This is a re-post of an essay I just wrote for the Lowy Institute, available here. And yes, that Godfather pic is meant to imply that I accept the last of the interpretative frameworks suggested: North Korea as a gangster racket.
The more time I spend in this field, the more I see analysts get into really sharp debates over just what North Korea ‘really’ is. The best way to de-legitimize your opponent in this area is to say you don’t understand the ‘real’ North Korea, or know what they ‘truly’ want. This can get pretty intense. And it does not help that we know so little about how North Korea is governed.
As I have listened to these fights over the years, it strikes me that there are roughly 5 major interpretations or schools. And these approaches are politicized too, not just intellectual frameworks, because they have direct implications for how South Korea and the US should respond to North Korea. For example, if you think North Korea is a rogue state gremlin ripping at the fabric of US hegemony, you are more likely to endorse tough action than if you accept leftist interpretations that US-led isolation of North Korea is what makes North Korea so dangerous.
The 5 basic interpretations are:
1. Traditionalist Conservative: North Korea as a cold war stalinist state
2. Neoconservative: NK as dangerous, unpredictable rouge state
3. Fascist: NK as a racist, national security barracks state
4. Leftist: NK as ‘Korean’ (rather than socialist or fascist), neo-Confucian,or post-colonial
5. Gangster: NK as a massive shake-down racket; mafia have overthrown the government
The full essay follows the jump.
Last month I argued that North Korea is not really a communist state, at least not as we normally understand Marxist-Leninist states in the twentieth century. For example, North Korea is governed by a monarchic family clan; its ‘socialism’ has been broadly replaced by corruption (at the top) and informal marketization (at the bottom); it flirts with race-fascism. Yet it does still retain obvious elements of old stalinist states – for example, in its iconography, obsession with ideology, and (anti-western) foreign policy relationships.
In my experience in this area, both scholarly and journalistic, this creates a lot of confusion and intellectual competition, with consequent political repercussions over how exactly to respond to North Korean provocations. There is a wide division out there about just how to interpret North Korea, what it ‘really’ is, what it ‘really’ wants, and so on. Similarly, a common retort to de-legitimize one’s intellectual opponents in the study of North Korea is to claim another does not really ‘understand’ the ‘true’ North Korea.
The easy answer is to throw up one’s hands and call North Korea sui generis. That maybe right in the way North Korea synthesizes seemingly disparate elements into what should be an ideological rube-goldberg jalopy. But North Korea manages to hang on regardless of how many times we analysts say it is an incoherent mess. So it seems worthwhile to sketch out some of the various interpretations floating around out there. Based on my general experience at conferences, in the scholarship and journalism, from my trip to North Korea itself, and so on, I would say there are five primary interpretive angles:
1. North Korea as ‘classic’ cold war stalinist alternative to South Korea
Ideology: Traditional Conservative
Who: non-Korean journalists, Korean conservatives and military, non-elite Americans
Big Fear: a Northern invasion of South Korea
I argued against this interpretation last month, and I would reckon most North Korea analysts would say this is no longer the best way to read Pyongyang. But I find this is still quite popular. Its appeal is obvious. It is easy to understand, parallels nicely with South Korea as the liberal democratic alternate, and fits into an obvious frame – the Cold War.
And because North Korea started out this way, all sorts of vestiges of this remain – the socialist moniker (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), the iconography (lots of red, the flag, the national seal, the party symbol), the autarkic ideology. And Kim Il Sung, the regime founder, almost certainly believed in socialism or communism himself (although whether his son and grandson do is matter of intense debate).
2. North Korea as a dangerous rogue state gumming up the works of globalization and US hegemony
Who: US hawks and think-tankers
Big Fear: Proliferation
The idea here is that North Korea has actually successfully adapted to the end of the cold war and remade itself as a gremlin in global governance. It refuses to follow even the most basic rules; its decision-making is fog to outsiders; it does not belong to any international organizations. It is the most unpredictable state in the system. Back when he was Undersecretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz captured this anxiety well, “I’m more profoundly skeptical of North Korea than of any other country—both how they think, which I don’t understand, and the series of bizarre things they have done.”
3. North Korea as a semi-fascist national defense or barracks state
Brian has been in forefront of arguing that North Korea is a misunderstood racist state based on Japanese and German fascist forms from the early twentieth century. It rallies its citizens through aggressive race-based nationalism (the defense of minjok), defends the racial ‘cleanliness’ of Korea in a big intrusive world, insists that ethnic Koreans of other nationalities are still Koreans, and routinely uses racist language in its diplomacy. On top of this, it is one of the most highly militarized states in the world. Racism plus hypermilitarism looks a lot more like fascism than communism.
Notably, when I was in North Korea, my minders used a lot of this sort of language. As one of them put it, “no mixing” (i.e., inter-racial mixing).
4. North Korea as neo-Confucian kingdom defending Korean independence against foreign predators
Big Fear: American Misunderstanding and Overreaction
If the above interpretations are all congenial to conservatives and hawks, here is perhaps the one I encounter most from the left. The idea here is that North Korea is more Korean than socialist or fascist, and that if we look at Korean history, we can see where it came from. For example, the North Korea monarchy is not a transplant of stalinism, but a reversion to Korea’s earlier Confucian political form, a point evidenced by the inclusion of a Confucian writing brush in the party symbol and the DPRK’s insistence that it is a modern version of Koguryeo, a much earlier Korean kingdom. Or, it was US behavior during the Korean War – specifically the extraordinary bombing of the North – that radicalized Kim Il Sung and the Korean Workers Party. If the US had not been so brutal, the logic goes, North Korea would have been more like North Vietnam or East Germany, instead of the orwellian tyranny we know today. The policy extension of this is that North Korea must be brought in from the cold by outreach such as the sunshine policy.
5. North Korea as a mafia racket masquerading as a country
Big Fear: An Inter-Korean Federation that Effectively Subsidizes North Korea Permanently
Finally, here is my preferred slant on the problem. The more I study North Korea, the more the gangsterism strikes me. This is close to the neoconservative interpretation perhaps. North Korea is indeed a trouble-making rogue. But it is far more predictable than rogue/conservative interpretations permit. North Korea is not in fact suicidal, nor is it likely seriously trying to bring down South Korea, invade it, or otherwise achieve Northern-led unification. They must know that all this is out of their reach at this point, and there’s no way China, Japan or the US would stand-by if these eventualities actually began to play out. What Pyongyang wants more than anything else is just to survive, so war is highly unlikely; and its elites want the lifestyle their bloody climb to the top has entitled them too.
We know that North Korea routinely engages in illicit behavior – smuggling, drug production and running, insurance fraud, proliferation, counterfeiting of dollars and RMB. We know that throughout the ‘sunshine’ period it took every advantage to demand South Korea pay for joint projects if not pay it off directly. It rips off its own labor force, whether working aboard in Siberia or the Persian Gulf, or at home in the Kaesong industrial zone. Inside North Korea, corruption is endemic, and its elites gorge themselves at the population’s expense. Kim Jong Il’s appetites for liquor and women were neronian, while Kim Jong Un has continued has father partying rule by building a ski resort (yes, really).
In short, North Korea is post-ideological and akin to the Godfather: a massive racket to shake-down anyone, inside North Korea or out, to fund the self-indulgent lifestyle of a narrow elite. North Korea is what happens when Don Corleone takes over an entire country and can enforce his clan rule with a secret police rather than just caporegime henchman. North Korea is barely a country at all actually; it’s an orwellian gangster fiefdom.
