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Bulgoksa Temple – 불곡사 (Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The temple courtyard at Bulgoksa Temple in Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located in the heart of Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do, Bulgoksa Temple is a compact temple that is undergoing a bit of a renovation.

When you first approach the temple up a steep road that is located next to terrace upon terrace of parked cars, you’ll first encounter one of the most unique Iljumun Gates in all of Korea (and that’s not hyperbole, either). Looking up at the roof, you’ll notice the bodies of wooden snakes as they lay intertwined with the gate. On one end of the gate is a large turtle, and at the other is a grinning tiger that looks down on you.

Just a little further up the path, and you’ll see one of the smaller sized Boje-ru pavilions straight ahead. To get to the compact temple courtyard, you’ll have to pass under this pavilion; but before you do, have a look to your right at the ancient, and uniquely designed, pagoda.

Having passed through the pavilion, you’ll emerge on the other side to see a handful of halls. The one that lies straight ahead is the smaller sized main hall. The exterior walls are adorned with a beautiful set of Palsang-do murals. As for inside this hall, the statue inside is truly the highlight of the entire temple. Housed inside this hall is a statue of Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy) that dates back to the Unified Silla Dynasty, around 850 to 900 A.D. Birojana-bul is seated and he holds his hand in the Diamond Fist mudra. He has a serene looking smile, and he’s seated on a lotus pedestal. This statue is Treasure #436. The rest of the main hall is filled with a guardian murals and an all white-clad mural of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).

To the right of the main hall is the Myeongbu-jeon hall. The exterior walls are painted with Judgment murals and an intricate Dragon Ship of Wisdom mural. As for the contents of this hall, a golden statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) is backed by a fiery nimbus. On both sides, Jijang-bosal is joined on the altar by a painting of all ten Kings of the Underworld. And between the Myeongbu-jeon and the main hall is a bell pavilion with herbs and flowers growing in a make-shift garden.

The final two halls at Bulgoksa Temple lie to the left of the main hall. The longer of the two is the Gwaneeum-jeon with an extremely elaborate 1,000 armed statue of Gwanseeum-bosal inside. Joining this statue inside the hall are a pair of guardian murals; also, they were sprucing up the hall by painting the exterior walls. Tucked in between the main hall and the Gwaneeum-jeon is the Samseong-gak. One of the exterior walls is adorned with a realistic orange mural of a tiger just as you’re about to enter this shaman hall. Inside this hall are three rather traditional paintings of the three most popular deities in Korean shamanism: Chilseong (The Seven Stars), Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), and Dokseong (The Recluse).

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Changwon Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take bus #801. After five stops, you’ll need to get off at the 사파 동성 아파트 (가음정공원) Stop. Walk along the road towards the south and the Bulgoksa Temple intersection for about 5 minutes. At the intersection, turn right and walk for another 5 minutes. Eventually, you’ll see the temple’s parking lot to your right.

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. The two highlights of this temple that really stand out are the Iljumun Gate that’s adorned with elaborate wooden carvings and the historic stone statue of Birojana-bul. Besides these two highlights, the elaborate golden statues of Jijang-bosal and Gwanseeum-bosal stand out. And with its central location in Changwon, it can make for a pretty relaxing, and beautiful break from the daily grind.


The colourful, yet highly original, Iljumun Gate at Bulgoksa Temple.


The grinning tiger to the left on the Iljumun Gate.


And the blue dragon just to the tiger’s right.


A good look at the compact Boje-ru Pavilion.


To its right is this uniquely designed pagoda that looks like it might have once been a stupa.


The Myeongbu-jeon hall to the right of the main hall.


The Dragon Ship of Wisdom that’s painted on its exterior wall.


Inside is this fiery statue of Jijang-bosal.


Joining Jijang-bosal are wall-to-wall paintings of the Ten Kings of the Underworld.


Between the main hall and the Myeongbu-jeon is the diminutive bell pavilion.


The golden latticework of the main hall.


Just one of the Palsang-do murals that adorns the exterior walls of the main hall.


