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Does anyone know what special public holiday falls on October 3rd in South Korea?
If you said ‘National Foundation Day’, then it’s time to give yourself a pat on the back!
Known as Gaecheonjeol (개천절) in Korean, National Foundation Day in Korea is often confused by foreigners with Korean Liberation Day (광복절, Gwangbokjeol). We’ll explain why they are different. Korean Liberation Day is in August and is concerned with victory over Japan and the creation of the modern Republic of Korea. National Foundation Day is all about the start of Korean history, and Korea’s creation myth.
Many countries have creation myths which help form their national identity. From ancient Rome’s Romulus and Remus who were raised by a wolf, to England’s King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, such myths can be found around the world. Korea is no different!
History of National Foundation Day in Korea
The Korean creation myth goes back to the beginnings of the Gojoseon (고조선) period. This was a period in Korean history that occurred before the more well-known three kingdoms era. Gojoseon’s name literally means ‘old Joseon’ because this period of Korean history came long before the Joseon dynasty. According to the story of Korea’s creation, Korea was founded in 2333 B.C. by Dangun (단군).
Dangun’s parentage is rather surprising in that his mother was a bear. Yes, an actual bear! The story goes that Hwanung (환웅), the son of the Lord of Heaven, wished to live on earth,. Therefore, his dad, Hwanin (환인), allowed him and three-thousand followers to build a city on Baekdu Mountain (백두산). Because of this, Baekdu Mountain, which straddles the North Korea-China border, and is known as Changbaishan in Chinese, is often seen as the birthplace of Korea.
Baekdu Mountain is a volcanic mountain with a lake at its summit. This lake is known as ‘heavenly lake’ and is where Hwanung allegedly descended from heaven. While the mountain now is on the border between North Korea and China, it was in fact near the center of the Gojoseon kingdom which stretched deep into Manchuria at its height.
On the mountain, Hwanung met a bear and a tiger, both of whom wished to become human. To test them, Hwanung set them the rather tough challenge of spending one hundred days living in a cave and only eating garlic and mugwort.
The tiger, as tigers do, completely failed the challenge and gave up after twenty days, presumably much to the bad luck of whichever tasty creature crossed his path afterwards. The bear however, managed to complete the challenge.
After finishing the challenge, the bear got turned into a woman, and then ended up marrying Hwanung and giving birth to a child. This son, Dangun, went on to found the first Korean kingdom.
Although the story of Dangun is a myth, it is said to be based on real events, with the tiger and the bear representing two different tribes that were vying for Dangun’s favor.
Celebrating National Foundation Day in Korea
Korean’s celebrate this founding of the first Korean kingdom on National Foundation Day. The holiday was originally on the third day of the tenth month of the lunar calendar, and was therefore on a different date each year on the solar calendar (like Chuseok).
However, since 1949, its date was moved to the solar calendar, so now National Foundation Day in Korea falls on the October 3rd every year. It is sometimes known as ‘Dangun Day’. The word Gaecheon, which makes up the holiday’s Korean name gaecheonjeol, means ‘opening of heaven’, and refers to how Hwanin opened heaven to allow his son to descend to Baekdu Mountain.
National Foundation Day in Korea is usually marked by a large fireworks display in Seoul. The display takes place in Yeouido Han River Park and it is very popular. Every year, huge crowds gather in the park or on the banks of the river opposite to try and watch the fireworks. With seemingly every person in Seoul packed into a small area to try and watch the fireworks display, Yeouinaru subway station is often closed for safety reasons.
If you wish to watch the fireworks display from Yeouido Han River Park then you will need to arrive early. Otherwise, try and find somewhere along the river with a good view so that you can watch the display without being stuck in such a huge crowd. You can also get a good view of the fireworks display from the top of Namsan Tower.
One might want to celebrate National Foundation Day with a visit to Baekdu Mountain. However, as this is pretty difficult as you would have to go to China to visit there, it may be easier to visit Halla Mountain on Jeju Island instead. Both mountains are volcanos and both mountains have calderas (volcano crater lakes) so from the top of Halla Mountain you could experience the kind of landscape that gives the atmosphere to the Korean creation myth.
