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The view from the main hall out onto the South Sea at Bomunsa Temple in Jeju-do Island.
Hello Again Everyone!!
On the south-west side of Jeju-do Island rests a smaller-sized temple. Sheltered by the bubbling Mt. Sanbangsan, Bomunsa Temple has a commanding view of the South Sea and the tiny islands that dot the horizon.
You first approach the temple past a crowded parking lot and up a set of wide stairs. The temple, much like the famed mountain, is frequented by numerous tourists throughout the day. The first thing to greet you when you enter the temple courtyard is the rather large main hall. Out in front of the main hall is a beautifully sculpted statue dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife), as well as a five-tier stone pagoda and a misspelt dharma wheel with the Eightfold Path written on it. As for the main hall itself, and sitting on the main altar, is a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Gwanseeum-bosal. Just behind this statue, and still resting on the main altar, are hundreds of smaller-sized white Buddha statues. On the far left wall hangs a black Gamno-do mural for the dead.
To the right of the main hall, and past the temple’s bell pavilion and visitors’ centre, sit a line of stone Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha) statues. From where they sit, you can get an amazing view of the South Sea from this vantage point. A little further along, and you’ll see the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall that rests inside a cave. The paintings are rather plain in design, but the building is anything but ordinary.
One of the final things a visitor can see at Bomunsa Temple in Jeju-do is the massive, golden, statue dedicated to Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha). Yaksayore-bul serenely looks towards the main hall and welcomes any and all visitors to the temple. Just a little up the mountainside, and as you head towards the peak of Mt. Sanbangsan, you’ll see a triad of life-sized stone statues dedicated to Seokgamoni-bul, Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power), and Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom).
HOW TO GET THERE: From the Seogwipo Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take bus #702 for 22 stops. The ride should last about an hour and eleven minutes, and you’ll need to get off at the Sanbangsan bus stop. From this stop, you’ll be able to see the temple on the mountain with the golden Buddha statue to the right.
OVERALL RATING: 5/10. Bomunsa Temple is a bit of a difficult temple to rate because it’s housed next to two other temples in the immediate vicinity. But if you’re just to look at Bomunsa Temple, it’s a pretty nice place to visit; however, when you include the others, Sanbangsa Temple and Sanbanggulsa Temple, it can make for quite the nice little part of a day trip in Jeju-do.
The rounded Mt. Sanbangsan.
The main hall and Buddhist artistry at Bomunsa Temple.
A look inside the main hall.
The beautiful view of the South Sea at Bomunsa Temple.
The Nahan statues with perhaps one of the best views in Korea.
The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall at Bomunsa Temple.
A look inside the shaman cave.
The serene Yaksayore-bul at the temple.
The triad of statues as you make your way up Mt. Sanbangsan.
Social media is everywhere- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, Tumblr, the list goes on. And what does social media do? It gives people a voice, a space in which they can express their views to hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of people at the click of a button. Of course there are advantages to this: never has communication been easier, people connecting all over the world, talking and sharing opinions; the possibilities are endless. But, the one overwhelming negative of social media? The ease in which people can hide behind a computer screen, abusing, arguing, hating.
It’s not a new thing for me to read negative things online; Twitter is full of people attacking celebrities, following them only to write nasty comments on posts and photos, and the same goes for their Instagram. I’m continually amazed by how pathetic people are, wasting their time writing to someone simply to abuse them. Even stranger is the hatred people feel for someone they’ve never even met, someone they’ve only watched on TV or read about in magazines. Honestly, do people have nothing better to do with their time?
However, the thing which I’ve noticed more recently since joining more online forums (mainly groups for expats in Korea) simply with the hope of finding out interesting information about Korea- things to do and where to go- is how many people seem to enjoy spending their time arguing, writing insulting comments aimed to get a rise out of the other members, trolling, oh and also, openly hating Korea and everything about it, despite making the decision to live here.
I’ve seen so many pointless arguments, the most recent example being when someone posted a link which advertised a beautiful, luxury pension. The response? Abuse, because people can’t afford somewhere so expensive that costs around 300,000 won a night. Seriously, it makes me scared to write anything in public ever, for fear of being maimed.
But what makes me really angry are the cruelly insensitive comments I woke up to this morning, fuelling this blog post: the tragedy of the K Pop Concert which left 16 dead, and the consequent suicide which left one woman widowed and children without a father. So how did people react to the news? Surprise, surprise, with arguments. With tactless statements showing no sorrow over the event, just arrogant judgements on what happened. And there were many horribly cold comments which I’m not even going to repeat, pretty much blaming the people for their own deaths. Pretty disgusting.
It was exactly the same after the Sewol Ferry Disaster; at a time of utter grief, people took the opportunity to brazenly condemn the country and attack individuals for the tragedy. Of course in life there are always going to be mistakes made, people in the wrong, and accidents do happen. But really, the day after lives have been lost, is it really the time to adopt an ‘I know better’ attitude and criticise everyone else? Definitely not. People have lost children, parents, loved ones. It’s the time to express your deepest sympathies, and be thankful that you haven’t suffered in the same way. Lastly, if someone you knew and loved was involved, would your reaction be the same?
