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We went to the Peking opera (or Beijing opera) at the Liyuan Theatre 梨园剧场 to see a form of traditional Chinese theatre that combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance, and acrobatics. They had extremely elaborate and colorful (and seemingly heavy) costumes. It was quite a show.
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The central altar statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) inside the main hall at Wongaksa Temple in Yangsan Gyeongsangnam-do.
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Wongaksa Temple is situated at the base of Mt. Cheonseongsan in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do down a nearly deserted country road. When you first approach the temple, the first thing to greet you is a yellow sign with the Korean word “원각사” and an arrow pointing towards the temple grounds. Up the temple driveway is the visitors’ centre with the dorms and kitchen to the right.
To the left of this initial cluster of buildings are the temple halls. Next to the visitors’ centre is a stone statue and alcove that houses a standing statue of Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha). This statue is backed by a bit of a fading picture of lotus flowers. Around this outdoor altar are smaller statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
Further left, and next to the outdoor altar centred by Yaksayore-bul, is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall dedicated to three shaman deities. This temple hall appears to the right rear of the main hall. Inside the shrine hall are three beautiful renderings of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), and Chilseong (The Seven Stars).
Next to the Samseong-gak shrine hall is the main hall at Wongaksa Temple. In front of this hall is a three-tier pagoda that is Silla inspired. Inside the hall, and sitting on the main altar, is the triad of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) in the centre flanked by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right and Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) to the left. The hall has two walls of miniature statues dedicated to various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Next to these bronze coloured statues, on the far right wall, is an elaborate guardian painting. The exterior walls are adorned with simplistic Ox-Herding murals. These murals are said to have been painted by the head monk at Wongaksa Temple. Strangely, and this is a first for me, there was a punching bag to the right rear of the main hall. I guess when you need to get your stress out, no matter your calling, you have to get it out!
HOW TO GET THERE: The easiest way to get to Wongaksa Temple is to take a taxi from the Yangsan Intercity Bus Terminal. The ride should take about 20 minutes and cost 11,000 won.
OVERALL RATING: 4/10. On its own, this temple really doesn’t have that much to offer. It does have a quaint outdoor altar dedicated to Yaksayore-bul, as well as the beautiful murals inside the Samseong-gak shrine hall and the head monk’s Ox-Herding murals around the main hall. And don’t forget the punching bag behind the main hall. However, if you include this temple with a couple other temples and hermitages in the area, it can make Wongaksa Temple worth the trek.
The view as you make your way towards Wongaksa Temple.
The welcoming yellow sign that greets you at the temple.
A look around the temple courtyard.
A standing statue of Yaksayore-bul at the temple.
A closer look at the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall at Wongaksa Temple.
Inside hangs this impressive incarnation of Chilseong.
As well as this equally impressive Dokseong mural.
The visitors’ centre and monks’ dorms at the temple.
The Silla inspired three-tier stone pagoda out in front of the main hall.
A look inside the main hall at the main altar with Amita-bul front and centre.
The guardian mural that hangs inside the main hall.
Another look around the main hall’s interior.
One of the murals that adorns the exterior walls to the main hall.
The rather odd punching bag that’s placed behind the main hall. Perhaps one of the monks fancies himself a boxer in his spare time.
I was told to visit Wudaoying in Beijing for its quaint mix of old-fashioned hutong life and chic Western stops. It’s an area known for indie music and a high density of coffee shops. Hashtag it as #thingsthathipsterslike! And, yup, I loved it.
A recent Korea Herald article claims that Seoul's street food scene is seeing a "culinary rebirth," but is that really the case? Korea FM spoke with YouTube artist Cory May & Korean food reporter Sue Ahn to get their opinions on street food in Seoul & across the ROK.
Interview answers, both in written & audio form, have been edited for length & clarity.
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Have you ever tried wearing Korea’s traditional clothes known as ‘hanbok’? It’s been a year since I first came to Korea, and I’ve never worn a ‘hanbok’ before. However, I found out through online search that there’s a free hanbok wearing at Bexco.
My friends and I decided to take advantage of the free hanbok wearing at Bexco few weeks ago. It was a fun experience. We went there on a Saturday morning, and a Korean lady assisted us. She even took some photos for us. She’s really nice.
Look at us in our pretty hanboks.
Free hanbok wearing at Bexco opens at 10 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. To get there, you can ride a subway (line 2), get off at Centum City station, and go out of exit 1.
My friends and I did a lot of shopping in Beijing. We bought art and decorations at the Panjiayuan Flea Market. Lots of vendors on the floor, and lots to look at. You’ll find the market southwest of the Panjiayuan Bridge, on the southern part of Third East Ring Road. We walked from the Panjiayuan subway station (line 10).
I bought a ton of clothes, accessories, and souvenirs at the Silk Street Market (Xiu Shui). It’s a culture-less shopping center with over 1,700 retail vendors, and it sounds even more awful if you hate counterfeit designer brands, but I didn’t mind it for an hour or so. The Yong’anli subway station (line 1) has a direct tunnel to the basement of the Silk Street via exit A.
Haggling in China is really aggressive and ultimately exhausting. I was able to talk some of my purchased items 60-80% down from the original asking price. But, don’t feel bad because the seller will never sell you an item at a loss.
Committing to learning a new language is one of the best ways to broaden the horizons that make up your own day to day life. In becoming familiar with a new language, you’re also laying the groundwork for being able to watch movies, listen to music, and read books that were previously inaccessible.
If you’re anything like me, though, you’re not a big fan of the way learning a language used to be done – long hours in front of a textbook, boring writing exercises, and little to no real world application of the language.
Korean language exchanges are an amazing tool for anyone interested in learning to Korean language – they allow you to practice what you’ve learned in a friendly, casual, and educational environment that adds a fun new element to the learning process.
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite five Korean language exchange sites, and categorized them based on their most useful features to help you find a site that will be an ideal fit for you and your unique learning style. Let’s get started!
Korean Language Exchange Site #1 – IAmInKorea.com
Best for learners using a language exchange for the first time
It doesn’t get much more straightforward than the language exchange that can be found on IAmInKorea.com. From the aesthetics – clean, crisp, white background color with black font and straightforward tabs – to the content, IAmInKorea is a great forum for any Korean learner who is just diving into the world of language exchanges.
The site is updated regularly with new posts and replies, so there are always people from around the world to engage with. They also have easy to navigate sections that can be found by clicking the tabs at the top of the page – whether you’re looking to ask a general language question, you want to translate something to Korean, or you’d like to help a Korean speaker learn your native language, IAmInKorea has something for you.
Korean Language Exchange Site #2 – MyLanguageExchange
Best for learners who’d like a consistent Korean pen pal
MyLanguageExchange is great at what they do – rather than typical forums where individual users post threads and wait for responses from a bunch of different individuals, MyLanguageExchange makes the language exchange experience personal.
On this site, each user has a profile complete with details like a profile picture, spoken languages, languages they would like to learn, location, and a general description. These details ensure that users are able to find unique pen pals that match each other’s language learning style, fostering ongoing, educational friendships rather than one-off responses in a forum.
Check out MyLanguageExchange if you think you would benefit from keeping in touch with a Korean speaker while embarking on your journey to learn Korean – you won’t regret it!
Korean Language Exchange Site #3 – Craigslist
Best for learners looking to hire a Korean professional
While Craigslist may not be the first site that comes to mind when thinking “language exchange,” it’s actually an incredible practical forum if you’re seeking something a bit more advanced than the typical pen pal.
Need something professionally translated to Korean? Look no further than the Seoul Craigslist, which hosts thousands of tutors, teachers, and interpreters that are willing to help out students in the process of learning Korean, either informally as a pen pal or professionally as a contractor.
There are also plenty of other workshops and exchange groups hosted on the Seoul site. For example, there is currently a live posting inviting individuals living in Korea to join a spring photography workshop, where you can presumably practice your Korean AND cultivate your photography skills! Don’t let the barebones aesthetic scare you off – you’d be surprised at what you can find on Craigslist.
Korean Language Exchange Site #4 – MeetUp’s Language Exchange Café
Best for learners who want to meet Korean speakers in person
Remember the days when we were told that we should never, ever meet people on the internet because they might be waiting for us with a chainsaw? Thankfully, those days are long behind us, and when we dropped the paranoia we gained innumerable opportunities to learn from the knowledge of internet strangers.
MeetUp’s Language Exchange Café is a glowing example of the good that can come from like-minded internet strangers coming together. The group hosts meetings each day of the week in cities across Korea, and each meeting is meant to be a fun, safe environment for speakers of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese to learn and practice new language. Nothing beats learning a new language with the help of people that are as committed to broadening their horizons as you are. Be sure to check out the next meetup near you and tell us about it in the comments below!
Korean Language Exchange Site #5 – Facebook’s Korean Language Exchange
Best for learners who want to keep their learning streamlined and all in one place
The best part about Facebook’s massive list of Korean language exchange pages is that you don’t have to do any additional work to take advantage of the millions of Korean speakers on the internet that are looking to practice and improve.
You don’t have to join a new site or create a separate account to find a Korean pen pal. This particular language exchange is everyday Facebook users that are posting in search of Kakao friends or Skype friends to help them practice Korean or English, depending on their native language. There is almost no effort required – just click the link and press “like” and you’ll begin seeing the language exchange posts showing up in your newsfeed. Low maintenance, much?
Korean Language Exchange Site Wrap Up
Learning a language is an exciting process, but it can certainly be frustrating and lonely at times if you’re not connected to a solid support network that can help you navigate your new language and celebrate your successes with you. Be sure to check out these sites and let us know which one is your favorite – and let us know in the comments below if we’re forgetting your go-to Korean language exchange site!
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