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One Year Later

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The traditional gift for a first anniversary is paper, so I guess after I write this I'll print a copy and frame it. What I'm trying to say is, a little over one year ago, I arrived in Korea. The modern first anniversary gift is a clock, which seems apt as the time has passed faster than I realized. A year already? Are you sure?

I've been looking back through old posts, and it's a relief to see that my feelings about the country haven't changed that much:

"This is where I’ll be living for the next year, maybe more, and there is nothing I want more in life right now. I’ve never been the sort to follow my dreams; I’ve stuck to what I know I can accomplish, and that’s been fine, but finally I’m taking a chance at something I’ve wanted since I met those Jet teachers in Japan almost six years ago." 

I know, I know, it's disgustingly...shmoopy and emotional, but the sentiment was, and is, 100% real. I needed a change, a new life, a new chance. While I'm not quite ready to go public with everything that was going wrong in my life before I moved to Korea, suffice it to say that things were...bad. Not good. Things felt pretty hopeless, like my life was on hold. It doesn't help that the weather in Seattle shares most of its characteristics with a damp sock. Even when things are going well in your life, unless you really enjoy overcast gray weather, it's hard to stay positive during the interminably long Seattle winters. And springs. And falls. And sometimes it stays cloudy even though summer, because the other 9 months just weren't enough!

During the 12 hour flight from Seattle to Korea, I made a decision to use this move as a chance to really change my life. Instead of bringing all my bad habits and worries along in my carry on, I wanted to do my best to leave them all back in Seattle. New country, new me.

At my Epik orientation, I had a great chance to really focus in on what I wanted to change in my life. One of the activities during the week was an introductory taekwondo class. They had us write our goals for the coming year on a board and then break it. To me, it felt as if I was putting all my fears, my worries, my problems into that board, and in the act of breaking it, I was sending them out of my life. As you can see in the photo, I had three main goals. "Don't be afraid. Learn Korean. Be happy." It's one year later. How did I do?

1. Don't Be Afraid

This is a big one. It seems a bit silly, but trust me, it really is an important issue in my life. I'm anxious a lot of the time, and a bit shy, and nervous in unfamiliar situations. I've missed out on opportunities because I was too worried about dumb stuff to take advantage of them. I didn't want that to happen here. Moving to a new country, starting a new job, meeting so many new's been one unfamiliar situation after another.

What this first goal means to me is just...don't miss out. Don't stay home because you're worried you won't know anyone at the party. Don't keep your mouth shut because you're not sure what to say. Don't overthink it. As those Nike shirts say, just do it.

While I don't feel that I've completely accomplished this goal, I know I've made progress. I volunteered as class leader during my orientation and managed to make a speech in front of the entire orientation without fainting. I took a vacation entirely by myself, from Sokcho to Seoul. I've befriended people in my office even through a severe language barrier. Instead of saying no and staying on the sidelines, I'm saying yes and making a fool of myself but having fun.

2. Learn Korean

This has been a bit on again off again. When I first started studying Korean seriously, it was fantastic, because I was learning at a breakneck speed. I've written about this before, how the first few months were so exciting, because every grammar point opened vast expanses of understanding. However, as with anything, the honeymoon had to end. Now that I actually have to work pretty hard to learn new things, it's easier to get frustrated. I often feel like I'm not improving at all. My vocabulary is tiny, my grammar sucks, and no matter how much or little I study, nothing seems to change.

However, while I don't really feel as if I've improved, when I take a step back, I realize that that's crazy talk. A friend recently reminded me that when I left for Korea, I knew about two phrases, plus I could read and write very, very slowly. I think back to those first few work dinners, how I sat in a corner, unable to understand most of what was going on around me. And actually talking to someone? No way.

Inexplicably, I left a note to my family in Korean. SECRET MESSAGES.

Now I can have conversations, albeit very simple ones. I can ask for directions and halfway understand what I'm told. I can befriend taxi drivers, make jokes in the office, and be the occasional living dictionary for my students. While I'm certainly not anywhere near fluent, I have improved. I hope this coming year will be my chance to improve even further.

3. Be Happy

I guess this one is obvious, huh? Deceptively simple, in a way. But of all my goals, this is the one that I feel I've been most successful at. Not to say I've become Pollyanna-ish; I certainly have my share of bad days, but since I moved to Korea they're at least fewer and farther between. When I start to get down, I'm able to get back up a lot faster. Maybe it's the weather.

Oddly enough, I feel at home here. I'm not at all sure why, but Korea just really seems to suit me. Time and time again people tease me about my "Korean heart" or say that even if I look like an American, I'm secretly Korean. Frankly I think they're exaggerating, but it warms my heart every time. 

