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Chuseok (추석) is the Korean version of Thanksgiving, celebrated every fall. It’s a three-day holiday, one among the biggest and most important holidays in Korea, and it’s celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month according to the lunar calendar. In 2016, Chuseok in Korea will be celebrated from 14th September to 16th September.
Let’s go over some of the common questions that people have about Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving).
What is the history of Chuseok?
Historically, the purpose of Chuseok – or Hangawi (한가위), as it’s sometimes referred to as – was for families to gather together during the full harvest moon, which appeared in the sky on the 15th day of the 8th month, to celebrate and show gratitude to their ancestors for the fruitful harvest.
What are some of the common customs for Chuseok?
Chuseok is the other time of the year, besides Lunar New Year’s Day aka Seollal (설날), that the whole family gathers together. Usually this means travelling to the home of the head of the family, often one’s grandparents, creating incredible traffic jams all over the country as people from big cities like Seoul try to make the journey to their hometowns. It’s still very much a traditional holiday where a lot of the customs from the old days still stand.
Let’s cover a few popular vocabulary words that you will be valuable for Chuseok in Korea.
This takes place on the morning of the day of Chuseok. It’s when the family gathers in their home to hold memorial services for honoring their ancestors. The representative foods for this service are recently harvested rice, songpyeon rice cakes, and alcohol. One of the main characteristics of the service is bowing to your ancestors. The service is followed by the family eating together.
During Chuseok, it’s normal to go visit the ancestral graves and pluck the weeds that have grown around the grave since last time. It’s considered a familial duty and a sign of devotion, and often takes place already shortly before the Chuseok holiday itself.
A modern-time custom taking place during Chuseok is gift giving. In Korea, spam is one of the most popular gift sets to give at this period of time, although plenty of other gift ideas also exist and the supermarkets and department stores get filled with all sorts of gift sets applicable for gift giving.
What is popular to eat during Chuseok?
The representative dish for Chuseok is songpyeon. It’s a type of a rice cake prepared with rice powder, filled with sesame seed, red beans, other beans, chestnuts and so on. This rice cake will then be steamed with pine needles to create a more distinctive taste. These rice cakes are prepared by the family the evening before Chuseok and are meant to look like the lunar moon. It’s a popular belief that those who succeed in making beautifully shaped songpyeons will give birth to a beautiful child or have a successful marriage.
Japchae is another popular dish to prepare and eat over Chuseok. This noodle dish is stir fried in sesame oil with vegetables such as mushrooms, onion, carrot, spinach, and others. Beef is also sometimes added to the dish, and soy sauce is usually used to add flavor.
The various types of Korean-style pancakes are also found at most Korean families’ dinner tables when it’s Chuseok. These are made by using fish, sweet potato, zucchini, and other various ingredients, that are coated with egg and/or flour, and then pan-fried.
Of course, it’s also popular to drink alcohol during Chuseok. This traditional liquor is made using the newly harvested rice.
What other things are commonly done during Chuseok?
There are also plenty of traditional games and performances that can be enjoyed during the holiday.
This traditional dance is one performed by women as a prayer for a fruitful harvest. The women gather together under the full moon, make a circle, and grab each other’s hands while singing and rotating clockwise. The speed of the dance will steadily increase, and the dance might last even until dawn.
Ssireum is a traditional wrestling sport in Korea. Two opponents wrestle each other while holding the opponent’s belt which is called satba (샅바). The winner is the player who manages to get their opponent down on the sandy ground. It’s commonplace for families to watch the ssireum contest on TV on the Chuseok holiday. The prices for winning the contest is a bull and rice.
This sport originally gained popularity during the times of the Joseon Dynasty, and traditionally this activity took place on Dano (단오), which is the holiday on the 5th day of the 5th month according to the lunar calendar.
Bull Fighting (소싸움)
This activity of unknown origin is also popular on Chuseok. Unlike Western-style bull fighting, the Korean bullfighting is much less gruesome. It’s not exactly just a competition as its purpose is also for showing how well the trainer raised their bull. These bulls will butt heads until one of them yields. Cheongdo (청도) is the city to visit if you want to see this.
How can foreigners enjoy Chuseok?
If you’ve been in Seoul during Chuseok before, you’ve probably noticed how empty it suddenly gets for a few days. As a foreigner, it’s often hard to experience Chuseok the traditional way unless your friend or significant other invites you to join their family, but if you want to get a small taste of it there are plenty of cultural sites in Seoul, such as Namsangol Hanok Village, that offer special holiday events.
Also, Chuseok in Korea might be the perfect opportunity to visit places like Everland or Caribbean Bay, which offer special discounts for foreigners during the holiday. The weather’s still pleasant enough to enjoy such outdoor activities and it’s much less crowded in comparison to a normal day.
What will you do during Chuseok this year? Let us know in the comments below!
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August 1 - 5, 2015
Known officially as Ho Chi Minh City, but informally to everyone still as Saigon, the main city of Vietnam is a fantastically chaotic place. An hour and 15-minute VietJet Air plane ride from Da Nang to Saigon (HCMC) for $60 – and the prices are half that these days. I didn’t spend much money there, my hostel, Beauty Guesthouse, being $10 a person when sharing with Rosh and Daniel.
We spent time walking the downtown area, eating phở at Phở Quỳnh, drinking endless beers with Keith and Ly at Happy Life 185, co-working at Work Saigon, and seeing what people had labeled as “must sees” like the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum. Vietnam’s history is raw and painful, often delivered in a one-sided narrative. It may sound trite, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn and re-learn more about Vietnamese history.
To get out of the city, go to the Mekong Delta. The easiest and cheapest way is by taking a tour with a travel agency in Saigon. I recommend asking for James at Panda Travel Company. The Mekong Delta is a fun water world where rice paddies, boats, houses, restaurants, and markets float upon numerous rivers, canals, and streams.
I passed on paying for a tour of a Củ Chi underground tunnel. Paying to suffer from claustrophobia doesn’t appeal to me, regardless of all the fun jokes you can make from the name of the tunnels.
From here, my friends took a bus to Phnom Penh, Cambodia and I flew to the island of Phu Quoc.
July 28 - August 1, 2015
I have a few complaints about the budget airline, VietJet Air —such as the fact that their flights seem to rarely leave on time— but it’s hard to argue with flying from Hanoi to Đà Nẵng for as low as $33.75 USD.
Danang is Vietnam’s fifth-biggest city and rapidly undergoing a lot of tourist and city improvements, but the advice I received from most travelers was to skip it and get to Hoi An. I emailed NoiBai the day before for a 250,000 VND ($11.21 USD) taxi from the airport straight to Thien Thanh Boutique Hotel in Hoi An to meet up with my friends, Emmé and Rosh. That hotel has the best breakfast!
We had some really lovely, lazy days in Hoi An. Some things to do:
- Hoi An’s got some beautiful architecture and is incredibly walkable. Crossing the river each day and night was a highlight. The Old Town is a mix of Japanese merchant houses, Chinese temples, and ancient tea warehouses converted into restaurants, drinking holes, and shops.
- Travel a few kilometers beyond Old Town by bicycle or motorbike for beaches; Cua Dai and An Bang. Indulge in a seafood restaurant on the beach; we went to Man.
- Get a massage every day! The cheapest place we went to was 150,000 VND an hour and the most expensive place we went to was 315,000 VND an hour. Couldn’t really tell the difference between the two.
- We took a day-tour out to Cham Islands which included a mediocre meal, decent snorkeling around some modest coral reefs, and getting lost by the Hai Tang Pagoda.
