Thursday, June 25, 2009


Last week we had another cultural event. We wore traditional Korean costume (hanbok) while learning Korean tea ceremony. For those of you who are familiar with Japanese tea ceremony, it's the same idea but MUCH simpler, like you actually get around to drinking the tea in a timely fashion (hehe). The tea master explained everything really well including what the colors and patterns on the hanbok meant. I really loved my hanbok and didn't want to give it back! It's completely spacious (as roomy as grandma's mu-mu, but WAAAAAY cooler). We also learned how to sit properly in Korean style, the men had a bit of acrobatics to do (frog position?) but the women's was pretty simple - left knee down, right knee down, done. Like I've expressed before, any activity that combines learning with food is a good deal!

Prof. Groen seems pretty confident in AU student ability to make good tea:

Looking very lovely:

Tea master showing the lady's bow:
Family photo:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


It was singularly the most exciting sports experience of my life, well, aside from when the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series year, but that is more of a religious experience than a sporting one.

Wednesday of last week we where lucky enough to attend a World Cup qualifying match between the Korean National team, and the Iranian National team. And although the game ended in a 1-1 tie, what a tie it was. First off, we got the "hook up" in term of seats. To start off with they were free! They were in class one seat, which are the ones closet to the field, and, they were free! Basically or director got a handful of 50,000 won (about $45, which is crazy expensive for sports tickets here) seats and passed them around the office. We actually had too many tickets, so many in fact that we were able to sell one and still have enough tickets to give to all of our friends.

If, you have never been to a World Cup soccer game before than I am sure you have never experience a world cup cheering section. It is truly I sight it behold and even more of a sight to hear (I don't think that latter part of that sentence makes any sense, but you get the idea). Here is a picture of the South Korean cheering section:

Now, while this particular section was LOUD throughout the entire day, even they could not match the eruption that occurred when South Korea tied it up in the second half. I am proud to say that we where very much a part of this madness, along with the cheering section, screaming in general, and especially when the scored. In he end I lost my voice and made a new friend. Me and my new friend:

Here are a couple of more pictures from the game:

Monday, June 22, 2009


That's me and a Republic of South Korea solider at the Joint Security Area of the DMZ. The JSA an the area of the DMZ where troops from the two Korea stand, at times literally, face-to-face. In the above photo I am standing in a room that straddles the little strip of raised concrete (it is really no more than the height of a curb) that constitutes the border between north and south, and I am actually standing on the North Korean side. So, there you go, me in North Korea. Leader from the north and south use this little, to be honest cramped, and unadorned room to conduct talks, and there are two troop (the one I am in the photo with and one other) that are permanently posted in the room. They do not move They do not talk. You are not allowed to touch them, nor are you allowed to walk behind them. They are kind of like the Queen's Royal Guard, but with 1970's sunglasses in place of funny furry hats. Oh, and the glasses I am wear are mine by the way, not sure what that says about my sense of style but...

This is a larger picture of the JSA. The large building looming in the rear of the photo on the top is Panmon Hall or Panmungak, and it is the main building on the North Korean side. The photo on the bottom is of Freedom House as viewed from the North Korean side. And, no I did not take this picture. Freedom house is used by the ROK to conduct meetings and exchanges, and currently houses liaison houses for both the North and the South. Also, the color of the buildings is worth mentioning--all the blue building are controlled by the ROK/UN/US and all the silver building are controlled by the North.

Some of the "face-to-face" Guards at the JSA, and the famous Bridge of No Return, which is, as I am sure you can tell by the photo, no-longer in use.

The DMZ in reality a pretty intense place. There is a sense that while no one wants to fight (and by fight I mean shoot each other, because everyone, and I mean everyone is armed) they would not hesitate to do so. While I was on the tour I had the chance to speak briefly to one of the US troops that is stationed in the DMZ and ask him what he thought of the tour groups being there. All he said was that he used to act as a guard on for the tour groups that came, and that he does not anymore.

Sure enough there is a real danger going to the DMZ, but these is also a certain sense of theatrics to the behavior of everyone there. This is true especially among the tour guides who constantly remind you "not to look or smile at the NK troops because they will use your picture for propaganda." And, "you can not wear the ripped blue jeans that you people (you people?) like to wear, because the NK will tell the people that Americans cannot afford pants without holes." All and all, if you get a chance go! It is well worth it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hanok - Korean Folk Village!