Myths are one of the things that help create different cultures and make each culture unique from one another. There are many other myths in Korean culture that add a depth and flavor to life here.
What creation myths does your country have? Please share them in the comments below!
Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series: http://www.90DayKorean.com/learn
Today’s my Schediversary. I’m really excited to say that I’ve been working remotely with Sched for a year now!
Sched helps small teams organize better events with attendance management tools and mobile apps, and recently celebrated its eighth year. It’s great to work from home because it’s super flexible, but there’s a work-life balance I dance around and am still trying to find. Still, I love my job and the friends I work with.
The picture is me in Tokyo with my new Macbook Air, trip and laptop paid by Sched. Can’t wait to go to San Diego in a couple of weeks to meet up with everyone and go to Comic Con -their schedule powered by us!
I’ve lived a few different lives already: delivering newspapers, making sandwiches, a resident assistant, a soldier in the US Army, an apartment leasing agent, a computer lab assistant, a political scientist, a journalist, an auto insurance medical claims representative, teaching children, and teaching adults.
Eager to see this new chapter in my life unfold, and yes, I’ll be in Korea.
If you are looking for hip things to do to amp up your summer spirits during your holiday in Seoul, better check this out.
Here are fun, new-age activities and top notch water sports you can experience along the Han River and around the Han River Parks.
Take a look at what’s hot and trending among young people in Korea nowadays.
1. Electric Scooter (I-Bot)
Around Yeouido Hangang Park, you can spot many people riding on one of these electric transport called “I-Bot”. You can rent it at a rental shop located nearby Yeouinaru subway station (Line 5). For more info, click here.
Watch this rider showing off some impressive waterskiing skills on her Instagram account! If you want to try it on the Han River, click here.
Wakeboarding along the Han River is truly an amazing experience, especially when the scenic ride quickly turns into a thrilling adventure.
Surf the sky on the hoverboard. If you want to try this newest kind of water sports Han River has to offer, click here for details.
Want to fly like “Iron Man”? Flyboarding is easy to learn and enjoy. Head over to Jamwon Hangang Park this weekend and try this exhilarating experience!
If you want pure relaxation without any thrills and action, Tubester can be a great option. Since it’s really popular, making an advance reservation is strongly advised. Booking online is available here.
If you enjoyed reading this blog, check out our website Trazy.com and discover more of the latest, trendiest and newest things to do in South Korea in Summer 2016!
Cyclists are criticizing the Seoul City Government for the creation of new bicycle crossing lanes throughout the city that start & end from high curbs instead of ramps. Korea FM’s Chance Dorland spoke with Kojects writer Nikola Medimorec & two other Seoul-based cyclists about these & other problems plaguing bikers in the city.
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The post Seoul Bicycle FAIL: Riders Question Rampless Bike Crossings appeared first on Korea FM.
Busan Food: 터화담
Finding myself with a quiet Saturday evening without plans, I began to drag something new and exciting. Usually, with me, that means trying out a new restaurant. A quick bit of research led to me discovering 터화담, a Korean fusion restaurant in Oncheonjang. It was time for a visit!
First impressions were excellent. Situated a couple of minutes away from Oncheonjang subway station the restaurant finds itself occupying a little oasis of calm in the middle of the busy city. Right in front there is a small stand of trees, and a delightful fountain giving off the wonderful background noise of tinkling water. It’s a lovely spot.
The interior is also extremely well thought out. Huge, floor to ceiling Windows provide oodles of natural light, and the heavy, classy dark wood furniture is offset by bright, colourful art on the walls. The owner was extremely proud to tell us that all the work comes from local artists. I thought this was a nice touch.