The ancient statue of Birojana-bul that sits inside the main hall.


To the left of the main hall is the Gwaneeum-jeon and the smaller sized Samseong-gak.


The painting of the life-like tiger on the exterior walls of the Samseong-gak  just as you are about to enter it.


 The extremely elaborate and ornate statue of Gwanseeum-bosal inside the Gwaneeum-jeon.


Has Plastic Surgery Become an Insatiable Desire?

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I have lived in South Korea working as an ESL Instructor for three years (at the time of writing this). One of the benefits of living in another country long-term is that you get to experience things first hand, not just reading about them through media outlets.

I’ve had the chance to learn about many aspects of Korean culture since arriving; from martial arts, to cultural nuances and expectations, and pop culture fads. It’s the last of these that made vivid the whole phenomenon of plastic surgery in South Korea.

The more I interacted with students (particularly middle school girls), saw advertisements on the streets, watched Korean movies, and everything in between, I began to realize that plastic surgery is an integral part of Korean society.

Take for instance, eyelid surgery. Something I’ve commented on a few times through blog and vlog. That is a wholly unique part of Asian culture. At very young ages, many Korean girls are not only contemplating the procedures, but in many cases heading out to have it done. It’s not just Korea though, as you should know by now. Throughout East and even South East Asia, this is an extremely common procedure.

I’ve had many conversations with YouTube viewers, and though the reasons for the procedure can vary, the prominent driving force is for aesthetic purposes.

In South Korea, facial plastic surgery is a soaring industry with procedures being done to eyes, noses, and jawlines in countless numbers. Body modification is not so popular, but I believe this will soon change.

South Korea is not alone though. In fact, there are medical tours run frequently into South Korea for purposes of cosmetic enhancements. Medical tours are essentially organized trips excursions to bring in patients from other countries seeking high-quality results for reasonable prices.

In fact, the waves of patients from nearby countries has become so common that clinics are now beginning to issue “face certificates” to patients so they can pass though immigration when going home.

Being from America, the concept of plastic surgery is by no means a foreign concept. Moreso, my home is next to Boca Raton, Florida. This is arguably one of the top contenders by any standard for sheer volume of plastic surgery.

Even more-moreso, the area where my home is has the highest concentration of Brazilians in the United States. Brazil is also one of the top plastic surgery nations in the world.  And I see it around my home as well.

For this reason, I wasn’t completely shocked to hear about the Brazilian guy who had plastic surgery to make him look more Asian. More specifically, Korean.

There are many points of view on the ‘whys’ and ‘why-nots’ of having plastic surgery done. It’s simply amazing how commonplace procedures have become these days. In cultures like America and South Korea, ones driven by Photshopped images and glitzy music videos, it becomes increasingly difficult for younger generations to escape the pressure of meeting the standard regardless of how altered or edited it may be.

Older generations too. Middle aged women and men alike are finding it hard not to go under the knife for their own reasons.

At this point, there’s really no ebb and flow of cosmetic surgery. Just ebb. It’s growing and being fueled. And growing and being fueled.

Has it become a new type of drug? Where one procedure begs the next. Is there a sweet spot where an individual is content with one or two procedures?

Here in South Korea, in other nearby countries, and countries in the West, South, and North…all signs are leading to the fact that it’s quite possibly becoming an insatiable desire.

The post Has Plastic Surgery Become an Insatiable Desire? appeared first on The Red Dragon Diaries.

the Red Dragon Diaries

ESL, Travel, and Judo!

5 Simple Things You Can Do To Impress Your Korean Friends

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If you’re living in or planning on visiting Korea, then you may have an opportunity to interact with some Korean people. If so, here are five ways you can make a great impression, even if you don’t speak Korean! If you study Korean now and want to supplement your Korean study with some extra real-life tips, then these should come in handy. Even if the only language you speak is English, you can incorporate the Korean concepts below into your conversation.

If you aren’t able to read Hangeul (Korean characters) yet, you’ll make your life a lot easier if you can read. There’s a free guide here, which teaches you how to read Korean in about 1 hour.