- We also booked a tour to see the ruins of Mỹ Sơn (pronounced “Me Son”) at sunrise. The ruins are 55km southwest of Hoi An so you can imagine how early we woke up. We booked this tour only after I pestered my friends on the importance of being there for sunrise and no later. “It’s gonna be crowded. It’s gonna be HOT. We gotta be there at sunrise! Sunrise,” I stressed. We went to bed early the night before, aided by a bottle of wine each, but we did not feel well-rested. Our tour guide made it a point to frequently point out that Americans had bombed the area (fair), ruining the beauty (true), and my friends liked pointing out that I was the only American (“Thanks”). All this led to some grumpy replies from me when the tour guide asked me to touch the stone statues of a penis, breasts, and a “bum hole” (what I heard when he said “bomb hole”). Still fun! And, yes, you should go at sunrise.
- Haggling and shopping is a big part of this area. The Vietnamese will whip you up a wardrobe made to measure in a few days that will fit you perfectly in whatever style you dictate. My favorite thing I bought were a pair of shorts that fit perfectly and looked exactly how I wanted them to. I went to Yaly Couture for no reason other than a friend had recommended them, but I’ve seen some nice men suits come out of A Dong Silk, as well.
When we were making plans to leave Hoi An, we talked about spending some more beach days further south in Nha Trang, which I hear is a great beach town. Instead, we decided to tackle the wildness of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).
As a traveler, you must be exhausted from your long flight and you just want a simple method of getting from the airport to your hotel or destination in Seoul.
As soon as you pass the doors from immigration, you will be swarmed by men promising to drive you to Seoul for 50,000+ won for a taxi to the city or any destination. AVOID THEM AT ALL COSTS as it is just another taxi scam just like every other country.
For future reference if any taxi does not use the meter and you feel you have been ripped off or overcharged, write or take a picture of their plate number and email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Korea Tourism Organization Tourist Complaint Center (☎ 02-735-0101, 02-1330). It is against the law for them to do so.
Scroll down to see how you can get to your destination once you land at Incheon International Airport!
The Express Train runs non-stop from Incheon International Airport to Seoul Station and the All Stop Train passes through 11 subway stations.
You can purchase an Express Train Pass at 45 Booth on Level 1 of Incheon International Airport, AREX Travel Center, Express Train Passenger Information Center located inside the Transportation Information Center on the B1 level of Incheon International Airport.
The fare for Express train costs 8,000 won and takes 43 minutes from Incheon Int’l Airport to Seoul Station. For All Stop Train, the fares and travel times vary by location.See the map below that shows how to get to these shuttle trains from the Airport Passenger Terminal.Here are subway stations that are included in the Airport Railroad Line.
The next option is taking the buses leaving from the airport to their respective cities. The ticket booths are located as soon as you go outside.You can find information about the buses and tickets at Exits 4 and 9 before exiting the terminal or right outside (don’t cross the street) at exits 4,6,7,8,9C, 11 and 13. Take a look at the map below.
Here’s an explanation of what information your bus ticket gives you:
- Refer to name of the location you’re traveling to.
- Price of the ticket.
- Bus platform number. From the picture above, 04B (circled in blue on the far left) refers to Gate No. 4 and the side of the gate to take the bus (A for the left, B for the right).
Now that you purchased your ticket, it’s time to go to the platform and ride the bus. Look for the platform sign that corresponds to your ticket. You’ll find an explanation of the platform sign below:
- Departure times.
- Identification of the bus platform.
- The direction of the bus route. Here, it indicates that the bus will head to City Hall Area.
- Indicates which stops the bus makes.
The next option you can take into consideration is the official taxis of their respective cities of Seoul, Incheon and the Gyeongi Province offices.
They are located on the first floor of the passenger terminal between platforms 4D and 7C. See the the map below.
There are no long-distance charge premiums. The only time that any extra charges may incur is when you take a Seoul-based taxi to another city that is not Seoul such as Incheon or Ansan.This is an example of the international taxis with fully licensed English-speaking drivers.Basic Taxi Fee:Estimated Taxi time & fares (The basic fee excludes toll fees and an extra 10,000 will be added to the total amount):
Door-to-door private transport is definitely an option to consider if you want to ensure everything goes smoothly on your first day of arrival.
