korean culture

Quiet Out There

It's the Sunday before the Lunar New Year's holiday here in Korea. Already I can tell most people in my area (Nowon) have packed up and gone to wherever they need to go for family duties. However, it is usually quiet on a Sunday here anyways.

Not much happening for me this holiday season in Korea. I am meeting a friend for a good meaty dinner and some nice chatting. I have the whole week off next week and in that time I need to withdraw cash for my American vacation and also go to immigration to renew my visa.

I hope your Korean holiday is filled with fun or relaxation. :) Happy Year of the Black Dragon!

The Frogs

Amazingly, not everyone on Earth is reading Curious George or Eric Carle to their kids—Koreans have their own set of classic children’s books, about which I naturally know nothing at all. But yesterday after two hours of tutoring my wife, A., came back home with a couple of hard slim volumes for our son, who alternately loves and despises works of fiction, much like his father—he devours them and slaps them as hard as he can, while I devour them and also devour myself, convinced I can never hope to reach such levels of mastery.

Korean Breakfast

The idea of eating spicy briny kimchi, pickled mushrooms, nets of cold wet yellow sprouts, damp spinach, sticky white rice, hot sauce, pickled kimchi radishes, still-boiling still-bubbling blood-red kimchi stew, cold cooked onions and potato slices, either mixed up or spread about on little plastic saucers, complete with steel shot glasses for the water you have to gulp down to make up for all the salt, probably does not sound too appealing to the Western breakfast palate, used as it is to sweet grains slushed about in milk, with muffins and fruit and endless rivers of coffee pouring, roaring down whirlpool-like gullets, along with gallons of orange juice and absolutely whatever else you can get your meathooks on.

But then yesterday, after months of muesli mixed with bananas and coffee, I was ready to take the plunge. The realization was gastrointestinal more than intellectual.

History of Korea through Korean Dolls

Cheonmin Couple

This is an attempt to not only simplify Korean History but also make it interesting using Korean Dolls as props. The idea is to educate the kids about the history of Korea, who might otherwise find this subject boring. We have also made an attempt to highlight the social class structure that existed in Korea during the Chosun Dynasty. Understanding the Social Class structure should give an understanding about the people of Korea and why Korean Society focuses a lot on higher education.

The Ancient age

Kojoseon – 10th century B.C to 108 B.C
Puyo – around the 5th century B.C to 494
Chinguk – from before the 6th century B.C. to 9 A.D.

Hollyebok and Hwarot – Korean Wedding Costume


Hollyebok (혼례복) is the hanbok (Korean clothing) for Korean wedding ceremony and it is very bright in color. Hwarot is the gown for Korean brides.

On wedding day the bride wears a green chima, a yellow jeogori (저고리; short jacket with long sleeves) with two long ribbons which are tied to form the otgoreum (옷고름), A chima (치마), a full-length, high-waisted, wrap-around skirt, a Boat-shaped shoes made of silk, a white sash with significant symbols or flowers, the norigae (노리개), the knot on the top is called the Maedeup (매듭) and a wonsam. Her hair is prepared using a jokduri (a special head ornament).

The bridegroom wears the baji, the jeogori, the joggi, the magoja, and the durumagi.

Dad, Meet Korea

On October 16th, around 2 am, after the last guests had left from a party Joe and I threw at my apartment called October Shindizzle, I checked my email.  Top of the inbox was a surprise message from my dad, which read:

Hi Courtney;

How are you doing?

I am thinking about coming to South Korea to visit you. It would be about a 10 day trip and I would be in Busan for 8 days and 2 days travel time.

I have looked at flights and the dates Nov. 22nd to Dec. 1st are available now and those dates work for me.

Can you let me know asap if then is a good time for you.



My Christmas Spirit

As I was at my local stationary store, shopping for Holiday cards to send the family, I soon became a part of something. When entering the stationary store you go down a flight of white stairs. At the bottom is the entrance, where near here were a shelf of cards, these ones of the more traditional imagery style.

I browsed these first and came upon one with recessed birds flying over a white washed background. It was nice, and I picked it up. I moved on to the other racks of cards that were further into the store. Here, standing next to an Ahjumma, I browsed around. The next thing I know she was pointing to my card and asking where I got it. Yes I understood that much Korean. I pointed to where I got it and told her, "Over there." She said some more words and seemed not sure of where I found it. Then she went over to that section.

Hanbok – 한복 – Korean Traditional Costume

I'm Grateful To Have My Job

Today I read an article from The Grand Narrative, "Advice to Women Looking for Work: "Say you like to sing and dance." It reiterates the story of one young lady who has gone through so much in her life just to find herself not getting a job. This story highlights how students these days are filled with ambition and the desire to get a quality job, but come out to a world that doesn't match.

I want to talk about this aspect of Korean society because I think it might help those living here or who are considering it. As for me, I got a dose of this part of Korean life when dating two Korean men. So I also think it is important for the ladies to hear about how dating Korean men will likely mean you come to know this aspect of Korean society very closely. More importantly it can end up shaping your relationship and future with said person.

Topics In Korean History


Korean History

People often ask me, “Why are you interested in Korean history? Isn’t it just so sad?”

Well, they are partially right. Much of Korean history -ancient and modern- is a tragic story of suffering and wasted lives, but throughout it rings a beautiful story of a people who have managed to maintain a unique culture in the face of enormous difficulties.

The Rose of Sharon - The Flower of Eternity. South Korea's National Flower.

The Rose of Sharon/The Flower of Eternity. South Korea's National Flower.

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