Naye Chocolat (나예 쇼콜라)
Samcheongdong (삼청동), an upper class area of Seoul just north of bustling Insadong, is a rich tapestry of modern galleries, smart boutiques, and refurbished Hanok (한옥 - traditional Korean buildings) that sit effortlessly along the rich green hills dominating the area. I had been meaning to take a trip there for ages, so when my friend came to visit we decided to go there for a post-lunch wander.
Recently I’ve tried to lower my consumption of meat products because of ethical/health reasons. One day I hope to eradicate meat from my diet completely (as well as fish and other seafood) but for now, I’m taking it one day at a time. Unfortunately, at home, my parents see meat as compulsory and their idea of a balanced meal is meat, veg, potatoes…every single day. When I’m home I feel like I’m in Groundhog Day, as all I’ve been getting is mashed potatoes and boiled veg for the last week. One or two pieces of veg is no way sufficient for a good diet! (Don’t worry, I’m finally getting to the point of this long preamble).
So although it’s a bit wasteful to cook when there is plenty of mashed potato to go around, I decided enough was enough, and went to the shop to buy some wonderful, colourful vegetables. I had the idea of cooking Bibimbap, so I decided to tailor Maangachi’s excellent recipe to create my own, slightly 和風 (Japanese-style) version.
Noriko Goes To Seoul (노리코, 서울에 가다)
Country of origin: South Korea
Director: Lee Gyo Wook
Noriko Goes To Seoul is a made-for-television, feature length drama that aired on KBS in 2011. In short, it is the story of a Japanese housewife who travels to Seoul in order to finally make something of herself, becoming part of one family, and healing her own. Of course, this being a ‘drama’-type production, there are many issues that our leads have to contend with; including the obligatory illness, a fight resulting from a love triangle, family issues and deceased relatives.
Our protagonist, Noriko, leaves her husband and troubled daughter for a few weeks to embark on a trip to Korea to meet her beloved ‘Hyun-chan’, a famous idol singer who will appear as a judge on the final of a televised talent show. At the audition she meets Min Ha, an obnoxious and talented young man intent on stardom, who makes money from ‘teaching’ others how to sing. The two become entangled with each other when Noriko begs Min Ha to take her on as a student, and despite the many dramas that befall our unlucky duo, somehow they manage to get Noriko into the final of the contest, and help each other with their demons along the way.
Etude House Baking Powder B.B. Deep Cleansing Foam
This weekend, because of my job, I found myself in South Korea for a couple of days. I had the best intentions in the world to cram loads of sightseeing into that small gap of time and practise my (extremely limited) Korean, but I ended up seeing the inside of a grand total of one temple but about fifty skincare shops. Sigh. Korean beauty products are just so elegantly packaged, sometimes you want to line them up on your bathroom shelves regardless if they work or not.
That being said, with there being so much stuff available, it is kind of nice to know what you should be spending your money on. I spent my money on a lot of things in those two days, one of them being the above named product, Etude House’s Baking Powder Cleansing Foam.
First, a disclaimer: this recipe isn’t really like any other Chapjae out there; it’s a kind of made-up-as-you-go-along kind of dish, using whatever was in the fridge. (I couldn’t brave leaving the house for extra ingredients, it was pouring with rain!) I wasn’t going to write about it but since I already kinda promised, plus it tasted more awesome than I expected…here’s my Steak MUAYGA Chapjae recipe!
Hello Kitty Hotspots in East Asia (Part 1)
While I’m more of a Rilakkuma fan myself, I can’t help but splurge on Hello Kitty items from time to time. For some reason, an oblong face topped with a cute little bow has attracted millions of fans from all over the world. Thanks to its immense fame and ubiquity, Hello Kitty merchandise can be found globally, but for the full ‘experience’, devoted fans have to head to Tokyo and other East Asian cities. Here are the best ways to enter ‘Hello Kitty Heaven’, from the truly wonderful to the utterly bizarre.
A list of Hello Kitty tourist attractions would not be complete without a mention of Hello Kitty Mecca, ‘Sanrio Puroland’ - an amusement park built just outside of central Tokyo that combines rides and entertainment shows under one very large roof. All of Hello Kitty’s friends are there for young children to enjoy, and of course older fans can go shopping for something cute.
For more information, click here.
And now for something a little different - Sanrio have created a Dental Clinic that pays homage to their most famous creation, kitted out in pink hues and with Hello Kitty herself peering cutely out of the window. The idea was to make going to the dentist less scary for patients, particularly young children, but of course, anyone can make an appointment to get their teeth fixed ‘Kitty Style’.
Their website fits into the pink theme in a big way.
My level: Beginner
Now I know that this is an English language blog, so you guys probably aren’t going to be that interested in an article on the benefits of studying Korean in Japanese. But hear me out, because if you already know some Japanese then learning this way seems to help comprehension immeasurably. (And of course, this applies to learning Japanese in Korean as well.)
1. Korean grammar is much more similar to Japanese than any other language.
When I was learning Korean using an English language book, I felt like I couldn’t fully grasp what I was being taught. One of the main pitfalls of self study is that you really have to learn on your own, so there is no one to explain tricky things to you - even basics such as the difference between 운/눈 and 가/이. I had a feeling that they were probably comparable to は/が in Japanese, but without confirmation I felt a bit lost. As soon as I used a Japanese textbook, everything became a lot clearer, and I can now use these particles a lot more easily.
[Another language that fits well with Korean vocabulary-wise is Mandarin, as the sounds and syllables of Korean words seem to match those of Chinese (and Japanese as well). However, basic Chinese grammar is subject + verb + object, so they may not fit as well grammatically. However, the way of describing and counting objects in Chinese and Japanese/Korean is very similar.]
Soh is a Korean designer who creates adult furniture with a childish whimsy. While his work is clean and minimal, it also has an element of fun, and could fit into a cluttered child’s playroom as easily as an all-white child free studio apartment.
His most famous work is the ‘Bookcase Tree’, an interesting way of storing books without taking up a lot of space. Despite its unobtrusiveness in size, the Bookcase Tree cannot help but become the dominant feature in a room. The piece also cheekily examines how we use natural objects in design, by turning the raw material back into its original form.
Other images from Soh’s collection can be seen below the cut: