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Age in Korea is very important. Far more important than it is in Europe or the USA. Often the first question that people ask is ‘How old are you?’ Age is important not just for things like whether you are old enough to buy cigarettes and alcohol, but for a whole variety of social interactions in Korea.
People use different language when speaking to people of a different age. They expect people to act differently, with younger people expected to pour drinks, or older people expected to pay for things. Even the way you refer to your friends is based on their age; if they are a year older than you, they might be your 누나 (noona) or 언니 (eonni), if they are younger, they will be your 동생 (dongsaeng).
With all this importance put on age, answering the question ‘How old are you?’ is very important. But the answer to the question might not be as simple as you think it is.
Age in Korea is different from age in other countries. You may be thirty years old whether you are in the USA, France, or Russia, but as soon as you arrive in Korea, you magically become thirty-one or thirty-two. How can this be? Well, Koreans have a different way of calculating their age than people in other countries.
People in most countries calculate their age based on their birthday. If you were born on April 1st 2000, then you would turn 17 on April 1st 2017. However, in Korea, age isn’t calculated based on your birthday.
A Year in the Womb
If you are born in the USA, then on the day after you are born, you are considered to be one day old. The nine months that you spent inside your mommy’s tummy are not considered part of your age. In Korea, on the day of your birth, you are considered to be one year old; the time you spent in the womb counts as the first year of your life (despite it only being nine months). Because of this, your Korean age is always at least one year higher than your international age.
Happy New Year, and Happy Birthday Too!
Everybody in Korea shares the same birthday: January 1st. Well, not really. Everybody has their own birthday, complete with cake and candles. But on your birthday in Korea, you are not considered to be one year older than the day before. Instead, Koreans all age on the same day. January 1st. No matter when your birthday is, if you were 40 years old on December 31st, then on January 1st, you will be 41. Korean age works as if everybody was born on January 1st.
Calculating your Korean age
If you did happen to be born on January 1st, then calculating your Korean age is very easy. Just add one year to your current age. For the rest of us, things are a little bit more complicated.
First we need to add one year to our current age to represent the time in the womb. Then, if you haven’t had your birthday yet this calendar year, you need to add one more year to your age. So, for example, if today is February 14th, and you were born in July, you would add two years to your age. If today is February 14th, and you were born in January, you would just add one year to your age.
All of this seems very unfair on people born in December, who spend most of the year being two years older in Korea than they would be in other countries.
If you want to calculate somebody’s age mathematically, you can use this simple formula:
1 + Current year – Year of Birth = Korean Age
1 + 2017 – 1990 = 28
Obviously, there is a large chance of confusion when non-Koreans talk about age with Koreans. The way that most Koreans avoid confusion is to use the terms ‘Korean age’ and ‘international age’ when talking about age.
한국나이 (Hanguk nai) – Korean Age
만 나이 (man nai) – international age
저는 올해 스물 살이지만 만으로는 열아홉 살이에요.
(jeoneun olhae seumul salijiman maneuro yeolahop salieyo.
I’m twenty in Korean age but nineteen in Western age.
Other terms you could hear:
You may also hear these terms when people are talking about international age. They all mean the same as ‘만 나이’.
국제나이 (gukje nai) – international age
미국나이 (miguk nai) – American age
외국나이 (oeguk nai) – foreign age
When is international age used in Korea?
As a general rule, Korean age is used for social interactions with people, whereas international age is used for more official things. For example, the age limits written on alcohol, cigarettes, movie posters, and so on are based on international age. The legal age for most things in Korea is 19. This means international age ‘19’.
Wow, we are the same age!
As age determines a complete host of social interactions in Korea, being of the same age as somebody can make everybody feel more comfortable. If somebody that you have just met finds out that you are the same age as them, they will often be excited. This is because if you and your friend are the same age in Korea, neither person will have any of the social obligations that come from being a different age from each other. Being the same age as another person has a special word in Korean: 동갑 (donggap). You will often hear the expression 우리는 동갑이다 (urineun donggapida) which means ‘we are the same age’. As the Korean age system is based on year of birth, rather than your birthday, you will always be the same age as this new friend. Even if your birthday is the very next day!
Now that you know the difference between Korean age and international age, calculate your Korean age. But don’t be upset that you have suddenly become two years older. Age is just a number, after all.
