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A Visit to Anchang Village (안창마을)

Koreabridge - Tue, 2017-07-04 02:30
A Visit to Anchang Village (안창마을)


 

Over the years I’ve been told that Anchang Village (안창마을) was a hidden hillside neighborhood with colorful houses and art on the streets, very similar to -but smaller than- Gamcheon Culture Village (감천문화마을). I think its artful days are mostly over as most of the houses are painted completely in pastel. 

When I got off the bus, I walked all the way up the hill to the base of (what I think is) Sujong Mountain (수종산). Along the way, a little girl ran out of her house and shouted after me, in Korean, “Where are you going?” She even held my hand and walked with me up the hill as I told her I was looking for graffiti art. She said there wasn’t much and quickly ran off as fast as she appeared.

I really enjoyed the view of Busan from the base of the mountain. After a few moments of rest, I walked back down the hill about half a kilometer, taking pictures of the few pieces of street art I saw. I enjoyed the peaceful streets which are a stark contrast from the urban Busan I know. There aren’t any chain restaurants or even any coffee shops on that hill. The Koreans I saw were beautiful, but dressed simply and not representative of the makeup and plastic surgery trends I often see in my neighborhood.

Then, when I was tired of walking in the sun, I rode minibus 1-1 back down to the hill to drop me off at the closest subway station, Beomnaegol (범내골역 [line 1]). 

Address: Beomil 4(sa)-dong, Busan

Directions: From Beomil Subway Station (line 1), take minibus 1-1 near exit 5. Get off at the last stop and immediately transfer to mini-bus 1 (or walk up the hill after mini-bus 1-1).




















 

Over the years I’ve been told that Anchang Village (안창마을) was a hidden hillside neighborhood with colorful houses and art on the streets, very similar to -but smaller than- Gamcheon Culture Village (감천문화마을). I think its artful days are mostly over as most of the houses are painted completely in pastel. 

When I got off the bus, I walked all the way up the hill to the base of (what I think is) Sujong Mountain (수종산). Along the way, a little girl ran out of her house and shouted after me, in Korean, “Where are you going?” She even held my hand and walked with me up the hill as I told her I was looking for graffiti art. She said there wasn’t much and quickly ran off as fast as she appeared.

I really enjoyed the view of Busan from the base of the mountain. After a few moments of rest, I walked back down the hill about half a kilometer, taking pictures of the few pieces of street art I saw. I enjoyed the peaceful streets which are a stark contrast from the urban Busan I know. There aren’t any chain restaurants or even any coffee shops on that hill. The Koreans I saw were beautiful, but dressed simply and not representative of the makeup and plastic surgery trends I often see in my neighborhood.

Then, when I was tired of walking in the sun, I rode minibus 1-1 back down to the hill to drop me off at the closest subway station, Beomnaegol (범내골역 [line 1]). 

Address: Beomil 4(sa)-dong, Busan

Directions: From Beomil Subway Station (line 1), take minibus 1-1 near exit 5. Get off at the last stop and immediately transfer to mini-bus 1 (or walk up the hill after mini-bus 1-1).

About 

Hi, I'm Stacy. I'm from Portland, Oregon, USA, and am currently living in Busan, South Korea. Check me out on: Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Lastfm, and Flickr.

 

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Teachers Teaching Teachers Playlist

EdTechTalk - Sun, 2017-07-02 04:13

While things have gotten a bit quiet on the the EdTechTalk site, Teachers Teaching Teachers continues to have great conversations Wednesday nights at 9pm EST (global times). Below is a playlist of recent episodes.  
Tune in at: http://edtechtalk.com/ttt
 

read more

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Break-Up Do’s and Dating Don’ts – Expat Dating Diaries

Koreabridge - Sat, 2017-07-01 01:59
Break-Up Do’s and Dating Don’ts – Expat Dating Diaries Expat Dating Don’ts and Break-Up Do’s

Co-P and I started having the inevitable (inevitable because he’s leaving Korea, not because he’s a cheater) break-up talk.  It would have been fine had it not been in Haneda airport 6 hours before our flight.  A few days later our fast, serious, fleeting, expat dating romance was over.  Little did I know then, he was already seeing (and sleeping with) someone else.  The confidence I had in our direct, communicative relationship was an absolute lie, and I feel pretty stupid having trusted him.  Because of the exciting, dramatic, and rocky way our relationship began, I felt like most of the time we were playing relationship chicken.  I had several trips lined up before meeting him.  He said he wanted to come, and without too many jokes or dares he booked flights.  I should have taken my own advice…

Photographer: Alexandre Vanier

Looking back on our relationship (as shortlived as it was) I have a number of thoughts and feelings.  We are completely different people with a few key common interests (fitness, food, and expat dating, it seems).  Ultimately, we weren’t compatible romantically or with our timing.  He tried to limit me to 2 tourist attractions per day on our travels.  He wanted a 10 PM bedtime.  I wanted to soak up everything (including the nightlife) in a new city.  He followed the rules.  I wanted to renegotiate them.  There were so many times when I felt I couldn’t be as wild and outlandish as I wanted to be.  In some respects, that’s a really good thing.  Co-P pushed me to be the healthiest and strongest person physically I could be.  I was well-rested, too.  Ultimately, I got bored.  I think he did, too.