We were sat down and offered menus. The food is a fascinating mixture of classic Korean, classic Mediterranean, and some delicious sounding fusion dishes. We had to try the ‘no flour vegetable pasta’ which is a dish resembling pasta, made only from fresh thinly sliced vegetables. The owner was proud to announce that there is no MSG used, infedients are local where possible, and as fresh as they can be, with all their sauces coming from a famous Korean monastery who specialise in Korean sauces. The owner is a knowledgable man, who is clearly deeply passionate about his food, wine, and his restaurant. He also clearly runs a tight ship, as the restaurant was spotless and the staff extremely well turned out. Whilst I was waiting for the food I had the chance to visit the kitchen. Two young chefs worked at food with both commitment and a deft touch. All in all I found 터화담 to huge an excellent first impression, both smart and relaxing.
The food arrived in short order. First we were treated to Bossam, a classic Korean dish of steamed pork, served simply with pickled vegtables and traditional sauces. The meat was excellent. Tender, juicy and exceptionally flavorsome, with slightly spicy and sharp sauces to offset the richness of the pork. It was also an exceptionally generous portion, and coming in at ₩30,000 is reasonable in my opinion.
Next out was the salmon and grapefruit salad. This was a simple dish that relied on the quality of its ingredients to work. Fresh, glassy, well prepared salmon sashimi, thinly sliced, pungent grapefruit, and a generous sprinkle of pickled capers. Simple, and yet so fresh and well prepared that it really popped in your mouth. We finished it off in short order. The owner assured us the salmon came from Norway, and was of the highest quality. At ₩23,000 it isn’t a cheap dish, but it is delicious and I would highly reccomend it to any fan of sashimi.
Lastly we had the no-flour vegetable pasta. This was a stand-out performer. Razor thin slices tofu, courgette, aubergine and mushrooms were blended with a smooth, rich, spinach pesto sauce. It was tasty, comforting, and absolutely delicious. The highlight for me were beautiful little sunblush tomatoes (which I adore) hidden away amongst the vegetables like little rubies waiting to be discovered.
Accompanying the meal were a selection of leaves deep fried in tempura batter. These gave a quite splendidly loud crunch when bitten into, and provided a nice saltiness to boot. We also had a bottle of a Chilean Rose wine. It was cold, crisp and fresh. I’m not a huge fan of rose wine but my fiancé adores it and enjoyed it thoroughly.
The owner owns a business importing wine, see here for more information, and also some information on the restaurant. His knowledge is quite extraordinary. Having been on a few wine making courses myself in South America we got to chatting about the benefits of wine from that region. I was pleased to discover the restaurant stocks a large amount of South American wine, as the owner believes it offers a good balance between value and quality. He really is a fount of knowledge regarding wine and would be happy to answer any questions you have.
We left 터화담 feeling extremely well satisfied. The menu is a little pricey, but the portions are big and the quality of the food excellent. As well, the owner is knowledgeable and approachable and his staff extremely smart and attentive. I think Korean fusion food will be a big player on the local scene in the next few years. Expect 터화담 to be leading the charge.
Come out of Oncheonjang station exit one and cross the road. Go left and take the first right around some buildings. Take the first right and continue for 200 metres or so. The restaurant is located in a little square, next to a stand of trees and a fountain. They are your best bet to look out for!
Filed under: Food
Since I already had my visa for Vietnam sorted in Vientiane, I took a 1-hour 10-minute flight straight into Hanoi for $100 USD through Lao Airlines, and the process was super easy.
I overpaid for an unlimited monthly Viettel Data-only SIM card (Dcom) for 300,000₫ ($13.45 USD), which worked throughout Vietnam for the three weeks I was there. I likely would have paid 1/6 of that price outside of the airport.
Getting from the airport to the city was overwhelming. I took a private minibus — remember to confirm the price first and expect to leave only after the van is full.
I was in Hanoi for 12 days total in July + August, 2015, and was lucky to stay at a friend’s apartment in Tây Hồ. She was an endless resource when discussing places to go and good things to eat. She lived near the city’s largest lake, which is 15km in circumference and surrounded by great places to eat and drink. My favorite thing to eat was bún chả which is a heady combination of grilled pork patties, fried spring rolls, vermicelli noodles, and fresh herbs. This was the best near Tây Hồ.