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North Korea says US bases in Japan were the target of its most recent ballistic missile test, China is trying to punish South Korea’s economy for THAAD, and a new Korean television series, with zombies, will be released new year. All that & more on the latest Korean News Update podcast episode from Korea FM.
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I’ve wobbled back and forth on whether or not to do this for a few months now. On the one hand, conspicuous consumption, capitalism, etc.; on the other, we all need things to live. Sometimes it’s hard to find decent/handmade/well-crafted things to live with here in Korea, if your Korean isn’t top-notch. Even after I finished language school, it took me a while before I was able to really venture beyond Gmarket, Coupang and the department stores.
So I decided to add a wish list category to the blog. To be clear, I’m not in anyway sponsored by any of the companies whose items will appear on the lists, and I won’t even own most of them. Some of them are (and will remain) well out of my price range. These aren’t reviews or promotions. The only point of these posts is to introduce some new things (and shops) to readers.
(And maybe, just maybe, somebody’s husband might be reading somebody’s blog, and take a few hints about somebody’s future birthday/anniversary/Christmas gifts. Ahem.)
So, as for the list…
- Organic Whole Dark Wheat from Soseng; 6,000 KRW for 1kg
- Wild Cherry Tree Honey from Gre-eat Market; $15 US
- 7-year-developed Soy Sauce by Eomma Senggak from Soseng; 10,000 KRW
- Smoked Pastrami from Salt House; 12,000 KRW
- Natural Syrup Set A from In Season; 48,000 KRW
- Cockscomb Flower Tea from I Love Flower Tea (꽃을담다); 26,000 KRW
I thought, since this is a food-focused blog, it would only be right to start with food. There is a lot of cool stuff going on right now in Korea, in terms of artisanal food products. Korea moves at the speed of light, and while the last wave of trends related to foreign ingredients that rode in on the FTA still lingers, there is a whole new generation of Koreans who are reimagining the roots of their own food culture.
Using the broadened perspective a greater influx of foreign goods has given them, city dwellers in particular are returning back to food practices once thought to be out-of-date by young urbanites with busy work lives. Some of items on this list, like the syrups, are very basic reinterpretations of traditional practices that have fallen out of use among new generations of Koreans.
While mothers and grandmothers in hometowns across the country in that great region commonly known as Not Seoul may click their tongues at the prices, the women in most younger Korean households are already balancing childcare with grueling work schedules. It is appealing to be able not only to purchase, at the click of a button, a modern version of the 청 (cheong, fermented fruit or grain syrups) their mothers made over the course of months, but also to have those syrups available in innovative new flavors.
Other artisanal items, like the soy sauce, are strictly traditional, but have been eclipsed in recent decades by cheap, factory-produced alternatives. The slow food movement has had a big impact on Korea, partially in reaction to foreign trade and policy developments like the adoption of the FTA.
While Koreans have been quick to adapt to foreign ingredients and cooking methods, a protectionist instinct has also arisen in response. The desire to keep Korea’s food culture and industries alive and thriving, and to not lose sight of how good Korean ingredients can truly be when made well — that is, slowly — has led to a proliferation of modern Korean food masters, who protect and keep the old traditions.
Some of the artisanal products that have appeared on the Korean scene, like the pastrami on this list, represent the incredible impact the migration of gyopo (ethnic Koreans born or raised abroad) into the country has had on the food scene here. Fluent, or at least conversational, in both food languages, gyopo have been some of the most successful in bridging the gap between “Koreanized” and “authentic”, managing in many cases to satisfy both audiences (and pleasing the socks off of many foreigners who have felt otherwise stranded in a foreign-food desert for years).
Overall, though, the main thread connecting the items on this list is the fact that I want them all. The pastrami I have had and can vouch for — it also needs to be said that Salt House’s smoked cheeses and almonds are out of this world, in my opinion, and B’s face lights up like the sun when I pull a package of their smoked bacon out of the fridge. In fact, there’s probably an entire post about Salt House coming at some point.
For now, I’ll leave you off here. I hope this post is helpful. Feel free to leave comments suggesting future wish lists you’d like to see. The wish list posts won’t normally be this long — I just got a bit carried away this time.
