along a blanket and cushion to class to make themselves comfortable? That’s really just taking things too far!

The Students Have Power Over Teachers

It’s normal for teachers to write reports and evaluations for students. But in Korea, the students can get-their-own-back by writing reports on the teachers. That little terror who always disrupts class and I’m always telling off? Well, he’s going to give me a bad rating for sure!

If only I could have done the same when I was in school; some teachers would definitely have felt my wrath…

Boys and Girls Do Not Mix

I thought the ‘boys and girls hate each other’ phase was usually over when children become teenagers. Apparently not. A minority of boys and girls and friends, but the majority of students? No such luck. Sometimes if I ask a boy and girl to sit next to each other, or, even worse, work together, I’m greeted with looks of such surprise and worry you’d think I’d suggested they get married.

The one time in my class when the students found out that one boy fancied someone, there was such uproar that I couldn’t calm them down for fifteen minutes. True story. Which leads me on to my next point…

No Kissing. Ever.


Ok, I’m not suggesting that students should be getting up to mischief in school by any means. What I’m talking about is how students can’t even talk about kissing, let alone see someone kissing on TV or in a movie. Before I knew this,I showed Taylor Swift’s ‘You Belong With Me’ music video in class. When Taylor kissed someone at the end… well, the reaction was the same as if I’d shown something on an X Rated Movie Channel.

I just hoped I hadn’t scarred them for life. I felt as guilty as a parent telling their child that Father Christmas isn’t real, making my students lose their innocence. Bad move me.

Students Want Your Food And Drink

Another type of inappropriate questions which the students ask: “Teacher, can I have some of your water?” “Ooh teacher, your lunch looks delicious, can I eat some?” Um… no… you cannot get your germs on my water bottle, and you cannot eat the lunch I prepared; get your own!

Giving Food = Undying Love


This is the last, and most important thing I’ve learnt while teaching in Korea. Food is the best reward you can give, and will earn you top teacher points among students.

If only I’d known this at the start. Food is the answer to everything: a bribe to make the children work, a reward for the hard-workers. All you need to do to get a student to profess their adoring love for you is to give them a piece of chocolate. Works every time. Well, you live and you learn…


Filed under: Korea, Living


Kathryn's Living

Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

Glamping Under the Stars at Raventree in Gapyeong

Koreabridge - Mon, 2014-10-20 10:46
Glamping Under the Stars at Raventree in Gapyeong Fall has officially arrived in Korea. The season may not be the longest, but it is, without a doubt, the most beautiful. The country's autumn colors, crisp air and cool temperatures beckon its inhabitants to don their sweaters and head outdoors for festivals, mountain hikes and danpoong noryi, excursions to see the fall foliage. Yet there is one autumn activity that has particularly taken off in Korea in recent years that sets itself apart from every other seasonal activity -- glamping.

Although camping has always been popular, with campsites often booked months in advance, glamping (or glamorous camping) offers a bit of luxury to those seeking to get the full experience of the great outdoors without sacrificing any creature comforts of civilization.

Raventree in Gappyeong, located just a forty minute's drive from Gangnam, is not only the most conveniently located glamping site in Korea, but is also one of the most beautiful. A couple weeks ago, a friend and I packed our bags and made our way out to the rolling landscapes of Gyeonggi Province. Thanks to her GPS, the site was easy to find, and offered a scenic route which conveniently passed by some tasty restaurants and snack stalls, as the glamping anticipation worked up our appetites.

Upon arrival, our eyes widened at the site of the campground's lavish tents, arranged in a neat semi-circle and perched on the side of a mountain overlooking a picturesque valley. Unable to contain our excitement, we jumped out the car and were quickly welcomed by the friendly manager of the campground who escorted us to our home for the evening. We wasted no time in exploring our two-story tent, an incredible shelter unlike any I had seen before.

In the lower level of this two-story tent was a kitchen and living area that extends out onto the wooden deck. Equipped with a mini-fridge, a hot plate, cutlery, plates, pots and pans, the room offers everything one might need to prepare a hot bowl of ramen, a simple camping meal or a feast (as we would later learn many visitors opt for). The sleeping area upstairs is accessed via a ladder and is completely screened in, so as to keep out bugs. Additionally, it is fairly spacious and easily fits two people very comfortably, but is also big enough for a family with two small children.

We took a walk around the site, which boasts a nice pond, a playground, shower facilities, a dish-washing station, a convenience store that sells snacks, drinks and basic camping necessities, and the quintessential karaoke machine. (This is Korea, after all.)

The sun began to set on the campground and as clusters of constellations and a full moon claimed the crystal clear skies, the friendly manager stopped by our tent with plenty of firewood (that he would refill throughout the evening) to help us start up a fire in the raised pit on our deck. He also delivered the Raventree BBQ Glamping Combo that we ordered ahead of time for an additional cost. Packed in our set was a tasty variety of pork, sausage, shrimp, veggies, kimchi and condiments. We got right to grilling and inhaled lettuce wraps of barbecue goodness and slurped down cold beer. It was all very good but my friend and I agreed that bringing our own food on the next visit would be far more economical.

I had intentionally made the reservation for this particular night, as I knew there would be a full moon, but to to our surprise, a lunar eclipse also took place. Families gathered together after dinner to marvel at the spectacular site, one that I am sure wouldn't have been as nearly as impressive in the city.

Just as we finished up another round of beers, an American gentleman invited my friend and I to join his gumbo party a few tents down. Not ones to turn down gumbo, we joined the feast that was already well under way. The group had packed all sorts of treats and were quick to share as we exchanged travel stories and playlist recommendations. It never ceases to amaze me that despite being out in the middle of nowhere, there are always new friends to be made and laughs to be had.

Unlike most campsites in Korea, Raventree was occupied by families and couples rather than the rowdy groups of intoxicated ajusshi (old men) that tend to shout and blare trot music all through the night. With this added sense of calm, my friend and I had no problem falling right to sleep. Additionally, despite the frigid temperatures, the heated mats under our pallets kept us cozy. From the beginning of November, heaters are installed in the lower level of the tents to provide extra warmth, making camping in the winter not only possible, but also enjoyable.

I woke to a view of misty mountains in the morning and after whipping up a mug of hot cocoa, bundled up and did a bit of reading on the deck, a last attempt to enjoy the great outdoors before check-out.

Sure, a stay at Raventree isn't exactly roughing it and some might even consider it a bit too pricey for a night out in the middle of nowhere. However, I could equate our stay to that of one in a decent hotel, but with the added benefit of good service, friendly neighbors, fresh air, incredible surroundings and a memorable experience that only the nature of the Korean countryside can offer.