Filed under: International Relations Theory, Korea (North), Lowy Institute, Neocon Robert E Kelly
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University
The front facade to Bulguksa Temple in 1916.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Before there ever was a Bulguksa Temple on the Bulguksa Temple grounds, there was a much smaller temple occupying the grounds. However, in 751 A.D., and under the guidance of Prime Minister Kim Daeseong, Bulguksa Temple was built to replace the earlier, and smaller, temple. Bulguksa Temple was first built to help pacify the spirits of Kim Daeseong’s parents. Twenty-three years later, Bulguksa Temple was completed in 774 A.D. after the death of Kim. It was completed by the Silla royal court. It was at this point, in 774, that the temple was renamed Bulguksa Temple, which means “The Buddhist Country Temple,” in English.
Throughout its long history, Bulguksa Temple has undergone numerous renovations and rebuilds. One of the earliest renovations took place during the late Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) and the early Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Tragically, all the wooden buildings were completely destroyed during the Imjin War (1592-98). In a decade, in 1604, Bulguksa Temple was reconstructed and further expanded. And over the next two hundred years, Bulguksa Temple would undergo a further forty renovations.
In the late Joseon Dynasty, and after 1805, Bulguksa Temple fell into disrepair. In fact, the temple was often the target of looting. It was during Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945 that the Japanese started the restoration of Bulguksa Temple. It was only after the defeat of the Japanese in World War Two that the restoration process was completed by Korea. Under the orders and watchful eye of President Park Chung Hee, from 1969-73, extensive investigation, restoration, and repair were completed at Bulguksa Temple.
Bulguksa Temple is nearly unmatched as a temple on the Korean peninsula. In total, because of its architectural and artistic beauty, Bulguksa Temple houses some six national treasures and three additional treasures.
Another look at the famed front facade of Bulguksa Temple in 1916.
And yet another of Bulguksa Temple in 1916.
The left side of the front facade has Yeonhwa-gyo (Lotus Bridge) and Chilbo-gyo (Seven Treasures Bridge) from 1916.
To the right of the front facade is Baekun-gyo (White Cloude Bridge) and Cheongun-gyo (Blue Cloud Bridge) in 1916.
A closer look at Baekun-gyo and Cheogun-gyo in 1916.
A look at Cheongun-gyo with Seokga-tap pagoda in the background from 1916.
A closer look at Cheongun-gyo in 1916.
The near collapse of the Hamyeong-ru Pavilion on the front facade in 1916.
The elevated Seokga-tap pagoda in the main courtyard in 1916.
The blueprints to the front facade from 1916.
The Daeung-jeon main hall at Bulguksa Temple in 1932.
A look around the inside of the Daeung-jeon from 1932.
The intricate Dabo-tap in 1916.
A closer look at the finial of Dabo-tap in 1916.
And a look at the body of Dabo-tap in 1916.
A neglected Seokga-tap in 1916 with the main hall in the background.
The stone lantern in front of the main hall in 1916.
One of the stupas at Bulguksa Temple in 1916.
And another stupa near the rear of the temple grounds in 1916.
Birojana-bul from 1917. It’s National Treasure #26.
Amita-bul from 1917. It’s also National Treasure #27.
Baekun-gyo (White Cloude Bridge) and Cheongun-gyo (Blue Cloud Bridge) in 2006
And Baekun-gyo (White Cloude Bridge) and Cheongun-gyo (Blue Cloud Bridge) in 2011.
A look across the famed front facade at Bulguksa Temple in 2011. In the foreground stands Yeonhwa-gyo (Lotus Bridge) and Chilbo-gyo (Seven Treasures Bridge).
Dabo-tap Pagoda from 2012.
Seokga-tap Pagoda circa 2011.
One of the ornate stupdas next to the Gwaneum-jeon Hall from 2011.
Birojana-bul from 2012. It’s National Treasure #26.
One more picture of the front facade but from 2014.
I must admit that I never really liked Itaewon until now. It just seemed like too wild of a place. I think that it stems from a night where I tried to find a hostel there and found myself walking up Hooker Hill. I was then promptly grabbed by a large Russian prostitute and almost dragged into a seedy bar. Her Schwarzenegger-like accent demanded me to “have a good time” but I broke free and ran like hell.
However, recently the whole area is gentrifying with mixed emotions from the community. Like most places in Seoul, there is a weird cycle that has started to happen. First, they get popular because of the independent shops and restaurants, the place becomes trendy so rent goes up, so the independent shops move out, generic businesses owned by large companies move in and soon it resembles every other place in the city. This is on the forecast for Itaewon but at the moment it is a mix of trendy shops, the old Itaewon and the ever encroaching big businesses. For me, this balance seems to work as long as everything stays where should. However, with rent skyrocketing it won’t be long before it is overrun with Angel-in-us cafes and Mom’s Touch Burger shops.
On my recent trip back to Itaewon, I was looking for a more touristy angle. What would would want to see here? For those of us who have been here for a while and who do not live in Seoul, the trip usually ends up being a food pilgrimage. However, with the good advice from Robert Koehler and John Steele, I had a great plan to visit some of the area’s more interesting sites.
The first stop was the Banana Tree Cafe to get some shots for the article that I am currently working for. It was the exact place that I was looking for. It was creative, quarky and uniquely Seoul. They served a truffle-like concoction in flower pot which added to the overwhelmingly “perfect date shot” feel to this place. These places are the kinds of places that you have to choose when you are thinking about the kind of audience the magazine, for which I was shooting for, has. In this case there are more geared towards people and families who would love this kind of location.
The Leeum Museum was just up the road and was the first of the major sites. This is the place that you may have seen but I felt that it doesn’t get a lot of attention. I have seen the photos of the exterior art exhibits but never really knew the name of this place. For me, what puts this place on the map are the collections of ceramics and art pieces that date back to the very early periods of life in Korea. There are modern exhibitions but for me the paled in comparison to the old paintings and delicate ceramics.
Originally this piece was supposed to have been on the Global Village Festival which was happen that weekend. It was hard to miss but the underlying theme for me was not the festival itself but how the community has changed over the years. The festival showed just how much had changed with regards to the population. Thousands of Koreans and foreigners gathered over that weekend to celebrate and partake in some great food and cultural activities.
The star of this trip was Linus’ Bama Style Barbecue. Damn was it delicious. I have seen shots online and seriously drooled over them. I was a little concerned about the lines being that thousands of people had descended upon Itaewon that particular weekend for the Global Village Festival. However, we were reassured by an American Military couple that it was worth the wait. Before too long my wife and I were in BBQ heaven.
With our bellies full, we staggered back to our hostel and get a few shots during blue hour along the way. Suffice to say that we were beyond full, exhausted but very happy. I think that my wife coming along for this trip was great as she gave me some great feedback for different styles of shots that I may not have considered. Also, I think she realized just how much work I put into these trips and I am just not sitting around drinking coffee and chatting with friends.
The following day we returned to Itaewon to photograph the Seoul Central Mosque and get a few more street shots. We also decided to return to Linus’ for some more BBQ. For the second day in a row, it was still amazing. Again, with our bellies full, we headed off to a market that is known for selling 2nd-hand goods. It was, to my amazement, full of old people. By full, I mean it was shoulder to shoulder with no room to maneuver a fully loaded camera bag. My frustration with being pushed and shoved got the better of me and we decided to leave.