Photographer: Inge Wallumrod

As much as I’m content with my life without him as my boyfriend, there are still moments that give me pause.  I miss having him as the friend I thought he was.  There are a lot of lessons that can be learned from every relationship, and expat dating is no different.  Take a look and see what you can extrapolate from every interaction.  Here’s what I’ve learned…

 

Photographer: Austin Call Expat Dating Don’ts
  • Don’t have your first few dates at favourite spots in your neighbourhood.  You’ll hate yourself going back to a memory you made together there every time you pass them.
  • Don’t invest yourself too much in the beginning…or really ever.  It’s important to keep a balance and your own social life.  Don’t be one of those people who gives up on your single friends when you’re coupled up.
  • Don’t ignore the majority of your friends saying bad things about him.  Especially don’t alienate them in favour of the ones who speak kindly.
  • Don’t ignore his ex gfs if they reach out to you.  There’s a reason they sound crazy.  That reason is probably that he hurt them something fierce.
  • Don’t let things move too quickly.  If he’s asking you to be exclusive on the third day you’ve met, maybe there’s another issue.  Pump the breaks if things are heating up a little faster than anticipated.  It might be exciting to jump into a new relationship, but you also might be left with the feeling that you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.  He might have self-esteem issues, be self-indulgent, or just want to stir up drama.  Co-P posted about his new girlfriend the day before a trip we planned together.  (Super nice way to let me know you cheated, by the way…).  Expat dating is tough!
  • Don’t get hung up on past heartaches.  There’s a reason he’s not the one with you on this date!  Focus on this new person who wants to spend time getting to know you!
Photographer: Christiana Rivers Expat Dating: Break-Up Do’s
  • Do let yourself have a mourning period.  Maybe you haven’t lost the love of your life, but you’re losing out on someone who has made an impact on it.  You’ll be ready when you’re ready.
  • Do:  It doesn’t matter if your mourning period is short.  If you are ready to get back out there then do it!
  • Do: Say YES.  If you get an interesting invitation then say yes!  Surprise yourself with new hobbies and activities.
  • Do: Meet new people!  It doesn’t matter if you want to get out on the dating scene right away or not, new people = new perspectives.  Isn’t learning what we’re born to do?
  • Do: Widen your net.  Meet people (new friends and prospects) you might not normally go for.  Everyone thinks they have a “type”.  If yours hasn’t been working for you, try something else!  Whether you’re an expat dating or just meeting new pals, there are plenty of us in a concentrated environment.  Go forth an experience new things!
  • Do: Look out for #1.  Take care of yourself first.  Don’t overextend yourself for someone who won’t go out of his or her way for you.
Photographer: Christiana Rivers

I’m not looking for the stars and the moon in another human.  I’m looking for a travel companion, good conversationalist, work-out buddy, party pal, and all around life partner.  I’m looking for someone who won’t deliberately hurt me (or put me at risk) because he’s started to stray.  Neptune has 13 moons.  Uranus has 27 (and they’re outta this world, girlfriend).  Our very own galaxy is full of stars and moons.  If you’re an expat in Korea like me, you’ve likely circled the globe at least once or twice.  He (or she) is out there, but you’ve gotta make it through the Star Wars first.

The post Break-Up Do’s and Dating Don’ts – Expat Dating Diaries appeared first on That Girl Cartier.

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5 Best Summer Festivals in Korea in July 2017

Koreabridge - Mon, 2017-06-26 09:00
5 Best Summer Festivals in Korea in July 2017

5 BEST SUMMER FESTIVALS IN KOREA IN JULY 2017June 26, 2017Korea Festivals & EventsKorea Guides by InterestKorea Travel BasicsSeasonal GuideSummerSummer Must-DosSummer Travel Guide & TipsTravel Crazy South KoreaTravel+Crazy: KoreaTravel+Crazy: Seoul Leave a comment

During the month of July, Korea is packed with plenty of fun things to do such as live music, fireworks and water fights.

If you want to have some serious summer fun in Korea, make sure to check out these upcoming festivals in July!

1. Boryeong Mud Festival

Where: Daecheon Beach, Boryeong City
When: 21 – 30 July 2017For international travelers, there is nothing quite like Boryeong Mud Festival. It is Korea’s one of the largest and most popular festivals, which should be on top of the list for all festival-goers this summer.

At the festival, visitors can enjoy a variety of mud-based activities such as mud slides, mud pits, a mud prison, giant mud bath, a mud swimming pool and plenty more.

Besides these fun-filled activities, SBS MTV’s “The Show”, a popular Korean music television program will be broadcasted live at the venue on July 22 as part of the festival.

| How to Go: For anyone hoping to go to the festival, here’s a great ticket+shuttle package (shuttles depart from Seoul). A shuttle bus service from Busan to the festival is also available.

2. Sinchon Water Gun Festival

Where: Sinchon, Seoul
When: 29 – 30 July 2017Once again, the Water Gun Festival will take place on the streets of Sinchon, where a huge crowd of people will be squirting each other with water guns. Now, start gearing up for the Water Gun Festival!

| Ticket Info: Everyone is welcomed to participate this event. But don’t go back all wet! The festival offers special discounted online packages, which include a ticket (a wristband), which gives an access to the changing rooms and a locker, a raincoat and goggles, starting from $9. A variety of water gun options is also available at an additional cost.

3. Hearbeat Festival 2017

Where: Nanji Hangang Park, Seoul
When: 22 July 2017Part music festival, part haunt event, Heartbeat Festival 2017 is one of this summer’s hottest festivals you should not miss when you are in Seoul.

The festival’s music lineup will include some of the best Korean rappers and DJs such as DOK2, Haze, Reddy, Choi Ha-min, DJ RANA, DJ Cream and more. Also, there will be a scare zone and a zombie flash mob, which will surely keep festival-goers entertained.

| Ticket Info: Tickets are 34% off on Trazy, the official English booking website for Hearbeat Festival 2017.

4. Water Bomb Festival 2017

Where: Jamsil Sports Complex, Seoul
| When: 29 July 2017This year, the Water Bomb Festival will return with even more powerful water explosions and an awesome lineup!

For those new to the festival, it is the best water festival with the best dance music scene, where festival-goers can choose either Team Red or Team Blue, team up with their favorite artists and soak up the targets with water guns.

This year, the festival will feature acts including HyunA, Korea’s hottest rappers such as BewhY, C Jamm and Jessi, and Korean reggae artists Skull & Haha, as well as many local and international DJs, including Lookas, Maximite and DJ KOO.

| Ticket Info: The 1st release tickets are currently $70 but will rise as the event draws closer. Tickets to Water Bomb Festival are available here.

5. Pohang International Fireworks Festival

Where: Yeongildae Beach, Pohang City
| When: 26 – 30 July 2017Known as the “City of Light and Fire,” the coastal city of Pohang will host its annual Pohang International Fireworks Festival where the spectacular fireworks display over the Yeongildae Beach will be showcased every night during the festival period.