1. Clip Your Ramyeon

It’s hard to walk past any convenience store in Korea and not notice someone chowing down on some Korean cup ramyeon noodles. If you’ve ever cooked ramyeon in the cup yourself, you know that you need to cover the noodles back up after you’ve poured the hot water in. But there’s a big problem—the lid doesn’t always stay closed so nicely. What’s a convenience store dining connoisseur to do? Koreans will often take their wooden chopsticks out of the plastic, and clip them onto the lid to keep the heat in. Fast cooking plus style points!

2. Always Abbreviate

As you study Korean, you’ll notice that Koreans love to abbreviate words. Who has time for extra syllables?! For example, the word for a part-time job is 아르바이트 (arbeit). Koreans will usually just say 알바 (alba). Or, look at the Korean word 맥주 (mekju) which means beer. Have you ever witnessed the magic behind mixing 소주 (soju) and 맥주 (mekju)? If so, then you drank 소맥 (somek)! If you study these Korean words along with your regular Korean study, you’ll have an easier time talking in everyday Korean conversation.

3. Jovial Jokes

It’s often said that a person’s command of a language can be determined by how well he or she understands humor. Why not cut that learning curve down, and just go right to the source—jokes! If you study Korean jokes, you can use them to show how well you understand the meaning of the words in Korean. For example, you could ask, “Which country’s people are most known for their noses?” The answer is 멕시코 (Mexico). The final syllable in Mexico is 코(ko), which means “nose” in Korean. The sillier or lamer the jokes, the better!

4. Where Are You From?

One of the first things Koreans will likely ask you is “where are you from?” Usually they’ll try to say whatever they know about that area. But more importantly, where are they from? If you study Korean, it’s useful to learn the nine provinces and a few facts about them. For instance, 강원도 (Gangnwondo) has the best beef in all of Korea, known as 한우(hanwoo). The next time you meet someone from that area, suggest you go grab some hanwoo together sometime! Your friend is from 전라남도 (Jeollanamdo)? Well then he must really like 보성 (Boseong) green tea! Not only is this a great way to study Korean, but it’s also a way to demonstrate your interest in Korea.

5. Mimetic Mastery

Koreans often use a form of onomatopoeia called 의태어 (eu-tae-aw), which means “mimetic words”. This is simply a word that describes an action or movement. For example, Koreans may use the word 쨍쨍 (jjaeng-jjaeng) to describe how scorching hot it is outside. The words 쨍쨍(jjaeng-jjaeng) help more colorfully describe the feeling of the suns rays. We don’t use this in English, but it is very useful when you study Korean. You will almost certainly get a laugh whenever you use these!


Do you have any tips to be more distinctly Korean? If so, please leave a comment below!

Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series:

Korean lessons   *  Korean Phrases    *    Korean Vocabulary *   Learn Korean   *    Learn Korean alphabet   *   Learn Korean fast   *  Motivation    *   Study Korean  
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Asian Dream Cup 2014 : When Sport and Entertainment Go Together

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Retired South Korean soccer player Park Ji-sung through his JS Foundation …

All About Hangul Fonts

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Anyone whos studied Korean or lived in Korea even for a short time probab …

Send me your questions! GO! Billy Q&A (Ep. 3)

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안녕하세요! This week we've got a new episode of the Q&A series. You can expect to see a new Q&A video once a month, with regular grammar and expression videos for the remaining weeks.

If you have any questions of your own, feel free to send me a message either through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google, or anywhere you can find me, and it might be featured in the next episode. Your question can be about anything - Korean or not.

GO! Billy Q&A Episode 3

Are you just starting to learn Korean, or want a solid review of the basics? My new book "Korean Made Simple: A beginner's guide to learning the Korean language" is the book for you!

You can check the book out on my site here, or find it directly through Amazon and most online retailers.


 Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean





Incheon Denies all New EPIK Teachers!

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Incheon City in South Korea revoked the applications for ALL new EPIK teachers suddenly. More to follow? More information in the video above or in this thread!