Our final destination was Namsan Tower. This is one of the major tourist sites in the city. The shuttle busses come from all over the city to take people up the mountain. The only downfall on a day like this was the pollution. From the top of the mountain, you could barely see the city of Seoul. We got there early and sat for awhile, to be honest, I am really not sure why we went there so early. At any rate, blue hour came and I got the shots that I wanted. We jumped on the shuttle bus and headed for the station.
One of the best things about Korea is the fact that everything is so well connected. Getting from the tower all the way home was simple and affordable. It is crazy to think that we got from where we were all the way to within a block of our apartment using nothing but public transportation. With some great shots and an awesome weekend behind us, we greeted our cat and collapsed in bed. Mission accomplished.
Ready for some laughs?
Here’s a list of some of the top Korean jokes. Most of them are a mix of Korean and English, so it helps if you know at least some basic Korean.
We’ve also tossed in some pictures to help you remember these Korean jokes more easily.
If you can’t read Hangul (the Korean Alphabet) yet, you can download a free guide here and be reading in about 60 minutes.
Let the games begin!
Caution: Don’t drink milk while reading these jokes. There’s a high chance that milk will shoot out from your nose from laughter!Korean Joke #1
Q: What is the biggest bean in the world?
A: 킹콩!Korean Joke #2
Q: What does a vampire drink in the morning?
A: 코피!Korean Joke #3
Q: Where does a lettuce go for worship?
Korean Joke #4
Q: What do you call a cute guy with no ears?
Korean Joke #5
Q: What do you call scary water?
Korean Joke #6
Q: What noise does a toaster make?
Korean Joke #7
Q: What do Koreans smoke at the horse racetrack?
Korean Joke #8
Q: Where do Australians keep their money?
A: 호주머니Korean Joke #9
Q: Who is the hairiest robot?
A: 털미네이터!Korean Joke #10
Q: Why couldn’t the ice cream cones cross the road?
What is your favorite Korean joke?
If you enjoyed these jokes, like Like us on Facebook and you’ll get daily Korean language updates such as slang, jokes, words of the day, proverbs, and more!
Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series: http://www.90DayKorean.com/learn
Please share, help Korean spread!
Teaching ESL is a mixed bag depending on what country you target. In some countries it’s a refined, streamlined endeavor where employers seek qualified and experienced teachers and the government has mandatory guidelines as well. To obtain a work visa in a certain country, a government may actually require a teacher have a TESOL certification and/or a certain amount of experience.
In other countries, this isn’t always the case. In China, it’s a little bit of both it seems.
There were once days in places like Korea and Japan where anyone could roll off a plane and be offered a teaching job on their way to their hotel. Those days are over in some countries, and many others are following suit.
Take for instance some countries in SE Asia. There are few credentials a teacher really needs to have in order to secure a job. At the same time, there are SE Asian countries, like Vietnam, where a teacher must have a TESOL certification or at least a certain number of years teaching to secure a decent job and a work permit.
The “glory days” often refers to the time when it was easy to find a job for anyone who was from an English speaking country, and furthermore, if they looked the part of what that country deemed a native speaker to look like.
In many Asian countries, both East and Southeast, these two worlds still exist. Many times an employer will hire based on country of origin and appearance. However, these days are slowly and surely slipping away.
Along with lackadaisical and careless hiring practices came the backlash of behavior from teachers who were chosen for no other reason other than the fact that they were born (in a certain country). Governments are safeguarding their societies and children from these mishaps and one of the surest ways to do this is to thoroughly vet prospective teachers from the onset. This is a good thing for aspiring teachers, a bad thing for travelers or ex-cons looking for a ticket to sojourn in a certain location anytime they wish.
The glory days that are not over are those of job options. ESL is growing at an incredible rate across the globe and there is no better time than the present to get yourself credentialed and out on the road. If that’s what you desire to do, that is.
Korea, for example, will have teaching jobs farther than my own life will take me. It will likely change, but they will be there for a long time. Public school jobs are dwindling, but private sector opportunities continue to thrive. In fact, with the reduction in public school jobs, the private market will probably flourish even more eventually.
This is all good news for professional individuals. The days ahead are in your favor if you prepare yourself and put in the time.
The post Are the “Glory Days” of Teaching ESL in Korea Over? appeared first on Red Dragon Diaries.
ESL, Travel, and Judo!
Korean metro systems are unquestionably some of the best in the world, acclaimed for its speed, proximity, convenience, cleanliness, and multilingual announcements. With approximately 9.8 million daily riders, Korea has developed both a written and unwritten decorum to keep most people happy while traveling on the trains. Politeness and manner counts!
Here are several suggestions that will make your subway journey in Korea more pleasant:1. Efficiency starts with YOU!
Avoid gridlock! Especially in Seoul, it’s highly possible that you’ll encounter waves of people at subway stations. So, when entering and leaving the exit, both the subway and the station :
- Have your transportation card out and be ready for the turnstiles.
- Step aside! Errors with transportation cards do happen; step to the side to figure out your card troubles. If you need help, press the button on the pole at the far end.
While it seems common sense to wait-your-turn, sometimes people try to push past the exiting crowds in hopes of quickly finding a seat.
- Allow people to exit before you enter. Step to the side of the door and wait for your chance to enter. Don’t worry, you have a plenty of time, and the train conductors watch the doors to make sure everyone is safely on.
- Rush hours are generally between 6:50~9:00 a.m. and 17:00~18:30 p.m. The busiest stations that are located in main market districts and where commuters make transfers between subway line, such as Gangnam Station.
- Bicycles on the subway are limited to the end cars during the weekends, but never allowed on line 9 and the Shinbundang line.
- Take caution around the gap of regret: Cellphones, wallets and keys have been known to be bumped out of hands and fallen through the space between the platform and the subway car. Secure these items ahead of time in pockets or maintain a tight grip while crossing the gaps.
Sometimes people who aren’t prepared to leave will push and shove trying to quickly get off the subway before they miss their stop. Rushing to leave the door often results forgetting or losing personal belongings.
- Prepare to get near the subway door at least one station prior to your destination.
- You may find it difficult or even impossible to weave through people during a rush hour, and miss your exit in the end.
A major aspect of Korean culture is respect for elders, and consideration for others. If you’re lucky enough to have a seat, it’s commonplace to give up your seat to someone who may need or appreciate sitting more than you, such as pregnant women, people who are injured or disabled, families with young children, and the elderly.Photo credits to MRobertMarks 5. Nuisances in the Subway
Keeping a peace and order in the subway can be achieved by two essential basic principles : Keep to Yourself and Be Mindful of Others. Unfortunately not everyone adheres to these rules. Here’s a few examples of common situations that are an inconvenience to others:Backpack Bludgeoners!
Currently in Seoul, there’s a growing stigma against commuters with backpacks inhibiting maneuverability for others when walking between train cars and to the exit doors, or when backpackers turn sharply, often hitting people with their backpacks. Luckily, you can avoid the scorn by placing your items on the shelf above the seats.
Pro Tip from Korean netizens: If you’re afraid you’ll forget your bag on the shelf, try turning your backpack into a front-pack by wearing it on your chest. Others will surely thank you for your consideration.Photo credits to MRobertMarks Food Offenders!