Additional highlights include street performances, live music, laser shows and a magnificent fireworks competition on the night of July 29.

| How to Go: Overnight shuttle buses will be running to the festival from Seoul. It is best to book your ride in advance as the shuttle bus runs only on July 29.

★Bonus!

A few other festivals and events in Korea this summer include the Bonghwa Sweet FishFestival from July 29 to August 5 (try and catch sweet fish with bare hands!) and the Wake Up City Festa Water Slide Festival in Haeundae Beach, Busan, from July 29 to August 13.

Need more inspiration for summer fun? Find more ideas and awesome things to do in Korea at Korea’s #1 Travel ShopTrazy.com!

Photo Credits
Boryeong Mud Festival
Sinchon Water Gun Festival
Heartbeat Festival 2017
Water Bomb Festival 2017
Pohang International Fire & Light Festival

 

Trazy.com
a service for travelers to easily share and discover the latest hip & hot travel spots from all over the world. 
We are currently focusing on Korea as our destination and plan to expand to other countries gradually. 

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Korea This Week (June 18 – 24)

Koreabridge - Sun, 2017-06-25 07:27
Korea This Week (June 18 – 24)

A selection of this week’s Korea-related news and commentary

Nuke-free Korea?

Korea’s oldest nuclear power plant, the Kori 1 reactor located in the suburbs of Busan, was permanently shut down last Sunday after 40 years in operation. Commissioned in 1978, the reactor’s initial 30-year life span was extended by ten years in 2008.

Since then, the public mood in Korea has somewhat soured on nuclear power. In March 2011, many Koreans were alarmed by the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power

The ruined Fukushima nuclear plant

plant in Japan, which prompted many calls for a review of Korea’s energy policies. And in 2012, the Korean public (and this Busan resident) were again rattled by the revelation that the Gori 1 reactor and others had been supplied with substandard parts backed by forged safety certificates, a major scandal  that resulted in several jail sentences.

President Moon Jae-in has vowed to wean the country off nuclear energy, which currently accounts for 22% of South Korea’s power generation, and to move toward renewables and natural gas. Critics of the plan have claimed that Moon’s move may hurt construction companies who have benefited from technology exports in recent decades. In addition to the example of Fukushima and the 2012 scandals, Moon and other proponents point to the potentially catastrophic combination of Korea’s population density, susceptibility to earthquakes, and a long-standing emphasis on cost and efficiency at the expense of public safety as justification for the push to go nuclear-free.

[Mis]adventure Tourism

Otto Warmbier, a 22-year old former student at the University of Virginia, died on Monday after being released from detention in North Korea, where he had been imprisoned since January 2016 for stealing a poster from a Pyongyang hotel. In response, Young Pioneer Tours (YPT), the company that brought Warmbier to North Korea, has announced that it will no longer accept American passport holders for its North Korea tours, while other tour groups that specialize in North Korea trips are expected to follow suit.

According to their website, YPT specializes in “ destinations that your mother would rather you stayed away from”, including Iraqi Kurdistan, Somaliland, and the site of the Chernobyl disaster. Regarding North Korea, the YPT website claims that it is “probably one of the safest places on Earth to visit provided you follow the laws as provided by our documentation and pre-tour briefings,” though it adds that if you do manage to break the law (even an absurdly minor one like stealing a poster), the consequences can be “severe”, or in other words, you’re totally screwed.

YPT also has a reputation for creating tours with a booze-fueled party atmosphere, and

YPT founder Gareth Johnson on a 2009 visit to Pyongyang.

for being somewhat lax in the organization of its tours. If you find yourself questioning the wisdom of a business model that encourages excessive alcohol consumption in a country where breaking the most minor law gets you shipped to a gulag for fifteen years, you’re not alone.

Love and Marriage: An Institute You Can Apparently Disparage

Over the past few years, anecdotal evidence has suggested to me that young Koreans are less willing to get married, or to delay marriage to their 30’s. The hard evidence for this trend is provided by Statistics Korea, who report that Korea’s marriage rate has dropped steeply since 1996, and last year recorded the lowest rate since 1970.

Against this backdrop, I was not quite sure what to make of this recent Korea Herald article, which reports that single-person households are now the most common living arrangement (27.8%) in Korea, while also noting that a majority of the people living alone (59.1%) are married.

It’s long been noted that many couples around the world, like this one in England, have found many benefits to sleeping in separate beds or even separate bedrooms.  Are Korean couples taking this marriage-saving trend to the next level by maintaining separate pads, or is it a dark omen that portends a further  weakening of the already battered institution? Stay tuned.

Still from the sitcom I Love Lucy. Though Lucy and Ricky’s separate beds were a product of prudish television moral guidelines, today’s viewers may more often see such sleeping arrangements as a crucial component of marital bliss. 

 

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Corruption, not Foreign Affairs, should be Moon Jae-In’s Focus

Koreabridge - Wed, 2017-06-21 15:57
Corruption, not Foreign Affairs, should be Moon Jae-In’s Focus


This is a local re-post of an essay I wrote for the Lowy Interpreter this month. The pic is former President Park Geun-Hye, who is now in jail.

So am I the only one wondering what Moon Jae-In is doing talking up foreign policy so much? The only reason he got elected is because of corruption. Corruption is so bad in South Korea that it brought down a president. So can we stop complaining about THAAD, wimping out in front of the Chinese, and flim-flamming on North Korea? The most important issue in South Korea right now is clean government. South Korea needs anti-nepotism laws post-haste. And the chaebol, as Choi-gate revealed, are graft champions too, as well as price-inflating oligopolists. So can we finally start talking about anti-trust action?

Yes, foreign policy is more important that domestic policy in South Korea due to the unique threat of North Korea. But it’s corruption that put Moon in office, not lefty nationalist foreign policy. Moon deserved to win, because the SK right is so corrupt and mccarthyite. But Moon shouldn’t over-interpret his victory as some kind of green light to appease NK and China. The need for clean government is why he’s POTROK.

The full essay follows the jump.

