Recent Blog Posts
We went beach camping at DaDaePo Beach! 다대포 해수욕장으로 캠핑 갔어요!
If you’re a music lover coming to Korea, your in luck! Seoul’s music scene is alive and well. Known worldwide for K-pop, you don’t have to be a fan of this genre to enjoy the music Seoul offers. Eastern and Western talent can be enjoyed all around from venues as large as international music festivals held at huge stadiums housing tens of thousands to small dive bars found throughout the city.
On July 9th, I attended a concert at the National Theater of Korea during the Yeowoorak festival, a month long event that is reinventing traditional Korean music. This year the festival is presenting Korean music in four themes Opening, Crossover, Sensation, and Choice. The concert I attended was a crossover performance, which combined three musical acts, DJ Soulscape (Disc-Jockey), Second Session (Jazz), and SC Yun (Alternative/funk) into one performance with the underlying theme of Korean Music. Each performer is independently extremely talented. Combining their music and incorporating traditional Korean music created a show like nothing I have ever seen before.
Held in the Youth Hall, the small circle building was an ideal environment for the performance that was accompanied by a light show and video footage.
There was a constant steady beat that got audience members clapping along and dancing in their seats. The pianist of SC Yun was great fun to watch as he switched from a grand piano to synthesizer and even ran through the crowd using a melodihorn. The music at times seemed psychedelic as DJ Soulscape created new sounds, and the light show and video matched each beat. SC Yun’s unbelievably talented xylophonist performed using several mallets in each hand as Second Session’s drummer and guitarist combined Jazz music to her melody.
When I think of traditional Korean music, the first song, and one I personally love, that comes to mind is Arirang. I’ve heard this song countless time at events in Korea but never like I heard it before as the trio tackled the song first with DJ Souscape introducing the melody in the traditional form and then speeding it up to be combined with SC Yun’s synthesizer and eventually adding in Second Session’s Jazz beats. It was a show I won’t soon forget.
Prior to this performance two music events have really stood out to me. One of the first weeks I was in Korea I attended an Ecological Peace Festival at the DMZ. We stayed at a temple in Gangwon. The second night, musicians from the National Theater came and gave a performance. They used traditional Korean instruments to play both Korean and Western Music. The spring night was warm and lanterns were strung along the entirety of the small stage. As the musicians played their instruments I was absolutely blown away by their talent. Dancers came out from the temple in traditional dress and danced along the grounds, their silhouettes bounced off the temple wall. It was enchanting. My jaw dropped and eyes filled with happy tears as the sweet music echoed from the surrounding mountains. Wow!
On the complete opposite spectrum I have enjoyed Ultra Music Festival in Korea for the past two years. This two day event is held in Olympic stadium on multiple stages. World famous DJ’s showcase their talent as summer days turn into night with some of the most unbelievable mixes.
These two events were both independently amazing, and some of my favorite memories in Korea. If someone told me they could combine the performances into one spectacular show, I’d be skeptical to say the least. I was proven wrong last week when I attended the Yeoksam Music Festival at the National Theater of Korea. It was a completely new and exciting experience and I look forward to seeing the Korean music scene continue to grow while keeping it’s heritage alive.
The Yeowoorak festival is in its 5th year and runs during the entire month of July. A night at the National Theater of Korea is a real treat and the Yeoksam Music Festival has performances that can suit almost any kind of music lover.
Last year audiences filled performances to standing room only with an average seat occupancy of 121%. Generally a night at the Korean Theater comes close to breaking the bank but during the festival tickets are only 30,000 won. The deal gets even better though! As an effort to educate foreigners about Korean music a 50% discount is being offered for foreigners making the tickets just 15,000 won. So with just a few weeks left, do as I did and grab some friends, dress up and have a fun night at the National Theater! It will surely be an unforgettable experience.
For more information: www.ntok.go.kr
We have AWESOME news everyone! We have hit a milestone on our Youtube channel! If you can’t guess what it was from the title, then watch the video below!
WE HIT ONE MILLION VIEWS!
Thank you to our awesome viewers!!
We know that it doesn’t mean too much to other youtubers (I don’t see them making videos like this about a million views—it’s usually about getting a million SUBSCRIBERS), but we think it’s important to set realistic goals every year and achieve them.
