Monday, May 31, 2010

My Little Korea

I would like to apologize for the late posting due to my telephone being out of order. It took the authorities six long days before they decided to come and check on my phone whilst it only took less than five minutes to throw away a faulty cable box and replace it with a new one.

Then for some reason or other I could not get connected to the internet, something wrong with my internet provider and another three more days gone down the drain.

One day without the internet is like hell, what more 9 days? I was at wit’s end trying to find things to do to pass away the time. Luckily I had saved a lot of things hurriedly on my computer, but had no time to really organize my files, so I used the spare time I had, reorganizing my filing system and it looks better now.

Launching of Saranghaeyo Korea Club

Today, I would like to tell you about the inauguration of the Saranghaeyo Korea Club organized by the KTO branch in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 22nd  May 2010.

The objective of the club is to gather all individuals/groups that share a strong interest in all things Korean, to act as volunteer ambassadors to promote Korea in Malaysia. This year is a special year because it marks the 50th anniversary of the friendship ties between Malaysia and Korea.

Saranghaeyo Korea Club Goodie Bag

For a mere subscription fee of RM20/- one gets a goodie bag consisting of a T-shirt, a cap, a membership card (which is priceless, considering the amount of discounts we can get with it), a KTO calendar, an IRIS mouse-pad and an ‘etude’ cosmetic starter kit, good value for the money I should say. Much more benefits are in store for all who have joined this club, me included of course. In fact I was one of the first few to sign up long before the inauguration date, had to, as I’m passionate about Korea and all things Korean. Moreover I am also a member of the Bae Yong Joon Malaysian Fan Club so I must show my support for this club too.

Let’s see, what are some of the activities planned for the club and also the benefits of joining this club? There are plans for:-
i. a Hallyu Festival once or twice a year
ii. Korea promotion activities such as organizing supporter’s own events or participating in any Korea related events
iii. Joint charity events like blood donations, visiting orphanages/old folks home etc.
iv. Members can promote Korea by publishing and writing articles/blogs related to Korea and via the social network (Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Forum)

And finally since Korea qualified for the coming 2010 World Cup competition there will be a World Cup street cheering to be held in cooperation with the Korean Residents in Malaysia Club. In fact the Korean Residents in Malaysia Club has extended an invitation to the Saranghaeyo Korea Club members to join them at their premises to watch the matches LIVE on TV. Not only that, we would also be getting Korean supporter T-shirts as well. I didn’t know that there are about 30,000 Koreans staying in Kuala Lumpur alone. Now that we have a Saranghaeyo Korea Club in Malaysia, shouldn’t someone in Korea start a Saranghaeyo Malaysia Club over there?  I’m sure there must be supporters of Malaysia in Korea too. Just a thought!

And now for the benefits for being Saranghaeyo Korea Club members like:-
i. Being provided with membership cards,
ii. Hosting special events for Korea Supporters (Hallyu festival and other events)
iii. Prior invitations to KTO/Korean embassy's events, TBC and any other events like the

  • Korean Music & Dance @ Istana Budaya, 7th May 2010 
  • R16,B-boy competition @ Berjaya Timesquare, 17th April 2010 
  • Nanta, Korea nonverbal music performance, to be held on 23rd & 24th July  2010.  

iv. Best members, leader and team will be rewarded with a trip to Korea.
v. Prior entries to attend Korea Plaza Events (-Cooking Classes, Korea Language Classes, K-pop singing classes/free of charge)
vi. Special discount at Korean restaurant, Korean hair shops, Korean brand products, Korea Tour Package.
So what do you think? Great isn’t it?

Entrance to Korea Plaza   
Inside Korea Plaza 08 Inside Korea Plaza 09
Inside Korea Plaza 04  Inside Korea Plaza 02
 Inside Korea Plaza 10

Plaza Korea is situated on the ground floor of the Hap Seng Tower in Jalan P. Ramlee, one of the busiest streets in Kuala Lumpur. The surrounding area is beautiful, it’s very quiet although there are many restaurants in the vicinity.


In front of the Korea Plaza is a spacious open area where activities and gatherings can be held.

Inside Korea Plaza 07

They have a collection of Hanbok for visitors who would like to take pictures of themselves dressed in one as a souvenir. To prepare for a trip to Korea one can always come in to get tourism brochures to read before going there. One can also learn Hangeul, Korean Cooking and K-Pop Singing at the Korea Plaza and it’s all for free. Aren’t we all lucky? The Korean Language classes are always in heavy demand and finally after more than 6 months of waiting, I shall be starting classes next week. Wish me luck!

