Showing posts from December, 2012

Happy New Year 2013, Goodbye 2012!

Happy New Year! 새해 복 많이 받으세요!
 It’s hard to believe that 2012 is already in its last hours (if you are in the USA, that is). Sometimes when you look back on a year you find yourself thinking, “I accomplished nothing.” That’s never really true though, regardless of whether you reached your New Year’s resolution.
Truthfully, I forget what my resolutions were last year. Or if I even made any, but either way this year was not without accomplishments and highlights.

Kpop Fridays: December Playlist

It's the last Friday of December already! Which is also, of course, the last Friday of 2012. There were really only three songs from this month to feature in this post. So, I added a personal favourite from this year as the fourth.

December seems a bit slower for music releases and a great number of the Kpop songs that came out this month were Christmas-y ones. I'm not the biggest fan, but there's usually one or two I do like. Anyway, this isn't a post about my opinion of Christmas music! :)

This month's songs are: Sunny Hill - Goodbye to Romance Lee Seung Gi - Invite Orange Caramel (ft. NU'EST) - Dashing Through the Snow in High Heels
And since it is the last Friday of 2012: BoA - The Shadow

Happy Christmas / Holidays!

I can't believe it's already Christmas! I've arrived in Austin, TX for the holidays. I actually have been unable to do anything exciting due to a post-finals cold, but I'm finally starting to feel better. My Dad's Great Danes have been keeping me company while I recover.

I've been loving J Rabbit's (제이레빗) version of "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow." Always a favourite Christmas song of mine, this version is so lovely! The combination of the instrumentals and her sweet vocals are perfection. The video is pretty cute too, mostly ecause they are so cheerful while playing/singing.

Happy Holidays!

Past Travels: Photos from Paris, France

This summer I had a chance to go to Paris for the first time in 15 years with my brother. It was an amazing trip and the city genuinely stunning; we stayed in a beautiful hotel in Saint Germain. I am still going to say that walking is the best way to see the city, we walked just about everywhere. Sure we got lost a few times, but sometimes getting a little lost is the best part of traveling.

 Taken on our last night, the sunset on the Seine is one of the most gorgeous sights to see. The glass roof belongs to the Grand Palais.

Studying and practicing Korean

I am the sort that needs to study a little everyday when learning a language. These are a couple awesome online sources that can help you practice and expand your vocabulary a bit.

This site offers tons of languages, including Korean. The idea is that you have a 'garden' of words. You plant each word, harvest and water it. There are several courses to choose from at different levels. This site also requires you to type in Korean, so make sure you add the language to your computer. It's great for learning and memorizing new words rather than phrases or grammar. It is free. Here is a link to the Korean courses.

The Korea Times Hangeul Flashcards
These were created by the newspaper to help foreigners moving to Korea learn the language. They feature tons of everyday phrases, occupations, numbers, etc. There are also some relating to customs and food! Extremely handy, there are now over 600 of them. This tumblr is a good database of 1-632.

Kpop Fridays: 클래지콰이 - 함께라면 / Clazziquai Project - Can't Go on My Own

Clazziquai Project released their new single on Dec 4 titled "Can't Go on My Own" featuring 김진표(Kim Jin Pyo, he's the rapper). Clazziquai Project is not really "kpop" as they are considered an indie group, but nonetheless their new song is catchy with a quirky, fun video. It’s perfect background music to have on while studying for finals.

Kpop and PSY continue to gain popularity in the USA

Kpop is continuing to gain popularity in the USA after PSY's "Gangnam Style." PSY's video remains the most viewed video on YouTube. The singer has made several appearance on popular TV shows including the "Today Show." PSY is not the first as South Korean companies and singers have hosted concerts over the past few years firmly giving Kpop a foot in the US market.