Freelance writer and editor. American in Seoul. I write about Korean food. I blog about all food. Last year I wrote a monthly column about traveling to different places around the country to explore Korean ingredients and cuisine. This ignited my interest in local foods and cooking, which I blog about regularly now. I also blog restaurant and cafe recommendations, recipes and some background and history about Korean food.
The Biggest Mistake You can Make for ESL Writing Not proofreading your writing is the biggest mistake you can make for ESL writing. This applies to students who are studying English as a second or third language, as well as native speakers. Almost everyone makes a lot of very simple …
ESL Writing: Fluency + Accuracy
For speaking and writing, there are two main ways to evaluate it: fluency and accuracy. Fluency is how fast you are able to do it. Accuracy is how good your grammar and vocabulary are. It’s more complicated than that, but that’s the simple explanation! Keep that in mind as you read the rest of this article.
Don’t Forget Fluency Practice
Most English writing classes and textbooks focus on accuracy. It’s much easier for a book, or teacher to point out grammar and vocabulary errors than to teach you to write quickly. However, it’s important to work on both. The good news is that you can easily do it yourself! Here’s how I helped my students with fluency when I taught in South Korean universities.
Here’s How to Practice
Get a notebook. Use it only for this, and not for other English writing practice. Each day (or whatever time interval you decide-twice a week, or 10x a month, etc.), give yourself a topic. For example, “My family,” or, “Plans for the weekend,” or, “Hopes for the future,” or, “My favourite book.”
Then write about that topic for 5 minutes (or 10 minutes once you get used to it). Put away your cell-phone and dictionary. The goal is to write quickly. Use only grammar and vocabulary that you know. If you don’t know how to spell something, just guess. It doesn’t matter. Focus on writing quickly!
The Most Important Thing…
This is the most important thing- your pen should NEVER stop moving. If you can’t think of anything, write this sentence, “I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t…” After two or three times, you’ll think of something else! Make sure your pen does not stop moving! Write quickly. Grammar and vocabulary don’t matter for this activity.
Keep Track of your Progress
Over time, you’ll notice that the amount you write increases! You can make a simple chart to keep track of this. Count the number of lines you write after each session and mark it on your paper. Remember that the goal is to write more quickly, not to write accurately. You can work on grammar, vocabulary and structure at other times.
More ESL Writing Tips
If you want to improve your ESL writing skills, you’ll need to check out this book on Amazon: 71 Ways to Practice English Writing: Tips for ESL/EFL Learner. This tip about writing fluently is from that book and there are 70 more tips just like it. The English writing tips range from study skills and habits, to formal writing, to informal writing where the goal is to just have fun while using English. Emails, essays, organizing your ideas, job applications. It’s all there!
The book is practical, easy to read, well-organized and we’re sure that it’ll help you improve your English writing skills. 71 Ways to Practice English writing is for beginners, intermediate, as well as advanced students. Everyone can improve their ESL writing with consistent practice! Are you ready to improve your skills?
You can check out the book on Amazon:
In my last post I showed you how to make the best out of the Blue Hour and I mentioned how cityscapes. In this post, we are going to step a little further into one of my favourite subjects to shoot, cityscapes. The reason that I love cityscapes so much is the fact that you get to see all the shapes, lines, lights and movement of a manufactured landscape. From below or above, this intrigues me. I think partly because I grew up in a small city in the middle of Canada and I grew old in South Korea, which is quite the contrast.
Look at the World Around You
You don’t have to be in a place like Seoul or Hong Kong to take great cityscapes. It is all about finding the right angle and telling the story. Many new photographers think that they have to get onto a rooftop to make a proper cityscape. While that might help in changing your perspective, it is not the be all and end all of cityscape photography.
The city is your subject. You mission is to find the best way to show it off. What draws your eye? Is it the buildings, the traffic, or the green spaces? Find a way to tell its story and you will make a great shot.
Find the Story
So you are probably wondering how exactly do you “find a story” from a bunch of buildings and street lights. The first thing to do is to step back from it and really think about what you see. After all, photography is all about the art of seeing. What really gets your brain fired up when you look around. In a recent trip to Songdo, South Korea I really had an interesting time telling the story of Songdo. I went out with master photographer John Steele, who by all accounts is one of Korea’s greatest expat photographers.
