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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.

Getting Into the Halloween Spirit, Seoul Style

Halloween isn't a traditional holiday here in Korea but over the past decade or so, it has begun to slowly seep into the nation's culture.  In Seoul, decorations can occasionally be spotted in store fronts and costumes can be purchased at super-centers like E-Mart and Home Plus.  Kindergartners go trick-or-treating at their English hagwons and bars offer cash prizes to the best-dressed vampire, cartoon character, or sexy bunny.

There are a number of events going on in Seoul around the 31st (including a Halloween booze cruise and a Freak or Treat Marathon) but if you're like me, you just can't wait until the end of the month to start celebrating.  Check my suggestions below on how to get into the Halloween spirit, Seoul style.

First Gay Marriage in South Korea Causes a Stir

 


The Dilemma of Giving Gifts in South Korea

What’s in a brand name? 


Busan Slut Walk Sat. Aug. 31, 6-7 PM, Seomyeon

TONIGHT! Busan Slut Walk Sat. Aug. 31, 6-7 PM, Seomyeon
This flyer was created by the event's organizers: Don't Do That


Exploring the Hidden Market Streets of Euljiro

Before the days of discount supermarkets and department stores, markets were the primary locales for shopping, trading, and gossiping in Korea’s major cities.  Sadly, due to rapid modernization and an increase in more convenient shopping facilities over the past few decades, traditional markets have continuously lost patronage and are quickly diminishing in size and number.  While efforts are being made to preserve them, citizens predict that they will cease to exist in the next twenty years.

Although Seoul is abundant with must-see destinations and attractions, few of them provide an authentic glimpse into Korean culture as well as the city’s traditional markets.   Recently, I went on a self-guided walking tour through the maze of markets in Euljiro, central Seoul, for an insightful look into the daily lives of the Korean working class.

Korean Mail-order-bride Syndicate Caught in the Philippines

A fellow blogger, Chris Palasz of An American in Korea sent me this news link:

Philippine authorities have rescued 29 women after busting a mail-order bride business and arresting two South Koreans and their four local partners, a police official said Thursday.

Police raided a house Wednesday in Bacoor city near Manila used by the syndicate and found the women, including a 16-year-old girl, said Chief Superintendent Reginald Villasanta, executive director of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission.

The syndicate collects thousands of dollars in fees from Korean men seeking Filipino wives, telling them falsely that the money will go to the women’s families, Villasanta said.

The Philippine embassy in Seoul has reported receiving many complaints from Filipino womenabused by their Korean husbands and whose marriages have ended in abandonment or divorce.

It said that the women, who were given false information about their husbands’ family backgrounds, were wed through illegal “marriage brokers” in the Philippines, the embassy said in a statement.

Villasanta said the police were tipped off by victims. He did not give details of the police operation.

He said the suspects will be charged with violating the human trafficking law, which carries a 20-year prison term, and another law that prohibits mail-order brides, punishable by six years in prison.

Read more here: www.bellinghamherald.com

I am sharing this news with my FKWL readers to warn Filipinas and other foreigners who are planning to marry a Korean to be cautious of illegal matchmakers (or all matchmakers, in general).

Marrying someone from a different country OUT OF LOVE is already difficult. What more if you marry someone from a different country who is a total stranger, someone whom you met through a matchmaking agency and have known after only a couple of days?

In the Philippines, matchmaking is illegal. I have discussed this in a previous post, Why I Married a Korean. Let me reiterate the Anti-Mail-Order Bride Law (Republic Act 6955 Section 2):

It is hereby declared unlawful:

(a) For a person, natural or juridical, association, club or any other entity to commit, directly or indirectly, any of the following acts:

(1) To establish or carry on a business which has for its purpose the matching of Filipino women for marriage to foreign nationals either on a mail-order basis or through personal introduction;

(2) To advertise, publish, print or distribute or cause the advertisement, publication, printing or distribution of any brochure, flier, or any propaganda material calculated to promote the prohibited acts in the preceding subparagraph;

(3) To solicit, enlist or in any manner attract or induce any Filipino woman to become a member in any club or association whose objective is to match women for marriage to foreign nationals either on a mail-order basis or through personal introduction for a fee.

Though it is illegal in my country, Korean matchmakers find ways to scout for brides, mostly from poor families. These women are promised an affluent life in South Korea, but often fall victims to domestic violence or end up having unhappy marriages.


High Kicks and Wood Breaking at Arirang Taekwondo

When I graduated from high school, I thought my days of field trips were long gone.  So, when I was told at the beginning of the semester that my Sogang University classmates and I would be participating in an off-campus "cultural experience" this past week, I got a little bit excited, mostly because it would be a day off from studying.  Considering I've lived in Korea for about four years now, I figured we'd be going to a museum or on an outing to a palace, things I've done many times before.  So, I was surprised and somewhat hesitant when I was told that we would be learning Taekwondo.

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