More Information: Raventree

Address: 10 Wegoklee Seorak-myeon Gaypeong Gyunggi-do (경기도 가평군 설악면 위곡리 10)
Phone Number: +82 2-1688-8614
Price: Tents 165,000 won/ night (Sun-Thurs); 177,000 won/ night (Friday); 198,000 won/ night (Saturday, holidays); Premium BBQ Combo Set (2 people) 98,000 won
Check-in: 3pm
Check-out: 12pm
Reservations: By the Raventree website (Korean), Glamping.com (English) or by e-mail at raventree@naver.com (English)
Facebook: Click Here
Get There: Take bus number 7000 from Exit 9 of Jamsil Station (Subway Line 2 or 8) to Seorak-myeon (설악면) (4,000 won). The bus runs every hour and the travel time is about 40 minutes. After arriving at Seorak-myeon, take a taxi to Raventree (about 8,000 won).

Disclaimer: Although Raventree provided accommodations free of charge in return for this post, the opinions are, of course, my own.

Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.

Seoul Searching

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Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

Korean Beauty Standards: Another Pressure Point

Koreabridge - Sat, 2014-10-18 05:14
Korean Beauty Standards: Another Pressure Point blog.asiatown.net

Working in a middle school full of adolescent girls is like being transported back in time to a teenage world of worries, insecurities, and an ever-present wish to change pretty much everything about yourself- hair, skin, body- in fact, if you look for it, you can pretty much find fault with anything, and that’s exactly what teenagers do.

It’s true that on the surface, Korean girls don’t appear as obsessed by their looks as Western girls; they don’t wear any make-up until high school (and even then wear a minimal amount), they don’t wear a lot of jewellery, no hitched-up skirts or high heels, and the ponytail is the only hairstyle I see. However, underneath the surface, these girls have far more disdain for their appearance, and it’s only when talking to them that you realise how incredibly low their self-esteem actually is.

Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Brandon Myrick, via Wikimedia Commons

The way the word ‘ugly’ is thrown around is shocking; it’s a word only really used in England as an insult or as an extreme, and definitely not a word used normally to describe people. In  my opinion, it’s a word which shouldn’t be used at all due to its overwhelmingly negative connotations.

What’s even stranger is the girls’ treatment of other people, especially that of their friends. Here are just a few of the things my students have said about their friends. Oh, and not in a bitchy, behind-their-back way: this is said to their friend’s face:

“Her cheeks are like an apple, they’re so red from pimples.”

“She is quite ugly. She has a square face.”

“She is not pretty and has thick legs.”

It’s so weird to see friends talking about one another in this way, when for me, it’s always been girl code to automatically support your friends when they’re feeling down about themselves: “You’re not ugly”, “No-one can notice the spot on your chin”, “Of course you haven’t put on weight”.

The fact that friends are so quick and happy to insult, and to receive insults from each other without any offence just demonstrates how low their self-esteem actually is; it’s normal for them to be called ‘ugly’ and to accept this as fact, because they believe it.


With such bad views of themselves and how openly they discuss their ‘bad’ looks, it’s no surprise that plastic surgery levels are sky high. According to reports, ‘1 in 77 people’ now have surgery to change their appearance, and ‘20% of women aged 19 to 49 in Seoul admit to going under the knife’. Double eyelid surgery is increasingly popular and is something many of my students have expressed their desire to get done when they’re older. when I see double-eyelid tape and glue in CU convenience stores, it reminds me how the pressure for girls to change their looks is everywhere. 

Of course, the K Pop girls don’t do anything to boost confidence among teenagers- they actually have the opposite effect, and make the girls feel even more inadequate. One K Pop star admitted that she had so much plastic surgery, people no longer recognised her. Pop Dust website also describes how the stars no longer care about keeping their surgery a secret; one girl group, Brown Eyed Girls sang a parody of Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’, called ‘Plastic Face’. Is this a good message to send to impressionable young girls? I think not.


When photos of the 2013 Miss Korea Beauty Pageant finalists were made public, they were criticised by many people who thought the girls had undergone so much surgery that they all looked the same. The desire for surgery was blamed on the desire to look more Western.

Even without resorting to surgery, I’ve witnessed many older girls wearing a lot of make-up, especially eye make-up, to try and look more like the ‘pretty’ girls on TV. Of course, it isn’t just in Korea that celebrities and the media have a damaging effect, it happens everywhere: extreme diets, changing of hair colour, make-up experimentation, fake tans… people trying to transform into someone else. But in Korea, it seems more extreme, perhaps because everyone wants to look the same. This results, as was made clear with the 2013 beauty pageant, in a group of beautiful clones with minimal individuality.


I know that for teenage years, and for many years after, women all over the world use make-up, endless hair and beauty products, and go on fad diets to achieve some sort of ideal. But I feel like pressure on Korea girls is so much worse, and it’s worrying. It seems like all societal expectations of the Western World are magnified in Korea; school pressure is ten-times worse, the pressure on women to find and marry a ‘suitable’ man, and in the same way, the pressure to look good seems so much more extreme than in other countries.

My question (and worry) is ‘when will it stop?’ A lot of Koreans face too much stress in their lives as it is, and beauty is one pressure point too much. Instead of trying to alter their looks, girls should accept who they are and not view themselves with such harsh negativity. I want to shake sense into my students sometimes, to stop them being so down on themselves and make them believe that they are in no way ugly. Teenage years are for having fun, for being with friends and family- not for worrying that you don’t look the same as the celebrities. In fact, I wish I could go back in time and tell my teenage self the same thing… well, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Why South Korean High Schoolers Want Plastic Surgery? Check out their answers here.

Filed under: Beauty, Korea, Living


Kathryn's Living

Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

Attempted live-streamed workshop on Hangout on Air from GLoCALL Ahmedabad 2014

Webheadsinaction.org - Fri, 2014-10-17 06:21
Vance Stevens attempted to live-stream a workshop on Hangout on Airfrom GLoCALL Ahmedabad 2014

on Thursday Oct 9, 2014

For the full event description and archive, please visit


For further information on all our upcoming events please visit

http://tinyurl.com/learning2gether (redirects to 


The video was taken down but an mp3 was preserved and is available here

How this worked at showtime Oct 9, 2014

  • You could listen to the stream in the video embed above
  • You could chat with us in real-time in the Chatwing space below
    or open it in a new window here http://chatwing.com/vancestev
  • You could listen to the stream at its YouTube URL (removed by user)
  • If there was space available (up to 10 people) in the Hangout on Air
    • It had an event page: https://plus.google.com/events/cf8kelr4u3eere73u1me5bqfbsk
    • You could join us via the direct link (relevant only while the event is in progress)
    • If the Hangout is full, listen to the stream and interact with us in the text chat
      • You can let us know if you want to join the Hangout
      • We will let you know when space comes available
      • When you enter the Hangout
        • Wear a headset to avoid broadcasting speaker sound back into the Hangout
        • Switch OFF the stream as it is on a delay and will create an echo for you

During the live event, you could chat with us in the chat space above

Connect with this Chatwing from any browser at http://chatwing.com/vancestev


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Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

In Ulsan (Cups Song – South KoREMIX)

Koreabridge - Thu, 2014-10-16 14:23
In Ulsan (Cups Song – South KoREMIX)

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: my most advanced first year high school students singing a revised version of the Cup Song from Pitch Perfect! Enjoy!