We wandered around the futuristic city looking for that story. Songdo has been shot so much that many of the rooftops are now closed to the public or sushi restaurants. However, as we looked around, we kept coming back to the “Tri-bowl” area in the central park. For some reason this odd building grabbed our attention. From the viewing platform up on the 20th floor of a highrise building, we really couldn’t capture what was pulling us down there.
So we decided to try a few different locations and then head directly to the bowls themselves. It was a good decision as when we got down to street level, the city came alive. Not to mention, as we got there, all the lights started to come on. It was like the area was slowly waking up. John and I barely said two words to each other as we ran around trying to capture the story.
Timing is of the Essence
I love the blue hour but it may not always be the best time for a city. Sometimes you get a better story first thing in the morning when the warm sunlight hits the city and everyone is slowly rising up to greet the day. Perhaps, it is later on in the day when the sun creates long shadows between the buildings. Again, this is all about finding that story and choosing the best time of day to shoot it.
Not every shot has to be a blue hour or sunrise shot. However, it should match the feel of the city. Some shots maybe best suited for late at night like the neon alleyways that they have here in Korea. Others like this one from Bukcheon Village in Seoul show a different side of the modern city as it is contrasted by the hannock heritage homes in the morning light.
Look through the Lens
Sounds simple right? However, too often I find new photographers sticking to ideas that a certain lens is for certain subjects. Meaning that they often will lean towards a wide angle for cityscapes. While a wide angle may be great if that is what you are trying to show but sometimes even a 70-200mm can be useful when trying to show a certain part of your story. Do not let the lens dictate what you shoot. They are only tools to help bring out the story that you have in your mind.
This is why I often recommend the 24-105 mm lens for this kind of subject. It has a lot of range. It can be wide when you want it and zoom when you need it. It is a great all around lens that will allow you have a bit more creative control when it comes to telling your story. Once you have a better idea of what you want to say, you can switch it up a bit. In Songdo, I really wanted to get the Tri-bowls into the shot and still have the buildings in the background. I then used my ultrawide angle to get the job done. This only happened once I realized the story that I had to tell.
Things to try
Sunbursts are a great way to make a building or cityscape a little more interesting. You are going to need a smaller aperture like f/16 or f/22 to get this effect. Next position the sun against a building or the edge of something so that it is just popping out over the edge. I find shooting on a tripod at f/22 gives great results.
Long exposures with water. Many cities will have some sort of water feature lake, river, stream… fountain … puddle) and this will make a great element to your photograph. Be it reflections or colour, it is up to you as to what you want to focus on. Just think about how the element adds to the frame.
Light trails from cars are another great thing to try. These can be easily done in a similar way to the water and often add a lot to cityscapes as they convey a sense of motion. Simply set your camera to aperture priority and use a smaller aperture to increase the exposure time. Then wait for the cars to pass and they will do the rest!
Patterns are another great element to look for. Patterns can be found everywhere and often cities make the most striking patterns. These are often best seen from far away or high up on a roof. It is up to the scene in front of you but you should look for the patterns each time that you go out. You will be amazed at what you find out.
Headout this week and shoot some cityscapes. Try some of the suggestions above and let me know how you made out. Post your results over on my facebook page in the comment section for this post!
If you are looking for a workflow on how to edit cityscapes check out my latest course. It is just a quickie for $5 Click the button below for more information$5 Cityscape Workflow for Lightroom
The spring flowering season in South Korea generally spans from mid-March to late April, which typically peaks in early April.
During the month of April, Korea offers a vibrant burst of spring blooms and a series of fascinating festivals and family fun, which makes it the best time of year to visit the country.
While cherry blossom festivals are the most well-known main spring events, there are plenty of events dedicated to spring flowers that are absolutely travel-worthy.
Here are South Korea’s 7 best spring festivals in 2017 for you and your beloved ones to enjoy the best of the spring season in Korea!
1. Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival
Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival or Jinhae Gunhangje Festival is by far the most popular and the largest cherry blossom festival in Korea which is held every April in Jinhae.
Boasting over 350,000 cherry blossom trees lining the streets, the picturesque scene of thousands of pink and white petals dancing in the air over the Yeojwacheon Stream is absolutely a must see in your lifetime.
From Seoul to Jinhae, there are no direct train or bus connections and you will have to make several transfers if you travel via train or express bus. So if this is your first time visiting the festival, booking a shuttle bus package is highly recommended.