Whether it’s hating on a celebrity, arguing about the price of a hotel, or ranting about safety precautions the day after a tragedy, it’s just pointless, pathetic, and malicious. It’s fine to debate and express your opinion sure, but when you know that your words could hurt someone else? Don’t write them.
Filed under: Korea, Living
© KATHRYN GODFREY
Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Nine: Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care).
Part of being an English teacher in the EPIK program means working with a co-teacher in the classroom. However, this past week I was faced with the challenge/opportunity of teaching not one, but TWO classes all on my own! And get this: the students and I both survived, and maybe even thrived!
In the minutes before these classes, part of me was absolutely terrified to stand alone in front of a room full of students who barely understood a word I said. I dreaded the process of presenting vocabulary and explaining activities without my co-teacher being there to come to my rescue. And I almost had to sit down at the thought of how I would discipline the students if trouble came along.
But then the bell rang. Class began. And the rest is a blur. I vaguely remember students running back and forth across the room, shouting excitedly during a relay game. And every now and then I get flashbacks of the lessons moving along relatively well thanks to adequate planning. But beyond that I can’t tell you what happened. One minute class was starting, and the next thing I knew I was back at my desk.
I only know one thing for sure. I did it! To a normal or seasoned teacher, it may not sound like much. But I’m definitely counting these two classes as some of my earliest accomplishments. Not only did I come to appreciate the presence and help of my co-teacher even more than I already did, but I developed more confidence in my ability to lead and teach a class while flying completely solo!
Working in a middle school full of adolescent girls is like being transported back in time to a teenage world of worries, insecurities, and an ever-present wish to change pretty much everything about yourself- hair, skin, body- in fact, if you look for it, you can pretty much find fault with anything, and that’s exactly what teenagers do.
It’s true that on the surface, Korean girls don’t appear as obsessed by their looks as Western girls; they don’t wear any make-up until high school (and even then wear a minimal amount), they don’t wear a lot of jewellery, no hitched-up skirts or high heels, and the ponytail is the only hairstyle I see. However, underneath the surface, these girls have far more disdain for their appearance, and it’s only when talking to them that you realise how incredibly low their self-esteem actually is.
The way the word ‘ugly’ is thrown around is shocking; it’s a word only really used in England as an insult or as an extreme, and definitely not a word used normally to describe people. In my opinion, it’s a word which shouldn’t be used at all due to its overwhelmingly negative connotations.
What’s even stranger is the girls’ treatment of other people, especially that of their friends. Here are just a few of the things my students have said about their friends. Oh, and not in a bitchy, behind-their-back way: this is said to their friend’s face:
“Her cheeks are like an apple, they’re so red from pimples.”
“She is quite ugly. She has a square face.”
“She is not pretty and has thick legs.”
It’s so weird to see friends talking about one another in this way, when for me, it’s always been girl code to automatically support your friends when they’re feeling down about themselves: “You’re not ugly”, “No-one can notice the spot on your chin”, “Of course you haven’t put on weight”.
The fact that friends are so quick and happy to insult, and to receive insults from each other without any offence just demonstrates how low their self-esteem actually is; it’s normal for them to be called ‘ugly’ and to accept this as fact, because they believe it.
With such bad views of themselves and how openly they discuss their ‘bad’ looks, it’s no surprise that plastic surgery levels are sky high. According to reports, ‘1 in 77 people’ now have surgery to change their appearance, and ‘20% of women aged 19 to 49 in Seoul admit to going under the knife’. Double eyelid surgery is increasingly popular and is something many of my students have expressed their desire to get done when they’re older. when I see double-eyelid tape and glue in CU convenience stores, it reminds me how the pressure for girls to change their looks is everywhere.
Of course, the K Pop girls don’t do anything to boost confidence among teenagers- they actually have the opposite effect, and make the girls feel even more inadequate. One K Pop star admitted that she had so much plastic surgery, people no longer recognised her. Pop Dust website also describes how the stars no longer care about keeping their surgery a secret; one girl group, Brown Eyed Girls sang a parody of Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’, called ‘Plastic Face’. Is this a good message to send to impressionable young girls? I think not.
When photos of the 2013 Miss Korea Beauty Pageant finalists were made public, they were criticised by many people who thought the girls had undergone so much surgery that they all looked the same. The desire for surgery was blamed on the desire to look more Western.
Even without resorting to surgery, I’ve witnessed many older girls wearing a lot of make-up, especially eye make-up, to try and look more like the ‘pretty’ girls on TV. Of course, it isn’t just in Korea that celebrities and the media have a damaging effect, it happens everywhere: extreme diets, changing of hair colour, make-up experimentation, fake tans… people trying to transform into someone else. But in Korea, it seems more extreme, perhaps because everyone wants to look the same. This results, as was made clear with the 2013 beauty pageant, in a group of beautiful clones with minimal individuality.