Smelly food on the subway is unacceptable! Despite many restaurants and snack shops that can be found in and around the stations, the subway train is just an inappropriate place to have a full meal. Drinks and small scentless snacks are acceptable, but most people will stare at you if you choose to eat next to them, older people may actually yell.Cellphone Cacophony
Korea is one of the most connected countries, boasting quality cell service, WiFi connectivity and even TV (DMB on Korean-made phones) in the subways. With so many devices constantly in use, the metro systems have posted code-of-conduct reminders in the stations and trains to please speak softly, keep notifications on a low volume, take caution and pay attention when texting and walking, and use headphones at a reasonable volume. If you choose to break these rules, be prepare for the stare!Photo credits to MRobertMarks Sleeping Professionals
Commuting warriors and drunk dinner party survivors have a knack for sleeping in the subway in some of the most uncomfortable looking positions, and still managing to wake up just in time for their destinations, it’s truly amazing and baffling. If you can manage to do it, sleeping on the subway is perfectly fine, but leaning over and getting in someone’s space is generally not fine. :(Photo credits to Katie’s Korean Adventure The Manspread Photo credits to MRobertMarks And Finally, for a fun recap of how to ride the subway, watch Michael’s Seoul Subway Song on Youtube! Happy commuting! For fun places to visit via subway, check out Trazy.com!
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Jjolmyeon, Korean Spicy Chewy Noodles
South Korea — Aside from Valentine’s day and White day, today marks another sweet occasion especially for high school students and couples. Today, Korea celebrates Pepero day. If one haven’t heard about Pepero, it’s a pretzel covered with chocolate, white or dark, almonds, melon or strawberry produced by Lotte. It can be compared to Japan’s snack called Pocky.
Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy chocolate pepero, which is kind of the same thing.
― Tara Sivec
I have been in full anticipation for this day to witness how Koreans celebrate Pepero day. Every supermarket, small marts, convenience stores and even bakeries have it all in different sizes and pretty packaging.
Some wonder, of all dates, why November 11? Simple, Pepero is a skinny snack that resembles the date (11/11).
Gotta run! Danny and I will be playing the Pepero game. LOL Hope everyone is enjoying their pepero while singing to this tune~~
Halloween 2015 Photo GalleryCostume ContestW2,000,000+ in PrizesSponsored by Eva's Ticket, HQ , Eva's, Almost Famous, and DrunkenMasterFinal decisions made by the Kyungsung Pub Council, but online photo ratings were taken into consideration
Eva's Ticket, Eva's Bar, Almost Famous, HQ, and Drunkenmaster teamed up again to give us a night to remember! Prizes are valued at over 2,000,000 won with 1st prize in the costume contest getting 1,000,000 won!!!! You need to buy a pub crawl ticket to be entered into the costume contest! Have your picture taken at any of the bars and give the staff your costume contest entry ticket to win! There will be many runner up prizes and raffle prizes this year as well. The Photo Contest will be hosted on Koreabridge.net.
Cass Keg Party
20,000 Gift Certificate
50,000 Gift Certificate
30,000 Gift Certificate
Bottle of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
Dinner for Two Gift Certificate
50,000 Gift Certificate
30,000 Gift Certificate
50,000 Gift Certificate
30,000 Gift Certificate
What is the Game of Minds?
Before proving yourself in the project “Game of Minds”, it is good to learn first, what the reality of the quest is.History of the title
It is good to start with the terminology. The word “quest” itself is well-known and we frequently use it in life, when we search for the meaning of any object. Actually, the word “quest” means the searching for an object. But the roots of “Game of Minds” and other similar projects come from computer games of the same-name genre. Virtual quests, also called “adventures”, distinguish themselves by the presence of tasks that require mental effort from the players. These are not violent slasher games or one-on-one fighting games that we see today. Computer quests appeared at the dawn of the video game revolution (in the start of 1980s) and are still popular today. The classic example of the quest game can be the video game based on the Indiana Jones movies.From virtual to reality
The situation with real quests is much more interesting. It is not certain when and where this form of entertainment appeared, but many believe it to be Japan. According to popular belief, it was in the Land of Rising Sun in 2007 where the first quest in reality was opened. The publisher of entertainment magazine in Kyoto arranged for the citizens of the city unusual adventures in clubs and bars when they had to find all the codes and hints within one hour. Then he began conducting quests in gardens and abandoned hospitals, in large stadiums and even in churches.
The public liked the new kind of entertainment, and therefore, the quests spread into Asia (Thailand, Singapore, China), Europe and the USA. At the present moment the largest centers of the quests in reality are Beijing (China) and Budapest (Hungary), where more than hundred rooms are based. It is remarkable that in Asia for the fixed time (they get only 56 minutes there) only 10% of participants are able to complete the quest. However in the USA only 2% are able to complete the quests.So, what's the point?
So, what is «Game of Minds»? The game represents itself as full immersion in imaginary reality: everything looks totally the same as in computer games, but the action is conducted in real room with tangible objects. The mission for the players consists of escaping the room they are locked in. For this purpose they must use their logic and sanity, as the players will be solving brainteasers, searching hiding-places, getting hints they have to interpret correctly, and ultimately obtaining the key which will open the door to the freedom.
Players will have only one hour to complete the quest. After the time is up, the doors of the room will open even if the team does not complete the task. If at first you don’t succeed in the completion of the quest, a second attempt may be purchased. The team may consist of two, three, or four persons.
You can get acquainted with the rules here, but the major thing that the players of “Game of Minds” should remember is that if they want to overcome the enclosed space they should use not the “strength of Hercules” (it is better not to use force at all, because the items have the way to broken) and not the wisdom of King Salomon, but ordinary logic, gumption and imagination.Facebook.com/gameofmindsInstagram.com/gameofminds
Address of game location in your Busan:
Busan, 613-805, SUYEONG-GU, GWANGAN HAEBYEON-RO 179, 7th FLOOR (GWANGAN-DONG, 200-4)
Game of Minds - Busan's First Escape Room
For those interested in web development, you can join Stephen this Sunday....
Free Code Camp Busan is hosting a Web Development Meetup in Centum City on Sunday, November 8th from 1-5pm. Bring your laptop and go to the Korea Content Lab's Media Room on the 4th floor.
More info at: http://koreabridge.net/event/web-development-meetup-centum-city-november-2015
What do People do When they Go Back Home?
Ever since I moved to Korea to teach English 10 years ago, I’ve been curious about what people end up doing once they return to their home countries. These days with Facebook, it’s easier than ever to do a little casual stalking to sate my curiosity. Now that I myself have decided to return to Canada in a few short months, I’ve leveled up my game and it’s turned from curiosity to more of an obsession as I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly it takes to make the transition home with the least amount of stress possible.
It’s a Big City!
Stephen, a fellow Busanite and I ran across each other on Facebook a few months back and have kept up a bit of a running conversation ever since even though we’ve never met in person. Busan is a big city! I often see his events on Facebook where he organizes a meetup group for people who want to learn how to code.
Who is this guy, I thought to myself. He seems rad.
He’s going to make the transition from English teacher abroad to a person back home with an awesome, in-demand job and I think he’s someone we can all be a little bit inspired by. Like I always say, Use your time in Korea to make some great things happen for your future, post-Korea. He’s making it happen for himself and I really admire that.
I asked Stephen a few questions and he was kind enough to give some very detailed answers to help out my readers. I hope you enjoy the interview!
Who is Stephen?
You are changing careers after teaching English for 7 years by learning computer programming. Why did you choose this particular field? Were there any other ones that you considered before making this choice?
I chose software engineering for a number of reasons. Job growth and security is a very important factor for me, and software development has always been a growing field. Technology changes at a rapid rate and consumers are constantly demanding smaller, faster, and more intelligent products. So it only follows that consumers’ demands correlate with the demand for software and web developers, and there are more jobs than available coders right now. That alone spells job security to me, and I think individuals who are comfortable with change and eager to learn will always have a high-paying job in the tech industry.
