Sunday, February 27, 2011

자갈치시장 Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan

My last official stop before leaving Busan was to check out the fish market in Nampo-dong, Jung-gu, Busan. The fish market is known as Jagalchi market and is the biggest fish market in Korea. While there is a large, indoor market area, I found this rather tame in comparison to the outdoor market that lines the street along the harbor. It's exciting to watch the ajummas selling any ocean creature imaginable in any form imaginable right along the sidewalk. 

Restaurants like these were quite popular, especially with the men. I don't think I saw any women eating here. Strangely, though this is mainly a fish market, 감자탕 (pig backbone soup) was one of the most common dishes I saw here. But, that's not to say that there wasn't a plethora of seafood to be eaten here as well.



I came here around lunch time and I was quite hungry! But, as I'm not a big seafood eater, I wasn't sure what to get. I finally settled on fried fish because a) I knew what it was and b) because nearly anything fried tastes good. 

And I was right. 7,000 won later, I got my meal. I was satisfied and felt that I ate something that represented the market well. 

My fried fish! 

If you're able to catch one of the few openings out onto the docks, you can catch a view of all the fishing boats that line the port. 

Finally, here is a view from inside the indoor Jagalchi market. Mostly quite tame and a rather different feel than the outdoor market. The most exciting moment in here for me was when some rambunctious squid jumped out of their tank and nearly onto my feet.

To get to Jagalchi market, take line 1 to Jagalchi Station. Take exit 10 and take the first right and as you walk you'll start to see the market. You can also take any other exit on the east side of the station and just walk towards the waterfront. Near Jagalchi market, there are various other markets if you wonder around long enough. If you have the time, make sure you check out all the back alleys around the area!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Beomeosa Temple, Busan

During the 18th year of King Munmu reign of the Silla dynasty, a large group of Japanese invaders attempted to attack. The king was very concerned about the invaders’ barbarous acts. One day, in the king’s dream, a mountain guardian spirit told him to go to the top of the mountain and the god would reveal how to defeat the invaders. The king went to the mountain with a priest, Uisangdaesa, and followed the god’s instructions. Then, the invaders were easily defeated. The king was really happy and gave thanks to the god. He also ordered  Uisangdaesa to build a temple, and the temple is Beomeosa.

At the top of the mountain, there is a well with golden colored water which never dries up. Legend has it that a gold-colored fish had lived there. The temple was named from “gold spring (Guemsaem)” and “fish from heaven.” []

On the morning of my second day in Busan, I took the subway to Beomeosa station to check out one of Busan's most famous sights, Beomeosa. Though located rather far into the mountains, I was surprised how easily I reached it. The bus takes you nearly to the entrance of the temple so even if you're not a hiking person, there's no reason why you shouldn't come by and check this place out.

Originally built in 1614, Iljumun, or One Pillar Gate is the first gate into the temple. It's unusual form, makes it seem as though it's supported by only one pillar if looked at from a side view. It's said to symbolize the one true path to enlightenment. It's also considered "Tangible Cultural Asset #2" by the Korean government.

Many buildings look as though they've been well maintained and restored. As with most Korean temples, it's full of color.

Other buildings have not been restored recently and you can see the worn paint and faded colors. It's a different sort of charm here.

Daeungjeon- Main hall of Beomeosa

I got a little confused while coming here. When you get out of the subway station, do not look for the bus directly outside of the subway station. Even though there is a bus that says it goes to 범어 사앞 or something to that effect, that doesn't mean to the top of the mountain. When you come out of the subway station from exit 5 or 7, do a 180˚ and go up the side street 100-200 meters. There  you can find a bus station (see photo below) and you can take bus 90 to the temple. It's the first stop the bus makes, and you'll know it when you see it.

For more info about Beomeosa check out the temple's website or the wikipedia page which both have useful information in English.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Study, Study, Study

I've never been good at studying. I'm one of those people who goes to class, learns, never does the homework, and does well on the test. But, that's one thing that's never worked with me while studying Korean. I've tried everything I can think of to memorize vocabulary, and it's not that the methods don't work (flashcards, writing words repeatedly, making lists in my ipod and checking them often), but it's just that I don't keep up with it. And, it's never been a problem, really, until now.

I can speak Korean. I can hold down a normal, everyday conversation that you'd have with your coworker or friends. What did you do last night? How was your vacation? I'm having this problem lately... etc etc. And you know what? That's really all I need for now. I've never needed to talk about science or politics or technical stuff. I'll keep studying and I hope that some day I can progress to that point.