Our Youtube goals for 2014
At the beginning of 2014 we set goals for our channel, and reaching 1 million views was one of them!
Also on the list:
- Reaching 5,000 subscribers
- Vlogging every day for 2 months of the year
- More collabs with fellow youtubers
- Pull the trigger on big project ideas
So far we’re making amazing progress on our yearly goals and we still have over 5 months left in 2014!
Our Most Viewed Videos
Since we’re celebrating a view count milestone, I’d like to highlight some of our most viewed videos here.
#1 Eating Live Octopus – 108,330 views
This is our most-viewed video! It’s not for those with weak hearts (or stomachs)!
#2 Clouds Timelapse – 70,599 views
Evan loves making timelapse videos. This one is from NM, and we didn’t expect it to get a lot of views at all!
#3 Street Food in Hongdae – 62,159 views
Also an old video, with our old first into! So cute! Street food + Hongdae is a golden combination, obviously.
It’s so much fun to look back at old videos and see how far we have come. We definitely couldn’t do this without you guys, so thank you again to our loyal viewers!! Here’s to another million views and many more adventures to come!
A Portrait of the monk Jinpyo.
Hello Again Everyone!!
This is the eighth installment about prominent Korean monks. This time, I thought I would talk about the famed monk, Jinpyo. Jinpyo was a consciousness-only doctrinal scholar who lived during the Unified Silla Dynasty (668-935) during the 8th century. And Jinpyo’s name, in English, means “symbol of truth.”
Jinpyo was originally from Wansanju, which is present day Jeonju. He was both a good archer and hunter as a child. According to the Goseung-jeon (“Old Monks’ Tales), and while out hunting one day as a child, he tied a frog’s legs together before heading up into the neighbouring mountains. While hunting, he completely forgot about the frog that he had tied up. A year later, he heard something crying, so he went to see what it was. Amazed, he discovered the exact same frog still tied up. As a result, and at the age of 12, Jinpyo decided to renounce the secular world and become a monk. He became a monk at Mt. Geumgangsan, and he later studied under Masters Shandao and Sengji in Tang China.
When Jinpyo finally did return to the Korean peninsula, he underwent a strict regimen of Buddhist monastic training. He did this in the form of forgetting the body. And he underwent this form of repentance at the famed Geumsansa Temple at Mt. Moaksan. Through visions of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Mireuk-bosal (The Future Bodhisattva), he became a devout follower of the two. He is also said to have had an encounter with Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) in 740 on Mt. Odaesan. This was then followed by an encounter with Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha) at Yeongsansa Temple after years of meditation.
After this last encounter, Jinpyo was invited to the Silla royal court. While there, he was given money to distribute it among the various Buddhist temples in the kingdom. Specifically, Jinpyo led the Beopsang school of Buddhism that focused on strong devotional practices, as well as belief. In addition, and not so surprisingly, he placed an emphasis on repentance.
Through his influence, as well as his disciples’ actions, his beliefs were passed down to Wang Geon, King Taejo, who was the founder of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). And to the present day, his teachings have had a long lasting effect on Korean Buddhism.
A Portrait of King Taejo, who Jinpyo helped influence.
Buddhists and motivational speeches have both taught that nothing in life is permanent or guaranteed. This becomes clearer when time is measured in one-year contracts.
With the first semester coming to a close in South Korean public schools, many expats are preparing for their next adventures. Many of them I consider my friends.
I wrote about this biannual occurrence, dubbed “The August Expat Bloodbath,” last year. Much of that remains true, so instead of repeating myself, I’ll just quote myself:
The thing with being a veteran (I had only been here seven months at this point. Calling myself a “veteran” then makes me laugh now, even if the comments in the post from a few lifers rankled me at the time –ed.) is, you start to see a lot of casualties. It starts slow–one outlier here or there that got a hagwon contract on an off-month. But then, either February or August arrive and…
…it’s a bloodbath. Koreabridge becomes a bone-picker’s paradise: everything goes up for sale, from bicycles to furniture to videogame consoles, to computers, musical instruments and, of course, jobs. Lots of jobs.