So, what do all the references in the song mean? Well, I’ll tell you! Ulsan is the city where my school resides. T-money is a type of “currency” used to travel all around Korea (it’s mostly used for intracity buses and subways, but it’s accepted by taxis too). Soju is the most popular adult beverage in Korea (*disclaimer* I don’t condone under-age drinking. The original song mentions bottles of whiskey, so I changed the lyric to the Korean equivalent, that’s all!). Nam-gu is home to the new downtown area of Ulsan (a “gu” is a district or neighborhood). In Nam-gu you’ll find outlet malls, department stores, movie theatres and restaurants. Dong-gu is the coastal area of Ulsan. There you can go to Ilsan beach, take in the ship yards, and stroll through scenic Daewangam Park! “Munsu” is short for Munsu soccer stadium, which is named after nearby Munsu Mountain. Grand Park is one of two main parks in Ulsan where you can enjoy the outdoors without actually leaving the city (additional mini-parks and bike paths are all over the city too, especially along the Taewha River). And lastly, true to the original song, Ulsan is surrounded by mountains (the gorgeous Yeongnam Alps are only a short bus ride away) and the mighty Taewha River runs right through the city!

I had an absolute blast working on this project with my students, and I think they liked it too!


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Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

On Dodko (for the U of N’s Blog Symposium on Asian Territorial Disputes)

Koreabridge - Thu, 2014-10-16 11:19
On Dodko (for the U of N’s Blog Symposium on Asian Territorial Dispute

The China Policy Institute of the University of Nottingham in Britain is running a blog symposium – cool idea! – this week on Asia’s territorial disputes. Here is the series page, and here is my submission. I’d like to thank the CPI blog director, my friend Jon Sullivan, for inviting me to submit. Not surprisingly, I was solicited to write on Dokdo/Takeshima/Liancourt.

Regular readers of my work will notice some of my preferred themes – that Korean claim is probably stronger; that a Japanese acceptance of that is nonetheless necessary to legitimate that sovereignty claim; that Korea wildly overblows the importance of this conflict because ‘anti-Japanism’ is central to modern South Korean identity.

The other entries in the series are worth your time if this area interests you. I was happy to participate. Below the jump is my contribution:


Korea and Japan have been locked in an on-again/off-again dispute over two small volcanic rocks in the Sea of Japan since the 1950s. In Korea, these two rocks are known as ‘Dokdo’ (독도); in Japan, they are called ‘Takeshima’ (たけしま). In the West, they are called the ‘Liancourt Rocks,’ after a French ship that nearly foundered there. For those new to the dispute, the Wikipedia write-up is actually pretty good, and some of its links are helpful. The literature on this issue in Korea (which I know best) is immense. The Korean government even supports a ‘Dokdo Research Institute.’


I have no definitive comment on proper ownership. In my experience teaching in Asia as an American, there is little value to westerners making determinate judgments. Americans particularly are often seen as a referee in this conflict, as the US is an ally to both Japan and Korea. Hence I think it very unwise for Americans to definitively take a side. The US government position is that Japan and Korea need to work it on their own. I follow that line myself, as do most of the Americans and westerners I know in this area.

As best I can tell from the historical data – which are themselves hotly disputed, of course – the Korean claim is probably stronger, but there is likely no way to seriously establish that. The Koreans control the island and will certainly not surrender it, barring a Japanese use of force, which is unthinkable due to the mutual alliances with the United States. But Japan is unlikely to accept Korean control as legitimate without arbitration to which the Koreans will not agree. Hence the stalemate.

The historical problem is that sovereignty as we understand today, with strict, mutually exclusive zones, did not really exist in Asia until the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries. There were borders, and Asia arguably had state-like bureaucracies before the West. But details like who exactly owned small, uninhabited rocks were simply not the focus of traditional Confucian governance and diplomacy. It is possible that some undisputed map from the 18th century or something will be unearthed that definitively settles the dispute, but I doubt it. In the end, even if Korea’s claim is stronger, the issue will not be resolved without some kind of agreement with Japan to legitimate it.

The Koreans do of course control the islets. To bolster its claim, the Korean government runs tours, stations police there, and routinely patrols the airspace. Seoul has also sought to change the international practice of using the term ‘Sea of Japan’ for the body of water between Korea and Japan to ‘East Sea.’ This is partly from Korea’s post-colonial, anti-Japanese nationalism, but it is also intended to bolster Seoul’s Dokdo claim by diluting the idea that the waters around Liancourt are ‘Japanese.’

Finally, it should be noted that the Japanese, for all the bluster coming from Seoul, have not actually pushed this issue much. The claim is formally maintained, and Shimane prefecture does celebrate ‘Takeshima Day’ on February 22. But there is little Japanese effort to change facts on the ground. Japanese fishing and naval vessels are not prodding the South Koreans. There is nothing like China’s behavior in the Paracels or Spratlys.

My own sense from Japanese colleagues is that Japan cares little for the issue. It makes for good politicking, and in the heated atmosphere of Japan-Korea relations today, it would be impossible for any Japanese politician to step back from the claim. But my own sense is that Japan holds to its Takeshima claim because it fears the ‘demonstration effect’ of flexibility on its other territorial disputes, with Russia and China, which are far more important. If Japan gives on Liancourt, Russia and especially China will push harder in their respective disputes. Given that an accidental Sino-Japanese clash over Senkaku is now a major regional worry, the Japanese will not budge on Liancourt.

Korean State-Building

The larger context on the Korean side of this flap is the intense Japanese focus of modern Korean nationalism. Japanese, Americans, and others have frequently noted the extremism of Korean rhetoric regarding Liancourt (here, here, here, here). One Korean president even ordered Korean ships to fire on Japanese ships near the islets; Seoul has also tried to include its Dokdo claim under the US-Korean defense treaty, which implies a possible American use of force against Japan. I have argued elsewhere (here, here, here) that much of this comes from the unique legitimacy challenge facing South Korea, as a half-country in contention with a mendacious, duplicitous national competitor.