You don’t need to worry about how to get to your destination with heavy luggage bags on the public transportation. It is more comfortable and convenient than a taxi and more cost-effective than a limousine. If you want to arrange a private transfer service from Incheon Airport (ICN) or Gimpo Airport (GMP) to any of your final destinations in Seoul, click here.
Looking for more information about South Korea? Browse through Korea’s #1 Travel Shop, Trazy.com, where you can find the most up-to-date travel experiences and activities in Korea!
Let’s talk about how to say ‘Stop’ in Korean. Whether your intention is to tell someone to stop what they are doing or describe how someone or something stopped moving, it’s possible to express both very conveniently in Korean.
The basic form to use when talking about stopping something is 그만하다 (geumanhada) which is often used especially to describe that you stopped or quit doing something or you are telling someone to stop doing something. On the other hand, 멈추다 (meomchuda) also means ‘stop’ but is usually more specifically used to describe movement.
*Can’t read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 60 minutes!
Formal ‘Stop’ in Korean
1. 멈춥니다 (meomchumnida)
2. 멈췄습니다 (meomchueosseumnida)
3. 그만합니다 (geumanhamnida)
4. 그만했습니다 (geumanhaesseumnida)
It is good to use the formal version of how to say ‘stop’ in Korean in situations such as conducting a presentation. Adding the ㅆ to the verb makes it the past tense.
광고에 좋은 반응을 못 잡아서 그만했습니다 (Gwanggoe joheun baneungeul mot jabaseo geumanhaesseumnida).
We stopped running the advertisement because we couldn’t get positive response to it.
Standard ‘Stop’ in Korean
1. 멈춰요 (meomchueoyo)
2. 멈췄어요 (meomchueosseoyo)
3. 그만해요 (geumanhaeyo)
4. 그만했어요 (geumanhaesseoyo)
These can be used in almost any daily conversations. You might use this with people that you’re not that close with, coworkers, store clerks, or acquaintances who are older than you.
차가 막혀서 버스를 멈췄어요 (chaga makhyeoseo beoseureul meomchueosseoyo).
The bus stopped because of traffic.
Informal ‘Stop’ in Korean
1. 멈춰 (meomchueo)
2. 멈췄어 (meomchueosseo)
3. 그만해 (geumanhae)
4. 그만했어 (geumanhaesseo)
The informal version can be used when speaking to someone close to you (but same age or younger) or someone who’s much younger than you.
이런 잔소리를 이제 그만해 (ireon jansorireul ije geumanhae)
Stop nagging like this now.
Additionally, 그만하다 is also a good way to express quitting something.
그 일은 너무 힘들어서 그만했어요 (geu ireun neomu himdeureoseo geumanhaesseoyo).
I quit that job because it was too hard.
Other Ways to Say ‘Stop’ in Korean
The meaning is basically the same as 그만하다, but by replacing 하다 with 두다 the word 그만 gets more emphasis and the word truly becomes to mean quitting/stopping something for good. More so than 그만하다, 그만두다 is heard when someone is describing quitting their job.
This specifically means something wasn’t continued or something was halted, such as the production of a good. Both 멈추다 and 그만하다 can be used interchangeably with 중단하다 in this meaning – however, 중단하다 specifically only means this type of stopping.
This verb also means ‘stop’ as a way of describing the ending of something such as a school lecture or a relationship. If you want to put emphasis on you having ended something, the verb can change into 끝내다 (ggeutnaeda).
Now that you know how to say ‘stop’ in Korean, get out there and tell people what you plan on stopping!
*Want more Korean phrases? Go to our Korean Phrases Page for a complete list!
August 9 - 11, 2015
I booked a 3 night Sapa tour with Miss Ly for 3,255,000 VND ($150 USD). It included an overnight train from and to Hanoi and a night in a 3-star hotel by myself, meals, and two days of guided hiking.
First night: Pick up in Old Quarter or meet at Le Duan train station (20 Le Duan) at 8:30 pm. Overnight on the train.
