My favorite pastime in Korea! (Ep.1_Han River) 

Hi there! Today I am going to talk about my favorite pastime in Korea. Maybe someone who have been reading my blog so far might have thought that ‘she only talks about her work.’ For my excuse, It just happened to be a frustrating week. I think this is my first optimistic post about Korea. My apologies if the previous posts were too stressful. 

I have so many pastimes that could be categorized into art, sightseeing, culture, and language. The most favorite pastime would be taking photos and exploring the culture by learning the language or visiting places. The above mentioned activities are the main pastime that didn’t change even if I am at different countries. 

But I do have to say that I sometimes get bored in Korea so that I leave to somewhere else when the times allows. For this year it was Osaka and Kyoto of Japan. I have a looonnnnng holiday this coming week (5 days) and on October (10 days!).  I am still looking forward to those holidays. For the upcoming week, I am planning to stay home or meet some friends. I needed to relieve my stress for two months of “no more national holidays”. But on October, I am weighing between Europe or US. If I go to Europe, it will be visiting my childhood and US will be more of visiting my friends and going to places I’ve never been to. 

So! my favorite pastime in Korea is an activities that I can only experience in Korea! This is the first episode. I have top 5 list! And I assure you that it was so unique and interesting that I get to visit them everytime I get a chance or follow up how it changes. 

1. Visiting Han Gang River

 * Gang already means river in Korea, but somehow an official way of translation into English has changed last year to repeating it whatsoever

For those who have visited Seoul would have visited Han Gang River. It had so many historical meaning to people from the past. It meant having water coming into ones crop fields as well as having place to wash clothes. And as the society changes, Han Gang River has become one of the cultural place.

It’s place where many families, couples, friends and your companion animals come to chill out. There are so many delivery service that can find you in a vast area. So if you have never tried Chimac (chicken and beer) or Pimac (pizza and beer), it’s going to be a unique experience.:) 

And these days, there are food truck zone too (quite artificial). It was bit disappointing that it’s just a moving expensive restaurant. (missed food truck zone in Portland, US) 

But loved the beautiful scenery. Some come to Han River for photo taking (professional) and fishing.

Everyone was enjoying walking and enjoying the scenery. 

There are so many places where you can borrow bicycles. There are moutain bike, regular bike with and without gears, and coulple bike. (and childrens bike too) 

People enjoying picnic. It’s fascinating how many people have tents (there were so many tents and camping equipment in the other area) 

If you had your heart broken, you might want to reconsider visiting this place but It is one of the places you can’t miss. (If you are wondering why, look at a couple on the left bottom of the above picture). 

One thing that caught my eyes were there are more and more people who likes to get married on the boats. It’s becoming a new trend (I am not talking about a yacht. I am talking about a ministure cruise that doesn’t move) 

Next time, I am going to talk about my second favorite pastime. See you next time! 


Epiphany! It was all the art of working hard

Recently, I’ve found a core reason for myself not being able to fully understand the workplace culture. 

Working in Korean NGO has and is still giving me so many lessons and influence on my people skills as well as my administrative skills and how NGOs are cooperating with each other. 
What I’ve learned about this NGO (it’s only about this organization) is that it’s seldom effective, work-wise and operating human resource-wise. 

The problems that occur often is that there are no specific duties and everything is so tentative. And people love doing yaguen(overtime work).  I don’t quite understand why people enjoy joint project. Having many tiers could help the quality of the results but seems too much. It just seems like they have too many people working for one simple project.

And the biggest difference I’ve felt about work culture was “constructive problem solving”. Having Economics adapted from the Western culture, it made corporates to start a discuss openly. And my NGOs tried to do that… it’s just that.. they say we “promote” open discussion and critical thinking, but somehow personal relationship seems to be more important to resolve all of this. 

I have a tendency of having a good people skills and closing the deal. I thank my TCKness for that. 

But my biggest issue is relationship with my colleagues who have issues with inferior feelings or strong need of approval. I can feel their need and characteristics, getting all the credit. But somehow I end up not caring about them. 