February and August are the times for EPIK intakes, when old contracts end and new ones begin. Not everyone does only a year of duty and then flies home. Some stay longer. Many don’t. So, if you’ve gotten close with anyone here, it can be a bittersweet time of year. There are plenty of celebrations, but at what cost?
I have now been in South Korea since February 2013, if you do not count the brief times in 2005 and 2010. There are plenty of people who have been here longer. But, today I see many more faces in my Facebook friends feed that have moved on to other adventures than I did last year. When I take a trip into Busan during the weekend, I see many, many more unrecognizable faces in the bars, on the beaches and in the subway cars than I did in that same time.
But, I still see many I do recognize. And many of them are leaving.
These people can be bundled into three categories: There are those you’ve encountered here and there who you never developed a solid opinion on. They come, they go, like you. They don’t leave much of an impression on you with their departure, as you likely won’t should you be the first to go. A vast majority can fit in here.
There are those you have maybe hung out with a few times, maybe at a bar, maybe at a birthday party. They’re nice, you’ve had a couple good conversations with them. They’ve enhanced your life in some way. But, when they leave, you know you’ll never see them again. It’s nothing personal, it’s just the reality of an ephemeral expat lifestyle. Many people can be placed in this category, but there are certainly fewer than in the first.
Finally, there is the limited, exclusive group of people you are proud to call good friends. These are the ones that, when the time comes to say goodbye, you can feel at least some comfort in knowing you’ll see each other again. It may take years, but it’s inevitable. At least, you’d like to think so. Whether it’s time or money, these things don’t matter when discussing this group of people. You’ll find a way.
While the last group may be the closest, it’s the second category I would argue stings the most in the long run. The first category contains wisps of smoke. The last features a solid foundation one can build on beyond Korea. The second one lies somewhere inbetween. You know you won’t buy the plane ticket to see them on the other side of the world, or even the country, but their absence has taken something from you.
The question is: how much “something” can one stand before they can’t stands it no more? Tell me, Popeye, how much?
This is on many people’s minds around this time of year. The other day, after trying live octopus for the first time with Tom Gates of The Red Dragon Diaries (look for that video from him in the next couple weeks), I mentioned a video he recently posted. And we continued the conversation: when is it time to leave?
He’s got six months to think long and hard about his next step. Technically, so do I. But, I am pretty sure I want to renew for at least one more turn. The landscape, however, will no doubt look very different in March 2015.
I don’t feel like the bloodbath was hitting me quite so hard last year, despite the impending departure of one of my best friends made in Korea (in fact, the very first friend I made here way back in 2010, during one of my “false starts”). Even if she was leaving, even if things were changing, life as an English teacher in South Korea felt a lot more permanent in summer 2013 than it does in summer 2014.
My best friend from back home came to teach in July 2013. That has something to do with it. I did not see her for five months and then we were back in each other’s lives. And while I now live the next city over, we see each other enough still that it feels like we’ll always see each other. She extended her contract another three months, but before the end of the year, she won’t be in South Korea anymore. The same can be said for almost every single person in the photos above.
And I cannot help but wonder how it must feel for those who have been doing this for three, five, ten years. Unless you’re married, in a committed, long-term relationship or have somehow held on to close friends that have stuck it out as long as you, how do you cope? How many new friends can one make, only to see them exit before you? Does desire to plant roots not increase for some, the pleasures of “The International Life” enough to contain them. Some do better than others. Some don’t. Only they really know for sure if they’re happy with how things have turned out or not.
Despite all this maudlin language, I remain happy most of the time with my life in Korea as it is today.
I have a fairly easy, decent-paying job that rivals even my previous job last year in Busan. Most of the time, I genuinely enjoy interacting with the children.
But, I am also 35. And while I do not subscribe to the notion one has to be in a certain position in their lives by a certain time, one thing I will admit age does is it allows for the accumulation of memories and experiences that can begin to lose their good taste if too often repeated. Meanwhile, the flavor on the tongue from saying goodbye so many times can grow stronger and more bitter. I will remain vigilant in not letting myself grow bitter beside it.