Korean tension with Japan is obviously rooted in memory and territorial issues, but antipathy toward Japan also serves a national identity-building purpose in South Korea. The ROK (Republic of Korea) is trapped in a debilitating national legitimacy contest with the aggressively nationalist DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) which does not hesitate to play powerful nationalist cards against the South: South Korea is Hanguk, while North Korea is Joseon. South Korea is the bastardized, globalized, ‘Yankee Colony’ selling Korea’s heritage, folkways, and racial integrity to foreigners, while North Korea, despite its poverty, defends the minjok against its many predators, including Japan and the United States. To counter this narrative and the national confusion it generates, the ROK targets Japan instead the DRPK as the focal point of its state-building nationalism. If the ROK cannot be the anti-DPRK, then it will be the anti-Japan. And China, especially under Xi Jinping, clearly manipulates Korean disdain for Japan. But when Korea unites, the anti-Japan animus needed for the intra-Korean competition will be unnecessary. This is the long-term solution Korea-Japan tension.

Is there a Way Forward?

There is no dearth of proposals to improve Japan-Korea relations. Resolution of the territorial issue would help, but I believe that it is more the outcome than the cause. That is, the intensity of the Dokdo dispute stems not from the value of Dokdo itself, but from its symbolism for Korean national identity. Because South Korea defines itself against Japan (rather than against the DPRK), Dokdo has taken on an importance all out of proportion to its material value.

Seoul often seeks to deflect this critique with arguments about local natural resources or the seabed, but these are fairly transparent dodges. It is not at all clear that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) would allow control of Liancourt to project claims to the sea around it or to reset the overlapping exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Korea and Japan. Liancourt is not traditionally understood as ‘habitable;’ it cannot support indigenous human life. How to define that could of course be disputed, which Korea would likely do if it came so far. (Here is a good treatment of the UNCLOS tangle in the Asia-Pacific.)

If I am correct, the Liancourt/Dokdo/Takeshima fight will remain locked in place indefinitely. The only two events that would break the deadlock – a Japanese climb-down or a North Korean collapse – are unlikely in the medium-term. And Seoul will regularly deploy the Dokdo tussle in its geopolitical and historiographic contest with Tokyo. If there is one upside to this mess, at least Dokdo humor is pretty funny.”

Filed under: Asia, Foreign Policy, Japan, Korea (South)

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University


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Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

Autumn Hiking in South Korea: Part 5 가지산 (Gajisan)

Koreabridge - Wed, 2014-10-15 02:08
Autumn Hiking in South Korea: Part 5 가지산 (Gajisan)

After a seasonal hiatus in respect of sporting fixtures on weekends and travel trips over the spring and summer it is rapidly reverting to ideal hiking conditions in the Republic of Korea. As the weather cools and the leaves begin to turn and fall I find myself being drawn back to the escapist attractions of the Korean mountains. My return to the rocky tree-shrouded country landscape began on Hangeul Day (national holiday for the celebration of the Korean writing system) at Gajisan, a mountain that narrowly wins the honour of being the highest in the Yeongnam Alps, an area that I had heavily explored during the last winter.

I invited my Korean friend Mia along for the hike and we met in northern Busan at Myeongnyun station just after nine o’clock to catch the number 12 bus to Eonyang, a small town to the east of the Yeongnam Alps. I’ve taken the number 12 bus before and it was equally slow as before as it trundled out of Busan into Yangsan and then snaked its way slowly between the villages that lie north of Yangsan. When we eventually arrived in Eonyang around an hour and a half later our patience for public buses was stretched and we jumped in a taxi. Our taxi ride took us to the gates of Seongnamsa (or Seoknamsa as it should be romanized from the Korean 석남사). After readying ourselves we headed to a car park to the left hand side of the main entrance gate where a path began that would take us along a counter-clockwise route to the peak of Gajisan. As we passed a large group of hikers in the car park Mia immediately almost stood on a snake that slithered across the beginning of the path.

The route begins with a relatively shallow ascent and gradually steepens until the point that trail gives way to slightly more technical, partially eroded, and rocky route. Personally I found the whole route relatively easy but many of the hikers we passed were increasingly fatigued as we passed them. Mia also found the going a little tough and was generous enough to curse me repeatedly for bringing her along. A heap of verbal motivation and my adamance that it wasn’t so severe as some of the other routes in the Yeongnam Alps may or may not have helped. I was also rebuked for falsely advertising the actual peak. As sky gave way to rock and treeline I was vocal in my expression that ‘it’s not far now’ only to clamber upon a false peak with an ascent and a further climb to the actual peak visible another kilometre away.

The final climb brought us to the top of the 1240m peak but this was not even halfway through the actual hike, I chose not to mention this to my friend. At the top of Gajisan, on what was a warm and mostly clear autumn day, we were greeted with an incredible view across all directions. Mountain peaks and receding horizons contrasted with the bright blue sky as far as we could see. After queuing with other hikers for some mandatory photos we began the hike that followed the ridge north before stopping for a snack on one of the notable rocky outcroppings that overlooked the view towards Ulsan in the east.

The undulating ridge trail lasted for a few kilometres before we began the knee-bursting descent. Although not particularly steep it was certainly relentless with few plateaus. The ground was skiddy, the dried and crumbling mud providing a surface that required cautious attention. It was quite a relief to reach the outside grounds of the temple, neither of us had much desire to look inside and we followed the exit road to the main entrance gate and then crossed over to a small bus station.  We had decided on our descent that we did not relish the long journey on the number 12 bus from Eonyang back to Busan so we decided to catch a bus from outside the temple to Ulsan KTX station and then take the rapid KTX service back to Busan. At the KTX station we even had twenty minutes to grab some cheap Korean food to fill our grumbling stomachs.

On reflection this is a good hike, it only takes in one remarkable peak and can be accomplished in half a day if you can keep a good pace up. The views from the summit are quite breathtaking, as much of those in the Yeongnam Alps are, if you are interested in the route we took you can check the GPS recording here: http://www.mapmyhike.com/workout/760095549 I am of the understanding that you can turn this into a longer hike that ends in Unmunsa a temple to the north-east although I think you would have to then travel to Miryang to find any suitable transport to any of the respective cities in the region.


Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

2014 Busan Global Gathering @ Citizens Park

Koreabridge - Wed, 2014-10-15 01:08

○ Date & Time: October 18, 2014 10:00 a.m. - 5.m.
○ Venue: Busan Citizens Park  Google Map Link
○ For more info.: 1577-7716
○ Website: http://www.bfia.or.kr/english/contents/g1_1.asp

Saturday, October 18 10a.m-5p.m
Busan Citizens Park

hosted by Busan Metropolitan City & 
Busan Foundation for Int’l Activities(BFIA)About the Event

  • Global Gathering is unique cultural event that brings together people from all over the world. It is one of the biggest cultural events in the city of Busan. After a very successful and well-received Global Gathering at APEC Naru Park in Haeundae last year, We are pleased to announce the Global Gathering is coming back in 2014. Local foreign communities, international schools, cultural centers that representing their own counties will join the event. The event attracted thousands of spectators and increased the number of exhibitors and stage performers from previous year. It will continue that momentum in 2014. A variety programs and things for fun will be provided : culture-related promotional booths, food, stage presentations, folk games, photo exhibition, and other events.

2014 Busan Global Gathering @ Citizens Park
Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

Gimje Horizon’s Festival

Koreabridge - Sun, 2014-10-12 13:26
Gimje Horizon’s Festival

The summer heat is finished and the beauty of fall is upon us.  As blues skies open up and cool weather sets in a peaceful time of year begins. Something that goes hand and hand with this autumn is Festival Season in Korea. Every weekend provinces throughout the country put on amazing festivals showcasing their local specialties. There is so much going on that it is near impossible to discover every great event. This is why when Korea Tourism Organizations (KTO) announced they were recruiting members for ‘Global Group on Cultural and Tourism Festivals’ to attend some of the festivals being held throughout the season I jumped on the opportunity.

KTO put together over 15 trips allowing foreign participants to attend the festivals FREE OF CHARGE! What’s the catch? In return KTO asks participants to simply share their experience and fill out a simple survey. The trip I attended was so interesting that there is no way I wouldn’t share my experience.

Great opportunities for foreigners to experience tourism and culture happen often in Korea. If you are interested in attending some make sure to Like! Our facebook page where we post links to opportunities.


The morning of October 4th I joined 20 foreigners from around the world and headed out of Seoul by bus to spend the weekend attending two great festivals: Gimje Horizon Festival and Sancheong Medicinal Herb Festival.


Our first stop was Gimje. The trip was about three hours by bus from Seoul. Gimje is located in North Jeolla Province in the Southwestern part of Korea and known as the “great plains.” The mountainous country flattens in this landmass making the area an ideal place to cultivate crops, specifically rice.


Our tour included some area attractions as well as the festival. Visitors can easily make a weekend trip, exploring the area. The natural flat landscape littered with Korea’s fall flower- the Cosmo, makes for ideal bike tours. There are also several notable temples. Our first stop was to Simpo Port and Manghaesa Temple Observatory, where we became acquainted with the history of the region.  The area is famous for their seafood. Here clams around 5cm in size, which were once a prized meal for kings, are produced.   Walking into any humble shop around Simpo Port will allow you to feast on this local delicacy.

5cm Clams fit for a king! Our seafood lunch at Simpo Port


After eating a delicious seafood lunch, at the tiny fishing port (Simpo Port), we took a short walk to Manghaesa Temple. This beautiful and historic Buddhist temple is famous for it’s placement. The small area has stunning beauty and is believed to be a place where Heaven meets Earth. In this area we also stopped at a pavilion that offers 360-degree views of the unobstructed plains.

360 observation tower at Simp Port Views from the observation tower


Following this stop we made our way to the festival grounds. Gimje Horizon Festival focuses on Korea’s agricultural history and offers guests a glimpse into the heritage that is being preserved by local agricultural communities. Supporting the theme is an array of programs and events that make the festival fun for the entire family. If farming doesn’t interest you, surely the many interactive events will! Festivities include a dragon competition, kite flying, culinary experience, interactive rice harvesting experiences, a grand torch parade and so much more.


Gimje Visitors Center and look out tower


Gimje is the only place in Korea where visitors can observe a panoramic view of the area encased with rice paddies that expand into the horizon without obstruction by mountains. The setting of the festival is among Gimje’s Tourism office which houses an observation tower, allowing visitors to view the area as well as the festival.

Gimje Visitors Center and look out tower

Once in the tower I was able to quickly orient myself and see the 100’s of flying kites among the blue autumn sky, the festival is famous for, as well as two massive bamboo dragons that are the centerpiece of the event.


I looked down into the festival with some binoculars, which were available at the top of the observatory, and couldn’t wait to be among the events. Rice patties allowing visitors to have interactive experiences, kite flying demonstrations and much more were in my view. I giggle at the cute children wearing rice hats and running through fields, with nets, catching grasshoppers.


After observing the festival from above, I headed to ground level and walked through the main gate. At the information tent a woman arranged me with an English-speaking guide that would help me better understand the festival. This service is free and available to all foreigners in several languages.


English Guide

My guide was a sweet high school student who was able to easily show me around the festival and guide me to the exhibits that interested me. Our first stop was a dooling dragon competition. Two huge dragon costumes, worn by about 10 people, gracefully weaved around a stage. Foreigners and locals were invited to participate in wearing the dragon costume as well as competing in the competitions. Dancing, Rock paper scissors, and tug-o-war were just a few of the competitions that were held to see if the red or blue dragon would reign over the festival.


Dueling Dragons Demonstration


After enjoying this demonstration, we continued into the festival to observe the grand Dragons. The 2 story dragon statues are stunning and a spectacle like no other. It is in this area that many people fly kites. Just behind the dragons is an agriculture lake with duck boats and paddleboats for visitors use. Although the experience looked relaxing, I opted not to participate and continued to the Traditional Village where I observed traditional crafts, folk games and then participated in a traditional wedding.


Traditionally Korean weddings were grand events, often lasting several days and involving entire villages.   Locals in costumes reenacted the festivities. Musicians wore traditional costumes and banged drums as they danced in a circle.   I was given the opportunity to try on a traditional wedding costume. This was great fun! My guide helped me understand the experience and assured me she would make sure I looked beautiful. Volunteers surrounded me in a replica Hanok field home and placed the outfit on me. After I was dressed in wedding hanbok they did my hair in a bun and placed a braided wig on top as well as a traditional hat and large decorative shaft that pierced through the bun. Because I went on the trip alone, I did not have a groom, so I was introduced to another visitor- who I would marry. They ushered me around the hanok home and took pictures in front of alters set up for the wedding and then in front of a tiny box that the bride was carried in, to the wedding, in ancient times. My guide explained the entire process and snapped pictures with my camera throughout. What fun!