I know that for teenage years, and for many years after, women all over the world use make-up, endless hair and beauty products, and go on fad diets to achieve some sort of ideal. But I feel like pressure on Korea girls is so much worse, and it’s worrying. It seems like all societal expectations of the Western World are magnified in Korea; school pressure is ten-times worse, the pressure on women to find and marry a ‘suitable’ man, and in the same way, the pressure to look good seems so much more extreme than in other countries.
My question (and worry) is ‘when will it stop?’ A lot of Koreans face too much stress in their lives as it is, and beauty is one pressure point too much. Instead of trying to alter their looks, girls should accept who they are and not view themselves with such harsh negativity. I want to shake sense into my students sometimes, to stop them being so down on themselves and make them believe that they are in no way ugly. Teenage years are for having fun, for being with friends and family- not for worrying that you don’t look the same as the celebrities. In fact, I wish I could go back in time and tell my teenage self the same thing… well, hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Why South Korean High Schoolers Want Plastic Surgery? Check out their answers here.
Filed under: Beauty, Korea, Living
As you can see in the poster, this weekend it is in Gangneung, the 25th and 26th of October it will be in Cheongju, the 1st and 2nd of November in Jeonju, the 8th and 9th of November in Seoul, and the 15th and 16th of November in Busan.
Saturday October 18th:
10:30 Born This Way
12:10 Open Up To Me
15:30 First Dance
17:30 Stranger By The Lake
Sunday October 19th
10:30 Mosquita Y Mari
12:10 I Am Divine
14:00 I Want Your Love
15:30 In the Name Of
The films are screening at Gangneung's Independent Art Film. I'm not that familiar with Gangneung, but here is the map to the theater.
I'm not positive why they don't have the same program for each leg of the trip... I guess I'll have updates for each weekend with the specific schedules. More info can be found on Seoul LGBT Film Festival's FB page.
"What is a preposition?" They're useful in English for describing the location of one noun to another. For example, we can say "The cat is under the desk," or "The book is on the floor." There are many prepositions that you can learn, and this video will cover a few of the most important ones. (Note: in Korean these are actually called 'postpositions').
Remember to also check out the free PDF version of this lesson, with extra information and examples, on the YouTube PDFs page (link at top).
Check out this week's new video right here!
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Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Eight: What’s in your desk drawer and what can you infer from it?
Ok, you got me. This post isn’t about my wallet. Here’s what you’d find in my desk drawer(s) if you were to open it(them) at the moment:
Unused binder clips – Tells you I don’t like clipping things together, apparently.
Keys – Tells you I find the contents of my desk to be very precious, or at least worth locking away each night.
Tooth brush and tooth paste – Tells you Koreans take dental hygene very seriously (they brush their teeth after EVERY meal).
Tax exemption forms – Tells you I’m trying to keep Uncle Sam’s share of my earnings in South Korea for myself.
Plastic plates – These actually go with two suction cup/sticky balls I’ve used in class. Tells you I like to play games in class!
A keychain from Atlanta – Tells you my vice principal likes to give me trinkets from time to time.
Dry erase markers – Tells you I like to keep my kids actively involved during the lesson.
Paper cups – Tells you I worked on the Cup Song with my students! Or I hoard supplies from the coffee station.
Unused magnets – Tells you I tried to use them as game pieces, but the magnets themselves were so strong that they clung together too hard.
A brochure about the local community arts center, in Korean – Tells you I’m artsy and my co-workers know it.
Unused folders/organizers – Tells you …nothing really. Lol.
Before you submit your documents to EPIK, make sure you have the following.
- Completed and signed EPIK Application
- Notarized and apostilled copy of college diploma
- Apostilled FBI Criminal Background Check
- Sealed university transcripts (4 copies)
- Passport photos (at least 6)
- Photocopy of passport (first page only)
- Additional documents as they apply to you:
- Proof of Teaching Experience Letter
- Birth Certificate, if you’re UK or Australian (see why here)
- TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate
- Declaration of intended completion for: TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, College diploma if you don’t have it yet
- Teaching certificate copy
- Marriage certificate copy
- Tattoo and Piercing Sworn Declaration
The above is based on my experience applying to work for EPIK and is supplemented by information found on the Reach to Teach Recruiting website. While it is possible to apply to, and be accepted by, EPIK without the aid of a recruiter, I highly recommend working with one, as they know the in’s and out’s of the process best and will provide invaluable assistance to make sure nothing goes wrong along the way!
Can/should I open my transcripts? Noooooooo! Don’t do it! EPIK won’t accept college transcripts with broken seals.
How many do I need? While I ordered four copies from my university, I only ever wound up using one (when I submitted all my documents in the final application stages). However, sometimes during the diploma apostille or visa issuance process they ask for them, apparently. ‘Didn’t happen to me, though.
I went to more than once school to complete my degree…help! That’s okay. You only need transcripts from the school where you actually got your degree (as long as you attended that school for the final two years of college and all transfer credits are noted on that institution’s transcript).
What if I studied abroad? That’s nice, but they don’t need to see those transcripts!
The above is based on my experience applying to EPIK and is supplemented by information found on Reach to Teach Recruiting‘s website.