A big part of this as well is the feeling of having purpose. Instead of a repetitive job that never seems to affect anything, I have a job where I actually feel like I'm improving and changing lives, at least in small ways. Instead of a job, I have what feels like the beginning of a career. For every rough class there is an amazing class. Seeing that "aha!" moment when I student learns something new or gets inspired because of something in my class...that is what makes me happy. 

How could that face NOT make you happy?

All in all, it's been a good year. I finally feel like I have my feet under me. I've got my sealegs. Things are coming together, and I'm not even 25 yet! For the folks keeping score, looks like I managed a 3/3. Granted, my goals were simple and open-ended, but where I'm looking from, I call it a victory. Does this mean it's time to make a new set of goals?

Guess I'd better find a board and a permanent marker~!

Teacher Pretty
Middle school ESL teacher, lover of pink, eater of kimchi, addicted to Etude House, expert procrastinator, meeter of 2-dimensionial popstars: Ana. That's me.

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Learn Korean at Your Keyboard: The Art of Typing Korean

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Learning to type Korean has many benefits. Once you achieve mastery in the art of typing Korean, you can chat with friends online, comment on websites, look up words in the dictionary, search Naver — and the list goes on!

Plus, the skill of typing Korean has double the benefit since most newer phones have the ability to install full Korean keyboards. You’ll put these exact same skills into use when texting!

But perhaps one of the biggest benefits to learning how to type is that it is one of the best ways we know of to help you get better at Korean. It connects you virtually to the world of Korean speakers and at that point, your options are limitless! 

From solidifying the basics of fitting characters together to learning new slang phrases, texting and typing in Korean will be a linchpin in your journey toward Korean fluency.

Today we will progress through five steps in our journey toward becoming Korean typing masters. If you haven’t yet learned the Korean characters, we recommend you do so before learning the skill of typing Korean. Get a free guide and learn the Korean alphabet on our website!  

Let’s do this…

Step 1: Get Familiar With the Korean Keyboard

The first step in our journey is to learn the Korean keyboard layout. The creators were also masters of the mind and liked to keep things simple.

Let’s orient ourselves. On the left in black are the consonants. Notice how all of the aspirated consonants are on the bottom row!


Conveniently, all the vowels are on the right! See them here in blue:


But where are the missing vowels and the double consonants you may ask? You’ve just got to believe, young one, and they will appear (or — just hold shift)! See what happens when you hold down the shift key. Cool! New characters! 


To make the rest of the vowel combinations, we will need to be creators. We have the building blocks, and we will need to construct them.

In the 90 Day Korean Inner Circle, there is a detailed lesson on Character Fundamentals. For now, just know that a vowel always follows a consonant in any syllable!

In need of a visual? Take a look for yourself.


So, to create a syllable with a Korean keyboard, we need to type a minimum of two characters —  a consonant and then a vowel. That’s easy, right? Black plus blue.

Becoming a good builder on a Korean keyboard is easy because the keyboard software does a lot of the work for us! It knows the character fundamentals shown above, so it ends syllables when they are complete and starts new syllables automatically.

Your job is just to type the characters in the correct order!

When the software is still “building” the character, you’ll see a line underneath.

Let’s say you want to write the word 주세요, a polite request meaning “please give.”

Here is what you would see on the screen while typing:


See the black line underneath the characters? It shifts to the right as each syllable is completed. This indicates we are working on that syllable!

Never worry if what you see on the screen is not what you intended. As you can see above, when you continue typing the software creates the correct syllables once the next character is added. It’s a big help!

Just remember to hold shift first to find the double consonants and two of the vowel combinations. To create the other vowel combinations, we just need to build them!

Here is where prior knowledge of the Korean alphabet comes in handy! Our Inner Circle lesson on Character Combinations goes into detail but here’s the gist of it below. Type the vowel combinations in the same order to create them on your screen!


Just remember the placeholder. That’s your job to type it in, that keyboard doesn’t do that for you!

Got the basics down?

Let’s move on to Step 2!

Step 2: Practice Typing Korean

Now that we’ve got the basics covered, it’s time to start practicing.

A stepping stone to using a Korean keyboard is to first practice with an online keyboard. This is especially valuable if you will be typing on a computer without the Korean characters written on the keyboard.

This option helps you get a feel for the layout of a standard Korean keyboard.

Here are some online keyboards we’ve found helpful, but feel free to use any one that you wish.

We recommend numbers 1-3 because their layout is very similar to an actual Korean keyboard and so it typing on them is much more realistic. Try them out for yourself!

