Thursday, September 30, 2010

Korean Food Vol. 2 - Soup!

Korean soup...great for any meal!
Today, we are going to be looking at the backbone of any Korean meal: soup and stews! Koreans like to eat soups or a stew with just about every meal and these dishes vary greatly in ingredients and taste. I want to cover some of my favorite dishes and share some of the varieties of food offered in most Korean eateries. I will rate each dish on availability (1 being nowhere, 5 being everywhere), cost, taste (1 being terrible, 10 being amazing), and spicy-ness (1 being not spicy, 5 being spicy as hell).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Travel Photos

So, I finally got around to uploading all of my photos to Picasa. Check the link above labeled 'Photo Albums' for links to the individual collections. Please ask for my permission if you intend to use my images.

NK News: Kim Jong-Un Promoted

Party members heading to the meeting
Kim Jong-Un (김정은), the son of Kim Jong-Il (김정일), was promoted this week to the military rank of General, 4 stars. This is the highest possible rank attainable within the military. On top of his promotion, he was also appointed delegate to the party Congress, which all but solidifies his status as heir to his father's throne. This has been forecast for some time now by all the major news outlets in South Korea and Japan. The grand meeting of Congress has produced no other real announcements outside of the promotion of Kim Jong-Un. According to news outlets, party leaders stressed the two ideals of Juche (self reliance) and Songun (military first) that have been the back bone of North Korean society since Kim Il-Sun was in charge.

These kinds of times are worry-some to me. I am worried about the transition of power once Kim Jong-Il passes on. They way I see it, one of two things can happen: Kim Jong-Un takes power smoothly or, because of his age and inexperience, someone attempts to seize power, throwing the already unstable country into calamity. Even if power does pass smoothly to the new heir, depending on how he wants to play with the rest of the world, he will have to prove himself to the international community. His father did this through acts of violence and aggression. I sincerely hope Jong-Un will not try to ostracize himself like his father did.

Even though I am an outsider looking in, the situation between North and South is heartbreaking. Korea has suffered through so much adversity in the past, and to see the country permanently ripped into two would be unfortunate. Families and friends forever separated, hatred for those not unlike yourself, and worst of all, the atrocities suffered by the Northerners. I suppose it's hard to know much outside of your world when your rulers will never let you experience it. I hope that one day the two Korea's can successfully reunite under a common banner of peace and prosperity.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Birthday and the Great Baekje World Festival

So, on Sunday September 26th, I happened to advance one year in age, progressing into the 24th season of my life. There was not much fanfare to be had, as I don't really have that many friends out here in Korea. One funny thing about birthdays is, since the advent of social networking, hearing from the "once-a-year" people who always check in to say "Happy Birthday!", and then go silent for another year. But I digress. I ended up celebrating my birthday on Saturday with Yumi, traveling two hours to use the tickets she bought me for my birthday. The tickets were for the Great Baekje World Festival 2010, which I had no clue about. I didn't even know where or what Baekje was until we went on Saturday.

Military procession at the Great Baekje World Festival

Chuseok (추석) and Baekryeong-Do (백령도)

Last week brought with it the largest annual Korean holiday known as Chuseok (추석), celebrated from the 21st to the 23rd. Chuseok can roughly be translated to a Korean Thanksgiving. More accurately, it is the autumn solstice according to the lunar calendar. Either way, Chuseok is a time when Koreans leave the city to return to their hometowns and be with family. It is a season of giving and celebration. Elaborate meals are usually involved, along with paying respect for lost, but never forgotten, family members. Koreans place a large amount of respect on the dead, which is something I think we have lost in our society.

My Chuseok consisted of a trip with Yumi to her hometown of Yeongju (영주). We spent the weekend prior to Chuseok with her parents, where I was honored to take part in her family's celebrations. Her father invited me along with the other males in the family to clean up the grave sites of their parents. We spent a few hours in the rain clearing brush, cutting grass, and performing traditional Buddhist prayers at the hills. A note on Korean grave sites: Unlike America, Koreans bury their dead "sitting upright", so their grave sites look like mounds of grass and dirt. They also bury their dead on mountainsides, and the higher up, the more respect the person was given.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blog 1: Who am I?

So, since I started this blog, I haven't really updated much with information outside of what you see in the videos. I want that to change. I feel like I have time to update more often and I feel that what I am going through may, in some ways, help others who come to Korea for work or pleasure. So, here's the first official entry into my written blog.

Who am I?

Basic question, right? Who am I? Why am I writing this?

Basic answers. My name is Corey and I'm 23 years old. I live in Seoul, Korea by way of Toledo, Ohio in the USA. I have worked in the field of telecommunications in the United States Air Force for 6+ years now and hold an AS in electronic systems. I am working towards my BA in Information Systems, but I haven't had much time for classes lately. I will be leaving the military in November 2011 for greener pastures (AKA college and a future). I was single when I came to Korea in November 2009, but have since become serious with my fiancé and decided to marry. I am currently learning Korean in my spare time, but have run into trouble staying focused with it.

I am writing this blog for a few reasons. First off, I am trying to kill boredom. This is key where I come from. I don't really have any hobbies other than playing video games, so this helps kill time. Secondly, the information I have may be beneficial to someone else. I have found it hard to dig up information about living in Korea and going through the military hoops that come with this territory. Thirdly, it gives my friends and family something to read to check up on how I am doing. I am terrible at communicating with people, so hopefully this will help bridge that gap.

Beyond that, this is me on paper as far as I'm concerned. These posts will be uncensored and probably poorly worded, but that's who I am. Feel free to drop me a line, leave a comment, and check out the links. Thanks for reading!

Korea Vlog 5: Day Trippin'

Once again, Yumi and I travel to some crazy place 4 hours away. Only this time, I remembered to bring my camera! This trip had a few different things involved. First, we hopped on a KTX train and spent two and a half hours travelling to a remote city on the west coast. We proceeded to hop on a bus and head towards our next destination. We visited a beach on the west coast of Korea in a small cape town called Ilpo (일포). After spending an hour there, we hopped back on the bus and travelled to Boseong (보성) to visit the green tea plantation. It was pretty cool, but the weather was unforgiving. After that, we returned to the bus and travelled some more until we came to our final destination: a railbike tour of a small Korean town. I don't remember the city, but I know I had fun! Rate, comment, and subscribe!

Korea Vlog 4: Seoul Tower (남산)

Yumi and I travelled to Namsan Tower a while back and I shot some video of a cool laser light show they did hourly. Enjoy! Rate, comment, subscribe!