And it all starts with me having opinion or giving options and analysis on the issues and resolutions. They consider it as I consider them like a colleague, not boss or whatever they are. I didn’t quite understand this part yet. 

Guess I will have to find a way to get along with them. But that was when I learned that I am cut into one person project, (loves distinct and clear task distribution) and am not afraid to speak out my opinion. 

Thinking back, my TCKness has helped me to think in depth with a vast perspective. But still, work culture of Korea is a huge challenge. It is a place where human being lives.

But it is a mistery why they want to show working hard by overtime working and having joint project with too many people. 

Seriously.. why would getting other’s approval so important? Wouldn’t the result compensate them? 

I have given a thought about what I should do. But came up with a solution that I am not going to change my actions. I think showing respect but speaking out my opinion when it’s necessary is enough for me. Itself is difficult already..:/ 

But your input is always welcome! 

Halloween Day or Hollo-ween day?

<Past and present of Halloween Day >

30 October has special meaning for everyone. For me, it was a day when I get to dress up as something/one else and mingle with friends and loved ones collecting candies. Counting the numbers and talking about the tour till the basket is almost full makes me smile.

For some, it’s a special reason for them to   dress up and party. I have no idea how kids are doing these days, cuz I did hear things got more unsecure. Anyway, today, I am going to talk about Halloween day in Korea. 

<Halloween Day in Korea>

Korea did not have Halloween Day. Thus, the concept at first was bit tricky to people. So how people took it was “a special day when people dress up and party, or day for candy”. I still remember when  what “trick or treat” meant was proudly explained by English teacher. 

Let’s touch the basics. How is it celebrated by the facilities?!

–  English institutions: It’s a huge day, cuz the institutions wants to make sure that the parents feel like their children have experienced “western atmosphere”. 

– Clubs, Theme parks: special theme day and extra income day for the club, and lots of hook ups and promotion photos! 

– Some close friends: dress up and have cake and have small party 

– others; non 

As a person who loves Halloween, it is so boring  and too materialistic. Besides, they all dress all alike. I miss the good old Halloween Day.

The deeply embedded Korean mindset, “han and jeong” from one of TCKs view 

-Deeply embedded jeong and han-

Korea has a unique culture. It has a concept called “jeong(정)” and “han(한)” which deeply embedded in everyone. Jeong is how people care for each other. It may seem like crossing lines, but if you think of the elders who used to live in small town, you can imagine what jeong is. And han is a what makes people suffer and get angry without experiencing it. This feeling goes towards Japan back in Japanese colonization. Up to now, so many people are more interested in Korea vs Japan match. 

-time is changing-

When Jeong and Han was common to people, there was no discrimination or bullying. However, since the society changed, people started to adopt Korean version of western mindset style. For Korea, it was “us” or non. So for that reason, the concept was bit difficult to understand. So it kind of came down as “selfishness” (Of course for some who has a strong tendency of selfishness, they were natural at it). Now there are so many campaigns saying we should consider others first, such as people with disabilities, children, elders, and women who are pregnant. It’s bit sad how it has to be addressed as a part of ensuring ones rights. But it is what it is. 

– Is Han and Jeong for TCKs too-

As a TCK myself, I have literally spent my childhood abroad where American English was mainly spoken. I was exposed to English speaking environment so that I had trouble relearning Korean and its culture. 

I did try to be friends with the Koreans who came to International school later on. But we had so many differences. It is understandable considering that it’s their first time living abroad. But what I failed to understand was how they are lable people by their nationality and how powerful country they are from. And they always had to be in clique of Koreans. I learned that some Koreans can take leading role in discrimination. For me, I didn’t like how they don’t see people by who they are. So I ended up hanging out with my old friends who were from everywhere. 