Korean Online Keyboard # 1

Korean Online Keyboard # 2

Korean Online Keyboard # 3

Korean Online Keyboard # 4

Korean Online Keyboard # 5

Once you’ve got a feel for how things work, try some practice typing exercises. Type the keys written below the word and it will automatically be created.

Korean Typing Practice




Step 3: Install Korean Keyboard

Before you install the Korean keyboard software on your computer (or at least before you start typing with confidence), you’ll need to make a decision.

If you didn’t buy your computer in Korea, chances are the Korean characters are not written on the keyboard.

But not to worry. Practice helps and soon you’ll have a feel for where the keys are located on the keyboard. You’ll be able to type without looking in no time!

But in the beginning, it helps to have some assistance. It’s like training wheels on a bicycle — you can build up your confidence and get used to things, and then when you’re ready, take them off!

Two methods we’ve found helpful are:

1) Stickers OR 2) An acronym

If you want, you can make your own stickers to stick on your keyboard or you can purchase stickers from Amazon. Just do a search for “Korean keyboard stickers.”

Here is one example:


If you want to go the memorization route, acronyms help!

Allow us to tell you a story.




Now that’s a silly story, but it can help us to remember the placement of the consonants on the Korean keyboard!

In the story, there were three trials. Let’s put them together, shall we? Look at that, they rhyme!

10The first letter of each word corresponds with the sound of the Korean character.


Work your way from left to right! The first line of the rhyme corresponds with the top row of consonants on the keyboard. The second line corresponds with the second row of consonants and the third line, the bottom row (see diagram below).

For the third line of the rhyme, the U is in brackets because it is actually to the right. On the keyboard, start on the fifth key over then back to the first key to continue the rhyme. The fifth key is the vowel so it sounds like the letter U!

But if it’s easier, just remember the rhyme as follows and start on the left:


See the diagram below for simplification — just follow along with the rhyme and look at the numbers!


For the vowels, their placement on the keyboard is logical and thus easy to remember:


The red lines indicate pairings. Notice how the vowels  ,and are vertically paired while   are paired horizontally.

Also notice how the horizontal-based characters are on the left and bottom, while the vertical-based characters are on the right.

Picking up these patterns can help you locate the characters with precision and decrease your reliance on other methods.

Step 4: Start Typing in Korean

Now with his knowledge, go back and try the typing exercises in Step 2 with a real Korean keyboard!

To do so, you’ll need to install the keyboard on your computer.

If you’re on a Mac:

1. System Preferences

2. Keyboard

3. + → Korean → 2-Set Korean

For Windows:

1. Control Panel

2. Change keyboard or other input methods

3. Change keyboards

4. Add → Korean (Korea) → Microsoft IME

Go through the exercises again with the keyboard on your computer and then move on!

Step 5: Practice Your Korean Typing

The last step is simply to get lots of practice. This is the real fun part!

Get used to typing with the Korean keyboard and eventually it will become second nature. Facebook, forums, websites, messengers — the internet is now yours to explore!

Put this knowledge to good use and go have fun with it!

Leave us a comment below (in Korean if you wish!) and let us know what you’ll use your Korean typing skills for. We’re excited to hear all about your plans for your new skills!

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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Gimje Horizon’s Festival

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Gimje Horizon Festival

The summer heat is finished and the beauty of fall is upon us.  As blues skies open up and cool weather sets in a peaceful time of year begins. Something that goes hand and hand with this autumn is Festival Season in Korea. Every weekend provinces throughout the country put on amazing festivals showcasing their local specialties. There is so much going on that it is near impossible to discover every great event. This is why when Korea Tourism Organizations (KTO) announced they were recruiting members for ‘Global Group on Cultural and Tourism Festivals’ to attend some of the festivals being held throughout the season I jumped on the opportunity.

KTO put together over 15 trips allowing foreign participants to attend the festivals FREE OF CHARGE! What’s the catch? In return KTO asks participants to simply share their experience and fill out a simple survey. The trip I attended was so interesting that there is no way I wouldn’t share my experience.

Great opportunities for foreigners to experience tourism and culture happen often in Korea. If you are interested in attending some make sure to Like! Our facebook page where we post links to opportunities.


The morning of October 4th I joined 20 foreigners from around the world and headed out of Seoul by bus to spend the weekend attending two great festivals: Gimje Horizon Festival and Sancheong Medicinal Herb Festival.


Our first stop was Gimje. The trip was about three hours by bus from Seoul. Gimje is located in North Jeolla Province in the Southwestern part of Korea and known as the “great plains.” The mountainous country flattens in this landmass making the area an ideal place to cultivate crops, specifically rice.