Day 1: Sapa - Lao Chai - Ta Van village
5:30 - 6:30: Pick up at Lao Cai train station then drive to Sapa by bus.
7:00 - 8:00: Have breakfast and relax at the hotel. I stayed at the Sapa Panorama Hotel, which was great!
9:00 - 9:30: Guide takes you to visit two villages of the H’mong and Dzay People, called the Lao Chai and Ta Van Villages. Have lunch on the way.
15:30: When you finish the trekking trip, our bus will pick up you back to Sapa town. Dinner and overnight in hotel. I walked around town and had a drink at the dive bar, The H’mong Sisters.
Day 2: Sapa - Cat Cat village - Ha Noi
7:00: Have breakfast.
9:00 - 9:30: Guide takes you to visit a village of Black H’mong people. It is named Cat Cat Village. You’ll also have a chance to visit a waterfall and the hydroelectric power station built by the French.
12:30 -13:00: Back to Sapa town and have lunch at a restaurant. You are free and easy to discover Sapa town.
16:30 – 17:00: Transfer from hotel to Lao Cai train station. Have dinner at the restaurant, near the train station before getting on the night train to go back to Ha Noi.
Last night: Overnight on the train. Arrive at Tran Quy Cap Station at 5.00 am and scramble to negotiate with taxi drivers.
Sapa is amazing and probably one of the most incredible places I’ve been. It’s valleys of cascading rice terraces full of fascinating hill-tribe people who have little formal education but a good command of several languages. They’re persistent hawkers of their handicrafts, and if you don’t buy anything, you might find yourself cursed at in several different languages. For trekking and exploring minority villages, the attractive old French hill station of Sapa remains popular, but nearby Bac Ha is a less-visited alternative.
If I went back, which I hope I do, I’d research how to get there myself. The tourist industry is exploding there with plans to build Asia’s longest cable car ride in the near future.
The entry to Geumsuam Hermitage on the Tongdosa Temple grounds in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Geumsuam Hermitage, which is located on the north-western portion of the Tongdosa Temple grounds in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do, means “Golden Water Hermitage,” in English. Geumsuam Hermitage is a hermitage meant for the daily worship practices of the Buddhist monks. With that in mind, Geumsuam Hermitage is a place to be on your best behavior.
When you first approach Geumsuam Hermitage up a winding road that twists and turns through the Korean countryside, you’ll finally arrive at a car bridge at the base of the hermitage. There is a newer looking white building as you approach. The road will lead to the right, which circumnavigates around the large garden that supports the monk population at the hermitage. At the entrance is a cute looking younger dog that can be a bit rabid at times, so try not to pet it (just in case you were thinking of petting it).
As you approach the hermitage, you’ll see a beautiful gate that is usually closed to the public for the purpose of maintaining peace and quiet for the monks. Fortunately, it was open when we visited. As you pass through the hermitage gate, you’ll see a beautiful metal dragon crest holding the ringed door knob. Decoratively, the gate is adorned with paintings of monster masks. The Korean name for these masks are “nathwi”. “Nat” means face, while “hwi”, in Chinese characters, means multi-coloured. These monster masks are placed on Korean Buddhist structures as guardian spirits. And depending on their gaze, that is the direction they are protecting.
After passing through the gate, you’ll enter into the simple and compact courtyard at the hermitage. There are only two hermitage structures in the courtyard at Geumsuam Hermitage. To the right, is the main hall, and to the left is a meditation pavilion. The highlight of the hermitage is a tranquil Koi pond in front of the meditation pavilion. There are two smaller sized pagodas on either side of the meditation pavilion. There are also numerous atypical statues of Bodhisattvas in the courtyard.