Hanoi has a lot more going on than its sleepy beach towns, but is much more relaxing than Saigon (which I would later learn). Still, Hanoi can feel a bit overwhelming, especially with the underlying feeling that you’re constantly being ripped off. Once you get the hang of crossing streets and get some food in you, you’ll feel much better, though.
Someone told me that Vietnam seems like a country determined to make up for lost time, and nothing makes me believe that more than dozens of scooters zipping in all directions around me. On a whole, it felt like a very safe country, but it certainly has more scams than any other I’d ever been in. And, yes, be cautious of those scooters zipping inches from you and snatching your loosely-held (or not held at all, if you’re being absentminded) bag. Seriously.
The Old Quarter is an excellent mix of history, modern life, new businesses, fast motorbikes, and great food + drink. Vietnam has the cheapest beer in the world, bia hoi, “fresh’” or draught beer brewed daily without additives or preservatives to be drunk within hours. Vietnamese coffee is probably the best in the whole world, and is often served iced with condensed milk.
While I was in Hanoi, these were some of my favorite things to do:
- Hỏa Lò Prison, ironically nicknamed the “Hanoi Hilton” by US POWs during the war in Vietnam.
- Walk around Hoàn Kiếm Lake, and then check out the Municipal Water Puppet Theatre.
- Walk around the St. Joseph’s Cathedral and then purchase a tour to Sapa or Halong Bay. Keep mind that not every travel agency is legit. Miss Ly was recommended to me and I found her very kind and reasonably priced.
- New Day is a recommended popular restaurant. Go with a group so you can order a bunch of different Vietnamese dishes.
- Cafe Duy Tri for caphe sua chua (iced coffee with yogurt).
- Cafe Pho Co for excellent views over Hoan Kiem Lake and a caphe trung da, coffee topped with a silkily smooth beaten egg white.
- Cong Caphe serves good coffee with kitsch communist memorabilia.
- West of Old Quarter: Temple of Literature and Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and Museum. Yup, I saw Ho’s embalmed body!
- A 3-hour food tour with Mark Lowerson or Van Cong Tu of Hanoi Street Food Tours, for $75 per person inclusive of all food/drinks.
- ClickSpace Coworking Center was the best place in Hanoi to get some work done.
Green onions are a permanent fixture on my grocery list. They have a home in many Korean dishes, but I also chop them for salads, make relish for lettuce wraps, or roast them whole. They are fresh produce that have the spirit of pantry items I love best: high flavor impact with low effort.
Green onions are typically sold in small batches, and the grocery store variety can be underwhelming. (Green onion slime is a very real problem.) By the time you cut off the scraggly roots and trim the hollow shoots up top, you're left with a few thin stalks that can easily be gobbled up if you're cooking for a group. There is a way, however, to take the edge off of this kitchen problem:
Regrow them in your kitchen. It takes a little over a week.
A friend recommended this to me, and she's made the process a regular part of her kitchen routine. Though it sounds like a Pinterest lifehack (and it is — you can find it on Pinterest), the ease with which you can regrow green onions should be enough to squash any feelings of preciousness. You're throwing out the ends anyway. You probably have a jar. And if you're someone who runs through green onions with any regularity, why not? It's especially appealing for fellow tiny apartment-dwellers who don't have much in the way of a garden.
The only "tools" you need are a bowl and some water. (I started with a small, shallow bowl and then transferred to a jar once the new onions got a few inches on them.) Let them sit out and watch the magic happen. You'll notice growth by the second day, but it took about ten days to get them back to their regular size.
Here's the step-by-step.
1.Cut the ends off the green onions, being sure to avoid most of the green.
2. Place the ends in a bowl of shallow water, covering the roots completely.
3. When you start to see some growth, change the water out.
4. Transfer the onions to to a mason jar once they're long enough to stay upright with the ends submerged in water.
5. Eat them. They will taste like green onions.
How is overall English speaking level in Korea? Seoul is an English-friendly city but if you travel outside Seoul, you may find it difficult to communicate. On average, people in Korea have fairly good understanding of English, but the elderly know very little spoken English. Ask young university students!