Our tour included some area attractions as well as the festival. Visitors can easily make a weekend trip, exploring the area. The natural flat landscape littered with Korea’s fall flower- the Cosmo, makes for ideal bike tours. There are also several notable temples. Our first stop was to Simpo Port and Manghaesa Temple Observatory, where we became acquainted with the history of the region.  The area is famous for their seafood. Here clams around 5cm in size, which were once a prized meal for kings, are produced.   Walking into any humble shop around Simpo Port will allow you to feast on this local delicacy.

5cm Clams fit for a king!
Our seafood lunch at Simpo Port
Our seafood lunch at Simpo Port


After eating a delicious seafood lunch, at the tiny fishing port (Simpo Port), we took a short walk to Manghaesa Temple. This beautiful and historic Buddhist temple is famous for it’s placement. The small area has stunning beauty and is believed to be a place where Heaven meets Earth. In this area we also stopped at a pavilion that offers 360-degree views of the unobstructed plains.

360 observation tower
360 observation tower at Simp Port
Views from the observation tower
Views from the observation tower



Following this stop we made our way to the festival grounds. Gimje Horizon Festival focuses on Korea’s agricultural history and offers guests a glimpse into the heritage that is being preserved by local agricultural communities. Supporting the theme is an array of programs and events that make the festival fun for the entire family. If farming doesn’t interest you, surely the many interactive events will! Festivities include a dragon competition, kite flying, culinary experience, interactive rice harvesting experiences, a grand torch parade and so much more.


Gimje Visitors Center and look out tower
Gimje Visitors Center and look out tower


Gimje is the only place in Korea where visitors can observe a panoramic view of the area encased with rice paddies that expand into the horizon without obstruction by mountains. The setting of the festival is among Gimje’s Tourism office which houses an observation tower, allowing visitors to view the area as well as the festival.

Gimje Visitors Center and look out tower
Gimje Visitors Center and look out tower

Once in the tower I was able to quickly orient myself and see the 100’s of flying kites among the blue autumn sky, the festival is famous for, as well as two massive bamboo dragons that are the centerpiece of the event.


I looked down into the festival with some binoculars, which were available at the top of the observatory, and couldn’t wait to be among the events. Rice patties allowing visitors to have interactive experiences, kite flying demonstrations and much more were in my view. I giggle at the cute children wearing rice hats and running through fields, with nets, catching grasshoppers.


After observing the festival from above, I headed to ground level and walked through the main gate. At the information tent a woman arranged me with an English-speaking guide that would help me better understand the festival. This service is free and available to all foreigners in several languages.


English Guide
English Guide

My guide was a sweet high school student who was able to easily show me around the festival and guide me to the exhibits that interested me. Our first stop was a dooling dragon competition. Two huge dragon costumes, worn by about 10 people, gracefully weaved around a stage. Foreigners and locals were invited to participate in wearing the dragon costume as well as competing in the competitions. Dancing, Rock paper scissors, and tug-o-war were just a few of the competitions that were held to see if the red or blue dragon would reign over the festival.


Dueling Dragons Demonstration
Dueling Dragons Demonstration

Dueling Dragons


After enjoying this demonstration, we continued into the festival to observe the grand Dragons. The 2 story dragon statues are stunning and a spectacle like no other. It is in this area that many people fly kites. Just behind the dragons is an agriculture lake with duck boats and paddleboats for visitors use. Although the experience looked relaxing, I opted not to participate and continued to the Traditional Village where I observed traditional crafts, folk games and then participated in a traditional wedding.

P1070587 P1070584 Traditional Wedding Band

Traditionally Korean weddings were grand events, often lasting several days and involving entire villages.   Locals in costumes reenacted the festivities. Musicians wore traditional costumes and banged drums as they danced in a circle.   I was given the opportunity to try on a traditional wedding costume. This was great fun! My guide helped me understand the experience and assured me she would make sure I looked beautiful. Volunteers surrounded me in a replica Hanok field home and placed the outfit on me. After I was dressed in wedding hanbok they did my hair in a bun and placed a braided wig on top as well as a traditional hat and large decorative shaft that pierced through the bun. Because I went on the trip alone, I did not have a groom, so I was introduced to another visitor- who I would marry. They ushered me around the hanok home and took pictures in front of alters set up for the wedding and then in front of a tiny box that the bride was carried in, to the wedding, in ancient times. My guide explained the entire process and snapped pictures with my camera throughout. What fun!