 

 

South Korea at last has a new president, Moon Jae In. Moon is a liberal, and that has absorbed much of the political discourse since his inauguration. There is anxiety on the right that he will strike a generous deal with North Korea. Similarly there is discomfort on the American side with Moon’s foot-dragging on missile defense. In a country routinely menaced by the world’s worst tyranny, it is no surprise that North Korea issues are taking over the agenda. But it is worth noting that foreign policy did not power Moon’s victory; corruption did. Moon’s predecessor – it is now painfully clear – was grossly corrupt. Former President Park Geun Hye is currently in jail because of a vast influence-peddling scandal which descended into the bizarre and surreal. Even Park’s corrupt friend’s personal trainer managed to get in on the action (yes, really).

Corruption is Now the Central Issue of South Korean Domestic Politics

Every South Korean president since democratization has been investigated for corruption. One – Roh Moo Hyun – even committed suicide over the allegations. Corruption scandals routinely break out in sectors as diverse as energy, transportation, or electronics. Another recent president once said, “the entire nation is rotten.” Transparency International, the anti-corruption NGO, lends support to this interpretation. South Korea is ranked a mediocre 52 out of 176 countries judged, with a raw score of just 53 out of 100. Japan, which is right next door and with whom South Korea shares a similar development model, scores a much superior 20 out of 176 and 76 out of 100. Polling in South Korea found that 30% of the country thought it was the most important issue of the recent presidential campaign.

Now that corruption has brought down a presidency as well, it is arguably the biggest issue in South Korea politics. Moon would not even be in the Blue House without the special election called in response to an impeachment over corruption. Other macroeconomic indicators are fair if not good. Unemployment, inflation, national debt, poverty, and other ills are broadly under control. Growth is solid, and GDP per capita makes South Korea a developed country. So the South no longer needs to focus on headline growth. Rather cleaner growth is required, particularly a cleanliness at the top which will allow South Korean presidents to govern uncrippled by endless scandal.

Developmentalism and Corruption

This has been broached before of course. And there is much skepticism that it can be really tackled because of the nature of the South Korean developmentalist state. The government constantly reaches into the economy to ‘guide’ it. In practice, this means lots of meetings between bureaucrats and businessmen, so there are lots of opportunities for graft. The government’s response is to pass ever harsher anti-graft laws. (At this point, my students can not even give my a Coke or a candy bar.) But this is unlikely to work, as surveilling it is nearly impossible. What really needs to happen is a division between politics and economics, especially the biggest firms. That would end the constant temptation provided by developmentalism. But that would not just be a minor technical or legal shift. Rather it would a real revolution in how South Korea is governed and how South Koreans think about the state. So the hurdles are high.

South Koreans are not any more prone to graft psychologically – which notions the South Korean media sometimes throw around in desperation to explain this. Rather corruption is likely an outcome of constant enticement. The more businesspeople interact with bureaucrats, politicians, and regulators, the more opportunity there is for favors to be traded – regulatory relaxation for cash, or government ‘investment’ in exchange for bribes. Put up a wall between business, and bureaucrats and regulators, insure that they simply interacted less often in informal environments, and it this would not happen so much.

From Gift-Giving to Corruption?

This structural issue could be changed, but a harder problem is cultural. Korea has a gift-giving culture, rooted in its Confucian and communitarian heritage. This is not especially unique. Anthropologists have long noted reciprocity and gift-giving ways in traditional cultures, which South Korea was until just a century ago. This habit has held on here, even as South Korea has modernized. That modernization has happened so fast that many non-Weberian or non-legalistic traditions persist.

Nor is gift-giving is a bad thing! It is mark of community commitment and caring for others that South Koreans give gifts when they meet or come to each other’s homes. It thickens and deepens a ‘we-feeling’ among people, which is good in itself, and good for democracy. But in the context of capitalist modernity, gift-giving can easily look like bribery. My students, for example, occasionally bring me little things, like a coffee or a snack, and I sincerely believe they are doing this to be friendly and polite. I have never had the sense that they want a specific quid pro quo. But I suppose it is possible. No American student I ever taught did this, and it is now forbidden.

The Korean government has really wrestled with this conundrum. It realizes that gift-giving is culturally deeply rooted. And it senses the communitarian benefit. But it is now also clear that this can be used to informally extort. The response has been to increasingly read gifting as the latter rather than the former. The government has passed ever harsher anti-graft laws. So now if my students bring me anything, I reject it. It is unfortunate. It feels almost rude. But perhaps this level of formality is necessary to curb the problem. Still though, there is a social loss to this strictness.

Will Moon Try?

Both the developmentalist, state-and-business-working-together model, and gift-giving reciprocity behavior have deep social roots. Changing both will be tough, a social revolution even. President Moon could create an anti-corruption ombudsman and look to Transparency International for other policy suggestions. However, this is likely not a legal-technical issue to be solved by a new law or agency. It is more cultural-social – addressing entrenched social patterns of industrial organizational and inter-personal interaction. Moon’s tough talk on the chaebol suggests some interest in trying.

The good news though, is that South Koreans are not apathetic about corruption. It may happen a lot, but there are also a lot of investigations. It is not swept under the rug. South Koreans become quite incensed over this and act. No less than the head of Samsung Group and the former president are now in jail for scandal. So progress is possible.


Filed under: Corruption, Domestic Politics, Korea (South), Lowy Institute, Moon Jae-In, Scandal

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

@Robert_E_Kelly

 

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Michael Breen On His New Book, “The New Koreans”

Koreabridge - Mon, 2017-06-12 13:38
Michael Breen On His New Book, “The New Koreans”

Michael Breen is a writer & consultant who first came to South Korea as a correspondent in 1982. He’s covered North & South Korea for several newspapers, including the Guardian, The Times & the Washington Times. Few are more knowledgeable about Korea than Michael Breen, a trained journalist who’s lived here for many years & whose connections go right to the very heart of the country. His new book, The New Koreansexplains the history, the business & the culture of South Korea, as well as where its future lies.

Michael Breen recently discussed his new book at a public event hosted by Barry Welsh of the Seoul Book & Culture Club. In this two part episode, Breen first talks with Korea FM reporter Chance Dorland about The New Koreans, followed by a Q&A with those in attendance at the event hosted by Barry Welsh.

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The post Michael Breen On His New Book, “The New Koreans” appeared first on Korea FM.