So long story short, I still have trouble grasping the whole concept of han and jeong. I can’t feel more emotionally detached when listening to conversation about Korea winning or loosing Japan. Nor how Korean got robbed abroad and so on. It’s my personal task to feel emotionally attached to my passport country. Somehow I find it difficult because I still have soar feelings and losses to Korea. Nevertheless, I finally found the word and concept close to Han and Jeong. Will I have empathy on it? I am not sure. But I will try as it is what embracing is about. 

Chuseok, the Thanksgiving Day of Korea -1 

What do you think of Thanks Giving Day? Some would have a smile on them remembering of their family gatherings and happy moments. 

Chuseok is simply a Thanksgiving Day of Korea.It used to be one of the most important days followed by the New Years Day. Back then, it was a time when people wished for prosperity and protection from the ancients from then till the end of the year. And it was when the harvest season was, so people had no problem sharing food with each other. The following is the picture of the old day’s Chuseok. 

Tae Jun Park archive, 1967

However, It wasn’t long since people started to go visit their families during Chuseok. As the Government has included one more day before and after Chuseok, people started to go visit the elders house since 1989. 

But it doesn’t mean that people travel nearby to visit their family. It was an era of modernization and manufacturing companies. So many people were coming to cities, and country side was coping with the changes causing mang problems such as lack of transportations and so on. Back then, the price of the vehicle was extremely expensive and somewhat rich people could own. So ticketing during Chuseok was an enormous project. And having no cell phones added up to the sitaution. The following pictures are people trying to book a ticket. 

People coming to take a bus, 1967 

People waiting for ticketing to start, 1969

Waiting for ticket booth to open, 1979 

Trucks provided to lessen the transportation shortage ,1970

People standing in line for ticketing, 1988

Would heading home be more faster? No way.It would’ve been different in the early 60s and 70s, but 80s was a different times. It was when everyone started to have cars. 

People stuck in traffic Jam, 1987

Traffic jam during Chuseok, 2016(MK News) 

Compared to these day’s Chuseok traffic jam, it seems the same. But trust me.. It is not traffic jam. It is more of a parking lot.

Unlike back then, we have train, subway, airplanes. So if you don’t like the crowd and waiting/standing on the road, there always is airplane. They are expensive but more convinient in so many ways. 

Nevertheless the hardship of “going home”, there is always a bliss of family gathering and lots of food shared with the loved ones. 

4 Generations on the commemoration ceremony, 1970s

As we can see from the obove photos, Chuseok is an important holidays of Korea and has lots of meanings for us. 

However, just like everyholidays (For instance, Christmas Day), the meaning and tradition changes as time goes by. I will continue at the next post about it. 

Thanks for reading! 

* Source of the photos without citations:

The hot-trend “Healing” 

Usually “Healing” means the process of recovering from a scar or bad condition. However in Korea, it’s more of process for one to recover from heartbreaking and deep scar left at one’s feelings.

People use it everywhere. Even book or food can be called ‘healing food’. I get to think it’s making sense to Koreans as not many people really think deeply. Sometimes, having an outlet is okay. But replacing materialism and doing a meaningless behaviors as an ongoing outlet will be just a terrible idea. The problem will not be solved.

Lots of people confuse “healing” with “humanitarian” and “aesthetics”. One of my duties at my work is to make a curriculum and conduct a capacity building program. However… one thing I had to face was people calling a merely aesthetic topics as a easily explained aesthetics. It simply doesn’t make sense.

Once I lost my words when my coworkers said “humanitarian and aesthetics” is the same with color therapy. I got to learn that not many people are familiar with the concept “humanitarian or aesthetics”. No wonder it was so difficult to explain why the aesthetics is the answer to burn out syndrome. I even gave a comparison to food, but didn’t work.

Well… People have their own world based on their experience. I  don’t blame them. I eventually got to accept who they are and blame myself for judging others world. But thanks to them, I got to know why people consider “healing” an humanitarian and aesthetics. For them, it is the best and most cool outlet.

So if you ever come to Korea, hope you understand the concept of “healing”. Cuz it still startles me.