Getting dressed in traditional wedding outfit
Getting dressed in traditional wedding outfit
Traditional Wedding Dress
Traditional Wedding Dress

Once back in my street clothes, we continued to what I found the most interesting area of the festival. The Rice field village housed many interactive experiences. Visitors were allowed to go into the rice fields and harvest their own crop with traditional tools through the supervision of rice farmers. Once the rice was gathered, traditional iron pots were set up on campfires allowing participants to cook and eat rice in traditional fashion. In addition to these activities children were given nets and allowed to run among the rice field and catch locust, or play in a straw-plant land that consisted of archery, sling shots, a petting zoo, straw- trampoline, slide and rodeo.   The straw from the rice plant is also used to create traditional crafts. Participants could gather straw and create ropes and make straw bags.

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No festival would be fun without food and a large food court offers both traditional and foreign food for purchase. The area is not only famous for seafood and rice but also beef. Jipyeongseon Hanu or Horizon Korean Beef is the meat of choice in Gimje. At the festival you can visit a butcher stand and purchase meat then barbeque it in the typical Korean fashion accompanied by Korean side dishes at participating restaurants.


Our group tried a local dish called Gimje Yukhoe Bibimbap which is Bibimbap topped with steak tartare. If you are adventurous enough to eat Tartare I highly recommend sampling the dish. It was delicious!


After dinner our day did not end. The sun set and as the sky darkened my favorite part of the festival began! How could things get even more exciting, right? The Kyeokgolje Torch Parade!! Participants were given tiki torches and after a fun rally session we lite our torches and marched among hundreds of other participants throughout the festival grounds.

Getting Ready to march in the lantern parade
Getting Ready to march in the lantern parade

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The parade ended along the lake. A stage was set up with three plasma globes (those spheres that have pink lights when you touch your finger to they follow) and government figures stood in front of them. They each briefly spoke about the festival. While our lanterns glistened in the cool night sky, each man pressed his fingers to the sphere. Music began playing and a massive blue light-up dragon flew through the sky, followed by a beautiful fire works display. The dragon continued to dart through the sky throughout the fireworks! I had never seen anything like it!


After the fireworks display, we distinguished our lanterns and headed to our hotel for the night. We would arise early the following morning for ANOTHER festival located about two hours from Gimje. The Sancheung Medicine Herb Festival was the next stop in our tour.


Make sure to tune into my next blog post where I will tell you all about it!

Date: October 1-5th 2014

[By train]
Take an express train to Gimje Station.
Take the festival shuttle bus from the Station to the festival venue.
(Shuttle bus schedule: 07:30-22:30)

[By bus]
Take an express bus to Gimje Bus Terminal.
Take the festival shuttle bus from the Terminal to the festival venue.
(Shuttle bus schedule: 08:00-22:00)

For more information: 

2014 Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk

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This past Saturday I had the pleasure of once again hosting the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk. I decided to change the location to Gyeongju this year as I thought that it would appeal to more people than having it in Ulsan. My assumption was correct and we had over 20 people show up. It was a great turn out for a great day of shooting.

Our first location was the tomb park of Daereungwon. I had previously lead a photowalk here before and thus I had an idea of where people would bottleneck. After the group shot we set out across the park heading towards Cheomseongdae the ancient observatory. Most people were glued to the people flying kites as the sky was amazing. I felt like we spent a while there and got busy trying to locate people and get them on their way to the Kyochon maul.


When I arrived at the village I was pleasantly surprised that people had found their way and were eagerly waiting for the blue hour to photograph the bridge. I was a little nervous about how the restaurant would react to 20 foreigners arriving all at once. However, the restaurant was great and the handled us like pros. We had a whole room to ourselves which was great when we sang “happy birthday” to Pete DeMarco.


Overall, the walk went great. We had walkers from different cities and of different levels. I really want to thank everyone for showing up and having a great time. I am sure that next year will be even better.



For those of you who were on the walk and have registered, don’t forget to upload your best shot to the photowalk page for your chance to win a year subscription to Kelby One Training!


Tom Tom & Big John Stud’s Continuing Food Adventures: 돼지국밥

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It’s once again time for myself and Tom Gates of The Red Dragon Diaries to wow you, inform you and make you hungry as we explore another of Busan’s great culinary cuisines. This weekend, we headed to Seomyeon for 돼지국밥, also known as Dweji Gukbap, also also known as Pork, Soup, Rice. I also enjoyed the dweji variant known as 순대국밥, Soondae Gukbap, or pork blood sausage. Sound enticing?! Check out the video of our gastronomic adventure.

This time, we got a two-fer, though, as we also checked out one of those liquid nitrogen ice cream shops for a post-gukbap snack. Check out that video at the end of the gukbap video since WordPress won’t let me embed two videos on the same post, apparently.

Happy eating!

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.

RTBC Day Three: Room for Improvement

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Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Three: Discuss one “observation” area you would like to improve on.

