Suicide and Status Anxiety

chungang ilboIt’s well known that Korea has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. So suicide isn’t usually reported in the news unless there are unusual circumstances or those involved are famous. Well, earlier this month, there was an horrific case in Gwangju, south Jeolla province, which made the news.

Just before 10pm a 25 year old man committed suicide by jumping from the 20th floor of an apartment building. But just as he jumped, a resident of that building was coming home late from work, and as he was about to enter the building the suicidal man landed right on top of him before dying at the scene. (picture: Jungang Ilbo NewsContinue reading “Suicide and Status Anxiety” »

tomb of the infamous Joseon king, Yeonsangun

yeonsangun tomb seoul

The tomb of Yeonsangun (r.1494-1506), the most infamous king of the Joseon period, is modest and low key. His father King Seongjeong had his mother Consort Yoon put to death by poison which is portrayed in the MBC 2003, drama Jewel in the Palace episode 2. In the drama we find an angry and blood thirsty king eager for revenge who orders the execution of everyone even remotely connected to his mother’s death. Continue reading “tomb of the infamous Joseon king, Yeonsangun” »

Tea Festival COEX 2016 and Tea Drinking in Korea

tea festival

Last weekend I went to the Tea World Festival at the CEOX in Seoul. I’m always on the look out for teapots and good tea and I’ve been down to Boseong in the south of Korea a couple of times to get some of their famous green tea. But the tea festival in Seoul was interesting not so much for what was on sale, but more for who was there… Continue reading “Tea Festival COEX 2016 and Tea Drinking in Korea” »

Helicopter Parents in Korea

helicopter parents


June 6 is memorial day in Korea (현충일 hyeonchung-il 顯忠日) So I thought that today I would do an army-themed post. This morning the 61st ceremony was held at the National Cemetery in Dongjak, Seoul, to remember all the men and women who died for their country in military service. Mr Kim’s uncle died in the Korean War so this was always a sad day for his grandmother when she was alive.

Memories of military service seem to remain strong long after the service is over. Mr Kim can still barely look at a potato because he ‘had to eat soup with potato in EVERY DAY FOR 30 MONTHS‘ while he was in the army. So we don’t eat potato very often. :( He has other stories of hardship too and takes an interest in what’s going on in the military now. The other day he handed me an article from the Korean Chosun Ilbo newspaper. He had this look of utter disbelief on his face. The article was about 헬리콥터 부모’hel-i-cop-to pu-mo’ helicopter parents. He shakes his head. ‘When I was in the army it was never like that …Continue reading “Helicopter Parents in Korea” »

Yeouido Bamdokkaebi Night Market

yeouido night market

Where is everyone going in Seoul to enjoy the hot weather these days? One popular destination is the Han River and in particular the Seoul Bamdokkaeibi Night Market in Yeouido. It’s on every Friday and Saturday evening from 6pm until 11pm and runs until the end of October. There’s some information here on the official website or their Facebook page. We popped down there last weekend for a look around. Continue reading “Yeouido Bamdokkaebi Night Market” »

Korean book review: The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Poetically dark, surreal, with startling imagery that lingers on well after the last page is turned. The Vegetarian written by Han Kang and translated into English by Deborah Smith is the 2016 winner of the Man Booker International prize. It’s the story of Yeong-hye, a young married woman in a hum-drum loveless marriage. She has grown up in a strongly patriarchic home and now passively completes household tasks and looks after her husband’s needs. When she isn’t working she lives a detached life alone in her own room reading. But things are about to change.  Continue reading “Korean book review: The Vegetarian by Han Kang” »

I Am Sad

I’ve just been to a funeral.

Three years ago I went to the office of a prospective student. She ran her own company and wanted to study English because she was expanding her business abroad. At the meeting I met the operations manager and another member of her staff who came to interpret for her. Business cards were exchanged. Her requirements discussed. She was petite, fashionable, professional. Continue reading “I Am Sad” »