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Kimchi juice, raccoon cafes, and more in This Week in Korea

Koreabridge - Sun, 2017-06-11 07:00
Kimchi juice, raccoon cafes, and more in This Week in Korea

 When I came to Busan in 2000, there were a few small chicken joints in my neighborhood with quirky names like Goopy Chicken, Chicken Syndrome, and my personal favorite, Smoper, which presented a rare case of a foreign word – “smurf” – being transliterated into Hangeul (스머프), which was then used as the basis of its transliteration back 

into the Roman alphabet. All of them were more or less interchangeable in what they offered, and they sat pretty much right on top of another. I often wondered how they stayed in business.

The answer of course is that they didn’t. According to statistics from the Fair Trade Commission reported by the Chosun Ilbo, though over 41,000 chicken restaurants opened last year, 24,000 thousand went out of business. In other words, a chicken restaurant fails every 22 minutes, while the market inches even further beyond saturation.

While some point to a copycat mentality in explaining the proliferation of chicken places, others have pointed out that the explosion has its roots in the 1997 Asian economic crisis, when many out-of-work salarymen were attracted to the business by its low entry fee and operating costs.

I got a chuckle out of this short video by NPR reporter Elise Hu, who recently visited a few of Seoul’s animal cafes. As Hu notes, animal cafes have been popping up in many Asian cities, and are often popular because they provide a way for people who can’t have pets to get their regular fix of animal interaction. While she quickly takes a shine to the dog cafe, the raccoon cafe is another story.

I also came across this piece on kimchi juice, which is not referring to the liquid that pools at the bottom of your kimchi container, but a bottled “100% organic kimchi juice” that the manufacturer describes as “fresh, raw, and alive” and is selling for $16.99 per 32 ounce bottle.

It has an Amazon rating of 4.2 stars, but some of the reviews seem a bit, shall we say, overenthusiastic. One reviewer called it “the nectar of the gods”, while another had this to say:

My kids used to argue about who got the juice from the Kim Chi jar, now they can drink to their hearts content.

While I don’t see myself fighting my kids over who gets to guzzle the last drop, I will say

Kimchi cocktails are another possibility

that I have found one use for kimchi juice – the old-fashioned, bottom-of-the-tub kind, that is: I drizzle it into my kimchi bokkeumbap to give it a bit of added moisture and flavor.

One of the other takeaways from the article is that the product contains a microbe that is named after kimchi: a species of lactobacillus called lactobacillus kimchii that was proposed as a distinct species in 2000 by JH Yoon et. al. Time will tell if the proposed classification holds up to peer review, but for now, our wide and wonderful world contains a living organism named for kimchi.

 

 

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5 Experiences You Absolutely Must Have in Nami Island

Koreabridge - Fri, 2017-06-09 09:01
5 Experiences You Absolutely Must Have in Nami Island

Located near Seoul, Nami Island is one of the most popular destinations for tourists to Korea, offering a variety of natural and cultural attractions.

As there are so many ways to experience the magic of Nami Island, we have come up with five experiences you absolutely must have on your trip to Nami Island.

As you read, use our map below to find the spots featured in this blog post.

Book our shuttle bus package here to go to Nami Island hassle-free.1. Step into nature| Tree-lined paths

Among the beautiful tree-lined paths in Nami Island, below are the three most popular paths you should definitely take:

  1. The Central Korean Pine Tree Lane 

     

    A main pine tree-lined path that leads to the center of the island.
  2.  Ginkgo Tree LaneA tree lane that comes into its full glory in autumn.

     

    During autumn, Ginkgo Tree Lane offers a splendor of the vivid yellow ginkgo leaves.
  3. Metasequoia Lane
A magnificent redwood-lined path.| Woods & Riverside Paths

Take a stroll along the scenic riverside paths in the southern part of Nami Island.

As soon as you walk out of Lovers’ Wood (refer to the map above), you can find wooden walks for strolls around the water’s edge.

Lovers’ Wood, a romantic path to walk through with your other half.
2. Navigate on fun transport

For those who want to navigate the island easily and conveniently, there are various modes of transport available in Nami Island.

If you are not a walker, we recommend you to get a bicycle or hop on an electric tour car!

For more info on transport options available on Nami Island click here.

3. Follow in the footsteps of Winter Sonata

While Nami Island is one of the popular shooting locations for Korean dramas and variety shows, including My Love from the StarSecret Garden and Running Man, it is most famous for being featured in the 2002 hit drama, Winter Sonata, starred by Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo.

On the island, you can find a statue of the main characters and a special photo zone for visitors to take pictures.

A statue of the main characters from Winter Sonata in Gongsaengwon Garden.

There are also replicas of snowmen from the iconic kissing scene in Winter Sonata, or also known as the “Snowmen Kiss”, where the male lead character builds two snowmen, makes them kiss and then steals a kiss from the female lead character. Try and recreate this scene with your other half while in Nami Island!

A replica of mini snowmen statue from the kissing scene in Winter Sonata.Want to visit more K-Drama spots? Book our tour to Nami Island and Petite France.4. Take photos with Nami Island’s superstar ostrich

Don’t be surprised when you see an ostrich on the loose in Nami Island.

They are one of the animals you can find on the island and sometimes they get out of the pen and roam around. Don’t be afraid and try taking photos with them (but don’t get too close)!

You will find ostrich pen on your left when walking along the Central Korean Pine Tree Lane.

Nami Island’s superstar ostrich, “Gganta.”5. Buy a souvenir to cherish your memories of Nami Island

Drop by a gift shop near the entrance or around the center of the island before you leave (refer to the map above).

  • Artshop Snowman: Near the Maple Lane of True Love
  • Artshop Imagine Nami: Near Baplex

You can find a variety of accessories including rings, bracelets, bookmarks, key chains and many more, all of which are designed with the iconic “snowman”.

These umbrellas with designs of the best natural attractions of Nami Island below can be great keepsakes as well. Costs 35,000 KRW for each.

Are there any other experiences in Nami Island you would love to share? Let us know in the comments below.

Are you traveling to Nami Island? Check out more of our guides and tips:

While visiting South Korea, don’t forget to check out Trazy.comKorea’s #1 Travel Shop, for more ideas on your trip!