Getting dressed in traditional wedding outfit Traditional Wedding Dress

Once back in my street clothes, we continued to what I found the most interesting area of the festival. The Rice field village housed many interactive experiences. Visitors were allowed to go into the rice fields and harvest their own crop with traditional tools through the supervision of rice farmers. Once the rice was gathered, traditional iron pots were set up on campfires allowing participants to cook and eat rice in traditional fashion. In addition to these activities children were given nets and allowed to run among the rice field and catch locust, or play in a straw-plant land that consisted of archery, sling shots, a petting zoo, straw- trampoline, slide and rodeo.   The straw from the rice plant is also used to create traditional crafts. Participants could gather straw and create ropes and make straw bags.

No festival would be fun without food and a large food court offers both traditional and foreign food for purchase. The area is not only famous for seafood and rice but also beef. Jipyeongseon Hanu or Horizon Korean Beef is the meat of choice in Gimje. At the festival you can visit a butcher stand and purchase meat then barbeque it in the typical Korean fashion accompanied by Korean side dishes at participating restaurants.


Our group tried a local dish called Gimje Yukhoe Bibimbap which is Bibimbap topped with steak tartare. If you are adventurous enough to eat Tartare I highly recommend sampling the dish. It was delicious!

After dinner our day did not end. The sun set and as the sky darkened my favorite part of the festival began! How could things get even more exciting, right? The Kyeokgolje Torch Parade!! Participants were given tiki torches and after a fun rally session we lite our torches and marched among hundreds of other participants throughout the festival grounds.

Getting Ready to march in the lantern parade


The parade ended along the lake. A stage was set up with three plasma globes (those spheres that have pink lights when you touch your finger to they follow) and government figures stood in front of them. They each briefly spoke about the festival. While our lanterns glistened in the cool night sky, each man pressed his fingers to the sphere. Music began playing and a massive blue light-up dragon flew through the sky, followed by a beautiful fire works display. The dragon continued to dart through the sky throughout the fireworks! I had never seen anything like it!

After the fireworks display, we distinguished our lanterns and headed to our hotel for the night. We would arise early the following morning for ANOTHER festival located about two hours from Gimje. The Sancheung Medicine Herb Festival was the next stop in our tour.


Make sure to tune into my next blog post where I will tell you all about it!

Date: October 1-5th 2014

[By train]
Take an express train to Gimje Station.
Take the festival shuttle bus from the Station to the festival venue.
(Shuttle bus schedule: 07:30-22:30)

[By bus]
Take an express bus to Gimje Bus Terminal.
Take the festival shuttle bus from the Terminal to the festival venue.
(Shuttle bus schedule: 08:00-22:00)

For more information: www.festival.gimje.go.kr 

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http://seoulmateskorea.com/ Facebook: Facebook.com/TravelSeoulSouthKoreaTwitter: @LifeTravelSeoul   Instagram: lifetravelseoul  Pinterst: Pinterest.com/lifetravelseoul



Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

21st Century Learning - 10-9-14

Worldbridges Megafeed - Thu, 2014-10-09 21:07

22:11 minutes (25.39 MB)

21st Century Learning is back for the 2014-15 school year. Vinnie's got a new job, and Alex and arvind are ready to go with new ideas. We'll be back on the every other week schedule, and can't wait to have some new guests, and welcomed long-time listeners. Find us on Twitter @alexragone @vvrotny and @arvind


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21st Century Learning - 10-9-14

EdTechTalk - Thu, 2014-10-09 21:07

22:11 minutes (25.39 MB)

21st Century Learning is back for the 2014-15 school year. Vinnie's got a new job, and Alex and arvind are ready to go with new ideas. We'll be back on the every other week schedule, and can't wait to have some new guests, and welcomed long-time listeners. Find us on Twitter @alexragone @vvrotny and @arvind


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Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

ELT Not-Live: Reflecting on #kotesol2014

Worldbridges Megafeed - Thu, 2014-10-09 03:36

25:04 minutes (11.48 MB)

ELT Not-Live
Reflections on the 2014 KOTESOL-KAFLE International Conference
October 5, 2014

Download Audio


Links Mentioned

Just Born! The ELT Live Google Community

Our next Show:
 ELT Live#6 - Lesson Planning and Preparation 
 Tuesday, October 14, 1200UTC/9pm KST  Global Times
  Connecting with the #KELTchat  community (https://www.facebook.com/groups/KELTchat/ ) after a day-long slow burn twitter chat discussing how we get ready to do what we do. 


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ELT Not-Live: Reflecting on #kotesol2014

EdTechTalk - Thu, 2014-10-09 03:36

25:04 minutes (11.48 MB)

ELT Not-Live
Reflections on the 2014 KOTESOL-KAFLE International Conference
October 5, 2014

Download Audio


Links Mentioned

Just Born! The ELT Live Google Community

Our next Show:
 ELT Live#6 - Lesson Planning and Preparation 
 Tuesday, October 14, 1200UTC/9pm KST  Global Times
  Connecting with the #KELTchat  community (https://www.facebook.com/groups/KELTchat/ ) after a day-long slow burn twitter chat discussing how we get ready to do what we do. 


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Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

Stepping Out Of Seoul

Koreabridge - Thu, 2014-10-09 01:26
Stepping Out Of Seoul

It can be pretty hard to find proper tourist guides for South Korea, especially if you want to look outside of Seoul, and it annoys me. Why? Because there are so many beautiful and interesting places to visit.

We’ve had so many good experiences exploring Korea (not counting the times we’ve gotten lost on local buses and ended up stranded in the middle of nowhere) and found many things which are worthwhile doing, even if they’re not advertised in tourist brochures.

Here is my expat guide to places outside of the capital city, things to do when you want to step out of Seoul.

Chiaksan National Park


Ok, so with Chiaksan right on my doorstep (as I live in Wonju) it’s an obvious place for me to visit. But it is definitely worth taking a trip to; the hike is definitely tough though, so be prepared. But the good thing about Chiaksan is that you don’t have to reach the peak to experience the beauty of the place; there are temples, waterfalls, rivers and so much gorgeous greenery before you even reach the incline. We have been a couple of times just to wander around the temple and walk the gentle walk to the main waterfall, which is a great picnic area.

For hikers and nature lovers, this is truly somewhere you should take the time to visit. (Oh, but I’d advise you not to visit Chiak Dreamland which is close by- I’ve heard only negative things about it, so it doesn’t seem worth the time or money).


Baegunsan National Forest


This is another beauty spot right where I live, so I’ve got no excuse not to visit! But if you’re near the Wonju area, Baegunsan Forest is another prime hiking and nature spot definitely worth taking the time to explore. It is less famous than Chiaksan, but the scenery is beautiful and there are so many nice spots to sit and relax, that in my opinion it’s just as worthwhile visiting.