JPDdoesROK is a former news editor/writer in New Jersey, USA, who served a one-year tour of duty in Dadaepo/Jangnim, Saha-gu, Busan from February 2013 to February 2014. He is now a teacher in Gimhae.
|69%...heh heh heh|
I really like the texture of this cream. I have pretty oily skin, so anything that's really heavy or greasy is not going to last long in my makeup cabinet. This stuff, however, is really light and soaks into my skin without making me feel slimy. The smell is also quite nice, reminding me of beeswax, and in a way kind of...herbal. I dunno, it's hard to explain, but it just smells really clean and natural.
|Perfect English! I'm so impressed, Nature Republic|
Anyways...yeah. Not much to say about this one other than that I like it. I'm super picky about face creams because I hate feeling greasy, but for now this one is a definite winner.
Would I recommend this product: Yes yes yes! My crazy skin seems to have calmed down a lot since I started using this at night, and the smell is just lovely.
Where to buy: If you're in Korea there's Nature Republic stores everywhere, but if not, here it is on Amazon. I know it's a bit pricey, but it lasts a long time~
A few links to help you on your way:
KLRI (Korean Legislation Research Institute, English)
MOLEG (Ministry of Government Legislation, English) and its mobile app (Korean). Studies conducted by a can of beer suggest that your blog becomes 20% cooler if it uses the word app, now done. Behold the coolness.
Korean legal research for lay people
There are a few reasons to be cautious, however. Most importantly, secondhand information is often inaccurate. Sentences beginning “I heard” or “I think” can be right. But they can also be completely wrong
Even official translations can be somewhat misleading ― every official translation has the disclaimer “for information purposes only” on it, and the words never match up exactly (think about “jeong” or “schadenfreude”). Legal concepts using the same words differ between America and the U.K. (English-speaking countries), so it’s not surprising that there is something that is not necessarily communicated in Korean-to-English translations. Furthermore, law here can and does change quickly, and not every piece of information you need has been translated. We will explain the legal structure ― and what’s often missing ― in just a moment.
Finally, whatever words you read are never decisive; legal phrases are often very vague and subject to a variety of interpretations; it is those interpretations (through courts or other bodies) that make the “real” law.
Some knowledge, though a dangerous thing, is probably better than none. And to that end the Korea Legislation Research Institute offers a website with English-language laws, elaw.klri.re.kr. The Ministry of Justice’s website also offers .pdfs, often more up-to-date but not quite as organized or easy to find.
So how is Korean law structured and what information would you need to make an intelligent decision? The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, then there are various acts ― statutory law ― that are more specific. The acts, however, then give power to the president or various agencies to decree a more specific law. The Presidential Decrees are frequently translated, but the administrative rulings are often not, and they are the true core of the law. So there is a flow of delegation from statute to president to administrative bodies (and of course this doesn’t even include the court cases that have interpreted those laws and help guide future interpretation).
As an example let’s discuss visas. The Immigration Control Act, which is translated, states that “Criteria and procedure for the issuance of visas shall be prescribed by ordinance of the Ministry of Justice.” So where are the rules? In goshi, officially published announcements.
If you are looking for the criteria for the elusive F-2-7 visa then you can find them in English and Korean at the Ministry of Justice’s Immigration Portal site, hikorea.go.kr. The English translation clearly states that the Korean language version will control, and it is possible to see how there could be differences in interpreting the two if you read both.
And though the MOJ has made a substantial effort to include information about immigration by translating the goshi rules on its website, there simply isn’t any way they could include all the immigration laws. Other rules, like how much fines are for violation of immigration laws which is in an appendix to a Presidential Decree, have not been translated, as far as we have seen. So trying to explain the criteria to determine a fine for working illegally, which can vary by millions of won, one needs to read Korean.
If you do read adequate Korean, there is a searchable database, LawnB, which will give you statutes, cases and more, although for full access you’ll need to pay. The Office of Legislation offers a free Android application, though, so now you have a new way to spend that subway commute.
Still, we’d offer one last piece of advice: Even looking at the same, original, official Korean words, lawyers, judges and scholars disagree on their meaning. The law is never as clear as one thinks it is.
By Darren Bean and Yuna Lee
Follow a Korean Lawyer