JC 02

So on the launching day of the Saranghaeyo Korea Club, a group of us from the Bae Yong Joon fan club had arrived earlier than the scheduled time because we wanted to have lunch at one of the restaurants above the Korea Plaza. We had timed it so that by the time we finished our lunch it would be perfect timing for the event. Because we had already sent in our applications via email, all we had to do was to collect our T-shirts, caps and membership cards. As there was plenty of time, we went around taking photographs of each other.

Part of the Crowd who attended 02
There was a long queue for those who were just filling up their applications. There was a turnout of about two hundred or more people and by the end of the day over four hundred applications had been received in all, including those sent by email and in earlier promotions.

Auditorium Oath Taking Ceremony 01

When the registration was all done, we then adjourned to the auditorium where we had an oath taking ceremony before we became members of the Saranghaeyo Korea Club. We also had the Managing Director of the KTO Kuala Lumpur office, Mr. Kim Keehun, and two other guest speakers, from the Korean Embassy and the Korean Residents in Malaysia Club making their speeches.

Part of the Crowd who attended 01

The highlight of the afternoon were the performances by the first and second runner up winners of the Korean Wave Contest 2010 held recently. The guests and members were treated to a sampling of the Korean Rice Cake (Tteok) after which group photographs were taken. It was a perfect ending to a Saturday afternoon well spent.

Special thanks and appreciation to the following
Photos © courtesy:

Korea Plaza

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Winner Takes All

Incheon Int Airport

Yes, Seoul Incheon International Airport (ICN) has done it again. It has been named the Best Airport Worldwide for the fifth consecutive year. And with this award it has become the first ever airport to win this top award for five consecutive years in a row.

The Geneva-based Airports Council International (ACI) based its ranking on the survey given out to 250,000 passengers who ranked the airports in 34 different categories, which include cleanliness of facilities, security inspections, transportation services, waiting times and visa and customs services.

Oh Eun-sun

Here’s another first, to add another feather to the Korean cap. South Korean mountain climber, Oh Eun-sun, became the first woman to conquer the world's 14 highest peaks. She climbed Annapurna, the tenth highest peak in the world and the final mountain she needed to break  the record, on April 27th.

President Lee Myung-bak invited her recently to the presidential office, to congratulate her on her great achievement, and added that her accomplishment had raised the global status of the Korean nation. 


In the entertainment sector, we have singer and actor Rain who has been nominated for the Biggest Badass Star award at the 2010 MTV Movie Awards, which will be held in the U.S. on June 6. Rain, who was nominated for his performance in the Hollywood action flick “Ninja Assassin,” joins other nominees like Angelina Jolie, Channing Tatum, Sam Washington and Chris Fine in the category.

The MTV Movie Awards nominates stars in 12 categories, with the winners being selected by netizen votes. Voting continues through June fifth on the awards’ Web site(movieawards.mtv.com). The film “The Hangover” has garnered six nominations, the most in any movie, followed by “Avatar” and the second installment of the Twilight series “New Moon,” both of which have been nominated in five categories. For the results of this award, we have to wait until June 6 but I won’t be surprised if Rain wins.

Uber Cup Champs Korea

Well, looks like Korea will be happily welcoming home their ladies badminton team who will be bringing home the much coveted Uber Cup with them. Congratulations Korea, you’ve done it again!

Korea has stopped China from claiming their seventh consecutive Uber Cup title and in doing so created one of the biggest upsets in women’s badminton history.

Bae Seung Hee

Korea won with a 3-1 victory that saw China's world #1 Wang Yihan sensationally lose in straight sets to Korea’s Bae Seung Hee, ranked #16. Bae managed to out-class her Chinese opponent with her wonderful strategy. The Uber Cup debutante had done her homework well, analyzing Wang's game play on video before the match. She said she realized pushing the ball long would be her best chance of winning.

Wang, crowned world player of the year on Sunday, was uncharacteristically indecisive at the net and on four occasions let the shuttle fly over her head, expecting it to go long only to see it land inside. She made crucial mistakes over and over and her defense was simply lacking. So Bae’s strategy was really working.

Bae kept her cool to pip Wang 23-21 in a tense first set before pressuring her opponent into a series of errors to seal the game with a 21-11 win at the Kuala Lumpur Putra Stadium.

Kim Yu-Na Vancouver 2010 Olympics

In this post on Korean winners I must not forget to include the Korean skating queen, Kim Yu-na though the news maybe a bit stale by now. What’s important is that she’s a winner too!

With the gold medal win by an Asian woman in the Olympic figure skating competition, a power shift in the sport dominated by Europe and North America, has now been shifted to Asia. All eyes are on Korea now, all because of Kim Yu-na and the Korean team at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics where they were placed fifth, winning 14 medals out of which were 6 golds.