For more information, click here.
Location: Jinhae County, Gyeongsang-do (southeast province)
- Festival Date: April 1-10, 2017
- Book a shuttle bus from Seoul: April 1-10
- Book a private tour to Jinhae from Busan: March 28-April 9
- Book 2D1N Busan & Jinhae Cherry Blossom Tour from Seoul: March 25, 26 & April 1, 2
2. Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Festival
Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Festival is another popular and famous festival that offers breathtaking cherry blossoms where visitors can enjoy walking along the cherry tree-lined path around the serene Bomun Lake.
From Seoul to Gyeongju, visitors will have to take a train or express bus and make several transfers to get to the festival. So booking a shuttle bus is highly recommended if you want to take away the hassle out of your trip.
For more information, click here.
Location: Gyeongju City, Gyeongsang-do (southeast province)
- Best time to visit: Early April
- Book a shuttle bus from Seoul: April 1, 2, 8, 9
- Book a private van from Busan: March 28-April 9
3. Taean Tulip Festival
Recognized by the World Tulip Summit Society, Taean Tulip Festival is one of the world’s top 5 tulip festivals that takes place every year throughout April and May.
Featuring over 1.5 million of colorful tulips, visitors will have the chance to enjoy the gardens showcasing tulips of every color and size as well as beautiful floral displays of other spring flowers including canola, digitalis and lupine.
For more information, click here.
Location: Taean County, Chungcheong-do (mid-west province)
- Festival Date: April 13-May 10
- Book a shuttle bus: April 16, 18, 23, 25, 30 & May 2, 7, 9
4. Hwagae Cherry Blossom Festival
Compared to the world-famous Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival, Hwagae Cherry Blossom Festival has not received much attention worldwide. However, the festival is South Korea’s one of the best-kept secrets among the locals.
Some of the best highlights not to be missed at the festival are the ’10-ri Cherry Blossom Road’, a 4 km-long road of cherry trees in full bloom, and the historic ‘Hwagae Jangteo’, or ‘Hwagae Market’, where you can enjoy cultural performances and taste local specialties.
The easiest way to get to the festival is by booking a shuttle bus as there are no direction train or bus connections from Seoul to the venue.
For more information, click here.
Location: Hadong County, Gyeongsang-do (southeast province)
- Festival Date: April 1, 2
- Book a shuttle bus: April 1-3
5. Gyeongpo Cherry Blossom Festival
Take a stroll along the 4.3-km long path lined with hundreds of cherry trees around the serene Gyeongpo Lake and stop by Gyeongpodae Pavilion standing at the end of the lake. Built on a small hill right next to the lake, this traditional wooden pavilion is perfect place take photos and get a view of the whole lake.
As Gyeongpo Lake is located just across the street from Gyeongpo Beach, visitors will be able to and admire the breathtaking ocean view of the East Sea as well.
For more information, click here.
Location: Gangneung City, Gangwon-do (mid-east province)
- Best time to visit: Early April
- Book a shuttle bus: Apr 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23
6. Goryeosan Azalea Festival
The annual Goryeosan Azalea Festival has attracted more than 400,000 people and the popularity is growing every year.
Besides the brilliant burst of azaleas in full bloom, the festival offers its visitors with other attractions including an azalea photograph exhibition and azalea pancakes.
For more information, click here.
Location: Gangwha County, Incheon, Gyeonggi-do (mid-west province)
- Festival Date: April 12-23
- Book a shuttle bus: April 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29
7. Jindo Sea Parting Festival
Every April, thousands of visitors flock to Jindo Sea Parting Festival, also known as Jindo Miracle Sea Road Festival, to see what is referred to as ‘the modern Mose’s miracle’ in Jindo Island.
Here, you will be able to witness the astonishing sight of a wondrous sea parting where the sea opens up and reveals a sea road for an hour and even try walking on the sea road with your friends and family.
For more information, click here.
Location: Jindo Island, Jeolla-do (southwest province)
- Festival Date: April 12-23
- Book a one-day tour: April 26, 29
Click the images below to plan your 2017 spring getaway in Korea!
Browse more spring festivals and spring special tour packages at Trazy.com, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop.
Taean Tulip Festival Official Homepage
Gyeongpo Cherry Blossom Festival Official Homepage
Jindo Sea Parting Festival Official Homepage