HOW TO GET THERE: First, you’ll have to get to Yangsan; and more specifically, Tongdosa Temple. To get to Tongdosa Temple, you can take an intercity bus from Busan, Eonyang or Ulsan. Specifically from Busan, you can take a bus or subway to Nopo-dong intercity bus terminal. There, you can get a ticket for Tongdosa Temple. It leaves every 20 minutes. Once you arrive in Yangsan, and facing the very small bus terminal, you should walk left and then turn right at the first corner. The temple entrance is past the numerous restaurants and shops. Walk up a 1.5 km path, sprinkled with ancient graffiti, and you will eventually arrive at the outskirts of the temple grounds. Admission for adults is 3,000 won. From Tongdosa Temple, you’ll have to continue up the main road for another 700 metres until you come to a fork in the road. Instead of heading straight, turn right and continue heading in that direction for one kilometre. There are a cluster of hermitages. Follow the signs the rest of the way to Geumsuam Hermitage.
OVERALL RATING: 2.5/10. Because Geumsuam Hermitage really isn’t meant for the public to visit, like Jajangam Hermitage or Biroam Hermitage, there is very little to actually see and enjoy at Geumsuam Hermitage. While there are a couple highlights, like the compact Koi pond, the meditative pavilion, and the atypical Buddhist statues, this hermitage should be saved for all but the greatest of Korean temple adventurers.
As you first approach the hermitage grounds.
The fields at Geumsuam Hermitage used by the monks for sustenance.
As you approach the hermitage entry gate.
The guard dog that welcomes you to the hermitage.
The view through the hermitage gate.
The ornamental door knocker at Geumsuam Hermitage.
A decorative Nathwi painting that adorns the entry gate at the hermitage.
The main hall at Geumsuam Hermitage.
A statue of Yaksayore-bul outside the main hall.
And the tiger riding Munsu-bosal in statue form.
A fish designed wind chime that hangs from the main hall.
The hermitage’s beautiful meditative pavilion.
Colourful Koi swim in the pond.
Protective guardians at the entry of the pavilion.
One of the twelve Zodiac Generals.
A slender statue of Gwanseeum-bosal.
July 25, 2015
I had Miss Ly book me a one-day Halong Bay Tour for 815,000 VND ($38 USD). The standard tour was $8 cheaper, but I opted for the “better quality tour” -still unsure what that included.
The itinerary was pretty standard:
7:45 - Picked up in the Old Quarter and then driven to Ha Long Bay. Short 20-minute break half-way through before arriving at the Halong tourist wharf at 11:45 am.
12:00 - “Board a private boat and cruise through the bay with the famous islets such as Cock Fighting, Dinh Huong islets …while enjoying fresh seafood lunch (on boat). You’ll also visit Thien Cung Cave (havven grotto), and then take 30 minutes kayaking around the islands and water tunnels to feel more deeply the charm of the place that considered the heaven on earth.” (Miss Ly’s words are too good not to share!)
16:30 - You will return to Halong tourist wharf and take the bus back to Hanoi. Dropped off in the Old Quarter around 8:00 pm.
The food was alright. The boat was safe and clean. The guide was enthusiastic and experienced. And funny. When someone asked him if we were eating the popular Vietnamese beef noodle dish, phở (mispronounced), for lunch, he replied, “Po means street. Pho means knife. Phở is the soup. Intonation is everything!”
If I were to go more back, with more time and wits, I’d have tried getting to Halong Bay without the tour guide. Or go further north to the less-visited Bai Tu Long Bay, where nature’s spectacular show continues all the way to the Chinese border. Or head to rugged Cat Ba, a verdant island known for its hiking, biking, sailing, and rock climbing.
On this trip, the kayaking was nonexistent because of the heavy rains. Instead, we had a local woman paddle us around rocky islands as we held our umbrellas and tried to stay dry.
Keykat found a treasure map in a cabinet! We're going to follow it to see where it leads. I really wonder what it could contain.... Coins? Jewels? Or even... gold?
This episode will cover how to use the grammar form (으)려고 and 보다, which you can use to mean "to intend" and "to try" (as well as a few other things).
Remember that there are free extended PDFs available for every "Learn Korean" episode, and each contains additional information or examples not covered in the video.
Check out the episode here!
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