Kim Yu-na could play a key role in the chase for yet another top Olympic prize - the bid to host the 2018 Winter Games in Korea. From what I hear, Pyeongchang in the Gangwong province is making its third consecutive bid after narrow defeats in the votes for the 2010 and 2014 Games.  Other bidders are Munich and Annecy, France.

But we shall have to wait until June, when the International Olympic Committee officially approves the list of finalist candidates. The actual voting will be carried out by the International Olympic Committee in July 2011, in Durban, South Africa. So, good luck Korea, I hope you’ll be 3rd time lucky!

You know, all this Korean winning streak has formed a question in my mind, “Is there nothing that the Koreans cannot do?” I may not have the answer to this but I do know one thing. What is the key to success for the Koreans? From what I can see the Koreans’ strength lies in their dedication and motivation in everything they do! They aspire to be the best and they do it not for personal glory but more so for national pride. I think the rest of us can learn a thing or two from the Koreans. I love Korea!

Special thanks and appreciation to the following
Photos and articles © courtesy:




Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Merry Month of May!

The Republic of Korea seems to be celebrating a lot of happy occasions in May. It started off with Children’ Day which was a holiday, on May 5, followed by Parents Day yesterday, May 8, with two more to follow, Teachers Day on May 15 and Buddha’s Birthday on May 21.


Today, May 9, is Mother’s Day in other parts of the world. So to all Mothers out there, Happy Mother’s Day. May you spend a happy and blessed day with your loved ones today. And as usual, the florists, the gift shops and restaurants owners will be laughing all the way to the bank.

한국의 여러분 모두에게 축하 학부모날!

Actually I should have wished the mums and dads of Korea ‘happy parents day’ yesterday because they have done away with Mother’s Day and Father’s day and come out with a new Parents Day as a combination of the two. This was done to make the fathers feel that they are not alienated. Parents Day is meant to commemorate the combined efforts of the parents in bringing up their children. Though it is not a national holiday like Children’s Day, Parent's Day is still deemed as one of the special days in South Korea's yearly calendar. On this day many museums and parks are open for free.

It is the day when children express gratitude to their parents through gifts and other tokens of love. Parents are the epitome of love and affection. It’s roses for Valentine’s Day and what do you think is the flower associated with Parents Day in the ROK? Parents' Day is celebrated there by giving a red carnation, and then followed by presents. On this day, children spend time with their parents, doing things which their parents love to do. These are the traditional and the conventional form of paying gratitude to their parents.

Although the basic idea of designating a special day for parents was inspired from overseas, filial piety has long been an inseparable part of traditional Korean society.

Lotus Lantern Festival

The Lotus Lantern Festival on Buddha’s Birthday falls on 21st May but many events/activities will begin a week earlier than that day and at different temples. Here is the program lined up in case you are interested.

2010 Festival Schedule Buddha's Birthday

Exhibition of Traditional Lanterns Bongeunsa Temple 04  Exhibition of Traditional Lanterns Bongeunsa Temple 03  Exhibition of Traditional Lanterns Bongeunsa Temple  Exhibition of Traditional Lanterns Bongeunsa Temple 02 Exhibition of Traditional Lanterns Bongeunsa Temple 01 

You can see an exhibition of traditional lanterns from May 14 until May 23 at the Bongeunsa Temple.

Want to learn how to make paper lanterns? Here’s how:-

Lotus Lantern Making That was easy wasn’t it and it looks beautiful too.

Yeondeungnori  Yeondeungnori 01 Yeondeungnori 02  Yeondeungnori 04

On May 15, between 7.00 – 9.00pm. the street in front of Jogyesa Temple in Insadong will come to life with exciting stage performances and a colorful parade of performers to celebrate the eve of the festival(Yeondeungnori.)

Experience firsthand multiethnic culture and festivities by joining in the Buddhist Street Festival, on May 16 from noon till 7.00pm in the street in front of Jogyesa Temple.

Korean Traditional Dance and Music

There is a performance stage where different kinds of performances like the Korean Folk Music and Dance, Traditional Buddhist Dances, Foreigners Traditional Dancing Show and the Techno Dance and Singing Contest for teenagers will be held.

Lantern making

There’s a different section for the Lantern Making. Here one can learn to make an 8-sided lantern and pray for ones wishes, in addition to many other cultural experiences. After one has made a lantern one can bring it along to participate in the Grand Lantern Parade on the evening of May 16.

There are many booths where one can learn to play traditional games, make lanterns, and make Buddhist rosaries and rubbings of Buddhist Sutras. Other activities include face painting and the tasting of Buddhist temple food.