Photo Credits
Peter Kim/PMP, http://www.ProjectResearch.co.kr 남이섬 단풍 2009 via photopin (license)
Peter Kim/PMP, http://www.ProjectResearch.co.kr 남이섬 단풍 2009 via photopin (license)
golbenge (골뱅이) Bicycle (자전거) via photopin (license)
golbenge (골뱅이) DSC07608 via photopin (license)

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a service for travelers to easily share and discover the latest hip & hot travel spots from all over the world. 
We are currently focusing on Korea as our destination and plan to expand to other countries gradually. 

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Korea This Week (May 28 – June 3)

Koreabridge - Sat, 2017-06-03 04:52
Korea This Week (May 28 – June 3)

A selection of this week’s news and commentary on Korean culture

Is K-Pop a genre?

With the appearance of the all-American, self-proclaimed “K-Pop” group EXP Edition, the opening of K-pop cram schools in New York, and Jaden Smith announcing his intention to “drop a K-Pop single“, it was probably inevitable that fans and critics of K-Pop would eventually weigh in on the question

EXP Edition

of what exactly K-Pop is; specifically, whether it is by definition a thing made only by Koreans, or whether it is a genre (like rock, hip hop, jazz, and many others) that has escaped the boundaries of its birthplace and is now open to any performer anywhere to borrow, imitate, or appropriate.

Last week, two K-blog heavyweights weighed in on the issue. “The Korean”, of the popular Ask a Korean blog argued that K-Pop is not a genre, and that the term refers to any form of popular music that is a product of Korea (read his full take on the subject here). Roboseyo, writing on his long-running, eponymous blog, argues that K-Pop is in fact a genre, and notes that the label is not used to refer to all music out of Korea. Whatever the case, if you find the question interesting, these are two considered opinions very much worth reading in their entirety.

Siesta, Korean style

Koreans are one of the most-sleep deprived groups of people in the world, clocking fewer hours of sleep than any other OECD country. Because of this, it’s still common to see commuters dozing on trains and buses, students nodding at their desks, and office workers consuming much more caffeine than was the case even a few years ago.

Since 2014, sleep-deprived office workers in Seoul have had another option to remedy their lack of shut-eye: the opportunity to get some quality downtime in a “sleep café”, which are places where visitors can pay a small fee and crash for a while before heading back to work. Personally I am cheering for these places to take off – many times have a wished there were a place to crash other than my office chair or local Starbucks sofa.

On the appeal of K-dramas in Malaysia

Though some Westerners these days are tuning into Korean dramas, many others (like myself) often find it hard to understand the appeal. Apparently this is true of a lot of Asian observers as well, like the staff at Cilisos, a Malaysian news magazine, who recently asked Malaysian fans of K-dramas what they liked about them. The resulting comments were interesting and touched on everything from the lack of

Kissing tends to come late in the season, and is thus a bigger deal.

lighthearted fare from Hollywood, the focus on emotional rather physical intimacy, and the fact that Korean dramas often end after one season (which makes committing to a K-drama seem a lot less daunting than diving into an American serial drama).

Though I occasionally tune into whatever current drama my wife and kids are watching at home, I still don’t know if I’m sold, but it’s good to keep in mind that much of that stuff wasn’t made with middle-aged American guys in mind. To paraphrase Bill Clinton’s campaign manager James Carville, “It’s the Asian market, stupid!”


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US-South Korea Alliance Survived Presidential Partisan Differences Before

Koreabridge - Sat, 2017-06-03 01:08
US-South Korea Alliance Survived Presidential Differences Before


This is a local re-post of an op-ed I wrote this month for The National Interest. There’s been a minor freak-out on the right since Moon Jae In got elected. He’s a communist; he’s gonna sell out SK to Pyongyang; the alliance with America might break. Good grief. Enough with the hyperventilating. Even if he was a communist at heart, he couldn’t govern that way because he only won 41% of the vote. He doesn’t have the political space to govern as some far lefty. And realistically, he’s just a social democrat: he wants to raises taxes, expand the public sector labor force, and clean up the air. That’s hardly a marxist revolution.

I do think that there is a possibility of a real split at the top though. It is easy to see Trump and Moon loathing one another. So this essay notes how previous US and SK presidents of different political beliefs stumbled through. The short version is that there is a lot of depth to the US-SK alliance. So much actually, that it almost makes presidential changes irrelevant, which is not exactly democratic if you think about it. But the point is, that the alliance will likely survive.

The full essay follows the jump:

 

 

This week’s South Korean presidential election has ignited concern about the US-South Korean alliance. A liberal, Moon Jae-In, has won the South Korean presidency. President Moon has a long track-record advocating engagement with North Korea. US President Donald Trump – to the extant that he has a fixed North Korea policy – is a hawk. He has used far more belligerent language to address the North than previous American administrations. And there is general ideological gap between them. Moon is a social democrat, while Trump appears to be jettisoning his populism in favor of traditional Reaganism.

Moon and Trump are also quite different characters. Moon is a buttoned-up, serious policy wonk with a long history of political engagement. His views are broadly known and fairly stable. Trump, by contrast, is flamboyant, amateurish, and prone to dramatically policy swings. It is easy to see these two falling out, indeed perhaps, loathing one another. In character and policy, they are about as far apart as one can be within the realm of democratic politics.

There is precedent, however, for this wide diversion between the allies’ heads of state. South Korea’s last liberal president, Roh Moo-Hyun governed at the same time as US Republican President George W. Bush. There were persistent rumors that the two disliked each other, and that Roh particularly disdained Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Then too, personality and ideological cleavages overlapped, making summitry and alliance management challenging. In the late 1970s, military dictator Park Chung-Hee clashed badly with President Jimmy Carter and his early emphasis on human rights. At that time, there were widely shared stories that Carter hated Park.

Bureaucratic Depth

 

Alliance proponents retort that the US-South Korea alliance goes beyond such personality distinctions. It has decades of history behind it, including a shared military conflict (the original Korean War). The US and South Korea militaries are deeply interwoven (rather than stove-piped, as in Japan). There is a strong consensus in the government bureaucracies of both partners in favor of alignment too. Military and diplomatic officials from both routinely fly into each other’s capitals and talk about the strength of the alliance, its depth and reach, its shared values, and so on. There is also a cottage industry of think-tanks, study centers, NGOs, and so on providing extensive track 1.5 and 2 support for the relationship.