It’s also very fun and interesting! I created a number of blogs and websites that were related to ESL and teaching English, and setting up the technical stuff was always more fun than the content creation, marketing, and customer acquisition side of things.
Believe it or not, I was actually considering becoming a Registered Nurse. That’s another very secure job because there will always be hospitals with sick and dying people in them! And my father is an RN, so I figured “Like father, like son.” I would very much like becoming a nurse, but it doesn’t really work out for me because that career path requires going back to school and becoming a full time student for a year or two. I really can’t afford to take on more student loan debt.
Do you have any regrets about not getting started on this path earlier?
Teaching is an active job that is all about people. Don’t you think you’ll be kind of lonely sitting at a desk all the time doing computer stuff?
Teaching also has its lonely moments: the lesson planning, grading of assignments, responding to student emails, submitting reports, drinking alone at the bar (just kidding!)
I’d say coding is akin to teaching. Yes, there are a lot of solitary moments, but software developers who work in an agile environment usually meet and debrief at the start of each day (known as a ‘scrum’), collaborate online and in real life with other coders to design systems and products, and work very closely with testers to find and eliminate any bugs.
Learning programming and even finding a programming job is an especially social endeavor. Pair coding is a common practice where learners of similar ability to work together to solve problems. Finding a job usually means attending hackathons and networking events, meeting people, and getting your name out there. It’s really not as lonely as people make it out to be.
Someone says to you, “I have no idea about computer programming, but I want to learn how to code.” What advice do you give them?
Why do you want to learn coding? Do you want to pick up a new hobby or add a new skill to your CV? Are you looking for an intellectually stimulating hobby? Once you have figured out the purpose, then you can plan accordingly and follow a learning path. For hobbyists or those who want to stay in their current field, I think a good start is learning HTML and CSS. You can build beautiful, modern websites and blogs with just these two technologies, and it’ll certainly give you a competitive edge among your peers. Now technically, these are not “programming languages” but rather “markup languages”, but they are the building blocks of all website you see.
Do you want to change jobs? If this is the case, then you need to make a long-term plan so that you learn efficiently and pick up the skills you’ll actually use in the job that you want. For example, if you want to make applications for the iPhone, then you’ll need to learn C, Objective C, and Swift. If you want to be a WordPress developer, then PHP and its associate libraries are a must. There are lots of categories and subcategories of jobs out there, and the best way to discover the path you need is by looking around job sites and taking note of the required and optional skills recruiters and companies are looking for.
No matter what your reason for learning is, there is a lot of great content (free and paid) for learning programming. Code Academy (free), Free Code Camp (free), The Odin Project (free), Code School (paid), Team Treehouse (paid), and so on are all great places to start.
Do you think that anyone can learn to code, even those who aren’t very tech-savvy?
I think anyone can learn syntax, which are the actual rules for writing the code. That’s essentially like learning grammar, except that there are no exceptions to the rules as there are in English and other human languages. Now applying the syntax in order to solve specific problems is an entirely different thing. You don’t have to be tech-savvy to do this, but you need to be a natural troubleshooter and have a voracious appetite for learning.
If someone is dedicated and willing to spend 20 hours a week learning these skills, how many months would it take for them to be employable?
I’ve been averaging about 20 hours of week for the last four months, and although my portfolio is a little lacking and I could certainly add more to it, I have enough skills to be hired as a freelance front end web developer or perhaps as a full-time webmaster for a business or organization.
All of my skills are “front end” right now, which means I can create static websites, but I can’t do too much with servers and databases. Making interactive websites with functionality such as creating a login/logout for members, ability to upload and share files, ability to scrape the web for specific information, etc, is known as “back end” development. A coder who knows both front and back end technologies is known as Full Stack developer, and this is what I would like to do.
So my rough calculations are: if an individual puts in 20 hours a week, they will have the skills to be hired as a front end developer after 3-6 months and a full stack developer after 9-12 months.
How’s the demand for programmers looking in Western countries these days?
But the demand internationally is unquenchable too. Case in point, a Seoul-based company contacted me via LinkedIn inquiring whether or not I’d be interested in leaving Busan for the possibility of joining their company. I hadn’t even applied to any ads or done anything. They came to me. My fully employed coding friends have told me that they usually receive 2 -3 job offers from recruiters a week via LinkedIn and other sites, all without ever applying to the company.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
If you’re interested in making the change, come to one of the meetups I organize. They’re every second and fourth Sunday (when the big shops are closed) in Centum City. It’ll give you a chance to meet other people interested in code, and you’ll learn a lot from the group. You can find us on Facebook at Free Code Camp Busan.
Where can people find you online to follow along as you make this transition?
(It’s Jackie Again!)
Also making a transition to your home country? This is the book for you:
As November oh so quickly rolls in, we say goodbye to yet another Makgeolli Festival, and this one was truly something special. As many may know, the last Thursday of every October is designated as ‘Makgeolli Day’. Every year from this day, and following through the whole weekend, you can always expect some kind of celebration in the name of our favorite rice brew. In previous years we have seen various different festivals in Seoul, but this year marks the first event outside the capital, and sets a precedent for what may be a regular fixture on the ‘must-do’ calendar.
Jarasum (Jara Island) has been made famous by the annual Jazz festival, which brings exceptional artists from around the globe for a weekend of good music and outdoor fun.
This past weekend marked the inaugural Jarasum Makgeolli Festival, which set its sights on bringing together not just all the makgeolli from around the nation, but also bringing food pairings from makgeolli bars and local producers.
We were especially privileged to taste the fish from this master (pictured right), who grills some of the best Godingeo (고딩어) ever tasted. He took festival friendliness to a new level, bringing our hungry Happy Hour guests some fresh grilled fish. Look out for this guy next time, he knows what he’s doing :)
As for MMPK, we had a lot of work to do!
We were so excited to have the opportunity to bring all the things that we have learned to a festival, bringing tastings galore. For anyone who might have attended one of our meetings or tours, they know that we are passionate about supporting the smaller brewers on the market, and this was a chance to bring those hardworking brewers to the fore! We offered Artisan Tasting Sessions, with a lineup curated to show the best of what is on offer in bars around Seoul. All brews were aspartame free and had a variety of flavor profiles that appealed to a range of palates. The best part about the sessions? Being able to tell the stories behind every brew, and hearing the equally varied feedback on from our eager tasters. Below is this year’s MMPK Artisan Tasting Lineup:
But tasting wasn’t limited to just the Artisans, the expat brewing community also brought their entries for the fourth annual Susubori Academy Expat Makgeolli Brewing Contest. For the past four years, expats in the makgeolli brewing community have been concocting their own special brews to compete for the title. Last year Mark Salinas took the number one spot with a brew incorporating water and mugwart brought laboriously from a hike to Bukhansan (Bukhan Mountain).
This year included a diverse and creative selection, with infusions and recipe experimentation the likes of which we had yet seen. During the festival, whomever came to the booth could taste from the ten entrants and vote for their favorite. The winners are yet to be announced, but we will be sure to update as soon as they come through!
If that wasn’t all, MMPK also teamed up with Makgeolli Makers & Susubori Academy to offer free Introduction to Brewing Makgeolli Classes. Twice a day, both on Saturday and Sunday, visitors could get their basic grounding in the world of makgeolli brewing and take home their very own brew.