Places to go: Changdeokgoong Palace and Huwon

창덕궁과 후완 Changdeokgoong Palace and Huwon was built as a secondary palace in 1405 as a place for Kings to rest. The palace was burned down during the Japanese invasion after the royal family fled. In 1611 the palace was restored and as of 1997 is now a Unesco World Heritage site.
What most caught my attention was the garden:
The garden had formerly been called ‘Bukwon’ and ‘Geumwon,’ but was renamed ‘Biwon’ after King Kojong came into power. The garden was kept as natural as possible and was touched by human hands only when absolutely necessary. Buyongjeong, Buyongji, Juhabru, Eosumun, Yeonghwadang, Bullomun, Aeryeonjeong, and Yeongyeongdang are some of the many pavilions and fountains that occupy the garden. (KTO)
The 300-year-old tree in the one garden also sounds pretty. Palaces are amongst my favourite places to go when traveling. As a former history major I can’t help but get excited at walking the same halls so many important people walked centuries before me.
The palace offers a var…

PSY, Kpop and tourism

The Korean Tourism Organization (KTO) is linking an increase in tourism to Kpop and, most recently, PSY's Gangnam Style. In fact, KTO's US branch did a small survey with 200 Americans in NYC and LA. Results showed that 60% wanted to go to Gangnam after watching the music video.

Check out the full article, "Tourism industry is learning to adapt" from Korea JoongAng Daily.

To offer a quick summary: Although the number of visitors has risen, the issue is most are not returning for another trip. Tour agencies in South Korea, it seems, are now looking to re-examine their offerings. Too many offering the same tours. However, businesses are starting to add new ideas even if the tourism industry themselves is not. Story-telling is even examined as a major attraction since many locations have been made famous through dramas. People like to feel a part of a story.

“If Korea wants to mature as a tourist destination, it has to pay attention to the current trend,” says Choi Kyu…

Kpop Fridays: 시크릿 / Secret - Talk That

Hyosung, Jieun, Zinger, and Sunhwa of girl group, Secret released their latest music video "Talk That" on Dec 3. Secret is a favourite for their vintage-style videos and catchy music. Their new single is no exception, with gorgeous sets reminiscent of their “Starlight, Moonlight” video. Though this one is darker and not cutesy at all.

Be sure to check out the music video here.

Places to go! Seoul Children's Grand Park

I am the sort that loves cute things and places, so I cannot explain how excited I was when I realized that the 서울 어린이대공원 Seoul Children's Grand Park is only one stop away from 건국. According to Google maps, it is entirely possible to walk there, should only take about 15 minutes. I'm always up for walking, so that sounds feasible to me!

From the Frommer's day by day guidebook:

A huge complex, this family park includes hiking trails, a botanical garden, a zoo, a small amusement park with rides good for smaller children, and an outdoor stage. Over half of the area is green space, perfect for kids to run around.

Obviously, I am not traveling with kids, nor am I a kid (debatable to some), but I love places like this. The trails, botanical garden, music fountain and zoo are what I most want to see. I love zoos, the last time I went to one was the Austin Zoo down in Texas around last Christmastime, I kinda want to go again... I will have to see who I drag along with me! It's…

Book Haul: books on Seoul/South Korea

With an official departure date and less than three months to go I decided to buy a couple of guidebooks for Seoul and South Korea.

I have to admit my local Barnes & Noble had a very limited selection of guide books for South Korea. I was disappointed that my favourite DK Eyewitness Travel doesn't have one for either. I had their Paris guide when I went this summer, was amazing and extremely helpful.

Seoul day by day - Frommer's
South Korea - Insight Guides
Living Abroad in South Korea - Jonathan Hopfner (Moon)

Native Speaker by Chang-Rae
This is a fictional novel that was recommended by the program I am going with. I figure I love to read and the summary captured me, so why not? One of their other recommendations was an amazing book (non-fiction), Still Life with Rice by Helie Lee.
Description from the back of the book:
Korean American Henry Park is "surreptitious, B+ student of life, illegal alien, emotional alien, Yellow peril: neo-American, stranger, follower, traito…