There are a few different hiking options: a longer gentle course and a tougher short route. But the reason I love Baegunsan is the lakes and rocky areas at the bottom of the mountain. You could spend a couple of hours exploring these or having a picnic. If you’re craving serenity, Baegunsan would be an ideal place!


Seoraksan National Park


This is the last hiking place, promise.

Again, an area of amazing scenery which is lovely to walk around. The hike is tough, so prepare for a lot of steps, but it’s much shorter than other mountains such as Chiaksan, which makes it much more doable. There is also a cable car you can take to another peak if hiking isn’t your thing!

Sokcho itself is a wonderful area too, with beaches and a fish market (Jungang Market) so it’s a nice place to spend a weekend.


 Gangneung (Gyeongpo) 


Who doesn’t like the beach? And if you’d rather a less crowded beach than those down in Busan, Gangneung and Gyeongpo Beach is a good alternative. It’s particularly nice because it’s surrounded by trees and it’s also next to Gyeongpo Lake which is pretty and peaceful.

In the area there’s also a sea train and a zip line, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous. Plenty to do to make for a good day out!

Oh, one thing- check the weather forecast before you go as it tends to be breezier than other areas. One time we went we found this out the hard way, by nearly being blown over the moment we reached the beach- bad times.


 Nami Island


Ok, so yes it’s touristy and yes it’s all artificial and yes it can get very busy. But, that being said, if you want to go somewhere for a nice wander round, maybe a cycle, perhaps a bike ride, and have the chance for a short ferry ride (only 5 minutes), then Nami Island is a nice place for a day out. As long as you’re not expecting it to be the most beautiful place in Korea, you won’t be disappointed.

Take a picnic, visit the ostriches, read a book by the water- it’s a pleasant place, just don’t expect anything wonderful.


Chuncheon’s Dakgalbi Alley and Myeongdong Street

For any dakgalbi lovers, this place is perfect. A whole street full of dakgalbi restaurants. It’s pretty delicious! The only problem is choosing which restaurant to go in…

As for Myeongdong Street- it’s a good place to go shopping, but don’t expect it to be as good as Myeongdong in Seoul by any means. There is a large underground market and lots of shops for sure, but it isn’t as good as the real thing.

Still, a large shopping area right next to a whole street of dakgalbi restaurants? It can’t be that bad, can it?!

 Cheongpyeong Temple and Soyang Dam


This area is definitely worth a mention. The Soyang Dam is at the head of the Soyang river and is absolutely huge. But the real attraction is the area over the river; you can take a short ferry over to a beautiful valley where you can walk to the Cheongpyeong Temple, seeing waterfalls, statues, and streams along the way.

If you like hiking then you can also hike around the area instead of taking a ferry over. Whichever way you go, it’s worth it.


Garden of Morning Calm- Lighting Festival


It’s hard to show how spectacular this place was in photos, but it really was amazing and exceeded my expectations. I’ve never been to the Garden Of Morning Calm during the day, but at night, lit up with thousands of lights, it was stunning. You can spend a good couple of hours walking around the gardens, there are even different areas with different ‘themes’, so there’s plenty to look around. There’s also a couple of nice restaurants and a few street-food stalls, so you can make an evening out of it.

One tip- be careful about when you go. We made the mistake of going on the last weekend, which also happened to be White Day and it was absolutely packed- it took over an hour in standstill traffic on a local bus to get there, and the bus going back was delayed for over an hour. Also, taxis refused to go there because it was so busy. Lesson learnt.

Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival


Another unique experience which was a lot of fun! The sculptures were pretty incredible, and again, the festival was in such a nice area, surrounded by mountains that it was a pretty place to explore.

The only negative is that it was a lot smaller than expected and we were finished pretty quickly. A lot of the attractions, such as the snow slide and small skating pond were aimed more for children than adults. So I wouldn’t advise anyone to travel for hours to get to the festival, as it might not be worth the journey.


Hanu Beef Festival 


This was a surprisingly good festival, in another beautiful area. The festival was on a river and surrounded by forestry. Even better, there are some hot springs close by which you can visit a the same time.

A highlight for me was seeing all the cattle; it was almost like visiting a farm (smell included, unfortunately). There were tons of stalls selling various food and beauty products, and enough street-food stalls to please any foodie. On top of this there were pop-up restaurants, selling a good selection of delicious foods, including of course the famous Hanu beef.

Great scenic area, animals, shopping and good food- what’s not to love?


DMZ Tour


We did the DMZ tour with the WINK group on Facebook and it was a good choice, the only negative being that we didn’t visit the Panmunjeom area, which was a shame. Instead, we saw the Freedom Bridge, two of the tunnels, an observation desk, and a solider took us on tour of a battle field. So we definitely managed to do a lot of interesting things in one day, and it was well organised.

A surprising highlight of the trip was where we stopped for lunch in Cheolwon; there was a beautiful canyon which we had time to visit, and it was a such a lovely place to stop. This made the trip that bit more special, and I’d definitely recommend it.


 This is just a handful of places outside of Seoul, but they alone prove that there are so many wonderful places to visit which aren’t hugely advertised to tourists. If you have any more suggestions of interesting places, please let me know so I can go on some new adventures, and explore Korea some more…


Kathryn's Living

Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

2014 International Mask Festival – Andong, South Korea

Koreabridge - Wed, 2014-10-08 13:25
2014 International Mask Festival – Andong, South Korea

Masks:  Pretty cool!

Food: Pretty good!

Performances: Okay.

Location: Okay.

Overall: Pretty…okay.

A few weeks back, on September 27th and 28th, I traveled north to the sleepy town of Andong (population approximately 160,000) for the 2014 Mask Festival (side note: check out the vlog post here!). Spanning ten days, the festival featured masks from countries around the world and offered a fair number of international maskdance performances, as well as other kid-friendly acivities like mask-making, a giant trampoline, and one of those pools with giant plastic bubbles you get inside of in order to walk around on water! If you’re like me, it’s not that you’re too old for such shenanigans…you’re just too big. So as a consolation prize you can wander around the souvenir and discount shopping tents, eat your fill at one of the many food booths that line one stretch of the festival grounds, and check out the mask exhibits!

For me, the highlight of day one came when I got my groove on with a bunch of ajummas (a term used to address married women over the age of 70) at an impromptu dance party that took place right before all these groups of mask-clad older women and a few kid groups performed on a nearby stage. They seemed quite impressed with my moves (e.g., the twist, the moonwalk, and a few jazzercise combos) and gave me a round of applause for my ridiculousness at the end of the song. I guess sometimes making a connection with people means being willing to make a fool of yourself!