Indeed so deep and liquid is the sub-elected level of the relationship that it almost neuters democratic control. Both Trump and Moon were elected. Both have expressed dissatisfaction with the alliance’ character. Trump has suggested that South Korea is free-riding and should pay for US missile defense in-country. Moon has talked of a ‘Korea which can say no’ to the United States. But both would likely encounter massive bureaucratic resistance if they push these themes hard. As decades of previous ups-and-downs have suggested, the alliance is actually quite durable in the face of policy-maker variation.

Moon vs Trump?

 

So it is an easy prediction that the alliance will pull through. Its roots are deep. Moon is a garden-variety social democrat, hardly the communist subversive conservatives are making him out to be. And Trump is increasingly discounted. He may talk and behave outlandishly, but world leaders are learning to simply ignore his antics. Still, there remain two immediately divisive alliance issues. While known-quantity Moon is unlikely to surprise on them, Trump’s penchant for erratic Twitter outbursts might well ignite one of these otherwise manageable concerns:

1. Missile Defense: The US THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile defense system is now in Korea. The US pushed hard for its installation, and South Korean conservatives supported deployment. Moon has prevaricated over this. His dovish party dislikes it; they claim it pointlessly provokes North Korea and China, and is unnecessary. Moon personally would probably like to remove the system, but as I have argued in these pages before, THAAD has now acquired a political symbolism which exceeds its military function. China has publicly bullied South Korea over THAAD, demanding that it be withdrawn. For South Korea to expel THAAD now, under Chinese threat, would suggest that China has a veto over South Korean national security decisions. No president, not even on the left, can afford the perception of knuckling under to China. Moon will therefore likely retain THAAD – unless Trump continues to insist on…

2. Free-Riding: Trump has brought the issue of allied burden-sharing from the fringe of the US alliance debate to its heart. On THAAD, he has suggested that South Korea pay for it, even though the original agreement charges the US with that. The system is pricey – one billion USD – and South Koreans claim it is firstly intended to shield US forces in-country, so they should not have to pay for it. On the other hand, South Korea only spends 2.6% of GDP on defense, even though without the US alliance it would likely spend three times that. There is a case for US allies, including South Korea, to do more. But if Trump frames THAAD as a zero-sum fight over dollars spent – as he apparently did with Angela Merkel – rather than as positive-sum cooperation to improve interoperability and alliance depth, he may well energize the South Korean left’s nationalism enough to eject THAAD.

Other medium-term issues will inevitably arise. If Moon’s government take a hard line with Japan over historical questions, it will roll back nearly a decade of progress and infuriate the US side, which has sought to contain these issues for a long time. Similarly, if Moon actually goes to Pyongyang, as he threatened to do so in his very first public speech as president, he will meet a wall of resistance from the American diplomatic side where there is now a consensus that North Korea is global public menace which will not honor its contracts.

In short, tensions are there but manageable. The alliance has seen heads of state with widely varying preferences before. Perhaps the greatest wildcard this time is Trump himself. His penchant for norm-breaking and theatrical shenanigans could magnify otherwise controllable issues into a nasty breach. This is still unlikely to end the alliance, but perhaps the few remaining US forces in Korea would be withdrawn as a result. Nevertheless, if Trump can keep his tweeting and outbursts under control, the coming rough patch should be manageable.


Filed under: Alliances, Foreign Policy, Korea (South), Moon Jae In, Trump, United States

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

@Robert_E_Kelly

 

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Educational Technology and Education Conferences for June to December 2017, Edition #37

EdTechTalk - Sat, 2017-06-03 00:37

Educational Technology and Education Conferences

for June to December 2017, Edition #37

Prepared by Clayton R. Wright, crwr77 at gmail.com, May 11, 2017

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What We Eat in Korea: Lettuce Soup

Koreabridge - Fri, 2017-06-02 03:10
What We Eat in Korea: Lettuce Soup

Admit it, lettuce soup sounds gross. Why though? I admit I instinctively felt the same way, despite having it and enjoying it immensely eight years ago. Oh well, better late than never to throw old biases out the window.

Reading the headline above, it almost sounds like we’re in abject poverty over here. “Lettuce soup?! Are you doing OK over there? Do you need me to send you some money? Are you wasting away, subsisting on nothing but a few wilted greens? The horror!!”

Truth is, I’m doing pretty well here in humble Busan. I make a comfortable living, especially since paying off the outstanding debts that had been hounding me for nearly 20 years. My girlfriend and I live in a comfortable apartment. I really enjoy my job (no, not blogging. Considering how inconsistently I post, if I were to be paid for output, I might very well be poor). She enjoys hers. We enjoy simple pleasures, like good coffee, good wine (when it’s not exorbitantly jacked up in price, either from import fees or because importers can get away with it) and good food, very often cooked at home.

As we continued to eat more and more of our meals at home, we became even more aware than we already were in how much we were wasting. I don’t think anyone sets out to be wasteful, but it’s a lot more noticeable when you’re the one dealing with the clean up, and the imminent throwing away of rotten food.

And yet, even as we improved, finding more and more recipes that utilized what we already had in our pantry and fridge, there were still certain items we found we were always sending up to the food waste bag stashed in the freezer until it was time to dump it out in the massive, disgusting food waste bin at our apartment building’s entrance.

One of them was often lettuce.

Lettuce is pretty fragile. Unlike other leafy companions like cabbage and chard (or kale, which, in Korea, is really collared greens. I have no idea why it’s called “캐일” here, but would appreciate it if someone else knew and wanted to clear that up. Either way, both are heartier than lettuce), even a little bit of excess moisture and time can ruin a perfectly decent batch. Really, there are plenty of disgusting ways food can start to rot, but holy crap, when green leaves begin to get that slimy, slick residue, it’s about as appetizing as trying to clean your hands with a particularly old soap stick here that looks like you’re jerking it off when using it.

“Reach out and touch me.”