And then there was the festival itself!
The main tent in the middle of grounds was continually abuzz with musical performances and food stalls, getting particularly rowdy when it hit after 8pm :) And as the days dawned with crisp air (albeit cold enough for eyebrow-sicles in the very wee hours), with blue skies and mountains as a backdrop, it was hard not to be in a good mood. Tents lined up surrounding the main tent, giving out samples of their wares as well as exhibitions of Korea’s finest representations of alcohol.
As each day came to a close, the MMPK tent went into Happy Hour mode. With endless brews and endless meat on hand, crew and visitors ate and drank the night away under the clear, star filled sky until their toes were numb.
After all the preparation, anticipation and running of the event, there is just one thing that sticks in our minds as the most memorable. The people of our community are what make these festivals not just possible, but also joyful and just a rollicking good time. We are nothing if not the people who support us, and that was more than evident this past weekend. So we would like to give a heartfelt ~ Thank You ~ to our Brewers, Volunteers, and Supporters (yes, you all get capitals ;) ) because without you, we would would never have been able to have such an awesome event.
We can’t wait till next year for the next installment of the Jarasum Makgeolli Festival :)
Until then Mamas & Papas :)
Sillleuksa Temple in Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do from 1916.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Silleuksa Temple is located in Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do. The name of the temple means “Divine Bridle Temple,” in English, and it has to do with a legend that surrounds the temple. The name of the temple relates to a horse that was uncontrollable. The horse was reined in by the power of the Buddha.
There is little known about the early years of the temple. There are two stories related to the establishment of Silleuksa Temple. One believes that Silleuksa Temple was first established during the reign of King Jinpyeong (r. 579-632); while another story relates how the temple was first founded by the famed monk Wonhyo-daesa (617-686).
However, after the temple was first established, Silleuksa Temple has been expanded and destroyed by fire. And in 1469, Silleuksa Temple became the prayer sanctuary to the royal mausoleum to the great King Sejong. Silleuksa Temple has a scenic location and beautiful shrine halls; it also houses numerous treasures.
The Geukrak-jeon main hall at Silleuksa in 1932.
A closer look at the front facade of the main hall at Silleuksa Temple.
A look at some of the eaves work on the main hall.
A look around the decorative interior of the Geukrak-jeon Hall in 1932.
The seven tier marble pagoda that lies out in front of the Geukrak-jeon Hall in 1933.
A closer look at the marble pagoda.
And an even closer look at the base of the pagoda.
The Josa-jeon Hall. It’s also the oldest building at the temple. This picture dates back to 1932.
The intricate woodwork adorning the Josa-jeon Hall.
The six-story brick pagoda. The picture was taken in 1916.
A closer look at the design of the bricks.
The Geukrak-jeon Hall in 2015.
The seven tier marble pagoda as it appears today.
A closer look at the unique pagoda.
The six story stone pagoda that overlooks the river.
A thing of beauty.
As many of you probably remember, I've been working diligently to shed weight while in Korea. I didn't get a scale until April or May, and I figure I ballooned when I first arrived in Korea seeing as I had brought a bunch of Cadbury Creme Eggs I never ended up giving out (which I obviously finished within about a week and a half). I was also in transit moving to my new school, didn't have pots and pans yet, and hadn't really figured out how to cook tasty meals using a glorified hot plate.
I had been working out at Eco-Gym from March 2015 just up to my Shanghai vacation over Chuseok (September 25th - 28th). Things were going pretty well and I had been losing weight steadily even if it was a little slow for my liking.
Enter Velocity Fitness. This fitness franchise was set to open at the beginning of October 2015 in Hwamyeong. Look at us - getting a Subway Sandwiches and a snazzy new gym reminiscent of Good Life Fitness all in the same month. Things finally started to be turning around for our little out of the way suburb. What could be next, a Thursday Party location? Maybe a Sharky's Nakdong River location? The sky seemed to be the limit - I mean, Koreans do have a tendency to build up!
I was so excited to be in a new gym with my friend G. Whenever the creepy Adashis at Eco-gym would leer at us on the bikes or during our squat routines we'd look at one another and chant "Velocity...just think of Velocity..." Sadly for me, Velocity never came and would never come. We were told the new gym would open the first week of October, which meant there was no reason for me to buy another Eco-gym membership as upon my return from Shanghai I'd have a beautiful new fitness facility to enjoy. No such luck. We were told that the opening day was being pushed back to the 15th. No problem. Jillian Michaels and I had done great things together through her "30 Day Shred", and I wasn't about to put back on all the weight I had lost by this point.(I'm estimating about 25 lbs from my heaviest in Korea). I cut way down on calories and started doing 2 or 3 workout videos a day just to keep edging down. When Velocity told me that the day had been pushed to October 26th, I was really peeved but just kept going.
Fast forward to Saturday, October 24th. While enjoying the fireworks at Gwangalli Beach, I received a text message in Korean from the guy who had registered G and I (in perfect English). I used my translator and found that November 6th would be the new grand opening date. That was the last straw. After having the day pushed back 3 times with no guarantee in sight that this would be the last time, I spoke with the sales rep last Tuesday, saw the facility in such disarray that November 6th was a pipe dream, and got my deposit back.
A colleague of mine takes her fitness quite seriously and mentioned to me that her gym might be cheaper than Velocity (and, of course, was already open). She called SPO+ Gym on my behalf and got some details for me. She even generously offered to go with me to speak with a manager there. It's a block away from Velocity (so 3 blocks from my apartment) and was over $100 cheaper for a year. I also negotiated a yoga class every week as well, so there's really good bang for my buck. I got back into the gym last Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, skipped Sunday, and went back today (Monday). The gym is fantastic and I've been spending anywhere from an hour and a half to just over two hours every visit. With my year-long membership I get access to the entire gym plus my yoga classes, I get a locker, uniform (and laundry!), and towels, as well as access to the biggest sauna/ steam room I've ever seen. SPO+ Gym offers spinning classes, Vinyasa, Aerial, and Hot Yoga, Zumba, an Adidas fitness course, and a few others I haven't yet translated. They also offer Personal Training from Korean fitness competitors (bikini and bodybuilding/ women and men) should I ever feel like learning some new moves. I also really dig the friendly faces of the staff who circulate the entirety of the gym, making sure to throw an "안녕하세요!" your way every 20 minutes or so.
When I get on the treadmill, there are floor to ceiling windows offering an 11th floor view of the stunning mountain vistas I so enjoy in Hwamyeong. The walls are plastered with motivational phrases like: "If it was easy, everyone would be doing it", "Just keep running" (my mantra every time I'm on that dang treadmill!), and my personal favorite: "Just do squats". Ladies, that booty isn't going to grow itself - get squatting!
I'm now down 35 lbs from what I gather to be my heaviest weight here, am 5 lbs away from the last time I fit into my graduation dress, and am 14 lbs from my graduation weight. I can fit into a pair of jeans that I bought in Vancouver in 2008 and haven't fit into properly since 2011 (yes - I realise I'm crazy for keeping some of these things, but if your favorite pair of jeans is still in good condition you keep 'em). I usually eat the same things every day Monday - Friday, modify on Saturday, and have my cheat day on Sunday.
Typically I'll have either a yogurt cup or a 99 calories granola bar for breakfast before the gym. For lunch I'll have an egg scramble with onions, peppers, broccoli, and sometimes zucchini sauteed in half a tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil. I'll add a portion of either ham or chicken breast, calorie-controlled colby jack cheese, and 2 eggs and then serve it up on a bed of mixed greens.