TimeAt the end of most of my lessons, I’ve noticed there usually isn’t enough time to properly go over the day’s content. Somewhere during the phases when students are practicing and producing the language for themselves, I lose the last 5 minutes of class that I originally intended to use as review time. When I notice this happening, I usually choose to forgo the review and just allow students to finish the production activity. If I did move onto the review, I feel like I’d be cutting them off early or stunting their absorption of the material.

I guess what this really comes down to is an isse of time management and giving students tasks they can feasibly complete in the amount of time I alot. Then I can be more consistent with facilitating brief review sessions at the end of class.

To any seasoned teachers out there, I’d like to ask: Do you make a point of having clearly-designated “review time” at the end of every lesson? Why or why not? And if not, do you have a way of reviewing content/checking for comprehension that is more indirect? If so, what is it?

To view the original post and other great content, visit Korealizations at:

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Which Disney princess would make the best co-teacher?

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tumblr_nbyvp6UoQK1rmdodwo1_500Snow White – Her childlike innocence makes her perfect for working with elementary school kids. She gets them to whistle-while-they-work during even the most mundane of tasks, like tidying up the room or studying grammar. And if she can wrangle 7 dwarfs, you know she’s got to have mad classroom management skills. Just don’t let the kids try to give her any apples.


CinderellaCinderella – The classic co-teacher, she exudes honesty, a caring disposition, and a tireless work ethic, almost to the point where it’s intimidating to co-teach with her. And yet, you can’t help but pity her, as she’s had to put up with a lot in her career, mainly working with a wicked step-principal and step-teachers.



BelleBelle – If you’re teaching in a rural area, she’s the co-teacher for you! Belle knows how to make the most of any provincial life. Being an avid bookworm, she also understands the language inside and out. And, having grown up around her father’s inventions, she’s very creative and loves using new technology in the classroom.



orig-21201453Ariel – A bit of a rebel and very independent, she’s always wanted to be part of your English-speaking world. She’s got American gadgets and gizmos a plenty, and British whozits and whatzits galore. But despite her enthusiasm, her communication skills are a bit lacking. Poor unfortunate soul.




Jasmine – Although she’s very witty and intelligent, she’s also used to getting the royal treatment at school, so some might say she’s a bit spoiled. That being said, she’s very passionate and open-minded, so she’ll love learning about a whole new world of Western culture with you.



Sleeping BeautyAurora – Innocent yet confident, a day-dreamer but also stunningly gorgeous, she’s very easy to work with. After just one lesson, she’ll have you thinking, “I know you! I taught with you once upon a dream…” But like with Snow White, you have to keep an eye on her. She doesn’t do well with pointy, need-like objects.



Mulan – True, she isn’t Korean, but Mulan still has the most to offer you in the ways of Eastern culture education. She knows the pressures of family honor and what it’s like to perform under high expectations. As a result, she’s very determined and hard-working. She’ll get down to business and make a teacher out of you.


PocahontasPocahontas – She has wisdom beyond her years, so she’ll get your students painting with all the colors of the wind in no time. They’ll learn things they never knew they never knew. Pocahontas is also very accepting of other cultures, and she enjoys sharing her way of life with foreigners. Perhaps best of all, she’s very outdoorsy, so she knows all the good hiking spots.


Which Disney princess would you most like to have as your co-teacher? One of the above, or somone not listed? Feel free to respond in the comments section below! Have a MAGICAL day!

Gwaneumsa Temple – 관음사 (Jeju City, Jeju-do)

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 The Buddha on the Hillside at Gwaneumsa Temple in Jeju-do Island.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Gwaneumsa Temple is named after Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). This fairly common temple name in Korea is located on the northeast side of Mt. Hallsan. It’s believed that the temple dates back to sometime during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). However, there is very little proof that indicates the exact year of Gwaneumsa Temple’s construction. During the early 1700’s, when the Joseon royal court proclaimed Confucianism as the state religion, Buddhism suffered horribly from this policy decision. In fact, Gwaneumsa Temple was completely destroyed during this time in Korea’s history. However, in 1912, the temple was rebuilt by the Buddhist nun, Anbongryeokwan. It was later renovated and expanded in 1964.

You’re first greeted to the temple by a wide Iljumun Gate with a copper-coloured roof. Just beyond this is the pathway that leads up to the temple. The pathway is lined by numerous stone statues dedicated to Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha), as well as towering cedar trees. It’s perhaps one of the most picturesque entryways to a temple in Korea. Slightly to the right, and just past the cedar trees, is a large statue dedicated to Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). This large statue is surrounded by descriptive statues of various life-sized statues of guardians.