My father instilled in me an appreciation for value. On occasion, that has veered into cheapness, but often it has resulted in finding really good deals at the supermarket. Maybe I am buying cheaper items, but anytime I hear an expat complain about how expensive vegetables are in Korea, I wonder how much of it is going into the food waste bin, or if they’re only buying those small containers of Brussels sprouts I’ve seen at Kim’s Club for 4,000 won and have never once looked at the discount racks or taken a stroll through one of the traditional markets.

Jangnim Traditional Market: Where Love Begins

Here in Busan, we are super fortunate this year to have Busan Organic Vegetables, a humble start up providing clean and fresh seasonal produce. But, unlike your local super mega massive market, the earth will at different times provide plenty, or sparsely. Recently, it provided an assload of lettuce.

Arugula? Or, “Rocket! Yeah!” Depends on which country you’re from.

The two containers above were what remained after over a week. We had exhausted the spinach and loose leaf lettuce, leaving us with decidedly Romaine-esque arugula (or rocket, depending on where you lay your head). I could probably look up whether this leaf loses its trademark bite the more mature it gets, but I assume that’s what happens since these big leaves were a lot less bitter than what I would expect. Which, made it a perfect candidate for soup.

My first exposure to lettuce soup was in 2009 when, recently laid off from a managing editor position at a local New Jersey newspaper company, I decided to sign up for a friend’s 40-day cleanse. No caffeine, no meat, no dairy, no alcohol, no tobacco (particularly challenging as I still smoked at the time), no fried foods, no probably something else I can’t remember at the moment. A group of us would meet weekly to discuss our progress, offer advice, and cook. One of the participants, a Princeton University grad student, invited us to her apartment, gassed up her stove, chopped up some slightly-wilted lettuce and called it dinner.

And, it was delicious.

So, why did it take eight years to try again? Call it stubborn ingrained bias. Despite having seen the green light, despite realizing that lettuce wasn’t just for salads and sandwiches, it rarely if ever occurred to me to soup it up, even as a batch of the leafy stuff was withering away, getting slimy and then going into the food waste, again.

Perhaps this time it didn’t happen because of the source. This wasn’t lettuce we’d gotten on discount from Home plus, which had been picked from who-knows-where at who-knows-what time, having been sprayed with god-knows-what kind of chemicals? This was lettuce that I knew had been picked the morning I picked it up from the farmer, who grows his produce without any chemical aids. Maybe knowing your food and where it comes from and how it’s made brings you closer. There’s more care when ignorance is no longer there.

So, we didn’t want to waste our food, or our money. There was a bunch of greens left. Lettuce soup. Of course, why the hell did it take so long to think of this?

Here we go.

The recipe, like a lot of what we’re cooking these days, came from Serious Eats. I recommend you head over there and see what sounds tasty (spoiler: a lot of it).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion (about 8 ounces; 225g), diced (see note above)
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 cups (475ml) homemade chicken or vegetable stock, or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth, plus more if needed
  • 8 ounces (225g) lettuce, core and root ends trimmed, leaves torn if large (what kinds? As Daniel Gritzer in the linked article notes, “From romaine to arugula, Boston to Bibb, oak leaf to cress, set them to simmer and they’ll be great.”)
  • 1/4 cup (1 small handful) loosely packed parsley leaves (I am sure this adds a nice dimension of flavor, but we didn’t have any. You can leave it out, too, as the end result was still tasty)
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • Thinly sliced radish and pea shoots, tossed in extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish (we left this step out as, like the parsley, we didn’t have any at the time)
Buy garlic when it’s on sale and freeze it, instead of letting it rot.We used red onion, as it was what was in the fridge at the time.

Cut, cut, cut, cook, cook, cook, all in one pot. If you want it to be vegan, I am sure swapping out the butter for olive oil would be fine. We used butter, because butter.

Once the onions and garlic had softened, we added some stock (the same mushroom powder miracle that was used in the last recipe I covered here), in went the greens, which quickly wilted, as lettuce is wont to do. As it is in this present state, it didn’t look terribly appealing. Just wait.

Magic.

The hand blender is one of the, if not the best item to have in your Korean kitchen. Convenience is important in maintaining a regular cooking practice. If it’s annoying and inconvenient, kimchi jjigae at Gimbap Chungook or McDelivery will begin to sound better and better. This thing blends up fast and the blending part is all that needs to be washed, which is a cinch. You owe it to yourself to investigate some of the larger supermarkets and acquire one if you have not already.

I mean, c’mon.

Check for salt (this didn’t need any more since the mushroom powder had plenty), add fresh lemon juice for a extra flavor (not necessary but certainly recommended), ladle up and serve.

What I don’t recommend is serving it alongside watermelon curry, which is tasty in its own right, but not exactly compatible with the flavors going on in Lettuce Soup, which, if we’re being honest, isn’t too far removed from what a particularly tasty creamed spinach recipe might accomplish. Yes, lettuce and spinach are pretty darn close in flavor, especially in soupy form. So, why the hell don’t we use it more in soup instead of wasting it? Silly us.

While we had leftovers of the watermelon curry for a couple days, this lettuce soup was consumed that night. It was that delicious. Smooth, creamy, simple but luxurious, with an inviting pine forest green color. It would pair very well with crusty bread. Maybe crusty bread with some toasted cheese. It’s comforting, it’s cheap and easy to make and it’s a great way to make sure your frozen food waste bag isn’t quite as full as it could be. Give it a try and let me know how it went.


JPDdoesROK is a former news editor/writer in New Jersey, USA, who served a one-year tour of duty in Dadaepo/Jangnim, Saha-gu, Busan from February 2013 to February 2014. He is now a teacher in Gimhae.

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Young South Koreans Turning Away From Religion

Koreabridge - Thu, 2017-06-01 15:03
Young South Koreans Turning Away From Religion

Seoul-based reporter Steven Borowiec recently wrote an article for Aljazeera English titled “Why young South Koreans are turning away from religion”. Borowiec spoke with Korea FM reporter Chance Dorland to discuss the personal stories & data from his research, as well as the educational & job pressures that appear to be behind the trend. Read more about the issue in Steven Borowiec’s article at http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/05/young-south-koreans-turning-religion-170524144746222.html

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