BUT, now I'm studying to take the TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) with the hopes of getting the F-2 visa after passing EITHER level 3 or level 4 (intermediate). But, if I were to take that test tomorrow, I would fail. Miserably. Even though I've studied through level 4 at my hagwon (and took level 3 three times, to the point where I have the whole book practically memorized). Because I suck at studying. I always picked up the words I could use in conversation, because that's what I like to do. But I never picked up those nuance words that I could always get around using by using other, simpler words. This test, though, is all about nuances. It's designed to trick you into second guessing yourself.

For me, the questions fall in to one of two categories. The questions that I don't understand a word of and the questions that I understand every word of and STILL don't know the answer. The questions I don't know a word of, well I don't stand a chance with. But those questions that I DO know every answer to, I should be able to reason it out. But, let's put 4 words that mean very similar things as possible answers. Now, you need to know what word combination fits the best with the given information. Which, is good, you should know what words go together and what not, but I suck at studying and I have a feeling I'm never going to get these under my belt. All the Koreans have told me "just memorize it" but... I'm not a memorizing kind of person. And how can one memorize every possible word that could come up on a test? My method of studying is just talking and using my Korean, but this test doesn't even have  a spoken part. They measure me on all my weakest points.

I bought a reading book recently. I wanted to get the level 3, since reading is my weakest point (except for maybe writing). But, they didn't have level 3. So I settled for level 4. Big mistake. It takes me about 2 hours to read each one page long story in the book. I need to look up about every 3rd word or so and I can't answer any of the reading comprehension questions without help. I'm starting to get really discouraged...

To make things worse, I also started working with my Japanese friend who is studying for the test too. When we speak, I always feel that we're on the same level, or that even my Korean could be a little more advanced. But, then we take a practice test. Out of 10 questions, she gets one wrong. I get one right. Even more depression sets in. The thought that I might not even get 50 points (minimum score to achieve level 3 on the TOPIK) is becoming more and more real. I have less than 2 months left to study for this test. I've been studying pretty hard (in my terms of studying) for the past 3 weeks and have seen no improvement yet. Who's to say that trend won't continue? I'm only working part time now so I should have all the free time in the world to study, but it doesn't seem to matter.

What works for you?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Haedong Yong Gung Temple, Busan

Think of every temple you've been to in Korea. Where has it been located? With the exception of some city temples like Jogyesa in Seoul, most are located in the mountains, right? It's easy for foreigners to feel some temple fatigue after visiting three or four temples because... well.. they all start to look the same, unless you're some sort of expert on Korean Buddhist art/architecture or something.  So, for those of you suffering from this temple fatigue, I suggest you visit Hae Dong Yong Gung Temple in Busan for a breath of fresh air (literally and figuratively). As the name would suggest, it is located along the ocean as opposed to the mountains giving visitors some new scenery to appreciate.

As I entered the temple, I found statues of all the animals of the Chinese zodiac. So I had to get a picture with the cow, my zodiac sign!

If you rub this buddah's belly, you will be blessed with male children. As I don't want to be blessed with any children at the moment, I figured It'd be best not rub his belly.....

Often at temples I see a few of these little buddhist figurines here and there. At this temple, though, they had the biggest collection I'd ever seen. They are so cute, I couldn't help taking way too many photos of them. I just posted my favorite here to spare my readers from becoming underwhelmed...  

The best part about this temple, though, is the scenery, of course. I've heard it's the only (or at least the first) temple from which you can see the sunrise over the ocean. 

To get to Hae Dong Yong Gung Temple, you can take bus 181 from Haeundae station. It's about a 30 minute bus ride. If you happen to be in Busan, this was one of the highlights of my trip and I highly recommend checking it out! 

평창 송어 축제 Pyongchang Trout Festival

As we were heading home on Sunday, after checking out the snow festival, we cut through the town of Jinbu in order to escape some traffic getting onto the highway near Yongpyong. As we drove around we saw signs for the Trout Festival that Steve the Qi Ranger made such a nice video for two weeks ago.  So, I suggested we check it out for ourselves. As it was late in the day we got there only in time to see them ending the fishing day. All the activities that you can see in the video were closed, save for one sled pushing activity. But, I found the place to be very peaceful and photogenic.

Today's Korean lesson. 송어 is trout in Korean. Now you know. 

Here is that sled pushing activity I was talking about..... 

 And of course the fishing....