A little further up the trail, and you’ll see the Cheonwangmun Gate that houses murals dedicated to the Four Heavenly Kings. There are some more Mireuk-bul statues, this time housed atop stone spires, as well as a cave where monks once meditated inside it. Now, it’s a shrine for prayer.Before you enter the temple’s courtyard, you’ll see a beautiful koi pond with a brick pagoda in the centre of it. The Temple Stay building is slightly to the right as is the gift shop.

Finally, you’ll enter into the temple courtyard with the main hall, the Daeung-jeon, straight ahead. With its beautiful copper-colour roof, and paper lanterns out in front, it makes for quite the view. Housed inside the main hall is a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power).

To the right of the main hall is the Jijang-jeon. Housed inside this double altar hall is a large green-haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) to the left and an intricately painted Dragon Ship of Wisdom mural to the right. To the far left of the main hall sits the bell pavilion, as well as a stout three-tier stone pagoda.

Housed slightly to the left of the main hall, and up a set of stairs, is the rather large Samseong-gak shaman shrine. The exterior walls to this hall are decorated with various murals including a painting dedicated to the Bodhidharma. As for inside this hall, and sitting in the centre of the main altar, is a rather long, but slender, mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). This painting is joined on either side by a mural dedicated to both Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) and Doseong (The Lonely Saint), respectively. Perhaps the most interesting painting of the group is the mural dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King) with its vibrant colours and stoically seated king.

The final part of Gwaneumsa Temple that visitors can see is a large golden statue of Mireuk-bul sitting on top of a neighbouring hillside. He’s surrounded by a pantheon of smaller sized statues dedicated to various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Slightly down the hill, and to the left, are a triad of larger stone statues dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal, Munsu-bosal, and Bohyun-bosal, respectively.

Admission to the temple is free.

HOW TO GET THERE: You’ll need to take a bus towards Sancheondan from Jeju City. The bus departs every twenty minutes and the ride should last about 30 minutes. When the bus drops you off at Sancheondan, you’ll need to walk an additional thirty minutes to the temple. The signs should help guide your way.

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10. Perhaps the most famous temple on Jeju-do Island, Gwaneumsa Temple has a lot for the temple adventurer to see. From its beautiful entryway to the koi pond, the temple has a lot of aesthetic beauty. And when you couple it with the large-sized golden statue of Mireuk-bul on the hillside, as well as the Dragon Ship of Wisdom and Yongwang murals, you’ll definitely need to make Gwaneumsa Temple a stop in Jeju-do!


The Iljumun Gate at Gwaneumsa Temple.


The beautiful entry path that leads up to the temple grounds.


Just one of the statues helps guide the way.


The Cheonwangmun Gate at the temple.


The meditative shrine cave at Gwaneumsa Temple.


The beautiful koi pond at the temple.


The view as you first approach the temple courtyard.


To the far left stand this three-tier pagoda and two story bell pavilion.


Straight ahead is the copper-coloured main hall.


 The main altar inside the main hall with Seokgamoni-bul sitting front and centre.


To the right of the main hall is the Jijang-jeon.


The altar inside the Jijang-jeon with a large statue of the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife sitting all alone.


To the right hangs this highly elaborate Dragon Ship of Wisdom mural.


Up the embankment stands the larger sized Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.


Housed inside is this colourful mural dedicated to Yongwang.


A bit up the hillside, and you’ll be welcomed by a golden Mireuk-bul.


Back at the entrance rests this beautiful shrine dedicated to Amita-bul.


He’s joined by this fierce guardian statue.


 And this one, as well.

The post Gwaneumsa Temple – 관음사 (Jeju City, Jeju-do) appeared first on Dale's Korean Temple Adventures.

Economical Eating In Korea- Be Healthy Without Being Bankrupt

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Eating healthily on a budget is sometimes difficult- why buy a huge bag of apples for 5000 won (at the very least) when you can buy 5 huge bags of popcorn, or two boxes of choco pies for that price? Tempting indeed. It seems that all the staples of a healthy diet- meat, fish, vegetables, fruit- are the most expensive things to buy, which is very annoying when you’re trying to live healthily.

Renee Comet Wikimedia Commons
Renee Comet Wikimedia Commons

This is a problem for everyone, and is even worse for expats, who have to get used to seeing something which was cheap in their home country being triple the price in Korea. My biggest upset: oats. A 500 gram bag in the UK is only about 40 pence (about 700 won). In Korea, they’re pretty much non-existent, but if you do find them (thank you Costco) they are ridiculously pricey. So, adjustments to diet have to be made- I’d never eaten pumpkin before living in Korea but it’s now a central part of my diet, along with tofu, persimmon, enochi mushrooms and spinach.