2. Peak Travel Seasons
Peak seasons would be around national holidays, such as Lunar New Year in January/February and ‘Chuseok‘ in September/October.Many Koreans visit their relatives during these holiday periods and so traveling by train or bus will be very challenging. Also, many shops will be closed, especially on the very day of Lunar New Year’s Day and Chuseok.
However, on the other hand, these two periods can be a great time for travelers and tourists to enjoy traditional performances and events that will take place around the country.
If you want to plan a trip to Jeju island for your summer vacation, it is highly recommended that you make a reservation for your accommodation, tour and flight 3 months before the trip. The summer months are when many Koreans use their vacation leave, and they tend to fly to Jeju Island because of its amazing natural scenery and proximity.
Korean foods are usually spicy but no worries. You can find plenty of restaurants that serve fusion and international cuisine, especially in an expat-friendly, multicultural district called Itaewon in Seoul.
Also, do take note that Korean people use chopsticks and spoons, so try to get used to using chopsticks.
4. Tipping Culture & Free Services
Tipping is not customary in Korea. Including restaurants, beauty salons and even hotels, there’s hardly any place you have to tip.
You may tip in the taxis but this is also uncommon. People sometimes don’t receive the change coins and leave it as a tip. Even so, people don’t give tips over 1,000 KRW. 90% of the taxis in Korea do not expect tips.
In Korea, you can many kinds of free “services (서비스)”.
Local restaurants serve many kinds of side dishes that you don’t have to pay for it. If you want to have more, just ask for it. Some restaurants also serve you desserts like ice cream, coffee and tea and they are complimentary, too.
5. Public Transportation
Most cities have orderly network of transportation and the signs are written in English. The 4 major cities (Seoul, Daejeon, Busan, Daegu, Gwangju) offer a very convenient subway network and major tourist attractions and destinations are easily accessible. In Seoul, it is better to take the subway than bus or taxi because of the traffic jam.
For Jeju Island, read our Essential Transportation Tips & A Perfect Hassle-Free Guide To Getting Around Jeju Island.
Korea is an incredibly safe country! Many of the convenience stores and cafes are open 24/7 and the streets are bright and busy until late night.
Internet speed and connectivity are truly amazing. You can find many internet cafes called “PC Bang (PC방)” almost everywhere in major cities. Here, you can enjoy high internet speed and connection at a cheap price. You can also easily access to Wi-Fi as well. For more info, read our Survival Tips: How to get Wi-Fi in Korea.
8. Quick, Quick, Quick
If you travel to Korea for the first time, you will probably find almost everything quick and fast. There’s even an expression that describes such unique culture, “Pali-pali (빨리빨리)” culture, which means “quickly, quickly” in Korean. Because of this “quickly” culture, you can find things that make Koreans’ life more convenient.
You can call the servers merely by pressing a call button on the corners of the table. You don’t have to call out to the server nor wait until a server comes to your table to place your order. If you need anything, just press it!
- Delivery service
Korea is famous for its orderly and fast delivery service. You can order almost every kind of food (even McDonald’s provide delivery service in Korea!) and it will be delivered in no more than 30 mins. (Sometimes it takes more time to choose the menu than the delivery time.)
- Instant food at the convenience store
There are tons of instant food at Korean convenience stores. The most famous one is cup noodle and it takes only 3 mins to cook it. Check out 10 Must-Try Korean Convenience Store Foods.
9. Korean Customs
- Honor and respect are pretty important in Korea. On subways and buses, there are separate sections with seats for elders. It is common practice to give seats to the elderly in Korea.
- Koreans share food with others. Especially for the ‘jjigae (stew)’, it comes out in one big pot. People will put their spoons in the pot and eat the soup.
- No chairs in some places. In Korea, there are many places where you have to sit on the floor. Be used to taking off shoes and sitting on the floor at some restaurants.
Watch our “8 Hot Keywords about South Korea” below that covers everything about this wonderful country!
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