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How Koreans Celebrate Their 70th Birthday

Last Sunday, my husband’s third uncle celebrated his 70th birthday known as 고희 (gohui) or 칠순 (chilsun) in Korea. Korean seniors have three special birthdays to celebrate: 환갑 (hwanggap or the 60th birthday), 고희/칠순 (gohui/chilsun or the 70th birthday) and 팔순 (palsun or the 80th birthday). Traditionally, the 60th birthday was the one celebrated lavishly, since in the olden days, few people lived to be 60, but now that the average life expectancy in Korea has risen due to medical advancement and better quality of life, some Koreans don’t celebrate the 60th birthday anymore. Instead, the celebration is done on their 70th (or 80th) birthday.

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만우절: “April Fool’s Day” in SK

 

1Have you received or pulled a prank today? April 1st is April Fool’s Day, 만우절 in Korean. My husband woke up very early this morning, and I thought that he was planning to play a trick on me, but he was just watching the news. Perhaps, he got tired of playing tricks, because we have been pranking each other every 만우절 since we got married. I was tempted to turn off the water heater while he was taking a shower, but I remembered he has a cold. He’s taking a nap right now and I’m thinking of drawing a mustache on his face. A friend is coming later. When she sees him, I bet the reaction will be gut-busting! =)


Sindangdong Tteokbokki Town

One of the most popular street food in South Korea is 떡볶이 (tteokbokki), a spicy snack that consists of soft and chewy 떡 (tteok or rice cake), 오뎅 (odeng or fish cake) and 고추장 (gochujang or sweet red chili paste).

Anywhere in Korea, you will surely find a store or a 포장마차 (pojangmacha or street vendor) that sells this snack, but the best place to enjoy spicy Korean rice cake stew is probably in 신당동 떡볶이 타운 (Sindangdong Tteokbokki Town) where tteokbokki is said to have originated.

Last Monday, my husband and I, together with some friends, visited Sindangdong Tteokbokki Town.

It’s just a few minutes away from Dongdaemun, so if you happen to be in this famous shopping area in Seoul and you want to grab a bite to eat, Tteokbokki Town is the right place for you.


Much Ado about White Day

Today is White Day, 화이트데이 (hwaiteu dei) in Korean. White Day is another special day for couples celebrated on March 14th in some countries in Asia including South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan. White Day is similar to Western-style Valentine’s Day wherein men give chocolates, candies, flowers or gifts to their ladylove.


I Threw Soda in Ajumma’s Face and I’m Not Sorry

 

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Cargo 127: Craft Beer and Pub Grub Perfection in Itaewon

One of the biggest culinary trends to hit South Korea over the past couple years is that of craft beer.  Subsequently, microbreweries and small gastropubs have been mushrooming throughout Seoul, particularly in the neighborhoods of Itaewon, Gyeongnidan and Haebangchon.

Each of these watering holes offers up their own specialties, all of which are nice alternatives of tasteless Cass, watery OB and the rest of Korea's substandard brews.  One of the best places to get in on the craft action is Cargo 127 in the heart of Itaewon.

Jong-ga Dining at Jeonju's Hakindang House

It's rare, if not impossible, that you will find yourself having a bad Korean meal in Korea.  It just doesn't happen.  But every so often, usually when it's least expected, you will experience culinary nirvana.  It will be a meal that proves to be unique from any other you've had in the past, one that changes you, one that finds you awake the following morning wondering if it was all just a dream.

It might be a plate of steaming mandu made with fresh kimchi at a street stall on a frigid winter day. Or a perfectly cooked jeon, served up with a bowl of homemade makgeolli in a back-alley hangout.  It might be consumed alone, with a new lover, or a group of old friends.  The meal might be a new gastronomical concept, unfamiliar and exciting, or may be Grandma's secret recipe, instantly recognizable and comforting.


Why Drunk Ajossis Scare Me

My husband always tells me not to get involved in other people’s business, especially among Koreans.


Who's Who: Korean Ghosts, Goblins, and Gumiho

With Halloween festivities in full swing here in Seoul, it's hard not to be in the spirit.  Jack-o-lantern cutouts plaster the windows of restaurants, costumes have been donned, and posters in the city's nightlife districts advertise Halloween-themed dance parties.  Vampires, zombies, and mad scientists wander the streets, snapping photos with other cleverly costumed folks.  And while Halloween would not be complete without these classic characters, it would not be Korea without a few of their own mythological creatures mingling in the mix.

But who are these creatures, you ask?  Read on for a who's who guide to Korea's most famous ghosts, goblins, and monsters.


Seoul's Salsa Scene in Full Swing

The excitement is palpable, as it always is just before any dance competition.  Upbeat Latin tunes echo through a hall of dressing rooms that buzz with giddy conversations in a number of languages. Inside, flamboyantly dressed men ensure that every tassel of their costumes are in place while their female partners apply thick eyeliner and bright lipstick.  Nearby, nervous teams rehearse choreographed moves a final time before the show begins.

It is a scene one might expect to see in Bogota, Havana, or even New York City.  But this is Seoul, South Korea, an unexpected locale for a salsa competition.  Yet, Latin dance fever has taken over one of Asia's biggest cities and this year's Asia Latin Music & Salsa Festival proves it.

Dancers from all corners of the globe have flocked to Seoul to compete for the $11,000 first prize and refuse to return to their home countries without bringing their best to the stage.

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