So if you happen to be in Korea during this period, don’t miss the opportunity to take part in the festivities, it’s so much fun.

Special thanks and appreciation to the following
Photos and articles © courtesy:





Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Magic of Fairyland

Yesterday, May 5 2010, marked the 88th anniversary of Children’s Day celebrations in Korea. And so I thought I’d take you to a few places that the younger children in your family might want to visit, where they can really enjoy themselves. Fairy tales never cease to enchant little children all over the world including those staying in Korea.
Bon Vovage to Fairy Tales Forest
The Children’s Museum at the National Folk Museum of Korea is having an on-going exhibition "Bon Voyage To the Fairy Tale Forest," lasting till September 30. As you enter this exhibition center, it feels as if you have stepped into the world of fairytales literally. Remember the gingerbread house of Hansel and Gretel? Well, it’s right there in the enchanted forest room, so go and take a look. The house of the seven dwarfs, the magic mirror and Cinderella are all housed in the room of nice fairies, whereas In the adventure room is the castle of the Sleeping Beauty and where the musical instruments are kept. All these exhibition rooms are linked to an outdoor playground. It takes almost an hour to see the whole exhibition and entry is limited to 30 people on the hour.

Illustrations of Korean Fairytales from Bori Book Co
There is also a chance to see the original paintings used as illustrations in picture books. The 3rd Exhibition Hall at Insa Art Center features fairy tale illustrations by Hong Yeong-woo, 71, from May 5 to 10. Given that Hong is Korean-Japanese and has lived almost all his life in Japan, he shows a surprising depth in expressing the world of Korean fairytales. The scenes of mask dance, of children playing jegi-chagi (kicking shuttlecock) or dokkebi (Korean goblins) sneaking into a hut have well captured the humor shared in Korean stories.
“He has really worked hard to capture the typical Korean gestures in his works,” said Yoon Gu-byeong, the president of Bori Book, which publishes Hong’s picture books from Japan. “This is because he learnt how precious the language and words of his mother country are while growing up in Japan.”

The Neverland Picture Book Museum presents Alice in Picture Book Land
The Neverland Picture Book Museum, in Heyri Art Valley, Paju City, Gyeonggi-do (Gyeonggi Province is having an “Alice in Picture Book Land,” exhibition where there are 39 fairytale illustrations, 13 related dolls and over 5,000 fairytale and picture books displayed. The exhibition will be open until June 30. 
Here the works of fairytale illustrators from both home and abroad are featured, including those of Brian Wildsmith, Mariacarla Taroni and Gwenola Carrere.
It’s 4,000 won for adults, 3,000 won for children and open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Not open on Mondays.)

Lotte Sweet Factory
The “Sweet Factory,” opened by Lotte Confectionary on the second floor of its building in Yangpyeong-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul offers visitors a chance to see firsthand the process of making an array of sweets ranging from gum to biscuits, chocolates, candies, and even ice cream. It’s the nation’s first children’s experience museum dedicated to sweets. Here children can play with the big displays of cookies and candies where they get to learn something from them. For example if a child puts a fake food ingredient inside the fake food factory the machine will display a virtual image of how that ingredient is mixed, concentrated and formed to become chocolates or other kinds of snacks. 
Sweet Factory combines education and fun. Children can learn about different sweets in rooms devoted to each respective snack. The tunnel to the ice cream room is cool and clean, the chewing gum room teaches the importance of good dental care and the chocolate room lets kids have the chance to grind cocoa beans into powder.
Admission is free but requires prior reservation. Just like the Children’s Museum entry is limited to 30 people per hour.

Seoul Festival 2010
Calling all jazz fans, the Seoul Jazz Festival 2010 will be held on two days at two different venues:-
May 11 at the Grand Theatre of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts,
May 14 at the Olympic Hall, Olympic Park
The Seoul Jazz Festival is a young annual event that first started in 2007, where jazz-lovers can come to see some of the biggest names in the genre. The festival will have a two night, non-consecutive run. The first night on the 11th is called “Lyrical and Romantic Night”, featuring Wouter Hamel and Korean act Sweet Sorrow. The second night on the 14th is called “Stylish Jazz Night” and will feature Matt Bianco and D’Sound. This will be two must-see performances… especially for jazz enthusiasts!         
Tickets: 55,000 to 88,000 won.