People of all ages stood around fishing holes hoping to bring home a good catch for the day. I was really stunned because I saw so many people walking away with quite a few fish. Some had so many they gave them to others who didn't catch as many.

My next obvious question was... what do you do with all these fish once you catch them? When I went fishing as a kid, we'd always throw the fish back since we didn't actually want to eat them. Of course, now thinking back on that, it seems a little cruel, catching it, stressing it out, and then throwing it back in where it probably just got sick from the stress of being caught and having a hook jabbed through it... But, here, if you don't want to cook your trout at home, you can bring it into the restaurant and they will cook it for you! Pictured above is 송어회 or raw trout, like sashimi. As we walked through the restaurant, we saw people eating trout in any shape or form you can imagine. In soups, grilled, raw... 

While it seems like many of the big festival activities are over, you can still make a stop by here and check out the trout fishing. If you're lucky, some other winter events could still be happening as well.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Daeboreum Festival at Namsangol Hanok Village

After I wrote the first post about 대보름, serendipitously a Facebook post from Korean Clickers popped up with an article about a Daeboreum festival going on at the 남산골한옥마을, Namsangol Hanok Village, in Chungmuro today. I wasn't doing anything except sitting around looking at Facebook (I don't work on Tuesdays/Thursdays anymore) I jumped up and headed out to check out the activities. Fortunately, Chungmuro is only a 10 minute bus ride from my house, so I was there before 4pm to check out what was going on.

There were various events going on for kids and grown-ups...


떡 만들기- Ddeok (rice cake) making 

 연 만들기- Kite making 

삼해주 (소주) 만들기 - Samhae Liquor (Soju) making

But my favorite event here was a performance of the Bukcheong sajanoreum, or traditional lion mask dance which is considered to be an "Important Intangible Cultural Heritage of Korea". 

 Bukcheong sajanoreum is a traditional lion dance performed in Bukcheong-gun, Hamgyeongnam-do on the first full-moon day of the Lunar New Year. It was widely performed as an event to dispel evil and pray for the peace of the village. During the performance, a lion, nobleman (Yangban), servant (Kkeoksoe), hunchback (Kkopchu), and departed soul (Saryeong) appear. And boy-dancer (Mudong), monk (Jung), troupe of dancers and singers (Sadang), doctor (Uiwon) and devoted Buddhist (Geosa) appear without masks. A six-holed bamboo flute, drum, gong, hourglass-shaped drum are used in the performance. Among them, Tungso, the six-holed bamboo flute is more used in Bukcheong's lion mask dance than in other lion mask dances. It is notable that the lion dance displays sophisticated and vigorous actions rather than speeches and satire. [source]

대보름 Daeboreum

Have you been seeing an abundance of nuts at your local stores and markets this week? That's because today is 대보름, or the first full moon of the lunar new year which is always January 15th of the Lunar calendar. You didn't know? Well, it's not a big deal. In the city, people may only eat some nuts to celebrate. Eating nuts on Daeboreum will keep you healthy in the new year.

I found some photos of some fire celebrations in Gyongju that took place last year from this blog . You can also read about some of the other traditional foods eaten on Daeboreum from this decent wikipedia page.

So, make sure you eat some nuts today!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

대관령 눈꽃 축제 Daegwallyeong Snow Festival

Sunday afternoon we left Yongpyong a little early to catch the snow festival in Hoenggye, the town at the base of Yongpyong Resort. It's an annual festival held every February and hosts all kinds of snow and winter related events. This year it runs from 2/12-2/20, so if you happen to be in the area, you still have one more weekend to check it out. This year's theme was clearly the bid for the 2018 winter Olympics. As the IOC (International Olympics Committee) was set to roll in for inspections of the area the following day, the streets were lined with signs welcoming the committee. Throughout the festival we could see the Olympic theme.

Sledding and an interesting form of skating which involved sitting on a board with blades and pushing oneself with wooden sticks were popular events at the festival.

The biggest attraction seemed to be the snow sculptures which were incredibly well designed. From cartoon characters to angels, snowmen and chess pieces this was interesting enough for me to make the festival worthwhile going. 

When you start to get cold, head indoors to check out some of the warmer activities...

There was everything from ddeok making, to arrow making, to chocolate making, and more! 

A walk around the back will bring you to an expo of children's depictions of the 2018 Olympics in Pyongchang. 

For more information, you can visit the festival homepage at . If you arrive in the town of Hoenggye, it won't be hard to find. The town is small and it's right in the center of town.  This festival would be a blast for kids and maybe a nice stop if you happen to be in the area for adults.