My main lifesaver, however, is I Herb. I’m probably completely jinxing myself, but I’ve always had perfect customer service and deliveries from America within a week, which is amazing. Plus, delivery only costs $4- the same it would cost me to get to E Mart and back in a taxi. So it’s pretty much the perfect option.

And the other benefit? It’s not too expensive- “I Herb is The Best Overall Value in the World for Natural Products”, according to their twitter, and from my experience I wouldn’t doubt that. Most products are the same price that they’d cost you in a Korean Mart, or cheaper. Plus there is so much which isn’t readily available in Korea. What does this mean? That I Herb makes healthy eating easy, and doable on a budget.

There are hundreds of thousands of products on the website, but here are some of the best things which I’ve found:

  • Healthy Bread- Rye bread, Flaxseed bread, Multi-grain bread from $3.30 for 500 grams

  • Quinoa- $5.60 for 400 grams (compared to 10,000 won in Homeplus)
  • Grains- Buckwheat, Amaranth, Bulgar, Rye, Couscous from $3.60
  • Oats- $3 for 500 grams
  • Crackers- Ryvita, Crispbreads, Multi-seed, Multi-grain, the list is endless. From $2
  • Stevia- My saviour. Amazing to add to drinks, oatmeal, cereal, baking. And the liquid type doesn’t have any strange after-taste. From $4
  • Teas- Every type of tea you can imagine. And, cheaper than in Korean Marts- from $1.95
  • Coconut Oil- from $8
  • Herbs and Spices- from $2.60
  • Cereal- Hot cereal from $2.80, Muesli from $3.50, Granola from $4, and so many other types for the same price/ cheaper than in Korea. Including Weetabix- 24 biscuits for $5
  • Nuts- from about $8 for 450 grams
  • Seeds- from about $3 for 400 grams.
Luigi Chiesa Wikimedia Commons
Luigi Chiesa Wikimedia Commons

You can spend hours searching on the website and there are tons of other healthy goodies: cereal bars, dried fruit and vegetables, soup mixes, healthy butters, baking goods, healthy crisps and popcorn, protein powder and protein  bars (Quest Nutrition bars are so much cheaper on I Herb than anywhere else, and CarbRite Bars are so yummy). It’s such a good option for getting good-value healthy foods. It’s so popular that there are literally deliveries every week to teachers at our school.

Miia Ranta Wikimedia Commons
Miia Ranta Wikimedia Commons

As for buying foods on a budget from Korean shops- it can be done. One of the best things is that rice is everywhere, and a nice, healthy staple to add to your diet. To get top healthy points, choose brown/ multi-seed/ add barely to your rice. Then you’re instantly making your meals healthier. Cheap, quick and easy- what could be better?

A few other things which I have added to my diet because they’re healthy, cheap and easy to find in Korea are: tofu (especially Pulmone Half & Half which is so good), eggs, greek yoghurts (you can find these from 2000 won), vegetables (things like cabbage, carrots, spinach, and lettuce, which don’t change much in price despite the season), and tinned salmon and tuna.

This leads me onto my next point- buying tinned food is a good option for things which areso expensive otherwise. As long as you don’t buy the flavoured options (like chilli tuna or salmon which are more artificial and contain more sugar), this is a good way to eat healthy fish without spending too much.

The same goes for buying frozen things- why spend 6000 won on 100 grams of fresh blueberries when you can buy over 1 kilo of frozen blueberries for 9000 won? The same goes for mango, pineapple, strawberries, etc- go frozen, and you can enjoy all the healthy benefits of delicious fruit for a fraction of the price. I also freeze meat- buy bigger portions of fresh chicken as they’re much better value and then freeze them separately, another easy way to spend less but still be able to afford clean, healthy food.

I’ve also noticed how important it is when buying fruit and vegetables to only buy what’s in season; recently, the price of tomatoes went up by 2000 won in about 2 weeks and broccoli doubled in price- if you take notice of the price changes and only buy what’s in season, it’s much cheaper. This is especially true with fruit; there are a few weeks in summer when watermelon is actually affordable (yay) and the same goes for peaches and nectarines. At other times during the year, they’re just too expensive.

The thing I find which makes the biggest difference for fruit and veg is going to a local shop, rather than a chain. In my local vegetable shop I can buy carrots for 1000 won, a big bag of eggplant for 1000 won, a huge bag of spinach for under 2000 won, and a bag of 8 apples for 5000 won. Pretty good, when at the big marts everything is double the price!

I hope that’s given you some ideas on how to eat healthily for less. I manage to eat fresh, healthy food without going bankrupt, so it’s definitely doable. Still, if Korea decided to start selling oats for a reasonable price, that would make my life so much easier… Here’s hoping!


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