The second day of the festival I headed out of the city to Hahoe Village, a historic Korean village and World Heritage Site that Queen Elizabeth II herself has visited. From the main festival site in downtown Andong, it was about a 50-minute bus ride, and another 10 minutes by shuttle, before arriving at the village. Once there, you can wander the narrow, winding streets and peer over the stone walls (if you’re tall enough) to peak in at traditional Korean homes (called, hanok), and go for a relaxing stroll while snapping photos of the quaint, rice paddy-tiered countryside. Additional cultural mask performances were also presented on a stage set along the river in town. Food choices there were a little limited, so it might behoove you to bring your own snacks if you go. And for a bird’s eye-view of Hahoe, you can take a 3,000-won boat ride across the river and set out on a 15-20 minute hike up Buyongdae Cliff. Fyi, the 3,000-won you shelled out on the way there covers your return trip!

In the early evening I returned to the Andong Intercity Bus terminal (which is actually located a good 30-40 minutes away from downtown by bus, about halfway between the main festival site and the folk village), to make the 3-hour return journey to Ulsan.

Overall, I enjoyed the festival but was a little underwhelmed. I was originally looking forward to making a mask, but decided against it when I saw that the materials weren’t of the greatest quality. Some of the maskdance performances seemed very thought-out and authentic/professional, though most featured younger performers who a) seemed lacking in performance experience and b) didn’t seem to know quite what they were supposed to being doing while on stage. Perhaps my expectations were too high, or maybe the calibre of the invited groups was abnormally low this year. Either way, I’m glad I went…it was nice (really!)…but I wouldn’t say it’s something I’d do again.

I wish I could give a more positive, enthusiastic review. Something like, “Yes! The Andong Mask Festival is AMAZING! Your experience here won’t be complete without it!” …But I can’t. Not if I’m being completely honest. Sorry… Do go and check it out, though. If nothing else, it’s something you should do once to say you’ve done!


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Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

The Dalmaji Limited - A walk along Busan’s abandoned railway

Koreabridge - Tue, 2014-10-07 14:25
The Dalmaji Limited - A walk along Busan’s abandoned railway A walk along Busan’s abandoned railway

Originally constructed in 1918 as part of the Donghae Nambu line, the tracks were abandoned last December. The old Haeundae Station, which stood right by the beach, has now been relocated* to Jwa-dong, a full 15 minutes by car further from the sands.

The replacement of the line comes as a massive blow for trainspotters and railway enthusiasts, as chugging down by the coastline as the sun hung over the sea, or set over Gwangan Bridge, was most tranquil indeed.

Fear not, though, for someone with the power to do so (probably some suit in an important official capacity within Busan) decided to open up the old line to the public. Hurrah!… but not until next month.

Perhaps because of the wondrous city views, sequestered natural surroundings, and the zero gradient hike; the unruly masses of South Korea’s second city have taken it upon themselves to walk down the old gravelly coastal path to Songjeong beach ahead of time.

And I was one of them. Though I, reaching new peaks of unfitness, only managed to walk as far as Cheongsapo. I was slightly put off, though, by signs which threatened to fine me to the tune of 3,000,000 Won ($3,000) for walking down there. But I took the threats as empty, seeing as the ajumas and ajusshis rambled down there with complete impunity.

The walk is long, and a bit uneven, but the views, fresh air, mad dogs, occasional splatterings of graffiti, and the sunset were sublime.

From Haeundae Beach: Look at the sea, turn left and walk all the way past Geckos, and whatever it is they’re building down the end. Then, walk up the road to the left towards Dalmaji hill. About halfway up, you’ll find the disused railway line.

A note from the Editor-in-Chimp: This article was originally posted here on Asia Pundits. Check ‘em out, won’t ya?

* Should you give a shit why the station has been moved, Kojects, a transportation and urban planning projects in Korea blog, explains it way better than I ever could.

The post The Dalmaji Limited appeared first on Monkeyboy Goes.


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Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

The Asian Games experience

Koreabridge - Tue, 2014-10-07 12:37
The Asian Games experience Asian games 2014 was held in Incheon in South Korea! After missing the opening ceremony and all the games in the first week, I got a chance to go to the stadium on the final days: We went to see the track and field events. Oh! what an experience it was!

Not many Koreans in Seoul seemed interested or even seem to know that there was this mega event going on in Incheon. But I was delighted to go when my family was ready! The weather is just perfect now in Korea. It took us around 40 minutes to reach Incheon Geomam station from Seoul by subway. Then we took the free shuttle which was conveniently parked on the entrance of the subway station to the main stadium. The night view of the stadium was awesome and the enthusiasm of the crowd was contagious. We were able to see the track and field, shot put, javelin, long jump, high jump and triple jump for both men and women.

The main stadium of the asian games, 2014 IncheonAthletics going on in the main stadium

There was not much crowd as you can see, just die hard fans and family of the athletes. Mostly the home team supporters. We were able to sit right in the front row and have a marvelous view. We watched the women's 4X400m relay win the gold medal in live :D It was an super experience to jump and cheer and shout at the top my voice! My son was downright appalled at my raucous behavior. But our screams were infections and he caught the yelling bug too! We became instant celebrity among the kind Koreans who acknowledged the Indian team's massive victory in the relay.

The victorious Indian women won gold

Moon Art at the Asian Games main Stadium

The Asian games stadium was more than just track and field and tennis courts and swimming pools. It is a huge park open to the public and many other always-available facilities like biking tracks, jogging tracks, fountains for the kids to play during summer and many more.
We were deliberating on this piece of art. Dh said that it looks like a snake hactching or a duck dipping its head into the water. Whatever it could be, we had a great time discussing it :)

The cricket StadiumOur next game in the Asian Games was to watch the cricket match. No, India was not playing. But with IPLgeek as your son, one has to make some amends and so we went to watch the match between Afghanistan and SriLanka! This was no match for the red and gold ambience of the Chinnamswamy stadium during a RCB match. The clamour of the crowd was not electric. Yet, it was nice to see a cricket match on a foreign soil.

But it was nothing to complain about though. There were few shots, lots of wickets and the fun started when the supporters of Srilanka and Afghanistan had a fist off! And we had the best view with us happily situated between the Srilankans on the right and the Afghans on the left. The ever-vigilant Korean police was instantly there on the scene and were multiplying with the minute! I felt like I had Z-security allocated to me and my family :)
The cricket stadium

Z-level security

The fountains surrounding the stadium
And yes, there was a food festival going on with food from all around the world. 
Oh yum!
With all the events played and done with, the stadium was bare but there was a lot of other things to do.
The stadium at twilight. Our world Tuesday Incheon Asian Games
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