Jang Seung - totem poles that protect the villiage. The characters on each represent heaven, earth, and the like. I had an amazing time at the folk village! But we had to meet quite early and I was only running on a few hours of sleep...

A traditional house. The traditional heating system of Korea was "hot stones". The stones were placed throughout the home under the floor. Heat generated from cooking was harnessed to heat up the stones which sent warmth throughout the house. Today, the same idea exists using hot water pipes that run under the floors.

This was great! We watched a show with band members and nongak nol-ii - the guys with the streamers on their heads. They did some cool tricks. We also watched a man on a tightrope. He looked ancient but bounced on the rope like a 5 year old.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

a bit about the internship

Sookmyung Women’s University (SWU) is Korea’s first women’s university started in 1906 by order of the Empress Sunheon. The mission of the school is to prepare its graduates with “S” Leadership, which is comprised of spirit, skill, strength, and service. Of course a part of this mission to create Korea’s future leaders includes internationalization. The Office of International Affairs at SWU runs year-long, semester-long, and short-term summer school exchanges.

This is the first summer that the Office of International Affairs has accepted an international graduate intern and is therefore still flexible on the position’s duties. They hope to continue the position and are using my internship as a starting foundation for what the position should include in the future. This summer, I have short-term and long-term projects. Short-term projects include: weekly preparations for the summer program’s cultural events, website updates, and editing of memorandums and flyers for the summer students. Long-term projects consist of: compiling experience reports from other international interns for Sookmyung’s brochures and research for the improvement of their international programs design and marketing. This past Friday, I was in charge of the student orientation for the three week summer program. I am also expected to fully participate in the off-hour cultural events (which is great!).

Basically, my internship is great because not only are they flexible in making sure that I am doing substantial work that is interesting for me, but also because they feed me – a lot.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Oh! I forgot!

Also check this out:

It is a link to a preview video of a stage show that we, went to this past week. Yes they really do cook! With fire! And, real knives and everything.


when a Korean guy meets an American girl

This was a hot and muggy Sunday morning. Friend and I attended an AU-couple wedding in Incheon. It was held in a huge wedding hall and went with two other wedding in the same time.
The wedding had two part, western style and Korean style. The western style is nothing new than what we thought. After the western part, the groom and bride change their western cloth into Korean traditional cloth "hanbok".

The lunch was provided in a huge food court with cafe-styled way. We can realize that alcohole is not strictly controlled as in US. Every table has a bottle of traditional Korean alcohole "Soju" which is easy to reach by even a ten years old kid. Btw, the food there is awesome and eye-dazzling. Korean food, western food, Japanese food or Chinese food all you can eat.

What the couple was doing in the phote above is their traditional way of saying thank you to attendees. They visited and bowed table by table, from senior to junior. After visited and thanked every table, then they can have a little bit food. After the lunch, we were invited to groom's restaurant to have anthor feast. It was a shame that our stomach had ready filled with those cafe food.

That was an interesting experience to see how Western and Korean way of wedding mix together into a modern Korean way of wedding. Unfortunately that we are not allow the see their traditional part of wedding ritual. That was basically between family members.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Guess I Will Start It Off.

When I first started thinking about writing this I face a bit of a conundrum: do I write specifically about my internship, or more about the experiences that I am...ahh, experiencing while in Korea. I have decided to lean heavier to the later rather than the former. And sorry for using conundrum in a sentence.

As I write I am two day deep into my second week in Korea, and according to the U-curve theory of culture shock it should still be in the honeymoon phase of my time abroad, and I suppose that despite my travels in Asia, which are fairly considerable (I have spent time in Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, and Taiwan), I am. Korea, not surprisingly, is its own country, and I am still a little wide eyed as I walk around.

But, before I get carried away, allow me to get some of the basics out of the way, such as why I am here for example. I am a American University/Korean University Dual Degree candidate, and I am currently interning at the Asian Pacific Women's Information of Sookmyung University. The APWINC is a non-profit who operates under the APEC umbrella, and who's goal is the empowerment of women through ICT. What APWINC is really trying to accomplish is the spread of educational resources and economic opportunities to women in rural areas, and particularly in LDCs. What I am going to be doing here is trying to craft a policy proposal that APWINC is going to present to the APEC that tries to accomplish this goal while taking into consideration the various wants and need of the APEC 21 member economies.

Think that is about it for now.