The post Incheon Denies all New EPIK Teachers! appeared first on Evan and Rachel.



Frozen Friday: Korean Ice Cream Tasting! #1

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It’s Summer! It’s hot! So we’re bringing you Frozen Fridays! A weekly Korean Ice Cream taste test! Yay!

The post Frozen Friday: Korean Ice Cream Tasting! #1 appeared first on Evan and Rachel.

Study Your Korean Money

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As we head out each day to do our daily routine in Korea, we usually carry around a case filled with colorful paper. In addition to being lovely colors to admire, they can also be exchanged for goods and services all throughout the country. Pretty cool, right?

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably glanced down at the assortment of Korean won bills in your wallet, but never gave much thought to the actual meaning of them. But can they help you study Korean? It likely won’t help you pass the Korean proficiency test, but every bit helps. It may also help you want to study Korean since you’ll recognize more words and the everyday life content will be more familiar to you.

If you want to impress your Korean friends with fun facts while also being prepared to dominate any trivia game that mentions Korean money, then read on!

There are 4 different Korean won bills. They are 50,000 won, 10,000 won, 5,000 won, and 1,000 won. The bills get larger in size as they go up. The 5,000 won bill is slightly larger than the 1,000 won bill, and the 10,000 won bill is slightly larger than the 5,000 won bill.

We will start small and work our way up. Let the fun facts begin!

If you don’t study Korean and you can’t read Korean characters yet, you can learn them free in about one hour here.


₩1,000 (won)

Color: Blue

Size: 136 x 68mm

Front: 퇴계이황 Toegye Yi Hwang (1501 – 1570)

Yi Hwang was a famous Confucian scholar from the Joseon Dynasty (That’s the 500 year Confucian dynasty in Korea!) who was big into calligraphy and poetry. If you’re wondering who Toegye is, great question! That was his pen name. Yi Hwang was a busy guy.

Back: 계상정거도Gyesangjeonggeodo

In addition to being an impressively long name for a painting, the back side of the 1,000 won bill also represents a painting of Yi Hwang in Dosan Seowon (area of Korea). If you’ve ever visited Andong in Korea, then you were actually at present day Dosan Seowon!


₩5,000 (won)

Color: Orange

Size: 142 x 68mm

Front: 율곡이이 Yulgok Yi I (1536 – 1584)

Like Yi Hwang, Yi I (pronounced “yee-ee”) was also a mover and a shaker back in the 1500s. He attained fame as a Confucian scholar, and also flew under the radar with his pen name Yulgok.

Back: 초충도Chochungdo

On the back side of the 5,000 won note, you’ll see a painting by Shin Saimdang (Yi I’s mother) called “Insects and Plants” ( “Chochungdo” is the name of the painting). More on her in a bit.

₩10,000 (won)

Color: Green

Size: 146 x 68mm

Front: 세종대왕 Sejong the Great (1397 – 1450)

If you haven’t heard this 4th king of the Joseon Dynasty, then consider this the first of many times that you will! He is the one responsible for introducing Hangeul into Korean society.

Back: 혼천의Honcheonsigye

Since “sigye” means “clock” in Korean, we can call the picture on the back of this note the “Hocheon Clock”. HC is an astronomical clock that was made in 1669 and is still in existence today. If you’re ever sitting in your house and wondering what the position of the universe at any given time, then you’ll want to stop by Korea University to consult with the Hocehon Clock.


₩50,000 (won)

Color: Yellow

Size: 154 x 68mm

Front: 신사임당 Shin Saimdang (1504 – 1551)

Try saying that name 4 times fast! Shin Saimdang was mother of Yi I, as well as a writer and a poet. People liked her because she was a model of Confucian ideals.

Back: 월매도Wolmaedo

Fairly simple; this is a painting of a bamboo and a plum tree.


There you have it, the big four in Korean currency. Hopefully it will give you a boost in motivation when you study Korean. Time to try out some of your newfound Korean knowledge and watch for some surprised responses!


Which Korean bill is your favorite? Please feel free to leave a comment below!


Photo credit: Karl Baron

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