So is 2015 the Year of the Sheep or the Goat?

National Folk Museum of Korea

In 2015, the Lunar New Year will fall on February 19th and we’ll enter the year of the sheep/goat. ( hangeul: 양 yang; Chinese character: 羊) So there’s a small but cute exhibition on at the National Folk Museum of Korea at the moment telling us all about sheep/goats. This confuses me as I’ve always seen sheep and goats as completely different animals with their own characters.

I think of goats as nosy little fellas who want to sniff and eat absolutely everything in sight – even the clothes you are wearing if you stand too close to them. Sheep on the other hand are shy and run away when they see you coming. (I’m more of a sheep than a goat. ;) Continue reading “So is 2015 the Year of the Sheep or the Goat?” »

Apartment Fire in Uijeongbu

uijeongbu fire

picture Joongang Daily

I read in today’s Korean newspaper Joongang Ilbo about the dreadful apartment fire in Uijeongbu, just outside Seoul where 4 people died and 124 were injured (11 critical). 226 people have lost their homes and have had to be evacuated to a local school. The fire happened last Saturday but more information is coming out about the cause. And despite the fact that there was a fire inspection carried out only a few months ago, it appears that there were insufficient fire prevention measures in place. Two of the three apartment buildings didn’t have sprinklers (because they are lower than 11 floors) and some residents said they didn’t hear a fire alarm – it was the screams of the other residents that made them realise there was an emergency. (flammable materials used in the construction of the apartments have been blamed too.)

Since we (like most people in Seoul) live in an apartment, this kind of news is very worrying indeed. I think most of the time we just don’t think about the dangers of living in high rise buildings. We have never had a fire drill here and I wouldn’t know what to do if there were a fire. Although in our previous apartment building there was a fire once. Continue reading “Apartment Fire in Uijeongbu” »

The Best Kimbap Shop in Seoul? School Food

School Food

Happy New Year! I hope you had a good one. We sat in front of the telly watching the SBS drama awards with a bottle of wine, eating prawns cooked in wine (I like wine). Then I went to bed at 12:05 am! I think this makes me officially OLD! :o

One of my New Year Resolutions for 2015 is to research as many kimbap shops as I can in Seoul to find my favourite kimbap! (That resolution shouldn’t be hard to keep. It’s best to keep things simple and achievable, isn’t it? ;) The place to beat so far is Teacher Kim with their fresh vegetable kimbaps.

This week my quest led me to the chain School Food. I’ve wanted to try this place for a while since one of my mature students told me that it was the best kimbap in town. And she recommended the squid ink kimbap (the rice becomes almost black from the squid ink). So with expectations high, and feeling fairly hungry despite having just polished off a bag of real cheese popcorn at the CGV cinema next door, we went to the IFC mall Yeouido branch of School Food. But unfortunately their food is not for me :( Continue reading “The Best Kimbap Shop in Seoul? School Food” »

Is this the essential Korean gift?

deer tissue holder

As Christmas approaches I’m still on the hunt for last minute gifts and I think I’ve found a winner. People must get through quite a lot of toilet paper or toilet tissue (sounds better) in Korea, because toilet tissue is not just found in the bathroom… It can be found in restaurants, around the house and office and can even be given as gifts. But a roll on its own is not very glamorous. So welcome to The ‘Reindeer Safari Tissue Holder‘. I think this could be the perfect gift and it really makes me smile. :) Continue reading “Is this the essential Korean gift?” »

Mid Joseon Kings in Sageuk Drama (1494 – 1649) YEONSANGUN to KING INJO


Yeonsangun (r. 1494 -1506), King Jungjong (r.1506-1544),King Injong (r. 1544-1545)
King Myeongjong (r.1545-1567); King Seonjo (r.1567-1608); Gwanghaegun (r.1608-1623); King Injo (r.1623-1649)

Wang-ui namja (2005) Posterking JungjongKing Injong
Mandate of Heavenheojun5705goddess_of_fire-king injong

In this post I’ll take a look of each of the kings of the mid-Joseon period with the help of the film King and the Clown (2005), and the dramas Dae Jang Geum (MBC 2003), Mandate of Heaven: The Fugitive of Joseon (KBS 2013) Heojun (MBC 2000), Jung Yi: Goddess of Fire (MBC 2013), and War of Flowers (JTBC 2013). For other posts related to this topic see my post on Overview of Early Joseon Kings and Joseon Kings Overview

This period lasted just over 150 years with 7 kings. We start with the troubled and tyrannical Yeonsangun who was violent and cruel and caused huge hardship for his people by taxing them heavily to pay for his lavish lifestyle. And we end with the weak and indecisive King Injo whose lack of diplomatic skills leaves him struggling with the Qing Dynasty and the Manchu wars. Continue reading “Mid Joseon Kings in Sageuk Drama (1494 – 1649) YEONSANGUN to KING INJO” »