I have a snack of protein powder and water halfway through the afternoon (I order Cellucor brand protein powder from iHerb every couple of months - it usually arrives within 3-4 days. The Cellucor brand actually tastes really great just shaken up with water and it's 130 calories with 25 grams of protein - one of my kids thinks I reeeeeeeally like coffee ^^). For dinner, I usually have some rice, chicken, and mixed greens again. I aim to take in 1200-1300 calories in order to continue to lose weight. This is definitely on the low side (never go under 1200 calories, women! You'll start storing what you take in as fat) but I do feel full and I'm trying my best to listen to my body to find a balance. I get in 45 minutes to an hour of cardio 6 days a week plus 45 minutes to an hour of weight training. Sundays are for me, and if I want to sleep in I will, and if I feel like hitting the gym then I can (but I usually don't). If I want to have pizza or fries on Sunday then that's the day to do it. Monday morning rise and grind starts all over again.
While I'm really bummed about Velocity Fitness and not being able to work out with the group of local buds that have also joined, I'm really happy to be back in the gym and working on my fitness level in a space that isn't also my kitchen, living room, and bedroom (I have a studio apartment). A few of my friends are interested in joining SPO+ Gym, but sadly G is sticking to her guns with Velocity (she got a pretty stellar contract renegotiation so I don't blame her, but it seems she was the only one who got any benefits because of the delays upon delays).
Had you told me a year ago I'd be rockin' a crop top for Hallowe'en 2015, I would have called you Bananas. I genuinely thought that because losing weight in Toronto had been so incredibly difficulty I'd just kind of...be fat forever. It's not easy and I don't think this lifestyle ever will be, but I'm enjoying it more and more each day. I love getting up and walking to my new gym. Getting a good sweat on is one of the best parts of my day. I crave hitting all my macros and cooking with tons of vegetables. The routine I've developed over the past few months has given me a sense of calm as well as a sense of fulfillment. As of this past weekend, I'm also enjoying the attention I most certainly was not getting back in Toronto.
Are you losing weight in Korea? Have you found a gym that revs your engine every time you walk through the front door? Have you developed a plan you're sticking to, but need a support system? Let me know in the comments section! xoxo
Busan’s newest film festival to provide information in an entertaining way on the topic of how best to deal with global warming impacts.
부산시청자미디어센터 – Busan Community Media Center
1472, U-dong, Haeundae-gu, Busan, South Korea
By subway: Centum City Station, Exit 4;
walk straight for 5 minutes, or 2.5 blocks;
it’s on your right, opposite the big building with the KNN sign.
www.comc.or.kr – (051) 749-9500
Friday, 6th of November
Welcome to the
BCA Film Festival 2015 launch party
Busan Veggie Fest!
the launch party with jazz music,
fresh-baked home made vegan treats for dinner
and a Q&A with the director of Omnivorous Family’s Dilemma.
supported by Robert Coates music,
three of our favorite local restaurants,
and Hamyang Apple for fresh organic apple juice.
2015 Busan Veggie Fest
is a single-use plastic-free venue, and a BYO cup and plate event.
Vegan “finger food” & canapes will be served
for which a napkin/ serviette will generally be sufficient.
Please consider bringing your own cup for tea, coffee, organic apple juice, or water.
An Omnivorous Family’s Dilemma
Official Trailer. English subtitles included in Busan premier 6 Oct., 2015
소에관한 음모: 예고편
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
*한국어 자막을 보시려면 화면
오른쪽 하단에 있는 CC 박스를 누르세요
–Korean bank account holders
buy tickets here (영어문서).
–International bank and PayPal
account holders buy tickets here.
Please include all ticket holders’ names in your IndieGogo purchase.–
* Due to Busan Community Media Center policy,
please order tickets online or by bank transfer,
and pay before arriving at the venue.
October 31st is Halloween in KSU so all of the stars and planets have aligned to make this the best party yet!
Pub Crawl tickets will go on sale and be available in the participating bars by Friday October 16th. Each ticket will be 20,000 won and gets you:
1) a drink at each of the bars
2) entry into a raffle at each of the bars
3) entry into the costume contest
4) ***buy your ticket before Oct. 31st and you get a free shot at each bar!!***
Eva's Ticket, Eva's Bar, Almost Famous, HQ, and Drunkenmaster are teaming up again to give you a night to remember! Prizes are valued at over 2,000,000 won with 1st prize in the costume contest getting 1,000,000 won!!!! You need to buy a pub crawl ticket to be entered into the costume contest! Have your picture taken at any of the bars and give the staff your costume contest entry ticket to win! There will be many runner up prizes and raffle prizes this year as well. The Photo Contest will be hosted on Koreabridge.net.
Check back here over the next 2 weeks to see what is going on at each of the bars!!
DJs will be spinning to make you dance dance dance!!!
The fortune teller
Cass Keg Party
20,000 Gift Certificate
50,000 Gift Certificate
30,000 Gift Certificate
Bottle of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
Dinner for Two Gift Certificate
50,000 Gift Certificate
30,000 Gift Certificate
50,000 Gift Certificate
30,000 Gift Certificate
Music Food Pool table Foosball Darts Sports Beer Pong 14 beer on Tap
The Original EVA's
View Busan Guide Map in a larger map
Have you ever wondered why so many Koreans have the last names 김 (Kim), 이 (Lee), 박 (Park), and 최 (Choi)? Have you wondered what Korean names mean, and how they're structured, and what exactly makes a Korean name... well, Korean? I'll cover all of these questions and more in this week's Q&A video.
Feel free to send in your own questions and they might be featured in an upcoming video.
Also I have a special announcement to make. Next week I will be launching the Kickstarter project for "Korean Made Simple 3," the third and final book in the series. It's looking to be the best book of the series in many ways. In addition to having a new 20 lessons, there'll also be a full appendix on Korean dialects and more, so stay tuned for its launch (coming very soon!).
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Cycling is one of the most rewarding ways for you to enjoy Korea!
The Korean government invested a tremendous amount of money in cycle routes and infrastructure. Using these bike-paths are safe ways to explore and exercise.
The entire Riverside Bike Trail system stretches over 1,757 kilometers along the Hangang, Geumgang, Yeongsangang, and Nakdonggang Rivers. There are awesome scenic views and attractions along the paths, cheap places to eat and even plenty of campgrounds. Just Google “4 Rivers Trails” and a ton of information will magically appear. We recommend with a Seoul adventure along portions of the Han River Trail.
Follow these helpful tips to assure your perfect day of cycling:
- Prepare your Bike:
A 30 second check of your bicycle will prevent hours of unhappiness while riding. Check that your wheels are free of wobbles, tires for proper inflation, tire treads for small sharp objects lodged in the rubber from previous rides, your brakes for good grip, and that your chain moves with ease.
Bicycle lights are mandatory if riding at night and a bell (or horn) is highly recommended equipment to avoid unwanted collisions. Be sure that your lights and noise devices are functioning properly and have adequate battery power before you start your ride.
In Korea, if you do find an issue with your bicycle, local bike shops provide fast, friendly and inexpensive bike tune-ups, and tipping for services is not necessary.Photo: MRobertMarks, Thanks to VeloDay Wangsimni
- Don’t have a bike? Rent one!
If you don’t own a bicycle, don’t fret. Bike rentals are very popular and readily available around the bike paths. Free rentals are available for two-hours at a time. Longer bike rides require a full day rental.
A quick internet search will yield lists of rental places around Seoul and other areas.Photo: MRobertMarks
- Prepare for the Day:
Checking the weather is a given, be sure to match the right clothes for the weather conditions, bring sunscreen if needed, and check that your pant legs can’t come in contact with the bike chain. Cycling can be enjoyable even in the snow and rain when you have clothes that keep you dry and you ride cautiously.
Sometimes Seoul has high pollution levels, you may want to check the air quality before your start your day for any activity. A face mask specialized in filtering PM2.5 (Particulate Matter that’s 100 times thinner than a human hair) can help minimize health risks. Face masks and glasses are commonly worn by cyclists to protect against insects in the evening.
Water is essential to cycling and all outdoor activities, always bring a bottle with you. And a flat tire is inevitable, being prepared with a spare tube or patch kit and small air pump can save you a lot of extra walking and time. But if forget your water and repair items while cycling in Seoul, No Worries! You’re never too far from a convenience store or bike shop that can supply your needs, just be sure to triple check you have some money, your ID and transportation card with you!
Bring your camera! There’s always something exciting or interesting to see every day on Seoul’s cycling trails!
Last but not least, take your cellphone with you. It’s important to have a way to call for help in case of emergencies (119 is the nationwide emergency telephone number).Photo: MRobertMarks
- Know Your Route:
Korea has done a great job at creating and maintaining cycling and walking trail systems with abundant clear signage, rest stops, and amenities such as drinking water fountains and bathrooms.
Get yourself a bike map. These can be found for free at the district offices, library, tourist information booths, bike rental shops, at the Han river and other places.
A GPS and cellphone map applications are two more tools at your disposal to track your progress and know your location. There are many updated maps of Korea for your portable GPS available for download, and Seoul has WiFi everywhere which makes your cellphone map applications still useful even without data service.
If you become really stuck, there are lots of friendly people along the bike trails willing to help or direct you towards your destination.
- Etiquette, Culture and Local Bike Laws:
Seoul and all of Korea are very densely populated, and even at night cycling and walking paths are often crowded; consideration for others can’t be emphasized enough.
A few simple “rules of the road” will prevent complicated problems on the bike paths:
- Always keep to the far right. Stay off sidewalks.
- Abide by all traffic signs and lights.
- Notify your presence when approaching or passing people.
- Walk your bike when on non-bicycle paths.
- Unless you are disabled, a child or a senior, never ride your bicycle in a crosswalk.
- Be aware of your surroundings – anticipate pedestrians not paying attention, cars that might not notice you, or dogs that are unleashed.
Bicycles are considered a vehicle and therefore are held accountable in accidents in the same manner that a car is accountable. If an accident occurs, take photos and call 119 if necessary for emergency services.
The trails in Seoul are busiest on the weekends and holidays. To avoid the crowds, try planning your rides for the early mornings and weekdays.Photo: MRobertMarks
- Bikes on Buses and Subways:
By far, the easiest and most affordable way for you to reach the trailhead is by public transportation. Intercity buses will allow you to put the bike in the luggage compartment under the bus.
Bikes are allowed to ride on the subway on weekends and public holidays (although never allowed on line 9). Bicycles are banned during week days on nearly all subway lines, except for non-numbered lines leading out of Seoul which allow bicycles at all times. Bicycles may only be boarded on the first or last train cars.
Avoid taking your bicycle on public transportation during rush hours! It will be difficult to make your way through large crowds and you risk damaging your ride.
At all times, be considerate of others. This is true when riding on the trails, but especially important on public transportation.
For more biking tips in Korea, check out these Trazy posts:
And be sure to share your Seoul cycling excursions on 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.
Founded in December 2008 to showcase the latest in Samsung’s consumer electronics, Samsung d’light recently underwent a three-month transformation from a showroom to something that more closely resembles a museum. However, unlike most museums, which generally paint a picture of the past, Samsung d’light allows visitors to imagine what the world might be like in the next decade or two.
Samsung d’light, which takes its name from "digital" and "light," aims to be a "guiding light to the digital world," all the while functioning as a beacon to lead consumers to an entirely new way of life made possible by digital technology. But rather than simply showcasing how its products convey its vision, Samsung lets visitors experience how its devices and solutions are molding our future through a series of immersive activities.
A Time Traveling Expedition
The journey begins as visitors enter the exhibition doors and enter a spacious interior that at once exudes a futuristic vibe. After putting on a chip-enabled wristband that corresponds to their language—Korean, English or Chinese—visitors “sync” themselves with their photo and name to the intricate system that digitally guides them (along with docents, when available) through the first floor experience zone.
“Emotion,” the concept for the first segment of the interactive experience, consists of multiple stations that guests use to transform their photographs into colorful works of art via Samsung’s latest mobile devices.
Next is the “Sense” area, where visitors utilize gestures to interact with cutting-edge mirror displays. Finally, they harness the power of their “Intuition” and creativity to digitally construct a whimsical planet which is displayed across 16 curved TVs that circle overhead.
Guests complete their interactive experience in the “Imagination” room. Here, a display gathers information from their wristbands, and based on their choices made in the previous zones, determines what kind of “visionary” each guest is, such as “Peace Barista” or “Utopia Architect.” To this end, Samsung’s technologies look at the personalities and characteristics of guests to envision the future, much in the same way that Samsung aims to understand users’ needs to design its technology.
After sharing their results via the Samsung d’light homepage, guests can then make their way upstairs to get hands-on with Samsung’s high-tech solutions.
Envisioning Tomorrow, Today
Visitors make their way to the Home of the Future, which, at first glance, appears to be a typical modern apartment. That is, until visitors pick up the tablets stationed throughout each room, which when maneuvered around, give a 360-degree view of the same home, but actively being utilized by a family. Through augmented reality, visitors can get a glimpse at how the Internet of Things communicates between smart devices like the refrigerator, the television and even the bathroom mirror, to make life more convenient and connected.
But, as guests soon learn, Samsung’s products are also changing other industries, too. In an adjacent area that resembles a classroom, tablets have replaced textbooks and a monitor you can write on is the new blackboard. Nearby, in a retail setting, guests see how customers can build a sandwich by tapping their favorite ingredients on a screen or pay with their mobile phones. Even healthcare, it seems, is enhanced through wearable devices and sensors that track one’s movement, heart rate and sleep patterns to better diagnose and prevent potential health issues.
By the end of the tour, which takes around 40 minutes, it becomes clear that these technologies, which not long ago seemed to only be possible in science fiction blockbusters, are now a reality and are quickly becoming integrated into so many aspects of our lives.
This is reiterated with the massive “My Life” video screen and displays of recently released products that guests pass by as they exit on the first floor, an area that will also function as a space for special events.
Those looking to take home a bit of the future can head to the tax-free d’light shop in the basement, which also happens to be the largest Samsung mobile shop in all of South Korea. Here, visitors can browse a wide array of products and accessories, or consult sales assistants with any questions they may have. The newly renovated and highly interactive Samsung d’light is sure to capture the imaginations of all visitors, whether tech geek or elementary school student, by showcasing the endless possibilities that will no doubt transform and enhance their lives tomorrow, today.
Address: 11, Seocho-daero 74-gil, Seocho-gu, Seoul [서울특별시 서초구 서초대로74길 11 (서초동)]
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-7pm
Website: Click Here
How to Get There: Take the Seoul subway to Gangnam Station (Line 2 or SinBundang Line), Exit 8.
Words by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.
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