Lee Jun Ki
Lastly, I’m sure that many of you die-hard fans of Lee Joon-ki (from the hit film "The King and the Clown") must have heard that he has reported for his mandatory military service a few days ago on May 3. Lee, who is 28 years old, starts his  training period in the South Chungcheong province for 5 weeks before he receives his assignment. Lee Jun-ki fans will have to look forward to February of 2012 which is when he is set to be discharged. So we won’t be seeing a lot of him until then.
Special thanks and appreciation to the following
Photos and articles © courtesy: 
Neverland Picture Book Museum Website
Lotte Confectionery's Sweet Factory
Bori Book Co

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bits and Pieces, Here and There.

It’s been a long time since I read the Korean newspapers so today thought I’d look around for the hottest and juiciest gossip around town to tell you about.

Do you like weddings? I do! Seven years after working together in the drama, Winter Sonata, top actors Bae Yong Joon and Choi Ji Woo reunited for the animation version of the drama where both of them lent their voices to the 26-part animation version of "Winter Sonata" produced for television.

WS Animation The Wedding 01

A live action wedding scene between them was shot in mid-March this year at a filming site near the Sun Cruise Resort in Gangneung City, Gangwon province, which was to be used as an added bonus to the airing of the anime series, as the closing episode, sometime at the end of April.

WS Animation The Wedding

So the past few days there was much activity on the internet with fans posting their video clips of this wedding. It was lovely, if only it was for real, they make such a lovely couple! I wonder, if they ever thought of pairing up for real?

2일 서울 신라호텔에서 한국 최고의 배우스타인 배우 장동건과 고소영이 본격적인 결혼식에 앞서 기자회견을 갖고 있다. 이상섭기자. babtong@heraldm.com 2010.05.02

Hottest news in the Korea Herald is Jang Dong-gun’s wedding. So, we do have our real movie star wedding after all.

Korea’s so-called “Hollywood” couple  Jang Dong-gun and Koh So-young, officially tied the knot on Sunday, May 2, 2010. The bridal couple graced the Shilla Hotel in Seoul, together with 500 invited guests.

The ceremony reportedly cost about 1 billion won ($900,000), one of the most costly weddings by any Korean celebrity. The bride wore an Oscar de la Renta wedding dress worth about $15,000, while Jang had on a Tom Ford tuxedo. Their wedding rings were from Chopard, the luxury jewelry brand.

2일 서울 신라호텔에서 한국 최고의 배우스타인 배우 장동건과 고소영이 본격적인 결혼식에 앞서 기자회견을 갖고 있다. 이상섭기자. babtong@heraldm.com 2010.05.02

Jang and Koh share a lot in common, both are 38 and made their debut in the entertainment industry in 1992. Both also share a big fortune: Jang’s annual income alone is reportedly worth about 10 billion won, while his wife has made real-estate investments worth more than 10 billion. Her properties include the “Koh So-young Building” in the swanky neighborhood of Cheongdam-dong in southern Seoul. Koh’s home in the Seoul area of Nonhyeon-dong, where her parents live, is believed to be worth 4 billion won.
The value of property owned by Jang is also impressive. Observers estimate his real-estate holdings to be about 8 billion won. Their combined wealth, observers speculate, is worth at least 40 billion won. Industry experts predict their wealth to multiply following their marriage, with expectations of joint endorsements. Some have even cited the possibility that their fortune will surpass even that of some Korean business tycoons.

Know what, our newlyweds have gone on their honeymoon in Bali, accompanied by their managers? Can you imagine that?

[20100503 김성룡] 동자승 삭발수계식. 서울 조계사.

21st May happens to be Buddha’s Birthday this year, where various kinds of celebrations will be held. At Jogye Temple in central Seoul, little children can have a taste of the life of Buddhist monks for 22 days before Buddha’s Birthday. The picture of the boys in their robes with head shaven looks so cute that I couldn’t resist copying it to my blog, courtesy of Kim Seong-ryong from joongangdaily.

800-Year-Old Double Aromic Trees of Songgwangsa Temple

Have you ever seen such unique shaped tree trunks like those in the picture? Nestled in the Jogyesan Mountain in Suncheon, South Jeolla Province, inside the Songgwangsa Temple grounds, stand the 800-year-old aromatic trees, dubbed as the Double Aromatic trees. The trees, (Juniperus Chinensis Limme), have been designated Natural Monument #88.

They stand side by side and the branches twine and they are about 13 meters high. According to legend, they grew from walking sticks of National Preceptor Bojoguksa(1158-1210) and Damdangguksa who brought them from China and stuck them in the ground here.

Damdang was a prince of Goryeo who became a disciple of Bojo. The figure of these trees look as if one is bowing down to the other, (showing the relationship between a teacher and his disciple so to speak.)
Many people visit this place because of a legend which says that anybody who touches these trees will go to heaven.